On death and Dying – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Hello,

Today I would like to share a very precious reading of mine. As I’m thinking about how to continue to help people (as I used to do as a medical doctor), but without doing the equivalence, I’m reading a lot of things on dying, living with a cancer or other critical illness.

The first time I went back to my library after my last 2 months in France, I found that very famous book for me: On Death and Dying. It’s famous because I learned during my medical studies the different steps of grief, which come from that book. But I never read the book itself. So today I’m proud to tell you that I read it in its original version!!

On Death and Dying

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a psychiatrist, born in Switzerland. She worked in France and in Poland, during a typhoid fever epidemic. She also discovered black butterflies drawn by children in Majdanek concentration camp … After all these special life experiences, she moved to the USA where she became a psychiatrist, and dedicated her research to dying patients, and later dying children.

This book is the first that she wrote, while working in Chicago. She explains the seminar that took place at the hospital, initially with 4 theology students. The principle was to interview a critically sick person, in front of a one way mirror. Behind the mirror, at first 4 students but soon up to 50 people, nurses, medical students, theology students … What impressed me is that I’m not sure that those interviews given in 1965 would be so different today. The only difference would be that no patient would remain without knowing his diagnosis from the doctor himself. At that time, so many patients would only be informed by their family of the severity of the disease … So that’s definitely some progress of the last 40 years.

But the 5 steps of grief are still so true. At first it’s denial and isolation. « That’s not possible! » usually quite short, but sometimes pathologically long. Then comes the anger: « Why me? » People can be angry at their doctor, their nurse. The important thing for caring staff is to remember that this anger is not against them in particular, but against « the entire world » for being sick. And that’s a lesson that every new generation has to learn, that I learned a few times with patients…
The third stage is bargaining: people try to ask « nicely » to try to get something. To God, to their doctor… They try to stay functioning until a child’s wedding for example.
When bargaining cannot be positively answered comes the fourth stage, the depression stage. People are sad, realizing the different losses in life (work, physical appearance …) preceding the loss of life itself. It’s a difficult stage to go through, because often there are some conflicts about how to deal with spouse, with children…

Eventually, when those conflicts are dealt with, the patient enters the last step, aka acceptance. The patient gets detached from his family, is less hungry. That’s the final stage of grief and dying. Not everybody is able to attain that stage, depending on the ability of his entourage to let him go…

Those stages, I did learn during my medical studies. But what I didn’t learn really (or at least what I didn’t remember) is to give hope at every stage. Not false hope, but Hope. At least respect the patients’ hope, such as the discovery of a new treatment (rarely on time…). And I admit this is a hard thing to do in every day life as a thoracic oncologist… And that’s what I would like to work on in the future.

This book is not just a dissertation about the different stages, it’s most of all a collection of patients’ testimonies about dying, and about life. I would recommend this book to every health care student, but also to everybody who has to take care of a sick person (does that mean quite everybody?). This book is very touching…

True Grit

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Every year, in April, Dallas Public Library promote the reading of one book, the same for everybody. This year, it is « True Grit », and I was given one book. I wrote a report for my reading club for English as a second language speaker. It has already been published on their blog (dplread.blogspot.com). Because I’m sometimes a bit lazy, here it is.

When I asked my husband what means “grit”, he looked at me, showed me his teeth and made a sound like “Argh”. I asked that question before reading the book, and the answer was surprising, and not very much enlightening.

“People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father’s blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day.” This is the beginning of the novel. A long and dry sentence, like several parts of the book.

Mattie Ross, the fourteen-year-old girl, is chasing Tom Chaney, her father’s murderer, through Arkansas and Texas. She’s looking for somebody with true grit to go with her. I had a hard time to begin the book, because the story goes very slow … Find someone with true grit, then meet him at the court (after retranscribing a long part of one trial…), discussing the price to go, finding a horse …

But at one point, they ride on their horses and the real story begins. Guns fire at every riverbank or every hill, toward different bandits. Bandit seems to be a job, with values, but very mortal… Then, it was hard to leave the book until the end, the suspense was important.

I had a journey through the Wild West, on a black pony. First Mattie sounds like a naive girl, but with no fear… Progressively, her character gets more profound, more intense. She eventually become human when she shows her fears at the end, even if that doesn’t stop her to go on… With justice.

After reading the book, we watched the movie (the original one, with John Wayne). And that confirms that I’m not fond with the “cow boys movies” as we say in French… But despite that, that book trapped me. A classic, indeed.

I hope that my next book report will be about « sound reporting » … I hope there are things coming. I’ll you soon.

A bientôt,

The Frog…

Langfredagsgryde (ou casserole du long vendredi)

Bonjour à toutes et à tous !!!

Je voudrais vous poser ma question existentielle de la semaine ? De quoi peut bien parler le blog « d’une expatriée » qui doit passer du temps « chez elle » en Moselle ? Fini les articles sur la grandeur de Dallas (je vous en réserve un sur les lumières de la ville …). Fini les articles de la chorale en toge. Je suis d’ailleurs ouverte à toute suggestion.

En attendant, j’essaye de garder les liens à peine tissés à Dallas. Le Wow reading club nous avait demandé la semaine dernière de ramener une recette favorite écrite. Alors malgré l’éloignement, j’ai voulu jouer le jeu et demandé à ma maman la recette de la « soupe du vendredi ».

Je vous donne la recette, en danois et en anglais (amis de la francophonie : bonjour !)

Langfredagsgryde

¾ kg skært oksekød, 3 spsk. mel, 1 ½ tsk. salt, ½ tsk peber, 3-4 løg, 2sk. røget flæsk, lidt smør, 3dl vand ell. Bouillon, 75g makaroni, 1tsk paprika, 3-4 tomater, 1 pk dybfrosne ærter, lidt fløde. 

Skær kødet i små terninger og ryst dem i et stykke papir med mel, salt og peber. Snit løgerne et par gange igennem og ryst dem i resten af melet. Steg strimler af flæsket på panden, brun så kød og løg i fedtet herfra og lidt smør. Kom det brunede i en gryde tilsæt pandeafkog af vand eller bouillon og lad retten småsnurre ca 1 time. Kom så itubrækket makaroni i sammen med tomatsnitter og paprika. Videre kog tit alt er mørt (tendre) (ca 1 kvarter) og tilsæt fløde og ærter.

 

Longfriday’s casserole

Ingredients: ¾ kg beef meat to braise, 3 tablespoons of wheat, 1 ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, 3-4 onions, 2 thick slices smoked bacon, a bit of butter, 3dl of water or stock, 75g macaroni, 1 teaspoon paprika, 3-4 tomatoes, 1 pack frozen peas, some double cream. 

Cut the meat in small pieces and shake them in a piece of paper with the wheat, salt and pepper. Chop coarsely the onions and shake them in the rest of wheat. Fry the bacon cut in small strips in a frying pan, then brown the meat and onions in the bacon’s fat and some butter. Deglaze the pan with the water/stock. Put the browned ingredients and the deglazing in a casserole. Let it simmer over a gentle heat about 1 hour. Add the broken macaronis, the diced tomatoes and the paprika. Cook until everything is tender (about 1 quarter). Pour the cream and peas. Cook until the peas are warm enough.

 

C’est le plat d’hiver de mon enfance. Comme des spaghettis (oui, ma maman a réarrangé la recette et n’utilise pas de macaroni) avec une super « bolognaise » qu’on réchauffe en général 3 repas de suite.

C’est le plat avec lequel nous avons découvert que notre chien n’aimait pas les petits pois (quand il avait l’assiette de restes, tout disparaissait sauf les petits pois qui étaient malgré tout impeccablement nettoyés de leur sauce …)

En demandant la recette, j’ai découvert le « Grimoire ».

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Un livre de cuisine que ma grand-mère à écrit à la main avec ses meilleures recettes. En fait, 2 pages seulement semblent très utilisées compte-tenu du nombre de taches.

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Le livre date d’au moins 1956 (j’en veux pour preuve le brouillon de la déclaration de revenus de mon arrière-grand-père).

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Il s’agit de livres de comptabilité de mon arrière-grand-père, chef de gare, recevait pour gérer la gare de Drantum au Danemark. J’adore la qualité de la papeterie : la tranche imprimée, la couverture reliée, les lignes …

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Alors je vous montre le trésor …

Et vous ? Avez-vous des grimoires de cuisine ?

Et vous ? Avez vous envie que je vous raconte des histoires lorraines plutôt que dallasoises ?

A bientôt

La grenouille, heureuse les pieds dans l’eau de l’hiver lorrain …

Second Acts and Career Clinic

Howdy y’all !!

Today, I will tell you about the 2 last books I read. They both speak about how to choose your next job. And by « next job » I don’t mean « next hospital » for me, but I’ve been wondering for a few weeks (months?) about what kind of work I want to do. For those who maybe don’t know, I’m a pulmonologist in France (should I say « I was » ?) but with the move to USA and the difficulties of certification added to my existential questions, I’m reading books about the « dream job » to guide my reflection.

Let’s speak about the books.

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Second Act is written by Stephen M. Pollan and Mark Levine. Stephen Pollan worked hard for banks when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis (and not with cancer as he feared). This disease can be very exhausting, so he had to change his way of life. It speaks about money, credit and work to pay the bills. But after his recovering, he decided to keep on his new way of life, and to make it evolve until he became a life coach.

There are 3 parts :
– The first part affirms that everybody can decide to lead the life of his dreams. But you need to decide it and then to plan it. That means knowing what is your dream. The author proposes a few exercises to identify and put words on your dream. I’m working on it. Slowly because I’m savoring it.

– The second part is about identifying the different obstacles between you and your dream. That can be money, age, education and training. Then he proposes you ways to overcome those obstacles.

– The third part is quite short. It’s about « writing your second act script ». Just do it. Just plan it.

At the end of the book, I know I’ve already launched my second act by marrying my husband and moving to the USA. I’ve done the work by forgetting a part of the beginning. I’m not finished with my reflection about my job. That’s why I’m happy to be in the USA. That gives me time to dream more « realistically » about work.

 

CareerClinic_medium

The second book is The Career Clinic, written by Maureen Anderson. The subheading is « 8 rules for finding work you love ». If I should keep one quote, it would be, « How much money are they going to have to pay me to make me forget how much I hate my life? … When you ask something like that, you can’t go backward and unask it. The question’s been asked, the universe hears it, and you can’t just pretend nothing happenend ».

You can’t unask … So there are the 8 titles of the chapters :
-No regrets
-Talk to yourself
-Stop
-Ask for directions when you get lost
-Accept free samples
-Say yes
-Have fun!
-Try something new when you stop having fun

Each chapter is the collection of a few testimonies. From artists who eventually decide to live their passion and to make a living of it, from life coaches, from a guy who made a mustard museum, from a cowboy … That gave me energy to continue my search for my dream job.

The few techniques I would keep from that book are asking for internship (to try a job), to take opportunities that come to you, and to have fun.

 

So here I am, full of good advice … Having some time to think about it … To those who want to know what job I’ll choose, let us make an appointment in the next summer. If I get my visa, it could be the time I begin to work again… Waiting for that day,

Take care of you,

The thinking frog …

Le Wow Reading Club !

Bonjour à tous,

J’ai failli titrer mon article « Une semaine dallasoise 2 » …
Parce que je continue à façonner mon emploi du temps hebdomadaire comme celui d’une retraitée. Parce que vendredi je suis allée jouer au Mahjong, mais je vous raconterai cela le jour où j’oserai prendre des photos du groupe et du jeu (qui est très beau en soi). Parce que samedi il pleuvait (oui, cela arrive parfois à Dallas) et que du coup le groupe de jardinage a été annulé (ce que je n’ai appris qu’une fois arrivée sur place …). Parce que dimanche nous avons chanté pour la première fois au culte avec notre chorale, mais que j’attends d’oser faire des photos de nous en robe pour vous le montrer.

Mais la vraie nouveauté de la semaine, c’est que je me suis jointe au Wow Reading Club. Un club de lecture pour ceux qui parlent l’anglais comme seconde langue (ESL : « English as a second language », le « FLE » des américains).
Je me suis retrouvée entouré de 6 asiatiques et 1 américaine. Toutes des filles, entre 25 et 60 ans je dirais. Toutes les asiatiques ont un mari de la même origine qu’elle, chinois, coréen, japonais, taïwanais. Et toutes ont la volonté de posséder la langue de leur nouveau pays, même si ce n’est que pour 2 ans … Et pour toutes ces femmes, ça a d’abord commencé par l’apprentissage d’un nouvel alphabet. J’avoue que j’ai adoré ce groupe de filles. L’américaine est plus âgée, elle est un peu étrangère puisqu’elle vient de Waco, Texas et a « migré » à Dallas il y a 35 ans, à l’occasion de son mariage.
A l’occasion de mon arrivée, le principe a été un peu transgressé. Le principe original est de venir avec son livre et d’en parler. Quel que soit le livre. Parfois même des livres pour enfants, qui regorgent d’expressions simples du quotidien. Parfois des livres audio pour écouter la prononciation. Nous devons écrire un « rapport », une fiche de lecture, une fois par mois.
Mais cette fois là, nous avons juste bavardé. Et ça fait du bien de bavarder. Nous avons parlé de Thanksgiving. Nous avons cherché les équivalents dans les autres cultures, et nous sommes tombées sur 2 choses : la fête des moissons et la journée de la femme. La journée mondiale de la femme, le 8 mars … En Chine, elle est mise en avant pour remercier les femmes (d’être mère, épouse, etc.). En France, elle est mise en avant pour promouvoir les droits de la femme (celles de France plutôt chanceuses, mais aussi celles d’ailleurs). Et bien allez savoir pourquoi, mais il semblerait que la journée de la femme ne soit pas connue aux USA … En tout cas de la représentante des femmes américaines de notre groupe…
Du coup, je vais inaugurer une catégorie d’articles. Celles des livres que je lis … écrite en anglais. Je l’aurai faite corriger par mon maître et époux avant de vous la livrer. Je vais d’ailleurs préparer le prochain article.

A bientôt,

La grenouille ESL