Hektoen International (A Journal of Medical Humanities), "The aftermath of trauma"

“I try to stay in this moment: Dave, my patient, is telling me about his Saturday trip to the mall. His cheeks are slightly red with the heat of jubilation, and his voice is louder than usual, propelled by a mixture of excitement and disbelief. In the drafty space of my tiny office, he spills the details of his expedition: he had navigated the flow of human traffic from JC Penney to Sears and from Old Navy to the men’s bathroom without becoming drenched in sweat—some flutters in his chest of course, but no more heart-thumping panic. Instead of reflexive rage and verbal threats, the accidental brushing of shoulders or treading on toes he had tolerated with a no-worries attitude. His brain had not translated the hustle and bustle of a holiday crowd as danger; a man wearing a backpack did not imply a suicide bomber; and unattended shopping bags were no longer harbingers of death. The fused aroma of fresh-baked pizza, cinnamon pretzels, and salty French fries wafting from the food court was, once again, enticing. The thwack of our high five that marks the end of this session—this sound I try to retain…”


ArticlesNick Courage