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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dance With Us

I must admit, I met her on twitter and thought she was named for a bird.  My dyslectic mind inserted an “R” where there was naught, and @healthcarewen became @healthcarewren.  I thought I saw her fly as a diminutive creature across the channels of social media from hashtag to hashtag from conference to conference.  I wondered how she stayed so in touch on twitter as I soon found out @Healthcarewen was Wen Dombrowski, MD a physician focused on joy within elder care.

After meeting her in person at HIMSS12, I realized my initial vision of her was not far off the mark.  Wen is slight and when I hugged her I could feel her fragile bones.  Her thoughts flew high at HIMSS12 and she was often re-tweeted at that event.  Do you know the simple wren is often called the king of the birds?  In a tale that was told in ancient times, all the birds had a contest to see who could fly the highest.  The magnificent eagle outpaced all those below.  As he reached the height of his endurance and prepared to turn back, a little wren burst forth from his plumage and soared above to the highest height.  It was such a smart and clever little wren.

Wen uses a similar strategy to engage deeply within healthcare social media.  She attends every public health event she can; when an event is private and costly she tries for scholarship or entry as a blogger.  Any conference that turns down Wen does so to their detriment, for her voice is great and mighty in this space.  Sometimes when Wen cannot attend in person, she still makes her presence known by tweeting based on comments and providing a more astute summation than those who actually attended the conference.

Wrens are famous not only for their kingly status, but the complicated lyrical melodies they sing.  I am so glad Wen has joined us in the Walking Gallery for Wen does all her amazing outreach within social media, while asking only one thing in return: dance with us.  You see Wen works constantly with senior populations and she sees the joy that music and dance bring into their life.  This is Wen Dombrowski’s Jacket: “Dance with Us.”

Dance with Us

In this painting two patients dance with Wen.  The patients are woman in their golden years, and for them that phrase is not a euphemism for the aged.  Both women relish in the dance, thinking not of wrinkled flesh and rocking chairs.  Instead, the rhythm guides them, their eyes and minds sparkle with light. They will dance as long as they can, and when balance fails and they can dance no longer, the music will still excite and they will hum and sway in their joy of the song.

Never old inside
I recently had the honor of hearing a presentation on dementia at my local hospice.  The speaker Mary McDonald, MD was amazing.  She explained our declining years in relation to the beginning.  Life is lived in reverse; milestones once reached now topple down in a domino cascade of loss.  We cannot dance, we cannot stand, we cannot eat solids; and so it goes until we near an end that mimics the beginning.

When we are born we must breathe, suck and swallow.  We must have these skills to live.  These purely functional skills are accompanied by something else.  Within moments of being born we are embraced.  Our parent’s arms encircle us as they hum and sing a lullaby.


We enter this world surrounded by joyful song and music. Thanks to doctors like Wen we will enjoy our golden years surrounded by music. 


  1. I don't think I could ever explain exactly why, but the beauty, joy, and compassion of this one literally brought tears to my eyes. What an amazing thing to do for those who have done so much for us in their lives...the Grandmothers and Grandfathers.

  2. Art does that. I find many of these post tearful. Whether it be joy or sorrow, when souls touch we cannot help but cry.

  3. Regina, this one is so beautiful! I work with older adults as a music therapist, and I cherish these kinds of moments everyday. I'll be following Wen on Twitter now!