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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July 2021

Dear Worried Mother

I can’t stop thinking about you.

Last night, at about midnight, the phone aroused me from my happy slumber. It was Vance, the on-call resident, needing advice from me, as the supervising physician, on how to help a worried mother—you—who’d called our family health center’s after-hours service about your daughter’s worsening asthma.

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Learning to Rest

My story is about not exercising.

I had always defined myself by my activity. In my youth, I was a runner and a swimmer, then I was a college athlete, and later on a physician who taught medical students about health promotion counseling and who researched physical activity interventions. I was the person my colleagues, family, and friends turned to for advice on how to incorporate exercise into their busy lives.

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When we met you, we didn’t believe your pain. We didn’t believe you when you told us your pain was nine out of ten, because wouldn’t you be screaming if it were? Because you sometimes slept. Because you were addicted.

At home, you treated your pain with heroin, so I carefully gave you opiates, limiting the amount and the frequency. You came for an infection and you brought your pain—you brought it everywhere you went.

Wildfire Read More »

An Idea Whose Time Had Come

A half century ago, exercise had little place in medical care. Months of rest were for advised for TB, women spent weeks in bed after giving birth, and three weeks of bed rest was typical after a heart attack (as was a reduced likelihood of returning to many forms of employment).

At that time, a team of us started a cardiac rehab program based at Morristown Medical Center. It involved both professionals and laypeople.

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Something Stronger

you said he likes it dark in the morning. every morning
he made black coffee by the light through the window over the sink
well anyway he used to. well anyway that’s why it’s so dark in here beg your pardon
the monitor beeped and i ate my yawn and said no problem almost my lunchtime anyway
you laughed and i laughed but he did not see the joke
i’d seen his mri i wondered if he could see anything at all out of that eye
seventy-four-year-old male temporal mass first start case
you sipped coffee from a styrofoam cup. you said he liked to garden
likes to garden

you got quiet for a while then
i said politely the thing you’re supposed to can i get you anything do you need anything
you wanted something stronger than this junk
well we both smiled and i said of course i’ll see what i can do
but i didn’t see in fact i forgot pretty quick

because it was find the suite scrub in circles clean the fingernails gown up gloves on
do you know when we wheeled

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