I stood at the doorway of the funeral home, a 26-year-old woman lying in the open casket off to the side. Standing out among the crowd of mourners was a tall man holding his one-year-old daughter, her curly locks of hair bouncing as he moved. It was only two years ago that I first met her. “We were just married a couple months ago. I must have gotten pregnant on our ...

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Some days, work frustrates me. Yes, we all have our frustrations. Maybe the traffic is slow, and you get to work late. Maybe you spill your coffee on your work clothes as you walk into your office. Maybe someone calls in sick, and you are short of help at work. But my frustration has to do with not being able to properly care for my patients. This frustration lies in ...

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Walking through the dark construction zone of my now demolished kitchen, I made my way to the garage and out into the still, hot, humid July night. The air felt so thick, it was hard to breathe. At 1 a.m. I was headed to the hospital for a patient that just arrived in active labor. On the drive in, I had the air conditioner blasting to cool off the car ...

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Fear can show up at inappropriate times uninvited and unexpected, like a knock on the door in the middle of the night. We have all felt it. Sometimes, it can stop us from an adventure or getting into trouble. Sometimes, it can prevent us from living up to our potential or considering a new path. Sometimes, it can stop us from taking care of our health. A few years ago, in ...

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“Sorry, I’m running late … sorry, to keep you waiting.” How many times a day do I say that? Sometimes it is every time I walk into a patient’s room as if it is a normal greeting. Sometimes patients respond with: “Oh, you aren’t late” or “I haven’t been waiting long.” I can be so obsessed with not being late that I don’t realize I’m actually running on time! But ...

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Seeing patients in my OB/GYN office this morning, I try to stave off the mild nervousness rumbling inside of me. My good friend Monica is having a C-section this afternoon, and I'm performing it. We met ten years ago when I walked my three-year-old daughter into Monica's preschool classroom for the first time. Monica sat on the floor, a child in her lap and others playing around her. Like them, I ...

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The nurse grabs me. "You have to check my patient now! She is screaming and bearing down." Without letting go of my hand, she leads me into the labor room. I don’t even consider saying no, I know not to question this nurse. She has been a labor and delivery nurse nearly as long as I have been alive -- she knows much more than I about everything. The room is dark, but ...

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Sometimes it is a light breeze across my face, sometimes it is a flutter in my heart, sometimes it is a glimmer of a memory, and momentarily, you are with me dad. The sensation never lasts long, just a flash sometimes as I’m talking to a patient or writing notes in a chart, and as soon as I recognize it, you are ...

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Twenty-one years ago, I saved a life. Yes, I have helped many women over the years, perhaps changed their life in some way, but this one time … this one time, there is no doubt in my mind, I saved this baby’s life. Now, 21 years later, this “baby,” a junior in college interested in marketing sits before me on an exam table, asking me ordinary questions about her birth control ...

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She pushes her cleaning cart into the bright room. “Looks like the usual mess,” she mumbles to herself, pushing a loose piece of hair back into her blue cap. Methodically, she cleans the room beginning with the operating table, stripping off the bloody sheets. Then cleaning the floor of blood-stained shoe prints, amniotic fluid and bits of paper, needle caps and such, that managed to escape hands and land on ...

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Recently, I watched the movie Iron Jawed Angels with my daughter for her high school literature class. It retells the story of the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s, highlighting what the suffragettes endured to fight for women’s right to vote. Many brave women were taunted and tortured, arrested while peacefully protesting and then brutally beaten in prison, and, for some, ostracized from their community, family, and friends. Incredibly, ...

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It had been a long gloomy Fall day. When I got home, all I wanted to do was climb into bed and sleep and sleep and sleep. Emotionally, I was spent after a long day at work. But my husband and I had planned to go to services at temple that night – there was a guest singer that comes once a year, and I love his music. So, with ...

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“Breathe in slowly, deeply, giving fresh energy to your body. Breathe out, releasing any tension from your day. In … 1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … Out … 4 … 3 … 2 … 1 …” I try to follow the yoga instructor, but in my post-call fog, I struggle to let go of the last 24 hours. We begin by sitting poses to stretch our necks. But my neck is so ...

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Giving birth and running a marathon. They are two seemingly different entities but have many similarities. The inevitable pain, the highs, the lows, the feeling that you may falter or can’t survive the pain and, in the midst of it all, that you will never do it again … but then you do. Marathons take months to train for by growing your strength and endurance as you increase your training miles. ...

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Many years ago, on a busy day in my obstetrics and gynecology office, one of my partner's patients came in for "bleeding, early pregnancy." Since my partner wasn't in that day, I saw the woman, whose name was Sarah. After we'd talked a bit, I examined her and did an ultrasound. As I'd expected, she was having a miscarriage. Feeling sorry that Sarah had to hear it from me, rather ...

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For days on end, she looked out of the bedroom window, rocking her baby back and forth on her glider. The maple tree waved at her daily as the breeze came through its branches. Gradually, the leaves made their annual change from green to red and orange and yellow. She watched as the leaves transformed, jealous of their seamless change as she struggled to make her own transition to motherhood. Eventually, ...

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Hey ladies! And you gents too! Everyone is affected by breast cancer, either personally or by a family member or friend. Fortunately, we live in a time where breast cancer can be detected earlier and when detected, can be treated and cured. The key is early detection. There seems to be copious amount of information on the Internet: some good, some not so good. Let’s go through a few of these ...

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I have been working on this essay for some time now. It has been difficult for me to convey in words this complex issue of physician-patient relationships that, to me, is the crux of the art of medicine. The first time I met Rachel was when she showed up at my office with Mary, her closest friend for her first prenatal exam. When a year later, I walked into my office ...

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An on-call weekend: 48 hours of being at any moment “on,” of being edgy, of being exhausted. This weekend included a full house of patients to see in the hospital, a patient list of three pages to be exact. As I went from patient to patient, room to room, each held its own unique story filled with the yin and yang of life. I realize too, this may be a ...

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Entering the dimly light room, I could hear soft music playing in the background. The laboring room was so peaceful, it was hard to believe the patient in the bed was in active labor. But once up close, you could hear her breathing become deeper and louder every three or four minutes as she rode the wave of another contraction. Her husband was by her side, breathing with her, toweling ...

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