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.

June 2024

I Can’t See Pictures in My Head

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

Visual imagination is like a superpower or a sixth sense: We take it for granted. On demand, we conjure up images of those we hold most dear: family, friends, our beloved pets. We envision people, places and things that we’d like to experience in the future. We revisit cherished memories simply by picturing them, essentially reliving them, all in our mind’s eye.

That is, unless you have aphantasia—like me.

I Can’t See Pictures in My Head Read More »

The Dining-Room Caper

After fifteen years as a physical therapist in the long-term care industry, I’d vowed never again to get overly attached to a resident. Although I accepted my patients’ inevitable physical and cognitive declines, the deaths of those I had cherished took too much of an emotional toll: It felt like losing a grandparent, repeatedly.

Then William entered our facility.

The Dining-Room Caper Read More »

Fear of COVID

Penny was enraged when she learned that we were no longer wearing masks at our hospital. “That’s murder,” she said. “Everyone should wear a mask at all times.”

I explained that I was following the advice of our infectious disease experts. There are downsides to masks: They make communication and patient assessment more difficult, especially in psychiatry. It’s harder to build rapport when we can’t see each other’s faces.

“You’re killing people,” she replied.

Fear of COVID Read More »

The Difference

My patients do not speak. Or rather, my patients do not speak using words. Instead, they have taught me the art of body language—of noises, expressions and postures.

I read the movement of ears, the way pupils dilate or constrict. Watch for the tremors, for the hunch of a spine, for the described bows or stretches that could indicate abdominal spasm. Search for the hint of a leg being favored, for the inaudible signs of pain. Wait for tongues darting over lips. Offer food that may be sniffed at or turned away from. I’ve learned to respond to fear with gentleness, to preempt the sharpness of tooth or claw with slow movements.

The Difference Read More »

Quasi Niente

On Wednesdays, one of the residents in my clinic precepting group usually presents a didactic. However, last Wednesday, the junior resident was absent, and I decided to present a case of a “challenging patient” instead. The patient himself wasn’t really challenging, I explained to the residents, but he was in a challenging situation. I had a 20-minute telemedicine session the following day, and I wanted the residents’ advice on how I should best spend my time with the patient.

Quasi Niente Read More »

Scroll to Top