End Credits

(Disclaimer – this is a farewell blog post, bear with yours truly, I will get there)

My friend dear M., who has been at my very side the last 2+ years, in person and in spirit, got hitched recently.  When dear M. and I met, times were tough.  Questions of self worth and failure for me, a recently separated, career-questioning graduate student.  Questions of true love and acceptance and faith for Dear M. (for more on Dear M. and why our friendship what it is, read about the time when we didn’t wear bras here).  Since then, I divorced, met a new love (who I later lost), saw The National three times, graduated from grad school and medical school, and left a most beloved town (Charlottesville, VA).  Since then, Dear M. expanded her work with children who have cancer, bought a house, ran a triathlon or three, met the love of her life,  and recently married her.  She asked me to stand by her side at her wedding and read during the ceremony.  I had the perfect piece for this most joyous occasion, a lovely little emotional roller coaster of a poem (A Finger, Two Dots, Then Me by Derrick Brown) that opens with thoughts of being unable to bathe oneself, flat encephalograms, and brain death.  Morbid, you may say.  Eternal, I would argue.  A few edits and 550 miles later on a foggy post-call day, there we were.  I didn’t just read the poem.  I preached it.  I acted it out.  I hurled those words in the Universe (and possibly spit onto those lovely  family members in the first row who were too polite to tell me so afterward).  I paused where pauses were needed.  I yelled where yelling was warranted.  I did all these things because in front of my friend and her love, and all of their friends and their loves, and that old barn against the gorgeous Virginia skies, I felt every single word.  It was the most perfect day.  Dear M was radiant, her heart so full you could feel it.  She was gorgeous in a fitted midnight blue gown.

The poet asks us:

“What is Holy.

What is actually Holy?”

*********

So, really, what is Holy?

My friendship with Dear M. is Holy.  My divorce and the self-discovery journey it jump-started is Holy.  Every single opportunity to touch a child’s life,  be it through life-saving treatments or spending an hour coloring at the bedside or arguing over the phone with insurance company to pay a medication that approved but not preferred, is Holy.  Not knowing what to do in this life after 14 years of post-high school education but being open to facing that very question is Holy.

Today, July 1st, is the first day of internship for all newly minted doctors, a rite of passage in the medical field that is equally terrifying and exhilarating.  Today I too transitioned, becoming as a “senior” resident (2 years in, 1 more to go).  Much like when I started this blog, many questions remain and a sense of transition, though not imminent with one more year of residency to complete, is palpable.   What do I want in this life?  Am I ready to commit my heart again to another human?  Where exactly is my place at the crossroads of science, medicine, writing, and humanities?

 Despite all these questions and looming transitions, I am intimately convinced I will find my way!  That it will be a passionate, all-in, heart on my sleeve, roller coaster kind of way.  That somehow this exercise of storytelling, reflecting, dissecting, and testing, and sewing it all back together all those years has made me more humble, more loving, more grateful.  This dandelion is now anchored, rooted, secured, fastened, grounded.  And so – farewell, dear Dandelionontheloose.  Thank you for the companionship and all the lovely readers and bloggers you have introduced me to along the way.

I’m off looking for all that is HOLY. 

(I’ll write about it … later … maybe)

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Rooted

Another.  And then another  In the end I think there were 7 in total.

I went after my little plot of land today.  There was a long neglected flower bed abutting the foundations of the front of the house, where crabgrass was cropping up and menacing to overtake the previously established weeds.

It was a glorious Fall day.  Crisp breeze, clear skies, warm sun.  Opposite, I saw that my neighbor had expanded his collection of seasonal yard paraphernalia.  In addition to the pumpkin window decorations that came to life at night, a bale of hay and a flag had appeared.  Mr. Farmer and his Mrs in their paisley orange and brown outfits, somewhat out of place in the urban jungle, were now firmly anchored in the grass.  He always had the best yard.  His petunias grew ten times the size of mine over the summer.  I was dreading the day he would set chrysanthemums on the porch steps.

I kneeled down and went at it with my weeding tool and hot pink gardening gloves.

Apart from the crabgrass, there were at most five or six weeds belonging to various phyla in the forlorn flower bed.  As I dug around to remove those pesky intruders, I kept getting caught on roots coursing just a few inches under the surface.  These roots didn’t seem to belong to any plant, living or dead.  And yet they were strong and sinewy, as if holding for dear life.

Sometimes I would stumble upon a piece of unidentifiable plastic, or the occasional Miller Light bottle cap, still bearing the injury imparted by the bottle opener.  Or one of those cheap plastic cigar tips.  Another.  And then another.  The former occupants of the house must have been heavy smokers.  As I tugged on those recalcitrant roots, tracing back their path through recesses of earth visited only by worms, I uncovered many more treasures.  An old tool handle, its metal tip rusted through and through.  Several Jolly Rancher wrappers.  An empty packet of Louisiana – The Perfect Hot Sauce.  Crabgrass.  I could feel the sweat running down my back; the not so dry grass where I was kneeling staining my favorite pair of jeans.  White plastic bottle caps.  More crabgrass.  Wilted purple petunia flowers cast off by the flower box above.  Impossibly long roots, with branching roots and side roots and rootlets and miniature roots thinner than a newborn’s delicate hair.  My fingers were starting to hurt from all the pulling.  Many a times I thought I had yanked the whole length of a particular root when suddenly it broke, the tip of the remaining peaking at me with glee from the roughed up soil.  And then a small blue toy car.  A child used to play here.

Of course it was ludicrous to think that I was the first to nestle in this old house.  It was a 1oo+ year old shotgun house, with a small front porch but a large side porch where I pictured ice tea being served and neighborhood gossip being shared.  In this traditionally working poor neighborhood undergoing an upscale urban transformation – suburbia is so passé, there aren’t too many shotgun houses remaining.  I happen to know the man who used to own the house.  His grandmother still lives two doors down and waves at me from her front porch.  He comes by sometimes and tells me bits of stories about the house, always with an air of nostalgia about him.  I don’t know why he had to leave or how my landlord came to own the house.  Something about a fire.

In the end I found 7 cigar tips tucked away in the thicket made by the roots.  Vestiges of other lives.  A child used to live there and play with toy cars, Jolly Ranchers tucked in his pocket.  Maybe he raced them on the porch steps.  I imagine grown men sitting on those steps, drinking Miller Light, smoking cigars, venting their frustrations.  I almost felt guilty for yanking on these roots with all of my might.  Was I destroying their past?  Was I instead to add items of my own to this cache and perpetuate the memories?

With a newfound reverence for the house – a house that is only to be “mine” for a fraction of its lifetime and this neighborhood’s history, I turned my attention back to the roots and finished the job.  I collected the cigar tips, the toy car, the bottle caps, the wrappers, the hot sauce packet, and remaining trinkets and placed them into a trash bag.  I thanked them for the glorious afternoon in the sun, the renewed appreciation for my humble abode, and the deep sense of belonging, right here, right now.

I think I will plant yellow pansies for the winter months.

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Everything Is (still) Illuminated

Many (too many) weeks ago I wrote about practicing yoga with my eyes closed.  About how there is more to any of us than that which meets the proverbial eye.  About the wondrous findings we discover when we journey inward.  This week while rotating through the hematology/oncology clinic, I was yet again struck about how much more we can feel when we look through the lens of our Heart, rather than our eyes.

Yesterday,

Yesterday I was hugged.

Yesterday I was hugged by a boy.

Yesterday I was hugged by a boy who is blind.

Yesterday I was hugged by a boy who is blind because of a big bad brain tumor.

As I walked into the room I opened the door very cautiously, thinking he could be behind it and I would slam the door in his face because, well, he can’t see the door now, can he?  He wasn’t behind the door, thankfully.  I introduced myself and tiptoed around the room to the only open chair.  As soon as he heard me his spine straightened and his head spun about, trying to locate me, I assumed.  He made a bee line for me as if there was absolutely no question where I was positioned in his vast black universe.  He didn’t reach out a hand to find me, he didn’t pause a foot away, he didn’t ask me anything.  He body-slammed me and hugged me tight, so tight.  With his head on my shoulder I had front row seats to the scars on his shiny bald head, testaments to the many brave battles he has waged already.  So I held him as I took an interval history from his family, going over side effects, fevers, medication refills, mood swings.  Oh and by the way how is your family adjusting to the fact that he is blind, I wanted to ask.  Which I could have asked.  I didn’t.  I looked for scrapes and bruises on his little body, thinking of the many tumbles he must be taking on any given day.  There were remarkably few.  We spoke of resources and special school services.  He was still hugging me by the end of the conversation.

For him, it was a routine visit to the clinic, one that he will not remember, one that did not involve major poking or prodding.

For me, it was as if a burning bush had sprouted at my feet.  Suddenly I could see.  I was exactly where I wanted to be.  Enlightenment through the simple act of hugging.  Those free huggers out there are clearly onto something.

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Everything Is Illuminated

Whenever I go to yoga, I face the same question.  To wear or not to wear my glasses, that is the question.  To see the teacher’s graceful demonstrations of various poses, or to squint and attempt my own semi-artistic renderings.  To risk spending half the class pushing my glasses up my nose, or to give my eyes a break and let other senses prevail.  I usually leave my glasses in the cubby hole, haphazardly tucked in a shoe or between layers of clothes.  Wear my contacts, say you?  Gosh, that would just be too practical.

Last night I did just so.  I grabbed a blanket, rolled out my mat, and closed my eyes while waiting for the class to start.  At the studio, the walls are painted in soft grays, reds, and oranges.  Little Tibetan prayer flags hang from the ceiling and dance in the warm air blowing out of the nearby vent.  The windows are frosted.  There are no mirrors.  An invitation to look inward and forget about appearances.  I spent most of the class with my eyes closed, stretching, huffing, puffing, and being intensely aware of the various parts that make up this body of mine.  The neglected ones, the favored ones.  In the absence of visual input, suddenly it’s not so hard to be aware of your paraspinal muscles or your sacroiliac joint.  Suddenly you can feel your posterior ribs expanding with every breath.  Gradually you find that you can open those hips just a few more millimeters.  And ever so slowly, you reconnect with your body, which, by the way, is the sum of many, many parts.  You realize that your left side is tighter than you right side because you favor it when standing for what seems like forever during morning rounds.  Your neck has a painful kink in it you had failed to noticed until now because you were too busy holding tension in your shoulders.  Your fingers can bear more weight than you ever imagined.  Your stomach looks incredible flat when in backbend pose no matter your body habitus.

With your visual cortex deprived of any input, the rest of your Mind has a chance to manifests itself.  It may bubble up slowly or lash out with such unexpected fury you might need to retreat to child’s pose for a few minutes.  As you awaken inch after inch of muscle and skin, twisting and bending, inhaling and exhaling, the emotions pour out without the littlest effort.  Perhaps you realize you were holding on to something and work through it with each deeper breath you take.  Perhaps you start crying.  Or you feel light as a feather and do the splits for the first time.  Your eyes are closed and yet everything is illuminated.

At the end of practice, the teacher invites the class to “seal in the tone we have created during practice.”  We cross our legs, bring our hands to heart center in prayer, and bow our heads ever so slightly.  A sotto voce “Namaste” lingers in the air.  Some stand up right away, others linger.  I bend over and touch my head to the floor.  I am not religious, yet that moment can only be described as divine stillness.  And so I stay down, soak it up, and seal it in for as long as I can.  Which is usually 2 minutes.  Until the next practice.

http://www.steadfastandtrueyoga.com

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Open Heart Surgery

Yesterday was a dreary day, the skip work and curl up on the couch with a tattered copy of War and Peace and a steaming mug of tea kind of day.  There is no skipping work for funsies when one is a resident, but on rare occasions one is dealt a lucky get-out-of-work-early-card.  Yesterday it was dealt to moi.  I signed out my circa 1980 little black noisemaker – aka my pager – and took myself to the movies to see Her, Spike Jonze’s latest handiwork, fresh from its Golden Globe “best screenplay” accolade.

Who wouldn’t want to go on a hot date with a mustachioed Joaquin Phoenix?

Not many people, apparently, according to the movie plot.

Her is a love story.  A romantic, post-modern, complicated yet disarmingly familiar story.  It is visually stunning and emotionally disturbing, striking that perfect balance of sci-fi and realism.  Against a backdrop of Apple-inspired can’t-go-without technology, it dissects the most mysterious of emotional states, Love.  The patient is a 30-something man, Theodore, recently separated but not quite divorced.  If the heart is where Love resides, then Theodore’s journey to find Love again is as turbulent as blood whooshing in and out of the body’s most vital organ.  The heart is vast and tricky to navigate.  The left ventricle, a large muscular chamber that pumps oxygen-rich blood to the body, is Happiness.  The right ventricle, Self-Doubt.  The heart valves, who could disrupt circulation at anytime if failing to open or close in a timely fashion, are Fear, the paralyzing kind that threatens to disrupt Happiness without notice.  The right atrium, where deoxygenated blood from all corners of the body collects, is a whirlpool of secondary emotions, namely Lust, Anticipation, Loneliness, and Anger.  In the left atrium, recipient of freshly oxygenated blood from the lungs, resides Hope.  The coronary arteries, those narrow yet essential vessels that feed oxygenated blood back to the heart and keep it alive, are your best friends, the ones that save your life in small yet essential ways over and over.  In this procedure, there is no careful draping of the patient, although the chosen color palette of rich yellows to deep maroons in the movie conveys an overall aseptic not unlike a surgery suite.  There is no pre-surgical counseling or discussion of potential post-op complications in this case.  There is just the surgery.  And the discombobulation that ensues after waking up from anesthesia.  And the ache that emanates from the ragged raw scars.

 I left the movie more than a little worse for the wear, as if my own heart, safely on bypass for the past two hours while watching another’s heart being shredded to bits, was now being asked to fill and squeeze again.  I felt an urge to do something incredibly concrete, to busy myself in order to numb the feelings that were bubbling up at a dizzying speed.  I stood at the kitchen sink and peeled potatoes.  It doesn’t get more basic than that.  Out of 3 Russets, butter, milk, and garlic, I made creamy mash potatoes.  But while the stomach can be easily soothed  – just watch a newborn child being fed – there is not enough butter in the world to melt the heart.  So I sat with my feelings, and that nagging backache that had developed on the drive back from the movie theater.  Somatization is a bitch.

I suspect that anyone who sees this movie will interpret it based on the current state of the chambers of their heart.  I was most pained by the back story of Theodore’s separation and divorce, because it was so familiar.  I too watched my left ventricle (Happiness) shrivel while my right ventricle (Self Doubt) swelled.  Shame, Guilt, Worthlessness, and Despair coursed through my veins, a bacteremia so insidious and poisonous no medication could tame it.  Those days are thankfully in the past but will never be forgotten, because out of that profound sorrow came the absolute conviction that feeling with a capital “F” is what matters.  Feeling the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Allowing yourself to feel it all.  Because once you stop wasting precious energy trying to suppress your feelings – which by the way, you can’t! – you can finally be.  You can observe your feelings, acknowledge them, and learn to walk alongside them rather than be crippled by them.

So grab a pair of Wellies, a small notebook, and keep your finger on the pulse – your own, that is.  Set out to explore your heart.  Do not let Theodore’s questionable high-waisted tweed pants distract you.  Do bring an open-mind.  Do cry if tears come to you.  Do smile at the awkwardly familiar situations.  Be the patient.

Allow yourself to tend to yourself

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This American Life

On Thursday, I celebrated my 14th Thanksgiving.  14 years as a Parisian in America.

My first Thanksgiving was a classic affair.  It was the year 2000. Cranberry sauce, football, and Bud Lights under palm trees and Californian sunshine.  One year, I took my very Parisian parents to a small inn tucked away in central Virginia for a sumptuous spread.  Another year, I made it to the mall at midnight – I am still scarred from the line of people waiting to get inside the Coach store.  Yet another year, I ate cevapi with my then adoptive Serbian family.  Last year I was treated to the most scrumptious feast of love and abundance by my adoptive Virginia family.  This year, however, was my first Thanksgiving spent on the clock, making rounds in the hospital, cooped up in a windowless workroom animated only by my intermittently buzzing pager.

It’s not hard to find things to be thankful for when everyday you see sweet little faces struck by illness and grown up faces awash in anguish.  I am thankful for my health of course, my supportive family, and my gorgeous friends.  For the fact that there are still libraries in this world and plenty of old smelly books to discover.  For not having to worry about my next meal and being left with not so very serious problems such as whether to wear my silly hat or my silly earmuffs on a cold winter day.

Most of all, I am thankful for this American life.  My American Life.  For the chance to grow roots in this crazy, colorful, contradictory country.  For the sound of the crashing waves at Half Moon Bay, the boundless view from atop Old Rag, the azure skies above Mount Lassen, and the sunset over the Western shores of Lake Michigan. For my first time at the Met, my first wheat grass shot, my first football game.  The first time I tried root beer.  The first time I went to Disneyworld.  The first time I booed the Yankees.

When I was at Berkeley in my junior year of college, I took a history class called The Emigrants, or The American Peoples, or something to that effect.  Everyone at Berkeley had to take a class about cultural diversity in America.  My class covered the successive waves of immigrants who came to America between 1850 and present times.  Our final assignment was to write about ourselves and how we contribute to the country’s diversity.  I wrote about the French in America, how we don’t stick together like other ethnic groups have but rather we blend in and get lost in the crowd.  We retain our traditions, but we do so privately.  We do not feel the need to identify ourselves as us vs them – except in New Orleans where the French have there own “quartier”, but really, New Orleans, is that even America?  I came across this article on Thanksgiving, written by an American woman who has lived in Paris for the last 10 years.  She reflects on the French and our strange habits, she longs for turkey in November and she wishes she spoke better French.  But her ah-ha moment is much simpler yet so profound: “The biggest lesson I’ve learned in 10 years is that I’m American to the core.”

I am French to the core.  I will always recognize the smell of an authentic croissant, think of a three hour lunch as time well spent, and believe that stores should be closed on Sundays.  I will always support universal healthcare, public schools, and the superiority of  soccer over football.  I will never bake with Crisco, eat Cheetos, drink out of a 64oz Big Gulp, or buy “bread” that comes frozen in a metal can with a Michelin man on the label.  I will never wear trainers while commuting, or with jeans, or ever, in fact.  I will never understand why the Electoral College exists, why different states provide different levels of benefits, or how a government can shut down.  I refuse to entertain the thought that a groundhog can predict the length of winter.

I am French to the core and I will always be.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t be thankful for Pepper Jack grilled cheese sandwiches and a mean game of SEC college football.

Lucky to be here.  Oui.

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This Modern Love (NaBloPoMo Day 11/30)

This week’s column in the Modern Love section of the New York Times is just lovely.  In a short video entitled Broken Heart Doctor and its companion column, Nursing a Wound in an Appropriate Setting, a New York pediatrician talks about being the healer and the one being healed all at the same time.  About being in a place of “simultaneous suffering” – the hospital – and experiencing the many facets of grief and suffering, heart first.

“I think I have a much stronger heart than I had. It’s hard to know sometimes as a doctor when you see a family really suffering whether it’s ok cry. And now with more experience and having been in the situation, I know professionally that is it the right thing to do to let people see that side of you and let them know that you are human. It makes them feel like you’re really there taking care of them.”

Amen.

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Why I Write Love Letters (NaBloPoMo Day 10/30)

It is just past the halfway mark for National Blog Posting Month (NaBloPoMo) and 30 consecutive days of writing and blogging.  I’m batting 0.625 at this point.  Not great, but I’ll take it.  I thought it would be hard to write every day.  It is.  I thought it would be even harder to write about the things that rip my heart apart, in good ways and in bad ways.  It is.

But before I tell you why I write love letters, your daily reminder not to take  yourself too seriously.  Yesterday I was in the staff bathroom, pulling up my tights and adjusting my outfit when a nurse walked into the bathroom, catching me half dressed, toilet unflushed, and surely looking redder than a ripe tomato.  I had forgotten to lock the door.  Making new friends at work, one bathroom trip at a time.

This week I caught up with a long lost friend who was passing through town.  It had been almost 3 years since we last had seen each other, sans makeup and in our worst flannel pajamas at her then mother in law’s house.  Obviously, such moments create long-lasting ties.  We met at my wedding.  She was engaged to be married to a dear friend of Former Husband.  About a year later, Former Husband and I attended their wedding.  We saw each other a few times in the ensuing years, visiting hours limited by the many states that stretched between us.

I don’t exactly remember how this all came about, but somewhere along the wretched road to divorce I learned that she had separated.  She learned that I had separated. We talked a few times, sisters in arms, or more accurately sisters in sorrow, although our situations were vastly different.  They mutually agreed to separate because they wanted different things.  I left Former Husband for the same reason, except that I didn’t know it at the time.  So I said nothing and left a tsunami of whats, whys, hows, and WTFs in my wake.

Now my friend and I are both divorced.  She has since found a wonderful man and is getting married soon.  It was inevitable that we would talk about the past.  We both wanted to, needed to.  The healing never ends.  We both acknowledge the hurt, the depressive thoughts, the daunting task of rebuilding yourself from the ground up afterward – still ongoing.  We spoke kindly of our exes, of the dating life, of the hours we spent in counseling, of the fact that we know now better than ever what we want and don’t want in a partnered life.

When I went home I was itching to contact Former Husband, to tell him that I had been thinking of him, to tell him I was wishing him well.  I didn’t.  We didn’t exactly part on good terms.  I am still afraid of his (justified) anger.  And what would speaking to him accomplish?  Make me look like a nice person who cares?  Relieve myself of lingering guilt?  Offer myself a willing victim for more verbal punishment?

When Former Husband and I were married, we wrote love letters to each other.  We sent each other postcards when we were apart.  Mine would have sweet quotes on the front.  He would draw over the image and add speech bubbles.  On his birthday I would grab the keys to his car while he was in the shower and leave a birthday card on the dashboard he would find long after I would have left for school.  He proposed on a piece of paper.  I don’t write to Former Husband anymore but I hold on to the warm feeling that came with finding a postcard on my nightstand.  We loved each other, we told each other so.  That is never going away.

Today I am still in the business of writing love letters.  I spend more dollars than I am willing to admit at the paper store.  I write love letters to my friend and her sweet baby girl – no, she can’t read, but yes she can be read to.  To some of my patients with whom a bond has been forged.  To my wifey-love.  To my dear friend M.  And to my darling who is many miles away.  I write love letters because the written word is impermanent.  I write love letters because they reveal what is in the depth of my soul.  I write love letters because they ground me in the here and now.

I write love letters because of the feeling of love that flows into me and pours out of me when I do.

So write to your friends, you lovers, your soul mates. Write to your families and to the cool chick you met at the show and exchanged phone numbers with because you sense serious potential for a deep connection.  Tell your people that you love them.  Tell them why you love them.  Tell them how you love them.  Tell them because in an era where we express ourselves in 140 characters or less, nothing carries more meaning than the words “I Love You”.

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The Writing Life (NaBloPoMo Day 9/30)

Well, it didn’t take long for me to fall behind on the daily writing goal.  But that’s only because I’ve been so busy collecting lovely tidbits to write about – ahem.

Today I attended the annual meeting of a local association of community pediatricians. The association works with private practices on issues like vaccine supplies and also aims to connect community physicians with the hospitalists and residents who take care of their patients when they are acutely ill and admitted to our institution.  Continuity of care for the win.

I didn’t go for the networking opportunities, the free wine, or the chance to win an iPhone 5.  I went because the keynote speaker was a surgeon who happens to be a published writer of medical fiction on the side.  And by happens I mean chose to be a writer.  And by chose I mean conscientiously worked hard to become a writer.  Who also happens to teach medical students and undergraduate students — what is your time management secret.  A bunch of pediatricians learning about narrative medicine?  Sign me up.

I wrote down 4 points from his presentation:

1.  “How evidence based medicine is applied to the individual patient [and his story]”

2.  “Person first, patient second”

3.  “The narrative arc: pre-illness, illness, and post-illness.”  What was the pre-illness narrative?  How the experience of the illness will influence the post-illness narrative?

4.  “The writing life.”  We (physicians) are (already) writers.  Progress notes, consult notes, discharge summaries.  So many opportunities to write about the patient, not the illness.

This made me think of books that use illness to see through to the core of a person/persons and peer into their humanity.  Doctors, by Erich Segal.  Beyond Love, by Dominique Lapierre.  Attending Children, by Margaret Morhmann.  And more recently: The Fault In Our Stars, by John Green, The Anatomy of Hope, by Jerome Groopman, and Cutting For Stone, by Abraham Verghese.  Those are books and stories filled with glorious highs and wretched lows that make us, the reader, feel vulnerable and triumphant at the same time.  Books about Life with a capital L.

The writing life, or the business of being furiously alive.

Could there be any better business than that?

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The Gorgeous Fighters (NaBloPoMo Day 7/30)

Read this:

http://www.dotodaywell.com/2013/11/07/preliminary-surgery-results-update-3/

Then go back and read her story. From the beginning.

I don’t know this woman, Jen. I just know that we are of similar age and that I don’t have cancer (that I know of) but she does.

I want to hug her.

I want to tell her thank you. For opening her world and sharing her journey. For teaching me as a doctor, as a patient, as a human being.

I want to tell her that’s it’s ok With or without hair. With or without breasts. The only thing that is not ok is to go on without love.

So send her love.

Then send love to the ten of thousands of people out there who are gorgeous fighters but don’t have a network of intense love propelling them forward like Jen does.

Send love.

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