Becky Orton! Becky is a 45yo mother, CrossFitter, and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I met Becky while coaching at CrossFit Juggernaut in NH before entering medical school: she and her daughter would workout together and I initially thought they were sisters! A testament to her energy and love of life.
During this conversation, we discuss motherhood and the story of her eight children (four biological and four adoptive), the experience of losing Ben, and the rewards of fostering medically fragile children.
With my time on the adolescent unit and interviewing folks for my podcast, I have a suite of skills that roughly translates over to the palliative consult service. The conversations are very similar in tone, depth, and length. The difference lies in intent and goal.
Hunter Frost! Hunter is a 20yo tree climber, country boy, and survivor. He is also my brother-in-law and we sat down for this interview 2mo after a horrific car accident in which he fractured his L1 vertebra.
During this conversation we discuss the challenges of tree climbing, the shifts in a 4yr relationship that began at 16, and the harsh perspective of breaking your back in a motor vehicle accident.
Caroline Wilson! Caroline is a 19yo college student, positive human, and survivor of a traumatic brain injury. I met Caroline while coaching crew in New Hampshire for Great Bay Rowing, and she served as a right-hand coxswain for the team. During one of our dryland practices, she fell and hit her head on cement. This caused a 2wk-long Elmer Fudd stutter and a long road to recovery. Luckily, she had her grandmother nearby, who underwent chemotherapy at the time.
In this lovely conversation, we discuss the plastic nature of memories especially when you have impaired long-term memory, how a positive reframe of a situation can change your outlook on life, and the nature of social crutches and how they help us function.
Rashad Malik Davis! Rashad is a 26yo creative, lover of stories, and story-teller. I met Rashad during my undergraduate years at Tufts University, and I’ve quietly kept tabs on him ever since. He recently published his first illustrated children’s book, Carefree Like Me!, one that I highly recommend reading as he promotes empathy, compassion, and diversity through a heartfelt story. In this conversation, we discuss the painful genesis and healing journey of his book, his deeply rooted spirituality, and the importance of representation in the stories that we tell.
I remember how he looked: thin-skinned and pale like parchment. By this point, “Jim” hadn’t any oral liquids for about 12hr and his mouth had a thick and viscous film behind cracked lips. His eyes remained sharp. He spoke with the compensated effort of chronic bronchitis. Each breath a few gasped syllables.