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~ Articles about Journey of Hearts ~

Healing over the Internet
By Abby Collins-Sears

LAFAYETTE -- For several years, death, depression and loss was an incessant theme in Dr. Kirsti Dyer's daily life, suppressing her inherently bubbly personality. As a physician, she witnessed more than her share of loss.

Through medical school and her hospital residency, Dyer endured arduous studies, lack of sleep and difficult lessons in the fallacies of hospital patient care that she says reinforced a constant depressive state.

But she wasn't about to [was not going to] give up her calling to be a doctor or her resolve that life's difficulties can be positive transforming experiences. She persevered through eight years of medical training, only to find that practicing was not any easier mentally or emotionally. "I went into medicine for all the old reasons," said Dyer, a Lafayette resident. "I want to help people; unfortunately, I feel I can't under the new approach."

She says the managed care system frustrates her. It does not give physicians enough time to hold their patients' hands, let alone understand what may be ailing them, she says. That realization was only the beginning of her hardship.

Over the past two years, Dyer witnessed the deaths of several patients, a colleague and close family friends who each had a significant effect on her life. Life seemed grim. But she knew she wasn't alone.

In September, she was bombarded by images of grieving people worldwide following the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa. "My colleagues and I were in shell shock watching all the coverage on the princess, even though we deal with death every day," said Dyer, 37. "We were the same age and living our lives vicariously through hers."

Shortly after Diana's death, Dyer had an epiphany late one night while taking a break during one of her 24-hour hospital shifts. She recognized the need for a place of healing -- not just for herself, but globally. She decided to create that place in cyberspace.

With the help of her husband, Cole Thompson, a UNIX Systems Administrator, they created an elaborate Web site called Journey of Hearts "for anyone who has ever experienced a loss."

While offering tips to troubled hearts, she also promotes a new method of treatment that focuses on how the mind affects the body's health. She calls it transitional medicine.

"There's a Catch-22 with managed care. We have to make sure nothing is medically wrong, but we're also not given enough time to tease out the stress, depression or anxiety that might be causing the problem," Dyer said. "Transitional medicine is in between conventional medicine and alternative medicine. Through the Web site, I want to bridge the two."

The Web site features hundreds of colorful pages filled with stories, songs, poems, information about depression, suggestions for dealing with the blues, emergency pick-me-up ideas, rituals for letting go of negative emotions and unhealthy habits, dietary tension relievers and links to other Web sites. Maintaining it has become a second full-time job in addition to her position [as an Internist] at Glenn Medical Center in Willows.

The Internet project feeds her desire to help people while also providing a creative outlet. She's done everything from designing the pages to writing some of the poems. "It combines medicine, writing and artistic flair," she said. "Cole knows when I've been webbing all day because I'm happiest when I have been creating the pages."


This article originally appeared in the Sunday & the Online Editions of "The Contra Costa Times," on March 29, 1998, scetion: A, p. 21. The article here is a corrected version of the online article. The website for the Contra Costa Times can be found at: Leaving Site.

There's a Catch-22 with managed care.
We have to make sure nothing is medically wrong, but we're also not given enough time to tease out the stress, depression or anxiety that might be causing the problem.
Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS
See the Emergency 911 Page for links to immediate resources
if you are feeling helpless, hopeless, overwhelmingly depressed, or suicidal.

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Last update July 20, 2002