Disorientation

Alok A. Khorana

Disclosures

Health Affairs. 2008;27(4):1154 

In This Article

There is snow outside the kitchen door. It covers the deck in white sheets, unbroken except for the occasional paw print, and it cascades off the steps in thick, soft layers onto the pine trees in our backyard. Inside, our home hums with the usual Sunday evening flurry of activity. My wife is coordinating dinner with homework—both hers and the children's. In the background, I hear my two-year-old son trying to entice the dog to sit by offering her a treat. This is no small task, given that the dog weighs nearly three times as much as he does. But he has learnt early to stand ground before his three older siblings—my stepsons—who both tower over him and dote on him, and he is practicing this skill on the dog with some flair.

I contemplate the busy week ahead: a looming grant submission deadline, a talk to second-year medical students, a day trip to a nearby cancer center to give a research talk. And, of course, patients. I help run a busy gastrointestinal oncology program (a subspecialty within a subspecialty), and my overflowing clinics threaten to spill onto all other parts of my job.

All of this—a life of academia, of family, of life in snowy upstate New York—is in one sense routine, ordinary even. But when my mind takes pause, it is always with a sense of wonderment at what distances have been traveled, what has been achieved, and what has been left behind

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