Scents of Commonality

I am the child of holocaust survivors. Recently I’m hearing more about my mother’s life as a German Jew in hiding in Netherlands for her teen years. It strikes me as an empowered, engaged ePatient how our different life situations change the meaning of ePatient. In her case, survival was paramount, then boredom and fear. Isn’t that health? She tells about surgery for my grandfather on a kitchen table. Wasn’t she an ePatient? What I think of as health is very different. I am white, comfortable, loved, with little fear. I’m a worried well person with a chronic disease. I focus on other portions of the health continuum: meds, appointments, weight, diet, balance, stamina. My friend Cristin Lind’s blog Durgatoolbox dramatizes this lopsided continuum in her son’s care map.  The similarity for each scenario is that best health is hugely more than medical institutions address. No matter how much I try, I can’t get my brain around what my mother experienced. I can’t get my brain around what Cristin and her family experience.  Yet I can pull threads of understanding, empathy, compassion. Scents of our commonality. How do we share ourselves as we are ePatients? How can we help professionals on our teams pull those threads, whiff those scents?


  • Durga's Toolbox says:

    Thanks for the link. One of my favorite teachers, the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron once wrote that your heart can be broken or it can be broken wide open–to become so aware of the experience of others that you can’t close yourself off to it ever again. I think that it takes a lot less than the intensity of your mother’s or even my experience to have your heart broken open. Even “white, comfortable, loved” people! And that I think it the place we all connect–in realizing that this life isn’t unfolding the way we planned, but that there is richness and beauty not despite of the chaos but because of it.

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