No one, not even someone you love, can fill the hollowness. Still you cannot walk this alone. You need a witness, an errand goer, a soft presence, a light in the hallway. Someone who brings you tea or clean clothes, whose eyes will look back into yours.
When I looked up from all the waiting rooms, I found a communion of once-strangers waiting to help me
Togetherness is not artificial–it is not forced into the nooks and crannies between people. It is intrinsic to our existence as humans, no matter how fleeting the collision of our worlds. Moreover, togetherness need not be physical. We can feel connected to others even when there’s an ocean between us.
The hierarchy in medicine is impossible to ignore. Medical students shuffle, interns survive, senior residents manage, and staff attendings command. Fortunately, these relationships have evolved over the last few decades and past feelings of authoritarianism have turned into mentorship.
The sociological concept of the “sick role” may absolve patients of responsibility for causing their illness. But it does not protect them from the stigma often associated with illness. Nor does it protect them from their own feelings and thoughts.
The Room by Jodi Paik (Fall 2016) and my artwork The Last Stand both examine medicine through the eyes of a child— a perspective not yet laden with the what-if’s, should-have’s, and if-only’s that come with growing up.
When something dramatic, threatening, and life-altering happens, chaos frequently ensues among those affected. While individuals struggle to incorporate the trauma into their lives, the relationships among them are inevitably strained.