I have been asked a lot lately, owing to the release of my novel Altamont Augie, what writing fiction and being a doctor could possibly have in common? Patients and colleagues seem shocked that the rational, left-brain doctor they have come to know and depend on to deliver technologically complex medical care to patients with kidney failure could produce such a right-brain thing as a novel. Where did this ...

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I am used to being called a “medical provider” instead of a doctor or a physician these days, but it makes me think about the implications of our choices of words. The word “provider” was first used in non-medical contexts over 500 years ago. It is derived from the Latin providere, which means look ahead, prepare, supply. “Medical provider” is part of the Newspeak of America’s industrialized medical machine. ...

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Mostly it is just terrifying. I sat on the edge of the bed in my fleece pajamas and tried to describe the fear. “I’m sure you’ll do great,” my husband tried to reassure me. “But you don’t understand. Every time you induce general anesthesia, you’re basically almost killing someone. It’s … petrifying.” “But everyone always said you were a great resident Felicity, you’re going to be a great attending too. I’m sure everything will ...

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Mike was a runner, outdoors-man, and fitness nut. This was not so much as for health reasons as for "feeling good", but he did hope that it would help him avoid illness. It was worrisome when he started with some belly cramping and noticed some blood streaks in his stools. It took about a month until he could be scheduled for a colonoscopy. The news was shocking. "There's a cancer ...

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March 29, 2012 Calhoun Lecture Series Strom Thurmond Institute, Clemson University Thank you for the invitation to speak tonight. I’m very humbled to stand before you. And what a delight to speak to people who are neither bleeding, intoxicated nor asking for Percocet!   And in a setting where no one will burst through the back door on a stretcher! As you know, I’m an emergency physician at Oconee Medical Center. But before I go ...

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"You can't just let me bleed like this, Doc. I need to get out of here." So said John, a man in his seventies, with kidney cancer spread to his Ampulla of Vater. Renal cell cancer is among those that sometimes behave in very strange ways. John had had his removed, along with his left kidney, about nine months earlier. At the time, it was thought likely to be ...

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My patient ran away from the hospital. This ordinarily is almost common place for a hospital bordering the south side of Chicago. In the last two years at the hospital, I had first grown surprised, and then helpless and finally weary to such mysterious absconding. This time however, it struck a chord. Long before Mr B ran away, I had an inkling the new diagnosis of HIV would be difficult for him ...

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As I pulled into the parking lot across the street from the large urban hospital where I now work, I considered the number of cars in the physician parking lot. Could there really be a physician shortage when the lot borders on full by 8am? While I fully believe that there is a maldistribution of physicians in the United States, my mind took off pondering what the parking lot would’ve ...

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Long relying on feedback from not only my patients but also family and friends, I try to continually improve upon how I provide care.  A family member points out what they don’t like about a recent office visit and I make a mental note.  A patient I referred to a specialist is less than thrilled about the way she was treated, again I make a mental note.  Many of my ...

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Nothing is more delicious to the eyes of a five year old girl then the shimmering, metallic glare of a Zippo lighter. So when her Mom ran over to the neighbors to borrow some sugar, she climbed up the rickety kitchen cabinets and stood on her tip toes in order to reach the top shelf and pilfer the object of her desire. After tripping clumsily back down, she sprinted to the ...

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