Letting Go, Redux

sonFour years ago my son, then 18 months old, started Montessori preschool. The first three days my wife and I dropped him off he cried so hard he could hardly catch his breath, his chest heaving in great racking sobs. By the fourth day, however, we were listening to him repeat his teacher’s name every few minutes on the way over, and when we dropped him off and gently prodded him into the classroom, he entered, stood, stuck his thumb in his mouth, and stared curiously at all the other toddlers crying around him. When we came to pick him up at the end of the day, we watched him through the classroom’s observation windows sitting in a little toddler chair eating a piece of cantaloupe with the other toddlers, also in chairs, and drinking juice out of a plastic cup by himself for the very first time. Rather than burst into tears when he saw us realizing we’d been separated from him all day, he ran up to me, wrapped his arms around mine, and smiled. Continue reading…

Why Raising Children Is So Hard

Photo: limaoscarjuliet

You don’t really know what an experience is like, of course, until you have it yourself.  I remember thinking to myself when my wife and I first began discussing the idea of having children that this was especially true regarding parenthood.  In the past I’d been able to predict with reasonable accuracy a number of novel experiences based on previous similar experiences, but no experience I’d yet had seemed even close to the experience of having a child (sorry, owning a pet doesn’t come close). Continue reading…

Removing A Splinter

Photo: SuperFantastic

Two weeks ago, my son came home from nursery school with a splinter in his palm.  It was so small, though, I wasn’t sure if it was really there.

“It’s there,” my wife said.

She’d tried to squeeze it out before I’d come home but had only succeeded in hurting him terribly.  He’d shrieked and cried and tears had poured down his face. Continue reading…

Managing Chronic Pain

Photo: RTP

I have a small cohort of patients who suffer chronic pain so intense and unremitting it prevents them from living normally.  They often don’t work, shop, go to restaurants or movies, leave their homes or sometimes even their beds except to visit doctors, or have meaningful relationships outside their immediate family, who often struggle to live with and care for them.

One patient in particular has pain that’s so severe she’s become wheelchair bound, chronically depressed, and regularly experiences times when she contemplates suicide on a daily basis. Continue reading…

Why We Quit

Photo: familyfwr

I’ve recently started running again after having been forced to take a four-month break by an injured knee.  This turned out to be a long enough hiatus to decondition me, so for the first few weeks I found running my usual four-mile route tremendously hard.  I would start out strong, but by the last mile I’d be dragging:  my legs seeming to thicken, my breath coming in ragged gasps, my energy waning, my body’s weight seeming to increase several-fold.  But I’d force myself on knowing that only by completing my route would I be able to re-establish a level of aerobic fitness that would make running four miles as enjoyable as it used to be. Continue reading…

How Touching Saves Lives

Photo: Josep Ma. Rosell

When I was a fourth-year medical student, I once did a month-long rotation in the ER.  One night a woman came in who we decided needed some lab work.  When I let her know we needed to draw her blood, she began to tremble visibly.  “I’m scared of needles,” she whispered to me. Continue reading…

Breaking Free Of The Past


Photo: Leonidas Tsementzis

As I wrote in an earlier post, The True Cause Of Cruelty, for me seventh grade was a disaster.  I was persecuted by anti-Semites and so traumatized that my parents endured owning two houses at once for six months in order to get me into a new school.  I left seventh grade mistrustful, fearful, and socially isolated, feeling as if I’d hidden my true self for so long in order to minimize the risk of persecution that I’d lost track of it entirely.

In subsequent years, I’d occasionally look back and wonder how the experience had scarred me, figuring vaguely that what didn’t kill me made me stronger, but never really delving too deeply into the fear that still remained in the pit of my stomach whenever I’d be thrust into new situations. Continue reading…