Author Archives: slcantwell25

About slcantwell25

A writer focused on the transforming power of memory, autism, parenting, and the ways we know what we know.

On Being Down in the Weeds

In a photograph circa 1967 my cousin Jim and I endure an interminable family portrait session—I still remember itching in my Sunday clothes. While my sister and I sit passively smiling, my cousin Jim can’t hide his contempt for the … Continue reading

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Annie Dillard’s Fierce Arithmetic

In 1999 Annie Dillard published For the Time Being, her most enigmatic book to date, where she layers statistics in a chilling attempt to pierce the mystery of who we are, as individuals, as humans, and about what matters and … Continue reading

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The long shadow of mental illness and substance abuse comorbidities

My physician neighbor works in several urban emergency departments where mental illness and substance abuse cases run rampant. When I ask him about the impact on readmissions, he lights up: “Are you kidding? It’s off the charts!” He tells me … Continue reading

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Why you can’t win without teamwork

You’ve probably noticed it’s been a bumpy regulatory ride for bundled payments of late. On November 30, 2017, CMS cancelled two “mandatory” bundled payment programs that targeted cardiac and joint replacement care episodes. Then, on January 9, 2018, they announced … Continue reading

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When hospital-acquired infections hit close to home

Late one night in April 2018, my good friend and work associate finds it so difficult to breathe she wakes her husband to drive her to Emergency. One day she’s on her feet at work, the next she’s in the … Continue reading

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Artificial Intelligence and Clinical Data: Finding Patterns Now to Shape Our Future

My oldest son is on the autism spectrum which brings him both challenges and unique skills, such as perfect pitch and encyclopedic memory. One of his gifts is an ability to see patterns that most of us miss. At least … Continue reading

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The Man on the Train

You may have seen him—the man on the commuter train to Los Angeles—leaning over his laptop, glasses slipping down his nose, wired in, absorbed, on deadline, not to be disturbed. Because he wears a suit and tie, you may assume … Continue reading

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The Sorrows of Physicist Max Planck

Consider for a moment the sorrows of Max Planck, the theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory. In 1909, his wife, Marie Merck, died of tuberculosis. In 1914, his son, Erwin, was taken prisoner by the French during the First World … Continue reading

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The Unbearable Lightness of Being

At a recent library sale, I paid twenty-five cents for a new paperback copy of Milan Kundera’s novel, The Unbearable Lightness of Being to replace the dog-eared, yellowing copy I’ve had for 35 years. Still, I find it hard to … Continue reading

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Young Iranians and Americans at Twenty

On November 4, 1979 radical Iranian students stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, capturing 66 hostages who would not be free for 444 days. I was a Mormon missionary in New Mexico at the time. Twenty years old. This ominous … Continue reading

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