Where I come from, when most people refer to the Good Book, they are referring to the Bible.  This is not true for my father, because to him, the Good Books are something else entirely. He describes a scene early in his career as a plastic surgeon, when he had taken his doting mother to see his new office. Coincidentally, a lovely thank you note had just arrived from one of ...

Read more...

My eldest son, the first-born of a set of extremely premature triplets, died a few minutes after he was born. Defying the odds I remained pregnant with my other two boys for 24 days. After holding him for some time in the delivery room, the same room where I myself had delivered hundred of babies and passed them on to families beaming with tears of joy, I was asked about his ...

Read more...

A large woman, she has soiled herself.  With practiced motion, Bob rolls his wife onto her side. Yellow diarrhea has leaked out of the diaper, soaking the nightgown and sheets, finding its way into each fold, crease, and flaw.  The room fills with odor, but the winter house remains dark; outside wind blows down the empty street. It is 2:00am and Bob is cleaning shit.  Only 90 minutes asleep, he ...

Read more...

While patients and physicians operate under oral agreements, business agreements are generally established in writing. In these documents, terms are outlined including contingencies in the event that foreseeable obstacles or disputes develop. Oftentimes, the two parties do not agree that a contractual term has been violated. This is when the fun begins. With a little luck, the legal profession enters the arena and can speedily resolve the disagreement in a ...

Read more...

When I was seventeen, I developed a medical problem due to no fault of my own. It was painful, it was embarrassing, and when it became uncomfortable enough to disrupt my life, I went to see a well known surgeon downtown. The specialist, tucked away in the hallow halls of academia, stared down at me past a pair of spectacles perched at the end of his ever-protruding nose. When he examined ...

Read more...

As an incurable compulsive introspect, I tend to brood, ponder, contemplate, and (of course) muse on "big ideas," such as:

  • What makes people choose things which cause themselves harm?
  • Are some people better people than others, or are they just more skilled at hiding their problems?
  • Is pain really a bad thing, or is our aversion to it a sign of human weakness?
  • Does God ever wear a hat?
  • Do dogs watch Oprah?
  • Why did I ...

    Read more...

I have noticed over the years that physicians who write about medicine, particularly for the general public, are limited to very specific discussions.  For instance, it is perfectly acceptable to write about the plight of the poor and uninsured.  It is always reasonable to advocate for a single payer system. It is perfectly acceptable to discuss how one downsized in order to make less and "give back" more.  And it ...

Read more...

Everyone noticed him before we boarded the plane. He asked the airline representative at least three times to confirm that he had a seat. He looked like an adult, but the tone of his voice was that of a child. “Yes, you have a seat, Michael. It’s 7B.” Grey cargo pants covered his short legs. The sleeves of his striped polo shirt collected below his elbows, making his arms look even shorter ...

Read more...

The medical director of my clinic once gave me a book on burnout. I never read it. Didn't have the time or energy. Because a young reader considering a career in surgery referred to stories he's heard of depressed and disappointed surgeons and asked for my thoughts, I'll try to address it. Parenthetically, I've heard from more than a few readers that my blog and/or book has inspired them to consider ...

Read more...

DSC5475-2-1024x839 A new patient calls for an appointment. I ask, “What would you like to come in for?” “Depression. Two weeks ago my doctor put me on antidepressants.” “Why don’t you see your current doctor?” I ask. “I feel weird discussing my emotions with someone who doesn’t have any.” When doctors are fully present, vulnerable -- even emotional, patients are more likely to be honest, transparent, ...

Read more...

Most Popular