Monday, November 04, 2013

In memoriam: Dr. Michael Palmer, healer

Photo by Gregory Rec in the Boston Globe
Strength from adversity might best describe Dr. Michael Palmer.  This obituary by Bryan Marquard begins:

A physician who nearly lost his career to drug and alcohol dependency, Dr. Michael Palmer found his way back to his calling partly by helping heal other doctors, and by replacing his daily pills with a page of writing every night.

“By the end of the 1970s, I was in solid recovery, and by 1981, I began to reach out to find doctors whom I could help,” he told the Globe in 2008. “It coincided with the beginning of writing. In retrospect, having a book to write was one of the things that kept me sane.”

My friend and colleague Rabbi Robert Goldstein adds:

Michael had an extraordinary career.  He was first and foremost a physician; but he was also a talented and highly successful writer, and perhaps most notably a recovering addict who courageously and generously used his experience to help others.  While still a young internist practicing in Falmouth he became addicted to drugs.  Michael eventually recovered and used much of his energy, aside from writing, to help other impaired physicians.  I sincerely believe that Michael, who was a skilled clinician, probably saved as many lives in his work with his colleagues who were in trouble as he did when he had a busy practice.  He was truly a healer of bodies and souls.


Anonymous said...

On behalf of all recovering physicians in North America and beyond, of whom there are countless numbers, I offer my thanks to Michael and the many other physicians who devote their lives to helping and healing their colleagues.
For those who read this and who are thinking about seeking assistance, we are a huge and diverse community of recovering physicians; we will be pleased to show you the way. Just reach out...
Anonymous MD FRCPC

Anonymous said...

I grew up a street away from the Palmer family. For along time, I thought Michael's parents were my aunt and uncle. This child's view included a thought that Michael was my cousin. While that was not true, I had a fondness for him for years. It happens I also liked to read his books. God speed Michael.

DE from Springfield/Longmeadow

Anonymous said...

DE from Springfield/Longmeadow, i also knew the Palmer family and although I never really knew Mike until 3 years ago, when we started emailing re the writing life, since I knew him through his dating my sister in high school and i reached out to him in 2010 or so just to say hi and asked some shop talk questions, and although he really had no recollection of ME as a kid in Springfield/Longmeadow, he was kind enough to chat with me a few times by email and give me some book and publishing biz advice. A good man. I was just goiogling his neame today for some news updates and i saw the obit in the NYT and wow, i didn't know. ! SO Sad. i had told him about my own heart attack and stent at age 60 and he said JUST keep going DANNY, you have a long life ahead of you, but in fact, all of us, our days our numbered we never know when the time comes to drop dead and say goodbye to this wonderful life, thsi wonderful world. RIP Mike Palmer, OUCH! Just 71. i hope i make it that far, 6 more years to go.

DB, springfield 23 Trinity Terrace, forest park area and Longmeadow COnverse Street

email me for info at

Janine Lehman, RN said...

I just finished reading Resistant and, as usual, thoroughly enjoyed the medical and suspense rolled in to one. I did not know he had passed until today and I am so sorry for his family and hundreds of readers, myself included. His life story is compelling and explains his sensitivity to drug use and addiction. He was just a great author and I will miss more novels from this gifted author.

Anonymous said...

I am a recovering alcoholic and have been sober, a day at a time since 1/3/81.
I met Michael in a church basement in Weymouth, MA. that same year. I was advised to "stick with the winners" in sobriety and I like to think that Michael was just such a "winner". Our group went on commitments to spread the word; Michael's story was so poignant. I am honored to have known Michael and will always remember his kindness; I am not a physician but worked at Boston Medical Center my early sobriety. RIP, Michael.