Three days of intense medical humanities immersion at The Examined Life Conference, Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa in Iowa City! What fun! There’s so much to say. Here’s a snapshot.
First, the friendships I made are the most precious take-away. The support that I received was so heartwarming and generous. Another big gift is the privilege and unforgettable experience of writing, sharing, and learning with medical professionals and writers; these folks are just so smart! I’ve got a zillion handouts, pamphlets, books, and business cards.
Presenting my blog workshop was thrilling–to stand up at the podium click-click-clicking the mouse, sending an image of my blog onto the big screen as I ran through the different types of things bloggers do, was so cool. One of the participants asked what happens when you get tired of the blog you’ve created. I realized that a blog is a medium that grows with you. Initially in blogging, I was looking for fellow pyloric stenosis survivors (and I still am). In the past two years, many of my posts discuss ways to use PTSD as a teacher in healing from early trauma. In the future, myincision could morph into serving as the base of a non-profit organization that seeks to fund research for understanding the true cause(s) of pyloric stenosis. Realizing that was an epiphany!
One of my favorite moments at the conference was in the workshop “Public Medical Writing: Highlights from a Longitudinal Curriculum for Medical Trainees” led by medical students at University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The facilitators broke us up into groups. Three doctors, a medical humanities educator, and I wrote in response to a prompt. We then took turns, each reading his/her piece and getting feedback from the group in a manner prescribed by the workshop leaders. I loved this exercise because it involved doctors and non-clinical types, like me, teaming up.
Another key highlight of the weekend was meeting a fellow pyloric stenosis survivor in person, who I had come into contact with through my blog and with whom I have been emailing. He just happened to live near Iowa City and drove over one morning to have breakfast with me!
There is so much more. I’ll leave you with this: The study of medical humanities is my home and The Examined Life Conference is a place where, as Dr. David Watts put it, “kindred spirits” find each other.