A Global Inequality in Kindness by M. Sophia Newman

 “'Wanna Play Doctor?'” Lauren Kascak’s article in Intima Spring 2014, describes the same country (Ghana) and same province (Central Region) as the one in “The Death of the Old Farmer” (Intima Fall 2014). My article chronicles the final day of a man who lived near a rural hospital where I completed observations in 2007. Hers describes a student trip to a different rural town, where she completed training in gynecological techniques.

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It’s Funny: Lining the path of illness with humor by Sean J. Mahoney

It’s funny. I visited the Intima website to initiate a dialogue with an existing piece in the archives that, metaphorically, had been chatting (unbeknownst to me) somewhat telepathically with my poem "Dude, the Stage?”(Intima Fall 2014). Furthermore, the writer Keenan Whitesides ("The Choice," Field Notes, Spring 2014 Intima) had similar telepathy occurring concurrently. She too reacted to something in Aimee Burke Valeras’s “The Appearance of Choice” (Fiction,  Spring 2012 Intima) in writing her piece.

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Doctors are clueless. So are patients. By Marcia Butler

Clinical Flashback (Fall 2014 Intima) by Osman Bhatty, sharply and beautifully reveals how one woman’s rapid and bewildering decline into terminal illness became a seminal teaching moment for the young medical student. Beyond the person lying in a hospital bed was a life story that he could not possibly glean in the 10 minutes he expected to be there, just to draw blood from her gnarled hands. But Bhatty drew back, startled. He recognized what every doctor must: there is a history behind those old and wrinkled hands.

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On Knowing What To Do with the Dying by Sara Baker

Most of us are not prepared for our role—medical or otherwise—with a person who is dying. We are not around death often, and we feel awkward and unsure of ourselves when confronted with it. In my poem, “What Do the Dying Want?” I give voice to this dilemma—do the dying want words or silence or music? Do they want to be touched or “to be left alone, to slip modestly/from their bodies when no one is looking, to leave without a fuss?”

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The Art of Translation: Finding the Right Words About Cancer by Sarah Safford

When I first was asked to comment on the connection of my work to another one in this journal I didn’t know where to begin. How to choose? All of the pieces spoke to me in some way and I was so happy to have found a community of like-minded souls, searching for meaning and beauty in stories of illness. Then I came across “Translate” by Mario de la Cruz and realized how deeply the heart of my work connects to his spoken words, as I too am looking for “…the power to translate/from my lips to your ears/from my thoughts to your thoughts/my interior to your exterior…” using language to shed light in dark places.

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Reclaiming Empathy: Why Doctors Need to Tell Their Stories by Stefanie Reiff, MD

When I read, I find there are moments where it seems the author has plucked an emotion or idea out of my own experience and brought it to life on the page. This happened as I read Katherine Guess's piece, “I Need to Tell This Story” (Fall 2014 Intima), which chronicles the author's discovery of the emotional and psychological importance of sharing one’s own story. Guess adeptly writes, "I realized that [my patient] needed to tell [her] narrative in order to sort through the events of the last few days." This discovery perfectly describes my own experience in writing my poem, "Emergency Department," I found myself continually revisiting my patient, her loss, and my own personal struggle with the emotional burden of informing a patient she had miscarried.

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“What Would You Do, Doctor?” A reflection on how much a doctor should share with his or her patients by Katie Guess

The questions begin as soon as the patient or family member hears a diagnosis. They come in no particular order. Sometimes, they come frantically. Sometimes, they come slowly, but nevertheless, they come. The physician can usually predict the questions. “What are the treatment options?” “What are the chances of success? Of cure?” “How long does he or she have?” And most physicians likely have memorized research results to regurgitate. But then the patient or family asks the question the answer to which cannot be found in medical literature, “What would you do, doctor?”

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Bearing Witness and the Power of Narrative Medicine by Vaidehi Mujumdar

I wrote “The Operation” many times. The first draft was probably in Winter 2013, when I was just free writing short ethnographies that would later be crafted and edited into my undergraduate thesis. In the same way, I see “Witness” by Annie Robinson, published in the Fall 2013 issue of the Intima, as an arm of “The Operation.” Superficially, both talk about reproductive and sexual health. But what resonated the most with me is this one line:

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The Hospital as a Dynamic Spatial Experience by Tarina Quraishi

In the Spring 2015 Intima piece “On Elevators,” I navigate the spatial experience of a hospital, charting how the diverse anxieties of the exam room, waiting room, break room and boardroom intersect briefly inside the cramped quarters of an elevator. In her piece “Coming out of the Medical Closet” in the Spring 2014 Intima, nursing student Angelica Recierdo similarly characterizes the medical closet as a place to gather not only supplies, but emotional strength to enter a patient’s room.

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Breathing in Metaphor and Simile by Julia Jenny Sevy

 Immediately my eyes fixate on the center bottom of the photo.  The figure is flesh colored and kneels in an anthropomorphic way, so we know it is human. But the truly remarkable thing about the photo is the feeling that oozes out of it, or rather, her. I feel for her yet I can barely see her. "Things She Cannot Show You" (Fall 2014 Intima) instantly causes me to contemplate language and the great limits it places on conveying an illness narrative; and in turn, how this lack of adequate language leads to intense isolation for humans experiencing, quite literally, unspeakable things.

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String Theory: How Learning to Play the Violin Saved Me​ by Jason Cheung​

As I ruminated over my experience of learning to play the violin, playing collaboratively, and then using those skills to heal myself and others, I found Erica Fletcher’s “Viola Strings and Other Troubles: Mentoring a Medical Student’s Artistic Endeavors” (Intima Spring 2014) a source of inspiration. Ms. Fletcher reminded me that tuning a violin or a viola string, or engaging in an artistic endeavor generally, can temper the ebb and flow of a journey of recovery through a mental illness.

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Another Reflection on the Slippery Slope of Compassion by Nina Gaby, APRN-PMH

Yesterday, in the hall of the outpatient clinic where I practice as a psychiatric nurse practitioner, my patient politely took my extended hand at the end of our session and then quickly hit the button on the wall sanitizer. The wall sanitizer had been my first impulse as well, but I refrained, worried as to the message I might give if I immediately cleansed my hand after we touched.

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“I am not a Role Model” by Jacob L. Freedman

One’s identity is unarguably a product of one's history and life experience. We are also the product of our parents, grandparents, and the distant branches of our family tree. Beyond the obvious genetics—thank you for the 6’2’’ genes Grandpa Frank and not-so-much-thank-you for male pattern-baldness Grandpa Tudrus—our elders serve as our role models for adulthood, parenthood, career aspirations, and everything else one could possibly think of.

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Can Art Mediate the Indignity of Illness? by Claire Constance

I was born and raised in a Catholic family. This revealed itself in the landscape of my childhood in subtle ways: stray rosaries in the the silverware drawer, conversations in which saints were talked about like old neighbors (“Have you seen the rake?” “Hmm, have you talked to St. Anthony lately?”), and the occasional mass in my family’s living room, presided over by my Jesuit uncle. As a fledgling Catholic, I was also exposed to a lot of talk about dignity.

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