Well, decision time was here and it looked as if Bill would choose surgery, and why not, with the doctors liberally throwing around the word "cure.'" The various tests Bill endured, breathing tests, echocardiogram and MRI of the brain, were all within tolerable ranges, we were told.  The oncologist noted some marks in the brain that suggested mini-strokes, but Bill didn't hear this or it didn't register with him, or ...

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shutterstock_193162472 November of last year found me living as best I could with several health issues, the most debilitating of which stems from never having recovered from a serious viral infection in 2001. I’ve been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, a little understood and much-misunderstood illness. It keeps me virtually housebound. For the most part, I’ve made peace with feeling sick all ...

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shutterstock_73029814 Ask anyone connected with health care these days to provide a definition for patient engagement and you will likely receive as many answers as there are agendas surrounding the discipline. While patient engagement has evolved as a critical strategy in support of the ultimate goal of creating improved health for a total population, you would think that a mandate for a unified ...

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A version of this speech was delivered May 14, 2015 to the graduating class at the University of Manitoba. I’m not a doctor. I never will be. I’m a lowly journalist. I tell stories.  For almost 30 years, I’ve tried to help Canadians understand their health system and their medical care. In that time, I’ve seen tremendous advances in medicine and I’ve met, quite literally, thousands of health professionals, from students to ...

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shutterstock_252181402 In 2008, at the age of 22, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and began my experience with the American health care system and how to care for myself in it. When I was in the process of diagnosing my illness, I went to Oregon Health and Science University in Portland to meet with an endocrinologist and have my ultrasound results interpreted. ...

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Statistics from the Pew Research Center indicate that the majority of people use the Internet to find information on health. As online resources improve and proliferate, this fraction will continue to climb higher. There is no doubt that patients see the Internet as one tool to learn about a condition, diagnose themselves, or read about the range of treatment alternatives. Patients understand that knowledge is power. So how should patients ...

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While there are worse times to sprain an ankle and chip a bone than just one week before a long­awaited trip to Venice, I couldn’t think of one as I sat in the emergency room for eight hours last fall. Venice, the place of canals and not cars; ancient bridges sans escalators. How ironic that just a few days before I was crowing to my husband over my hotel coup. A ...

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Recently a neighbor of mine was in our local hospital for several weeks undergoing treatment for MRSA and dehydration. Polly is a woman in her late seventies who is completely alert and oriented. She lives an active and independent lifestyle and is fully capable of understanding and communicating clearly with others. I asked her adult daughter how her mother’s experience had been so far. Given that this is a hospital that ...

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Before I got into medical school, while I was still in my first year of graduate school, I learned what hell was like. The hospital was a rabbit warren. Walking down the long empty beige halls fueled my hatred for hospitals.  And, of the color beige. When I had volunteered during college, I would press myself up against the wall whenever a gaggle of doctors passed by. They ruled the hospital: powerful, ...

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On October 10, 2013, the Boston Public Library held an author event featuring Dr. Sheri Fink, she of the MD/PhD braininess that appears to be in constant triage mode; she famously skipped her own medical school graduation to assist refugees on the Kosovo-Macedonia border during the war in Kosovo.  Five Days at Memorial had recently come out, and her talk that early fall evening definitely had the feel of a ...

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