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

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

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Sharing personal experiences of giving and receiving health care

New Normal

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

When I finally got to take my newborn son home, after an almost six-week stay in the NICU, the social worker said, “You will be his advocate. You will know him better than anyone. And you will find your new normal.”

My son’s diagnosis was that he would never walk or talk. After his brain MRI, I felt that the hospital staff looked at us differently. My son’s life—and, by extension, our lives—would be different.

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Myrtle Beach

Babies are not made of plastic.

In both their distribution of mass and their texture, the feel is utterly different. Babies are warm and soft and plump and pink. Their heads are bowling balls.

New mothers are uncomfortably aware of this fact, as I’ve observed many times in my role as a pediatrician.

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A Different Shade of Black

Ask any medical student what makes them unique among their peers, and you’ll almost certainly be treated to a two-minute answer that’s been rehearsed in countless mock interviews and essays as part of their preparations for residency applications.

It’s ingrained in the collective medical-student brain that to be recognized, we must stand out–constantly looking for opportunities to demonstrate our unparalleled competence.

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More Voices

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

Trans - More Voices
Photo Credit: Sara Kohrt
Trans

July 2024

Regrets/No Regrets - More Voices
Photo Credit: Sara Kohrt
Regrets/No Regrets

June 2024

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

May 2024

New Voices

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

One Person at a Time

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

By medical-student standards, I’m old.

While it’s increasingly common for applicants to take one, two or even three gap years between college and medical school (usually to do research or engage in an activity to be featured in their application), taking ten years off, as I did, is unusual. I fondly refer to this hiatus as my “gap decade.”

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Small but Mighty

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

I was born with what was described as a “mild” case of achondroplasia, a genetic condition that affects bone growth and causes short stature.

The average height of an adult female with achondroplasia is 4 feet 1 inch; I am 4 feet 5 inches tall. I do not have some of the “characteristic” facial features such as a prominent forehead or flattened nasal bridge. The average person remains unaware of my condition until I stand up.

This condition does not run in my family.

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When Is the Right Time?

Stephanie passed away this morning.

In an email from her husband, Frank, I learned that I’d lost my dear friend of two decades.

Stephanie was only forty-two. An administrator at a local bank, she was also a devoted wife and the loving mother of three daughters.

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Poems

Middle-aged Daughter

(after Susan Vespoli)

I like to think she stopped searching
for the next hobby, the next career,
the next diagnosis.

That she’s thriving at work and has given up
smoking. I like to think she completes
her interrupted orthodontics

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Often Described As

the most terrible pain known to man,
trigeminal neuralgia
ricochets around my face, pulsing
electric-shocks. My doctor advises

cutting the nerve in my cheek, the only hope
of stopping the torture. He mentions
some patients consider
suicide. My husband has just revealed

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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.

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