On the Floor

Aunt Jenny is in her chair knitting when she asks me to make her some tea. “Nice and hot,” she says in her whispery voice. “Warm the cup with boiling water and pour it out.” She’s forgotten that she tells me this every time I make her a cup of tea. I sigh and head to the kitchen, fill the tea kettle, and am taking the fragile porcelain cup from an upper cabinet when I hear her fall.

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Facing Grief

As a teenager, I never thought much about accidents. Cuts and bruises are part of growing up in a small, midwestern town. However, when someone you love is in a serious accident, your world changes, and your mind becomes engulfed in anxiety. 

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The “Accidents” That Shape Our Life’s Purpose

Completing my internal medicine training in the summer of 1962, I packed my car and, together with my wife and three young children, set out to find a place to practice internal medicine in a town with a good public school system.

While looking for a home from which to practice, I scrounged around for some work–police calls, house calls, calls from the ER–while my family lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

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Panic in the Outside Messages Folder

As I scan the numerous folders of my electronic medical record in-box, typically I open the “Outside Messages” folder with some trepidation. This folder contains messages from other hospitals detailing emergency room and specialist visits, hospitalizations, and test results concerning my patients.

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It Could Have Been Me

When I was a sophomore in high school, I went with the band director’s son and wife to a weekend band clinic a couple of hours away from my South Carolina home. This was the 1950s, when bench seats in cars were common, so we all rode in the front seat. On the way home, Mrs. Mills suggested we stop in a town forty minutes from home to attend church—not an unexpected suggestion in that Bible Belt place and time.

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It Was My Choice, Not an Accident

As my parents aged, accidents became an integral part of their lives—and mine, as their caregiver. These accidents ranged from falling to losing bladder and bowel control. Each time something happened beyond my parents’ control, they lost a part of themselves—of their sense of independence and adulthood. Perhaps Jacques said it best in William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night with the final lines of his “All the world’s a stage” soliloquy: “Last scene of all,/That ends this strange eventful history,/Is second childishness and mere oblivion.”

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April More Voices: Accidents

Dear Pulse readers,

When I was a college sophomore, my mother called me in tears to tell me that one of my Canadian cousins had died in a car accident. A bright, vivacious university student, Orianne had been dozing in the back seat of a Volkswagen beetle driven by a friend, who’d apparently lost control of the car. It swerved off the road and rolled over, killing her.

No one else in the car was injured.

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