~ Articles about Journey
of Hearts ~
Healing over the Internet
By Abby Collins-Sears
TIMES STAFF WRITER
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
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 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."
CONTRA COSTA TIMES
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: http://www.contracostatimes.com .
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.