A beautiful poem and video on medical tests and what normal means

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I’ve written a few times about Veneta Masson, a nurse practitioner who wrote in Health Affairs and in the Washington Post about her decision to forego further mammograms despite the fact that she was in a higher-risk category.

Veneta is also a poet.

She sent me a YouTube video animation of her poem, “Reference Range,” which I’m pleased to share with you.

I think the poem and the video are beautiful, touching on important issues of how meaningless numbers and scores may be, subject to misinterpretation.

“I see no cause for alarm,” she writes.

“Is it normal, you ask.

Normal’s a shell game you seldom win.”

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February 11, 2011 at 4:50 pm


Carolyn Thomas

February 16, 2011 at 11:04 am

Thanks so much for posting this beautifully compelling video poem.
As a heart attack survivor, I can relate to the endless numbers, letters, the colour yellow, and of course those”flat lines interrupted by a pattern of steeples and languid waves” that all cardiac patients get used to staring at in quiet desperation.