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Latest Voices

My Medical Leave of Absence

“A blessing in disguise.” I heard that phrase many times at the height of my illness. When someone is about to die, or when the future looks bleak, it’s hard to practice that philosophy. But, for some reason, I was able to. I kept my doctor’s appointments. I followed my treatment regimen. I heeded the advice to take my mind off my work in medicine. I took things one day at a time.

“One day, almost dying is going to seem like a good thing.” I didn’t care how unlikely that sounded. I believed it.

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A Tightrope Life

Now a retired seventy-five-year-old woman, I thought that finding balance would be easy after spending many years juggling my life as a single mother to a son and daughter, as a teacher of middle school students and then a consultant at a local university’s Writing Center, and eventually as the caregiver for my two elderly parents. I was wrong.

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March More Voices: Finding Balance

Dear Pulse readers,

When our daughters were little, I would head home from my workday thinking, Now I can finally relax.

Of course, once I got home, any notion of relaxation took a back seat to my second job, which involved game playing, food dispensing, story reading, diaper changing, song inventing and rule enforcing. There was often great joy in these activities–and, to be honest, some boredom and fatigue as well.

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Slow Demise

On Christmas Eve of 2016, I received a phone call from Baltimore’s Shock Trauma Center.

“Hello, this is Dr. T,” the caller said. “I’m the physician for your son, Adam. He was rushed to Shock Trauma last night. He jumped off a three-story building and landed on a car. Fortunately, he was under the influence, so he fell like a rag doll and only fractured three vertebrae.”

“My son . . . what?” I gasped.

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Empty Bottle

I suppose, in retrospect, my cousin’s death should have been labeled as a suicide.

Her depression and self-medication with copious amounts of vodka might have served as a premonition of her early demise. Her controlling, narcissistic, Catholic mother doled out plenty of guilt after my cousin’s divorce. Loneliness was her steadfast companion, along with a usually almost-full bottle of vodka.

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Healing: A Medical Student’s Perspective

Once, I accidentally burned my hair while turning it flamingo pink. As I slowly cut off the long, singed locks, with scissors too small for one clean cut, I was surprised by how light I felt with each snip. “Touché,” I chuckled to myself.

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Section 12

We medical providers care for countless patients who feel depressed. For those folks, sometimes life feels so difficult and terrible, that they have thoughts of wishing they didn’t exist, or that the world would be better if they didn’t exist. Sometimes these patients have a plan to end their lives. The more concrete the plan, the more we worry.

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My Marriage Was on the Rocks

When I was 31, my marriage was on the rocks and I considered suicide.

It was shortly after the birth of our second daughter. My husband’s main income-producing customers took their business elsewhere. In oxytocin-induced, breast-feeding bliss at home with our girls, I trusted that he’d recover. But he was in denial regarding the severe downturn in our financial stability, and he recovered neither emotionally nor financially. My bliss shattered.

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An Elderly Patient’s Options

A year ago, I suffered a cardiac emergency. While I was standing at the bathroom sink, I felt dizzy, and the next thing I knew, I was lying on my back on the floor, with my head cushioned on top of a package of toilet paper. I might have died there, peacefully, but I woke up. I thought that drinking some water might help, but when I stood to do so, I felt dizzy at the kitchen sink. I scurried to flick the front door’s deadbolt open, and then I lay down and telephoned the police and fire departments.

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