As some of you may know, after nearly a decade of writing and ranting in stream of consciousness fashion, I decided to lay my personal blog to rest. As I’ve become more focused in my life and career, I’ve also become more focused in my writing, and I wanted to develop a new site to reflect that. For the majority of the past three years, I have been living and breathing medicine (despite my best efforts to escape it). This has been both a significant personal challenge and a tremendous privilege. And whether I like it or not, my new role as a physician has colored the way I see and interpret the world. I’ve found medical terms and allusions creeping into all my writing, and I’ve decided to just embrace this. As always, I hope the things I share here move you – make you laugh, cry, think, and feel less alone. But more than anything, I hope to use this site as place for stories that often go untold. This brings me to the title…
“Otherwise Unremarkable” is a phrase that will be instantly familiar to anyone with a medical background because it is ubiquitous in medical documentation. We will say, for example, “Family history notable for breast cancer in maternal aunt at age 49, otherwise unremarkable.” Several weeks ago I attended a writing workshop mediated by Dr. Dena Rifkin in which we were asked (among other things) to reflect on some of the jargon and phrases that we use and it struck me that “otherwise unremarkable” was perhaps the most absurd. In this strange microcosm, we whittle down a ‘family history’ to a single relative with a single disease and write off the rest as “unremarkable.” Medical documentation serves a very specific purpose of course, so this is appropriate. But what I’ve experienced over and over is the feeling of reading a chart of a patient I’ve known and feeling as though all the important details – the ones that give it significance and humanity and real context- are missing. This is in no way a call for physicians to spend more time charting or to write long narrative family histories. It is merely an acknowledgement that often the things we leave out are the most remarkable of all when examined through a different lens. I hope this site will serve mainly as a testament to these uncharted details. So welcome and thank you for visiting.
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