Next in a series. What are some of the characteristics of healers? They listen and do so nonjudgmentally. They respond on the patient’s terms. They are humble. They are truthful. The healer communicates on the patient’s (and family’s) own terms. The healer always explains his or her reasoning. The healer tries to diminish the information gap. Despite all of medicine’s sophisticated technology and providers’ skills, the patient still needs the doctor ...

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Feminism is the radical notion that women are people. - Marie Shear Recent speaking clients know that I often note the parallels between the patient movement and other cultural revolutions: the women’s movements, civil rights, gay rights, disability rights. (I mention disability issues less often, but it was disability advocate Ed Roberts who said in the 1990s, after years of struggle: “When someone else speaks for you, you lose.”) As anyone who’s heard me ...

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When my son Ben was 20-years-old, he was finally diagnosed with schizophrenia after five years of chaos and frustration -- what I later came to know had been symptoms of the gradual onset of his illness. At the time, I’d thought he was just having a tough adolescence. I’d thought perhaps he needed more father figures (Ben’s father had deserted the family when Ben and his sister were little, and ...

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Recently I had dinner with a friend of mine who, decades ago, had sat on my doctoral dissertation committee. At one point we touched on my dissertation, which covered the health issues of Baltimore's homeless teens. "You always had an uncanny connection with homeless kids," my friend said. "You really understood them." I gazed out the window, seeing the homeless people with their shopping carts in the park across the street. Then I ...

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Remember the fathers of sick children When I was a little girl, my dad was my hero. He was strong and brave, and it only took his presence to make me feel safe and secure. I thought he understood everything there was to know in the world. I believed he could solve any problem, slay any dragon, protect me from all harm. That’s the best thing about dads, ...

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Dr. Robert's office felt right to me, with a musical birdsong soundtrack, soft lighting and fresh green tea, and I had my best friend in tow: piece of cake. In this serene atmosphere, I was sure that I'd find out what to do next to finish treating my endometrial cancer. "It's probably gone now, since my hysterectomy two weeks back," I thought. "But let's play it safe; he's the gynecological-cancer guru." Like ...

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Are insurance companies making more decisions about the health care you receive? While a decade or two ago utilization nurses working for insurance companies had some power to approve or reject certain treatments, the reach of insurers into the patient-physician relationship is lengthening. In March, I reported that insurers were sending questionnaires to policyholders newly insured under Obamacare asking about their health conditions and medical needs. And some people were filling them ...

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Criticizing The Fault in Our Stars does childhood cancer a disservice A pediatric oncologist seems to suggest we shouldn’t be getting too upset about childhood cancer because kids and teens dying or going blind “are things that we don’t typically encounter.” “I think the important thing to realize is that cancer in children is highly treatable and ultimately curable,” Dr. Charles Hemenway of Loyola University said in HemOnc Today, in response to the movie ...

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5 ways to bridge the communications gap with doctors In an age where technology dominates our medical world, communication between patient and doctor often leave me wanting. Over the last few years as a patient, I have learned a number of strategies to help bridge the communication gap with doctors. For patients: Speak up. Nobody likes confrontation, but it doesn’t have to be an argument if you are calm and respectful with your ...

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Red wine is good for you. Red wine is bad for you. News coverage of health studies can give readers cognitive whiplash, and for good reason. “The reason the stories contradict each other is because the studies contradict each other,” reporter Virginia Hughes wrote in her blog. In her post, Hughes explains why it can be so frustrating to write about complex health research for an audience of readers that ...

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