Friday, January 22, 2010


I lost a friend this week. I didn't know her last name (and she probably didn't know mine), I never heard her voice or talked to her on the phone, and I never met her. I didn't even know what she looked like; all I had to go on was a snapshot taken of her when she was young. She taught, yet she was not a teacher. She lived alone, yet had a whole world full of followers and colleagues. She was dependably there at her computer every day, giving of herself, until one day the silence became unusual, then it became worrisome, then it became downright scary, and soon the world found out that AnnR had died.

This friendship I had with her was one of those unusual Internet relationships that flourish through chat rooms. In this case, it was on Internet boards catering to medical transcriptionists. AnnR was the name she went by. Everyone knew AnnR. Almost everybody had a question at one time or another about medical terminology or surgical instruments, or medications, or, in my case, ova and parasites. She had given an answer to someone else's question about ova and parasites, and I still did not understand the nuances. I sent Ann a message and she sent me a detailed answer which cleared up my confusion. She shared her medical knowledge thousands of times. She wouldn't just give you the answer - oh no. She gave you tools to find the answer, places to look, and if you found it, she was pleased. Then if you still needed more information, she was always willing to provide it. All these medical transcriptionists from all over the world knew AnnR, and every one of them probably hoped that she was at her computer when their question was urgent. She usually was.

In making thousands of posts, Ann stayed pretty much a private person. We knew she lived in Washington and loved the coastline. We knew she enjoyed growing tomatoes. We knew she had even gone to medical school for awhile, then decided to go another route in life instead. We knew she was smart, had a sense of humor, possessed a generosity of her time and knowledge, and did her best to stay out of the usual arguments and disagreements which inevitably arise on sites such as this. She wasn't there to argue - she was there to help.

And help she did. I can even remember my first question on MT Chat many years ago when I was a new MT, training on the job. I was trying to find something called a shovsteck sign. I asked my supervisor, the only other MT in my office at the time, and she didn't know either. I told her, "Hey, I know this place where you can go ask questions when you're stumped, and there are experienced MTs who might know the answer!" She said to try, so I went on-line and posted the question. A few minutes later I checked again, and Ann had responded and led me to the Chovstek sign. I was so happy that I didn't have to leave a blank. I told my supervisor, and, impressed, she said, "Hey, ask her if she wants a job!" That was my personal introduction to AnnR.

Through the years, I watched as she helped newbie MTs and veteran MTs alike. It got to where I perused the posts, not to ask anything, but thinking I might help someone like Ann had helped me. I was able to help occasionally, but mostly I enjoyed learning from others' questions and answers. Ann gave answers which sometimes shocked the reader - How ever did she know that? How indeed!

When other chat rooms spun off from MT Chat, Ann was a presence there, too. She seemed to be always around, and I just assumed she would be here forever. I think we all did.

Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.

- Chinese proverb

AnnR - the teacher who wasn't a teacher, but who affected patients' medical reports all over the globe. Her legacy lies in not just helping fill blanks, but in her ability to inspire other MTs to always strive to learn more - and to be as generous with the knowledge they obtain.

Goodbye, Ann. You were one of a kind.


Anonymous said...

That is a beautiful tribute to Ann. It brought tears to my eyes.

Deborah (MTPA)

Anonymous said...

Carol, what an amazing tribute. I think you should post this over at MT Chat so that Ann's family will be able to see it.

Jane Martin

Anonymous said...


What a wonderful way to remember and honor Ann. I agree with Jane, it should be posted at MT Chat.