“Hey, doc, you’re killing me.” Or, more specifically, us. A recent report from researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine points to medical errors as the third leading cause of death in this country. Despite the many safeguards put in place by the government, hospitals, and doctors, themselves, more than 250,000 people a year in the U.S. die from hospital-acquired infections, wrong-site surgeries, medication mistakes and a host of ...

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One weekend about nine-and-a-half years ago, I flew from Minneapolis, where I live, to Atlanta for a publishing conference. A colleague and I were to make a presentation to the vice-president of one of our major customers. For a couple of weeks, I'd been plagued by a sore throat, but I'd written it off as allergies or a virus. When I tried to begin the presentation, though, all that came out ...

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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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