Idioms are expressions everyone understands as something other than what the literal words say.  For example, when I talk about “putting all of my eggs in one basket,” everyone knows I’m not really talking about eggs. We say things like: It’s raining cats and dogs. It was a piece of cake! I heard it straight from the horse’s mouth. We have a few idioms in medicine, too.  If I talk about “hanging crepe” in a ...

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shutterstock_173798813 My daughter was born, three months premature, during my third year of residency.  Following a harrowing three months in the NICU, we joyfully welcomed her home. After eight blissful but isolating weeks, I was eager to return to the wards. I happily reunited with colleagues and patients, but I also deeply missed being home. During quieter moments, I daydreamed about stroking ...

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shutterstock_228580378 I have written previously about some “aha moments” that I have had as a clinician, when something that I knew was coming seemed to arrive with a thud in my own practice. I had another one of those moments a couple of weeks ago. I was finishing up with a new patient, and had explained to him and his wife my assessment ...

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shutterstock_216140242 Question from a reader: "What are your feelings about when a patient breaks up with you? I love love my doc, but ..." Patients “break up” with me all the time. Well, not all the time, but it’s not uncommon. There are many reasons, some of which are under the patient’s control, and some which are not. Moving across the country is ...

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I hate to be the bearer of bad news.  Sorry to say, breast cancer touches everyone.  If there is no one that you love that hasn't been affected by breast cancer, just wait.  It's coming. I have had personal experience with friends and family with breast cancer.  There's Tina, who was my roommate in medical school.  There's my mother, now a survivor for 20+ years.  I have already flirted ...

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shutterstock_117895975 I often wondered what got me here. I am a reader. Give me a book, an apple and a bus ride home and I was lost in the words. Send me to school and make me create 3x5 word cards for hundreds of new words and I was hooked. Then off to high school where science gave me a new vocabulary. ...

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DoctorsThankPatients-640x480 I’m a family physician in Eugene, Oregon -- a sweet town where folks are pretty darn friendly.  I still do house calls. Patients often surprise me with gifts. And nearly every appointment ends in a hug. Kindness is contagious. I like to return the favor. So every few weeks I celebrate “patient appreciation day.” I thank patients with balloons and chocolates. Why? For ...

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shutterstock_228969187 Racism and prejudice are endemic in America. Many of us reflexively answer, No, if we are asked if we are prejudiced. I don’t. I say yes. While I do my best to give everyone a fair shake, I grew up in a white suburban family in the latter decades of the last century. My friends, my parent’s friends and all those we ...

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shutterstock_265206557 In case you were wondering -- robots won’t replace anesthesiologists any time soon, regardless of what the Washington Post may have to say. There will definitely be a place for feedback and closed-loop technology applications in sedation and in general anesthesia, but for the foreseeable future we will still need humans. I’ve been practicing anesthesiology for 30 years now, in the ...

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shutterstock_87958063 It’s a Monday morning, and two patients wait expectantly for the cardiologist. Instead, they get me, a fresh resident. “I don’t know why I’m seeing you,” says the first. I bumble through the chart and find a note indicating he has a large atrium on his most recent echocardiogram. “So, what surgery do you have coming up?” I offer, to get ...

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