Paul Gross

An Editor’s Invitation: Behind Closed Doors

Dear Pulse readers,
To me, there is something sacred about closing the door to an exam room. In my time as a physician, the exam rooms I’ve worked in have never been luxurious. But even under shabby or cramped conditions, there is always something powerful and symbolic about closing the exam room door.
Now you have my full attention, the gesture says. Tell me things that need to be said in private.

An Editor’s Invitation: Silver Linings

Dear Pulse readers,

I’d like to think that every cloud has a silver lining, and every unfortunate occurrence brings moments of grace.

That’s sometimes true with illness.

When my Belgian mother became ill with Alzheimer’s, it brought headaches and heartaches. After every fall or episode of getting lost, we’d try to talk with her about the future. Her answer was always the same: “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”

An Editor’s Invitation: Healing

Dear Pulse readers,
I spent most of my boyhood with a scab on one knee or the other. There were two reasons: First, I must have fallen down a lot; and second, it was hard to resist picking the scab that formed over a bad scrape.
Picking at or pulling off the scab meant fresh bleeding, a brand-new scab and delayed healing. But it was hard to leave well enough alone and have the patience to let nature do its required work at its own pace.

An Editor’s Invitation: The Vaccine

Dear Pulse readers,
A New Year is upon us. I hope that it finds you well so far.
It’s an old saw in medicine: Never be the first doctor to prescribe a new medication–nor the last.
It’s advice that I take to heart. I generally wait a few years before offering the latest, greatest pill to my patients. On more than one occasion that strategy has saved me the guilt and shame of violating the most sacred medical directive: First, do no harm.

An Editor’s Invitation: Endings and Beginnings

Dear Pulse readers,
A colleague who is leaving our practice for California asked me today if I would be willing to assume the care of one of his patients–someone who asked him specifically if I could become her new doctor.
I warily perused her chart and counted forty-one medical problems, from the trivial to the life-threatening, anxiety prominent among them. She seemed a busy bee of a patient, with eleven appointments scheduled for this coming month alone. She’s keeping a lot of doctors hopping, I thought. And soon enough, I’ll be one of them.

November More Voices: Choosing

Dear Pulse readers,

Our November More Voices theme is Choosing.

As I write this, two days before Election Day, our nation is about to do some choosing of its own. And like many choices we turn over in our minds, the final outcome will not be 100 percent on either side of the scale.

In health care, decisions need to be made all the time. As a physician, I choose whether or not to recommend a test or treatment. I choose which medication to propose to a patient.

Editor’s Invitation: Fatigue

Dear Pulse readers,
Our More Voices theme this month is Fatigue.
Many are feeling fatigued these days. Fatigued by grief, by isolation and by worry brought on by COVID-19, a murderous guest that arrived in January and is still among us.
Fatigued every time an unarmed Black man is killed by police. “I’m weary,” a friend wrote to me shortly after George Floyd’s murder, “Simply weary. In every sense, spiritually, physically, emotionally…”

Editor’s Invitation: Uncertainty

Dear Pulse readers,

I think it’s fair to say that we’re living in uncertain times.

A pandemic, urgent calls for racial justice and an election year all cry for our attention against a backdrop of global warming. The stakes are high. The outcomes are still unknown.

At the same time, in our personal lives, we need to make choices based on the information at hand. It’s not always easy.

July More Voices: Speaking Up

Dear Pulse readers,

The July More Voices theme is Speaking Up.

I think most of us would like to be the one who speaks up to right a wrong or to call out an injustice.

I’ve done that on occasion, but I can remember other times when I’ve remained silent.

Here’s a time when I spoke up:

An Editor’s Invitation: Racism

It feels as if our nation is bleeding.
Bleeding from the death of 100,000 COVID-19 victims.
And bleeding from the recent reminders that racism is not only alive and well in this great land of ours, its consequences are deadly. Racism is killing us through illness, through police violence, through mass incarceration and through the myriad ways that children and adults are given or denied opportunities and second chances, based upon skin color.

An Editor’s Invitation: COVID-19, Chapter 2

This month’s More Voices theme is COVID-19, Chapter 2. Coronavirus is still very much with us, affecting us in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few months ago.
I’ve been doing telemedicine these past weeks. I’ve had the privilege of accompanying, by phone, a number of my patients who’ve been doing battle with the virus at home–and to everyone’s great relief, most of them have done well.
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