Personal Projects in Health and Illness
ByAmy H. Peterman, Len Lecci
Pages 26

It is 8:00 a.m. Monday morning and several patients are sitting in the outer office of a medical clinic waiting for their names to be called. Nearest to the reception desk is Bryan, a 45-year-old writer and father of two children who recently separated from his wife after a 14-year marriage. He is no stranger to the clinic, frequenting its waiting room for countless visits, and his days are filled with numerous illness-related projects. Yet this is by no means a routine experience from an emotional standpoint. In fact, he is particularly apprehensive about today’s appointment. Although Bryan has been reasonably healthy his entire life, he cannot seem to shake the belief that there is something seriously wrong with him. This morning, he is scheduled to see Dr. Watkinson to get the results of a prostate exam. This is his third exam, with the two previous tests resulting in no unusual findings. Earlier this year, Bryan was convinced that he had a cancerous tumor in his brain, and was heard commenting frequently that it was so large that he could feel it when he blinked. That too proved to be a false alarm. The nurses, who know him by name, assure him that today will be like all other days, and the end result will be fine.