What ever happened to courage? Jim came through the cholecystectomy beautifully. In fact, he did so well that in no time he was back on the basketball court. Three weeks later he was in my office with a sore, swollen leg. He thought it was from twisting his ankle the day before. And indeed, it had all the appearances of a sports injury. I examined the extremity carefully, and decided to get ...

Read more...

Many years ago when I was a “young” doctor, moonlighting in the ER of a tiny country town, I had an experience that challenged my training. You see, most young, new doctors often think their training and knowledge is superior to that of “old” doctors, which is often malarkey. A wise and sage old doctor in this tiny country town taught me an important lesson on where and how one ...

Read more...

As a nursing student, I always enjoyed being able to see first-hand new procedures, treatments, wounds and wound care on patients. Many of the patients were older and all were in the nursing homes we did our clinical rotations in. It wouldn't be unusual for several of us to be gathered around a patient while the wound care nurse or doctor cleaned, debrided and dressed a pressure ulcer, and for ...

Read more...

I have been a loyal patron of the Karma Hair Salon in New Haven, Conn. for at least the past 15 years. Whenever my hair looks good, it is thanks to Karma and owner Cheryl McMahon's expert attention to my unruly head (the thickness of my hair -- a good problem, I know! -- could give a yak envy; and I have more cowlicks than several small countries). If ever my hair doesn't look ...

Read more...

“Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  I learned this saying when I came to America, but before that, I learned a different story.  A wood cutter got lost in the forest, it was getting dark and cold.  He met a bear, who offered him to come to his den.  The man entered and said “It stinks in here!”  The next day the woodcutter ...

Read more...

Life and death in a hospital ravaged by Hurricane KatrinaLife and death in a hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina An excerpt from Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital. At last through the broken windows, the pulse of helicop­ter rotors and airboat propellers set the summer morning air throbbing with the promise of rescue. Floodwaters unleashed by Hurricane Katrina had marooned hundreds of people at the ...

Read more...

All people are gifted. As an emergency room physician, I see a wide variety of gifts, such as yodeling, knitting, and swearing (mostly swearing). One gift I rarely see is math. As a whole, the U.S. sucks at math. When compared with other nations, the U.S. ranks 32nd in math (though first in confidence). Despite this, we expect mathematical coherency from our drunkest friends. I enter the room to find Mom. ...

Read more...

A 100-year-old woman is brought to the emergency room by a concerned friend because she can no longer get out of bed to get food or go to the bathroom. Other than being unwashed and a little confused, she is fine. Her electrolytes are pristine, her electrocardiogram the definition of normal, her blood count and chest x-ray perfectly mirror the expected physiology for her age. Even her urinalysis is normal. ...

Read more...

I often read advice to doctors about how to screen for domestic violence.  I was that woman for many years. I was that child and I know for a fact my pediatrician knew but was afraid to report it. And then I grew up and became that woman. Physical violence while brutal, doesn’t compare to the controlling, creeping intimate fear sustained in such relationships.  My then husband came with me to some of ...

Read more...

There is a saying that you enter medical school wanting to help people but exit it wanting to help yourself. It may be a cynical view, but a realistic one. The criteria to being a good medical student are far different from being a good doctor. Medical education may be breeding a legion of self-serving, grade-grubbing, SOAP-note spewing machines rather than the empathetic, compassionate and caring physicians of admission essays ...

Read more...

Most Popular