On Wednesday night, Henry Seidel died. Henry was a profoundly gentle, judicious and thoughtful man who had a powerful impact on many who had the privilege of knowing him. To me, Henry was a loving grandfather, who I learned an incredible amount from and with whom I shared the same birthday. He died at the age of 87 after three years of suffering from lymphoma. My grandmother and I were by his side and I had the opportunity to thank him for all of the gifts he gave us and assure him that we would carry on the lessons, values and stories he taught us–and that we would create new stories.
This excerpt from Henry’s obituary captures some of the values he held so deeply and imparted on his students, grandchildren and others…
“Like all good clinicians, Seidel knew that medicine is not an exact science. He taught his students that the human condition is marked by variability. He warned students of the perils of being too exact or too mechanical in their diagnosis and treatment, advising them to acknowledge uncertainty. He urged young doctors not to be afraid to share that uncertainty with their patients and to ‘enlist the patient as an ally in the pursuit of solutions,’ he wrote in a 2007 essay for JAMA.
Taking a patient history and doing a physical exam, Seidel believed, should always involve ‘the story of a person, unique in time, not just a patient with a chief complaint.’
According to long-time colleagues, Seidel believed that a doctor’s mission was not only to treat the sick but also to better the system that sometimes failed those who needed it most. A true humanist, he believed empathy to be at least as important a skill for a doctor as clinical expertise and scientific knowledge.”
If you’re interested in reading the full text of the obituary quoted above, you can find it here: http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/henry-seidel-obituary.aspx
Here are the obituaries from the Baltimore Sun: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2010-03-27/news/bal-md.ob.ho.seidel27mar27_1_dr-seidel-medical-students-medical-school
and Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/28/AR2010032802298.html
My mind and heart are focused on Grandpa Henry’s life and legacy this week, so I’m going to wrap the weekly digest here. If you are looking for news about my writing, click here and to see twitter updates from the week, click here.
Until next week, take care, let people in your family (biological or chosen) know you love ‘em, and keep husslin.