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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