Being Empowered for Your Health

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Have you ever left one of your health appointments disappointed with your visit? Maybe you had just spoken to a health care professional, but instead of feeling like all of your concerns were addressed, you found yourself with even more questions? In this post, I will provide you practical tools that you can starting putting into use today that will empower you in your health care visits by helping you prepare for encounters you might have with the health care system–whether it is a routine doctor’s visit or an unexpected trip to the ER—and by helping you make the most out of your interactions with your health care professionals.

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Continue reading “Being Empowered for Your Health”

Healer.

Dedicated to all whose compassion serves as a light in this world…

 

Shattered
like a vessel of alabaster
rent for its salve
she is an ointment
poured forth
upon bleeding souls
and wounded flesh
a river of compassion
forged with an oath
fueled by a vision
those hands of clay
guided by light
skillfully molded
with a wisdom
paid with a price.

Tendered
is this touch that
saves and soothes
comforts and mends
strength sustained
by the pulse of
a heart constrained
by its own calling
the candle within
softened by flame
its waxen tributary
a remembrance to
the joys and sorrows
gains and losses
moments treasured
in the care for mankind.

Vitamins: All You Need to Know

By Phoebe Chi, MD, MPH

Multivitamins. Have you ever wondered if taking one makes a difference? Whether you even need one? And if you take several supplements, how much should you take of each…and when? In this post I will answer these important questions as well as provide you some tips on finding the perfect supplement for your needs.

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Continue reading “Vitamins: All You Need to Know”

Ask This Doc: Q & A

Have you been wondering about anything?

Perhaps you have read something health-related on the internet but are not sure of its accuracy and would like the opinion of an impartial doctor…

Perhaps you just have a general question about how to improve your health…

I have noticed that many people have unanswered questions when it comes to health-related issues. Therefore, if you think I can help, I encourage you to ask them (of course this is not to replace your personal doctor’s advice, but just to offer you another source of information).

You are welcome to leave your question in the comment section or submit it to me directly. 

With love,
Phoebe

•      •      •

 *Remember, any information provided through this blog is solely for educational purposes and is not intended to be used in place of medical advice. Always consult your trusted health care provider before starting or changing any medications/supplements, diet, and exercise regimens.  

A Caregiver’s Heart.

I cared for you even before we met.

As letters meandering the page
sketched the contours of a portrait,
I looked forward to meeting you.

As I enter the room,
I sense a fragrance of time past,
of struggles endured years before–
silent whispers of a mind’s unrest
reflected through misted eyes.

As we talk,
of a soul’s facade you steadily disrobe.
Words of suffering and pain, joy and pride-
each syllable a silvered twine
weaving your life’s story.

I examine you.
Your heart-
that fulcrum deeply hinged.
A bittersweet thrum
of a battery strong but worn.
Your lungs-
that which sing
their own melodious song,
a lulling carol
invigorated with each exhale.

From there a journey it becomes
to strengthen you, to make you whole.
A disease conquered, a valley bridged.
A hollow filled, a life restored.

We work together.
As ripples in a wake,
your life affects mine,
for the same heart that aches
when you suffer
rejoices with you
in your victories.

Because this is what I treasure–
the chance to care for you,
to walk with you.

It is a privilege.

So thank you for letting me.

5 Things Doctors Wish You Knew (that will empower you)

By Phoebe Chi, MD

Have you ever left a doctor’s office somewhat disappointed with your visit? Maybe you just spoke to a physician, but instead of having all your concerns addressed, you find yourself with even more questions? Do you ever wonder what doctors secretly wished patients would do that would make caring for you a smoother process?

My purpose in writing this post is to do two things: to provide practical tips that you can use today that will 1) help prepare you for encounters you might have with the health care system in the future…whether it’s a routine doctor’s visit or an unexpected trip to the ER, and 2) help you make the most out of your interactions with your physicians.

Therefore, without further ado…

Continue reading “5 Things Doctors Wish You Knew (that will empower you)”

A Search Within.

How do I know
the pill won’t seem
bitter to your tongue
through your teeth?

How do I wear
a once white coat
stained with tears
of memories?

How do I compel
my pen to write
scripts to fight
a dimming light?

How do I know
 which waters will flow
to unearth the strength
within me?

How do I persuade
a heart to let go
when it’s my hand
that sets you free?

How do I ensure
my smile won’t be
one of the last
that you’ll see?

How do I force
my ears to hear
a song I fear
of dusk so near?

How do I know
which waters will come
to enshroud the doubts
within me?


A Lunch with a Gift.

I had lunch with a homeless man.

But not just any man. An elderly man, a former high school teacher…and a former patient of mine from a charity clinic where I used to work.

It happened as I was driving through downtown, stopped at a light beneath an overpass. Suddenly, I heard a familiar voice. 

“Hi Doc!”

Since we were both hungry, we did the natural thing: we went for lunch at a nearby cafe. Despite intrigued glances from others, we had a lovely lunch. Looking back, it may have been one of the most enjoyable lunches I’ve ever had.

A few days later, I was contacted by the clinic who informed me that I had received a letter from a patient. And here I will share it with you—in a form put into verse by me but which maintains its original wording:

Dear doc, you have been so kind to me.
Why, you even took me to lunch.
I wish I could give you something in return,
but I know I don’t have much.

So I write these simple words to you
in hope that on those days
that they’ll make you smile and give you strength
and peace in many ways.

You are a doctor to many,
but an angel you have been to me,
who encouraged, cared, and healed my pain,
and a light you made me see. 

I am sad that you are no longer my doc
but am glad that you are my friend.
And I hope we can keep in touch
until the very end. 

So why did I share this? Because I was “challenged” by Liz to give a gift to someone. But now I realize—I don’t think I succeeded in giving anything to anyone.

Rather, the gift was given to me

 

 

Tea Time!

• Vinto, Bolivia •

When Puppydoc wasn’t working, she would step right next door to her home…the hospital guesthouse.

There, waiting for her, would be the afternoon tea…fully prepared and served by her host sister, little Esterita…

esther.JPG

…and together, they would then chat about their busy day while they took their tea…with two lumps of sugar, of course.

😉

Meet Mayra.

mayra.jpg

• Vinto, Bolivia •

 One of our littler and bravest guests, I first met Mayra when she was admitted to the hospital with cerebral malaria (a severe form affecting the brain) a month prior. Few thought she was going to make it, but as one can see here…she absolutely did. 

From scared little girl to fearless survivor, she quickly became an inspiration to those caring for her. Bonding over children’s songs and Dum Dums (green apple was her favorite), our friendship grew, and she quickly became a ray of light in my day.

Here, she is pictured at one of her follow-up appointments with—what else—
—but a green apple Dum Dum. 

😀

Behind the Smile.

family

• Melchor de Mencos, Belize •

Meet the Aguado household. A place where love runs deep…simple are the joys…and wide are the smiles that shield the scars aching to heal beneath. 

Here we see one of the effects of inaccessible health care. Where fathers lose their lives to otherwise treatable diseases, leaving two mothers and seven children with little more than the lingering fragrance of memories.

Here we also see a strength undeniable. Where the youngest to the eldest come together to care for one another…encourage one another…support one another. 

And finally, we see ‘little Juan,’ whose palpable nonchalance tells you really all that you need to know:

He is now the man of the family. 

🙂

Meet Elise.

steth

• Belmopan, Belize •

Elise is no average girl. Brought to the children’s home at the age of five, she was a carer of two siblings through her nights on the streets, had always been a fighter and a leader, and is now a pattern for many at her home.

She also wants to be a doctor when she grows up and is already a highly skilled blood pressure taker.

😀

Isolation.

tb
• Monteagudo, Bolivia •

This is where tuberculosis patients, including little Luis’ father, were kept, quarantined away from other patients. It is quite different from the standard isolation facilities seen at most hospitals today, but this is all they had, and they made the most of it.

Outside is where little Luis played while visiting the hospital. 

And Puppydoc did end up getting latent TB after caring for the patients, but she took medicine and is now all better. 

☺️

Angel.

Cursed by thirst unquenchable
beneath a blazing sky,
Gaze distorted by burning mist
that wells within her eyes.

A soul that weeps before mankind,
for truths they’ve never seen–
of jaded hearts, of bleeding flesh,
of wounds that lie between.

An angel to the suffering,
a guardian to the soul,
a seraph who has fallen,
sunk within beguiling shoal.

Who will deliver this fragile one
whose eyes, too worn to cry?
To lift her up on mended wings
into the blazing sky?

The Hug.

Bitterness.
Each word, a slap.
Each consonant, piercing.
Bursting in like a winter’s storm,
you permeated into our lives.

We wanted to help you,
but we only came to fear you.
Many shook their heads in pity.
Some avoided you.
Others talked about you.

Contempt.
Each gesture, scornful.
Each insult, stinging.
My attempts to talk to you
only seemed to anger you more.

You terrified me. Yet I yearned.
To see. To know. To understand.

I knew you were frustrated.
Your disease, unforgiving.
Slowly devouring. 
I knew you were discouraged.
Your body, powerless.
Slowly succumbing.

But why wouldn’t you let us care for you?

Desperation.
Each day, the same.
Each encounter, fruitless.
You turned us away again and again. 
Until one day I confronted you. 
I asked you why.
And you told me.

I know you don’t really care. This is only your job. 

My job.

It all made sense.
The bitterness. The coldness. The distancing.
I understood.

Stepping forward,
leaving behind the pride, the decorum, 
my arms enclosed around you.
The fear escaping my racing heart
only after you made a move to wipe your eyes.

You then collapsed into me.
My shoulder, an insulation
to the sound of choked sobs.

You never said a word.
But in your cry I heard your anguish.
I heard desolation.
I heard relief.

Things were never the same after that.

Your bitterness was gone.
Your words, softer.
Your eyes, warmer.
You allowed us to care for you, 
remaining strong even
as your disease progressed.

Until one day, like winter’s snow, 
the seasons beckoned for you to leave.
But even then, as you faded away,
you reminded me of the day everything changed–

The day I gave you the hug. 

I’m Sorry I Couldn’t Do More.

You took your life.

I’m sorry I was only
fifteen feet away.

The doctors were only fifteen feet away.

You didn’t know this.
But I spent days and nights
next door to where you decided
to end your life. Where the doctors
gather, pondering over differentials…
treatments…dissecting our every move
to ensure that we are doing the
right thing for you.

The right thing…

If I had known you,
I would have fought for you.
I know you weren’t my patient;
I know we had never even met.
I am just the person who found
you. Who pronounced you.
You were already cold,
but still, I placed the
stethoscope against
your chest and
listened.

I didn’t hear anything.

Did you hear me as
I wept for you?

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry
you were suffering.

I’m sorry you felt
as if
you had
no way out.

I’m sorry I couldn’t do more. 

This is a reflection over an event that happened during residency.
An event I still think about at times. 
A lingering guilt.

The Flawed Physician.

She stands facing a closed door.

Your door.

As her gaze converges onto
enameled surface, she notes its
texture- the evenness a comfort to
a moment of hesitation within.

Smooth and finished–flowing
imprints mapping the course of
fine fibers swept over timber.

Flawless.

She makes a move to knock,
but her hand pauses,
and for a moment she wonders
whether you will find her pleasant.

Whether she will be worthy of your trust.
Whether you will believe in her.

Because she is flawed.

Like veneer upon wooden door, she
is but a polished version of herself.

As she again surveys its exterior,
she is let in upon a different truth–
that from underneath the surface
the grain peeks through, coarse
and jagged, its valleys exposed,
blemish revealed, age betrayed.
It is but fresh lacquer upon a
damaged interior, eroded and
frayed by the stress of time.

Like a white coat to the skin,
it cloaks the imperfection
and vulnerability of that
which lies beneath.

A coat enshrouding
scars of personal defeats–
An awareness
of critical introspection while
striving to exhibit confidence and certainty.
A struggle
to remain objective while
craving to empathize with you.
A hunger
to continue feeling through perpetual
immersion into death and suffering,
while self-preservation casts increasingly

impenetrable layers of emotional shield.
And a fear
of not doing enough, while similarly
recognizing the peril of doing too much.

But as her knuckles meet the door,
she is reminded of an oath–taken
at the dawn of this journey–
an oath of compassion, of
integrity, of humility–

an oath to do no harm.

So as she enters
your room,

she smiles–
for she never forgot its
concluding admonition:

That one would never lose the joy of helping others.

Therefore as an imperfect human being,
she will do her best to ease your suffering,
treat your illness, be your advocate–
Not because it is her obligation,
but because this is her love–

To help her fellow man.

To care for you.

•      •      •

“…may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”

-Oath of Hippocrates

•      •      •

caduceus

I.C.U.

Lines, tubes, wires, chains.
Dignity stripped, cavities drained.
The metronome of your pulse above
the beeping orchestra, dissonant buzz.
Each gesture tracked, beat recorded,
breathing measured, life distorted.
Do you still feel free?

The body, its function a masterpiece to muse,
altered by poison, fluid infused.
Vesicles, vessels, organs affixed,
shrouded in blood, lymph intermixed.
Adhered in oneness by tendon and skin,
scarcely quickened by a pump grown dim.
Do you still feel strong?

Risen before the dawning sun,
a swarm of stoic white has come
to declare the status of your issues–
Liver, kidney, heart, lung, tissue.
To examine and prod, inspect then move
a person, a soul, or a number to improve?
I hope you still feel human.

A PuppyDoc’s Return.

To that hiatus sweet,
she bids farewell
to rise to her feet
and don her white tail.

For truly did she miss each one of you,
C-dog, Amity…ol’ Noodle too.
Randoms by a Random, WritersDream,
OneSpoiledBacon— uh…Cat, I mean!

To all others I have failed to name,
forgive me, for I am truly to blame.
As I am merely, sadly, only a doc–
a doc who can’t rhyme but thinks she’s a pup.
Pup. Cup. Rupp. Knupp.

Oh dear, now I’ve run amok.

What I meant to say, but failed to do, is…

Happy Holidays to all of you!

♥Puppydoc’s Monthly Reverie♥

 How would you like to receive an extra dose of Puppydoc
that is friendly to your inbox
and that will bring a smile to your week? 
If you already know you do…push the button below!

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If you don’t know yet…please read on:

What is a Weekend Reverie…?

  • It is an email created by Puppydoc that you would receive once every month. 
  • It is a supplement to Musings that offers a more personal glimpse into Puppydoc’s mind. 
  • Each email includes a dose of inspiration and encouragement to help put a smile on your face.
  • They also include full texts of new blog posts….just in case you missed anything.  
  • Here is a sample of what it could look like: 

-Test  🌸 PuppyDoc s Weekend Reverie 🌸   phoebe.chi gmail.com   Gmail.jpeg

So if the idea of a periodic Puppydoc email sounds appealing to you…go ahead and join by clicking below!

And if you end up not liking it…unsubscribing will also be easy. 

🙂

◊      ◊      ◊      ◊

Yes! Give me my dose of Puppydoc reverie!

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Malady.

Desperation.
Driven by disease
more clever than our hands,
you elude our grasp.

Come back.

Poison,
fighting for the soul

courses through your veins,
while the dusk
consumes the mind
of your decay.

Do you hear me calling?

Forsaken by a beast deceiving,
your breaths remains unmarred.
Spared by fiendish mercy,
your heart beats
undisturbed beneath the curtain
of a vacant shell.

I know you hear me calling.
I know you’re still there.
Perhaps our love will bring you back.

Come back to us.

To My Nurses…

A lovely piece written by Annie that I wanted to share. Having a tremendous soft spot for the elderly and their care, this post touched my heart…

GentleKindness

** this poem is written from the point of view of a nursing home resident as I have observed that they feel from my many years of working and volunteering  in nursing homes””

TO MY NURSES…

Just because I am old

Does not mean I should be discarded

I was young like you once

Full of life and very big hearted

I raises my babies , just like you are

I loved my husband and drove a car

I had a beautiful house 

that I took care of with love

I baked Christmas cookies

and knitted my grandchildren gloves

I bet you don’t know but I worked really hard

I struggled and fought for my family

I felt things very deeply and cared very much

I had family and friends whose lives that I touched

I once was important and had a real life

Just like you do and you…

View original post 207 more words

The Big Heart.

Fluid.
Limbs flooded,
lungs immersed,
skin engorged-
you chase it off.
Pill
after pill.

Nights.
Twilight wheezes 

upon three pillows.
Four.
Five.

Bare
are your breaths
as you gasp,
fight-
hunger unquenched.

Stairs
unconquerable,
indomitable,
fatigue intractable.
Slowly you ascend.

Still
you conquer,
embrace
love,

life,
strength.

Your heart full.

Your dilated cardiomyopathy.

 

Cadaver.

Tendons, vessels, muscle, bone-
little more than its sum, alone.
Without life, alone.

A heart upon your fingers,
fibers smooth, firmness lingers.
A pump sleeps, alone.

Nerves, severed and denuded,
shimmering, taut, function diluted.
Pain without feeling, alone.

A lung, delicate sponge, blackened,
absorbs an essence, greyed, maddened.
Vacant sacs, stale breaths, alone.

The cerebrum, split, its valleys and mounds,
embodies a soul, full, without bounds.
My lifeless being is nothing alone.

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