At some point in our lives, and it probably happens more often than we’d like to admit, we fake it. Let’s get real, shall we friends? Think about it. Your mother is having heart surgery in a small town across the country. You are, frankly, worried sick. Do you tell anyone in the operating room, especially your patient? What would you do? If you’re like me (OK, this was me recently), you fake it. You smile at your ...

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As a pediatrician and future mother of black children, I am worried. I am worried about my patients who face possible death if they appear threatening to the wrong police officer, like Tamir Rice. I am worried about my patients who might be sleeping peacefully in their families’ home when law enforcement officials burst in with grenades like the ones that killed Aiyana Stanley-Jones. I am worried about my teenage ...

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Whenever I have the opportunity to suggest that good medicine is based on friendship, I usually get a nod of approval mixed with a quizzical look.  What’s that supposed to mean? At a recent meeting of an editorial board on which I serve,  the reaction to my suggestion was more forceful and perhaps more honest.  The topic of the day concerned patient education, and how hard it can be to move patients to do things ...

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"How many patients do you have?" I’m not sure what you mean. How many patients do I see on average each day? About twelve. "No. How many patients do you have?" Let’s see: Last week I saw about sixty patients altogether. Five of them were new patients. "No, no. How many patients do you have on your panel?" My panel? I don’t know what you mean by that. I don’t work as an employer in ...

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I thoroughly enjoy my 65-year-old male with his horrendous diabetic foot ulcer.  But there’s not enough insulin in the state of Tennessee to cover the two bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits he eats every morning. And I adore my 57-year-old female with COPD.  But the inhalers won’t work until she stops smoking two packs of cigarettes per day.  I laugh every time I see that hilarious 32-year-old with hypertension.  But the ...

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The optimism of a Rwandan in 2015 will strike you. Take a population that has seen or been raised in the wake of more horror than the average Westerner can imagine, and bring up a problem or something negative. Too short to reach the top shelf? It's OK, you’ll fit under doors better. Hair stands out when bright red? Easier to pick out in a crowd. Mother has had 3 ...

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One of my best friends from high school is battling with leukemia. I remember days hanging out in my room, listening to music (we were both huge REO Speedwagon fans), shooting Nerf hoops and talking about life (mainly girls at that time). We were not sure of what life would bring, but we knew we were destined for big things. Denny was always more confident than I was at the time ...

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It was several decades ago when my father, not long retired from a lifetime of denominational service as a chemistry professor, noticed pain in his abdomen.  Initially attributing this to ingestion of some excessively hot tea, he ignored it for a time, hoping that, like many ailments, it would dissipate on its own.  When it did not, he sought medical attention. He ended up at the hospital where I worked, and ...

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With fewer than 100 days until the first primaries, the leading candidates have received ample airtime to address the important issues our nation faces. But even though health care accounts for around 18 percent of our nation’s GDP and consumes close to half of the total tax revenue collected by the federal government, their silence on providing solutions to the most pressing health care challenges our nation faces continues with ...

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The first posting on my blog explained why I chose to name it “Auscultation.”  I wrote that I wanted to promote a conversation, and that listening was essential to doing so. I went on to write: “With an obvious nod to my being a cardiologist, I believe auscultation has long been an act that defines us as physicians and connects us in a profound way with our patients. The act of ...

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