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This month... How Can I Help?

 
I rush into the waiting room, trying to make it on time. Mom is sitting in the chair, patiently reading her romance novel with her ninety-nine cent bifocals. Calm and relaxed, in contrast to my frantic entrance as I juggle my schedule to try and make her appointment.

“You made it!,” she exclaims, genuinely happy that I am there.

 “Sure mom, you know I told you I’d be here for you.”

 Then the interrogation begins.

 “So, mom, did you bring all your pill bottles for the doctor to see?”

“Well yes, I have all the ones I have been taking.” She dives deep into her purse, plucking each one out and setting them by the magazines strewn haphazardly on the waiting room table.

A bit concerned, I probe further.

“Are you not taking all the medications your doctor prescribed you?”

“Well, I did stop the one that I think is making my hair fall out.”

“How long ago did you stop that one?"

“Oh, I think a few months ago. I just figured I’d tell her when I saw her today. Right?”

I'm beginning to wonder: Have I become the helicopter daughter who tries too hard to make the most of my mom's twenty-minute appointment? Have I become a theater director, tweaking each line of my mom's script to maximize her performance?

But I continue: “Mom, let’s look at your list of questions to ask the doctor."

“List? I don’t have a list. I just want her to sign my pharmacy rebate coupon. I certainly can remember that.”

Our conversation continues as I struggle with which role I should play: doctor, daughter, or parent.

Then we sit quietly for a few minutes before the receptionist door opens, and the nurse calls her in.

“Let’s go, Mom, I think you’re ready now.” And the performance begins.

Jo Marie Reilly
South Pasadena, California

Encounters

mainencounterspicEncounters, our latest feature: Patients talk about their healthcare experiences and share stories about their lives outside the doctor's office.

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