Medicine from the heart . . . Pamela Adelstein on the Boston Marathon bombings

May 2, 2013

It is fitting this week to have some thoughts about the horrible tragedy in Boston recently. This memo is from Pam Adelstein, MD, faculty member at Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, who always has a reflective view of what is happening around her and how it relates to her, her family, the community and her patients.—Hugh Silk, MD

Reflections on Marathon Monday

adelstein-pamelaI remember the first Boston Marathon I attended after moving to the mile 20 area.

I thought it would be no big deal, watching runners. Instead I watched in awe, holding back tears.

I met a woman who recently immigrated from China, and we smiled and gestured to our young babies, and she gave me her bell to ring to cheer the runners on.

Connections made, the world felt right.

I remember the first half-marathon I ran, what it meant to me, a goal of mine accomplished jubilantly.

And the love I felt for my husband, two young daughters and friends who came to cheer me on.

Running, the rhythmic pounding of the pavement, brings me peace, time for contemplation.

I remember the moment we told our daughters of the horrific events of Monday, knowing this would be yet one more event that further shattered the innocence of childhood.

Our eight year old daughter, resilient, curious, tried to cheer up her sister.

Our eleven year old daughter cried, scared, trying to understand. Curling up in a ball on the couch, she hugged me tightly.

I remember learning that an eight-year-old boy from Dorchester was killed.

I have an eight year old child.

I work in Dorchester.

So close to home, painfully so.

I remember going to work on Tuesday, listening to everyone's stories—patients and staff.

I cared for patients who were a bit more vulnerable than they had been on Sunday:

A woman with a controlling boyfriend, a woman who doesn't leave her room, a man who usually drives a bus filled with runners from the finish line to the House of Blues for celebration—he drove his bus back to the garage instead, after waiting and waiting.

I remember the comfort of friends and family calling from near and far, and the hugs exchanged with those around me.

I remember telling my children we will protect them the best we can, that there are bad guys out there but there are more good guys than bad guys, that the biggest act of defiance is to live and remember.

More Medicine from the heart from Pam Adelstein on UMassMedNow:

Disparities and Ironies
Being present for people's stories

On Thursdays, the Daily Voice showcases selected Thursday Morning Memos, reflective essays about clinical experiences written by faculty, alumni, residents and students of the Department of Family Medicine & Community Health and, occasionally, contributors from other departments. Thursday Morning Memos is UMass Medical School’s homegrown version of narrative medicine, in which the authors process their experiences through writing. To learn more, visit:

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