"I don't just read Pulse, I adore it." --Donald Berwick MD
On Earth As It Is in Heaven
From my wife's grandparents' Manhattan apartment, I could hear the noises of traffic and pedestrians in Central Park, seven floors below. The sounds made a refreshing change from the beeping monitors, overhead pages and ringing phones that are the usual backdrop to my work as a physician in a large Philadelphia medical center. Here the only background conversations I heard were those of loved ones in the kitchen, not those of patients' family members, overheard through flimsy curtains ringing an adjacent bed.
The hospice nurse quietly moved about the apartment. My wife sat close by her grandfather, Werner (whom we called Saba, Hebrew for grandfather), speaking softly with him as he lay there in bed. Our two-year-old son sat nearby, dutifully flipping through a Dr. Seuss book, occasionally drawing my attention to a funny-looking fish or tree.
From this view of your ear
I see folds of fissures,
curves of shell washed
clean by briny tears. I see
Three delicate bones of
middle ear: malleus, incus
and stapes, the smallest
bones in the human body.
I see angular vestibules,
skull and sockets. Labyrinth
of tubes, tympanic drums.
But there is no pitch or timbre.
Not one note of a lullaby.
Not even one tiny rhyme.
I am a social worker working with severely mentally ill adults. One of my clients is Lawrence Walters, a small, thin man in his late fifties, very schizophrenic even while on medication. He talks about spirits holding him down, making him do things he doesn't wish to do. He is impossible when off meds, tolerable when on, and difficult just about all the time. But at last I've got an edge on Lawrence--and it's not because of any particular social-work skill.
Lawrence often asks me to take him places--usually shopping, but sometimes to medical appointments, such as an eye exam. (Lawrence is missing one eye, which some say he himself poked out when especially ill. I can't confirm this story, however, and I've not asked him.)
a treasury of compelling stories and poems.
Includes The Resilient Heart , Babel: The Voices of a Medical Trauma and Confessions of a Seventy-Five-Year-Old Drug Addict. Foreword by Maureen Bisognano, President of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.
Click to read more or to purchase.