Monday, March 23, 2009

The Poet's Child

A sad end to a life beset by tragedy. Sylvia Plath's son committed suidice last week. We had just read her poem, "Fever 103" in class a few weeks back, in which she mentions her "Hothouse baby in its crib,/ The ghastly orchid/ Hanging its hanging garden in the air,"

I don't know if I will be able to read that poem again.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Doctors Who Remain

This is an email I wrote to the executive director of our county medical society as we struggle to accrue participants for this year's Legislative Day.

Good morning Stu,
I'm not sure what time your conference call is today. We have our emergency medical staff meeting this evening at 7pm. Thank you for the buttons. I will give these out as well as the 3/3/9 ones that Barbara sent last week.

I understand that the number of respondents here at JTM and SCH have been less than half of last year. But I must say that the ones who have responded have been well informed and continually passionate. I think what you will have this year is a smaller, more focused, less angry, but also less afraid, a more willing group. If this is what MSSNY expects throughout the state, it should inform the message of the rally. Please convey this on your conference call today:

These are the doctors that are still here. That have witnessed the crisis of access in healthcare firsthand. These are the doctors who have stayed in NYS and kept their practices running amid the pressures of high malpractice costs and shrinking reimbursements as well as the most devastating economic crisis to hit our state and this country in our lifetime. The rest are gone. They left the state, retired early, or have left medicine completely.

The ones who remain are the doctors that still care for you and your loved ones, our patients, whether you are in foreclosure or homeless, in network or out, unemployed or uninsured, these doctors will still take care of you, as they always have.

All around us we see loss and ruin. It is incumbent upon the doctors who remain to use the trust, compassion, stability, and hope built into every doctor-patient relationship they have to reflect these qualities and lead our practices, hospitals, communities, and our legislators here, in Albany, and in Washington, DC to a stronger, safer, healthier future. We are the doctors who remain, and we know what we need to do.

Thanks, Stu, for all your hard work.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What if the mightiest word is love?

Just for you... a link to Elizabeth Alexander's, "Praise Song for the Day" which she read at President Obama's Inauguration.

And a link to her appearance on the Colbert Report.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Deconstructing a New Year's Resolution

It's good. Really good. Possibly the second-best New Year's resolution I've ever made! (First best is still Drink more water, but that's for another post.) I am so pleased with this one that I started in October, for the Jewish New Year.


In the last few pages of Atul Gawande's book, Better, he offers five short but broad suggestions for a surgeon, physician, or anyone to improve his performance. One of these is "Write something." Every day, write something. It doen't need to be perfect, but you should choose your audience. Write something that you know, or think may be read. I liked this suggestion. Really, I liked the whole book, and have tried to enact a number of the suggestions Gawande recommends.

Write more

OK, been there. I once had resolved to write more...anything when I felt like I wasn't incorporating creativity into my daily life, and musings. I wrote letters, I started a blog, and then another, and another. I wrote poems, then another and another. I couldn't stop. I still can't.

In preparation for his confirmation, my son has to document some service to the community. The requirement was minimal - 15 hours or so. I thought, "No problem, he volunteers at school events, and serves at the altar at Mass on Sundays. He's set." Then we found out, the community service mut be something new, something he's not already involved with.

So it should be with New Year's resolutions. I shouldn't resolve to do something if I'm already doing it.


This time of year, we hear a lot about gratitude. The holiday season kicks off with a feast based on thanks. We count our blessings. We thank our gods. We appreciate the goodness in our lives. But what of the power of thanks directed? Attempts to engage and involve the people whose actions, whose very beings make us truly grateful are rewards in themselves.

Thank-you notes

There, I've said it. Consice, directed, filled with gratitude, framed in context, yet forward-looking. Mary Hunt, business writers, writers everywhere have extolled the contents of a good thank-you note. I'm giving myself a year to write more of them and figure it out myself. Happy New Year. And thank you for reading.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


When I first listened to this interview with Elizabeth Alexander, called Obamapoetics, I had not heard of her. Now, she joins the ranks of Robert Frost, Miller Williams, and Maya Angelou who will read their poetry at a Presidential inauguration.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Poetry and Medicine at JAMA

Great news, everyone, three of my poems were accepted this week for publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association. I am tickled, of course. Feel like I've given birth to triplets! This certainly took some of the sting out of having to watch and root for the Phillies this postseason. Cheers!