Thursday, June 23, 2011

Elysian Fields

Sometimes I miss myself
on nights I'm forced to be a medical student.


Joy, beautiful spark of the gods,

Daughter of Elysium,

Touched with fire, to the portal,

Of thy radiant shrine, we come.

Your sweet magic frees all others,

Held in Custom's rigid rings.

All men on earth become brothers,

In the haven of your wings.

-Friedrich Schiller
(from the poem that inspired Beethoven's Ode to Joy movement of his Ninth Symphony)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

eeks, I don't know where I got these images.

I heard a cardiologist
talking to a group of residents
about treating patients with congestive heart failure,
and she talked about how
sometimes even when we try all the treatments and drugs we have in modern medicine
some people
are at a stage beyond our help.

With congestive heart failure,
you get fatigue, swelling in your legs, and fluid starts to back up into your lungs making you short of breath.
It's also usually found with a constellation of
other health problems.

"I have one patient,"
the cardiologist, a doctor of the heart, said,
"We'd tried all the drugs, and she would still come in crying about her symptoms every time.
Then she discovered this "healer".
And let me tell you, we're in the wrong business,
because this guy does "ceremonies"
with her
and he charges hundreds of dollars a session!"
She cackled at the absurdity.

"But," she continued, "the patient has never been happier. Nothing has changed in her physiology, but she claims she feels a lot better."

And all I could think,
as the residents laughed at this woman gaining some peace from a "placebo effect", was

"Aren't we supposed to be healers??"

We've been told over and over again in medical school to treat the person, not just the disease.

And yet,
the prevailing culture in medicine is still
treat the physiology.
It doesn't matter if the patient is crying in your office every visit.

Don't get me wrong.
I'm not saying I'm there.
My "practicing of medicine" in this clerkship year of medical school,
mostly just involves
trying to remember the right questions to ask so my attending won't yell at me when I tell them about the patient.
But I hope one day
to be more like that "healer"
and less like that cardiologist.

"It's not one thing that takes away pain.
Sometimes it's herbs. Sometimes it is having someone take your hand.
Sometimes it is telling somebody something wrong you have done and letting them take the weight of it away from you."
-Juniper, Monica Furlong

"The fact that people were attentive to his body
does not compensate for their ignoring his being."
-Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Oh Vermont...

you soothe my soul every time...
I've gone back up to Vermont so many weekends during this Connecticut exile...
and everytime, I appreciate it more and more...
that it's easy to recycle...
that people ride bikes instead of Hummers...
that there's a community with a thriving downtown instead of spread out strip malls...

Here are some photos from these weekends of bliss and reasons that Vermont restores my soul...

Popovers at my friend Lizzie's house for brunch...
my friends live so well and beautifully....

Exploring old ski lift huts and fire towers in some of the last days of snow near Brattleboro...

Then when the snow melts it forms hidden gems like Sterling Pond near the ski slopes...

Sunset drinks overlooking the lake with friends who live so stylishly and make gin and tonics with fresh cilantro from their garden...

Live music outside under the Big Dipper summer sky...good music like the Avett Brothers because Vermont appreciates good music...

Easily rustling up 10+ people for a hike up Camels Hump with glorious views...

Coffee with friends at an adorable bakery run by a young beautiful family with their 2 year old riding around on his tricycle...

Lake Champlain, view of the Adirondacks, Adirondack chairs, pure bliss....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spring Lapsed...

In light of the fact that it is all of the sudden full on blazing summer, I thought I might pay a little tribute to spring, that little miracle that just happened. This is currently the view from our apartment:

In mid-April (yes, mid-April all you Southern people), it looked like this...

It's just as exciting every year isn't it??


There are two ways to live:

you can live as if nothing is a miracle or you can live as if everything is a miracle.

-Albert Einstein