Things in Erin’s Brain 

I’m taking a poll: when you get a new book, do you read the foreword? Be honest…

Historically, I have always skipped over the forewords and introductions of a book (okay, the acknowledgements too). My logic? “What could possibly be added that I won’t get out of the actual book?” 

Then something happened to change that.

I wrote a book (haha – go figure). When it came time to think about the foreword I wondered who would write it. I knew it had to be someone who understood the process. Someone who knew us. My heart knew exactly who it wanted. Unequivocally.

Jerry’s transplant surgeon: Dr. Gabriel Schnickel.  The surgeon whose steps were two strides longer than mine. The man who led me to Jerry in the ICU when everyone else ignored me. The person who saw me as a human being, not just a shadow in a corner. 

It took me a minute to find him – but Jerry remembered he had left South Florida and taken a position at UC San Diego. A position indeed:

Dr. Gabriel Schnickel, MD, MPH, FACS
Professor of Surgery
Surgical Director, Liver Transplantation
Division of Transplant & Hepatobiliary Surgery
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine 

It took me many days (okay, perhaps weeks or even months) to get up the nerve to email him with my request. What if he didn’t respond? Worse – What if he said no? What if he thought I was a crazy person? Or was too busy for a ‘cute’ little endeavor like mine? 

But my heart told me he was the one to do it. I hit SEND.

And you know what? Gabe said YES (yeah I get a little geeked up that I get to call him “Gabe” but most of the time I still call him Dr. Schnickel – I mean it’s like if you meet Mick Jagger or something and he says, “You can call me Mickey” I feel like you STILL call him ‘Mick Jagger’).

I sent over some chapters of the book for him to read…

“I don’t think I can be as funny as you,” he had said to me.

“Don’t worry about funny – I’ve got funny covered,” I assured him. 

He still said YES.

We had a Zoom call. 

He still said YES.

I told him what I was looking for and told him my deadline. 

He still said YES.

No matter what I did, Dr. Schnickel was IN.

And you know what? A man of integrity – he did it. 

When I received the “draft” foreword from Dr. Schnickel (which was published unchanged), I called him immediately. I was crying words of gratitude. Again. The foreword he wrote for MY book are some of the most beautiful words I have ever read. The stories in my book are all very personal to me, because they are my life. My feelings. My raw, unedited feelings. 

And he saw me.

Gabe saw me. He saw my message. He saw my heart. He got it. 


At the risk of making this week’s newsletter way too long, I’m including Dr. Gabriel Schnickel’s foreword below. If you skipped it because you were so excited to read my words, I really want you to read his. If you read the foreword the first time around – thank you! Please, treat yourself to reading it again. 

Because it’s all about love…


I am often asked by medical students and surgical trainees why I decided to go into transplant surgery. My response may vary in minor ways, but it always boils down to this: There are two situations in which a patient is truly excited to go to the hospital. The first, of course, is when they are going to deliver a baby. The second is when they have been called in to receive a transplant. To be a part of this joy and excitement, this second chance at life, is so gratifying that I cannot imagine doing anything else.

These young doctors immediately recognize this when we make morning rounds on our newly transplanted patients in the hospital. They feel the thrill of being a part of the transformation we see when a patient no longer needs dialysis, when a transplanted kidney starts to function in its new home, and when someone who had been dying from liver failure in the ICU gets out of bed to walk the halls with a family member.

In these exhilarating and sometimes dramatic moments for the patient, it’s easy to lose sight of the family, friends, and loved ones surrounding them. As physicians making our rounds, we move in – poking, prodding, examining, and encouraging. Then we are gone just as quickly. We often leave in our wake the caregiver, juggling dozens of questions, many of which come to mind the moment we leave the room. No matter how much preparation and fretting they did prior to transplant, most caregivers feel unprepared for and overwhelmed by the responsibilities that will fall on their shoulders. It is, for good reason, daunting and terrifying.
In this book, Erin shines a light on what it means to be a caregiver for a transplant patient, down to the smallest, and sometimes most embarrassing, detail.  She does this with a warm heart, a sharp wit, and a formidable sense of humor. Rather than merely explaining what pills to take at what time, or what symptoms require phone calls, Erin really shows us what it means to be a caregiver. She gives voice to her lived experience and reminds other caregivers that they are not alone.

On the transplant floor of my hospital, there is a bell mounted to the wall on the way to the elevators. It is our tradition that every transplant recipient rings the bell as they leave the hospital after transplant surgery. It’s a wonderful thing to watch a patient ring that bell – tears glistening in their eyes, hearts and minds full of some combination of pride, relief, and celebration. For the patient, this bell sounding marks the end of a difficult journey to transplant, as well as their hospital stay. And while the caregiver shares in this amazing accomplishment, for them, this transition signals the start of a new phase of caregiving and the assumption of even more responsibility. So, it is a moment for celebration and a moment filled with trepidation. Without their strength, fortitude, and compassion, the transplant journey cannot succeed.

This book rings the bell for caregivers. It’s a wonderful primer for those embarking on the transplant journey – whether as transplant recipient or caregiver – and a joyful reminiscence for those who have already been down that road. For the rest of us, it is a balm for the soul – a reminder that we are not alone, that we can and do see each other through the toughest of times, and that this shared human experience is, in the end, a profound gift.
Gabriel Schnickel MD, MPH, FACS
Professor of Surgery
Surgical Director, Liver Transplantation
Division of Transplant & Hepatobiliary Surgery
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

Massage Minute brought to you by

A fascinating new article has been published in Massage and Bodywork Magazine about fascia (you know me – always talking about the fascia fascia facia (read Brady Bunch style as “MARCIA! MARCIA! MARCIA!”).

But I want to read it, nerd out on it, dissect it, then share it with you… which I’ll do next week. 

If you want to check it out before then, you’re welcome to access it here (I think you have to enter your email to access it and then download the .pdf).

In the meantime, just a friendly reminder for my existing local clients that my rates change October 1, 2022. The new rates are published on my website and existing clients are receiving a little extra grace period because I love you.

So book now to get a spot this month before the change. I have a few slots open this week, but the remaining Saturdays in September are filling up.


And if you kind of glazed over it – please, pretty please read Dr. Schnickel’s foreword. It means the world to me.