Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Tag: appreciation

Gratitude Redux

an oldie but a goodie…

I just read a book called 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik.

I heard an interview with the author on NPR, and it caught my attention.

Kralik had been down on his luck in 2007: divorced twice, overweight, with a struggling law firm that he’d started, he was also failing in a new romantic relationship. He was worried about losing his seven year-old daughter, too, in a custody dispute.

He made a momentous decision: Instead of feeling sorry for himself (easy to do given his predicaments), he decided to be grateful for what he had. To show it, he vowed to write a thank you note every day for the next year.

What do you think happened?

His life changed. For the better. His relationship improved. His clients started paying their bills and his firm’s financial footing solidified. His health improved. He eventually achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a judge. To top it off, he turned his personal quest into a writing project. Within minutes of writing a book proposal, he received responses from agents who hoped to shepherd his project.

Every writer’s dream……

I’ll grant you that it sounds hokey. But there are a couple of things the book demonstrated to me:

Making a commitment to change is never easy. Kralik decided to change his perspective, and his results are indeed stunning. But he’s quite open about the fact that it was a process, and a lengthy one at that. He had times when he felt like giving up. Crises arose in which he didn’t write a note for several weeks. Sometimes he just flat out felt that he had nothing to be grateful for. But he always came back to his task.

And people really responded to him: from government officials, to clients, to his Starbuck’s barista. Everyone likes gratitude. We are human. It helps to know that our work and our humanity are appreciated.

There are other personal resonances: Kralik hails from Cleveland. Even as a lawyer, he shunned corporate law for his own values-driven law firm. He wrote a mission statement, and was rankled with inner turmoil when he strayed too far from it.

I guess to sum it up I’d write Judge Kralik a thank you letter of my own:

Dear Judge Kralik:

Thank you for sharing your story with me.

I am truly inspired by how you were able to turn your life around. As a doctor, I am touched by the mission-driven aspect of your legal work. In addition, I find that your quest to allow gratitude to suffuse every aspect of your life really provided a beautiful level of harmony to your story. I plan to share your story with patients and colleagues; I am always moved by ideas and examples that take something simple (e.g. the thank you note) and make it a habit that can lead to a virtuous cycle.

Congratulations on your professional and personal successes. I hope that they continue.

Genuinely,

John Henning Schumann, M.D.

RIP: JGS (1945-2013)

Dr. Joel Schwab

Dr. Joel Schwab

The world of medicine has lost a valiant practitioner and teacher, Dr. Joel Schwab.

I was lucky to have had the opportunity to have met and worked with Joel during my time in Chicago.

We collaborated in support of a volunteer activity for undergraduates (who often eventually become medical students) called “Project Health,” which is now known as Health Leads.

Joel had a keen mind and was never afraid to ask challenging questions, the kind some are afraid to ask lest they be perceived as offensive. He exuded warmth and had a rich sense of humor.

He took care of kids from all over the south side of Chicago; some privileged, like faculty children (my own included), but most not.

Joel directed the pediatrics clerkship, the course of study for third year medical students who spend a month or two learning the discipline of pediatrics. Core clerkships like “Peds” are fundamental to a physician’s education.

Joel believed strongly in learning and practicing fundamentals–he wasn’t fond of changes in medical education that are guiding students away from his and other primary care disciplines. Other mandates have caused learners to have less time immersed in the learning milieu due to work hour restrictions–something he understood as necessary but costly.

Born right near the end of WWII, Joel predated the Baby Boom generation. It was reflected in his work ethic–doctoring to him was all about patients; not about himself, his lifestyle, or self-aggrandizement to move up the food chain.

I learned of Joel’s cancer diagnosis nearly two years ago, right after moving away from Chicago. True to his passion, Joel worked right through treatment and up until his death. His experiences as a patient gave him special insights into the training of doctors, as he now lived on “both sides of the gurney.”

In a fitting tribute, the University of Chicago’s graduating medical students invited Dr. Schwab to serve as their commencement speaker, a few weeks before he died. His speech is embedded below:

Gratitude Redux

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I want to express my appreciation for many blessings:

Family, health, a new community, meaningful work, and sustenance: from the earth, our colleagues, trainees and friends old and new.

I am reposting an essay about a how the simple act of daily thanks transformed a man’s life for the better. It’s an inspiring story.

I hope that you have a meaningful Thanksgiving.

GlassHospital

_______________________________________________

I just read a book called 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik.

I heard an interview with the author on NPR, and it caught my attention.

Kralik had been down on his luck in 2007: divorced twice, overweight, with a struggling law firm that he’d started, he was also failing in a new romantic relationship. He was worried about losing his seven year-old daughter, too, in a custody dispute.

He made a momentous decision: Instead of feeling sorry for himself (easy to do given his predicaments), he decided to be grateful for what he had. To show it, he vowed to write a thank you note every day for the next year.

What do you think happened?

His life changed. For the better. His relationship improved. His clients started paying their bills and his firm’s financial footing solidified. His health improved. He eventually achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a judge. To top it off, he turned his personal quest into a writing project. Within minutes of writing a book proposal, he received responses from agents who hoped to shepherd his project.

Every writer’s dream……

I’ll grant you that it sounds hokey. But there are a couple of things the book demonstrated to me:

Making a commitment to change is never easy. Kralik decided to change his perspective, and his results are indeed stunning. But he’s quite open about the fact that it was a process, and a lengthy one at that. He had times when he felt like giving up. Crises arose in which he didn’t write a note for several weeks. Sometimes he just flat out felt that he had nothing to be grateful for. But he always came back to his task.

And people really responded to him: from government officials, to clients, to his Starbuck’s barista. Everyone likes gratitude. We are human. It helps to know that our work and our humanity are appreciated.

There are other personal resonances: Kralik hails from Cleveland. Even as a lawyer, he shunned corporate law for his own values-driven law firm. He wrote a mission statement, and was rankled with inner turmoil when he strayed too far from it.

I guess to sum it up I’d write Judge Kralik a thank you letter of my own:

Dear Judge Kralik:

Thank you for sharing your story with me.

I am truly inspired by how you were able to turn your life around. As a doctor, I am touched by the mission-driven aspect of your legal work. In addition, I find that your quest to allow gratitude to suffuse every aspect of your life really provided a beautiful level of harmony to your story. I plan to share your story with patients and colleagues; I am always moved by ideas and examples that take something simple (e.g. the thank you note) and make it a habit that can lead to a virtuous cycle.

Congratulations on your professional and personal successes. I hope that they continue.

Genuinely,

John Henning Schumann, M.D.

Gratitude

I just read a book called 365 Thank Yous by John Kralik.

I heard an interview with the author on NPR, and it caught my attention.

Kralik had been down on his luck in 2007: divorced twice, overweight, with a struggling law firm that he’d started, he was also failing in a new romantic relationship. He was worried about losing his seven year-old daughter, too, in a custody dispute.

He made a momentous decision: Instead of feeling sorry for himself (easy to do given his predicaments), he decided to be grateful for what he had. To show it, he vowed to write a thank you note every day for the next year.

What do you think happened?

His life changed. For the better. His relationship improved. His clients started paying their bills and his firm’s financial footing solidified. His health improved. He eventually achieved his lifelong dream of becoming a judge. To top it off, he turned his personal quest into a writing project. Within minutes of writing a book proposal, he received responses from agents who hoped to shepherd his project.

Every writer’s dream……

I’ll grant you that it sounds hokey. But there are a couple of things the book demonstrated to me:

Making a commitment to change is never easy. Kralik decided to change his perspective, and his results are indeed stunning. But he’s quite open about the fact that it was a process, and a lengthy one at that. He had times when he felt like giving up. Crises arose in which he didn’t write a note for several weeks. Sometimes he just flat out felt that he had nothing to be grateful for. But he always came back to his task.

And people really responded to him: from government officials, to clients, to his Starbuck’s barista. Everyone likes gratitude. We are human. It helps to know that our work and our humanity are appreciated.

There are other personal resonances: Kralik hails from Cleveland. Even as a lawyer, he shunned corporate law for his own values-driven law firm. He wrote a mission statement, and was rankled with inner turmoil when he strayed too far from it.

I guess to sum it up I’d write Judge Kralik a thank you letter of my own:

Dear Judge Kralik:

Thank you for sharing your story with me.

I am truly inspired by how you were able to turn your life around. As a doctor, I am touched by the mission-driven aspect of your legal work. In addition, I find that your quest to allow gratitude to suffuse every aspect of your life really provided a beautiful level of harmony to your story. I plan to share your story with patients and colleagues; I am always moved by ideas and examples that take something simple (e.g. the thank you note) and make it a habit that can lead to a virtuous cycle.

Congratulations on your professional and personal successes. I hope that they continue.

Genuinely,

John Henning Schumann, M.D.

RIP: HP (1939-2010)

Talk about kicking a city when it’s down.

You can take the boy out of Cleveland, but you can probably never squeeze all of the burning Cuyahoga out of me.

After watching the media frenzy surrounding basketballer LeBron James and his utter betrayal/stabbing us in the back exercising his economic options, now this:

Harvey Pekar has died.

Who was Harvey Pekar?

Look up the word curmudgeon. Close your eyes. He’s who you should be picturing.

You can read the real obits to learn about his talents as a raconteur du everyday-ness. He definitely will go down as a pioneer in helping re-invent and propagate the comic book as art form, beyond kids and super heroes.

Yet Pekar’s heroism has other facets: his spent his career working as a file clerk at the Louis Stokes VA in Cleveland (where I did rotations as a med student).

He was an avid jazz fan and collected 78s (whatever those are). He stood up for the little guy against the corporations, going so far as to call David Letterman a “shill” for NBC, back when his show was on Late Night on that network. In other words, back when his show was good. And edgy. And had guests like Pekar.

Those were my high school years. Pekar probably never would have appeared on television if not for the influence of Steve O’Donnell, then Letterman’s head writer who also hailed from off the streets of Cleveland.

The notoriety that Pekar obtained no doubt led to the greenlighting of American Splendor, the 2003 film in which Paul Giamiatti (look in that same dictionary under “dyspeptic”) starred as Pekar.

I once met Pekar at a book signing. He was the same way in person as he was on TV. The same way he was in his comics. And now he’s gone. Another little piece of Cleveland torn asunder.

© 2020 GlassHospital

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑