When Hubby isn’t around to act as a sounding board, when I’m not feeling well, I talk to my dog.  She sometimes gets a fearful, tearful earful.  I think if I could channel her thoughts to Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, our conversation might go something like this: Me: Alexa, it took seven days of seeing dentists for someone to listen to me. Alexa: I didn’t know you were a 7th Day Adventist. Me: No, seven dentists. Alexa ...

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An excerpt from How To Be A Merry Widow - Life after Death for the Older Lady. You are like an animal cut off from the herd; people are social beings and need to be with others. The very word ‘"solitary" brings fear even to the most hardened criminal. ...

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"You ever work with vets?" asks the young man sitting across from me in the hospital waiting room. He's been sitting there all morning. So have I. Since 5:30 a.m., my father-in-law, 88, has been undergoing surgery to remove a tumor in his lung. The surgeons just sent word that they've finished, and my wife and her mother have gone to the post-op room to see him. Waiting for them to return, ...

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I've noticed a frightening trend in the latest research on patients taking prescribed opioids: whatever the negative outcomes, researchers attribute them to the opioid medications instead of the underlying pain. The many detrimental outcomes these studies find are exactly what you'd expect from a person suffering long-term chronic pain. They don't recognize or calculate into their studies that opioids were prescribed to ease intractable pain. It's like stating ...

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I was standing behind my trolley in our local supermarket when, in my wallet, I came across that drawing of a human heart. In the miniature pen-and-ink composition, the heart is suspended between two birds’ wings. At the bottom is a dateline: Opioid Vigil, October 19, 2012. Memory is a slippery thing, but I recall the 20-something artist as tall and rangy. At that opioid vigil, he sat behind the exhibit table, ...

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My husband, who's had type 2 diabetes for 20 years, had been struggling for a long while to lower his hemoglobin A1C — a number that measures how well he's managing his blood sugar over time. When he and I finally investigated the issue, it turned out that someone close to him was thwarting his efforts. This person is an addict. Her drug of choice is sugar — often candy no ...

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Tammy Fox wanted to help after a friend took ill with a rare and difficult-to-diagnose autoimmune disorder that required many trips to the Mayo Clinic. Although Fox couldn’t do anything medically, she knew there was a way to ease some of the burden of medical bills and costs associated with doctor visits. She turned to the website GoFundMe and set up a site for her friend. “You’ve got meals; you’ve got hotel ...

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The mud is deep and thick and black. The smoothness of its surface is deceiving, drawing me closer to it with promises of contentment. It lures those who dare to tread upon it into its hidden depths. Hopes are dashed as one struggles for freedom. It is tenacious: Lift one foot upward and the other sinks deeper into Mother Earth. A sense of futility in escaping its grasp erodes the ...

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I’ve been concerned lately. Here’s why. In 2001, I got sick with what the doctors assumed was an acute viral infection, but I never recovered. I’m mostly housebound, often bedbound. My diagnosis is the little understood (but much misunderstood) myalgic encephalomyelitis, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS. I describe it as “the flu without the fever.” This means that fatigue is only one of many symptoms I contend with ...

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In a recent article for Pain Medicine News, "4 Steps Every Provider Must Take Before Prescribing an Opioid," two lawyers detail the voluminous documentation doctors must collect and maintain to protect themselves against all these new anti-opioid rules. When even so many doctors don't understand chronic pain, it's no surprise that lawyers don't either. They are trying to fit the practice of pain management into a ...

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