Female medical professional writing.

55 Word Stories

UMMC Health Care Experience Support

55 Word Stories

Main Content

UMMC Health Care Stories

During this unexpectedly emotional and stressful time, members of medical communities like UMMC often neglect their own well-being as they focus on the immediate needs of others. By sharing stories, however, we can express our fears, challenges, triumphs and tragedies and reconnect to our colleagues, friends, and even ourselves. In this spirit, UMMC’s Office of Well-being in collaboration with the Center of Bioethics and Medical Humanities is joining other institutions like Emory and University of Washington Medical School in offering a platform to enable any member of the UMMC community to share health care experiences and reflections (maximum 55 words).

This forum will help us understand, appreciate, or process something about this pandemic and the ways it has radically changed our everyday lives, particularly for those here at UMMC. We invite ALL members of the UMMC community to contribute their short reflections here. You may prefer to identify yourself or post anonymously.
The stories are posted below are 55 words or shorter and are published with permission. Be sure to count your words before submitting if you'd like to see your story published.
*Although the focus of this project is UMMC stories, we have received submissions from outside of the organization. We believe that sharing these stories from those at other institutions is beneficial to us as well.  The names of those contributors outside our institution are marked with an asterisk. (*)

Inevitable Change

I have a very large family and I look forward to family reunions. There is nothing like watching elders interact and our kids filling our internal spaces with joy and laughter. COVID stripped us of that interpersonal time, but we later decided to have our first family Zoom call. COVID taught me about change.

Patrice L Donald, Clinical Recruitment Nurse Manager

 Will I Wake Up?

As I prepared items to assist with inserting an artificial airway, the patient turned to look at me and asked, "when they put me to sleep, will I wake up? Will I wake up?!" Covid-19 has reminded me to be grateful every day for the simple things. I'm grateful, just wake up!

Shavon A. Hampson, Respiratory Therapist (RRT)

Remote Life

I miss the camaraderie. I miss the faces. I miss hearing about families. Jabber, Zoom, WebEx is not the same, but it's our new normal. Thankful for technology to keep #UMMCStrong. One day, this too shall pass, and we'll happily reunite again!

Amy Easterling, Sr Analyst

 We are Here for Patients--Not Ourselves

It's June 2021 now--not June 2020. I am disappointed to see how many people are still using the pandemic as an excuse for inaction. We have to focus on THRIVING despite the pandemic, not merely surviving it. We are ALL responsible for high quality, safe and ethical patient care; patient experience, attitudes, and accountability.

Anonymous, Nurse


He is feeble and stooped, collapsing to gravity?s insistence. He gestures, slowly. "Come here, I must see you. Why are you so distant?"

"The virus, grandfather. But I am here, below."

He caresses the stone with gnarled, tobacco-stained fingers. He traces the chiseled epitaph. Mary Roberts. January 8, 2012?May 22, 2020.

He weeps, alone.

*Paul Rousseau, Physician

A year ago

A whole year. When toilet paper, Lysol, thermometers, hand sanitizer and masks were in demand. When every day you would wonder if that day you would start to get a tickle in your throat. When people would avoid anyone in scrubs until they figured out how much these people were risking to help others.

Anonymous, Social Worker



I painted this (8X10”) acrylic on canvas to remind myself that the COVID-19 pandemic is just for a short time.  Look around you, the trees are lush green and the flowers are in full bloom. The world around us is still beautiful!

Parminder Vig, Neurology

Taken away

I wish people knew my patients who are no longer here. A 97 year old woman who just moved to an assisted living center, a 70 year old father who attended a family celebration, a cleaning lady who tidied 55 homes a week to pay for her son’s college tuition. Taken by a nasty virus. 

*Susan Lee, MD FACP

There's always hope

Let's put on the mask, put the sanitizer in the backpack, let's take the streets with responsibility. Today is a new day of hope. Look at the sky in the morning and in the afternoon, Mississippi has the best sunrise, and beautiful sunsets. Be ready for the best photos, I always have my camera ready!

Iris Dale, Spanish Interpreter

 Thanks to our laboratory animals

Their contribution to research is immeasurable. They help us understand surface proteins, aid in ventilator trials, clarify transmission patterns, and shed light on comorbidities. We are profoundly grateful for their part in understanding this virus, and I think they are most grateful for our daily care.

Andrew Grady, Veterinarian

My new dinner companions

Anyone who says "Eats like a bird" has not witnessed my backyard birds...eat.

April Palmer, Physician

Missing Visits

Five months have passed since my son saw his grandparents. His hugs would now wrap all the way around their waist. Pictures don’t do his toothy grins justice. They haven’t seen a video of him saying “pacifically” in every other sentence. His jokes are getting funny. Please wear a mask and stay home. Practice collectivism.

Anonymous, Faculty

Macrocosms in a Microstory

Covid-19 incessantly envelops the globe in innocuous microscopic droplets. The most stalwart of the front-line personnel are prostrated by the experienced frustration, betrayal, and visceral grief. Covid’s manacles touch every nation without discrimination. Paradoxically exposing fault lines of privilege, prejudice, ego, and inequity. The losses are untenable but our collective embraces transformation with gritty resilience.

*Zahra Bardai, Family Physician

 The Search Continues - July 2020

Many new treatments being researched! Convalescent plasma? Vaccines? Monoclonal antibodies against this coronavirus ? Possibilities abound but no answers yet. Is everybody wearing facemasks? Washing hands? Socially distancing? New COVID cases increasing but fewer deaths. What’s next? We keep searching, praying and working together, looking out for one another to beat this – and we will!

Gailen Marshall, Physician Scientist

Searching for Answers

Pandemics demand answers. We researchers search for those answers at the bench, bedside and computer to develop effective treatment and prevention models. Answers must come quickly -people are sick and dying - but must be accurate not just fast. Pray for our stamina, wisdom and, most of all, compassion for those who need us most - you.

Gailen Marshall, Physician Scientist

 The Best Rule I Ever Broke

She was 26 the day of the visit (lifetimes from home) God in her heart body traitorous with cancer held hostage by chemo by pandemic We rolled her through hall down shaft out door: “6 feet and masked!” A mama knows though when a hug’s to be her last We closed our eyes and wept

*Erin FitzGerald, DO


Just because I don?t see the dolphin doesn't mean they are not there. So I wait with no expectations for them to surface. This end of pandemic is like that. It is there, but we just don?t see it yet. Our only option is to wait patiently, isolated, tired, and alone, for it to surface.

*Maureen Hirthler, former CBMH employee

The Mask

 "Sir, could you please put on your mask??" I ask congenially upon entering the room. "I'm not really feeling it," the patient replies with hostility. Insulted, I feel my blood pressure rise. "Stay professional," I think as I begin to reel. Luckily, my own mask and shield disguise my disgust. The next move is mine.

*Sarah Smith, DO

Just Another Day

My gaze shifts to the phone vibrating across my workstation. Twenty buzzes in as many seconds. It teeters on the edge, falls. An eerie glow shines from the floor. Graduation canceled. Residency gone in a whisper. The most benign news this week. I turn back to the images. These lungs were fine three days ago.

*LeeAnn Shannon, Physician

The Ritual

Finally home. I shrink back as socked feet pound towards me. My preschooler yanks her brother to a halt. He squirms, but her eyes widen. Knowing. Maybe she saved him.

The shower scalds. I scrub skin raw. Dry. Tiny voices slide beneath the door. "Is it safe to hug you yet?" I hope so.

*LeeAnn Shannon, Physician

Human after all

My son was born online. At eleven he has friends with odd names like Cheezpop54353 and zipzagcheerio43. Our bubble needs to expand. Three solid months into pandemic sequestering, "Jaxen, Skylar's family is coming over to swim outside," I offer. His entire body elates and the cogwheels turn making real plans with real people.

*Jean Robey, Physician


My daughter asked for a letter for her time capsule. "Dear Jade, Life goes by..."Admitted a husband short of breath, his wife upstairs. She discharged home but he lingered upside down making no progress. Then the stroke that spoke a thousand words he couldn?t. Three days later comfort care. "fast. Enjoy it. Love, Mom."

*Jean Robey, Physician

Semper Fidelis

I studied his fierce tattoos decorating the sterile COVID room double bunked. He stood guard over an elder roommate. His COVID spiral had descended into a coughing fit Mallory Weiss tear bleed out now anoxic. His wife thinking of other exhibited valor now refusing an MRI that would hold up the machine for hours. Marine.

*Jean Robey, Physician

A Wall

My throat burns, the dryness of the desert behind my N95 mask, desperately needing water, sustenance, anything but the arid air. My voice is raw from hours and hours of trying to connect with patients through a wall of filters strapped to my face, trying to communicate nuances of emotion and connection.

*Andrea Eisenberg, Physician

Colors, bright and beautiful

My spouse and I survived COVID-19 illness over the same two weeks. Since then, I made colorful paintings, which depict my bright and sparkling post-illness view towards life. I checked off my bucket list by getting published. Having survived in the six feet apart era has paradoxically made me more connected to others, and self.

*Asiya Kabir, Psychiatrist

Needless Death

He was so old and frail, but still sharp as a tack. He had spent the whole summer at the remote lake house with his family. Safe, he thought, from COVID. But it was increasingly hard to breathe. One last cigar, out on the deck, at sunset. CPR by his loving sons could not save him. Another needless death.

*Ann F. Beach, Physician

Too Old

Scrubs, mask, goggles, hand sanitizer, stethoscope. I feel ready. And for the first time in 41 years of practice, I am afraid. HIV and TB weren?t this scary. But now I am in the over-65 demographic and I feel fragile. Vulnerable. Are all my years of accumulated experience for naught? Will COVID just kill me?

*Ann F. Beach, Physician

Where is Normal?

Two months at home after a shoulder replacement. I spend the time reading COVID news with mounting horror and disbelief. I return to the pediatric hospital to find floors closed, ICU near-empty, and colleagues distant behind masks and goggles. Favorite nurses on furlough. Planned hires cancelled. Is normal lost forever?

*Ann F. Beach, Physician

What is Most Important

Before mid-March, life was a blur. Hurry to get my kid to school, speed to work, run to meetings, dash to the parking lot (late) to get to practice, church, games, etc… Then the fear set in and it all stopped. Goal now is to hug my baby and savor the moments.

Anonymous, Manager

I am both...

Grateful for employment and hurt for those who lost jobs.

Thankful for health and bewildered by disregard for science.

Appreciative of love and disgusted by hatred and brutality.

A citizen and one who will never fully belong.

Smart enough to know this isn’t all COVID’s fault and naïve enough to hope for better.

Anonymous, Project Manager

The Undivine Comedy

You can treat disease, but not willful ignorance. Conspiracy theorists, toilet paper hoarders, lockdown protestors, and other definitions of The American Idiot plastered newsfeeds. But qualified medical professionals? Silenced by misinformation & denial. All those years devoted to practicing healthcare, reduced to mockery by those you’re trying to save. Is this a pandemic or purgatory?

Chelle Licci, Pharmacy Student - PY4



To search not the treasures of


Bishoy Samuel, Resident Physician

How it feels...

I feel defeated. Workloads are piling up, and friends lost their job yesterday. I feel grateful. I’m healthy, employed, and can still support my family. I’m tired. Each day, more of what’s not been completed the days before piles up a work and at home. I’m hopeful because we will beat this. #UMMCStrong

Anonymous, Director

Opposites in a Pandemic

I am okay with wearing a mask and with social distancing. I can roll with the punches through these changes. But not him. He is angry seeing those with masks. He is angry with the shutdown. He is angry with decisions of government and medical professionals. I am afraid this pandemic may end us.

Anonymous, Nurse

Quick Cry

Crying- a daily thing. Sometimes long; more often quick. Sometimes from a fading memory of our past life, a freedom that’s gone. Not freedom in the political sense, freedom from fear. My family doesn’t understand. I have underlying health conditions. I once learned that tears from grief are healing. If so, I’m making good progress.

Anonymous, Faculty

 Lost World

Walking to my office through the School of Medicine building, footsteps echo in the emptiness, no signs of human habitation. I am a character in a post-apocalyptic story roaming through the architectural remains of a prior civilization. I long for the return of vital signs and vital sounds to our world.

Ralph Didlake, Academic Administration

On the Lighter Side Because Humor=Medicine

It’s OK with me if the workplace handshake goes the way of the dodo, but what I will not accept is the loss of workplace birthday celebrations or holiday potlucks. Because imagining a work world without the possibility of cake... or holiday desserts… I mean c’mon… is inconceivable! #BringBackCake! I hope this made you smile.

Vickie Skinner, Director

Keep the Faith

When the troubles of life dim our outlook on the future, sometimes it's easy to lose heart and lose hope. We must never forget that God is the God of promises. Stay encouraged and keep your trust in Him.


Finding Courage Through Fear

Covid-19 brings fear to my mind. Health care workers courageously care for the sick.Everyday I pray as I put my scrubs on , that I find the courage to look beyond the fear, and find hope and healing. At home I fear again, but courage will come when the sun rises

Michelle Sheth, Physician

 5 things I learnt from COVID-19

Nothing stays the same for ever and the only constant thing in life is change. Never say Never! Covid-19 in 90 days changed the world forever. Always be ready. The Boys Scout anthem is as true today as ever. Begin preparing for the next battle now! Our world is fallen, no matter how developed!

Tobe Momah, Physician

Thanks for Stepping Up?

We were asked to step up, be what UMMC has always been and we did! We stepped out of comfort zones, as we were asked. Overcame fears for self, coworkers and loved ones. Now a new fear - will we lose jobs, will our pay be cut – this is the thanks for stepping up?



Our colony is disturbed, The grist split

By the tiniest of beings. 

Our smiles are masked, Critical meetings scuttled

By the tiniest of beings.

We fix our heart's hurt, Shore each other up

With the tiniest of things.

The elbow bumps, The yielding of space, Our care for each other.

The tiniest of things.

Kathleen Glover, Physician

a deep connection

During this season I have witnessed our wonderful providers volunteer selflessly to take additional duties so that other faculty (moms of small children) could balance life's responsibilities (school/childcare). Sweet words of appreciation have flowed among group texts. This served as a reminder of the deep fondness for dear friends and colleagues during a difficult period.

Anonymous, Administrator

 Missing Out

My first grand baby is seven weeks old. I’ve held her twice since COVID started. I took for granted that I would be there for the first everything’s. I’ve missed a lot. Even so, I’m incredibly proud to work for UMMC. I work with the best of the best. They are all heroes.

Kim Maddox, Communications Specialist

Everyone is Affected

In pediatrics we naively thought we would be affected less by COVID than others but that’s not true. We may have a lower census, but our patients are very much affected. They are scared and their comforts have been taken away. No playroom, no hugs shared, no smiles seen under masks—I miss them all.

Anonymous, Physician


Hard to understand how a gift can include much tragedy and loss, but I consider this experience a gift to know the value of time and intention. Help me not to forget...


I Threw My Pen Away

Don’t touch the door knob. The gas pump! The groceries are contaminated, clean them. Don’t touch your face. Don’t stand near me. Don’t touch your friend. Don’t touch my pen. Don’t cough. Don’t breathe; I heard a cough. Don’t touch your face. I touched my face. Again.

Anonymous, Admin

Outsider Looking In

An outsider looking in; sat in on a COVID-19 Senior Leader meeting. I listening to leaders work through challenges and was completely overwhelmed with emotion and pride at their commitment/creativity/teamwork. They weren’t just solving problems for UMMC. They were solving problems for all of Mississippi. Their battle cry-“We Will Not let Mississippi Down”! #SOPROUD #UMMCSTRONG

Rebecca Keefer, Staff


Suddenly full time employee, homeschooling single mom of two, nowhere to go and nothing to distract. Where is the focus? Now where it is supposed to be; quality time for work and home, revamp of perceptions of importance, and overcoming obstacles. Crisis? Or essential life reevaluation for moving forward?

Cassandra Bailey, Sterile Processing


The meaning of alone time has changed. I'm a bit antisocial. People bug me. I like being alone, or I thought I did. No option to see and hug my dear friends, I’m so much more aware that I need people. Not just need – I want people around me. Maybe I’m not antisocial after all.

Anonymous, Helper

In God we "Still" Trust

Life and Death are unstoppable. We either live or die for a reason. Trusting, God is in control comforted my heart. I realized that running away from suffering is not a solution and there is no shortcut to overcome that. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. (exodus 14:14)

Anonymous, Researcher III

Whats next

I am an Pulmonary RN. Covid is a nightmare for our patients. I felt lots of anxiety at first, wondering what's next? If it were not for the physicians I work with the anxiety would cripple me. However, working for calm, capable MD's and faith help me NOT fear what's next.

Bethany May, RN-BSN

Stop and Smell the Roses

Coming to work in the midst of this COVID-19 palaver, my spirit was down. As I passed through SON walkway, I stopped in admiration of a bird clothed in beautiful plumage. Few steps further, I saw a little troll on the window just dancing away. I was amused. These little creatures sure brightened my day!

Anonymous, Registered Nurse

When will it end

Initial worry, anxiety, fear. Will I or a loved one catch it, die? As time progresses, fear turns into frustration turns into despair. The future is nebulous. The world will never be the same. I just want the old world back.


Anonymous, Administrative Assistant II

Distancing in a Time of Pandemic

Co-parenting is never easy, but COVID-19 has brought a new level of stress and misery to the situation. After an initial quarantine apart for nearly a month, I have now agreed to only see my son every other weekend. Going from 50/50 custody to less than 20/80 is a heavy burden and an unexpected loss.

Anonymous, Analyst

This Too Shall Pass

Wearing a mask is a necessity. For one hearing-impaired person like me that read lips in a crowded situation, I feel more alone in a much busier world. In the words of my loving grandmother, every hardship makes you stronger. Keep your head up, and remember, "This Too Shall Pass".

Amy Easterling, Epic Analyst

New Norm

Work from home. Don’t work from home. Shuttle changes=come prepared to walk. Online school. Zoom abuse. Tissue/Paper towel shortage. Clorox/Lysol/Pine-Sol/Sanitizer/Wipes=extinct. Online shopping. Estimated shipping dates are wrong. Customer service=AWOL. Malls closed. Retail therapy=not what it used to be. Curbside. Delivery. Social Distancing. Masks everywhere. Coughing=weird looks from strangers. This is now the new norm.

Anonymous, Data Abstractor


I was blind!

I thought I was gifted with sight, but COVID-19 taught me I was blind. I am losing my best friend to COVID, but gaining insight of myself. Before COVID, I didn’t notice the sun nor the singing bird or a cry; I am grateful that now I do, AND I CARE!

Raymundo Hernandez, Manager

Damage Not Done

I’m looking up, gasping for breath. Shielded, PPE-covered faces all around me. Their eyes exhausted, worried, but determined…. Only this never happened. Doctors take an oath to “do no harm.” All I have to do is work from home. We’ll never know how bad it could have been—for us or for them. 

Anonymous, Research

The Dawn of a New Day

The whole world is at a standstill! Chaos in every corner! How much longer shall we endure the grief, the pain, the agony of this hour? Then, I remember, ‘tis the darkest hour of the night that breaks forth into the dawn of a new day. So I cheer up, this too shall pass.

Joy Akanji, Nurse Manager

Cultivating Comfort in the time of COVID19

“When’s dinner?” Eerie nostalgic voices, not desperate but determined. Children back home from college, work, for safe-keeping, satisfying adult self-portraits casting child-like shadows and activating instinctual, mothering comfort scripts. But powerless to comfort my professional family, healthcare Heros, from my fortified sanctuary. Only words on a screen—my admiration and gratitude. 

Tanja Bisesi, Wellness Officer and Faculty

COVID-19 Molasses

Walking through days, and then weeks, and soon months of COVID-19 is physically, mentally, and spiritually exhausting. Why? I can’t put my finger on it. But every day feels like slogging through molasses. And so I nap. And I bake bread. And I dream of the day when I walk freely again. 

Anonymous, Professor

Hardship and Humor

As an Oncologist, I see sadness and loss every day. One particularly hard day, I rounded on multiple patients dying from cancer who could not be surrounded by all of their family. I am relying on humorous moments such as having my 3-year old and 6-year old help cut Daddy’s hair to brighten these days!

Kelly Wilkinson, Physician


Fear of what’s to come, the unknowns, the uncertainty. Who and what will I lose? Who, what and where will I be on the other side of this? Is there another side? Followed by the warmth of gratitude and beautiful sights surrounding me-altruism, fearlessness, compassion, togetherness, love. The ebb and flow of inspiration and despair.

Kim Barrier, Nurse

What Matters

Ding. Outlook calendar reminders. I’m a planner; notifications are usually welcome. They’re now relics of a past life. Some are faculty reminders; many are favorite kids’ events; others are appointments. All are cancelled. All matter less now. Family members are frontline providers. They matter. Flatten the curve; then we get back to other matters.

Kayla Abraham, MA, OTR/L

Reflection and New Lens for the Future

Dazed, then it hit me. What have I missed that matters in life? • Talking 10 minutes more to mom, kids, grands, my sister-in-law, & husband • Looking at the sky at night and morning since joy comes in the morning • Saying thank you for a job, food, and shelter • Speaking and smiling to everyone I meet.

Penny Rogers


Initial models said millions to die. Fear. Lockdowns. Businesses shuttered, furloughs, pay cuts, jobs lost, bankruptcies. Great Depression? Children can't play with friends, can’t go to parks. Birthday parties canceled. No Little League. No prom. No graduation. No church. New data, most cases mild, unrecognized. Fatality risk similar to flu. Overreacted. Oops. Damage done.


Fear of Infecting

Twice I went to bed certain that when I woke, I would be fully symptomatic. Both times, I dreamed of being tested, verified, and despite my best efforts, coming into contact with all vulnerable people I know and love, and thinking of the many favorite patients that I unwittingly exposed to the virus.



Alone Time

Thirty-minute phone calls replace two-hour Sunday dinners. Miss you, Mom, Miss you, Dad. Air kisses from my lawn to their car. No church, no yoga, no concerts. No Saturday nights out. Like the man from Twilight Zone, now that I have all the time in the world, I’m not sure I want it.

Tara Brock


Not being able to go home and see my elderly grandmother is so heartbreaking, but knowing I am helping to keep her healthy brings me relief.


Confessions of a Teleworker

I got up after 5 hours on my computer, put on my mask, crept to Chick-Fil-A's drive-thru for a cookies and cream shake (Vitamin D - don't judge), then saw two police cars screaming by as I left the line. Followed briskly from a distance, then lost them. That's my external affair for the day. I'm COVID-free and staying (home) that way.


Light Amidst the Darkness

First – I only saw the darkness COVID-19 brought with it. Anxiety, fear, suffering, isolation, death. Once I accepted the situation for what it is and channeled my energy towards helping others - I saw the growing light… of kindness, support, leadership, community, solidarity. We will emerge out of this – brighter and stronger than ever before!

Rinki Desai, Speech-Language Pathologist

Chik-fil-A Almost Every Day

Finding a way to the next right thing is showing gratitude in times of uncertainty and chaos; truly an attempt-worth feat. The alternative is to lie, if not to let something more important and precious die. Together: patient, doctor, nurse, cafeteria server - we will forever see each other all though more gratitude-filled eyes.

Richard M. Wardrop III, Faculty


Telecommuting. More meetings packed into one day, don’t need time to walk across campus. Some people use cameras, others don’t, so sort of connected with colleagues. Alone, quiet, no hallway conversations, no handshakes, no hugs. There is a face on a screen, but I am alone. We are social creatures something is not right.