Choosing the road to life and wellness

This scripture from the Bible book Matthew reminds me of the famous poem by Robert Frost. The late poet Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry; his work is among the most widely read and often quoted poetry to this day. Listen to it here if you don’t remember it.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.

For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, ESV
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

The Road Not Taken

This scripture from the Bible book Matthew reminds me of the famous poem by Robert Frost. The late poet Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry; his work is among the most widely read and often quoted poetry to this day. Listen to it here if you don’t remember it.

“The Road Not Taken” was originally published in The Atlantic in 1915 along with two other poems from Frost. It is now widely considered to be one of the most popular works of American literature.

“Its signature phrases have become so ubiquitous, so much a part of everything from coffee mugs to refrigerator magnets to graduation speeches, that it’s almost possible to forget the poem is actually a poem. “The Road Not Taken” has been used in advertisements for Mentos, Nicorette, the multibillion-dollar insurance company AIG, and the job-search Web site Monster.com, which deployed the poem during Super Bowl XXXIV to great success.”

What does the poem mean?

The poem’s meaning has been extensively dissected, discussed, and debated; most assign a deep meaning about life, choices, regrets, what-ifs, etc.

(This and several others in this post are affiliate links, meaning I earn a commission to fund this blog if you make a purchase through it.)

So I was surprised to read that Frost himself didn’t take the poem nearly as seriously as everyone else has. He claimed that he wrote it as a joke for a friend.

At poetryfoundation.org , Katherine Robinson wrote,

“Soon after writing the poem in 1915, Frost griped to Edward Thomas that he had read the poem to an audience of college students and that it had been “taken pretty seriously … despite doing my best to make it obvious by my manner that I was fooling. … Mea culpa.” However, Frost liked to quip, “I’m never more serious than when joking.”

As his joke unfolds, Frost creates a multiplicity of meanings, never quite allowing one to supplant the other. When Frost sent the poem to Thomas, Thomas initially failed to realize that the poem was (mockingly) about him. Instead, he believed it was a serious reflection on the need for decisive action. (He would not be alone in that assessment.) “

What did Jesus mean in Matthew 7?

This scripture is part of the Sermon on the Mount attributed to Jesus (I’ve written other posts about these verses from Matthew chapters 5-7.) It also is widely known and quoted, as well as other verses like the Golden Rule, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Beatitudes.

The overall message of the Sermon is anything but a joke; Jesus makes bold and daring statements in this passage, which explains why it is so widely quoted and taught on. One famous preacher, Oswald Chambers used it often enough that his wife included several selections when she published a collection of his sermons as a daily devotional know as My Utmost for His Highest.

In a devotional titled “All Noble Things are Difficult” for July 7th, he wrote

“The Christian life is gloriously difficult, but the difficulty of it does not make us faint and cave in, it rouses us up to overcome.

God’s grace turns out men and women with a strong family likeness to Jesus Christ, not milksops.”

It is always necessary to make an effort to be noble.”

Oswald Chambers

Milksops. That’s not a word we hear often; I looked it up and it means exactly what it sounds like. What happens when you dip bread into milk? It gets soggy and falls apart. So a milksop is ” a person who is indecisive and lacks courage.

Choices, choices, choices

Despite Frost’s assertion that his poem was a joke, multiple commentaries dissect it extensively and assign all kinds of meaning to it, suggesting that we do believe that our choices matter in life, whether relationships, finances, education, or health.

Doctors and other health professionals now believe that lifestyle is one of the chief determinants of health and emphasize preventing and even treating illness with nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, healthy habits, and stress management.

Consider the Foundation

Whether you’re building a house, a career, a family, or your health, what you build on matters too. Jesus concluded his sermon with a building lesson.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 

 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 

 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:24-27, ESV

Reading these verses reminds me of the rain storms we endured in Oklahoma this past spring leading to extensive flooding causing loss of homes and businesses; other parts of the country suffered the same, and now we’re watching coastal areas deal with devastating hurricanes. We’re pretty helpless to defend our property against the ravages of nature. That doesn’t have to be the case with our health if we build well. To paraphrase Oswald Chambers, “It is necessary to make an effort to be healthy.”

The Legacy of Oswald and Biddy Chambers

Here’s the story of Oswald Chambers and his wife Biddy. After his death, she collected writings from his lectures and talks into books and the well known devotional mentioned above. In the introduction she wrote,

it is sent out with the prayer that day by day the messages may continue to bring the life and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

 

Biddy Chambers

exploring faith, hope, and love

Thanks for joining me to explore poetry and scripture; my hope is that this prompts you to further explore on your own. Here are some other posts from this series

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

Opportunities to do good Living and giving lavishly

Why pray The Lord’s Prayer

5 lessons I learned when the lights went out

 

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Faith, Love, Hope

Learn more about Lifestyle Medicine from Baylor College of Medicine

“Lifestyle medicine (LM) involves the use of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoidance of risky substance use, to prevent, treat, and, oftentimes, reverse the chronic disease that’s all too prevalent,”

Dr Jane Goodall's Harvest for Hope- a review

Jane Goodall wants us to manage stress , not so much our own, but the stress of our planet, by producing, transporting, preparing, and eating our food in ways less harmful and wasteful to us and our planet.

For Beth,

Follow your dreams-and help us to make the world a better place for human and non-human beings.

Dr. Jane

I cannot verfy the author of the above note and signature, but since I found it on the title page of a book by Jane Goodall, I suspect it is authentic. I found the book , In the Shadow of Man, at a used book sale benefiting a local charity. I’ve wondered who Beth is. Did she need to discard possessions for a move, did she die, or did she just not realize what a treasure she was giving away? If she donated it for charity’s sake, offering it for auction or selling on eBay might have raised more support. I don’t think the two dollars I paid helped the charity much.

This was not my first almost-close encounter with Jane Goodall. When my son was in elementary school many years ago, she came to his school. She was in our city for a public event but this was arranged privately by one of the teachers. I believe she had some personal connection with the famous researcher such that Dr.Goodall agreed to a private visit, with no news media present.

In anticipation of her visit, the children were asked to write poems about Dr.Goodall. I don’t remember exactly how it came about, but my son’s poem was chosen to present to her as a gift. And he was chosen to go on stage and give it to her.

Dr. Jane Goodall with Dr. Aletha’s son at his elementary school.

This happened long before the days of cell phone cameras and social media; if it happened today, I and the rest of the world would have seen it minutes later. But thanks to a teacher with a camera, a few weeks later he came home with a photo of him shaking hands with the lady famous for hanging out with chimpanzies.

In the Shadow of Man-and chimpanzees

In 1960,26 year old Jane Goodall went to Tanzania to study chimpanzees. No one had studied chimps before, so little was known about their behavior in the wild. Biologically and genetically, chimps are closer to humans than any other animal, so scientists believed understanding their behavior could shed light on some aspects of human behavior.

Jane roamed the forests of the Gombe Stream Chimpanze Reserve in Tanzania watching the chimps first with binoculars then with direct observation at close range, even occasionally close enough to touch them. She was accompanied by her mother Vanne, and later joined by a photographer Hugo van Lawick . Working together with nature and animals as their common interest, they fell in love and married. Eventually she had a staff of research assistants and students involved in observation and reporting about the chimps and other animals.

Title page of the book I bought at a used book sale.

In this book, written 10 years later (and periodically updated; my copy was revised in 1988.) Dr. Goodall details her years of living among the chimps and her detailed observations and conclusions about their behavior. (For which she earned her doctorate degree.)

One of her observations was that “like humans, chimpanzees are omnivores, feeding on vegetables, insects, and meat.” Which brings me to a review of a more recent book by Dr. Goodall.

Harvest for Hope-A Guide to Mindful Eating

Jane Goodall is just as interested in people as she is chimpanzees. Despite the title, though, this book is not about dining while listening to soothing music by candlelight in order to relax and de-stress.

Jane Goodall wants us to manage stress , not so much our own, but the stress of our planet, by producing, transporting, preparing, and eating our food in ways less harmful and wasteful to us and our planet. She wants us to

Change one purchase, one meal, one bite at a time

Jane Goodall

Goodall reflected back on her life as a child in England , when her family’s food supply was limited by the shortages of a world war. Even in peacetime, they ate what was grown locally and seasonally, rather than food flown in from distant lands. Her nutrition ideas are not new or unique, but she helps us realize our food choices effect the environment as much as the environment effects our diet.

Dr. Goodall recommends buying locally grown, organic foods exclusively, and avoid GMO foods, imports, bottled water, and fast food. She advocates a meat free diet. She urges us to waste less. She believes we need to “take back food productions from large corporations.”  We will be healthier and so will our planet she believes.

Dr. Jane recommends humans avoid

  • GMO (genetically modified organism) foods
  • meat
  • imported food
  • bottled water
  • fast food
  • refined processed carbs
  • concentrated and synthetic sweeteners
  • commercial oils

Dr. Jane encourages us to

  • Take back food production from large corporations
  • Waste less.
  • Use a filter for drinking water
  • Eat organic locally grown food.
  • Eat fruits, vegetables, legumes
  • Use olive oil, herbs, seasonings

Follow this link to learn about Jane Goodall’s life and work today.

the Jane Goodall Institute

“Dr. Jane Goodall went into the jungles of Tanzania to study wild chimpanzees and share their stories. She left the jungle to become an activist – to protect those chimps and work with people to improve lives while opening minds and hearts. Now, she donates her time to the Jane Goodall Institute, traveling on average up to 300 days per year”

exploring the HEART of mindful eating

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

These are affiliate links you may find helpful and which help fund this blog with a commission when a purchase is made using them.

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Daily Audio Bible-now read and listen to the Bible in 1 year

Brian Hardin has been podcasting the Bible to hundreds of thousands for over a decade, leading people through the whole Bible every year. Now he’s putting his love of the daily reading of Scripture on to the page. In this collection of 365 readings, you’ll be surprised by how often what you read in the Bible will be a mirror into your own heart and motives.

It’s not too early to think about adding more faith, hope, and love to your life next year. One way I do so is reading the Bible.

The Bible is long and sometimes complicated, so reading every chapter in a year is daunting. But Brian Hardin and his crew from Daily Audio Bible have made it doable.

Brian Hardin, creator of Daily Audio Bible, reads from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs every day of the year. His daughter China reads from the Chronological Bible every day. (That’s the order the events occurred, rather than the way the books in the Bible are arranged.)

And there are versions available for kids and teens, and in multiple languages including Spanish, French, Arabic, and Japanese.

How to listen

Accessing the DAB is easy – and FREE.

And that’s not all

Now there is another option- a daily devotional book to read along with the daily Bible readings.

The One Year Adventure with the God of Your Story by Brian Hardin

This is an affiliate link, used to earn a commission from sales made through it. The funds go to support the expense of publishing this blog.

The daily devotional entries parallel the readings that Brian does each day.

Brian Hardin has been podcasting the Bible to hundreds of thousands for over a decade, leading people through the whole Bible every year. Now he’s putting his love of the daily reading of Scripture on to the page. In this collection of 365 readings, you’ll be surprised by how often what you read in the Bible will be a mirror into your own heart and motives.

Amazon

I’ve already purchased a copy of the devotional so I’ll be ready on January 1. But I skipped ahead a little to share with you a quote from the January 5 entry, when Brian introduces the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. It’s one of my favorite passages of scripture and I’ve shared several blog posts using verses from it.

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus began to teach one of his foundational messages known as the Sermon on the Mount. This disruptive message describes a world that we long for but have no idea how to achieve-which may be the point.

 Jesus spoke of the countless blessings (the Beatitudes) for those who reach the end of their own strength and ability only to find God there. We are happiest when we depend on God for everything we are and everything we will ever be

Brian Hardin

sharing faith, hope, and love next year

So whether you buy Brian’s book or not, I hope you will follow along with me at the Daily Audio Bible. It will only cost you a little time but I think you will find it a worthwhile investment.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

The Daily Audio Bible is supported by donations and sales of products on the website. This blog gains no financial benefit from them and DAB did not compensate me for this blog post.

Some posts from the Sermon on the Mount on this blog

Overcoming the dream killers

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. Find out why.

Joseph and his dream

“Jacob’s son Joseph was now seventeen years old, and he loved Joseph more than any of his other children, because Joseph was born to him in his old age. So one day Jacob gave him a special gift—a brightly colored coat.

His brothers of course noticed their father’s partiality, and consequently hated Joseph; they couldn’t say a kind word to him.”

(Joseph had two dreams in which  he became so powerful that his brothers bowed down before him.)

“And they hated him both for the dream and for his cocky attitude.”

(One day Joseph’s father sent him to his brothers who were watching the flocks of sheep. He told Joseph to come back and tell him how they were getting along.)

“But when they saw him coming, recognizing him in the distance, they decided to kill him.

The dream killers

“Here comes that master-dreamer,” they exclaimed. “Come on, let’s kill him and toss him into a well and tell Father that a wild animal has eaten him. Then we’ll see what will become of all his dreams!”

So when Joseph got there, they pulled off his brightly colored robe, and threw him into an empty well—there was no water in it. Then they sat down for supper.”

(But then they decided it wasn’t a good idea to kill him; after all, he was their brother. So they decided to sell him to some traders instead.)

And they took Joseph to Egypt Genesis 37:28
graphic compliments of A little Perspective

“So when the traders came by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the well and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver, and they took him along to Egypt.

Then the brothers killed a goat and spattered its blood on Joseph’s coat, and took the coat to their father and asked him to identify it.

“We found this in the field,” they told him. “Is it Joseph’s coat or not?”

Their father recognized it at once.

“Yes,” he sobbed, “it is my son’s coat. A wild animal has eaten him. Joseph is without doubt torn in pieces.”

Then Jacob tore his garments and put on sackcloth and mourned for his son in deepest mourning for many weeks. His family all tried to comfort him, but it was no use.”

Genesis 37 Living Bible (TLB)

Living Bible (TLB)

The Living Bible copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

(This post contains several affiliate links, links which help keep this blog running.)

Overcoming the dream killers-Watercress Words.com

The coat of many colors

I listened to this story on the Daily Audio Bible recently .(I hope you’re listening too.) Older versions of the Bible translate the “brightly colored coat” as “a coat of many colors”, or as songwriter Andrew Lloyd Webber called it “the amazing technicolor dreamcoat”.

Country singer Dolly Parton had a “coat of many colors” as a child in rural Tennessee. Her mother made it out of rags; the family was poor and couldn’t afford to buy her a new coat.

When her mother gave it to her, she told Dolly the story of Joseph, and Dolly was proud to wear her coat too. But when she went to school, her friends weren’t so impressed and made fun of her. But she knew better; she knew that the love that was sewn into her coat was more important than the price.

The joke was definitely on them since she grew up to become successful, rich, and famous. Not only that, she is generous. She established

a book gifting program that mails free books to children from birth to age five in participating communities within the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library

Inspired by her father’s inability to read and write, Dolly started her Imagination Library in 1995 for the children within her home county. Today, her program spans four countries and mails over 1 million free books each month to children around the world.

Imagination Library with Dolly Parton
display at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner Attraction, Branson Missouri

On the web site she writes

“When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true. I know there are children in your community with their own dreams. They dream of becoming a doctor or an inventor or a minister. Who knows, maybe there is a little girl whose dream is to be a writer and singer.

The seeds of these dreams are often found in books and the seeds you help plant in your community can grow across the world.”

I know this is true, because it happened that way for me. My dream of becoming a doctor began and grew from books I borrowed from my local library and I believe every child should have that opportunity.

Like Joseph’s brothers and Dolly’s schoolmates, other people may mock and try to kill your dreams. Don’t let them. Out of our dreams come life changing experiences for us, and for those that we have a chance to help later on. And if someone- a parent, teacher, neighbor, coach-has encouraged your dream, thank them. They have given you a priceless gift.

Her experience inspired Dolly to write a song about her coat, a song she says is her favorite among the many songs she has written and recorded.

statue of a white horse with colorful design on his back
a “colt” of many colors at Dolly Parton’s Stampede Dinner attraction in Branson Missouri

I invite you to listen to it here. I think you will understand why it is her favorite and why it reached number 4 on the country music charts in 1971.

If you want to know what happened to Joseph after he arrived in Egypt, you can read the rest of the story in Genesis, or watch

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Learn more about Joseph

Tammy Doil  wrote about Lessons that can be learned from the life of Joseph on her blog  Creative K Kids. Her post was from a lesson she taught for the children’s program at her church. The take-away was

” having faith in God means staying positive even when bad things happen to you.” 

Tammy Doil

The points in the lesson are aimed at children but we adults need them too.  She includes  instructions for a related craft project for children (or even adults) to do. Here is a link to the post.

Teaching children about the faith of Joseph

Tammy also hosts a weekly link-up you may enjoy-

Thouhtful Thursdays-link up your Thoughtful posts every Thursday

Thoughtful Thursdays .

 

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

And don’t let anyone kill your dreams.

resources

These are affiliate links you may find helpful and which help fund this blog with a commission when a purchase is made using them.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (Canadian Cast Recording)Andrew Lloyd Webber, Donny Osmond & “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” 1992 Canadian Cast

Coat of Many Colors-Dolly Parton

234x180 Zoobooks Home Page 300x250

Get ready for Advent now

George Frideric Handel used this scripture from Isaiah in his famous work, Messiah, first performed in 1742, and which millions of people have heard or even sang since then. The entire lyrics of Messiah are derived from scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments that describe the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The season of Advent, which comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. (Liturgical — from liturgy, which means the forms and functions of public worship.) In 2019 Advent starts on December 1.

So, what is Christmas?

Christmas is both a secular and religious holiday. For those who observe it’s spiritual significance, Christmas is celebrated as the day the infant Jesus Christ was born (although Biblical scholars doubt that December 25 is exactly the correct day.)

Christians celebrate the season with a rich tradition of church services which feature Bible readings about Jesus’ birth and special music. And almost 300 years ago, a musician combined these traditions to create one of the most well known and often performed works of music.

"For unto us a son is given" baby lying in a manger
quote from Isaiah 9:6; graphic from LIGHTSTOCK.COM, affiliate link

Handel’s Messiah

George Frideric Handel used this scripture from Isaiah in his famous work, Messiah, first performed in 1742, and which  millions of people have heard or even sang since then. The entire lyrics of Messiah are derived from scriptures from both the Old and New Testaments that describe the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

 Handel’s Messiah -Listen on Apple Music 

Handel’s father  was a barber-surgeon. Barber-surgeons were physicians in medieval Europe, who as the name suggests performed surgery, often treating wounds from war injuries. Eventually, surgery and barbery became separate occupations.

Christmas manger display
photo by Dr. Aletha of a Nativity display at my church

Read another post on this blog to learn more about Handel and Messiah; did you know it wasn’t written for Christmas?

Resources for Advent- from Cokesbury

these are affiliate links which may pay a commission to help support this blog

Find the perfect Advent calendar for now and years to come at Cokesbury. Valid 10/28-11/22. Shop Now! Start planning now for a meaningful Advent season at Cokesbury. Offer Valid 9/1-11/30. Shop Now! Christmas 2019 at Cokesbury.com. Shop Now!

sharing the HEART of Advent

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Family Advent Activities

by Carol at Comfort Spring

I found this helpful post about Advent activities at Sunday’s Best LinkUp. I hope you will check it out.

The electronic medical record-asset or annoyance?

The increase in physician burnout has been directly linked to the introduction of electronic medical records.

You’re probably used to your doctor’s office using an EMR, electronic medical record (also called EHR, electronic health record) . By now most clinics, private medical offices, hospitals, labs, imaging centers, and other healthcare settings use computers exclusively for everything from scheduling, communication, to documentation and billing. If you are a young adult, you may not even remember a time when medical offices and hospitals used paper records.

Medical Record
Do you remember the stacks of charts in doctor’s offices and hospitals?

Dr. Danielle Ofri, author of several books about healthcare delivery, wrote an astute opinion piece about EMRs for STAT which I encourage you to read. I’m going to review her post adding my own ideas, , with the goal of helping you understand why we doctors, and maybe you, have a love/hate relationship with computers in healthcare; as Dr. Ofri says about electronic health records,

they all have their breathtaking assets and snarling annoyances

Dr. Danielle Ofri

In her piece, Dr. Ofri refers specifically to the use of electronic records in hospitals, but the issues are similar in clinics and other settings.

Breathtaking assets

  • more efficient storage of records than paper (taking up less physical space and time for sorting and filing)
  • ability to generate reports
  • improved hospital efficiency and financial margins (possibly by the ability to analyze data and generate reports)
  • able to analyze the health needs of large numbers of patients, called population health, so health systems can plan for and offer needed services more efficiently
  • communication- the ability to contact doctors by email, get test results through a portal, schedule appointments online, order med refills, etc.
  • legibility and standardization in documentation

Snarling annoyances

  • changes the way doctors work and make decisions; current software often does not reflect the way doctors are taught to approach patient diagnosis and treatment
  • less efficient retrieval of data than paper (due to larger amounts of data, which may be redundant)
  • little evidence yet that use decreases complication rates, or improves patient care in general
  • less personal interaction with healthcare professionals when communicating through a portal
  • increased time spent documenting on a computer , much of it simple data entry, compared to writing on paper

But the greatest disadvantages attributed to the use of computers in the medical setting, ones far more than “snarling annoyances” are

  • interference with doctor patient interaction and communication in the office or bedside; both doctor and patient may pay more attention to the computer than to each other
  • erosion of staff morale, often due to more time spent on the computer than with the patient, boredom with data entry, and stress of having to learn new systems and updates
  • contributing to physician burnout, which can have a negative impact on patient care

Doctors like me, who did not grow up in the computer age, went through the entire medical education experience without touching a computer. For us , the transition to computerization while maintaining a busy schedule of patient visits, was difficult and stressful. The increase in physician burnout has been directly linked to the introduction of electronic medical records.

Boldly going…

As Dr. Ofri points out, the EMR is not going away, and few if any of us want to go back to the old system, as annoying as the new system can be. The annoyances are slowly being worked through and resolved, and the assets are becoming truly helpful.

The younger generation of doctors who have never known a world without computers embrace their use readily. As we senior doctors wind down and eventually retire, we can pat ourselves on the back for being the generation that led the way into this strange new world.

a graphic showing various mobile computing devices
a graphic from the LIGHTSTOCK.COM collection, an affiliate

Where you, the patient, fit in

You as a patient have a stake in this endeavor too. As already mentioned, being able to access your records, make appointments, manage payments, and send messages on your computer or mobile device brings efficiency and convenience to a process that formerly was time consuming and cumbersome. I now routinely use my doctor’s office portal for my own medical needs and my patients use my office’s online services . Here’s what you can do to help make EMR use better.

  • Use whatever online healthcare resources available to you. The more we all use them, the easier they will be to use, and feedback will help developers make them even more helpful.
  • Be patient with your doctors and other healthcare providers as they transition to EMRs, from one to another, or when problems occur. Like any piece of technology, they don’t always work perfectly, and occasionally they don’t work at all.
  • Give constructive feedback. A thoughtful critique will help more than irate criticism.

Here is the link to Dr. Ofri’s article-

The EMR has changed the doctor patient relationship into a menage-a-trois

you have a role and a vested stake in communicating your concerns, questions, and even grievances to the physicians who care for you; that without such information, your physicians cannot provide optimal diagnosis and treatment for you.

from my review of Dr. Ofri’s book -at this link

What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear

Danielle Ofri, M.D., is a physician at Bellevue Hospital, a clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine, editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review, and author of the forthcoming book

When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error

Another physician explores the EMR

MAN’S 4TH BEST HO$PITAL By Samuel Shem

Samuel Shem (pen name of Stephen Bergman, M.D.) is a novelist, playwright, and, for three decades, a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty. His other novels include The House of God, Fine, and Mount Misery .

In this novel about a hospital dominated by computer screens and corrupted by money, an idealistic doctor has one goal: to make medicine humane again. Here is an excerpt-

“Cynical? me? I feed on ideals, on ideal care. I’m so idealistic, to you I sound cynical! And I do not call ’em Electronic Health Records, ’cause they don’t help with health, and may well harm it. With a screen between you and your patient, you get distracted, right? It’s like texting while driving.

So, to remind us of the danger let’s call ’em EMRs, the ‘M’ for “Medical’. “

After a student asks why the computer systems at the VA (Veterans) and the Indian Health Service hospitals, both government agencies, are more user friendly, he goes on to explain,

“Nobody’s makin’ money offa it. So we all gotta get together and unhook care from billing. So nobody makes an obscene profit offa the sick.”

available on Kindle (affiliate link)

exploring the HEART of the health record

I hope you found this discussion enlightening; maybe it answered some questions you had about electronic health records and maybe raised some issues you’d like to know more about. Please contact me with questions and I’ll answer them in a follow up post.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Living life, facing death-a review of A Beginner’s Guide to the End

Even as a physician, I was surprised at the claim that only 10% to 20% of us will die without warning. The rest of us will know we have something that will likely take our life. And even if we don’t, we all know we will die eventually, although we tend to think and act as if it’s a well kept secret, and maybe it is.

A Beginner’s Guide to the End

Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death

by B.J. Miller, M.D. and Shoshana Berger

This book’s tag line sums up the content of this book perfectly. I have reviewed other books about death on this blog; they were more biographical, philosophical, and spiritual and touched less on the practical. This book is on the other end of the spectrum; more practical, but also philosophical ,and spiritual. ( And I mean spiritual in a broad sense, not necessarily religious.)

The book begins with a brief biographical section where each author shares their reason for writing a book about death. Dr. Miller, a palliative care physician, had a life-threatening injury. He writes,

I got close enough to see something of death and come back from the ledge, only to realize that it’s in and around us all the time.

Ms. Berger, an editorial director, took care of her dying father. She wrote,

I remember those years as being full of anxiety and grief but also as a time of drawing closer.

an illustration from the book

How the book unfolds

The book consists of 5 sections that mimic the progression from life to illness to death. Even as a physician, I was surprised at the claim that only 10% to 20% of us will die without warning. The rest of us will know we have something that will likely take our life. And even if we don’t, we all know we will die eventually, although we tend to think and act as if it’s a well kept secret, and maybe it is.

The sections are as follows

  • PLANNING AHEAD
  • DEALING WITH ILLNESS
  • HELP ALONG THE WAY
  • WHEN DEATH IS CLOSE
  • AFTER

Although you could read the book straight through, you might want to skip to sections you need at whatever stage you are in. Chapter titles clearly tell you what to expect from their content. Here are some examples-

  • Yes, There’s Paperwork.
  • Can I Afford to Die?
  • I’m Sick
  • Love, Sex, and Relationships
  • Hospital Hacks
  • Care for the Caregiver
  • It’s Your Body and Your Funeral
  • Grief
  • How to write a Eulogy and an Obituary
  • Celebrating a Life

There are no photographs, charts, graphs, or info graphics, but scattered throughout are illustrative sketches that convey helpful information in a non threatening way. I have used some screenshots of a few of them to illustrate this post.

The authors conclude the book with Last Words, Acknowledgments, Resources (an extensive list), Notes, and Index.

Read this book

As much as I hope you don’t need it right now, unfortunately you do need it right now. So whatever stage of living, or dying, you or a loved one may be in, you will find something helpful here.

Find the book at your local library like I did, or get it from one of these book sellers; this would be a good book to keep on hand. (These affiliate links pay a commission to support this blog, while you pay nothing extra. )

Bestsellers at eBooks.com! Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org
Dr. Miller’s TED talk on WHAT REALLY MATTERS AT THE END OF LIFE

Here is another post from this blog about the dying experience

What books teach us about dying

an excerpt-

I reviewed these books  because understanding how other people and their families have faced death may relieve our dread, anxiety, or fear  about dying and death. Often it is not death itself that we fear but the dying process -the pain , disability, dependence, isolation, unfulfilled dreams.

In an essay  for JAMA, Dr. Zachary Sager, a geriatric and palliative care physician in Boston Massachusetts, described his response to  working with dying patients-

“I witnessed how people could be simultaneously resilient and fragile. I was moved by the connectedness between individuals.

I accept that death offers not only the expected reflection on life and mourning but an opportunity for a unique form of growth and healing. ”

The books I reviewed share  common themes, and events yet are each unique as are the people in them who demonstrate both resilience and fragility.

sharing the HEART of life and death

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha