In This Life

November 24, 2014

“Mom!  Mohhhhmmm!  MAMA!”

I’m on a deadline. I work the overnight shift tonight. And I’m presenting M&M at our staff meeting first thing in the morning. My powerpoint is nearly finished.

“WHAT, honey?”

“Well . . . what are you doing?” He’s rocking his head back and forth, something he has done out of comfort since he was a baby.

“I’m working on a presentation for work.”

“What’s it about?”

“It’s about a man who was very sick. He died. He had a heart attack. I have to talk about it with the other doctors.”

His head stops rocking. Maybe I shouldn’t have told him he died. Have I ever explained a heart attack? He looks into my face. Here it comes. How do I explain this to a six year old?

“Was he very special to the world?”

My breath catches. Read the rest of this entry »


(Dis)Comfort Measures

November 10, 2014

Close to midnight and Tonya is somnolent, lying on an emergency department (ED) stretcher and not in her own bed at home. The change in location alters the fairy tale quality of the word somnolent from sleepy or drowsy to one that’s more sinister and worrisome. Especially when Tonya is dying of brain cancer, a single mother of thirty-four, a hospice patient now situated in the ED; a space powered by a rescue instinct when faced with a patient with rapid breathing and a sinking blood pressure.

Read the rest of this entry »


Reflections on Wellness

November 3, 2014
Photo by Jason Hack

Photo by Jason Hack

“You should own that,” says a colleague, and I agree.  We just attended a conference on physician wellness, my area of academic and personal interest, and we are feeling inspired.  And yet how do you own wellness? The paradox about wellness is that it’s about owning your own vulnerability, that which makes you humble and sometimes ashamed.  And how many humble ashamed people do you see racing to the top giving advice to others?

Read the rest of this entry »