Mattie Miracle 10th Anniversary Walk was an $119,000 success!

Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation Promotional Video

Thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive!

Dear Mattie Blog Readers,

It means a great deal to us that you take the time to write to us and to share your thoughts, feelings, and reflections on Mattie's battle and death. Your messages are very meaningful to us and help support us through very challenging times. To you we are forever grateful. As my readers know, I promised to write the blog for a year after Mattie's death, which would mean that I could technically stop writing on September 9, 2010. However, at the moment, I feel like our journey with grief still needs to be processed and fortunately I have a willing support network still committed to reading. Therefore, the blog continues on. If I should find the need to stop writing, I assure you I will give you advanced notice. In the mean time, thank you for reading, thank you for having the courage to share this journey with us, and most importantly thank you for keeping Mattie's memory alive.


As Mattie would say, Ooga Booga (meaning, I LOVE YOU)! Vicki and Peter



The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation celebrates its 7th anniversary!

The Mattie Miracle Cancer Foundation was created in the honor of Mattie.

We are a 501(c)(3) Public Charity. We are dedicated to increasing childhood cancer awareness, education, advocacy, research and psychosocial support services to children, their families and medical personnel. Children and their families will be supported throughout the cancer treatment journey, to ensure access to quality psychosocial and mental health care, and to enable children to cope with cancer so they can lead happy and productive lives. Please visit the website at: www.mattiemiracle.com and take some time to explore the site.

We have only gotten this far because of people like yourself, who have supported us through thick and thin. So thank you for your continued support and caring, and remember:

.... Let's Make the Miracle Happen and Stomp Out Childhood Cancer!

A Remembrance Video of Mattie

August 4, 2018

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2009. At that point in time Mattie was very ill. He was in constant pain, having trouble breathing, and days later we learned of his terminal disease status. It always makes me pause and wonder.... how did Mattie manage all of this and yet find the strength and energy to smile, to play, and to interact with us? I have no answers! 

As you can see Mattie was surrounded by many of his things. Including a construction paper roach, who took a seat on our couch. In Mattie's hands, he was holding a huge fly swatter. A gag gift he received at his 7th birthday party. In this particular case, Mattie was swatting at me, so I couldn't move closer to the couch to remove the roach.  Mattie always got a chuckle at my reaction whenever a saw a bug.


Quote of the day: Never apologize for being sensitive or emotional. It’s a sign that you have a big heart, and that you aren’t afraid to let others see it. Showing your emotions is a sign of strength. Brigitte Nicole


I believe the premise of this quote is exactly right... it takes a great deal of strength to express one's feelings. Mainly because revealing how you feel requires you to be vulnerable, to not have all the answers, and to be truthful. Which is why many people are hesitant to be sensitive or focus on emotional content. The issue with sensitivity presents itself in our everyday lives, but I would say it is heightened when dealing with the medical profession. 

Part of the problem with healthcare today is that doctors forget they are working with people. The other problem is they are balancing way too many patients and therefore do not have the time to dedicate to "small talk." Talk that actually provides more data about the presenting issue, but also sets the foundation for a healthy human connection. There is a great deal to be said about the healing power of this human connection. Knowing that you aren't alone and that you are being heard on your journey to physically feeling better. 

This week, Peter went for an annual health exam. As he was tired of seeing my doctor, I suggested he see someone else. Someone who I went to years ago, after I gave birth to Mattie. In fact, this doctor also cared for my parents whenever they were visiting from Los Angeles. So all three of us like him. When I caught up with Peter today about his overall experience with this doctor, I was thrilled to hear about the doctor's sensitivity. A quality I remembered about him years ago. 

In most medical intake forms, the question always arises as to whether you have children or not. I honestly do not know how to answer this question. Mainly because there isn't an appropriate answer choice on the form for us. But Peter answered the question factually.... he wrote in, yes but that Mattie died from osteosarcoma. I can't tell you how many doctors offices I have written about child loss on the form and in ALL cases, the doctor neither reviews the form or even mentions this loss. 

Which is why what happened in Peter's doctor visit this week caught my attention. The doctor actually sat down, got to know Peter, and they reviewed his forms together. All I can say is wow! Then the doctor took this a step further. When he saw Peter's response to whether he had children or not, the doctor  paused when he saw the answer. This doctor not only read the form but then processed it. He told Peter he was very sorry to hear about the loss of Mattie. Instead of saying something trite, his next words were..... How are you doing with this loss? 

I think that is a very interestingly worded question. Mainly because what it implies to me is the doctor realizes that the grief from child loss is not short term, but rather something you live with your entire life. In any case, this doctor and Peter develop an instant rapport and guess what? If the rapport is there and you feel like your doctor is listening to you, the more compliant a patient will be to come back for check ups and to call if not feeling well. Ironically, you want to know how I met this doctor to begin with? He was referred to me by Mattie's pediatrician, soon after Mattie was born. If I dig deep enough, everything we do is connected to Mattie in some way. 

August 3, 2018

Friday, August 3, 2018

Friday, August 3, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. Mattie was a few weeks into treatment and as you can see was losing his hair. Ironically hair loss did not seem to scare or bother Mattie in the least. It was only people's reactions to him, seeing him without hair, that bothered him. 

That day Mattie was at the art table in clinic. A place he loved to be, if he had to be in clinic. His art therapists invited him to make hand prints and other creative things with clay. To this day, I have all of Mattie's hand prints and clay pieces from clinic. I am sure back then the thinking was to keep Mattie busy, but what may not have been understood was that every piece Mattie created became a part of his legacy. 


Quote of the day: Wishing good, merely, is a lukewarm charity; but doing good is divine. ~ James Lendall Basford


For the last month or so, Mattie Miracle has been working with a professional organization who is managing a grant we wish to fund. We chose to house our grant in a professional association, because it gives the grant more visibility nationally. Our primary purpose for this grant is to support researchers who wish to conduct implementation research on the Psychosocial Standards of Care. In addition, when the request for proposal went out, keep in mind that Mattie Miracle was going to fund only ONE grant at $10,000.

But then the grant applications came rolling in and given this is our first year, I am surprised that we received about 25 applications. Not just the amount of applications was surprising but the quality of the proposals, the attention to detail, and how serious each researcher took the application process. I was VERY pleased with what I read! What I did not count on however, was how the association's review committee was evaluating the proposals. Proposals which I thought were excellent were only getting lukewarm ratings from the scientists. So then I asked to specifically look at the criteria they were using to evaluate each application. It became very evident to me that how the committee was defining implementation research and how Mattie Miracle was defining it were two different things. 

It would have been easier for me to have kept quiet. As in this circle I am NOT a scientist or the expert on this research. However, I remind myself constantly that I have lived this experience and they have not. Of course having an educational background like mine helps as well. I debated for days about what to do about the committee's evaluation process. Then what pressed me to speak up was the simple fact that the committee was going to have a conference call to make a final decision. At that point I rationalized with myself that I work way too hard to raise Mattie Miracle funds, therefore, we have every right to vocalize our concerns and to spell out what we will and what we will not fund. 

I wrote my email to the committee the night before their conference call. I was very professional, but got my message across. Now moving forward to today. Today I had a call with the two review committee chairs. We talked about the review committee's decision. However, they mentioned to me how helpful my email was to the researchers because I explained Mattie Miracle's point of view on implementation research. As I told them we want to fund actionable research, research that will product something that can be potentially adopted around the country and used by psychosocial professionals at treatment sites. 

What started out as funding one grant, landed up with us funding 6. Not all at the $10k level though. I can't talk about this in more specifics because all applicants need to be notified about this decision first. But to make a long story short, as of today, Mattie Miracle will be funding 6 implementation research grants and will be spending $37,500 in total. The intention of the grants is very specific..... researchers have to be doing actionable research, they will need to present findings at a Mattie Miracle symposium (held at a national association conference), and try to publish their work (acknowledging Mattie Miracle as the funder). The wonderful part about this is we are the ONLY Foundation providing such implementation grants and this support has the capacity for moving forward our mission to implement the Standards at sites around the Country. In addition, awarding such grants will enable researchers, clinicians, and the community to understand Mattie Miracle's commitment and vision on the national level.  

As Peter reminded me today..... I work hard to raise funds. I am clear on Mattie Miracle's vision, and therefore am the right person to set the research vision for these grants. For a brief moment today I was happy and proud. That everything is tied beautifully together..... my hard work raising money, being able to personally direct this money to research, and knowing that this research will help carry out our mission which is ultimately to change the direction of cancer care for children in our country. 

August 2, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. It was Mattie's first admission to the hospital, in order to start the first round of chemotherapy. I will never forget that first week. Honestly all three of us weren't sure what to expect, how to manage this, and our fears were impossible to quantify! However, it was in the early days of diagnosis that we met Linda, Mattie's child life specialist. Linda quickly became a vital part of our treatment team. As you can see, Linda set up a painting station in the middle of the PICU hallway, right outside Mattie's room. Linda knew exactly how to engage Mattie and in the process created for us moments of peace and happiness in between a lot of horror.


Quote of the day: We won't always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What's important is that you do care and you act. ~ Charlotte Lunsford 


Last night three of my friends took me to the Wharf in DC for dinner. The Wharf is a whole new mixed-use development in South West Washington, DC. It is amazing how this development has revitalized the waterfront. It is a far cry from the dilapidated restaurants that used to fill this area. 

We had a lovely waiter last night who walked us through the tapas menu and guided our experience quite well. We dined at Del Mar, which is part of a restaurant group that I like in DC. However, I would say this restaurant has some work to do to match the quality of its sister restaurants. The food was good, but sparse given the exorbitant prices. 
Meanwhile, check out my view today. Someone was NOT happy! As soon as Sunny heard the intense rain and then the thunder, he basically pushed me aside to get under my desk. He spent several hours on there while I was working. 



August 1, 2018

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in July of 2009. Mattie was home between treatments and as you can see he wanted to help us paint the deck. In fact, Mattie was a good painter. Every spring he would help us paint the deck when he was well and the beauty of Mattie was he was a neat painter. As this photo illustrates, Mattie could no longer stand and three out of his four limbs were still recovering from limb salvaging surgery. So the left leg, known as "Curious George," pitched in that day to help with the deck. The irony was that Mattie's left leg worked as well as an arm and the foot was like a hand. Absolutely amazing how other body parts can compensate for those injured or not functioning. 


Quote of the day: I wish I had done everything on earth with you.F. Scott Fitzgerald


Every July, the Hallmark Movie Channel plays Christmas movies. When they first started doing this years ago I thought it was odd. But now having watched them each summer, I get the point. Christmas is not just a day, but it evokes a feeling. It is that feeling that Hallmark tries to bring to its viewers during the hot days of summer.

Last night, we watched "Switched for Christmas." Peter is a good sport and does indeed watch these movies with me. Which I appreciate, as watching a movie alone isn't as fun. In any case, the movie's premise is about twins who decide to stitch lives for a few weeks. One of them has a high powered job, lives in the city, and isn't married and doesn't have children. Whereas the other woman is a teacher and a single mom of two living in the suburbs. The point of me telling you this is not necessarily to promote the movie, but to explain that even while watching a Hallmark movie about Christmas, we are impacted by the loss of Mattie. In fact, at one point, we paused the movie to talk. 

Christmas is much more than trees, decorations, parties, gifts, and cookies! All of these things are wonderful, but any major holiday tends to evoke memories. Memories that can be captured through listening to a song, watching a movie (like a Charlie Brown's Christmas), or eating certain foods and partaking in activities that were shared with family and friends over the years. These traditions land up swirling around in our heads and are a part of our life story. The thing is, once you are a parent, one of the gifts you provide your children are shared traditions and memories. As we see these Hallmark Christmas movies, it causes us to pause and once again visually see how different our lives are. How sad that we can't pass done family thoughts, traditions, and activities to Mattie, and of course make new one together. 

So taking this a step further, it is very apparent to me why bereaved parents are not exactly in love with the holidays. Even if the holidays are being conveyed in only a movie. Yet I love Hallmark movies. I suppose they could depress others because the scenes and sentiments portrayed in many of them are not realistic. Instead, what is captured is a more perfect world. A world where there is no traffic, where people talk and listen to each other, where valuing time and communication with others are tantamount, and well for me.... I always envy those wonderful cookies and baked goods that seem integrated into every Hallmark movie. In Hallmark land people bake, cook, share time together, and at the end of the day there is ALWAYS a happy ending. The running joke Peter has with me is I have to move into a Hallmark movie. Yes indeed, if only it was that easy. 

July 31, 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018 -- Mattie died 463 weeks ago today.

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. Mattie was outside in the Hospital commons area showing his cousins this amazing rock garden. I am not sure it was actually a garden, but let's put it this way..... there were a lot of stones surrounding the periphery of the medical library and all of them caught Mattie's attention. He loved to go look at the stones and I must say on two occasions, we left the garden with  stones in tow. You can see in this photo, Mattie was picking up stones and checking them out. One day during Mattie's treatment, and it was a very bad day, we went outside and Mattie came back to his room with a very large stone. Most of the time I was able to convince Mattie not to take a stone, but that day, if the stone brought him happiness, it was coming with us! This stone remains in our front hallway today, as we use it to prop our door on warm weather days. 


Quote of the day: I have learned now that while those who speak about one's miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more. C. S. Lewis


I would imagine that the average person who interacts with me isn't aware of my chronic daily pain. Not just one pain, I have several. For 16 years, I haven't known a day without some sort of headache. I marvel at people who tell me they have never had a headache! That is pain number one. Then pain number two is from fibromyalgia, which is basically over active nerves that produce pain in the neck, back, arms and legs. If those two aren't bad enough, now I add pain number three..... I have a torn labrum. 

Peter went with me today to the orthopedic surgeon's office. The doctor I was referred to is considered the guru in labrum tears in Washington, DC. He performs about 8 surgeries on the labrum weekly. In any case, my appointment was for 3:30pm. When I arrived the receptionist told me they tried to call me but couldn't get a hold of me. They said the doctor was running late. So I asked what number they called, and of course they did not have my correct call phone number. Problem number one! Problem two was that the office staff did not manage expectations for patients in the waiting area.

When I asked the receptionist what late means.... I said late like my urologist which translates into 2-3 hours late, or 30-40 minutes late. She responded.... NO not hours, but maybe 40 minutes at most. Needless to say we waited over two hours. But we weren't the only ones. We started talking to other patients in the waiting area and befriended two. We shared stories, pains, and frustrations together, as well as questions we all wanted to ask the doctor. They were not happy waiting either and frankly we felt this wasn't managed well by the staff who did not level set our expectations from the beginning. Why tell us 40 minutes, when they knew it would be hours?!

Needless to say I went back up to talk with the staff two hours into waiting and told them I wasn't the only unhappy patient. Literally they left patients alone for so long that we formed a support group with each other. The staff got what I was saying and the next patient called back was me. I hate to say this but in healthcare, the loudest voice gets the most attention. It shouldn't be this way, but it is!

Fortunately the doctor was nice. Harried but nice. He explained that I have a significant labrum tear, in which the entire cartilage would need to be replaced. It gets replaced with an animal cartilage, not something synthetic. However, he feels that surgery should always be the last resort. Therefore I will continue on anti-inflammatory meds and do physical therapy two times a week for 12 weeks. He actually wanted to give me a cortisone injection in the hip today, but I said no. Given that I am going back to Los Angeles next week, I do not want to be deviating from my current med routine. So I will begin this regimen in late August and see him in September, for a cortisone shot. 

The doctor is uncertain how I got this, but believes it has been brewing for years given the calcifications that are growing around the tears. With that said, the goal is to reduce the inflammation. He thinks that if that gets reduced my pain will be less. He says that people can live with torn labrums, without having surgery. But the question is can I get to that point where the inflammation gets significantly reduced? Time will tell. I also asked him whether more activity can further the tear. The answer was yes. So until I am stabilized I can not do zumba and any high impact activities. Things I like to do and that help with fibromyalgia pain.  

So what's a labrum tear? 

A hip labral tear involves the ring of cartilage (labrum) that follows the outside rim of the socket of your hip joint. In addition to cushioning the hip joint, the labrum acts like a rubber seal or gasket to help hold the ball at the top of your thighbone securely within your hip socket.

Athletes who participate in such sports as ice hockey, soccer, football, golf and ballet are at higher risk of developing a hip labral tear. 

Symptoms

  • A locking, clicking or catching sensation in your hip joint
  • Pain in your hip or groin
  • Stiffness or limited range of motion in your hip joint

Treatment

Treatment choices will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Some people recover with conservative treatments in a few weeks, while others may require arthroscopic surgery to repair or remove the torn portion of the labrum.

Medications

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), can relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Pain can also be controlled temporarily with an injection of corticosteroids into the joint.

Therapy

A physical therapist can teach you exercises to maximize hip range of motion and hip strength and stability. Therapists can also analyze the movements you perform that put stress on your hip joint and help you avoid these forces.

Surgical and other procedures

If conservative treatments don't relieve your symptoms, your doctor may recommend arthroscopic surgery — in which a fiber-optic camera and surgical tools are inserted via small incisions in your skin.


July 30, 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. By that point, Mattie was a month into treatment. That weekend, Mattie's cousins from Boston visited him. It was a lovely day, so instead of sitting in the hospital room, we asked Mattie's nurse, Miki, if we could go outside the building on the second floor commons area. Miki understood immediately the importance of having this outside time and time to connect in a less threatening environment. The decision to go outside was great for us, but for Miki that meant more work. As she had to set a timer to come down the elevator and outside to check Mattie's IV and take his vitals periodically. We will always be grateful to Mattie's outstanding nurses who understood that effective care had to be delivered in a compassionate and humanistic manner. 


Quote of the day: You know, once you’ve stood up to cancer, everything else feels like a pretty easy fight. ~ David H. Koch


This weekend, I received an email from a cancer friend in Canada. He asked whether I could retrieve an article for him. What am I talking about? Well most of us have access to articles in newspapers and magazines. But scientific or peer review articles are materials that are harder to find. Why? Because in order to read such research, you need to have a way to access these journals. Certainly one could go into a public library and work that route. But what an educational/research institution has access to will far surpasses what you can get in your neighborhood library. 

It is thanks to one of the faculty members at my alma mater, The George Washington (GW) University, that I will have indefinite access to their on-line library collection. A gift that is hard to put a price tag on, because we couldn't afford such a yearly subscription to all these databases as a private citizen. GW considers me a permanent visiting scholar, which enables me to access scientific articles from all around the world. I am not sure why GW has done this for me. It could be my years of service at the University, as I did a lot of work there during and after I completed my PhD. Or perhaps some of the faculty are in support of the work that the Foundation does and understands in order to continue this research, I need access to peer review materials. Which ever the reason, I am grateful. 

So when my friend wrote to me on Sunday, within minutes I was able to search GW's system and I downloaded the article for him. The article was entitled, Family Is Who They Say They Are: Examining the Effects of Cancer on the Romantic Partners of Adolescents and Young Adults (to see the abstract:
http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1074840718786985). It is amazing to me that with a couple of clicks on the computer, one can have access to so much material. As I remember when working on my doctorate, so much involved visiting the university library, searching for actual journals in the bookshelves, and making xerox copies of articles to read at home. GONE are those days! In fact a student never has to leave the comfort of one's home anymore to write a research paper. 

I love when people send me links to articles, because what I usually do is skim or read them. It exposes me to more material than I may find on my own. What was intriguing about this article was it focused upon the psychosocial consequences of the romantic partner. A partner involved in a relationship with an adolescent or young adult who has cancer. Typically only the child/teen and family members have been the focus of research. But this article makes a very valid case for why this circle needs to be expanded because there is a profound effect on the partner. 

The article discussed in length why some romantic relationships are severed with a childhood cancer diagnosis (e.g., the diagnosis is just too much for the partner to manage and walks away) and some remain intact (e.g., the partner felt as if he/she was embraced by the family and loved this special connection and bond). As I was reading this article the first thing that dawned on me was that this research applies to friends too. Not just romantic partners. I lost many friends during Mattie's journey, and though I don't dwell on it, a part of me always wonders? I wonder, how did my friends walk away from our long term friendship because what I was dealing with was too much for others to handle emotionally? 

I have no answers. The article talks about not judging those who walk away. Of course they are specifically talking about teenagers who are walking away, and I am talking about adults. I can try to be empathetic and not to judge their actions but it leaves me wondering as to the quality and depth of those relationships. 

July 29, 2018

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Tonight's picture was taken in August of 2008. Mattie was in his first month of treatment, yet his art therapists already knew what he liked to do at the art table in the outpatient clinic. They understood he loved Scooby Doo. So they literally traced a Scooby Doo scene on a ceiling tile and invited Mattie to paint it in. This was a project that all three of us did together and when it was done, the tile went up on the ceiling of a clinic room. Mattie spent many hours in that clinic room not feeling well, so we had ample time to admire his artistic style. But the point to the story was the role art played in our lives during treatment. It kept us talking, working together, and was an outstanding diversion from dealing with the stress of cancer. 


Quote of the day: Art can permeate the very deepest part of us, where no words exist. ~ Eileen Miller


First-year medical students discussing Dallas Chaos II (1982) by Peter Dean, Blanton Museum of Art. Photo by Siobhan McCusker.
About two weeks ago my lifetime friend, Karen, sent me a link to an article entitled, Why Med Schools Are Requiring Art Classes. Naturally the title was intriguing, and I imagine Karen sent it to me because I have taught art to several different kindergarten classes at Mattie's school, after he died. In addition to that, Karen knows of my intense experience with the 
medical profession. 

If you wish to read this article for yourself, click on:
https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-med-schools-requiring-art-classes


Certainly we aren't going to our physicians for their knowledge or perspective on art. But that is not why art is being integrated into medical curriculum. Instead, through viewing, creating, and interpreting art, medical students have been found to develop better communication with patients by developing insights on subjects like mental illness and cognitive bias.

I think there are many reasons why the human component of medicine has been removed from the profession. One reason is for self preservation purposes. If doctors separate themselves from the person, then it becomes a whole lot easier to just look at data and facts and treat that accordingly. After all dealing with human emotions and reactions to treatment is time consuming and labor intensive. However, without understanding the person's thoughts, lifestyle, and feelings, it becomes very hard to effectively prescribe and treat a person medically. Another reason is students are rewarded in their medical training for being dispassionate and neutral and are flagged when they spend too much time with their patients talking. Third, the sheer fact of timing and demand must be factored in. Doctors are expected to see a countless number of patients in a short period of time, making it logistically impossible to get to observe and listen to patients. In fact, health insurers reward doctors for doing just that.... seeing patients and arriving at a diagnosis quickly. 

In a medical training program at Penn State, art has been a part of their curriculum since the 1960's. It was the first medical school in the Country to provide such holistic experiences. For example, in a course at Penn State, one student is given a postcard with a famous Impressionist painting on it, while the other student, who cannot see the card, stands at a canvas with a paintbrush in hand, and must ask their partner questions about the painting in order to reproduce it. The painter becomes like the physician who’s taking a history and trying to get information from the patient. They experience firsthand how much easier it is to gain information when you ask open-ended questions, when you stop and let that patient tell their story.

When Dr. Flanagan (a professor at Penn State who teaches fourth year med students) was interviewed, he said, "it’s not just a nice idea to incorporate humanities into medical schools to make the education more interesting. It’s protecting and maintaining students’ empathy so that by the time they go off to practice medicine, they’re still empathetic individuals.” He notes that while medical students traditionally enter their first year with very high levels of empathy, after three years, research has shown, the exposure to content around death and suffering can cause those levels to plummet. Engagement in the humanities can rectify this problem.

At the most basic level, these exercises in close observation help to improve diagnostic skills—priming students to identify visual symptoms of illness or injury in patients, and (hopefully) preventing them from making misguided assumptions. But it’s also about delving beneath face value. I am pleased to hear about the integration of art into medical curriculum, because my experiences with healthcare clearly illustrates that something is just NOT right. There is a huge disconnect from doctors and their patients and I believe doctors miss over 75% of what is going on with a patient because the doctor doesn't spend the time getting to know the person in front of them. 

In addition to a diagnosis and treatment issue that can result from this lack of communication, the issue of trust and adherence to treatment also comes into play. If we feel like our doctor isn't listening and getting to know us, how compliant will we be with his/her orders? The answer is compliance/adherence is severely impacted. 

Overall, I can count on one hand the number of doctors I have experienced in my lifetime who take the time to listen and have empathy and compassion. What rolls around in my mind is the countless times Mattie complained of pain while in the hospital. Instead of the majority of doctors taking it seriously, they instead told me.... It's not possible. They pronounced that Mattie was either addicted to pain meds or was manipulating me. At the end of the day, they were VERY wrong. I wonder if they ever reflect back on their poor behavior with me or their clear misjudgment???? I am sure not!!! But that's a problem. No reflection, no processing, and no learning from one patient to another. Frankly I am not sure an art class can change this! You can train a person to learn skills, but you can't train a person to be HUMAN. You either have it or you don't and in my opinion the medical profession sifts out those who have this humanistic quality.