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    Making the Rounds: Defying Norms in Love and Medicine

    By Michele Karlsberg–

    Michele Karlsberg: This month, Patrica Grayhall is celebrating the publication of her memoir, Making the Rounds: Defying Norms in Love and Medicine (She Writes Press). The inspiration for the memoir began with a box that remained unopened in her various closets for forty years. Then, while downsizing, she opened it, took out the journals and letters, and began reading. The memories and feelings flooded back.

    As Grayhall relived her personal journey in the late 1960s and 1970s—an illegal abortion, coming out as a lesbian, a woman training to become a doctor—none approved by society, she realized that her experiences have relevance beyond the personal, especially now. Hermemoiris the result of taking charge of the narrative of that turbulent period to make sense of seemingly random and chaotic events influenced by the culture.

    I recently spoke with Grayhall for the San Francisco Bay Times.

    Michele Karlsberg: What part of the book was most difficult for you to write?

    Patricia Grayhall: The early chapters in the book when I am trying desperately to be straight were the most difficult to write. I was tempted to leave out the chapter in which I had sex with an older man as an underage teenager to see if it would transform me into a straight woman. Though I realize as an adult he was a predator and I was naïve and heavily influenced by the culture, I felt a perpetual shame that was not mine.

    It was the MeToo Movement, and my friends had hidden stories of sexual abuse for years, which motivated me to keep those chapters in the book. It was an important part of my journey of discovering who I was. The second hardest was the last section, when I had to revisit the relationship I had with a woman whom I so wanted a committed, monogamous relationship with, who was not capable of the same at the time. Finding her again after 40 years of no contact brought up old feelings that drove me into short-term therapy to deal with.

    Michele Karlsberg: Tell us more about your memoir being set in the 1960s and 1970s and its relevance today?

    Patricia Grayhall: With the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, more than half the states are codifying women’s second-class status as citizens and childbearing chattel of the state, denying them essential health care. In my book, I describe in detail what it was like to seek an illegal abortion in Mexico in 1969 when abortion was illegal in most of the nation.

    Sadly, most young people today take the right to choose for granted and have no idea what it was like before Roe.The same is true of LBTQ equality. The gains LGBTQ people have made in the U.S. are fragile. Same-sex marriage is the next target of a radical right wing Supreme Court. We could lose our rights and freedoms and return to the dark times of our past if we let the culture of hate and intolerance for differences rising in the U.S. prevail.

    The macho culture of medicine in the 1970s stands in contrast to the more humane culture of medicine today, when at least a third of physicians are women who show greater compassion for the terminally ill and women’s medical issues and have better outcomes for their patients.

    Michele Karlsberg: How did you decide what to put in your memoir and what to leave out?

    Patricia Grayhall: First, I had to learn that memoir is not an autobiography, nor is it a compilation of everything that happened during a period. There were experiences and characters that I chose to leave out of my story because they were not essential to advance the arc of the slice of my life and the themes that I wished to reveal. For example, I had other long-term friendships and a few dalliances in which there was little conflict and that really did not add much to the story. The daily grind of medical school life would not be interesting to readers, nor would a blow-by-blow account of all the ways medical training was hard. I included just enough to give the reader a feeling for what it was like.

    Patricia Grayhall is a medical doctor and author of the memoir “Making the Rounds; Defying Norms in Love and Medicine” as well as articles in “Queer Forty” and “The Gay and Lesbian Review.”

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBTQ+ community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates 33 years of successful marketing campaigns. For more information:

    Published on October 20, 2022