Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from November, 2011

Express Yourself

In Irving Stone's biography of Vincent Van Gogh there is a line that reads, "Many times in your life you may think you are failing, but ultimately you will express yourself and that expression will justify your life." It was years ago that I first came across this maxim, and it immediately halted my reading and jolted my heart. There is no other quote that has resonated so deeply within me and continued to do so.

I've been lucky enough to be a writer in some form or fashion for the vast majority of my life. While I was in kindergarten, a local writing teacher worked with our class, and I wrote a story about a grasshopper. My mother, of course, saved the story in a box along with school photos, misshapen pieces of art class pottery, and report cards. The writing teacher had hailed my grasshopper story as very descriptive and encouraged me to keep writing. Several years later, the writing teacher—Kathryn Stripling Byer—was named the state's poet laureate. This sum…

Reading Robert Frost on Thanksgiving

After Apple Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well

Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing dear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.

Raising FMD Awareness In Style

Today I had the great pleasure of unveiling the new logo for the global peer-to-peer support group for fibromuscular dysplasia patients, FMD Chat. The indelible image brings together the symbolism of FMD's primary form — the ubiquitous string of beads — with the vascular system's complex web of arteries connecting heart and hand, which is seen as both giving and receiving, and represents the caring community created by FMD Chat's participants.

Our designer is none other than my dear friend Margaret Hester. Margaret is a graphic designer and photographer with a warm and fun personality. She knows how much FMD Chat means to me — I am fortunate to be a co-founder along with my cohort, Kari Ulrich, who has inspired me with her tireless dedication to patient advocacy. When I asked Margaret to design a logo for us, I was pleased when she sought to better understand fibromuscular dysplasia so as to best portray its characteristics. FMD is a rare disease, though recent studies in…

Waesuck Wednesday: Occupy Healthcare Edition

When the NYPD army surrounded Zucotti Park at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning, I was awake. I'm not even sure who the tweet came from that announced the raid. There was a link to a live feed. I clicked it, and for the next two hours my attention was rapt. Frankly, I haven't much followed the Occupy Wall Street movement. There's been too much disconnect, and I agree with many of the critics who have said that a message with a million tiny points is too diluted to be effective in begetting change. Change is good. But the answer to "what do you want to change" can not be "everything." Also, I fail to see how sleeping in a park is going to prompt the bankers who line their wallets with ill-gotten gains to give up any of their greed—the homeless have been doing it for decades (without tents and libraries and food carts and smart phones, I might add) and nothing has come of that, not even a solution to homelessness much less corporate overhaul. That said, I do …

Wanna Get Lucky?

It is very strange to me when someone uses the word "survivor" to describe me. I have never considered myself as such. Instead I say to myself, "Nope, this isn't it" and afterwards, "Well, I'm not dead yet." Experiencing life-threatening medical illnesses and events and making it through them is just what I do. I'm stubborn that way. I'm lucky that way.

In 2009, doctors discovered I had four brain aneurysms. (How this discovery came about is a long story for another time.) Three of the four aneurysms were repaired via coiling, a fascinating process in which tiny platinum coils are run through the vascular system into an aneurysm and deployed to create a basket type structure. The procedure means only a day or so in the hospital vs. clipping via a craniotomy, which requires a much longer stay but is the most common aneurysm treatment. Only three of my four aneurysms were treated via coiling because the fourth—at less than 1 mm—is considere…

Caring for Caregivers

Stacy Schaplow was 27 when she got married on Sept. 18, 2010. She was happy and healthy other than a strange soreness in her neck that she wrote off as stress; after all, she was in a dental hygiene program and studying for her state board exams while planning her wedding to financé John. The day of the wedding she took a few ibuprofen for the pain and walked down the aisle in a stunning white dress and carrying a bouquet of white roses and green orchids with eight bridesmaids in funky plum purple dresses and peep toe pumps by her side. The two exchanged vows in an outdoor ceremony, cut their four-tiered cake together, and a few days later left for their honeymoon in Maui
It was on the sixth day of the trip while on their way to go wake boarding that Stacy had a stroke. She was rushed to the hospital via ambulance. The doctors told John that Stacy's vertebral artery dissected, causing a blood clot. Stacy was within the three-hour window of time in which doctors could administer…

Just Because I Have The Same Disease As You That Doesn't Mean I Like You—But That's OK

I enjoy playing mahjong. When I was a kid, I was a fan of Oregon Trail on the Apple IIe, but mahjong held my interest game after game. Sometimes I planned my moves. Sometimes I just tried to see how fast I could match tiles. I always liked that mahjong was a game that I could play by myself.
Only children like myself are used to doing things alone and often prefer it that way. Indeed there is an element of control that we relish. Doing things alone involves no compromise, no sharing, and complete autonomy in rigidly staying the course or wildly abandoning plans to do something else entirely. An only child left to her own devices may go from building elaborate Lego houses one moment to playing dress up the next to building Lego houses in dress up clothes because there is no one to please other than herself. The only child grows into an adult who may well prefer to work alone, stubbornly refusing to delegate lest a project be done differently than imagined. The only child may turn down…

All Things #hcsm

Each Sunday at 9 p.m. EST medical social media Tweeps barrage the Twitter stream with tweets carrying the #hcsm tag. The tag stands for healthcare communications and social media, and those who follow it are involved discussions covering a wide range of topics (T1, T2, etc) from the role of technology in the exam room to patient support groups. The chat, created by Dana Lewis, moves at lightning speed because so many Tweeps are in on it and there's so much to be said in the hour's time. Even if one only "lurks" (reading without tweeting), the chat is educational, inspiring, thought provoking, and a great way to "meet" new people to follow. Throughout the rest of the week, the #hcsm tag pops up from time to time on individual tweets that are related to the overall topic of healthcare and social media, so at any time a search for the tag is sure to turn up something worth reading. In the spirit of the #hcsm chat, today's blog post covers a range of topic…