Linkworthy 2.1: In the first person

Sometimes the blogosphere is seen as a sea of dreck. But there are also some wonderful real-life stories to be found – worthwhile writing that illuminates a slice of the human experience and causes us to stop, read and reflect. Today’s edition of Linkworthy features a collection of recent personal stories and essays that fall into this category.

If you haven’t been following Dana Jennings’s blog series about his encounter with prostate cancer, this is a good time to get on board. His latest entry: "Living in the Post-Cancer Moment." He writes, "Post-cancer, more than ever, I am stung by the fact that I am here, that I am this I, this improbable soul." Entries in the rest of the series, which appears in the New York Times, can be found here.

From earthquake-stricken Haiti, via Boston hospital CEO Paul Levy’s blog, comes this story of "Bearing Witness to Haiti." It’s written by Jeff Swartz, CEO of Timberland, who flew on board a company plane to bring supplies and help. Here’s how he describes the aerial view as he arrives:

And in minutes, Port au Prince looms ahead, dense, destroyed, honestly not to be believed, from the air. A densely packed city, an up and down city of folded hills, and everywhere you can see… cataclysm.

… I can’t believe the physical destruction. Nor the swarm of humans walking. People walking in the streets – this is one of the overwhelming images of this voyage. Where are they going? What are they seeking? Walking, everywhere. Streets choked with dust and detritus and despair, and folks out walking. Whole blocks just leveled.

Levy shares another story as well, about a 7-week-old baby girl who was pulled alive from the rubble of her home.

What is it like to raise a child with special needs? John Elder Robison has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, and is a writer and speaker on autism. He recently completed the foreword to a new book, a collection of essays by parents of special-needs children, and he has shared the foreword on his blog. An excerpt:

With all the names I was called growing up, it’s no surprise I saw myself as a misfit child. With that self-image, I naturally thought anyone like me must be a misfit, too. However, I know different now. Today I realize that the autistic condition is really the human condition. Our hopes, dreams and feelings are exactly the same as anyone else’s. We just don’t show our feelings in the conventional way, and we don’t respond to other people’s signals as expected.

If you’re interested in the book, the title is "Gravity Pulls You In: Perspectives on Parenting Children on the Autism Spectrum." It’ll be released soon.

My favorite three entries this week are each a variation on a theme: reacting to the death of a patient. Dr. Rob Lamberts muses about a special patient and why his death was inspiring rather than sad. He explains, "Sometimes it’s an honor to be their doctor. We don’t always stand against death, sometimes we get to stand with the dying."

The anonymous OncRN has her own special story to share, about missing a longtime patient who unexpectedly died. In a post titled "looking," she writes: "when it’s five o’clock on friday and you see the doctor you work with is calling your cell phone, your heart skips a beat. all you know for sure is he’s not calling to wish you a happy weekend. you know someone died or is dying but, him? oh please, don’t tell me that… not him."

Finally, here’s Dr. Aidan Charles with a graceful and contemplative essay about attending a patient’s funeral. The opening few sentences:

On the way to the funeral you wonder how you’ll be received by the grieving. Although you are confident that your care for the deceased was sincere, professional, and adept, you still question if others will so assume. There is silence in the car. This is a trip you make alone.

Go there and read the rest.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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