Narrative Medicine

Stories of the dying told by those who cared for them to the end.

Culture Shift – February 6, 2017

By Dr. Patrick MacMillan, MD

As a student of history, I always search for historical references to position popular culture into its proper context. Most of us can recount our childhood history lessons and tales of the Spanish Explorer, Ponce De Leon, and his quest to find the “Fountain of Youth” in North America in the 16th century. It turns out that Herodotus, The Father of History, wrote about such a fountain in the 5th century BC…


A Good Death: The beauty in patients passing on their own terms – February 1, 2017

By Dr. Leigh Johnson, MD

I clearly remember the patient who taught me what it means to die with dignity. He was an elderly gentleman, a veteran and a widower. I’d taken care of him several times already in my short year and a half as a resident. He was admitted frequently with exacerbations of his congestive heart failure and chronic kidney disease, and taking care of his delicate fluid balance had taught me far more than any textbook ever could…


Georgia On My Mind: The first time I fully understood the limitations of defeating death – January 31, 2017

By Anonymous Resident

I’ve been working in an ICU, and recently lost a patient after caring for and trying to “fix” her for several hours at her bedside. It wasn’t a pleasant way for anyone to go, as a full code was run because everyone wanted to give her the best chance possible and benefit of the doubt – I find comfort in that I don’t believe she was present. I felt defeated, yet all the family could do was say thank you, genuinely, for a best effort…