Do I value the privacy of my health information? What do you mean? That if I email my doctor about an embarrassing symptom, only my doctor will read it? That only my doctor, my nurse and I have access to the information in my electronic medical record, including notes on our confidential conversations, prescriptions and test results? That my local drug store doesn't sell information about me to pharmaceutical companies? That if I ...

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Uncle Walt died this morning. Finally. I say "finally" because I believed this day would come four months ago, when he had emergency bypass surgery. At the time, I didn't believe Walt would live; he was an ailing, seventy-seven-year-old man with severe pulmonary disease. When his heart started to hurt one Friday, his doctors told him, "With bypass surgery, you might live. Without it, you'll be dead before the weekend is over." Walt's ...

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In fall of 1994, I was sixteen years old and sick. I had lost a lot of weight, reduced my diet to BRAT and roast chicken, filled a half-dozen stool samples, even tried a few prescriptions -- and nothing seemed to help. By that point I was seeing a gastroenterologist, Dr. C. After a pointless barium enema and follow-through, Dr. C performed a colonoscopy. From that, he gave me a definitive ...

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In 2005, my husband and I bought a small farmhouse in northern New England next door to Tom and Sally. They were in their early seventies, married nearly fifty years, with a large family. Tom's grandfather had built a farmhouse in 1900 on the family's small pig farm. In the 1970s, Tom and Sally had parceled off the land and built a modern house for themselves, a stone's throw from the ...

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Over the years, many people have shared with me their disappointment at the lack of acknowledgment from their physician when their loved one died. Especially, when their loved one had been a long time patient of the physician. In fact, many people have shared that they switched physicians because of what they perceived as a slight. When people go to a physician for many years, especially the family physician, it is ...

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In most states, doctors are mandated to ask their patients if they feel physically “safe at home.” With an aging population, perhaps another question should be added: are you financially safe? Two examples suggest the problem. “Trudy” had always managed her financial matters, even complex transactions. Aging, however, had made her short-term memory a bit more problematic and her focus diminished by TIAs. Even though her daughter shared responsibility on some of ...

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A frequent response to those contemplating suicide is to remember friends and loved ones, how much one is needed and how much one would be missed. Some people have a sense this statement is true and that the depressive emotions are inaccurate, so seeking therapy, medication, or riding out the episode will result in returning to whatever emotional mode is typical. Others don't believe this sentiment, and they potentially live ...

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As we reflect on the year that’s passing, it’s not unusual to formulate wishes and resolutions for the new year. I’m not much for resolutions anymore, but I do have hopes and wishes for me and for my readers. Of course, my first wish is that those of you who suffer from chronic illness -- including chronic pain -- have your health restored. I know that, for some, this is a ...

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Overheard in the gym: "Yeah, but I heard that ____ can be dangerous." "Oh, they wouldn't let us buy it if it was." Lately, the public's faith in the safety of prescription and over-the-counter drugs has been making me uneasy. Advances in drug development mean that many of us truly can live better lives through their wise use. But are we adequately guided and protected by a) regulators, b) our clinicians, c) a ...

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It is no secret that one of the best ways towards better health management is a good physician-patient relationship. There needs to be buy in from both participants to shared decision-making. One might object to the title of this post, stating that it puts the biggest burden on the patient, however when examining how this is achieved, you will, I hope, feel differently. 1. Establish a relationship. This might sound trite, but the first few ...

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