This is what I remember: It is late June or early July of 1992. I am a new doctor in the emergency department at San Francisco
General Hospital, standing in a chaos of crash carts and swarming, shouting men and women in green scrubs. The trauma room is rectangular, windowless, and whitewashed in bright, artificial light. Life support equipment occupies one long wall and chrome cabinets line another.
I am female, white, and young. The patient is male, brown, and younger still. I have just moved across the country to start my residency training in primary care internal medicine. He has suffered multiple critical wounds from a gun or knife. We are both new to this hotbed of urban urgencies and emergencies—a relentless montage of bleeding, breaking, nodding, gasping, screaming, and dying humans.
Louise Aronson is the author of the story collection A History of the Present Illness (Bloomsbury, 2013) and recipient of the Sonora Review Prize, the New Millennium Writing Award, and three Pushcart nominations. A graduate of Brown University, Harvard Medical School, and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, she is a geriatrician and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Her essays and stories appear regularly in newspapers and literary and medical journals, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, Narrative, Bellevue Literary Review, Lancet, and the New England Journal of Medicine.