I practiced general internal medicine from June 1979 until November 2003. Immediately after training, I became an employed physician of an older internist covering my employer’s patients and building my practice for two years before embarking on my own. I saw 20 or more patients per day in addition to providing hospital care and visiting patients as they recovered in nursing homes. As managed care made its clout felt by kidnapping ...

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As you sit here in the office, waiting for this visit to be over, I wonder if you would let me share just a few things with you. Despite your impeccable eyeshadow, your impressive GPA, and the smile you flash so readily, I sense that there are things left unsaid. I am curious if there is more to your story that you wish could be told. But I know that ...

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I sat in seat 23F next to the window, took out my leftover dinner from my backpack, and furiously started eating. A few minutes later, a man wearing an Astros baseball cap sat next to me with a puzzled look. “You sure look hungry.” “I am, can’t beat fried noodles with chicken. My name’s T.J. Pleasure to meet you.” “My name’s Mike, Mike Jordan.” “Are you related to the Michael Jordan?” “Ha ha! I sure ...

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“There’s no heartbeat.” Three words no one ever wants to hear. Three words no one ever wants to deliver. And yet, as a community of physicians, we deliver those crushing words on a daily basis. None of us would ever take the task of bearing this piece of news lightly, but for me, it was not until I was on the receiving end of them that I truly grasped how profoundly a physician ...

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Despite meticulous time management and delegation as a doctor, there were times when I found cobwebs on the laundry left on the clothesline too long, or a moldy school lunch or squashed banana forgotten at the bottom of a school bag at home. I would ensure all the important school dates were in my diary, but I was often tripped up by the curriculum day when school was suddenly off ...

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As I sat in a frozen yogurt store a couple of years back, I watched as two young men pulled up in an expensive vehicle. They were wearing athletic attire from a private faith-affiliated university in the neighborhood. Both grabbed sample cups and cup-by-cup consumed about ten dollars-worth of yogurt each before jestfully yelling “Gracias” to the Latin store employee and walking out the door without paying for anything. Then ...

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I stuck myself with a hypodermic needle the other day. Intentionally. The first time in over 25 years of doctoring. More surprising, a six-year-old patient told me to do it, so I had to. The boy, who I’ll call Tyler, came to the office with his father and had a large ganglion cyst on the back of his wrist -- bigger than a jellybean. I told Tyler and his father all ...

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“Do your parents realize that he could die?” I had been summoned to the workspace of the ED physician who was trying to save my brother’s life. I remember noticing that he was short with thick brown hair and a crisp white coat which were both too tidy and incongruent with the message he was delivering. He struck me as someone who was earnestly playing the role of a physician instead ...

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Just over a month has elapsed since my retirement from patient care. I’ve been to one grand rounds at my prior medical center, encountering a smattering of old friends, some preceding me to retirement, others in active discussions with their financial advisers and others a mixed multitude of residents and students assigned to the secondary campus that month looking upon us geezers in the small video access conference room with ...

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Last Friday, as I sat finishing up notes on the last of my almost 30 physicals (this number is never any surprise for us pediatricians this time of the year, it’s back to school week, so every Thomason, Dickinson, and Harrison is lining up for sports physicals and regular physicals and all sorts of clearance and medication forms that need to be filled out and turned in “yesterday.”) I took ...

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