Melissa was 27-weeks pregnant when she found out that her baby had a serious genetic disorder. Her condition meant that the baby would not live long once born, if it survived the pregnancy.
July 16, 1995 The Boston Globe Magazine
UNTIL LAST FALL, I had spent a considerable part of my career as a health-care lawyer, first in state government and then in the private sector. I came to know a lot about health-care policy and management, government regulations and contracts. But I knew little about the delivery of care. All that changed on November 7, 1994, when, at age 40 I was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. In the months that followed, I was subjected to chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, and news of all kinds, most of it bad. It has been a harrowing experience for me and for my family. And yet, the ordeal has been punctuated by moments of exquisite compassion. I have been the recipient of an extraordinary array of human and humane responses to my plight. These acts of kindness — the simple human touch from my caregivers — have made the unbearable bearable.
• • • • • DURING SEPTEMBER and October of 1994, I made several visits to the outpatient clinic of a Boston teaching hospital for treatment of a persistent cough, low-grade fever, malaise, and weakness. The nurse practitioner diagnosed me as having atypical pneumonia and prescribed an antibiotic. Despite [...] continue the story
In August of 2004, Jason Crigler, one of New York’s most sought-after guitarists, suffered an AVM brain hemorrhage while playing a show in Manhattan. He was rushed to the hospital where doctors told Jason’s family, “Even if he lives through the night, there won’t be much left of the man you know.”
Jason’s pregnant wife and the rest of his family refused to accept the dire prognosis. Convinced that Jason was “there,” his family mounted an intensive and intimate course of rehabilitation that would force Jason’s doctors to reconsider the factors that inspire recovery.
Jason and his sister Marjorie have developed a powerful multimedia presentation that explains how and why Jason recovered. Drawing on their unique, personal experience, they show how intense family involvement makes the difference in a positive recovery. While Marjorie speaks from the family’s point of view, Jason offers a survivor’s perspective on the challenges he faced.
For more information, visit www.defyingtheodds.net
In accepting the award, Ship spoke of the importance of small gestures in the doctor-patient relationship – specifically, the art of listening with both eyes and ears. “Returning the (patient’s) gaze is one of those powerful small gestures,” she said. “It encapsulates empathy and compassion – being present, fully present, to another human being: pausing to look back. To say with our eyes that we are listening, that we hear.”
It’s a lesson she teaches medical students who rotate through Healthcare Associates. “I’m proud to be a primary care doctor,” she said. “Primary care is focused on continuity, of knowing one’s patients through all their illnesses and the complexity of their lives. And primary care is focused on prevention – on protecting you from the consequences of untreated but silent diseases and from unnecessary tests or hospitalization. That’s care we all need and deserve.
“I look out tonight at a room filled with people who have the minds, energy and position to change medicine, and I want to make it clear that primary care needs saving. Those who practice it need to be given the time to do it right. Primary care can literally save lives, but it can not be done [...] continue the story