Month: 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.

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


Scott Newport ~

“Seriously?” began Amy’s text, which popped up on my iPhone one blustery November morning.

“How do you know?” she went on. “Why don’t I feel him with me?”

I had no idea how to answer.

Amy and I had met on Facebook a few months earlier, introduced by a mutual friend. Amy had recently lost her teenage son, AJ, to heart disease. “She needs to talk with someone who knows,” my friend had said–meaning “someone who knows what it is to lose a child to illness.”

My own son Evan died nine years ago, at age seven, the day after Thanksgiving. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of volunteer time mentoring parents and families of children with life-threatening illness.

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.

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 …

Chasing Sunrise Read More »

Comfort Care

The hospital-style bed lurks emptily alive in the pale living room. Rust flecks along its silver rails pock my distorted reflection. Cold sheets triangulate like sagging tepees, housing the smell of long-term illness. These are the ghostly remains of hospice care.

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.

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.

The Words I Did Not Say

Heather Edward

About the artist:

Heather Edward is now a pediatric intern at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital. Her comics have been included in the National Academy of Medicine’s Expressions of Clinician Well-Being online gallery and Zucker School of Medicine’s Celebration of Visual Art. “I started using comics in med school as a way to express myself and to process my experiences. I hope that it helps me become a more compassionate and reflective doctor. As an intern, it’s harder to find time to engage in this reflective work, but I’m working on it!”

About the artwork:

“This is a story about a patient I cared for in medical school. I drew this comic for a narrative-medicine elective during my fourth year. The lesson I learned I still carry with me. That lesson pushes me to question why conversations are uncomfortable, and to overcome those feelings in order to connect with patients and families and to support them as best I can.”

Visuals editor:

Sara Kohrt

Story Editor:

Diane Guernsey

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