I slipped and fell. My hip fractured, surgery would make it better. But it didn't. My body was too weak to fight. I couldn't cough and deep breathe; I stayed in bed. I had nausea and vomiting. I couldn't breathe. I became weaker and weaker, until my family noticed. The medics rushed me into the ER. My blood pressure was 62/34. For how long? The ER nurses and doctors tried ...

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"Do you need help getting undressed?" Jon asks from the doorway of our bedroom, one hand holding his BlackBerry, the other tucked into the front pocket of his baggy jeans. His head is slightly tilted, his eyebrows arched, highlighting his forehead wrinkles. His phone vibrates, drawing his eyes from me to the incoming message. I wait. Jon reads, ponders and then looks up, half-absorbed in what he's just read, and registers that ...

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This piece is based on personal experience and on the thousands of emails I’ve received from those who live day-to-day with chronic illness (which includes chronic pain). 1. Email. I know the joy of hearing the actual voice of a loved one. That said, email is the principal way I communicate with people. It’s hard for me to talk on the phone. It saps my energy quickly, partly because of the need for ...

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Some say privacy is an illusion. I hope that isn’t true, but I do know that our medical records are not safe. Why should you care? Because our medical records contain our social security numbers, health insurance information, our home addresses, phone numbers, emergency contacts and their phone numbers, our email addresses, possibly our driver’s license numbers, and likely credit card payment information. Ever paid your co-pay with a ...

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I would have graduated from medical school this year.  That’s right.  Just like you, I’d be getting ready to move to another city and take up residence at an academic medical center to begin my clinical training. Things don’t always work out the way we planned: like Lenny and George in Steinbeck’s, Of Mice and Men.  Sometimes, the best-laid plans have a way of going awry no matter how carefully we prepare them. Cancer.  I wasn’t worried. It was ...

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Five months in the NICU made the daily 20-mile drive to see our son at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle quite tiresome. He was born prematurely at 22 weeks and 6 days of gestation, and we felt uprooted, wondering if we would ever get him home.  Then we met some Alaskans in the waiting room, who told us stories about being hustled on to air ambulances when pre-term labor was ...

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As a registered nurse and health care writer and editor for more than 25 years, I routinely wrote or assigned stories to other writers about the health of LGBT individuals.  I valued these stories not only because I was a nurse, but also because I thought the subject was worthy of coverage. I believed our nurse readers should be aware of the specific health needs of their LGBT patients. I followed ...

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Dear doctor, I need you to be healthy. When I come to you for help, I need your "A" game. I need you sleep enough. Eat healthy food. Not too much. Mostly vegetables. I need you to exercise regularly and take time to take care of your own physical, emotional and spiritual needs. I need to you use the bathroom when you need to. I need you to stop and take ...

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On September 14, 2006, I was in the midst of a 218-consecutive-day hospitalization. What began as a scheduled C-section that April, resulted in a massive infection that nearly killed me. By Autumn, I was receiving physical therapy in the large hospital gym when I was raced back up to my room for my trach to be suctioned. This was not an uncommon occurrence. I was used to the process, and ...

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I am an ENT surgeon, a friend of the author, the patient, and their daughter, whose intervention saved his life. This is a smart, loving family caught in a terrible vortex of terrible medical care until they pulled themselves out, and a story that physicians must read, as we struggle to reinstate humanity and humility into our noble profession. Here is Paul's tale, as told by his wife. *** On a mid-December ...

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