(Warning: I have a lifelong problem of “freaking people out” by sharing too much detail. Hang with me . . .)
When I was a little kid, I had this ritual with my dad. I’m pretty sure we were the only two people in the world that ever did this. It’s kinda weird and I’ve actually never told anyone the full version of what we did together cause I didn’t want to freak anyone out.
Man, now I’m crying just remembering this ritual. . .
Dad’s been gone nearly 4 years. Maybe I can’t stop thinking of him because Father’s Day was last Sunday, but whatever the reason, every time he crosses my mind, this is the memory I come back to time and time again. I’m certain it changed the entire destiny of my life.
So here goes. . .
Both my parents are physicians. Mom’s a psychiatrist, Dad’s a pathologist, a medical examiner. They weren’t home much because they (like most docs) were total workaholics!
With no childcare (babysitters kept quitting and that’s another story), Dad would take me to work at the morgue. The morgue was my favorite spot. It was like our secret clubhouse. Nobody ever bothered us there. No interruptions. It’s not like anybody really wants to go to the morgue ya know . . . except me and my dad. So to me, it’s the most peaceful place ever.
Here’s the ritual. . .
Every morning when we entered the morgue, Dad would open up the stainless-steel doors to the big cooler and he’d say, “Good morning! Is anyone home?” Then he’d prop me up and introduce me to everyone one by one (by the toe tags!). He’d literally announce, “Look! It’s Sally!”
And he’d be SO happy to meet her. Kinda like introducing me to a long lost relative.
Okay, let me back up and explain I was one of those really talkative kids that would wear all the adults out because I couldn’t shut up for a minute. I was WAY too much for most people. Too intense. Too needy? I’m still not sure.
But Sally could handle me. So Dad would leave me there to talk to HER. (Plus he got the break from me I’m sure he needed).
“Sally, how are things going for you?” I pause.
So I answer for her.
In my eyes, Sally is a brave woman who has led a heroic life. And I make up a fantastically wild and amazing story about her life and all the beautiful things she got to see and do in the world and I’m VERY committed to my version of her life story.
[Granted this is a poor hospital in the inner city of Philadelphia—a city with the highest homicide rate in the USA at the time]
“She was probably a single mom who’s life was cut short by poverty, drugs, and violence,” Dad would try to explain.
But I’m relentless.
I keep telling him MY version of her life story (and I’m VERY persuasive).
Eventually, Dad would see there was no arguing with me, and would go along with my story.
What a great Dad. Right?
So that’s our special ritual.
That was it.
Just me, my dad, and one of his patients.
Every day when we went to the morgue. Different patient. Same kind of story.
Now as an adult and a doctor myself I realize I’ve spent my entire life seeing the heroic potential in all my patients, friends, and even my foster child. Not everyone lives up to their potential. I used to get sad about that. BUT that doesn’t mean I’m ever willing to let go of the beauty and courage—the heroic story I SEE in each person who crosses my path—even if they can’t see it in themselves.
My story of their heroic life—even if unlived—is still true to ME. I’m not willing to give it up.
I think this makes me a better doctor.
I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. I see it all so clearly now.
My dedication to celebrating the lives of doctors we’ve lost to suicide . . . how I refuse to let these beautiful souls just be covered with a tarp and thrown into a body bag without sending them off with a proper eulogy, flowers, and a celebration of their life and contributions to the world. Even if I have to write it myself. Even if I didn’t know them when they were alive. Someone has to write their heroic story. May as well be me. . . I’ve been preparing for this since I was a little girl.
As a child I enjoyed seeing the fantastically wild adventures in the lives of my dad’s patients in the morgue, but now, as an adult, I much prefer to help physicians LIVE out their wildest dreams while they are still breathing which is why I continue to lead “Live Your Dream” physician retreats . . .
So doctors can really be real healers—not just assembly-line factory workers. Everyone deserves to live their dreams.
The bottom line is I believe in your dreams even when you don’t believe in your own dreams.
I believe everyone’s a hero. (Some people just don’t know it yet).
Do you agree? I’d really love to know what you think.
Please leave your comment below.
Your optimism and seeing the potential in all situations started very young. Happy Fathers day belated.
I think I may have been born an optimist. I actually believe I was born to do the work I am doing in the world. I feel fortunate to have found my purpose in life. Now savoring every moment.
“…..seeing the heroic potential in all my patients…”
Thank you. I lost sight of my purpose from burnout, and that is such a simple, profound statement that really resonates with me. It’s a statement of love without expectation. I needed that. It might even work with hospital administration.
It works with anyone. We all have untapped potential—and an unlived hero story.
Pam, what an incredible window into an amazing part of your life. Your ritual with your Dad and his patients shows that you were channeled to heal beyond a normal scale. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for everything that you do.
Honored to be invited to this earthly plane to even have the opportunity.
There’s not a day that goes by, Pamela, at this point, that I am not immensely grateful that you exist, that you care, and that you do what you do. Thank you – and thanks to that little girl makin up stories about dead people, and your father, too, for letting you.
Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with your precious bundle of joy. Nothing like a little kid following you around to keep you honest and hopeful.
Beautiful story, Pamela. And unlike your stories about those people in the morgue,
Pamela, that is a beautiful story!
Seeing the good in people comes naturally to me, as well.
I too believe each each person is a hero/ine on their own mythic journey!
It is a sacred calling and an honor to help others discover or recover their journey.
We are blessed to have you as a dream doula, crusader for human rights in medicine, and memorialist of the doctors who killed themselves.
Dream Doula!! OMG. You are making me smile.
Some years ago, I had a wonderful acupuncturist. He is no longer on the earth plane, so to speak. Meanwhile, when I was feeling pain, or down and out, he told me I was a warrior. For him, this meant I was brave and bold. My New Thought perspective kind of resisted this perspective. Uh, don’t fight, just flow. And in today time, I’m thinking Dr. Wible is a warrior. And she flows.
I am always so moved by your writing Dr Wible. This post is especially perfect for me to have read today for many reasons. I struggle with Father’s day too as I lost my father to drunk driving when I was five. As I struggle to study for finals, his father, my amazing grandfather, struggles with bipolar disorder and his own alcoholism. It hurts that no matter what I say he will not seek proper help. The pain makes it hard to concentrate on studying, but is exactly why I am doing it. No matter the outcome of any of the individual tests I take, I am going to make a difference to each patient and hope to inspire their journeys and believe in them no matter what! Life is hard, but we have to believe the best in each other. That is how healing happens!Thank you Dr Wible!
Oh Bethany! You can do it. never give up on your dreams (and always make certain your motivations are pure and from your heart——not necessarily to please others).
Bethany Waller, It is a sad story you tell and one that inspires as well, at least I will say that I’m inspired by it. I can relate to you in that I to lost my father at to early of an age, we all went shopping at a new strip mall and we haven’t seen him since, all kidding aside it is hard on any of us to lose a parent and even harder when we are so young. I’m inspired by your story and now have to get off my but and work harder at getting some things done that I need to get done and or as Dr. Wiggle er I mean Wible says something we were born to do. Keep up the good work and I think Dr. Wible’s right your going to make a great doctor. Best always, James
Oh Pamela! What a powerful story! And how courageous of you to tell it….. because it IS weird, or would be considered as such by the casual observer. But then, extraordinarily gifted people are rarely understood by ordinary people! Count it a a bleasing for you to have been on the receiving end of the parenting style and unusual exposures which gave you the freedom that allowed the expansion and cultivation of your amazingly compassionate, highly intuitive and other-wordly nature, with which you were gifted. It is an homor and a blessing to have merged paths on our journeys. You are a bright light in a dark world. Peace and continued blessings to you.
Charisse Hudson-Quigley, MD
Personalized Care for Women
Aesthetics & Wellness for Women, LLC
I love you Charisse! And you KNOW firsthand I will never give up on YOUR DREAM!!! I know you feel that!!
Interesting, and an amazing story. I took my then 14-15 year old daughter to the Anatomy lab with me, to observe Dissection class. Somewhere I have a photo of her in scrubs and all gowned up right along with the first year Med Students. Now she is a writer and I am sure appreciates he introduction to Academic University life before starting High School.
Excellent introduction to the real world. Something I shared with my dad at his funeral:
So I want to thank you. For everything. For never hiding the truth in happily-ever-after children’s stories. For never sheltering me in a hollow make-believe world. For introducing me on day one as a doctor-in-training. As healers, you and I are fueled by tragedy and we are forever intertwined in our pursuit of tikkun olam—a more perfect world.
In the end, we are all just spiritual beings having a brief and finite human experience. Thank you for choosing to share your human experience with me. It’s been an absolute blast. But above all—more than anything else—I need to thank you for never taming my hair or my spirit.
Bless you. Be free. . .
Read my eulogy to my father here
Beautiful sentiment and well said. One question that comes to mind is what would “Tikkum Olam- or a more perfect world” be like? I mean in many ways our world is fun, exhilarating, fraught with excitement and danger and endless possibilities. So my question to you Pamela is what would be your perfect world? P.S. I also want to thank you for giving folks the opportunity to express themselves here, your aces!
Perfect world: One in which human primary motivation is desire an no longer fear.
Dr Pamela, Even though only knowing you through your emails, it’s obvious that you are a hero among heros. I feel like I do know you because you share your heart and it resonates with me as I know it does with others who’s lives you have touched even if they have not met you in person. You are a special person who has a special place in this world for so many reasons. Helping people to have, hold onto and achieve their dreams takes someone amazingly special and self-less. You are a heart-gift who gives heart-treasures. I thank you for your dreams that you are fulfilling through sharing and investing your life into others lives. For bringing inspiration, hope and love through your life. For making a difference. Caring. Seeking solutions. Being an advocate for TRUTH and JUSTICE. That is what hero’s are known for and why people admire them and want to emulate them. You are a hero and why others want to emulate you and join your endeavors. You ignite this through your passionate compassion. You are what being and fitting what is considered the ‘IDEAL’ physician. A genuine physician committed to what healing is all about. Prevention and alleviating suffering. Identifying and treating root causes as well as results of the pain of whatever has brought distress and dysfunction. Providing comfort and seeking correction of problem when prevention wasn’t enough. By fulfilling your purpose you are being instrumental in helping others who need what you are willing to provide to help them to have hope and to succeed and fulfill their dreams and to have purpose. To have the precious gift of feeling and being valued. Thank you for pursuing your dreams to help others believe and achieve their potential and dreams. What a beautiful heart you have.
Oh thank you Maureen. I’ve had my share of tragedy and pain. Service and staying true to the mission of healing self and others is the highest form of service. The ripple effect of just one person living their dream can change the world. Imagine if we all did it! That’s my goal. Inspire everyone to be the bestest version of themselves. THEN we would have the BEST health care in the world! Right? (I don’t think top-down mandates fro DC an ever stand up to the soul force of one person on a mission 🙂
Thank you for this Pamela. From the bottom of my heart. This is the type of free spirit we need in medicine, and in the world in general. To see each other as heroes — patients, yes in their will to live and heal, but also fellow physicians/medical students/residents. The core of healing is the conviction that every human life is equally worthy of protection and healing, which includes our physicians too. We need to view each other with this lens now more than ever. It is our duty to love and to uplift, to advocate and protect. You’ve done this for so many and I’m truly grateful that there are heroes like you who exist in this lifetime. I hope one day you will be able to help me live out my dream too. It is people like you who show me there is still so much good and light out there.
Share your dream with me. I can help 😉 Will you post here?
I’m applying to medical schools this summer. I dream of opening a simplistic, family practice in a small town, where I can’t truly form a community with my patients. I envision it being small, simple, and filled with artwork. I envision holding classes or workshops to help patients connect in managing chronic illnesses. As you know, there is immense power in authentic human connection for healing. I dream of restoring this, being that small town physician who the community knows and can connect with, restore human connection. We need it more than anything else. When someone else on here mentioned childhood backgrounds of struggle, I resonate with this deeply. Nature was my refuge throughout my childhood, which is part of why I may even explore wilderness medicine. Maybe I can somehow combine family medicine and wilderness medicine, who knows!
Such a beautiful story. I too am a child of a doctor. I have been so inspired by your retreats and what you are doing for docs and our profession. I am starting a Mancave Tuesday at my lakehouse retreat for 2-3 guys at a time:golf, pontoon boat on a sunset lake, barbecue, conversation etc then back to the office by morning. What can we accomplish? Maybe just some laughs….
AWESOME Laurence!! Let me know how I can help. I’ve got lots of ideas. Is this just for male doctors?
Yes! That is completely Awesome!!
Wonderful childhood memory Pamela and not “weird ” at all.
Your after did so much good daily as you do daily for patients and colleagues alike !
I feel blessed our paths have crossed! You are a blessing Pamela ! Thank You for sharing that wonderful unique memory.
You have the gift to heal and share that with others as your beloved dad did. Youperception of seeing the good in others is part of that wonderful gift.
Guess I’m a glass half-full-to-overflowing person. Definitely was made fun of in med school for my idealism; however, it has served me well as a physician.
Pamela, you’re the best! You were born with a healing heart. What truly heals is seeing the “other” as a “hero”, as you say. I’m so happy you are taking charge of the medical world. It needs lots of healing. You’re just the one to do it.
Takes a village. We all have our part. Happy to do my little piece <3
I think it was fantastic that you gave Sally and the others a voice and an alternative story. It would be so fascinating to know how their forebears vs ancestors did .
It is said in mystery school circles that true love and forgiveness expresses itself seven generations forward and seven back.
While we have no way of measuring, living with that acceptance could make for a much kinder world.
I used to have conversations with those in chronic vegetative states.
What did you talk about? I SO want to know.
I had to laugh at this post since my dad was also a funeral director and coroner and I would also accompany him to the morgue starting at age 5; I found it quiet and sort of like a church. I “helped” him with embalming and he taught me anatomy while performing autopsies. We also would necropsy road kill I dragged home so I learned comparative anatomy. I decided that if I was not accepted to vet school that I would follow in his footsteps and I can’t decide whether the fact that I WAS accepted was a good thing or not. This background actually helped me during my vet school interview. One of the admissions board members asked what it was like to have a coroner as a father and for some reason, I blurted out “Well, my favorite color is black” (I was wearing a black suit). He had been tipping his chair back and he laughed so hard that he actually fell over backward! Even the designated “bad cop/doc” couldn’t keep from laughing and I’m sure that exchange caused me to never be forgotten.
Wow Jill. I wish you had some video footage of that exchange though guess it’s etched into your mind forever! LOVE your childhood tales. Keep going. Share any more crazy things you did. As for me he took me to the methadone clinic too and had me examine LIVE patients with him after talking to the dead ones. I know that most people would think this was grounds for CPS removal but this was the BEST CHILDHOOD EVER!!
. . . we’d head to the Camden methadone clinic. As clients came in, Dad introduced me “This is Pamela. She’s a doctor-in-training. Show her your track marks.” Then he’d tell them a secret: “Ya know, I got an addiction too.” Opening his drawer, he pulls out a bag of banana-flavored marshmallow candies. “I love Circus Peanuts, but I’ve had this unopened bag in my desk for two years. I don’t allow my addiction to control me.” I’ve never seen anyone eat these—except Dad. His secret to longevity: cigarettes, vodka, and Circus Peanuts. At noon, he gave lunch money to clients in need. He hands ten bucks to a trans woman and tells us to “go have fun.” So I spend the afternoon on a street corner with recovering heroin users, eating pizza, and learning Spanish slang from a sexy Puerto Rican woman with huge biceps. . .
You can’t make this stuff up.
Pamela, thanks for your honest and vulnerable and caring story. Reminded me of the brilliant pathologist Who discovered CTE also in Pennsylvania.
Beautiful and touching narrative. Thank you for sharing.
I believe everyone is a hero to someone – even maybe just one someone. I think it’s a good idea to plan our day around doing the little things that can have a big, positive impact on the life of someone. Small gestures. Simple compliments. A willingness to “give back” to someone what we ourselves have experienced – the beauty of life even beyond recognition. With what beauty in life that touches us is the same sorta “baton” we must stretch out our hand for or torch we must carry to light the way for other souls to experience the beauty in life – even beyond recognition.
When we know we have been touched by such beauty – we know we have been touched by a hero. For me, I have had the honor to be cared for by medical doctors who are my HEROS. My goal for every medical visit is to think – what small gesture, compliment, or way can I “give back” to them for all the beauty in life they have given me. And so I put my thoughts into action and do what I can to bring a small measure of beauty beyond reconization into the heart of a human being. Yes, patients have the power to do that for others – even physicians. Mutuality is very meaningful to me. I never plan to “suck the life out of them.” I have the power to give back and help “breathe life” into them.
When I sense my docs are stressed I usually say – “I know what you are going through.” And I only have that kind of empathy because of being a part of your movement. Also I’m a big fan of Cleveland Clinics’ Patient Experience, which I call a movement too. What I learn I apply to the patient-physican experience.
Thank you for giving me “space” here as I am an outpatient psychotherapist not a physician. But I do very much care about y’all. I applaud you for ALL you’re doing to keep docs healthy. A healthy doc must be seen as a priority and the norm in healthcare. That idea should not be beyond the horizon of reality, but an Upfront and Real everyday occurrence.
We all have dreams, but we all have to choose what we’re capable of. You were obviously raised by loving and compassionate parents, who told you to value every life that you come across. Thank you so much for all the hard work that you do.
I’m attaching to obituaries of physician friends that committed suicide this year 2018. These were not advertised as suicides, but because I know them personally I know that that’s what happened. The doctor suicide rate is much much higher than documented. We all need to do our best to support eachother on the backend while you are supporting everyone else on the front end.
We as physicians need to start banding together to fight the system, we need to stop harming each other because of the pressure of the malicious medical machine. Most of all, we need to stop harming our patients by allowing others to extort our abilities.
Thanks Leah. I had Chris though not Alexander on list. Feel free to email me privately any backstory which I shall keep confidential.
That’s a great outlook on life. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve found a great outlook on life is the best medicine. Tried Prozac once and a great outlook is much better!
Four or five years ago I sent you an email about how hard Medical school was going for me. I was a new mom struggling in medical school and just beaten down. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect what I you did next — you personally called me. Not only that, you spoke with me for at least 30 minutes. You encouraged me, set my mind at ease, and believed in me.
Now, I wish I could tell you that everything was sunshine and roses after that call. It wasn’t. But, I made it through school. I was kicked out twice — but they let me back in twice. I was told by officials at my school to give up — but I persisted. I was told by officials at my school not to sit for Step 1 because I would fail it — but I passed. I was told by officials at my school to take an extra year to study for step 2 because I would fail it — but I passed that too. Lastly, they told me to hold off applying for the match because I wouldn’t match — but I did.
While the officials at my school weren’t incorrect in their assessments of my performance, they never took a moment to help me or know my situation. I went to a “Big 4” in the Caribbean, which let in too many students and expect them to fail. You did not expect me to fail, and truthfully neither did I. I had my family to provide for and had to try harder that everyone else around me (while still being a loving parent and wife). It was a difficult balancing act.
So thanks for your boundless energy and ability to see the best in others even when it’s gloomy.
Oh you made it!! I’m so thrilled. Where did you match? What’s happening now? Feel free to write me confidentially via email (or via contact page). Love to know more. Are you going to pursue primary care?
That’s a wonderful story about a wonderful, independent-thinking father. He was clearly an important role model and an impetus for you to become a doctor. My father encouraged me in all my interests, which as a child centered around insects and biology. Our weekend ritual was to drive to New York City, where my father, who ran a construction business, had the task of checking the progress of his work crew at skyscraper job sites throughout the city. After our rounds of the building foundations, we would go to the various bookstores where I was allowed to choose any books I wanted. There I discovered my first textbook of entomology. There were also books on microscopy, parasitology and vertebrate anatomy that I could not resist. My father was rather squeamish about my hobbies — projects such as collecting roadkills off the highways, dissecting their mangled bodies to see what they had been eating or what bones had been crushed, and looking for intestinal parasites. And although he would not accompany me to the basement where I had set up my “laboratory”, he actively encouraged my intellectual interests. My mother was less squeamish, and would assist me at times doing such things as watching a dead animal slowly cook on the stove so that I could separate the bones from the meat and assemble a skeleton. This was my childhood, one long adventure (with hardly a friend who would join me) exploring nature and biology. This ultimately led to a Ph.D in animal behavior and an M.D. degree. I cannot thank my parents enough for the most important message they imparted, “Follow your dreams and your interests with all your enthusiasm. Choose your own path, if it is one that no one else chooses or understands. I can lead you along a wonderful adventure.”
Wow Scott! From the tops of skyscrapers to pots with roadkill. your childhood sounds like a movie. I’d love to hear more. Have you written about your escapades as a adolescent in more detail? How old were you when you started collecting roadkill? I used to want to do the same except not to boil them in pots but (yes, as you guessed it) give them a proper burial and eulogy instead of seeing their smashed up bodies decaying in isolation on the side of the road I used to cry for the roadkill. Made me not want to drive. Thankfully I’ve never ever killed an animal that I know of in a vehicle or otherwise. Even protested the dog labs in med school (and was belittled for caring about them). The dean diagnosed me with “Bambi Syndrome.”
Your posts are inspirational.
I have always been sad over roadkill and I say a prayer over each one I pass. I also pray when I pass the crosses at the roadside.
I thought I was the only one who wanted to scoop them up and take those mangled bodies home for a proper burial. I’m also constantly moving earthworms off the sidewalks and roads after rainstorms.
Impossible to omit condolence extended to you and your mother over the loss of your dad and a wish to do so with immediacy. Furnished opportunity to have a reminder of all that is wonderful inside us from another’s perspective is an experience filling us from deep within and expanding to our very outermost edges. Establishing a habit to daily present this view to just one person could make changes nothing else can. I was touched when first hearing this some time ago and did so again this morning when reading your email. Thank you for sharing this personal story and the wonderful three photos of your lovely family; I feel as though well acquainted with your parents, in person.
Narrative is a powerful thing — what we offer others as well as to ourselves. Personal narrative, concerning interpretation of others as well as our own self, occurs non-stop in the mind. To think we each possess something as powerful as this is valuable item to be reminded of and at any time.
In previous generations of letter exchange, appearance of SWAK at the point where the reverse side of the envelope flap ends in a point was not uncommon additional script made by a grandparent, parent, friend, neighbor as term of reflecting just very same heroic as your refer to, Pamela, which they recognized we reflected. That is where this morning’s email from me will conclude. SWAK, to you, Pamela, for the work you are doing. [SWAK = Sealed With A Kiss. Felt something brush your cheek from across the miles between us, did you?]
Pamela, I love this story! I can so relate, and this is exactly what I needed to read today. I KNOW I am doing what I am meant to do, but sometimes all the “stupid stuff” really gets me down and I feel defeated! This was a beautiful reminder. Thank you.
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner, Heart Transplant Program
Heart Transplant Program. Wow. I can only imagine the beautiful moments of awe in your work. Take a moment to be in gratitude for the miracles you participate in each day.
Love the story and reflection Pamela. Thanks for sharing!
Pamela, you are so right. We hold the vision of possibilities for our patients, even when they cannot see the possibilities themselves. And it’s amazing what happens when they can see them.
Dear Pamela, Read your story and yes indeed you have been living an interesting life with a great imagination as well. I seem to find it easy to put myself in the same shoes just because I have a great imagination and I to believe everyone of us has the potential to be a hero and or Heroine under the right circumstances. It just seems that many of us have had our childhood disrupted by extenuating circumstances in that one or both of our parents either worked, was to busy with other children, had addictions, or distractions and or a variety of other reasons
for not being able to give us the attention we needed or need. I can see myself doing the same as you with the cadavers were I to have a dad that worked at a morgue as my dad had a great sense of humor much in the same vein as your dad. It is a scientific fact that all of us have different fingerprints and it would be safe to assume that all of us have a part and or gift to bring to the table it just takes a bit of work to learn this and or even how to work with it. Th educational system is lacking but mainly because of the same problem our parents or guardians had and that there was not enough time for us given that as above stated they were to busy living and working to devote more time to us. With the work your doing and your exposing us to the fact that even our trusted doctors have problems and or are under a lot of stress we owe you a debt of gratitude in showing us that we need to take more time for our families and as it is with you your patients. We need more doctors who are willing to spend some quality time with a patient in order to have a better understanding of that patient and the circumstances leading up to his/her medical problem/s. So yes Pamela all of us have the potential to be a hero/heroine in our lives we just need to know this which is where you come to help, thanks Dr. Wible your aces.
“It just seems that many of us have had our childhood disrupted by extenuating circumstances in that one or both of our parents either worked, was to busy with other children, had addictions, or distractions and or a variety of other reasons for not being able to give us the attention we needed or need.”
Ah! Therein I found the fuel for so much of what I do in the world. . . from one’s wounds come one’s best lived life.
Curious. I shall give you my unsolicited Freudian take on your life of prolonged moments of emotion and moments of death, blurring that distinction of reality and fantasy. you will recall that grounded statement you commented on my recent posting last week, a walk in nature. understanding the sentient nature of the human creature is a challenge and fraught with personal biases, especially in the mental health business especially PhD in Clinical Psychology, PsyD, LCSW etc on search of their own psycho-pathology, less so from the MD perspective. a busy mom. and the inevitable 2nd guarantee of the life, the ultimate end. a busy dad. and who was for you? I have studied Freudian Psycho-Analysis with an old friend a major league pro MD psychiatrist Freudian. I experienced quite the summer following 1st year medical school at the Los Angeles, CA, County Coroners Office. beginning there and into your professional life you have your heroic projection on dead people whose stories are done but for who is following them, and you are committed to your version your projection of a heroic life and are persuasive as you fight for that fantasy of their, and your, you see in them, and you. those who are dead and those in your adult life, and theirs, and you have to write their stories. you have taken the position it is you to tell your projected version of their story, a story you cannot know yet you have the mission to be raconteur of life of internal/external conflict. Perhaps you have been invited into that place of supreme privacy and personal struggle.’not everyone lives up to their potential’, whose potential? fantasies of heroism are a form of grandiosity. look in the mirror and see and hear the reflection and recognize real reality v your play in NeverLand. you can enjoy both worlds just so long as you recognize presence. you may believe but know there is a leap of faith of some sort to believe. Cheers.
This story makes perfect sense to me. I would also go to work with my dad. He was a salesman and his territory was almost all of Eastern NC. We spent hours riding in his big ol’ stationwagon, chatting about anything and everything. His customers were all big livestock farmers and feed mills. I knew all of them.
Fast forward to 1979. I was starting a new job as a PA in Greenville, NC (NOT part of his territory and no one knew me). My very first patient was an older gentleman who was being admitted to the Rehab Center for stroke rehab. He had come all the way from Wilmington, NC. I entered the exam room, introduced myself, and began talking with my patient and his wife. After a few minutes, his wife reached over and put her hand on my knee…”Honey, are you Carey Lancaster’s daughter?” Me..”Yes, Ma’am.” They broke into big smiles…”Honey, he used to bring you with him to our store when you were just a little girl!” You could feel the air in the room lighten up and they had a much better hospital experience than they would have had.
At that point, I made the conscious decision to treat all of my patients as friends first, patients second. That decision made my career SO MUCH FUN! After 20 years in women’s health, I made a career change and did adolescent health in a school-based health center. Most of those kids were children that I’d help come into this world by taking care of their mom during her pregnancy. Their moms remembered me and I had few problems with compliance. I’ve just retired and I have no regrets.
Keep doing what you’re doing, girlie!! You are making a difference!
Diane Lancaster Mullins
Remembering good times with your parents should have some confirmation for you in them. But then leaving that revisiting can also produce sadness. Annual holidays are likely producers of connectedness and of loss of connection. So it goes. I am happy for you to have the reconnection, just as I feel sad for you at the jolt of loss which accompanied it. You know as much or more about this sort of interhuman process than do I. All I know is that I will not give up the recalled happy states. Nor can I live in them. And you now that, too. Be good to yourself. I am cheered to know that you are still out there and providing relief to somany others.
Pamela. You have the makings of a novelist, perhaps a career for you in retirement some day? You have a wonderfully confident, concerned, active mind, full of good ideas and visions. I am inspired seeing this in you because I too have visions for a better world, especially as informed by my research in political psychology, culminating in my book, Party Time! which provides a model for a new political party that I believe can help us unite liberal and conservative worldviews quickly enough to prevent collapse of society, if we act quickly enough. Carry on!
i took all our kids into the operating room evenings and weekends
and school days off
dressed them in scrub suits
chief of surgery said it was inappropraiate
i got him to watch how patients laughed and relaxed when one of our kids would walk up to their gurney and get their chart for the nurses
he never said it was inappropriate again
none of our 5 are doctors
they saw my pain too
Thank you, Pamela. This is beautiful.
And I want you to know – you are a superhero also.
I see slowly that the stories you discuss and share are being picked up by other blogs – for example KevinMD – and news outlets as well. Also discussing ableism in the medical community.
And the abusive training doctors to be go through. I am always after adrenaline so when I was a teen I would imagine working hard all week and loving it, saving lives, not having free time cause duty called, etc – of course I never got to med school (wish I had!) but… now realizing the abuse, the ableism, the pressure… I want happy doctors, not harried and abused doctors.
And you are helping to bring all this to light and you are getting folks to be able to talk about it, so they can break the stigma and discuss, hopefully without fear.
For that at LEAST you are kind of a superhero but there’s always a part of me that’s gonna think all doctors are superheroes because they are doctors.
(I have seen doctors do amazing things.)
But anyway. Yeah. I just wanted to remind you that you too are a superhero. Thank you for sharing the story of your dad and his patients. That is so sweet and I totally would have done the same. Awww.
I hope you have a great day and that your week has gone/will go well, too!
I don’t feel like a hero. I often feel I’m just trying to survive a calamitous event that feels like it’s about me even though I know it’s not…to put on a false brave face so those who can’t understand wont be able to see in…and wondering when I’ll finally get to a place where my actions aren’t seen as heroic or brave, but for what they are…a simple daily struggle to come to terms with where life has placed me…and if my story can provide some help or support for another survivor like me, then I’ll answer the call. Knowing that others are out there in the same boat as I helps my resolve to bring awareness to this scourge of physician depression and suicide.
Talking about suicide when it is hidden—shrouded in secrecy—is a heroic action. Thank you Peter for sharing your beautiful Lara with the world. She’s right next to me. I have her picture hanging beside my desk. Sending you lots of love my friend (and it was so wonderful to meet you in DC a few months back!).
You are truly amazing. A beacon of light in a dark world. I’m glad I came across your material . I have yet to really dream. I have lived in survival mode for as long as I can remember. My dad raped me for the first time when I was 5. Been trying to undo the damage by becoming successful and helping others. Not a surprise that I was attracted to the ER. The traumas I see are reminiscent, especially the gun violence.
I thought about sending this response anonymous but I don’t want to perpetuate secrecy.
Thank you for being a source of hope
Christy you are so very courageous. Thank you for reaching out for help. Looking forward to meeting you some day soon. Please keep in touch. You’ve got my # <3
Beautiful story….My own father passed on 12 years ago, which is hard to really grasp sometimes…. And a true story…. We humans are all, to a greater or lesser degree, damaged adult children, and we are all heroes, to a greater or lesser degree, even if all we can muster is to plod through life by putting one foot in front of another…. I so wish humanity had adopted the sustainable life path of the Native Americans, which can be characterized by the saying, “As much as possible, live in harmony with everyone and everything.” Our ACE scores (google the ACE Study) would be lower and we wouldn’t have to act out our childhood pain, trauma, and abandonment on ourselves and others as much.
I think almost everyone is a hero in their own way.
YES! (not all are willing to own their heroic potential though)
Yes, I agree. As wise King Solomon said, “A person’s mind plans their way, but the Lord directs their steps.” And everyone is a hero because, as Blaise Pascal said, there is a God shaped vacuum in every person that only God can fill and become the best God desires. So, “Be not weary in well doing, for in due season you shall reap if you faint not.” Remember the swamp frog holding on to heron’s neck as he’s being swallowed (Never give up!). Great story and memory of you and your Dad entering and experiencing each other’s worlds. And yes, I agree you are a little “Nuts”–which should serve as a vaccination to keep you from going really “Nuts”. Besides, “Nutty” people are more interesting. Thank you for who you are and what you’re doing! Sincerely yours, Richard Trinity, MD
Hi Pam. How are you? I also think in many of the same ways you do. But I didn’t have the wonderful father you had, although he warmed up considerably as he aged and became that man (now slowly leaving the world with dementia, aged 88).
I identify with the kid who couldn’t shut up (ADD?) and think those of us who do have ADD or are a little different, are perfectly suited to psychiatry because we think outside the box. We’re more accepting. Our high energy and optimism is also well suited to our careers.
Maybe because of the medical profession, we don’t have the same taboos about privacy and the body. Sometimes I think I have to remember to put proper clothes on before leaving the house because I also am an open book. After publishing my first book which included alot of private information, the world didn’t fall apart in any way. It was safer than I suspected. So I go on.
I’ve already connected with you because I’m working hard to get my new book, “Please don’t die” out this year.
So You’re my hero, and I’m other’s hero, and without this, what would life be worth? Have a great day.
This is beautiful Pamela! I love how you are so open in your sharing, and you do get your point across. Thanks!
That is a great and wonderful story! What a way to foster a young girls imagination and prepare her for a life of compassion and helping others. It’s what has turned you into the beautiful person you are today. I am happy and proud to call you my friend (though we have never met)…
Thank you Charley. The ripple effect of loving your work can spread to your kids—even in the morgue! Never underestimate the impact of a joyful soul on others. XO
Beautiful story. What a creative child! You have a beautiful soul. Thank you for all that you do!
Beautiful story. What a creative child! You have a beautiful soul. Thank you for all that you do! I hope to one day meet you and take your course.
Oooh just sent you an invite! Love to meet you in the flesh this October 🙂
Everyone is someone’s hero in truth and in deed! Thanks.
This is lynelle, one of your non-physician secret admirers, haha. We’ve never even met, but reading this is amazing for me; why? I feel Exactly that way, about everyone and everything. The outlet of this sense within me is less specific, though, and more general to life itself and those of my own species, which is not quite so satisfying. Your fine and clear writing reminded me that this is likely a rather positive trait to have and should be channeled in a more “intentional” way. Thanks so much, as always!
Just need to speak with you or need a referral thank you
Being perceived as “weird” in your case means you are being perceived as a medical doctor of the soul which is what the IDEAL psychiatrist should be.
So glad to have had the opportunity to meet you at the LA Screening of “Do NO Harm” in Santa Monica on June 6th 2018
Hope we meet again
Keep it up
Please, Dr. Pamela, please do call me. I really need some help from someone who can understand what a patient is going through when the doctor is not helping. I don’t know what to do. Your kind assistance would be most appreciated. My phone number is 505-890-3203.
Happy to have a strategy session with you to help you navigate and get the care you need.
Please, Dr. Pamela, please do call me. I really need some help from someone who can understand what a patient is going through when the doctor is not helping. I don’t know what to do. Your kind assistance would be most appreciated. My phone number is 505-890-3203. I don’t know what you want me to erase.
Happy to help you navigate the med system. Reach out. Lots of free resources.