Sharing personal experiences of giving and receiving health care

What Makes a Good Therapist?

I thought she could help me with night terrors, this nice new therapist. The night terrors started a few weeks after my son went to prison–five words I had never thought I would string together.

I’ve had nightmares since childhood, but these are extraordinary. I tumble into slumber, then wake myself screaming bloody murder, like the woman in Psycho.

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Contented, Though Demented

The last two years of my father’s life were interesting. Our previous roles were reversed: Dad was now the child, and I the adult. I moved him to a new city and state, getting him close enough to keep an eye on him. He was already suffering from dementia, a realization I came to after he had forty thousand dollars stolen from him.

That’s right. Forty thousand dollars.

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The Eye of the Beholder

One winter morning in 2020, I was called to the reception desk to meet my patient Esther and her husband Hertzel. Some time earlier, I’d asked Esther–somewhat awkwardly–if she’d be willing to talk to me about her experience of being diagnosed with and treated for advanced breast cancer, and she’d willingly agreed. Today was the day.

Eighteen months earlier, Esther, in her sixties, had come to my hospital’s ER at her rabbi’s urging.

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More Voices

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

Surgery

October 2022

Watching the Clock

September 2022

Coping

August 2022

New Voices

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

Double Take

Sauntering into the dark hospital room, I was dazzled by my patient’s radiant smile. It spanned her face and crinkled her eyes; her crooked teeth peeked through her lips, making her seem approachable and kind.

“Hi, Ms. Radha, I’m a third-year medical student,” I said. “Is this an okay time to chat? I’m here on behalf of the psychiatry department.”

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Us and Them

I am a second-year medical student—an older medical student, married, with a five-year-old boy and a baby. In medical school, people like me are called nontraditional—a euphemism for peculiar, different.

Today a group of my classmates and I have gathered, wearing our white coats, at a basketball court in Barrio Bélgica, in the south of Puerto Rico, where I’m completing my first two years of medical school. We’re here to visit with some of the local people as part of our Community Medicine course.

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A Heart to Heart

One unusually wintery April morning, when I was fifteen, my maternal grandfather (“Nanabhai” to me) passed away.

The phone call came before my sister and I left for school. My father solemnly handed the phone to my mother, who’d been expecting the call, but not this soon. From my seat at the kitchen counter, I watched her expression morph from shock to disbelief to grief. Without hearing a word, I knew what had happened.

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Poems

Outpatient Clinic

Tissues, the box an arm’s length away
from the woman who talks about
her daughter, my client,

her many relapses, how she did well
for a time. I nod. Somewhere, a blast
of car horns. Outside my door,

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He Said They Move Too Slowly

The ER doc said the trains here
Go too slow
For anybody to kill themselves
By stepping out
In front of one
As if they were sleepy little engines
Without much power
That drifted ghost-like through town
Quietly at night

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Our Hands

Braid a child’s hair in precise beaded rows

And shave a scalp just enough to access
Skin flap, skull, brain, tumor

Fold over a learner’s fingers to guide a needle
This angle here with this much pressure
Slide together into a hidden space

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