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Medicine

The Sun Interview

The Miracle In Front Of You

Raymond Barfield On Practicing Medicine With Compassion

You have to notice beauty when it appears. That means you have to show up and shut up. If I could give just one piece of advice to all medical students, I would say, “Show up completely, and then shut up for at least two minutes while the miracle in front of you tells you who they are and how you can help them.” If every doctor did just that one thing, it would change medicine.

By Janice Lynch Schuster January 2016
The Sun Interview

As We Lay Dying

Stephen Jenkinson On How We Deny Our Mortality

At every deathbed and hospital room, I didn’t see sane dying. I saw sedated dying, depressed dying, isolated dying, utterly disembodied dying. Sane dying would require a childhood steeped in death’s presence, an adulthood employed in its service, and an elderhood testifying to its necessity. Sane dying is a village-making event: lots of people with plenty to do, the whole production endorsing life.

By Erik Hoffner August 2015
Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Almost Unendurable Beauty

The plastic prescription vial contains thirty doses. I press the cap down, twist it counterclockwise, and shake a cylindrical pill into my hand. It is an ugly gray, like dryer lint, like newly poured concrete, like a bullet. I know my daughter will notice this.

By Jocelyn Evie May 2015
The Sun Interview

Living Medicine

Stephen Harrod Buhner On Plant Intelligence, Natural Healing, And The Trouble With Pharmaceuticals

When you use a living medicine and get well, you feel that the world is alive and aware and wants to help you. People often talk about saving the Earth, but how many times have you experienced the Earth saving you?

By Akshay Ahuja December 2014
Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

My Left Eye

You’d think at my age I might realize that the spinning bottle of medical fate would eventually stop and point to me. I have known too many people who have passed away: diseased hearts, prostates, and colons; the effects of Agent Orange; or just plain bad luck. As I approach sixty, Why me? is evolving into Why not me?

By Stephen J. Lyons December 2014
Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

The Good Patient

I placed a check mark next to the box on the insurance form that said “pre-existing condition.” I placed a check mark next to “nonsmoker.” I placed a check mark next to dog owner, homeowner, married, employed, college educated, drinks socially, and has no savings or family members with money to turn to for help. I placed a check mark next to I want to live to be twenty-six.

By Lisa Gray Giurato December 2014
Quotations

Sunbeams

It is easy to get a thousand prescriptions but hard to get one single remedy.

Chinese proverb

November 2014
Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Alternatives

You sleep and wake up feeling shittier than a dozen hangovers at once. This is an improvement. You still want to die, but now she can make a difference again. She still can’t transfer her strength to you, no matter how hard she tries.

By Bruce Holland Rogers July 2014
Fiction

Stethoscope

I am always asking doctors about their medical equipment, so I know that the stethoscope was popularized not because it improved a doctor’s ability to hear a heartbeat — although it had that effect, too — but because in nineteenth-century France it was considered improper to put one’s ear to a man’s chest or, especially, a woman’s bosom. The amplified heartbeat was secondary to the stethoscope’s main function, decorum.

By Ben Mauk May 2014
Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Locked In To Life

In a locked psychiatric facility you’re obliged to keep living — unless, that is, you’re extraordinarily desperate and creative about instruments of self-destruction: a half-pint milk carton, a Chutes and Ladders game board, a plastic spoon.

By Mark Brazaitis April 2014