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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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November 2018

A Poetic Stroke

Thomas E. Schindler ~

Editor’s note: This Sunday will mark the last day that we accept poetry submissions this year. We offer today’s story in honor of the poets who are sending us their creative works for consideration.

For the past few years, since becoming a grandfather, I have indulged in an afternoon nap. Last year, while arising after a nap, I fell on my face–hard. Cautiously, I got up, and then carefully lay down again, confused about what had just happened. Whatever it was, it passed–and I tried to forget about it.

Next morning, my reflection in the bathroom mirror startled me with a garish reminder of my fall: a purple bruise beneath my left eye. Also, something was wrong with my vision. When I looked left, I saw a blurry absence. Later, my ophthalmologist performed a field-of-vision test that revealed a significant blind spot. Although a CT scan failed to detect any brain lesions, he pushed for an MRI.

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Androcles Lion 2007

Androcles’ Lion

George Saj

About the artist:

George Saj is a general surgeon with forty-four years of practice behind him. He has a lifelong interest in art and is now working in assemblages of painted wood. 
About the artwork:

Caught in the moment after the thorn
was removed and he is overcome with a
feeling of euphoira and bliss
at the dissipation of pain…
eyes unfocused…
mind adrift in a benign state of well-being.

Visuals Editor: 

Sara Kohrt

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Remembering the Beginning

Jacqueline Dooley ~

I was unprepared
for the feel of your hair pulling free
with every brushstroke.
I wasn’t up to autumn
from the side of your hospital bed.
It seemed too much
for the universe to ask.
But, like you, I was choiceless
as I drove through November streets
the colors, drained and faded,
like your face when the chemo went in,
reduced to nothing more
than what I was when you were born.
I covered your exposed head.
I tried to stop your tears.

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chasing sunrise patel

Chasing Sunrise

About the artist:

Angira Patel is a pediatric and fetal cardiologist in Chicago. She has an interest in medical ethics and education. 
About the artwork:

“I had given news to future parents that their unborn child had congenital heart disease. As expected, the parents were devastated. It did not matter that surgeries could be done or that children could live with this heart problem. I had, in that brief one hour interaction, taken away their hope of a ‘perfectly’ healthy child. My brain knew I had not caused the heart disease in any way, but my heart did not. I carried their grief with me. As I was driving to work the next morning, I saw this man running on the lake. The clouds, the sunrise, the slightly hunched posture of the person all spoke to what I was feeling and perhaps to what the parents were feeling as well. ‘Just keep going,’ I told myself, ‘you are meant to be at their side through this journey, no matter how imperfect it may

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Keep Going

Since my son died last year of a heroin overdose, the most common response from others has been “I can’t imagine!” Losing your child is unimaginable. A parent is not supposed to outlive their child. It’s contrary to the natural order. He was only twenty-five and never became the beautiful person he was meant to be.
When the call came that he had died (“This is Officer A from Precinct B. Sorry to tell you that your son is dead. If you want to see him before the medical examiners take his body, he’s at this address…”), I faced the choice to either allow it to do me in or pick myself up and move forward.

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The Unseen

Ashley, my youngest daughter, has a genetic condition so rare it is still considered “incompatible with life.” Yet today, Ashley is twenty-five, and she hasn’t just survived. She rides horses and she competes in jazz dance recitals with her many friends with intellectual disabilities. When she gets a new dress, she twirls while modeling it for strangers, as if she is on Next Top Model. At age four, she made the front page of our local newspaper because she was so darned cute gritting her teeth as she pulled her walker toward the finish line in her first Special Olympics race. Surely, she is a great example of persevering.

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