fostering the humanistic practice of medicine publishing personal accounts of illness and healing encouraging health care advocacy

Search
Close this search box.

fostering the humanistic practice of medicine publishing personal accounts of illness and healing encouraging health care advocacy

Search
Close this search box.

Sharing personal experiences of giving and receiving health care

What’s Wrong With You?

Editor’s Note: This piece was awarded an honorable mention in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

“What’s wrong with you?”

The words cut through my mind and hit me in the gut. My fragile fifteen-year-old ego splintered like a glass cup slipping through fingers onto hardwood.

Tears welled up, and my lips pursed, ready to respond. But I couldn’t find the words—for in that moment, I truly knew that I was broken, I was ugly, I was wrong. And even my mother knew it.

Read More »

Things I Did While Waiting for My Husband’s MRI to Happen

1. Reread the stern words, hammered into a sterile printout. The scope results: a scythe. Images of an alien inhabiting his inner world.

2. Notice the footprints on our living-room floor. Briefly consider cleaning.

3. Three breaths later. Hug him. Hug the kids. Hug myself. Hug the dogs. Tilt my head when he says that he doesn’t want to hug right now.

Read More »

Another Way to Listen

Editor’s Note: This piece was a finalist in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

“David, from this moment forward, you’ll need to listen with your heart.”

It’s been forty years since I heard these words, but they ring as clearly in my mind as if it were yesterday.

My night nurse, Jill, whispered them into my left ear—the only one still able to hear after my fourteen-hour brain surgery to remove a tangerine-sized growth from the acoustic nerve, which affects hearing and balance.

Read More »

More Voices

Every month readers tell their stories — in 40 to 400 words — on a different healthcare theme.

At the Pharmacy - More Voices
Photo Credit: Sara Kohrt
At the Pharmacy

May 2024

Scars
Photo Credit: Sara Kohrt
Scars

April 2024

The Biopsy
Photo Credit: Sara Kohrt
The Biopsy

March 2024

New Voices

Stories by those whose faces and perspectives are underrepresented in media and in the health professions.

A Daughter of Vietnamese Refugees

Editor’s Note: This piece was a finalist in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

I am a daughter of Vietnamese refugees.

I wear my identity so proudly that I often reflexively lead with this when, as a medical student, I’m introduced to colleagues, professors and supervisors. It is my response when asked, “How will you contribute to diversity?”

I feel honored to be different. In fact, when I meet patients who have never encountered a Vietnamese American, and if it feels safe to do so, I happily pronounce my last name in my native tongue.

Read More »

The Visible-Invisible Divide

Editor’s Note: This piece was a finalist in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

Most days, people don’t see my disability. I don’t generally wear a brace or use a wheelchair or even crutches.

“I would never know that you’re in constant pain,” a kind professor once said. “When I see you, you’re always smiling.”

“You don’t look sick,” friends always tell me.

I’m twenty-three. I want to be like my peers, but for me, every day is a balancing act—literally.

Read More »

The Sounds of Inclusion

Editor’s Note: This piece was awarded an honorable mention in the Pulse writing contest, “On Being Different.”

The whir of a drill. Loud smacks from a hammer. Tools scrape and scratch the floor as they’re shuffled across it.

To you, these may seem like the sounds of nondescript carpentry work; maybe a remodel happening in a neighboring apartment. But as I sit at my desk in my medical school’s laboratory, listening to that carpentry symphony two lab benches away, I hear the sounds of inclusion.

Read More »

Join the 10,000+ who receive Pulse weekly

Sign up to get Pulse delivered to your inbox every Friday or energize your subscription with a tax-deductible donation. 

Poems

Harvest

In early morning appointments,
the doctor’s coat reeks of cigarettes
as he moves closer,
says “Scoot down,”
inserts the probe.

They want me to want my eggs
in case the treatment takes them—
to hold fast to the dream of a child
with my dimples and dark eyes.

Read More »

The Sturgeon

Kind eyes, and a fragile body like a reed
Barely just a presence on the room, as if almost fading
Already into the twilight

Under gentle, careful hands
His body unveils its story with its familiar tells.
The slender wrists, childlike, beneath pitted skin.
Deeply scooped recess above collarbones.
A subtle, solid wedge of liver,
Looming ominously below ribcage.

Read More »

Enough

Her idea of a date is splitting
a six-pack with her husband
Friday nights while milking the cows,
still weary from her day job.
Swollen udders demand attention
twice daily regardless
of her daughter’s ball games,
her mother’s terminal cancer.

Read More »
Scroll to Top