The Words I Did Not Say

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Heather Edward

About the artist:

Heather Edward is now a pediatric intern at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital. Her comics have been included in the National Academy of Medicine’s Expressions of Clinician Well-Being online gallery and Zucker School of Medicine’s Celebration of Visual Art. “I started using comics in med school as a way to express myself and to process my experiences. I hope that it helps me become a more compassionate and reflective doctor. As an intern, it’s harder to find time to engage in this reflective work, but I’m working on it!”

About the artwork:

“This is a story about a patient I cared for in medical school. I drew this comic for a narrative-medicine elective during my fourth year. The lesson I learned I still carry with me. That lesson pushes me to question why conversations are uncomfortable, and to overcome those feelings in order to connect with patients and families and to support them as best I can.”

Visuals editor:

Sara Kohrt

Story Editor:

Diane Guernsey

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Comments

10 thoughts on “The Words I Did Not Say”

  1. As a mother, oftentimes what body language carries more than the words. You can communicate a lot without saying anything.

  2. Hi there, This is just beautiful and so touching. Tears here. You are so insightful and caring, that is clear. Thank you for this. I am an adult hem/onc doc, and work with residents and also once a month, I spend an hour or so with AI’s who share reflections and ideas about ethical situations they have observed or experienced on the wards. I can’t wait to share this with them. Thank you so much for this. You are so talented and creative!
    Sincerely yours,
    Laurie Lyckholm

  3. Henry Schneiderman

    Wonderful graphic short novel, gets at a central facet of our struggle, our desire to give and be as fully human as we can, and a triumphant resolution of this issue even amidst the sadness of a child’s death. Heather, as an old doc I must tell you that there will be moments and days when you cannot help but have the left-hand box again, and you must not blame or chide yourself. Sometimes the cup is just drained. The resolve to communicate, as others have written below, is the essence of doing this most compassionate patient care. Please keep practicing medicine and art, you make me proud to be of the same profession as you.

  4. So proud of you and your continue work through comics narrative and stories. What a special talent for all to read and see. Continue your soulful work with children and families.

  5. I’m not a physician, but I’ve worked for and with them for 40+ years, mostly as a CME professional. One of my (very first) positions, though, was as a ‘continuity clinic’ coordinator working with med students. I’ve witnessed the long and difficult journey from student to intern/resident to practicing clinician…I’m sure longer and more difficult than I can begin to imagine. (Same goes for the dedication that’s required.) Dr. Edward’s comic reminded me of that experience in a way I don’t think words alone would have. Dr. Edwards, I bet your patients’ parents must love you!

    PS All these years later (with the help of Pulse’s weekly newsletter) I remain grateful for and in awe of all who choose clinical medicine, especially during this time of rampant burnout. Thank you.

  6. You learned and we learned. It’s okay when novice to not know what to say and to learn. You can send love to from your heart where it resides. They will feel it. Thank you for your courageous story board.

    1. This is very special, thank you for being able to express something so many of us go through when trying to help our clients/patients and ourselves.

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