May 2020

Flow with It

Slow. Sluggish. Feet dragging. Legs heavy.

The run was not the effortless morning wake-up I had envisioned when I sat on front steps tying the shoes. The gazelle I had envisioned, gently bouncing over the trails, had turned into more of a hippo waddling along.

Then, around fifteen minutes into the run, I remembered a friend’s wisdom. “Don’t fight the current. Find it and flow with it.”

This Is Why

February 2016
Tierra Nueva, Dominican Republic
I’m in the last of five days caring for patients at rural clinics in western DR, along the Haitian frontier.
Tierra Nueva, miles from anywhere, is a collection of clapboard shanties and shacks scattered along a dusty, unpaved road that dead-ends at the border. People survive here by coaxing vegetables out of the earth via scratch farming. The lucky ones have a goat and maybe some hens.
Burned Out

Burned Out

It’s been five months since I left my position as a psychiatrist and medical director, and like everyone, I’m wrestling with questions about how COVID-19 has changed our lives, maybe forever. As I read the news and hear from my former colleagues, who’ve had to quickly ramp up to deliver telepsychiatry, I feel a mixture of emotions: fear and concern for my former patients; guilt that I’ve left my colleagues behind to fight on without me; and uncertainty over how I can best help out in this crisis.


As of this week, I have gone two and a half months without a single human touch, by me or to me. How strange is that? I don’t think I ever before went more than eight hours of daytime without some human touch–a hug, a kiss, a handshake or touching a child’s shoulder in class, demonstrating a physical exam technique, examining a patient. Never.
Code Pink

Code Pink

When a code is called in the hospital, it means two things: A caregiver’s day is about to be turned upside-down, and a patient’s world is about to fall to pieces. If you’re a caregiver, when a code is called you look up from your own work and wonder who’ll be sprinting through the halls and whose story is unfolding.

This time, the story was ours.

Please Don’t Call Us Heroes

Please Don’t Call Us Heroes

The people I work with don’t want to be called heroes.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am a psychologist and medical educator in a family-medicine residency that serves a diverse, multilingual immigrant population. I work with healthcare providers of all stripes–family-medicine residents and attending physicians, medical receptionists, medical assistants, case workers and clinic managers. My colleagues are profoundly dedicated, talented, hardworking, flexible, creative and compassionate. They absolutely want to do everything they can to help patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Short Explanation of Everything

A Short Explanation of Everything

Our patient says she’s burning up, burning up.
We sponge her off. This student is learning how blood boils,
how shaking chills and drenching sweats punctuate fever,
how water moves in and out of cells
along concentration gradients, how nerves talk,
how some circuits turn all the lights on and all the lights off,
how hearts beat one cell at a time while squeezing together
and in sequence, how the life of the mind
is beyond understanding in the same way that a kidney
will never understand the flow of urine,
how sleep is not as simple as it looks.
During general anesthesia the operating room enjoys music.
Inside the Respiratory Tent

Inside the Respiratory Tent

Spring comes slowly to New England. When I leave the house in the mornings at the end of April, I pull my fleece jacket tighter around me on my way to the car. My preteen daughter’s dark eyes and solemn mouth watch from the second-floor window as I pull away.
In the “don and doff” station at the respiratory tent in the hospital parking lot, I put on a gown and gloves, then take one last lungful of chilly damp air (grass, diesel fuel, coffee smells from the bodega across the street) before I plaster the N95 mask to my face, looping the elastic bands over my head like jump ropes.
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