He was an ornery kind of fellow, evident by his scowl and beady, glaring eyes that greeted me upon my entrance into his room. The nurse, thankfully, had given me a heads-up on this eighty-five year-old gentleman's demeanor. With her kind warning, I felt prepared to be tested by this patient's demanding and abrupt nature. What I wasn't ready for, though, was this man's physical appearance. He was extremely small in ...

Read more...

I always wanted to become a medical doctor to cure the sick and save lives. In fact, most doctors I know chose the profession for the same reason. This fundamental desire among physicians to treat patients is because our beliefs have been deeply rooted in the concept of disease management rather than the provision of health care. As an aspiring physician and student of health care, I often catch myself heading to ...

Read more...

Several studies have explored the experience of grief that physicians feel when they lose a patient. But what about when the patient loses a physician -- when the doctor dies? Dr. K was a well-known child psychiatrist, a loving husband, a father of two, and an irreplaceable support and friend for a number of children suffering from trauma, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism and other challenging psychiatric conditions. Earlier this year, ...

Read more...

Researching your health is about balanceResearching your health is about balance An excerpt from Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Strategies for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness. The temptation was overwhelming. I typed "google.com" into my Internet browser and stepped into a hypochondriac’s dream. Once at Google’s home page, the search bar begged for something interesting. My fingers clicked out “kidney disease ...

Read more...

I wish I had known earlier that survivorship care is neither a do-it-yourself project nor is it something that I can simply hand off to experts. There is no stable set of signs, signals and test protocols that, if followed assiduously -- and that come up negative -- means I am protected from a recurrence, new cancer or late effects of treatment. Observation, expertise and self-knowledge by both me and ...

Read more...

"Forty-two-year old male, chronic pain syndrome," the chart reads. I'm a third-year medical student doing an elective at a physical medicine and rehabilitation clinic, and this is my first time seeing Joe. Sitting expectantly in the exam-room chair, he's a gaunt man with a long face and dark tattoos down his arms. Wire-rimmed glasses, stringy ponytail, faded jeans and leather jacket complete the look. "Nice to meet you," I say. "I'm Angela, a ...

Read more...

Sometimes, it really does take one to know one.  Not every counselor can work well with every patient.  It is hard to understand how people can presume to know bereavement and grief when they have lost no one of significance in their lives.  Surely everyone has experienced loss at some time.  However, the death of a tame woods animal is usually, qualitatively, very different from the death ...

Read more...

How design can empower patients To designer and architect Michael Graves, paralyzed from a rare virus and in a wheelchair since 2003, the ultimate indignity came one day while he was a patient in a top-ranked hospital: “I was in a Hoyer Lift.” (a body sling mounted to a metal structure, used to help lift and move a patient). “The nurse was moving me from the bed ...

Read more...

There has never been a time in my life when I’ve owed a lot of money. That certainly has changed this past two years as my husband and myself find ourselves with medical debt that we may never pay off . As you can guess, we have no health insurance -- we can’t afford it and even if we did have an extra $650 a month we couldn’t obtain it ...

Read more...

Having cancer has infected me and many others with the irritating tendency to view any persistent, troubling symptom through the lens of a recurrence or a diagnosis of a new primary cancer. A friend of mine who is nearly five years post-kidney cancer treatment casually remarked the other day that he needed to see a doctor about his sore ankle: it could be arthritis, but it might be cancer, of ...

Read more...