Medicine from the heart . . . Pamela Adelstein

June 09, 2011

Each Thursday, the Daily Voice showcases selected Thursday Morning Memos, reflective essays about clinical experiences written by faculty, alumni, residents and students of the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health and, occasionally, contributors from other departments. Thursday Morning Memos is UMass Medical School’s homegrown version of narrative medicine, in which the authors process their experiences through writing. To learn more, visit:

Pam Adelstein is a graduate of the residency program of the Family Health Center of Worcester and currently working at the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester. Her poem reflects how in the busiest moments, blessings occur, for us and by us. We should not let those moments go by without pause. –Hugh Silk, MD

 Pamela Adelstein


Routine Thursday evening clinic 
Knock on exam room door 
Enter, greet my patient, 
An elderly Guatemalan woman, 

Accompanied by her niece, I think 
(Should do that genogram—the four generations I see are hard to track)

Log onto computer, they discuss how “guapa” I am 
Me, a silent blush
Patient smiles, at ease 
Niece laughs her wild laugh that is such music to my ears 

A1C rising, new sore on face that bleeds
(Can we schedule a biopsy before she leaves for a three-month trip to Guatemala next week?) 
Chronic back pain that she has made peace with

Follow up in three months 
Hug goodbye 
My sweet patient says to me, in rapid Spanish, kissing me afterwards: 
“May God keep you safe, 

protect your children, 

bless you, 

     your husband, 

       your children. 

Take care of yourself, my kind doctor. 

You have helped me so much. 

I pray for you and your family.” A song to fill the room 

Routine Friday evening dinner, 
I, accompanied by my husband
Hands on daughters’ heads, they squirm, smile, laugh— 

Bless our daughters in the Jewish tradition
Hebrew words uttered, kissing them afterwards: 

Ye'simech Elohim ke-Sarah, Rivka, Ra-chel ve-Lay'ah... 

May God bless you and watch over you. 
May God shine God's face toward you and show you favor. 
May God be favorably disposed toward you and grant you peace. 

Exit exam room 
Joy, fullness, peace
I smile and laugh . . . how can I not? 
I have been blessed by a grandmother.