Book, Doctor Miriam, Begins in Chelsea Retirement Community Writing Group

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When retired physician Miriam S. Daly, MD moved to Chelsea Retirement Community in October 2016 she joined a writing class where participants created short stories, often about their lives. When her son, John, discovered she had 52 stories, they began organizing them into a book they called Doctor Miriam.

The daughter of two physicians, Dr. Miriam was born in Baltimore, graduated from Goucher College and then the University of Maryland Medical School. She met her husband, Dr. Harold L. Daly, in medical school. They completed their residencies at Lutheran Hospital in Baltimore and then practiced medicine in Albion, Michigan. Harold was a general surgeon and Miriam practiced pediatrics, later adding an obstetrics specialty.

Dr. Miriam has some amazing stories. Her memoir covers growing up in Baltimore, attending the University of Maryland Medical School, Interning at Lutheran Hospital in Baltimore, moving to Albion, Michigan, practicing medicine in Albion for 39 years, a trip up the Alaska Highway when it was still 1,000 miles of gravel road and finally retirement.

On television, each episode involves new patients whom the doctor meets for the first time. Miriam’s life was not like that. Practicing medicine for 44 years, she sometimes met her patients as toddlers, delivered their babies, and knew them as grandparents or even great-grandparents. In Albion, she might see a child in her office in the morning, see the child’s mother at the supermarket in the afternoon and then run into the parents again at an evening school event.

If you think it is heart-wrenching on TV when an ambulance brings a child into an emergency room that you cannot save, imagine the feeling when you have taken care of that child his or her whole life. Imagine what it is like when you’ve known the whole family and most of them don’t survive an accident.

Miriam’s daughter, Martha, an anesthesiologist for a large HMO, did not get to know many of her patients, unlike her mother. However, the rest of Martha’s story is the same. Influenced by the women before her, Martha raised three children and has had a very fulfilling life.

Does this mean that a woman can do it all? Miriam, her mother and her daughter, never attempted to. Over the years, Miriam took 50 different medical students under her wing for a month each; most were female. Her standard advice was, “You have many roles you may play in life: wife, mother, housekeeper, and physician. One of these roles you ought to farm out.”

Being a doctor and a mother of four children was never easy. Both your own sick child and someone else’s sick child could cause you to be up in the middle of the night. Your family got accustomed to emergency room calls coming at any time. While a woman may not be able to “do it all,” our mother’s example proves that a woman can be a doctor and have a good family life.

Doctor Miriam is available at Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions.

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