MaMA

 
Day Three: “Mama”–­ accent on the second syllable, “maMA” – how he opened all calls to me. They had put in the PICC line, a catheter in the arm used for long-term intravenous antibiotics, medications and blood draws. “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”
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Who Will Hear a Stored Voice?

I’m crying a lot these days. Goes with the territory, and the triggers are everywhere.

My thirty-one year-old son had a newer laptop than mine and an iPhone 6. My iPhone 5 was a hand-me-down from him. (Prior to that, my iPhone 3 was given to me by a former resident, now friend, who upgraded to a 5 and was tired of mocking me for my flip phone.)

I have been paying my son’s cell phone bill since he died on 1/16/17. I told myself I would do this until I could get it backed up so I could

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Trusting the Process

As a rookie psychologist, I knew I had much to learn. Burdened with perfectionism, I had self-doubts about technique and process. I so wanted to do it right.
One day I was assigned a young client—a girl of no more than twelve, whose grandfather was anxious to have her seen by a therapist. His wife was dying, and the child’s mother had no interest in raising her. To complicate matters, the relationship with the grandmother was full of resentment on both sides. Not ideal in any way. 
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Kleenex

 
Twenty minutes behind as I knocked on the exam room door and entered. No need for introductions. We knew each other well. We skipped the “asking the patient her goals for the visit.” I already knew them. Twenty years of caring for and being trusted by a patient and a friend allows that. Her goals were the same as mine. We were there to tell the truth.
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Our First Conversation

 
You were the one whom the local cancer-care team felt needed a family doctor when you returned to our small coastal village after six months at a teaching hospital in the city.

You were the one who felt lost, who longed for professional advice and support.

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I Didn’t Know

 
In my second year of college as a premed, I signed up to be an emergency room volunteer at a municipal hospital located just off campus. It was 1969, and the neighborhood reflected the larger urban community, including both established residents and newly arrived immigrants.
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Please Don’t Ask

 
“Please don’t ask” was my silent plea to my patient as I entered the exam room. I knew if she did, I would start crying, and not for the first time that day.
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No Laughing Matter

 
“You need a fifth surgery,” the maxillofacial surgeon tells me. “Heterotopic bone is again growing over your prosthetic device.”

For eight years I have endured intense pain in my left jaw. While having four surgeries, I have also undergone Botox treatment, acupuncture and physical therapy; taken a variety of medications prescribed by pain doctors, neurologists and my primary care physician; and used specially made creams, ice and heat on the affected area. Nothing has worked.

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