I am going to add some links under “My Link List” to literary journals that I like, in case you (my readers) are interested. I will start with some that have been kind enough to publish my poetry, not because I am shamelessly promoting myself but because you may be curious about that side of my life.
For me, writing is inextricably connected to the practice of medicine. We participate in a great deal of story-telling. We are receivers and interpreters of our patients’ stories. We add to them with our own explanations, predictions, and meanings.
The sterile and impersonal language of medical records is never quite satisfying to me as a way to express someone’s experience of illness. A more creative method is called for.
I have added a link to the Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, which I particularly enjoy. I invite you to peruse its deep and fascinating exploration of not only “the humanities” but “humanity” itself, through the lens of illness and medical care.
On October 25, 2011, you will find Mr. H Tells His Doctor about Himself. This poem is about a patient I encountered in the ER. After only a few minutes of strictly biomedical history-taking, he offered up an illuminating tale of spiritual healing that he had experienced.
I must admit that I was not fully prepared to receive it. I wanted him to supply the answers to the questions on my admission documents (a list of past diagnoses and surgical procedures, allergies, medications, etc) as efficiently as possible. After all, it was 3 am and I had a lot of work to do.
Instead, he gave me unexpected insight into what his renal failure meant to him. I would have liked the chance to talk more about it but had to focus on the immediate problem of the shortness of breath that brought him to the ER. My unresolved desire to reflect more on his personal experience grew into this poem.