Saying no is hard. Even harder if you happen to be kind. You want to help, to make people smile, you want them to like you. Saying no doesn’t come easy. We’ve never been taught to say no. Ever since we were toddlers, we’ve been conditioned to say yes. Rolling on the floor in a temper tantrum to express our no was a no-no. People don’t like you if you say ...

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I roll in my bed, unable to sleep. I listen to BBC talk about the craziness that took over the world, preoccupied with this one question. What question? It’s not: “Why, Corona?” For that, I already have more answers than I want. Scientists say that COVID-19 is an animal virus. It spread to humans from bats or pangolin due to close proximity in a seafood market, much like its older siblings SARS and ...

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1. Wash your hands like your life depends on it. Because it does. Not only for Corona, but for the many germs you’ll acquire from touching elevator buttons, doorknobs, or somebody else’s hand. Or the dirtiest thing on earth: money: Everybody handles it, and nobody washes it. Except for the mob. And me, when I forget it in my pockets. 2. Stay home if you’re sick. Same with your children. 3. Disinfect frequently touched ...

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An excerpt from Stay Away From My ER, and other fun bits of wisdom. 1. You don’t like to be told what to do. Especially not by arrogant doctors, who act as if they know better, just because they’ve been through a few decades of training! 2. Your ...

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I work in the ER. It’s not an easy job. Not glamorous either. At least not as glamorous as my mother-in-law used to think. Years ago, when I declared I was going into emergency, she looked at me askance. She didn’t ask why. She looked at me with her wise old eyes. “Let me tell you about ER,” she said. “I know all about it. I watch every show.” She was politely dismissive ...

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I'm an ER doc, and I spent my last two decades in the house of medicine. First, training to become a doctor. Then, trying to be a better doctor. No matter how hard I tried, I've never been the "perfect doctor." I started wondering: what makes one a "perfect doctor"? The perfect doctor lives in the moment, focusing on the here and now: This patient. This case. This encounter. They devote ...

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Like all doctors, I’m a lousy patient. My doctor is a lovely man, but going to see him? That’s right there with weighing myself, getting a flu shot and doing my taxes, and behind celebrating Thanksgiving with the in-laws and getting a root canal. And I’m not the only one. If I had a dollar for every patient who told me they hate doctors (no offense), I’d be long retired. If you’re ...

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I’m an ER doc, and proud of it. But I never mention it when I meet new people. Unless someone’s fixing to die, I avoid it like the plague. “I work in a hospital,” I say. “Where in the hospital?” “The ER. How about you?” That’s a topic changer, since most people would rather talk about themselves. Why not own it, you ask? There’s no shame in being a doctor. It’s not like ...

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An excerpt from Mercy. I love kids. Pretty kids. Nice kids. Normal kids. Not this. This is not a kid. This is thirty pounds of human flesh kept alive by devices. Peg tube, tracheostomy, ventilator. He’s got contractures everywhere. He’s so folded he’d fit in my carry on. Not that I’d want to ...

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I’m a doctor. And, like most medical professionals, I’m a bad patient. Two years after my last appointment, I got a CTJ, “Come to Jesus” from my doctor. I called his office for a form. I needed proof that I don’t have tertiary syphilis. For my Thai visa. Why tertiary syphilis, as opposed to HIV, cholera, lepers or bubonic plague? I don’t know. That’s the power of bureaucracies. They don’t have to make sense. ...

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1. Tell us about your loved one: What brings them in? What’s their baseline? What changed today?  But don’t speak FOR them, unless they can’t. That gets us worried. That’s what abusers often do. 2. Talk to us about your their code status (what should we do if things turn bad,) and leave us a phone number. 3. Pay attention to them. If things change – if they get worse, if they ...

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If you’re sexy, fit and nimble, if you can part your thighs and bend your knees, if you can see your private parts without a mirror, ignore this. Move on. This is not for you. This is for those with flailing sex-drive and failing abilities whose sex life is a challenge, but they’d like to make their partners happy and have some fun. Maybe your parents or grandparents. This must be an ...

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The heavy young man curled on his left side is in the ER for a pain in his backside. The sweaty blue dragon on his chest smells like fear. “It’s an abscess. I’ll have to open it. It’s gonna hurt.” “Can you put me to sleep? I hate pain.” I can. Should I? Remember Michael Jackson? I do. His neck would make a Hereford bull proud; he’s missing a chin but he’s got a ...

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K: “I was assaulted by an intoxicated female. She punched me and ruptured two discs in my back. I lost my whole self. I could no longer take the CPR course required. I lost my income that was supporting me and my three children. I needed the narcotics — not only to dull the physical pain but to numb the emotions. I found myself taking more than prescribed. I asked the ...

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I started my medical career late. Really late. By that time, I’d lived a few lives. I’d earned a boatload of initials. I’d changed husbands, languages, and continents. I’d written a useless novel, and I’d been a Mary Kay lady. One day over lunch as I was looking for something to do with myself, my husband suggested medicine. I spent the next nine years immersed in my medical training, feeling guilty ...

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I’m an ER doc. I care for patients. All patients: Those who need to be in the ER; those who don’t; those who wouldn’t be there if they knew better. For them, for you and for fun, I’ve got some tips to keep you happy, safe and away from my ER. Enjoy. 1. Never, ever say “hold my beer and watch this!” Besides “I do!” they are the most dangerous words ...

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The new Holy Grail of business, Customer Satisfaction — CSAT to her close friends — is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet customer expectations. In a marketplace where businesses compete for customers, CSAT is a key element of strategy. Why? Money. Satisfied customers buy. They come back and buy more. They tell their friends, who’ll buy too. If satisfied, they’ll return and buy more. That’s gold for ...

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Every time I call a friend, all I have for them is more work. I’ve never yet called to say: “I hope you’re having a great day. Why don’t you take a break and have some fun? You’ve worked enough.” Nope. I only call to give them extra work. Whether it’s 2 a.m. or 2 p.m., I need you to get away from your bed/lover/high horse and come take my patient. ...

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First came the SOAP notes. They’ve nothing to do with cleanliness, just the opposite. SOAP stands for: Subjective, Objective, Assessment and Plan. S: “Patient states that pain is 16/10, sharp, unremitting. Feeling like a crocodile is eating insides every 10 minutes, after sprinkling them with Frank’s hot sauce.” O: On entering the room, patient is eating Cheetos and drinking Mountain Dew while texting. Abdomen is soft and nontender. A: Abdominal pain, probably gastritis. P: ...

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1. Murphy’s Law as it applies to the ER: If something can go bad, it will do so in a hurry. If it can’t possibly go bad, it will still find a way. 2. Clock’s First Rule: All the patients will crash at the same time. Usually when the computer system goes down. 3. Clock’s Second Rule: The sickest patients will come just before the shift change. 4. Haste’s Theorem: The healthier the ...

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