An excerpt from The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital. The outdated caricature of the sexy nurse -- breasts straining buttons on a form-fitting white minidress, shapely legs slipped into white heels -- remains pervasive and global. Nurses say it also holds the profession back. Imagery that sexualizes nurses presents a difficult job requiring ...

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"He's just expired," said the nurse as I approached Ray's room in the large inner-city hospital where I work as a patient advocate. "And his wife has just arrived. Why don't you go in?" I found Natalie bent over Ray's body. His hollow cheek was drenched with her tears. "I'm so sor --" "I told him yesterday to talk to Jesus," Natalie interrupted, speaking quickly. "I told him if the two of them ...

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Managing diabetes is all about control: controlling what you eat, when you eat, and the amount of insulin you give yourself. As someone with type 1 diabetes, I understand how control over one’s blood glucose levels is vital to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. When I was hospitalized due to a car accident, however, I saw how the hospital’s desire to control my care ended up costing my insurance company more ...

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There are a lot of frustrated and unhappy people out there when it comes to their perception of health care today. The contemporary practice of medicine is changing, rapidly, and those changes have been a challenge for patients and  physicians alike. The list of reasons for this is lengthy. Certainly physicians and hospitals are finding it difficult at times to meet all the changes and demands put on them, by ...

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One winter afternoon during my first year as a hospice volunteer, I drove slowly through the kind of neighborhood where the only people you see during the day are landscapers, contractors and housecleaning services and where one house is grander than the next. I was looking for the ranch house where Bobby had been living since his diagnosis. Most people I visit, as a hospice volunteer, are my senior by 20 ...

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It’s hard enough to sustain a good relationship when neither partner is facing a health challenge. Illness ranks high on the list of life’s stressful events, so it’s no surprise that it can have a negative impact on a close relationship. Couples may benefit from counseling, one of the principal reasons being that the presence of a neutral party in the room can facilitate more calm and constructive communication. What follows ...

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Perhaps we thought we could get away with ignoring the relationship between doctors and patients. The Kaiser Health News article, "Efforts to Instill Empathy Among Doctors is Paying Dividends," explains why we can’t. Patient satisfaction scores and reimbursements aside, this relationship was once considered the cornerstone of quality care. Doctors are healers but in recent years many have been reduced to diagnosticians, electronic medical records (EMR) data entry clerks, and health ...

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To the staff overseeing my medically-complex child, My child has been in this world much longer than you expected; thus I’ve been in this relationship with you much longer than I expected. If I could break up with you and find someone new, believe me I would (I’m sure so would you some days). But that isn’t possible; we’re in a dysfunctional relationship. If we recognize this together and just come to an ...

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In 2010, I became a hospice volunteer. My mother had died of a brain tumor five years earlier at age eighty-seven. I saw being a hospice volunteer as a way to express my gratitude for my mother's compassionate hospice care and to help other caregivers to weather a loved one's passing. And, as a former reporter and writer, I thought I could help people to write their life stories, if they ...

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I consider myself a pretty savvy and resourceful consumer. I know how to solve problems that come up in the day to day situations we all face. I have navigated my way through more than a few complicated and sensitive financial situations. Add to that my ability to be persistent, and you would think that I could figure out a simple denial of an insurance claim with ease, right? In ...

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