Starting the year off sharing some great news! I recently received in the mail the Fall 2016 Edition of OUHSC’s Blood and Thunder Journal, which includes two of my essays. I’ve had several pieces published in online journals but there is a special kind of excitement that comes from seeing your name in print on a tangible page. I’m humbled that two of my favorite shorts “Expectant” and “Burst” found a home in this narrative medicine collection.
“Expectant” chronicles the very first delivery I witnessed. Obstetrics was a revelation to me as a young medical student, especially never having had children myself. I was in awe of the entire process and this short essay reveals my own insecurities as I was christened into the world of medicine.
“Burst” is about my first continuity delivery in residency training: a pregnancy meant to be followed throughout all nine months to completion. I was a new physician and had much to learn about the unpredictable nature of obstetrics.
One of my writing goals for 2017 is to make significant progress on a book-length collection of narrative medicine essays. I’m starting the year off taking Creative Nonfiction’s online course “Writing Your Nonfiction Book Proposal”. Finding time to edit and submit my work has been a continual challenge but writing classes provide encouragement and structure to make the time, harness the energy and muster the gumption to keep at it. I’m eager to let go of the draining and perfectionist tendencies of 2016 and write on in 2017. Holding a palpable culmination of my writing efforts is an encouraging way to embark on a new year and I’m grateful.
Welcome to Narrative Medicine Monday. Each Monday I’ll post a narrative medicine piece, a short discussion, a few questions and a related prompt. I hope this will provide a place for thoughtful reflection and discussion about medicine and how narrative medicine can help tell patient and provider stories in a meaningful way.
Thomas Gibbs’ The Grand Hotel Mackinac Island is an intense braided essay by an obstetrician, published in Hippocampus Magazine. From the very beginning, we are thrust into Gibbs’ crisis: his obstetrical patient is hemorrhaging and her life is in danger. He intersperses these events with details about the vacation, long awaited, he was supposed to leave for that same day. Gibbs touches on what it means to be a physician invested in your patients, and the inherent sacrifices therein.
If you are a medical provider, have you ever been in a situation where you felt you just couldn’t leave a patient, even for a significant personal or family event? What are the privileges of being a medical provider? What are the sacrifices?
All of us have had to sacrifice an aspect of our personal life due to our work, be it inside or outside of the home. What have you let go of because of your work?
Writing Prompt: Think about a time your life was disrupted by an unexpected medical diagnosis or outcome, either as a patient or as a medical provider. Write for 10 minutes about this disruption. Did you have to let go of anything to be present?
*A note about prompts: When writing from a prompt, consider a “free write”, where you set a timer and write for the full 10 minutes and don’t edit while you write. There’s always time to return to editing later. Free writing is about getting your story down on paper; you may be surprised what your writing reveals.