I received an e-mail from a friend. The subject: “Regret is an important teacher…” My eyes focus on the ellipsis, not the Huffington Post link. I think about the power of three small dots to punctuate what is left unsaid. In an instant my mother’s words, which in time had become her mantra, echoed in my mind’s ear: “You never regret what you don’t say.” (more…)
“Not every patient can be saved, but his illness may be eased by the way the doctor responds.”
Anatole Broyard, Intoxicated By My Illness
I received an e-mail from a colleague. The subject line read: “Wow look what they’ve discovered!” Attached was a link to the New York Times WELL column “Letting Patients Tell Their Stories.” My eyes drop down to the image of a doctor with his stethoscope in hand (more…)
During my tenure as a medical humanist at Southwestern Vermont Regional Cancer Center (2002-2005) I was an eyewitness to the complexities of communication between doctors, nurses, patients, and family members.
As we ready ourselves for the first in our 2016 SpeakSooner community education series I ask myself how does one decide whether or not to attend a play, movie, or, in this instance, a community program. Is it the subject matter, panel of experts, a friend’s invite, a colleague’s suggestion or the reviews?
I recently ran into a friend at the Price Chopper, a local supermarket and frequent meeting place. “I love reading your blogs. Sorry I missed your community program last November on dealing with illness,” he said. “But you know me,” he continued, “I don’t want to talk about it.” (more…)
And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from… T.S. Elliot • The Four Quartets
A friend, who has been living with multiple myeloma for the past seven years, forwarded me the link to “Not Just a Death, a System Failure” (link below) which appeared in the February 2 issue of the New York Times. After reading the article I found myself catapulted back in time. As a member of the cancer center staff, albeit a medical humanist and not a healthcare provider, I attended weekly staff meetings. (more…)
It ‘Tis the Season’…One of the gifts I received from a friend was a copy of The Well-Tempered Sentence: A Punctuation Handbook for the Innocent, the Eager and the Doomed. I’ve been known to ignore the rules of punctuation. My friend had asked me about my “penchant for the ellipses.” The book defines the ellipsis’ function as “indicating omitted words.”
Reading the Bennington Banner story about our recent SpeakSooner community program “Building Your Team & Navigating The System” I was catapulted back in time. A few years ago we had been invited by a leading academic medical center to introduce what at that time was our new interactive communication tool—Difficult Conversations Toolkit (Video & Workbook)—to oncology faculty and fellows. (more…)
A WORD is dead / When it is said, / Some say. I say it just / Begins to live / That day. Emily Dickinson
How often does a word on the page stop you? And, if it does—do you find yourself leaving the page? (more…)
“When a doctor tells you ‘You’re sick,’ he’s not just diagnosing you; he is initiating a new chapter in the story of your life…”