One is the loneliest number One is the loneliest number One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do..." ("One," sung by Three Dog Night, lyrics by Harry Nilsson, 1968) If you passed me on the street, you wouldn't know that my heart no longer functions properly, unable to pump blood through my body as … Continue reading February 25, 2019: The Loneliness of Heart Failure
A three thousand year tradition, which bonded doctor and patient in a special affinity of trust, is being traded for a new type of relationship. Healing is replaced with treating; caring is supplanted by managing, and the art of listening is taken over by technological procedures. -- (The Lost Art of Healing: Practicing Compassion in … Continue reading February 3, 2019: What Do You Want in A Doctor?
i am running into a new year and the old years blow back like a wind ... it will be hard to let go of what i said to myself about myself when i was sixteen and twenty-six and thirty-six... (From: The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010, Young & Miller, Eds., 2012) I recalled … Continue reading January 8, 2019: Flourish: Living a Full Life with Heart Failure
Perhaps it has something to do with the season--the holidays and the year drawing to a close have a predictable impact on my thoughts and mood. There are memories of holidays past, of people and places I've loved, of family who are no longer in my life, and with them, feelings of nostalgia. It's a … Continue reading December 16, 2018: When Heart Failure is Too Much With Me
If a man die, it is because death has first possessed his imagination. (William Carlos Williams, poet & physician) I've been thinking about hope lately. It dominates the conversation my husband and I have been having since his cancer diagnosis and surgery, intensified now by the possibility of his participation in a clinical trial of … Continue reading November 26, 2018: Finding Hope in Heart Failure
Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick.--Susan Sontag, Illness as Metaphor, 1978 Poetry and medicine share a long history, dating back to the Greek god Apollo, who was responsible for healing and … Continue reading November 4, 2018: Medicine & Metaphors: Communicating Illness
This past August, when I first began writing this blog, I invited readers similarly diagnosed to write about their experience with heart failure--and other serious heart conditions. Whether my attempts to express this experience have motivated anyone to write, I have no idea, but I am hopeful that some of you who follow this blog … Continue reading October 22, 2018: If You Don’t Tell Your Story, Who Will?
He said it doesn't look good he said it looks bad in fact real bad. (From: "What the Doctor Said," by Raymond Carver; In: A New Path to the Waterfall, 1989) They were words I never thought I'd hear: "You have heart failure." Heart what? I couldn't comprehend what the doctor was saying. I first … Continue reading For October 9, 2018: When the Doctor Said…
When the heart speaks, take good notes.--Joseph Campbell I admit it. Writing from a personal experience of heart failure is far more challenging than I imagined. I've tried to understand why, especially when I've found relative ease in writing a continuing blog about cancer. I've had long discussions with my husband, mulling over the differences … Continue reading September 24, 2018: Communicating the Experience of Illness
The heart is the locus of physical and spiritual being, and represents the "central wisdom of feeling as opposed to the head-wisdom of reason" (Cooper, 82). It is compassion and understanding, life-giving and complex. It is a symbol for love. Often known as the seat of emotions, the heart is synonymous with affection. "The heart...represents the "central wisdom … Continue reading September 9, 2018: Searching for the Metaphors of Heart Failure