Keeping Time


  • Marc Tunzi


That's Brandenberg Concerto #3,” the Latino teenager informed me as I entered the exam room. I have a habit of whistling around the hospital. A little Bach. A little Gershwin. Disney. The Beatles. Italian folk songs. Christmas carols in December. I mix it up. As whistlers go, I'm pretty good—maybe a seven out of ten, all around—but I'm no virtuoso. In my work as a family physician, my repertoire is also quite broad, but not endlessly deep.

My Latino teenager ostensibly came in for evaluation of a “lump” that turned out to be a small lymph node. The real reason for his visit, however, was to discuss symptoms of depression and anxiety, a self-described sense of “disassociation,” and his severely alcoholic father. “Tell the doctor why you are really here,” his mother told us both in Spanish as she exited the room. And I had fifteen minutes. With patients waiting.