Month: June 2019

Exit Interview


Tamra Travers ~

“I’m graduating and leaving our clinic in June.”

Over and over again, in the months leading up to this transition, I break this news to my primary-care patients. I have developed many meaningful relationships with patients over my past three years of training as a family-medicine resident in a large, urban health center in Manhattan. But now it is time to leave and move on.

The fluorescent lights in an overly air-conditioned white clinic room illuminate face after face, all with the same look, staring back at me. Her face drops. His shoulders brace. His eyes shift. Her chronic low back pain tightens its grip. Her once improving mood slips back down. The eight-month-old bouncing and smiling on my lap quickly lunges back to Mom. She senses that her mother is hurting.

ent luggage

Mission Supplies

“This looks like luggage, but it represents love. Our group of US surgeons brings as many surgical supplies as possible each year when traveling to Kenya for our two-week surgical camp. The bags are filled with supplies that have been donated, purchased or saved from being thrown away. Without the generosity of dozens of people, our surgical work would not be possible.”

The World in the Right Direction

Telling the personal story of health care…by and for everyone–patients, health professionals and students of narrative medicine. Telling the personal story of health care…by and for everyone–patients, health professionals and students of narrative medicine. Telling the personal story of health care…by and for everyone–patients, health professionals and students of narrative medicine. Telling the personal story of health care…by and for everyone–patients, health professionals and students of narrative medicine. Telling the personal story of health care…by and for everyone–patients, health professionals and students of narrative medicine.

More Voice Not Knowing Test

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More Voice Not Knowing Test

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam sit amet massa quis nibh tristique dictum quis blandit erat. Cras risus dui, scelerisque eu tincidunt vitae, fermentum id eros. Pellentesque eget molestie ligula, vitae eleifend sapien. Vestibulum malesuada, orci ut pellentesque placerat, felis nisl tempor ligula, non rutrum nulla erat at quam. Donec eu ligula egestas, tempus enim id, facilisis massa. Integer maximus ante lacus, et molestie lorem tristique non. Morbi lacus magna, placerat id dui eu, placerat gravida erat. Aliquam cursus, tortor vitae condimentum aliquet, leo nulla rutrum sem, vitae cursus orci elit at enim. In non hendrerit lorem, vitae luctus urna. Nam diam lectus, placerat sit amet aliquet id, venenatis eget tortor. Quisque iaculis elit vel leo vulputate, id faucibus felis ultrices. Nam suscipit purus eu tincidunt efficitur. Pellentesque erat justo, vestibulum a porttitor id, elementum eu justo.

Cras vitae viverra orci. Integer tincidunt orci justo, in gravida arcu luctus ut. Aenean a enim convallis, consequat nulla et, maximus felis. Fusce quis erat semper magna consequat vestibulum nec ullamcorper ex. Donec sed massa eu nisi mollis laoreet. Curabitur at odio ut leo laoreet dignissim. Vivamus luctus rhoncus lectus a iaculis. Nullam posuere est id magna rhoncus convallis.

Suspendisse …

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Penal Code


Lisa S. Gussak ~

When I see Rosa’s name on my patient list, I smile. I have known her nearly eight years. Under my care, she’s given birth to her last two children, and although she takes the kids to a pediatrician rather than me, we have an uncanny habit of bumping into each other outside the office. I’ve seen her and the kids in the market, at a park and in the hospital lobby, and I have been invited to, but could not attend, a family birthday party.

Today she’s coming in for a routine physical. I last saw her fourteen months ago. She needs a Pap, a follow-up on her sometimes elevated blood pressure, and paperwork documenting her vaccinations so that she can volunteer at her kids’ school.

Ode to the Uterus

They call it

A woman’s coin purse
Buried away like an afterthought
In the folds of her body.

But hers is a feral little thing
Throwing away angry outbursts
With the tide of each moon.

It scoffs at being
Belittled and unused
Writing her opinion in bloody letters.

wavesofloslobos

The Waves of Los Lobos

“About ten months after my cancer treatments (two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation), my cousin came from Israel, and we ventured up the California coast at a slow pace. Nature is healing for me. I was mesmerized by the deep turquoise swirls and the power of the ocean churning against the cliffs at Los Lobos State Park. I started painting what I felt, and this image emerged. “Nature is healing; chemotherapy and radiation strips away one’s known self, and a new process of rebirth begins. I believe this artwork is myself nurturing what will come as I heal in the arms of Mother Nature–whose power to heal breathes deeply in my heart.”

On the Frontline

There are those who speak heatedly about abortion, either for or against, from a distance, their voice hypothetical. There are those who sit with a woman, listen to her story, see her broken heart revealed and hold her hand as she cries, “I can’t have this baby.” And then there are those, truly on the frontline, who perform abortions.

On Becoming an Abortion Provider

A young woman comes to my office: she’s pregnant, and she wants to discuss her options. In my medical practice, this scenario repeats itself on a daily basis.
Occasionally the patient is a high school student or in college on a sports scholarship. Oftentimes she’s a single mother with several children, her home already bursting at the seams. Sometimes she’s with a partner she knows would not be a good parent to her children. Or often she is married and financially stable, but engaged in a demanding career, or just simply decides that it’s not the right time.
Some of my patients are ambivalent and want me to help them explore options. Others are already certain that they want an abortion.

Beginner’s Mind

Jessica Stuart ~

I paced in the hallway outside of the patient’s room, going over my mental checklist of items to do during the history and physical examination. Bringing in a paper list was discouraged; we were meant to “flow” through the exam “naturally.”

I stuffed my hands into the pockets of the white coat I’d received three weeks earlier, during the White Coat Ceremony for first-year medical students. Feeling around the deep pockets to make sure that I had everything I needed, I felt my left hand graze a cold metal reflex hammer with a sharp tip, used to test for nerve damage in the feet of diabetic patients. (Alternatively, it could be used as “a medieval torture device,” my mother had said the previous weekend, as I’d practiced my exam on her.) In my right pocket, I felt my tuning fork, blood-pressure cuff and ophthalmoscope.

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