The Healing Power Of The Word Co-Survivor

KKH Trailer Wide


Will: [00:00:00] Knock, knock, hi! Knock,

knock, hi!

Hello everybody! Welcome to Knock, Knock, Hi! with the Glockenfleckens! I am Dr. Glockenflecken, also known as Will Flannery. 

Kristin: I am Lady Glockenflecken, also known as Kristen Flannery. We 

Will: are the Flanneries, we are the Glockenfleckens, and we are so excited to have you with us today. It is May. It’s end of May.

It’s it’s graduation season. 

Kristin: It sure is Sorry, I’m just a little choked up over all the graduations happening. They’re so beautiful 

Will: I gotta say they are wonderful. 

Kristin: They really are. They’re a lot of fun. 

Will: They’re 

Kristin: so like optimistic and hopeful. 

Will: Oh, it’s great I I try to do I do usually like one maybe two Graduation like commencement addresses.

I spent this past weekend Really writing [00:01:00] a lot and trying to come up with something inspirational. 

Kristin: Yeah. I haven’t gotten to read it yet, so I don’t know if it, TBD on how well you did. I’m not, 

Will: I’m not quite done with it, but, um, uh, I’m excited for you. I will definitely have you read it. Cause I want to make sure like I’m coming off of the right tone.

Right. What, uh, what do you remember about my med school graduation? 

Kristin: Oh, I remember thinking, finally! No, um, what do I remember? We had a little baby. She was, like, one. 

Will: Okay. 

Kristin: Um. 

Will: What else do you remember? 

Kristin: I remember your family coming in and all the fun and festivities. And I think we put your face on a cake.

Will: Yeah, there was 

Kristin: like a crazy picture of you holding a stethoscope and it was like a Let me be your doctor. Kind of a cake. 

Will: So you know what you didn’t say is that you remember the commencement [00:02:00] address , which is exactly what I was the point I was about to make. 

Kristin: I do remember the commencement address at my own grad school.

Of course it was because that was Conan O’Brien. It was Co O’Brien. That was pretty cool. . 

Will: So in the back of my mind, I’m thinking, okay, well. I’m writing this commencement address that I think is, I think is pretty good. Yeah. But, uh, you know, like 10, 15, 20 years from now, like, they’re going to be like, I think it was, I think it was from a guy on TikTok.

Kristin: Yeah. I don’t exactly 

Will: remember. It’s 

Kristin: not necessarily about being remembered. It’s, it’s about them, not you. No, of course. But if they take away your, your core message and they just sort of carry that with them after the day, yeah. 

Will: Carried around in their hearts. 

Kristin: Right. 

Will: I don’t, I don’t know. It’s not for me.

Like I want to give something that people will actually remember. Right. I’m 

Kristin: just saying, I think it’s okay if people don’t remember who their commencement speakers are, because it’s really not 

Will: [00:03:00] I do remember my commencement speaker. I remember it was, um, Abraham Verghese. 

Kristin: Oh, that’s a good one. Yeah, 

Will: I don’t remember anything he said, but I do remember who it was 

Kristin: Yeah, 

Will: and I think that’s kind of the point sometimes 

Kristin: sometimes.

Uh, I don’t know about that But I’m sure whatever he said was very good and eloquent 

Will: Yeah, I do it made me feel like like excited for my career, right? I think that’s the 

Kristin: point send these people out into the world, 

Will: but it is, you know, we do a lot of speaking There’s there’s just nothing like like Being in that atmosphere is it everyone just so excited 

Kristin: and they’re so happy 

Will: You’ve worked so hard to get to this point and 

Kristin: there’s happy proud tears from parents It’s just a really fun thing 

Will: and if in a lot of times these the ceremonies are outdoors, which is always just beautiful weather It’s great some 

Kristin: places 

Will: some places not Portland.

Sorry anybody who has a Commencement address here. My goodness Well [00:04:00] our speaking of writing, you know, we have a we have a writer 

Kristin: we do So excited. So 

Will: you’re so pumped for this. 

Kristin: Yes To the fact that like or to the point I don’t feel very good today as is probably very clear to people But I was not gonna miss this because I had been waiting and waiting for it.

She’s just Such an interesting person with an interesting story. Um, and she works with medical students and residents on writing and humanities and medicine. 

Will: You’re gonna hear people saying, well who is it? My goodness. Yes. It’s Laurel Braetman, PhD. She’s a writer teacher. Also, oh, one thing I forgot to ask her about was this, uh, being a chaplain in training.

Kristin: Yes. She’s a secular hospital chaplain in training. I’m not sure if she’s finished her training or not. 

Will: We’ll have to have her come back on sometime later and talk about that. Uh, but she’s the author of a brand new memoir. What looks like bravery, an epic journey through loss and, uh, [00:05:00] through loss. And as a New York Times, has a New York Times bestselling book, Animal Madness Inside Their Minds.

So she’s got a doctorate in history and anthropology of science from MIT and is the director of writing and storytelling at the Stanford School of Medicine’s medical humanities and the arts program. Awesome. So really fun conversation. Uh, we learned a lot, learned a lot about writing, uh, and, uh, just expressing yourself in that way and all the different ways.

And so, 

Kristin: well, and specifically like why medical professionals should be doing that and what benefit you get from it. 

Will: Yeah. So fun conversation. Should we get to it? 

Kristin: Let’s 

music: go. 

Kristin: All 

Will: right. Here is Dr. Laurel Breitman.

Today’s episode is brought to you by the Nuance Dragon Ambient Experience or DAX for short, look at this little DAX here, to learn about how DAX copilot can help reduce burnout and restore the joy of practicing [00:06:00] medicine. Stick around after the episode or visit nuance. DAX. That’s N U A N C E dot com slash discover D A X.

All right, we are here with Dr. Laurel Breitman. Dr. Breitman, thank you so much for joining us today. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: I am so excited. I can’t handle it. 

Kristin: Oh, me too, because I’ve decided that I, I’m sorry that you’re hearing it this way, but we are best friends and I would like to learn from you. 

Will: She has decided that you are best friends.

It’s, it’s, I’m telling you, she, because, you know, Kristen is, I mean, your book is great, but Kristen is 

Kristin: I feel like we’re like, like, soul sisters or something like we just have a lot in, in, of very weird specific things, uh, that are not exactly the same but are very similar, right? We’ve got a lot of weird things in [00:07:00] common.

Uh, so it’s not very often that I find someone whose life resonates so much with me. So, to me it feels, you know, just, just very like, I don’t know, cosmic or something. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: I’m so grateful. I feel the exact same way and I’m glad we’ve made it official now. Yeah, I’ll be sending you your little half heart necklace So we can wear it with pride.

music: Yes. 

Will: Well, I I have I have a question for you You know, I play all these different characters on my social media, you know, from, from medicine and, um, you know, whenever I don’t have a character for a given specialty, people just continuously remind me of that. And like, where’s the plastic surgeon? Where’s the, whatever the other things are.

I don’t know. But one of them, I think you could help me with. And that’s the Cardiothoracic Surgeon. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Oh God. [00:08:00] 

Will: Because as, as I’m sure we’ll talk about today, uh, cause it’s a big part of your book, obviously, is, is your father was a Cardiothoracic Surgeon. So. Yes. So, can you help me out a little bit here? 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: I would, I would start with your amazing ED, um, doc, and then I would turn the dial as far away as you could possibly get.

Like, like, if there’s like the cool bro in a bike helmet that just wants to have a beer and like let the maintenance guy like drain an abscess, then, then, then as far away from that would be your cardiothoracic surgeon, like, like the most. But like with a little cowboy, and I say that with male, female, they, whatever, there is like, hmm, a little bit of like God complex mixed with like intense, at least in my experience, interest in like irrigation and mechanics.

Oh, okay. Well, that makes sense. But I’m [00:09:00] not sure about outfit. You know, that probably changes with the time. Scrubs, but I don’t know, like, my dad was a big suit guy. Oh, wow. Oh, okay. He loved his suits, and he would rock them with, like, the cowboy snap tee, snap shirt, you know? So, 

Will: so would he, would he, like, go to the hospital wearing a suit?

Yes. And then he would change into his scrubs, and, okay, see, because now, like, everybody just wears scrubs all the time. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: I know. It’s sort of like air travel. You know what I mean? Like, I think we’ve just gotten more casual across the board. We have 

Kristin: all devolved into just day pajamas all the time. Everybody wants to be 

Will: comfortable.

I think I did have one video a long time ago where I, I did like a first day of cardiothoracic surgery, but all it was, it was really quick. And all I did was, um, uh, compare, uh, the, the field of cardiothoracic surgery to hell. So I, I don’t know, I didn’t really go into detail beyond that. Uh, maybe I could expand on that or maybe you could expand on that for me.[00:10:00] 

Honestly, what was it? I, I, I’d be, I’m curious, what was it like to, to live, you know, in a house with a cardiothoracic surgeon? 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: You know, magnificent and challenging, like, like, uh, like all of the best things in life. You know, I will tell you this. I thought that it was just my childhood, right? Like every kid grows up and believing that whatever they’re growing up with is, you know, their family cosmology is the world’s cosmology.

And then I sat in as an adult on an ethics meeting, um, at the hospital at Stanford and we are not supposed to talk about what happens there. So I will, you know, keep this on the deal. What happens in ethics meetings. Exactly. Exactly. It’s like a less exciting version of Vegas. So anyway, we’re in there and people start talking, complaining about like a cardiothoracic surgeon and it’s kind of lighthearted, right?

But they’re all just sort of grousing it. Like even when this guy goes on vacation, like if you see a patient for something totally different, it’s still his patient. We got to call him or her [00:11:00] patient. Right. And I was just, sort of astounded. Like how quickly everyone wanted to get off the phone with the cardiothoracic.

And like how exacting they were. And then people are just sort of rolling their eyes in a lovely way, but you know, the sort of like lighthearted ribbing of, of cardiothoracic specialty. And I realized like, Oh God, you know, like, I was the patient in a lot of ways, right? Like, and I was the care team and I was everybody else.

Like I was managed very tightly for a very long time. 

Kristin: Um, 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: as 

Kristin: the daughter. Yes. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Yeah. Yeah. And I didn’t realize that was, that that came with the territory of the specialty, you know, I didn’t know that much about medicine yet. And so it was just, um, a little disheartening kind of, and also comforting. You know when you find out that like maybe you’ve experienced something kind of universal you feel less special But also comforted somehow at the same time, 

Kristin: right?

Dr. Laurel Braitman: It’s kind 

Kristin: of like when you grow up and you realize that all those times that you [00:12:00] like Would would tell your mom like mom watch me run and you know You go and then it turns out that she was never counting Yeah, she just made up a number when you got back. It kind of reminds me of that. I still do that.

Will: With our kids, yes. 7 

Kristin: out of 10. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Great jump in the pool, guys. Totally. Haven’t watched it all, but so proud. So proud. 

Will: Well, if there’s, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned, Uh, from other people in different, uh, specialties in medicine, it’s that the personalities over time really do stay consistent. You know, I, I hear from people all over the world who practiced in different, different generations, you know, that, Oh, it’s, it’s, it’s still like that.

Or it’s like that here, uh, same as it is, uh, you know, in the U. S. Uh, I think the difference probably with your dad was that, Training was different. And so maybe that, you know, we didn’t have the work hour restrictions. And so he was probably, [00:13:00] you know, in the hospital, I imagine hundred, hundred hour work weeks or more, and probably had to have that kind of micromanage, just keep everything in order.

Otherwise it all falls, it falls apart. Right. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: 100%. He met my mom when, um, he was chief resident at UCLA and he had, I don’t know how he got this, but he had some 10 day break and he met her and he actually asked her to marry him on their first date. Oh wow. And she thought that was a little bananas. And she said, ask me again in a week.

And he did. A week. And she said yes. And then he went back into his residency and she didn’t see him, of course, as you know, right? And she didn’t know him yet. Like she was convinced, A, he was a little off his rocker and B, that he must be having an affair. And so she went to the hospital a couple times just to see if he was there because she couldn’t possibly believe that he would have this little time.

And also he had made sure to like, Woo and seduce her during his week off, so he was [00:14:00] like completely around for a week, locked that down, and then like a week later, you know, was gone. Gone. Very efficient. Yes. Yeah. Yes. But that tells you a lot about his personality, right? Which is like, found this woman, love her, gonna build a life with her, we’re gonna have children, gonna lock this in, now I’m going back to the hospital.


Will: Oh my gosh, that’s, that’s just such a surge in mentality. Totally. That’s amazing. 

Kristin: I have so many questions for your mother. I know. I know. I wish 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: she would love you guys. I wish she could be here. 

Will: And so, so you, but did you ever think about like going to medical school? Like did this, did your upbringing influence your Career decision one way or the other?

Dr. Laurel Braitman: You know, being a writer inside of a medical school is pretty much like, as close as I have ever wanted to be. You know, I thought about it. I think I was in high school once and, um, my dad was, you know, really sick, but also very around. [00:15:00] And I came home from school one day and I was like, you know, I think I’m, what if I think about medicine?

And he was like, How about you think about an MD PhD instead, you know, like he wanted me to think like about something a little different, but also he really knew I wanted to be a writer. And I think for him, literature, storytelling generally was a road not taken. And he was also so frustrated with how medicine, the changes in medicine that he saw in his lifetime.

Like, you know, we would have patients come over to the ranch and they would bring him like, uh, canisters of seeds in exchange for treatment. He was really an old school doctor even though he was also a surgeon and he was seeing that change and he just so resented having to call. He would love your insurance company skits, you know, like preapproval calls and everything like he hated that, resented it.

He really hated what was happening with medicine. And I think. Um, you know, he wanted something different for me and I think he was really excited. He’d never met a writer. I think he was [00:16:00] really excited that like someone in the family like might be able to do this really different thing. And he loved books.

I think if he did it again, he would probably just be a farmer and maybe would have tried to be a writer too. Um, but that just wasn’t possible for him. You know, he really, he wanted to make a good living and he, you know, he made different choices. 

Will: Did you, did you adopt some of his type A personality with the writing?

Is that, does that cross over to a writing field? That type of attention to detail? 

Kristin: He doesn’t know what he’s stepping into. I’ve read your book. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: You know, I, I used his life approach as a coping mechanism for way too long. I would say, right? Like, what I pulled from him has been both wonderful and also, like, my biggest challenge that I’ve had to deal with, um, becoming an adult and figuring out, um, what could drive me besides the [00:17:00] drive for excellence.

Um, and might I find other ways, you know, to enjoy my life’s work, um, if not driven from a need to prove myself or be excellent. And so I’m trying to balance, like he also had a huge love of life, um, I walked past the trees he planted for us every day, you know, I mean, I, I really got the kind of Attitude of you’re being shot out of a cannon into life.

You better enjoy this from him. Um, but also I got a lot of pressure and anxiety and I’m trying at this stage in my life to find a balance. 

Kristin: Yeah, you used the phrase excellence as an analgesic, which I just love, like I wrote that down as I was reading it because I could relate to it. And I think so many of our audience, you know, healthcare professionals can relate to it as well.

I think it’s something that, you know, for better or worse. drives people, uh, to do great things with their life, but, but like you’ve mentioned, sometimes there’s a darker motivation behind that drive, [00:18:00] um, that can be a little unhealthy that we, we all eventually, hopefully, some of us, maybe some of us don’t, uh, come to realize is, um, Maybe something we should take a look at in ourselves.

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Exactly. That’s why I feel so comfy in medicine. I feel surrounded by my people. Right. All of us are kind of, in many ways, drugging ourselves metaphorically and literally sometimes, you know, to be able to. To do well in the world and I think, you know, the instinct to become a healer, I do think medicine still remains a calling.

There are easier things to do in life than medicine. And so something supernatural in some ways is pushing you. And ideally that thing that’s pushing you is not something that is also hurting you. And, and that’s why I feel good in medicine. I feel kind of surrounded by people who are trying to figure this out to, um, or who are not trying.

Yeah. But, but should for the benefit of all of us. But should, yeah. 

Kristin: Yeah. Yeah. It becomes this sense of identity or [00:19:00] like the way that you prove that you have worth as a human being, because that’s the messaging that you, you got your whole life was, you know, we value you because you’re You achieve, you know, you’re a high achiever you so anyway, that’s a whole therapy session probably that we could get into 

Will: Put on my costume 

Kristin: Well, 

Will: so I you know, I was interested in your because you know you you feel like you want You wanted to become a writer, right?

That was, that was where, you know, you were called to be. And, and so you went to, uh, MIT, you got your doctorate in history and anthropology of science. And so was, was the writing, was it always going to be, okay, I want to get into the medical realm with my writing, or was that, was that a process of discovery you had to figure out?

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Good question, you know, I think I’ve always been drawn to medicine. Um, when I was little I had this little nurse’s outfit and, um, you know, [00:20:00] my dad worked at our local county and private hospital in town and like they didn’t care or maybe if they did they didn’t say anything. Um, he would bring me on rounds.

And I would just go nurse’s station to nurse’s station, like eating those little ice cream cups with the wooden spoon on top. And I would tell them the last nurses hadn’t given me one, you know, I loved it. And for a lot of my childhood, I wore a little stethoscope around and I would use it on all of our farm animals.

Um, you know, I loved that part of medicine, like the connection with others. I loved hearing people’s stories. Um, But I was never drawn to be the practitioner. I think I’ve always been drawn to be around it and hear about it. Um, because I think no one is more interesting than someone who’s on the front lines of the human experience day in and day out.

And so, so I’ve always been attracted to the stories of medicine and that’s what I was doing in graduate school too. I tried to be a scientist a little bit. Um, you know, I worked doing conservation biology for a long time and fishery science. And I was always, like, more interested in my field notes than I [00:21:00] was in, like, what our results were.

And I would say the same thing in medicine. And I’ve just, you know, you guys are proof of this, right? I think the best healers are storytellers and they always have been. Um, and so, you know, I don’t think it’s that weird, but I’ve definitely always been attracted to the stories of science and medicine more than the doing.

Um And I wanted to be a writer, but as I said, I’d never met a writer before. I really wasn’t sure how to do it. Um, and I knew that if I went and got a PhD, that people who got PhDs wrote books. And so, you know, maybe I’d write an academic book, but at that point I was just like, I don’t care. Like, a book is a book.

I just want to do this. Um, and I knew there was a route through, you know, unlike medicine, um, you know, writing it, there’s no clear path. And so I didn’t know, um, and I didn’t have anyone in my family that could tell me. So I wound up at MIT and then I, I just begged, honestly, one of my mentors, um, I mean, I’d [00:22:00] never met him before.

One of my favorite writers is an Indian writer named Amitav Ghosh. And he was coming to Harvard to teach a class on writing. And I just wrote him a letter. Like, out of the blue, got his email address somewhere and was like, I’m not a Harvard student. I’m not a writer. I’m like a student down the road. Can I come sit in your class?

Like, would that be okay? And he said, yes. And then he just said, randomly, one afternoon, this is the last class I’m ever going to teach because reading your essays and being critical of you is like making it hard for me to write my own fiction. So if you ever want to write a book, come to my office hours and pitch it to me.

And, uh, We’ll see if we can make that happen and I just it was like the skies opened right and I went home I typed up all my ideas most of which were terrible and I marched over to his office hours and read to him aloud my List of books and he was like, no, no, no, no, maybe he was like, these 

Will: are just field notes from your fishery Background.

I don’t understand what’s going on here 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Was like I am gonna go find Harold [00:23:00] my pet catfish in the wild I don’t know But anyway, it’s how I, it’s how I became a writer. Um, you know, it wasn’t that easy. Um, I had to beg his agent to take me on and work for years before selling something, but that’s how it happened was just me kind of talking my way into a class so that I could meet an honest to God writer, um, and see how it was done.

And, and then, you know, you write about what you care about. And, and I, I have had, um, I love, love, love your phrase, co survivor. 

Kristin: Oh, good. I love it. I was going to ask you about that because I was so curious if you identify with it, you know, if that resonates for you because as, you know, a child of someone who went through treatment for osteosarcoma of all things for so long, like that must have had such a big effect on every person in your family.

So I was curious if that was something that, that spoke to you at all. Yeah. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: I would say resonate is an [00:24:00] understatement of the century. I think that we have been missing this word because also, you know, I talked to so many kids and young adults who have had a loss or lived through the terminal or chronic illness of someone close to them and caregiver doesn’t work.

Like caregiver isn’t the right word. Sometimes you’re not a caregiver, but you have lived through the experience. And so I just felt like, you know, I, I, I could hear strings music when I first heard you say that, because I think. You know, we’ve been missing that word. We’ve been missing that word for a long time.

And you know, I, that is, that is what I write about. That is the experience. I have spent my life trying to put words around, which is what is it like to love people? And you know, you guys have way too much experience with this. What is it like to love people and to worry and to get worried? go through their experiences with them.

How does it change you? How does it change how you see the world? How does it change your work? I mean, that is what I am interested in. And I’d say I’ve been exploring that in my work since, you know, I was a kid, [00:25:00] um, even though the medium changes, you know? 

Kristin: Yeah. It’s so amazing to me. This is one of the things I would say I preach on this, that I don’t know why I can’t explain to medical professionals.

the biology behind this, but something about having a word for it is so healing and so powerful. Like, not having a word for it makes you feel so just like lost and broken, and then as soon as you can put a container around it and put a name on it, something about that is just so therapeutic. And it allows you to connect with other people and to just immediately understand each other when you find someone else like that.

And for other people, even, you know, who aren’t, Maybe a co survivor, but maybe a medical professional for them to understand you as well, because it says, Oh, this happened to you, too. [00:26:00] Like it wasn’t in your body, but it happened to you also. And there is no framework for that right now within the healthcare system to see even the word caregiver.

It’s a very healthcare system focused word. It describes what the You know, healthcare professionals think of, of this person, right, that comes in with the patient of, oh, they can help provide care at the home when we’re not there, right? Uh, it’s not at all centered around the actual human experience of the patient and their family dealing with this.

this, um, medical event or situation or illness. So, um, that’s a, I get off on soapboxes all the time, but that is one of my soapboxes. But, you know, as a writer and then, you know, you’re a secular chaplain as well, and a fellow co survivor, like you are uniquely qualified to answer this question, which is what, why do you think that that word or just words in general?

are so important. Like, I [00:27:00] write about the quiet place, right, which is what happened to me after his, um, cardiac arrest and after doing CPR and after all of the crisis was over and I could finally, quote, relax. It wasn’t relaxing at all. What happened is I, I disappeared into myself and I lost a lot of my language capability beyond just sort of the logistics of the day to day, right?

So, and then it was words, it was finding. Uh, those words, Forgotten Patient and Co Survivor, um, Katie Dainty is, is where I found out one of her articles. It was finding those words and some other words that brought me back out of the quiet place. So why words? What is it about that, that, why do we lose them and why do they help heal us when we find them?

music: Yeah, 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: I mean. That’s, that’s the question. I think that’s job security for us all, right? We’re all in the finding words business to explain the unexplainable. I [00:28:00] think, you know, we keep losing all of these other things that we thought once made us human, right? Like tools, language, names, um, songs, uh, art making, um, home decor, like all of these things, right?

Like we realize like, oh, we’re so much less special than we thought. If bowerbirds have interior decorators, like, what does that say about us, right? Um, but I think one place where we are still deeply, uniquely human is in trying to forge meaning from that which confuses us and hurts us and scares us. And so for me, like medicine and just being, uh, in a liminal space too, where you don’t know what’s coming next or, you know, in those years after, you know, say you’re in remission, but you know the piano could still drop at any time.

Like, like how, how do we find words for those kinds of experiences, which we know, um, give our life meaning, purpose, also keep us up at night, um, scare us to no end, influence our friendships, our parenting, everything else. Like, um, I [00:29:00] think we need words to be able to feel less alone in those experiences.

And if you craft a narrative, if you tell a story, if you make a skit, other people see it and they’re like, Oh, me too. I too feel that way. And even if it’s just like a like or something, right? Like what you have created is the feeling for someone else to feel. to feel seen to. Um, so I, I think we need it.

And I think it’s the one thing we do best, um, as a species. I re I really do. Um, and I, you know, I think medicine is where it needs to be the most personally. 

Kristin: Yeah. And you, I mean, that brings us nicely to, to your work at Stanford. Um, you are doing that with medical professionals. You’re teaching them how to write.

Um, that’s a gross oversimplification. Why don’t you tell us what it is you do There. 

Will: I’d love, let’s, can we take a, let’s take a quick break. Oh, sure. And then we’ll, cause I definitely want to get into this topic. [00:30:00] I’ve been, I’ve been excited to hear about this work. So, um, let’s, we’ll come back with, um, Dr.

Laurel Brayman.

Oh, Kristen, do I have an AI platform to tell you about? 

Kristin: Ooh, tell me. 

Will: Yeah. It’s called Precision. This is the first ever EHR integrated infectious disease AI platform. 

Kristin: That sounds fancy. Well, 

Will: one of the hardest things that infectious diseases is like. You know, figuring out what to do with all the information and it’s always coming in at different times and figuring out what works best for the patient.

Kristin: Yeah. 

Will: Well, this automatically highlights better antibiotic regimens. 

Kristin: Ooh, I would imagine that helps with antibiotic resistance. 

Will: It does. To see a demo, go to precision. com slash KKH. That’s precision spelled with an X instead of an E. So, P R X. Cision. com slash KKH.

All right. So we are back with Dr. Brayman as so, uh, we are back. [00:31:00] So Kristen, I brought it up and I’m very excited to hear about this, this work that you’re doing at the Stanford School of Medicine. It’s the Medical Humanities and the Arts Program, which first of all, I’m just so excited, excited like is a thing, right?

Like you don’t, you don’t, uh, I feel like this must be a newer development in the medical field that people are taking notice of the importance of humanities. I kind 

Kristin: of remember like when you were in med school. A good number of years ago. Uh, I remember there was like, it wasn’t that long ago, it was a class that was basically a medical humanities class and I remember, 


Kristin: remember, uh, people kind of like poo pooed it, right?

And I think even, even you kind of were like, not that into it, right? But then the more lived experience, it wasn’t 

Will: funny, that’s all. 

Kristin: I, that, yeah, let’s be real, that was 

Will: what it was. But the more lived experience 

Kristin: that we’ve had, I think the more we have realized why that is so important, um, you know, to be on the other [00:32:00] end of the doctor patient relationship, I think really drives that home, so.

Will: So tell us a little bit about what, what your role is, like, what are you, well, I’d love to know how you got into this role in the first place as well, but, but what exactly is it? Tell us about it. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Well, um, it all starts with my mentor, a poet and an anesthesiologist who is just a magnificent person, Dr.

Audrey Schaefer. And she started the Medical Humanities and Arts program 15 years ago. So there, it has been going for a fair bit, you know, and there are a lot of medical humanities programs around the country. Um, but I will say, you know, You know, also nothing is new under the sun. In many ways, this is all a return to what medicine was a very, very long time ago.

Where pre specialty, um, you know, where most physicians were naturalists, they collected art, they studied the human form. You know, I think that this in many ways is a return back to earlier [00:33:00] medicine and realizing that, oh my gosh, this is of course a humanities discipline. Um, and I, and I think that The best physicians think about that anyway, they don’t need a medical humanities program to do that.

Um, you know, the program at Stanford is awesome. We’re actually housed inside the bioethics center, um, which I love too, and we do all kinds of stuff. There’s, there’s music, there’s painting, um, there is live drawing, um, there’s all kinds of things. I, I run the writing and storytelling. And I started about seven years ago, um, working with clinical students, with faculty, and anyone else actually within the Stanford Medicine community.

And, and I, it was kind of an accident, honestly. My new book, which is a memoir, I thought was going to be a book about how doctors die. I wanted to know if physicians who had a lot of experience up close and personal with end of life decisions, not just palliative care but beyond that too, did they make different decisions?

Because [00:34:00] I had seen in my family such a big difference with how my father and then later my mom, you know, approached their own deaths. And I wanted to know if that was just them or if that was everyone. And I started just like kind of, Wandering around the hospital and people were so kind, um, giving me interviews, allowing me to be there.

And I had connected with Audrey Schaefer and she was teaching a creative writing class to medical students. And she said, listen, it’s a really popular class. How about you teach it with me? Also, we used to have a writing workshop and we don’t anymore. Um, I think people might like that. And I, I hung a shingle.

I wasn’t sure if anyone would come, um, and I was blown away. Like, there’s so much interest, um, both in like late career, retired, mid career physicians and nursing staff and everybody. And then also especially clinical students in, in learning to be better communicators. And I wasn’t, you know, I hope the stuff isn’t dry.

Like I also said, and I, I still shocked, they said yes to me, I hope they don’t take this [00:35:00] away. I said, I don’t want to teach inside. Okay. I want, I want to teach someone where their cell phones don’t work. Ideally they have some nature. We need really good food. Um, and Just a few small asks, 

Will: that’s all.

music: Exactly! 

Kristin: To a medical school administrator, can you imagine? Imagine! 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: And, and Audrey, bless her heart, said, that sounds nice, why, why don’t you try it? You know, I was like, oh my god, okay, you know, but also I was coming from left field and I really hadn’t been inside an academic medical institution, so I think in that way it’s kind of a blessing, right?

You come in, you don’t know how weird the thing is that you’re actually, um, suggesting. That’s interesting. And I loved it and I’m doing it to this day and the embarrassing thing is I thought, you know, I thought people who taught writing were people who couldn’t get paid enough to write. And I just, that is so embarrassing to say.

I just thought teaching was going to be this like, you know, Hail Mary, if the other [00:36:00] stuff I really wanted to do didn’t work out. And I have to tell you, it brings me more meaning than I could have possibly imagined. I love it so much. So many of my students have become my family. I just, I adore it and helping them figure out, um, who they are and what they want.

And, and also, you know, mid or, mid or late later career retired physicians finding meaning in what they have done. Um, trying to tell stories about the experiences that changed them. And, you know, Like you, well, a lot of them also have had their own brushes with, with illness, with cancer, with all kinds of things.

And trying to, to balance like the, the perception of the physician is invulnerable with also like taking power over their own narrative and sharing their story and what they’ve learned. Like that, that’s been some of the most meaningful experiences of my life. And, and then also to watch them publish is so fun, um, and share their own talks and write their own books.

And it’s just, it’s been so much fun. I can’t believe it. 

Kristin: I kind of want to be, [00:37:00] now I’m seeing like, I’m you now, you’re that mentor you had, I’m not a student at Stanford, but can I come sit in your class? 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Absolutely. I told my students. That’s good. This quarter, I’m teaching this weekly, um, which I really dread because I don’t live near campus anymore.

So I fly in now, um, to teach once a week. So for one quarter a year, I’m like really paying Stanford to teach there, you know, which gets a little depressing. Um, but I love my students so much and I told them, listen, you know, I don’t have much 

Will: money. So they, yeah. 

Kristin: Yeah, Stanford. Yeah, exactly. They’re a little, a little struggling.

Dr. Laurel Braitman: mean, the truth is that the humanities in medicine doesn’t have it, you know, so I always feel bad when I’m like begging someone to come just so that, and I’ll promise them a burrito, you know. I’m like, I know you’re parking in that fancy parking garage, but I don’t have this budget. Um, but you know, I’m flying up and I, it’s, it’s a little hard and now I’m a rancher and balancing all these things and I don’t know how long I’ll be able to, [00:38:00] Teach a weekly class is the truth.

Mm-Hmm. Yeah. And I told them that and I said, listen, you know, I, I, I told them how I became a writer. I was like, my door is always open and if you have a book idea, I want you to come pitch me. So actually one of my students, um, I think is gonna write a book. Uh oh. Awesome. It’s just that many have, um, great.

But in this class, at least one of them, um, has been talking to my agent and has a wonderful book idea, um, about, uh, a kind of memoir slash reported. book on the history of reproductive technologies, um, for queer families. And so it’s just, it’s a great story, personal story of his. Um, so yeah, I, you know, seeing that cycle is just so cool.

Maybe this is how you guys feel as parents. I’m not a parent and I know it’s different, but that idea of like, Oh God, could I take some stuff that I learned the hard way and make life like a little bit more interesting or easier for you? Like, 

Kristin: right. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: That’s such a cool feeling. 

Kristin: Yes, I resonate that. See, there’s so many things we [00:39:00] haven’t commented.

Like the teaching, I’m not doing that anymore, but that was for a long time a big part of my identity. And, and it’s actually better than being a parent because when you’re a parent you have to like do all the not fun stuff, you know, like all the discipline and, you know, make them a good person and stuff, but like, feed them three times every day at least.


Will: constantly eating. That’s true. You have 

Kristin: to deal with a lot of their, like, body fluids, you know. As a teacher, you get to just, you get to have some of those, like, good parts of parenting where you see them develop and you see how you have maybe affected them in a positive or negative way, uh, but, you know, influenced their life and, and I totally know what you mean about that feeling.

Yeah. Generally speaking. I don’t know about maybe in the medical school. It’s different, but. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Only wrong plays wrong time, I think. Mostly I’m able to avoid it. Does 

Will: the workshop, uh, have a need for someone to teach about a TikTok script writing? 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Are you kidding? I mean, you guys, yeah, I can’t afford [00:40:00] your speaking fee.

I can only pay you in burritos and gratitude. Depends on how 

Will: good the burrito is. I don’t know. It’s pretty good down there. I can also give you a 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: lifetime of avocados, citrus, I don’t know, peacock feathers, an angry donkey. We can work something out. 

Will: Angry donkey. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: But you know, they would love that. You know, I think, My medical students, you know, tend to, I, they’re not as active on social media, I think, as much as like the maybe the gen pop, um, is, and I think that’s a great shame, um, because I think, you know, I don’t have to tell you guys, like, this is our main public health delivery mechanism now, um, and look what happened during the pandemic.

Like, if we do not have Like, smart physicians and other folks in healthcare who are, have the skills to speak directly to the public in ways that make sense and are intelligible, like, oh my God, are we in trouble? Like, it can’t just be Fauci, bless his heart, right? Like, like, we need, we need other people too, and people who are going to reach young [00:41:00] people.

And so I, You’re speaking my language. Yeah, this is one of our soapboxes too. I don’t know how I feel about cloning, but I, you know, if you can take care of that, please. 

Will: And I’ll tell you one of the other reasons I love what you’re doing and what you’ve built there is one thing I talk about a lot is the absence of creativity in the medicine today.

You know, everything is standardization, everything’s templates, everything is, is, uh, you know, so It’s 

Kristin: all about efficiency. 

Will: It’s all about efficiency. And to the, to the detriment, I think, of, of, of our creativity. And so many people in medicine are creative people. Like, I think everybody has creativity. It’s just a matter of, of, of being able to tap into that.

And medicine in 2024 makes it so hard. To, to find that either because you, you don’t have the time or just the job itself doesn’t lend itself [00:42:00] to creativity. And so, uh, you’re doing something like, 

Kristin: right. 

Will: And so doing something like the, uh, you know, medical humanities and really having a dedicated space to allow people, health care professionals to explore their own creativity will not only make them better doctors, nurses, whoever, but also just.

mental health. It’s just, I think it’s good for the soul. Creativity is just such a core 

Kristin: part of being a human. And so there’s a lot about the healthcare system and the medical education system right now that actually just trains the humanity out of you. And we’ve seen the results of that, right? Like patients are dissatisfied.

Physicians are dissatisfied. Students are dissatisfied. There’s all this burnout. There’s suicide. It’s just not the way to go. So I think what you are doing is It’s critically important, right? It’s not a luxury. It’s not, you should have a budget because this is like basic to our, our survival and our [00:43:00] functioning as, as human beings, let alone our health.

Dr. Laurel Braitman: I totally agree with you. I think my hope, right, and no shade to any potential advertisers, but what I hope, right, is that like AI and some of these efficiency things that are coming on board now might allow more space for the art and craft of medicine. Like I do think people spend too much time in Epic and writing notes and everything else, right?

Like if some aspect that is not the joyful, meaning bringing aspect in a clinical encounter can be outsourced rather than then take that and have a for profit kind of model which is then like, oh great, now you can see 42 more patients, right? Which is what will happen if we’re not careful. If instead the average 7 minute or 15 minute office visit could instead be Dead be a meaningful conversation, right, in which people make eye contact in which they tell stories, um, in which both people walk away from that feeling seen and [00:44:00] heard and, you know, kind of inspired, um, about their future in some way and what they might do together as a, as a team, then that would be a success.

You know, I, I think. And I agree with you. This is core to medicine. Like, this isn’t like a cool finger painting thing that you do on the side. And that’s when I get worried. Like, I do think that the work that we are all doing and our work at Stanford, I do think it’s wellness work. I do. I worry when we talk about it that way because I think then that becomes part of our American self care, culture, right?

Where it’s like, it’s all independent. It becomes yet another thing that a healthcare professional has to do on their Sunday. Like, Oh, well, you feel bad, manage it. Then you have this face mask. Or like, clearly you didn’t work out enough this week, right? 

Will: You didn’t do your wellness exercises. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Yeah, it’s like so messed up, right?

So I think what we need to talk about instead is like, yes, this is a core part of like, having a group of healthcare professionals who enjoy what they do, who [00:45:00] haven’t forgotten why they do what they do, who are not resentful of what they do all day, who feel like there isn’t a huge disconnect between why they went into medicine and then how they’re spending their hours.

Like, I think that’s where burnout and overwhelm comes from. Is that, like, not hard work. We’re not scared of hard work. We wouldn’t be here, right? Like, I think it’s instead, we’re scared of doing work that feels meaningless. 

Kristin: Yes. Yeah. Say it louder for the people in the back. I feel, I feel 

music: strongly. Sorry.

It’s good. 

Kristin: Um, you all, you talk about in your book too, and this is one of the major themes I wanted to be sure to touch on with you. Um, You talk about this idea. We 

Will: haven’t said the book name yet. Let’s say it. 

Kristin: Oh, it, okay. It’s, uh. We will at 

Will: the end, too, but. And at the 

Kristin: beginning, but, um. 

Will: Oh, no. What looks like 

Kristin: bravery.


Will: looks like bravery. But I, you’re 

Kristin: gonna have to help me with the subtitle. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Oh, um, An Epic Journey from Loss to Love. That’s it. There it is. 

Kristin: Yes. Um, and you write a lot about losing your father and about, [00:46:00] and your mother later on and, um, the grief and how that has, you know, And there’s so, so, so, so much that I could go into on that book.

Um, but one of the major themes that I, uh, that resonated with me in particular was this idea of like negative emotions, because this is another soapbox of mine, right? They’re not something. This is another thing that medicine and medical training trains out of physicians, is the ability to feel and sit with their own negative emotions.

It teaches them to put them in a box, shove it down, never speak of it again, and just swallow it, right? But of course, then it just causes an emotional sepsis to do that. We know that. I was an emotion researcher for a bit, and we just know that. That’s actually unhealthy. Um, And you write about how these are not things to run away from, to hide from, to move through, to get past, right?[00:47:00] 

That grief is not something that you just, uh, you know, process and move through and then you’re done with it, right? Um, and I’ve always, um, kind of talked about how, you know, Negative emotions are not bad. They are, all emotions are not good or bad. They are simply data, right? Like they are our body’s way to tell us about what is important.

And so they’re just signals and they’re information that all we need to do is listen to that and say, Oh, okay, what is it that’s important to me? about this. What, you know, what is this emotion trying to tell me? Process that and, and move along, right? And, and we’re better about doing that with positive emotions than we are with negative emotions.

But, um, can you speak to that a little bit about how you have learned to carry it with you and not just bottle it up like that and how you, how your students maybe, how your, your class helps them do that [00:48:00] or, or other things that might help medical professionals do that? 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Sure, you know, my, my own experience started and I’ll give you the really quick version.

Both my parents chose medical aid in dying to end their lives when they realized that they were dying anyway from metastatic cancer. And my father chose to do it before it was legal. And it was a hush hush thing. I wasn’t really supposed to know what was happening. And he died after our last conversation where I didn’t know he was about to take his, his lethal medication.

And our last conversation was a fight. And I hung up on him. I was so mad. And by the time I got home, he was unconscious and I would never be able to talk to him again. And I didn’t mention this to anybody, but I carried with me for the next 20 years, such a deep seated feeling of like, Oh my God, here is this man who like the giving tree has traded parts of himself for life with us for time with us, um, for years and years.

And when it counts, I let him down and I am bad. And I need to prove to myself and others, even though [00:49:00] this, I don’t think this was conscious. That I am good. Um, and if I feel those feelings of shame and regret and badness, like, it will swallow me alive. And so therefore I am like an emotional shark. I must keep swimming.

I must keep going. I must keep, keep going. That sounds like 

Kristin: someone else I know.

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Um, oh God, I’m sorry, um, but yeah, you know, the club is cool. You know what I mean? Like we have some good people in here, it’s like, it’s, uh, these are, we’re nice sharks, you know? Um, it’s just Well, 

Will: speak for yourself. I don’t know. It depends on who you ask, I 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: think. Yeah. We just get tired. Yeah. You know, like I got tired and again, the coping mechanisms are not working.

And these, these negative experiences, feelings, emotions, as you said, like they don’t go away, right? They [00:50:00] just, it’s a game of emotional whack a mole. They come up in other places where you’re least expecting it, where they surprise you, you can’t control it. Um, they’re scary. Right? And so, um, it was a big journey for me to try and figure out, like, how to sit with my own feelings of shame and badness.

Um, and in my case, hanging out with a lot of grieving kids is what helped me initially. Um, but it’s working with grieving kids that have now helped me help healthcare professionals, which is kind of funny. Um, so, um, yeah. But all of these kids, you know, were blaming themselves too. I watched them go through these same kinds of experiences that I had had.

Like they, they were out of their room, um, their mom’s hospital room when she died because they said they wanted to go play or get a snack. And when they come back, she’s no longer there. Um, Or many kids also, right? Like you, you fight with your parents all the time. Like that’s, that’s part of your role in life.

Um, but yes, if that’s your last conversation, like you can tell yourself a terrible story about your worth, um, going forward. And I, I was able to have [00:51:00] empathy for these kids and see that it wasn’t their fault in a way that I was never able to do for myself. And so I do now, you know, not in an obvious way, I would say a lot of it’s subconscious, but once you learn something, once you have a little bit of wisdom, there’s, there’s, it’s not in a corral, right?

Like it invades your very life. Um, so, so part of what I do with healthcare professionals is, you know, they come to me because they want to write like, a piece of my mind, um, essay for JAMA, or they want to write an op ed, or they want to give a better talk about their clinical research, or they want to write a great fellowship essay, application essay, a residency, a residency essay.

Um, but to do that. Right? To do that well, they have to figure out how they feel, what they think, um, and so it’s this sort of sideways way to force some reflection, I think, that people might not otherwise engage in, even if it’s in the service of success or getting to put something on your CV. So if I said, hey, come do this [00:52:00] wellness work with me, I’m not sure it would work.

I never would have signed up for that personally. Like that to me felt floofy and just like, no, no, no. And it carries this air of like someone telling you to eat your vegetables rather than making the vegetables just delicious. And so I resented that. And I don’t want self care to be yet another thing on my list.

My list of my to do list is already too long. So I would say that’s how I do it is kind of create protected, um, time for people to reflect. And then I ask them just questions that I think, you know, they might not have been asked for a while. Um, And, and, and honestly, a lot of this happens in like five to seven minutes.

Like, we’re not, we’re not talking about a long period of time. Like, if you give me seven minutes with like a busy physician, um, and they are not allowed to do anything else for that seven minutes, like, I will help them reflect on something. 

Kristin: That sounds more like a thread than a promise. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: I mean, hopefully they find it enjoyable because they want something on the other side of it.

Right? Right. Um, so [00:53:00] that, that’s mostly how we do it is just kind of protected time, um, to ask people questions to explain that, which maybe no one has ever asked them to explain. Or it’s do things like, you know, write your obituary. Um, we’re going to write obituary, our, our future obituaries that hopefully like won’t need to be published for a very long time.

What do you want that to say about you? Um, or, you know, we all know corporate slogans. It’s such a hard 

Will: thing. 

Kristin: Yeah, 

Will: that sounds terrifying, but also I think the 

Kristin: first thing that comes probably to your mind to my mind Probably to most of your students mind is like your resume, you know Like just list all the things that you accomplished 

Will: but who but 

Kristin: but then who cares that’s the whole point of the exercise 

Will: Like that does that matter that wouldn’t 

Kristin: right?

Will: What does that matter? 

Kristin: That’s the first draft, you know I think that comes to everybody’s mind is just I did this I did this I did this 

Will: Yeah, I made Phi Beta Kappa, right, like, great, 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: cool, right, but it could be part of it, right? It could be like, hey, I wanted to start like a storytelling empire [00:54:00] in medicine, um, so that other people can laugh in a situation in which they might not otherwise, right?

Or like, I want people to feel more connected to what they do all day and create a community of people that will like, Come to an improv night and laugh together and find joy in what they do. Like that is something that maybe is on the obituary, right? But I think it’s, it’s also how you want to be remembered.

Like, do you want people to think that you were someone who made them believe things were possible that weren’t otherwise? Or do you want to be remembered as a certain kind of parent or whatever it is? You know, we’re asked all the time to do that kind of resume writing, um, particularly, I think, in healthcare, you know, everyone is really good at that, like, give me a grant voice or let me into your program voice, which is the opposite if you want to actually connect with anyone else, right?

Um, so I think if you give people the tools to communicate in a different way, they will have a different experience with themselves. Um, and that, that’s, you know, what we’re aiming for. [00:55:00] 

Will: Well, I just want to thank you for, for what you do with, uh, you know, communication and we all of us in medicine need, you know, this type of thing in our lives, um, for a variety of different reasons.

And so, uh, please like continue. Well, 

Kristin: and your patients need you to have these things in your lives. Like, as a non medical professional, I absolutely want my doctor, my nurse, my whoever it is, to interact with me as a human, human to human, not as some clinical robot, you know? So, I think this is what’s missing right now.

In the medical system, and so I’m so glad that people are out there doing it. 

Will: Please, please keep going down once a week for burritos and avocados to do this work. It’s helping a lot of people. But before you go, can you tell folks where to find you and and definitely want to talk, you know, [00:56:00] plug your book and everything.

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Thank you. Yeah, people can find me at laurelbraitman. com. Just my first name, last name. com. And my books are everywhere. Books are sold. Then the new one is about a lot of these things we’ve been talking about. Um, and the first one is, is also about emotional health, um, but in us and other creatures. So yeah, 

Kristin: animal madness is your, your first book.

And then what looks like bravery, um, is your, your memoir. 

Will: That’s right. And then you also have a, do you have a sub stack? Is that? I 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: do. I’m renaming it though. I think that it’s going to be, there’s no better place. Um, 

Will: because it’s a good name for a sub stack. Is it? 

Kristin: Okay. Yeah, I think that’s good. Makes me want to go there.


Will: where else would I be? But the place that there’s no better place to go. Well, it’s like 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: about, you know, it’s like the thing I was trying to go through, uh, with a friend, like the phrases that people say to you when someone dies that aren’t helpful. Yeah. Oh, she’s in a better place or that. Right. So we’re like, Oh, maybe that, but I don’t know yet, but they [00:57:00] will be able to find it at my website.

So if they go there or I’m also on Instagram, Laurel underscore Breedman, and that’s really the only social media I’ve been able to do. God bless you and your TikTok. I just, it’s so good. So great. I’m too self conscious looking at the reverse, uh, the reverse camera to really master TikTok. Instead, I just spend way too many hours on it.

Will: All right. So I will 

Kristin: also plug your website because just as a, as a marketing professional and a design nerd. It’s one of the favorite websites that I’ve seen in a very long time. I’m actually 

Will: looking at it right now. I love it. It’s a good website. Yeah. It’s good. It’s very good. I like the cowboy hat. Oh.

And the background there. It’s good. 

Kristin: Yeah, it has a whole theme. Check it out. Yeah, committed and you nailed it. 

Will: I want to go to that ranch. 

Kristin: Come. I’m not that far from you guys. Are you ever in Southern California? It’s true. Oh, yeah. Sometimes, yeah. Yeah, 

Will: probably a nice, easy flight down there, too. Yeah. Plus, we gotta get 

Kristin: away from the, from the clouds every winter, so we’re always looking for sunny places.

Sunny. We’ll, we’ll, 

Will: we’ll, together, we’ll write a, [00:58:00] a nice sketch about cardiothoracic surgery. How about that? 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: That’d be great. Let’s do it. I can provide the chickens and other animals, should we need any. Perfect. Oh, perfect. 

Will: Thanks again for joining us. It really was a pleasure talking with you. 

Dr. Laurel Braitman: Thank you guys so much.

And thank you what you’re doing for all of us. It’s just, you guys are a gift. 

Will: Appreciate it. Take care.

Hey, Kristen. 

Kristin: Yeah. 

Will: Can I interest you in a Demodex mite? 

Kristin: No, you cannot. 

Will: Why? Look at, look how cute they are! Little, little beady eyes, and multiple legs, uh, of the thorax and abdomen. Doesn’t this look cute? 

Kristin: No, I mean, you know, for, it’s a stuffed animal, so it, it does have a certain quality to it, but I don’t want an actual demodex mind.


Will: the, the real ones do hang out on your eyelids. 

Kristin: Yeah, see, I don’t want them there. 

Will: They cause red, itchy, irritated eyelid, sometimes like flaky buildup on your eyelashes. 

Kristin: I do not want that. 

Will: Well, don’t get freaked out by [00:59:00] this, okay? You gotta get checked out. 

Kristin: Okay. It’s 

Will: eye doctors that we’re used to diagnosing demodex blepharitis.

It’s a pretty common disease. You 

Kristin: see these little guys in your little microscopes? 

Will: My microscope might not be powerful enough to see this, but I can see the telltale signs of it. That’s for sure. To find out more, go to EyelidCheck. com. Again, that’s E Y E L I D CHECK. COM to get more information about these little guys that cause demodex blepharitis.

Well, I really do think you just found a best friend. 

Kristin: I think so. You know, whether she likes it or not, I think. 

Will: I don’t, I don’t know if I’ve seen you fangirl that hard. 

Kristin: I know. Well, I don’t even know if it’s fangirl so much as just like, you know, when you find someone that just feels like one of your people, like you got to, you know, You gotta just like, hold on tight to that, right?

Will: Just like that. Just 

Kristin: like that. And then, yeah, bear hug. And most people are not at all, [01:00:00] um, put off by that. And they just really enjoy it. Just really 

Will: enjoy bear hugs. 

Kristin: Yeah. I mean, you know, she’s, she’s got some experience in Alaska. 

Will: That’s, that’s true, yeah. So we didn’t even get to that in the episode. No, we didn’t.

She lives part of her time in Alaska, in remote Alaska, too. Which is probably very beautiful, but bears, I mean, come on. Lots of bears. Lots of bears. What a fun conversation, though, with her. 

Kristin: It really was. Um, I relate to her on a lot of levels, so that was fun, but also her book is just really, really good. Um, I think everybody should read it.

It’s really good. 

Will: Definitely check it out, and we might be sending you on to the retreat. 

Kristin: Oh, yeah. 

Will: Or some retreat. I think, you know. 

Kristin: I’m just gonna show up, cause this is the next thing you do in a best friendship, right? Is you have a sleepover. And so I’m just gonna do a pop in sleepover. 

Will: Alright. 

Kristin: She’ll love it.

Will: Did you guys know that we’re going on tour? [01:01:00] You can come and sleep with us. No, no, no, no. Not that kind of tour. Alright. The wife in death tour. Uh, you can visit glockenflicken. com slash live. We’re going all over the country. 

music: That’s right. 

Will: Uh, we’re going east coast, midwest, to the south. We’re, uh, we can’t go everywhere because we don’t, just don’t have the time.

But this is just for 2024. Yes, we’re 

Kristin: already looking into 2025, so don’t despair if you don’t see your city. 

Will: If you don’t see anywhere close to you, then we’ll, we’ll let us know. Let us know where you want us to go, and we’ll, uh, we’re always open to ideas. 

Kristin: Yeah, that’s right, but this is, this is for our stage show.

It’s like a tragicomedy memoir show, so it’s, um, it’s lots of fun. People that have come so far have really liked it. 

Will: We’ve sold out some, uh, improv, uh, locations. Yeah. Had great feedback from people. So, uh, come on out. We hope you like it. It’s gonna be fun. Well, thanks for listening. Uh, and let us know what you thought of the episode.

Uh, you can lot hit us up in a [01:02:00] lot of different ways. Email us, knock-knock Hang out with us on our social media platforms. Uh, uh, we host it. Hang out with us in our Human Content Podcast family on Instagram and TikTok at Human Content Pods. Thank you to all the great listeners leaving feedback.

We love to see those reviews. If you subscribe and comment on your favorite podcasting app or on YouTube, we can give you a shout out. Like at Lisa63Artist on YouTube said, Will is the star of Dr. Glockenfleck and short videos, but Kristen is the star of the podcast. 

Kristin: Oh, oh, oh, oh, 

Will: well, 

Kristin: thank you. Well, 

Will: goodness gracious.

Kristin: My oh my. Well, 

Will: that is high praise right there. I tend to agree. I think it’s fantastic. In fact, maybe we should make you host Knock Knock Eye. 

Kristin: Hmm, I don’t know about that. 

Will: Hmm? 

Kristin: Hmm? 

Will: That was very, very thoughtful. 

Kristin: Yes, thank you, Lisa. 

Will: Full episodes of this podcast are up every week on my YouTube channel at DGlockenfleck.

lots [01:03:00] of cool perks, bonus episodes, where we react to medical shows and movies. Hang out with other members of the Knock Knock Eye community. We’re there. We’re talking, we’re interacting, early and free episode access, interactive Q& A, live stream events, and much more. Patreon. com slash Glockenflecken, or go to Glockenflecken.

com. Oh, also, like, upgraded tickets to our live show. That’s Patreon right there. That is a 

Kristin: Patreon perk, a free upgrade if you buy a ticket. 

Will: Other Patreon perks, uh, how about a new member shoutout to Rad Ram. I love it. Rad Ram. Probably some kind of radiology thing maybe, or maybe I’m just projecting. Shout out to all the Jonathans, as always.

Patrick, Lucia C, Sharon S, Omar, Edward K, Steven G, Jonathan F, Marian W, Mr. Grendetti, Caitlin C, Brianna L, Keith K, L, Keith G, JJ H, Derek and Mary H, Susanna F, Jenny G, Jenny J, 

music: every Jenny G and 

Will: Jenny J, Mohammed K, Aviga, Parker, Ryan, Mohammed L, David H, Jack H, David H. There are two David H’s by the way. So both [01:04:00] David H’s.

Medical Mag, Bubbly Salt, and 

Kristin: Hank. Macho! 

Will: A virtual head nod to you all. Patreon roulette, random shout out to someone on the emergency medicine tier, Ken S! Ken S, thank you for being a patron, and thank you all for listening. Thank you so much! We wouldn’t be here without you. Like really, thank you. 

music: Yeah.

Will: We’re your hosts, Will and Kristen Flannery, also known as the Glockenpulken. Special thanks to our guest today, Laurel, Dr. Laurel Brayton. And our executive producers are Will Flannery, Kristen Flannery, Aron Korney, Rob Goldman, and Shahnti Brooke. Hey, man! Are you drunk? I’m having trouble with my mouth.

Alright, let me start over this, okay. Special thanks to our guests, Dr. Laurel Braitman, our executive producers are Will Flannery, Kristen Flannery, Aron Korney, Rob Goldman, and Shahnti Brooke. Our editor and engineer is Jason Portizzo, our music is by Omer Ben Zvi. To learn about a Knock Knock Highest Program Disclaimer and Ethics Policy Submission of Verification, Alliance to the Attorney, and the type of release terms, you go to knockknockhighestprogram.

com or is it You have to 

Kristin: say that correctly! You can 

Will: go to glockandplucking. com to reach out to us [01:05:00] at knockknockhighesthuman content. com with any questions, concerns, or jokes. Guys, I’m sorry. That was, um, I’m speaking directly to the audience now. I can do better with the disclaimers next time. And you should!


Kristin: expect it of you. Do 

Will: not hold that against me. People 

Kristin: love the disclaimers. 

Will: I, I will improve. I’ll practice. I will practice tonight. Until I get it right. Knock, knock, hi is a human content production.

music: Goodbye.

Will: Hey Kristen, you know what these little stuffed Dax co pilot dragons make me think of? 

Kristin: What? These little stuffed animals? 

Will: Jonathan! 

Kristin: Oh! 

Will: I need to get Jonathan a little hat like this. Yeah, a little co pilot hat. And what if he had wings? 

Kristin: That would just be a game changer. Yeah, I’m surprised he doesn’t already have wings.

You should have thought of that. 

Will: Fixing burnout anywhere he goes. Well, that’s [01:06:00] what you get with the Nuance Dragon Ambient Experience. Did you know that? 

Kristin: That’s pretty awesome. 

Will: 80 percent of patients actually say their physician is more focused with the Dax Copilot, 85 percent of patients say their physician is more personable.

And conversational with the DAX Copilot. It really does make a huge difference in patient care. 

Kristin: And in that patient physician relationship. 

Will: Absolutely. You just get to focus on what got you into medicine in the first place. 

Kristin: Right. You 

Will: know, not documentation, taking care of the patient. To learn more about the Nuance Dragon Ambient Experience or DAX Copilot, visit Nuance.

com slash Discover DAX. That’s N U A N C E. com slash Discover D A X.