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Graphics by: Dr Michiko Maruyama

Celebrating Canadian Women Physicians' Day March 11, 2023

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"Lifelines"

by Dr. Susan Thouin

 

“Writers are like spiders, who spin their webs out of their own essence.”

June Callwood

 

The following poems are from a collection entitled “Lifelines”.  After spending a day as an observer in the Intensive Care Unit at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital in Windsor, Ontario, I became acutely aware of the fine line that exists between life and death.  Medical professionals are important lifelines in our society.  

Now after years of practicing Emergency Medicine in Scarborough, Ontario and recently having worked in both community and hospital based Palliative Care in Toronto during the COVID-19 Pandemic these two poems I wrote twenty years ago resonate even more.  The references to singing and a choir foreshadow the balance that music gives to me now and the cane unfortunately my current reality.  The last poem I wrote in recent years.

Writing

Excerpt from "For Better"

by Dr. Heather Gooden

 

She drifted away from him over the last few years, going on ahead of him. 

He anchored her down, his love refusing to let her float away completely before her body was ready. He knew it, too, but we rarely spoke of it. 

They say dementia is an end-stage disease. It steals the personality in bits, sometimes letting it visit, before taking another chunk. Each chunk takes the afflicted further from the ones who love them. 

It causes a family to grieve loss after unimaginable loss of a loved one’s unique essence, long before their body dies. 

You see, everyone knows. 

It’s too painful to speak of, the howling grief that leaves them with an imposter, only a shell of the person they love. 

We talked a bit, and his eyes got bright when we spoke about planning for the worst. He walked me to the door, and we shook hands. 

“We’re doing good here, don’t worry. We’ll be just fine.” 

I smiled and left, walking down the hall of the complex where they lived and hearing my footsteps echo down the hall. 

For better or worse, in sickness and health. I wonder if we can ever understand those words until we live through them. 

Excerpt from "Up North"

by Dr. Katie Wiskar

 

"Dr. M handed me a set of keys. “We have six MIBI scans to do this morning,” he said in his gentle South African drawl. “The treadmill room is upstairs next to the office.” 

 

My face must have registered my apprehension as I took the keys. “I’ve never administered a MIBI,” I told him truthfully. “At home, the techs do everything. We just confirm their reports.” 

Dr. M smiled, a twinkle in his eye. “Well, you’re not in Kansas anymore, are you? Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out.” 

The city girl in me wasn’t so sure. I was used to the luxury of large centers where the cardiac imaging department is run like a well-oiled machine. In Terrace, I discovered, Alex, the imaging tech, and I were it.

The patients, to their enormous credit, didn’t complain when I clearly didn’t know what I was doing. Many of them laughed along with me as the electrodes fell off mid-test, and we had to start all over again. Alex was endlessly patient and helpful, making very welcome “suggestions” as to what protocol I might want to pursue in each case. Each MIBI was allotted thirty minutes. We should have been finished by noon. When I finally reappeared on the wards to join Dr. M at 3:30 p.m., he simply grinned."

Gooden, Heather. "For Better," and Katie Wiskar. "Up North". What We Bring to the Practice of Medicine, edited by Kimberly Greene-Liebowitz and Dana Corriel, Kent State University Press, 2023.

What We Bring to the Practice of Medicine is a fantastic collection of compelling, short essays showcasing the experiences of a diverse group of women physicians. This book will be released on April 4, 2023, but it's available for pre-order now at

Kent State University Press

https://www.kentstateuniversitypress.com/2022/20652/

Excerpt from “The Shapes of Wrath”

by Dr. Melissa Yi (Yuan-Innes)

When I dreamed of becoming a doctor, I didn't realize that, in addition to the joys, we'd have to deal with humiliation and physical or sexual harassment. I touched on this very real problem in my new thriller,

"The Shapes of Wrath", written under the name Melissa Yi.

https://windtreepress.com/portfolio/the-shapes-of-wrath/

 

Dr. Hope Sze tries to scrub into the O.R. with Dr. Vrac, the surgeon who nicknames her Sneeze, but charge nurse Tammy blocks her.

DR. VRAC
Tammy and Sneeze! What're you doing?

HOPE
Scrubbing in.

TAMMY
I'm teaching your little resident how to scrub in properly.

DR. VRAC
Too late, Sneeze. You listen to everything Tammy says, all right? She's the boss.

Unseen by Tammy or anyone else, Dr. Vrac cups Hope’s bum and squeezes it.

Hope whirls toward him, mouth open in protest, but Dr. Vrac slips away down the hall.

DR. VRAC

Great working with you!

Performances

Dr. Edythe Tham

Canada's Got Talent 2022

by Voices Rock Medicine

A Short 15 min play

by Dr. Shailla Vaidya

Content Warning:

Burnout, discussion of trauma from residency (but also how I resolved it).

Meditations can be found on sound cloud from the following link:

https://www.theyogamd.ca/meditations-2/

Artwork

"Goat Lake, Waterton"

gouache on watercolour board 

by Dr. Lindsay Annand

 

Dr. Lindsay Annand Painting.jpeg

"Coast in Colour"

by Dr. Jenn Baxter

IMG_0097.jpg

Podcasts

"Rock Docs" and "The Decode Project"

by Dr. Cara Ooi

 

"Rock Docs" is about the choir I am a part of, Voices Rock Medicine. I interview colleagues about how VRM and the choir community has helped us combat burnout. 

"The DECODE Project" Podcast is my current podcast and it focuses on supporting others through difficult change, starting with sleep. The focus of season 1 was on helping teens. 

"Unmaking Me"

by Dr. Melanie Hnatiuk

 

Dear friends, colleagues, 

I know you are amazing at keeping everything together. You make sure your family is healthy and safe, your friends are supported, and you are keeping the health system cobbled together one patient at a time. You are smart and skilled and it's no wonder that society wants you to put everyone else's needs before your own. This is a gentle reminder from someone on the same journey that you deserve care, rest, joy, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose too. My podcast episode in honour of CWPD is dedicated to you. 

With love, Dr. Melanie Hnatiuk

Special Episode:

"Canadian Women Physicians Day: Reimagining the Elusive Work-Life Balance"

by Dr. Melanie Hnatiuk

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