I’m grateful to BCM for many things. For accepting me into their medical school and internal medicine residency. For allowing me to meet my now-fiancee Shira Sachs at a residency mixer at OKRA charity bar. For teaching me how to be a doctor. But something that I’m particularly grateful for was the opportunity to start a unique internal medicine tradition – BCM Live.
BCM Live is a culture and arts show produced by and for internal medicine faculty and residents, and this year was our strongest yet. We had 10 unique acts, featuring music from Rachmaninoff to Radiohead, original spoken word poetry, and reflections on a life in medicine. Here is my recap of the acts:
Elizabeth Godfrey and Ray Wang, two BCM medical students, kicked off the night with a jazzed out viola-piano cover of Sinatra’s “Fly With Me.” They both are part of an organization, AMP, that plays live music for patients during their hospital stays.
Next was Dr. Wayne Shandera, an attending at Ben Taub General Hospital, who dazzled the crowd with romantic and neo-romantic piano masterpieces: Nocturne in C minor, by Frederic Chopin, and Prelude in B minor, by Sergei Rachmaninoff. There’s an intensity, a nobility even, in hearing a seasoned attending play piano at a high level. It was profoundly moving.
Faiz Jiwani urged the crowd to, in the words of Anis Mojgani, “Shake the Dust.” It was a riveting performance: visceral, impassioned, yearning, and inspiring. My favorite quote from that piece:
“Do not let one moment go by that doesn’t remind you that your heart, it beats 900 times every single day / And that there are enough gallons of blood to make everyone of you oceans / Do not settle for letting these waves settle / And for the dust to collect in your veins.”
He followed it by an equally impressive original spoken word composition, On Tolerance. He mused on the common origins of words like Shalom and Salaam, and how compassion is a common value across cultures.
Next was the legendary Dr. Daniel Musher, archon of BCM, brilliant physician, and humanitarian. In addition being a world renowned ID expert, he is a fantastic violin player. He, his son Dr. Ben Musher (also an incredible doctor), and Dr. Elaine Chang played the Andante from the Kegelstatt Trio by Mozart. It was followed by a surprise encore Mozart string quartet featuring Ben Musher’s kids Talia on violin and Avi on cello.
They were followed by Alokananda Ghosh, Hayden Byrd, and Aaron Hocher, who did a sweet vocals / saxophone / violin cover of Radiohead’s “No Surprises.” It featured, among other things, Alokananda hitting the notorious descending major 7th from that song in tune, which was very impressive.
Dr. Michelle Schmidt, who attends at Ben Taub as well, delivered a powerful and deeply human oratory about the struggle against time in her original story “Slay the Dragon.” She detailed the grinding, unrelenting, and often hilarious struggle of practicing modern academic medicine. She described holding together a family, caring for loved ones, and realizing that you are progressing through life faster than you realize:
Don’t blink. You don’t get a mulligan. Really, I mean it, don’t blink. Don’t get worked up about stuff that doesn’t matter. 87 year old grandpa was 28 years old 10 minutes ago and life happened in the mean time. Life is still happening. Listen.
Rani Bhatia told the powerful story of one of her patients, a 20 year old woman with congenital HIV, who she cared for in the MICU. The patient died exactly one year ago, from a disease that she was given by her mother at birth. After reading a personal reflection on the patient, she sang “Angel,” by Sarah McLachlin, as a tribute to her. It was one of the most touching experiences I’ve ever been a part of. We spend a lot of time as doctors discussing the medical aspects of a patients life and death in great detail. We spend almost no time on the psychological consequences that caregivers face when treating patients who suffer so unfairly. Rani reminded us that although her patient died too young, there was release and relief in her passing from a lifetime of unendurable pain. There wasn’t a dry eye in the auditorium.
Holland Kaplan, one of the organizers of the event, was next. She read a reflection about a patient who just won’t go along with medical advice despite the doctor’s pleading.
“Doc,” the patient said, “I’d rather have one good day than twenty bad days.”
He was nearing the end of his life, and was miserable. So despite strict orders for diuresis and limiting fluid intake, she recalls handing him a bottle of water and watching him smile broadly after finishing it. In the end, she learned, sometimes the best treatment for heart failure really is a glass of water.
I went next. I wrote a song about the night float experience at Baylor College of Medicine, and how it changes you as a person:
Our closing act was epic – an entirely PGY-1 pop/rock cover band featuring Jefferson Triozzi, Michael Hughes, Dorothy Pei, Sam Hatfield, and Ben Moss. Honestly, what is better than a piano-trumpet-sax-drums-guitar-banjo jam band? Nothing. Nothing is better. They rocked out with hits by Madonna, Johnny Cash, and Men at Work. It was pure ‘tude, pure passion, and pure, bodacious first year swag.
So that’s the recap! Thank you, BCM, for the support in making this event happen. I’ve had a blast organizing it these past three years. If last night was any indication, the future is bright. Jefferson Triozzi, my other co-conspirator in pulling this event off, said it best:
I have so many ideas for next year!