did go to Dartmouth College but was a French major and stayed well away from any courses that could be considered prerequisites for medical school (which I attended only some years later).
I'd like to thank you for sending me DM nonetheless. I do read it and sometimes find in it an article of unique value as, for example, the cover feature ("The Poetry of Caregiving") in the Spring issue—about poet Donald Hall and his wife and fellow poet, Jane Kenyon, who died in 1995.
The story, as told by Susan Salter Reynolds and photographed for DM by Jon Gilbert Fox, is indelible. Please convey my thanks to all concerned and, above all, to Donald Hall.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Dartmouth College '52
Poetry and passion
Thank you for your timely and pertinent story about Donald Hall and the poetry of caregiving. It is timely because the professions of medicine and nursing are under unprecedented technologic, financial, and organizational stresses that are inexorably diluting the intricately human vocation of giving care.
Today, it is all too easy for true caregiving to be minimized or displaced. This remains a subtle but real threat to what is the best in all of us. Donald Hall and Jane Kenyon for many years represented the epitome of poetry and passion, but they always seemed like our New Hampshire neighbors. Hall's caring for his wife as she lay dying at DHMC and his subsequent loving elegies, which connect her nursing and medical caregivers to this remarkable couple, seem extraordinary in a very natural way.
It seems right that Donald Hall, who could eloquently bring an autumn hayfield to vibrant life, could link us so easily to the depth of grief and loss that he felt at our doorstep. It seems right that this couple, our neighbors, would experience not just calamity but ultimate caring here with our people.
Hall and Kenyon are not merely our neighbors or our patients—they are us. Their story is our story. Their caregiving is our caregiving. Their gift is our gift. Their gift echoes our privilege, the privilege thatmust never be assumed or minimized or displaced, no matter how oppressive the stressors. This privilege is why we caregivers go to what we call our work, this privilege to care while we give care.
Our neighbors, Don Hall and Jane Kenyon, gently remind us of how we, in turn, quietly receive care in each of our caregiving moments. Thank you for your story reminding us of their, and our, love stories.
William Toms, M.D., M.P.H.
Toms is the retired medical director of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic in Keene and a poet himself. As it happens, a collection of his work makes up one of the features in this issue—see "So Can You".
Grateful for expertise
Kristine Pattin [a graduate student in molecular and cellular biology and the author of a piece in our Winter 2007 issue about her experience with Cushing's disease] is my daughter. My husband and I wish to acknowledge the team of doctors involved in her treatment and ongoing recovery.
We were not familiar with Cushing's
disease and were overwhelmed and frightened by the diagnosis of a pituitary tumor and the numerous side effects Krissy experienced. We'd like to thank Dr. Lee Witters [a DMS endocrinologist and the author of an associated feature about neurosurgeon Harvey Cushing and DMS's founder, Nathan Smith] for referring Krissy to Dr. Jack Turco. We are forever grateful to Dr. Turco for his expertise in Cushing's disease, for the personal care and endless hours he made available to Krissy, and for his kind demeanor in helping to allay our fears.
We are also appreciative of the phenomenal team that operated on Krissy at DHMC—neurosurgeon Dr. Nathan Simmons, otolaryngologist Dr. Benoit Gosselin, and laparoscopic surgeon Dr. William Laycock. All of them have contributed to Krissy's progress and ongoing recovery from her illness. They have allowed her to be proactive and to interact with them in determining her course of treatment. We felt confident and comfortable with the skilled surgical care they provided our daughter.
I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention the competent care and attentiveness Krissy received from the nurses and other staff during her hospitalizations.
My husband and I thought Dr. Witters's article about Cushing was exceptional. We enjoyed learning more about this great neurosurgeon who pioneered the surgery Krissy had and about his connections with Dartmouth. We are grateful that Krissy had the opportunity to relate her experiences with Cushing's disease in Dartmouth Medicine and hope that her article may help others who face the same illness.
Finally, we are very proud of Krissy's positive attitude, determination, and proactive approach in dealing with her illness and are most appreciative for all of the support she has received while at Dartmouth.
A tale about tails
Many thanks for, and heartiest congratulations on, the feature about Elmer Pfefferkorn in your Spring issue. The writing and the many fascinating facts, as well as the layout, were exceptional.
I would like to add one brief story not mentioned in the article: In 1989, when Michael Bishop won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, he not only