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It's been ages and ages and ages since I read Singular Intimacies , but I retained enough of a memory of it to have high expectations for Medicine in Translation. I don't think this is necessarily as strong a book bearing in mind that ages-and-ages thing and the resulting holes in my memory , but I appreciate Ofri's facility with words and the ways some of the characters here weave back in and out throughout the narrative. Medicine in translation indeed.

Ofri wonders, over and over again, how muc It's been ages and ages and ages since I read Singular Intimacies , but I retained enough of a memory of it to have high expectations for Medicine in Translation. Ofri wonders, over and over again, how much she is losing by having to speak to so many of her patients through a simultaneous-translation service; I wonder, too, what that experience must be like for the patients.

How much does relief that there is such a service trump the frustrations involved? And what of those hard conversations that Ofri talks about, the ones where nobody wants to address the elephant in the room? Example elephant: 'You need a heart transplant, but since you're undocumented we can't put you on the list, so you're going to die young. The elderly Chinese immigrant who jokes, gently, that Ofri should be studying Chinese rather than Spanish, because there are so many Chinese speakers who wants to go home to China to live out the last breaths of his life; his wife, younger and far more robust but slowly succumbing to dementia, doesn't want to go.

Think of it as an ethics question—what is right for patient, not doctor; it's not her call in that situation? He doesn't know how much longer he'll live—but how would the answer change if he did know, and he had only a few months left? Or ten years? Or if we knew how fast his wife's dementia would progress, and how soon she might forget who he is? Interesting stuff here. I'm fascinated by this Survivors of Torture program that Ofri talks about; there's clearly enough material there for a book all its own, but the 'quieter' stories leave some Emotional space?

It's a book to think on. May 06, Emily Hauser rated it really liked it. This book was a very well written book detailing Dr. Danielle Ofri journey treating patients at Bellevue. This hospital is very old and a place where lots of cultures and ethnicities converse for health care. Over the two decades as a physician here she has crossed paths with many patients that have their own stories to tell. These people have had to brave many challenges to seek help from doctors.

They have to face communication challenges, belief challanges, racial differences they also have This book was a very well written book detailing Dr. They have to face communication challenges, belief challanges, racial differences they also have to come face to face with the emotional and practical difficulties of living here in America for the access to the quality health care. Danielle tells her story in three parts which helps to break the stories that she tells. She illustrates her own personal challanges and limitations that she has when treating the different races and cultures.


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She explained that her lack of not knowing Spanish was a very big obstacle that she would need to overcome time and time again inorder to treat her patients and do her job. The book did a very good job of translating what happened in the day to day interactions with patients into what a normal person would understand. It did this by explaining the interacting of several patients and how each of these patients stories helped her to overcome the challenges of her job.

The patients didn't seem to have any significant meaning but to her they made all the difference in the world of how she treated her Patients. This was a good book and I would recommend it. Dec 05, Perkimom rated it it was ok. Interesting about the range of patients and backgrounds but I guess I was looking for more medical, less background.

Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

Feb 15, Brenda rated it liked it. Good book, but I was put off a bit by the author's style. Jul 22, Kristin rated it really liked it. I read at least one other book by Ofri and enjoyed it, so I was excited to pick up this one.

Bellevue Memoirs: My patients My teachers

It was a departure from a lot of the medical memoirs I have read in that this one has a specific theme, Ofri's work with patients of other cultures, most immigrants from non-English speaking countries and the challenges they faced to receive care in the U. With the exception of one patient, a woman from Mexico with a heart condition, they came legally, so the challenges weren't necessarily of political I read at least one other book by Ofri and enjoyed it, so I was excited to pick up this one.

With the exception of one patient, a woman from Mexico with a heart condition, they came legally, so the challenges weren't necessarily of political barriers to care, but largely cultural. A good number of them were refugees brought here because they were survivors of terroristic acts in their home countries, where they faced horrors that Ofri couldn't even begin to comprehend.

In Search of a Beloved Teacher - Danielle Ofri

Others presented a challenge to Ofri because of a language barrier, where even with the use of the hospital's translator system, she couldn't be sure her medical jargon and seriousness of tone was being properly conveyed to the patient sitting right in front of her. However, a surprise pregnancy discovered at the beginning of that year, put her more into the shoes of her patients than she ever expected, as she was abruptly forced to navigate the medical system of a foreign country in order to ensure the safe delivery of her newest family member.

It was a departure from her busy New York City life, as she left medicine behind and instead focused on learning Spanish, immersing herself in the culture, seeing that her two older children attended school to learn Spanish themselves, practicing her cello, and growing new life inside of her. Overall, I found it an excellent book, that Ofri did a great job of keeping with the theme and educating me on multiple cultures and the differences among them that she, and other health care providers must know and adjust to in order to deliver adequate care to all of their patients.

I look forward to reading other books of hers as I come across them. Sep 25, Lexy Lyna rated it liked it. I enjoyed the book and felt like I learned a lot from it. It was just not what I was expecting when I went into the book. The book is best described as a memoir. Feb 08, Anne rated it liked it Shelves: autobiography , medical. Really makes you think about what makes people tick.

Love how she connects to people. Jun 13, Kelli rated it really liked it. Very thought-provoking and well written. Ofri tells the story of several of her patients and the daily struggles they endure related to their health, history and personal circumstances. It is amazing what some people are able to fight through and come out with a smile on their face and hope in their heart.

Sad, yet heartwarming. Oct 14, Cristina Metgher rated it really liked it. Interesting stories about patients with different medical issues coming from varied social and ethnic backgrounds, viewed in the light of Danielle Ofri - a doctor at the Bellevue Hospital. Addictive writing style. This was the first book I read by Danielle Ofri and due to her addictive writing style - definitely not the last. Nov 12, Jacqueline Bocian added it. I loved this book as much as I loved the author's Singular Intimacies.


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  • So beautiful, her involvement with her patients, which goes far beyond medicine and into the real of spirit. She cares, she truly does. If only all doctors were like this author. Very inspiring read! Dec 14, Ann rated it really liked it. And thank you to her patients for letting her write about them! Oct 31, Rahadyan rated it really liked it. I really enjoyed reading about Dr. I'll have to see if there are articles that follow up on certain of her patients, such as the nonagenarian Dr.

    Apr 18, Andrea rated it really liked it. Love her. Aug 12, Deb rated it really liked it. A wonderful peek into the mind of a practicing physician working with patients from every culture. Highly recommended. Feb 22, Chanpheng rated it it was amazing.

    Excellent personal testament on how medicine becomes the art of relationship with patients, especially in learning and feeling different lives. Jan 04, Katherine Ellington rated it it was amazing. It's a great read. Good storytelling and a glimpse of medicine, a healer's story. Becky rated it it was ok Feb 08, Hilary rated it it was amazing May 21, Clare rated it it was amazing Jul 02, Crystal rated it really liked it Jan 07, Sue rated it really liked it May 11, Emily Hurley rated it really liked it Aug 26, Erin rated it it was ok Jan 25, Username or Email Address. Remember Me.

    Commentary by Patricia Stanley , M. This story has particular meaning for me since I too have transformed a tragic story from a past time of much suffering into a reason to heal and to bring healing to others through my work as a health advocate. I needed a new purpose. I also was haunted by images of patients, alone and isolated as they tried to navigate the medical maze of specialists, community hospitals and urban teaching medical centers, insurance regulations, clinical trials, endless interventions and medical decision making.

    Doctor caught on camera laughing and cursing at a patient

    As part of the grieving process and finding meaning in my new life and in need of developing skills to help others as an advocate, I developed an insatiable thirst for these stories of suffering. They became a way for me to connect to the embodied suffering that I had recently experienced with my husband. In this class I witnessed the healing that develops from the process of writing in which patients discover their story of survival, move it from talk to the visible page, where they can recover, revise and thereby control the meaning of what has happened to them.

    Witnessing these stories enabled me to understand the many variations on suffering and to respect the connections and the differences that each story evoked. Most importantly, I felt that I was not alone with my experience but that I was part of a community. I was hooked. Because Sayantani included a fair amount of narrative theory in the syllabus, I became acquainted with and actually quite dazzled by the writings of Rita Charon.

    That experience fueled my interest in stories, how they are ever so singular while still so clearly part of the common human fabric. Fortunately the next summer Rita Charon had been awarded an NEH grant to develop a curriculum to train health care providers with narrative competence. I met her and she took me on as an intern to assist in the coordination of that grant and to help in whatever way possible with the seemingly endless list of projects in which she was involved.

    I have never left. The oral history project that Sayantani DasGupta assigned in that fall course began another interest and passion for interviewing and recording the stories of others, primarily those involved in some way with illness. I did a capstone project for my Masters which was to conduct oral histories of patients from the Dickstein Cancer Center.

    I interviewed, recorded, transcribed and wrote their interviews and gave each patient both the oral and written narratives for their own use. I was astounded by how eagerly they talked to me, sharing hours of memories, reflecting on the meaning of illness in their lives. This oral history thread has continued to be a significant part of my narrative work. I have been immersed in narrative medicine since the summer of I have also been part of the planning process for the Masters in Narrative Medicine which begins this fall at Columbia.

    Based upon my fieldwork that I will describe in the next few paragraphs, my ongoing role for the Masters will be to supervise clinical internships for the students. After I graduated from Sarah Lawrence with a Masters in Health Advocacy, Rita offered me an opportunity for my own workshop with patients. I also had sat in on narrative rounds, a thriving biweekly group of clinicians, nurses and social workers from the oncology floor at NY-Presbyterian Hospital who wrote together about their clinical experiences and read to one another what they had written.

    Rita offered me the chance to begin a narrative writing workshop that combined oncology outpatients with family caregivers and clinicians. One oncology doctor had funding from the patient foundation, Team Continuum , and an oncology social worker was eager to co-facilitate. We put up flyers and sent out the call for participants.

    As a result, one Tuesday evening in September , thirteen courageous people arrived on the sixth floor of Milstein Hospital in search of something called a narrative writing workshop. That first year the group was composed of all women: one oncologist, two nurses, two caregivers and seven patients. We wrote at each monthly meeting and shared our writing, and we became a community.

    Let me quote from one of the members:. With the ongoing financial support of Team Continuum, we planned the second year, invited some guest speakers and ventured forth to see a movie together, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Now at the end of our third year, our workshop has 19 members and a waiting list.

    We are a diverse group including patients who are in remission and patients who are in active treatment, patients who are living with chronic illness and those who are just now experiencing the pain, fear and loss of control owing to a new diagnosis or a recurrence.