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Latest Voices

All Rashed Out

What will tomorrow bring? This is the theme running in my head today as I zip in and out of patients’ rooms: listening, comforting, joking. And, just trying to get through the day.

They aren’t the only ones who are sick. I am still rashed out on my face and neck from one month ago.

Post-COVID, Round 3. A rash. Intense itching. Angioedema (swelling). Shortness of breath. My allergist and dermatologist are scratching their heads, trying to figure this out.

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Ideally and Sometimes

Ideally, coping is sitting down and having dialogues with myself, friends, or good colleagues about what bothers me. It is asking for advice and sharing my thoughts. It is writing down what I can do to solve problems and then creating an action plan.  

Sometimes, however, coping is … 

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Making My Way with Grief

I make my way with grief. Our son Max died by suicide eight years ago. Quickly deciding against suicide for myself, I’ve found ways to cope.

I do twenty push-ups each morning, dedicating them to Max and using the physical pain to exorcise the emotional pain. I began this ritual soon after Max died, when I would start in on my day oblivious to the pain lying in wait beneath my sleep-refreshed, early-morning optimism. Then, at some moment, maybe hours later, I’d remember that Max was dead and double over in grief.

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The Solace of Anger

I first felt driven to pursue a medical education during my Peace Corps service in rural southern Belize. My work partner was the village’s community health worker. Our duties varied and depended on the season, weather, and amount of laundry that needed washing that day—which we scrubbed at the river’s edge with freshly picked soapberries. Sometimes we made oral rehydration salts for villagers with diarrhea. Or we visited the pregnant and the elderly. Or we made tortillas.

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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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The Children Not Frequently Mentioned

I held her hand. We weren’t quite twenty years old. I wasn’t sure what decision I would have made, I’m still not. All I knew was that she was the one whose opinion mattered in this moment. Today it was her choice, and the most I could do was try to be there for her.

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Meditation in Medicine

The sun shone brightly reflecting the ripples off the pond. Closing my eyes, I tried meditation for the first time in a long time. Balancing caring for patients in the wards, being evaluated by my team, and applying for residency, I felt more stressed than I had been in a long time.

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Shattered

It was 6:30 a.m., and I was nearing the last hour of a nighttime rotation on labor and delivery. Over the previous eight hours, my team had overseen two vaginal deliveries and two c-sections, one emergent. During this procedure, as the medical student on the team, I was charged with requesting hemostatic agents, STAT, from the main OR. As I ran past the patient’s anxious husband with the hemorrhage cart, I informed him, trying desperately to hide the terror in my voice, that his new baby boy was healthy but that the doctors were still treating his wife.

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Situational Depression?

Sad, tired, and vulnerable, I plopped into my usual seat in my therapist’s office. As a third-year medical resident, I felt like a poster child for imposter syndrome. For months, my mood had been low, I was not enjoying life, and I was struggling.

My therapist gently commented, “I think it’s time for meds, Pam.”

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