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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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Paul Gross

June More Voices: Regrets/No Regrets

Dear readers,

Edith Piaf, the powerful, diminutive French singer, had a worldwide hit with a song entitled “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,” translated as “No Regrets.” It was a philosophy that my Belgian mother took to heart, resisting any and all invitations to reexamine past actions in light of actual outcomes and acquired wisdom.

It takes some vulnerability to express regrets. Living with constant regret is a recipe for misery, but expressing regrets can bring us closer to one another, as regrets are a part of life–at least for most of us.

June More Voices: Regrets/No Regrets Read More »

May More Voices: At the Pharmacy

Dear Readers,

When I was a first-year medical student, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes–and soon found myself a frequent visitor at a mom-and-pop Bronx pharmacy just a block from the medical school.

Kind and efficient Mr. Tepper, the pharmacist, dispensed my insulin, my syringes and my glucose test strips. As I made the rude transition from excellent health to chronic illness, it softened the blow that the man handing me my lifesaving supplies knew my name, was aware of my sad tale and made sure that I didn’t run out of anything.

May More Voices: At the Pharmacy Read More »

April More Voices: Scars

Dear readers,

My physical scars are hardly worth mentioning. I have a scar on my back where a surgeon removed a lipoma–a fatty lump the size of a golf ball–twenty years ago. On my abdomen, I have a few smaller, more recent scars from laparoscopic prostate surgery.

I’m lucky. The scars don’t bother me. Hardly anyone notices them. And if I’m wearing a bathing suit, the appearance of a scar on a man suggests something heroic–a wound inflicted in battle–rather than a sign of vulnerability or an imperfection that detracts from physical beauty.

Others aren’t so fortunate.

April More Voices: Scars Read More »

February More Voices: Cold

Dear readers,

Warren Holleman, one of our More Voices editors, suggested Cold as a theme for February. (Warren lives in Houston–recall the winter storms of February 2021 that crippled the Texas power grid, subjecting millions of households to freezing temperatures and killing hundreds.)

Dana Grossman, our other More Voices editor, jumped on board with Warren’s suggestion. (Dana lives in Vermont–no further explanation necessary.)

February More Voices: Cold Read More »

January More Voices: COVID Redux

Dear Pulse readers,

That’s my COVID test from a couple of weeks back. After I’d dodged the virus for three years, it finally caught up with me–disabusing me of any notion that I was somehow more robust, more careful or perhaps cleverer than everyone else who’d come down with COVID.

COVID made me feel crummy–achy, feverish and tired–and without any desire to eat.

My doctor prescribed Paxlovid, and I took it.

January More Voices: COVID Redux Read More »

December More Voices: A Ray of Hope

Dear Pulse readers,

It was December. I was three months into my first year of medical school, and I wasn’t feeling right. I’d been incredibly thirsty for the past few weeks and been peeing an awful lot.

When I finally decided to get myself checked out at the student health service, the news wasn’t good: I was told I had diabetes. Not just diabetes, but type 1 diabetes, the kind they used to call juvenile onset. My body had stopped making insulin, and I would need to start injecting it.

December More Voices: A Ray of Hope Read More »

November More Voices: Traumatized

Dear Pulse readers,

This month’s More Voices theme is Traumatized. Today, as I write this, entire populations in Israel and Gaza are experiencing trauma. And friends and relatives of Palestinians and Jews in other parts of the globe are being traumatized from afar, as they hear heartbreaking news of injury and death.

Even those without personal connections to Israel or Gaza may be triggered by stories of families being ravaged by bullets and bombs.

As I thought about writing an introduction to this month’s theme, I couldn’t help but reflect that I’ve led a sheltered life.

November More Voices: Traumatized Read More »

August More Voices: Heat

Dear Pulse readers,

Many years ago, while seeking employment as a musician, I spent part of a summer in Minneapolis, a town I associated with cold winters but which, it turned out, also endured hot summers. My quarters had no air conditioning and I was sweltering, so I purchased a fan, which didn’t help much. For some reason, my place just wouldn’t cool off, even at night, and there were moments when I felt I might suffocate from the heat.

August More Voices: Heat Read More »

July More Voices: Pills

Dear Pulse readers,

An elderly patient walks into an appointment with her new doctor and empties a bag of medications on the doctor’s desk.

The doctor looks at the heap of bottles and says, “I have some good news for you! I’m going to take you off of all these pills except for three.”

“Doctor, that’s wonderful!” the patient exclaims. “Which three should I keep taking?”

July More Voices: Pills Read More »

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