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.

Christmas at My Place

I turned back to look at him only once, that insane parody of Jesus on the rood, his face turned away in death, arms stretched wide, a small white towel draped over his manhood. I stood there in the E.R. covered in the blood he’d spray-painted me with as he lay dying from a gunshot wound to the chest. Blood spray in my hair, my eyelashes, on my lips and in my mouth. My new white shoes with the stylish aerating holes, also bore the shocking red of a life too soon ended.

Read More »

Mayday, Mayday

T.S. Eliot was slightly off: I consider May, not April, the cruelest month.

May 8: A birthday, Maril’s. She died of pancreatic cancer—too soon after her brother, my step-father, died of the same disease.

May 10: A diagnosis—the date I learned I had pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, two days before my 14th birthday.

Read More »

Underneath It All

I was supposed to see Jane for abdominal pain, but within minutes of meeting her, she told me that her boyfriend hits her. Once, so hard that he fractured and dislocated her jaw. She has a lot of bruises, but only in areas covered by her clothes. To the unknowing, Jane appears neatly put together, whole. But, underneath it all, she is unraveling, coming undone.

Read More »

Smiles

It feels like wading into cold ocean water. A bit of a shock, and then so refreshing. I step hesitantly out of my office, and then amble down the hallway toward the exam room to see my patient. Both of us will be unmasked. The natural state now requires getting used to all over again.

Read More »

Hard Questions

My routine clinic day was interrupted by a startling message. During a moment of extreme stress, a long-term patient of mine left a threatening voicemail on my colleague’s phone. The target of her anger was me. It was difficult to discern her garbled speech in the recording of her screaming, but I heard loud and clear that she intended to find me at my clinic and physically hurt me – or worse.

Read More »

I Took My Routine for Granted

I had just returned from my parish of ministry. Little did I think I would not be returning to my office. Visiting the homebound in person was to become a way of the past. COVID-19 had raised its ugly head and my life would never be the same.

Read More »

A Soul-Stealing Belief

During my psychiatry clerkship, I encountered a patient with his first primary psychotic episode. He was an African-American immigrant, and his story hit many of my buttons. I connected with him as his journey brought back memories, and I was moved to read up on various studies surrounding his case. I found an article that hypothesized that immigrants from underdeveloped countries had a higher chance of mental illness due to “dysregulated immunoregulation.”

Read More »

Missing Pieces

“Your love makes me feel alive,” she says, eyes on the floor, blank faced, looking anything but alive.

This once bubbly girl with a jazzy soul and a voice bursting in major chords, weeping  over the beauty in Chopin’s Preludes, as lights soared beneath her slender fingers moving across ivory keys. Who attended college until her senior year only to suddenly withdraw with a forest fire burning through her mind.

Read More »

Denial and Beyond

When Alma first felt a lump in her right breast, she assumed it was a meaningless skin lesion. But it grew, ultimately taking over the breast. Then her skin blistered, thickened, and turned red. Alma knew it was breast cancer—she’d looked up online images of advanced disease but abruptly closed the web pages. She told herself that “cancer doesn’t happen to me.” Though in her 40s, she was her father’s “mini-me,” adored and indulged.

Read More »

Unraveling

I entered the world as a rag doll—so poorly sewn together that one pull on a single thread could cause me to unravel. And throughout my more than seven decades of life, many threads have been pulled. Whether I’m receiving exceptionally good news or dealing with inconveniences that I magnify into tragedies, I all too easily become undone and succumb to a tsunami of tears.

Read More »

May More Voices: Coming Undone

Dear Pulse readers,

In my work as a physician, I sometimes see patients whose bodies have come undone. It happens. But in truth, I spend far more time reassuring patients that their bodies have not come undone.

That lump is not a cancer.

Your headache is not a brain tumor.

Read More »
Scroll to Top