When Kara Tippetts, a 38-year-old mother of four, died of breast cancer last year, more than 17,000 people live-streamed her funeral. Tippetts gained national prominence through her blog, where she confronted her impending death directly and offered a refreshingly frank take on what it's like to have a terminal disease. Unfortunately, the openness Tippetts displayed is usually missing where it's needed most: hospitals. Doctors, nurses and other caregivers are often reluctant ...

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It started, as far as I know, with a twinge. A back spasm in a healthy, but prone to back spasms, 68-year-old man, who soon was reduced to near tears in the parking lot of the Thai restaurant where we’d gone to get take out. It was early summer, and I was on a short visit to the east coast. My mother was the one to worry about. She had ...

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“Food is love,” my partner jokes as she unloads mountains of food from her latest trip to Costco. “I can’t help it! I’m Jewish!” she protests, when I wonder aloud how the two of us will ever manage to consume all that food. As the lineups at superstores attest, for a great many people being able to prepare and serve meals is a vital way of showing love. I never expected to ...

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Hospitals have always served as a lifeline to survival. Whether from pneumonia, heart attack, stroke, or trauma, they have been a community safeguard between life and death. Today, a cost of care has been added to the patient treatment discussion forcing medical decision-making to look closely at expense. Financial considerations have come to the forefront as preservation of resources will be important to national health care. This can be a threat ...

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Mom. She was a feisty 100 percent Italian, straight from New Jersey. Her dad, straight from Italy, was a tailor and made the finest suits for New York and New Jersey businessmen. Mom learned this trade well. She could sew some of the most beautiful tailored suits for herself. She loved to cook and every night was a banquet, a feast which required up to 2 hours of clean-up time ...

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The world can be a lonely place. Despite technology designed to bring us closer, it seems we've become more isolated. We view profiles rather than embrace complete individuals. We spend hours crafting a persona, a smooth and unblemished public face. Raw, unattractive emotions: grief, insecurity, jealousy. We mask those from others and even hide them from our deepest selves. Ultimately, rather than becoming more connected, I suspect we are cast ...

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I knew it was bad when she couldn’t tell me her name. I watched her face fill with frustration as a word she had uttered countless times over eight decades somehow got lost between her brain and her lips. It was 2 a.m. and I was on call as the surgical resident. I had been told that a patient with bladder cancer was being transferred from another hospital, and, as these ...

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During the first few days that my mother spent in hospice, I silently sat by her bed watching her chest rise and fall, listening to her moan, counting her doses of Ativan, Tylenol, and Morphine, and tallying the days she’d been without food and water. On day five of my vigil, I asked her nurse, “How long can Mom live like this? She hasn’t opened her eyes or eaten or had ...

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Ruth was a spry, but frail 98-year-old woman who was stiff and sore following the 6-hour drive from California to Arizona. She had suffered a recent wrist injury and was not recovering well after spending three weeks in a rehabilitation center. She was in the midst of upheaval and discontent -- in the throes of relocated to an assisted-living residence closer to her son. The facility’s coordinator had begun to ...

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The only thing I love more than complaining about being a doctor is actually being a doctor. Intern year sucks. There’s no way around it. I wake up at 5:15 a.m. to get to the floor at 6:00 a.m. and I rarely leave at 5:00 p.m. when my shift is scheduled to end assuming I’m not on call until 9:00 p.m. I often feel my stomach growl at 9:00 a.m. and ...

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