Valerie Brooke, MD
The pandemic has brought me back to my passion for writing
The other day I was on a Zoom call with a group of friends and we were sharing creative projects we had been working on during our forced social isolation. Some were creating visual art like painting or drawing; others were crocheting or making crafts; and even others were singing or returning to their instruments. As I listened, I felt an intense longing.
I thought to myself, I could try to paint, watercolor, learn to knit or play the guitar, something creative to stir my soul and relieve my stress in a healthy way. Then I remembered: Wait a minute--I am a writer! I already have a creative outlet. I just need to pick up my pen, or more precisely, open up my laptop and get my fingers moving. And whenever I am able to tap into my internal river of words, I am satisfied.
Thirteen years ago, I started a blog entitled “A Journey Through Medical School,” wherein I chronicled the mostly arduous and sometimes joyful process of becoming a physician. I made the decision to go to medical school as a 35-year-old mother, wife, small-business owner, massage therapist, and believer in natural medicine. In short, I was the last type of person one would expect to go to western allopathic medical school. I continued to write about my unique experiences throughout medical school as well as the first few years of residency (the “practice” years a physician has in between medical school and when one is finally on her own as a doctor), until the demands upon my time became too great and my writing came to a standstill, put aside for what I believed were more important tasks as I grew into my new persona of physician.
Now I realize the time has come to return to my writing, once again to pay attention to my inner voice and to share the inside lens I have as a physician. I wish to open up my experiences to my friends, my family, and those who are interested in understanding what it’s like to be a physician in such a tumultuous time, during a worldwide pandemic. I’m not just wanting to share the hard-to-hear stories of loss and struggle, which dominate our news and social apps, but also to share the brighter stories of grace and selflessness, the less visible, quieter moments.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way I practice medicine and live my life. It has returned me to my passion for writing. It has made me dig deeply into my reserves of patience, love, compassion, and kindness, not only for my patients but for myself, my family, and my friends. I am, surprisingly and for the first time, appreciative of how hard medical school and residency was, how it prepared me to be a good physician during this global pandemic, and an even better human.
When you do something from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy...