An excerpt from How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers (Second Edition). Copyright 2018 by Toni Bernhard. Excerpted with permission from Wisdom Publications.  The fifth way I cultivate compassion for myself is to consciously work on opening my heart to the intense emotions ...

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One of the most important factors on patients’ minds is affordability of care. According to a recent McKinsey study, 72 percent of consumers are concerned about at least one kind of health care expense, be it related to health insurance, routine medical procedures, end-of-life care or otherwise. As it pertains to prescriptions, patients carry these affordability concerns from their providers’ offices to the pharmacy. More often than not, ...

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As a patient who has had extensive dealings with five prestigious Manhattan medical institutions, I have taken the liberty of writing this letter from the perspective of one who has spent many long and arduous years in the underbelly of our deeply troubled health care system, and one who has seen firsthand how the doctor-patient relationship has steadily eroded over time. This relationship, so foundational to the practice of medicine, ...

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A thought, a word, a story. Simple concepts in a complex world, but they can have a profound effect on how we live our lives. Today's world may seem, at times, a blur. We are inundated every day with headlines of natural disasters, man's inhumanity to man, and simply, just life slapping us in the face. How can we maintain a sense of sanity and security when the world around ...

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I sit before you and others like you, in silence, anxious about what I might be told. You deliver a litany of questions to my countenance as I sit in a chair beside you. Your attention is diverted to the cold and detached computer screen where my responses are entered without you ever noticing the fear in my eyes. There is no acknowledgment to indicate a level of understanding of ...

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One day I found out that it was National Limerick Day. I didn’t even know there was a National Limerick Day. I investigated other "days" and found out that September 7th was National Grateful Patient Day. So, this grateful patient will start her post with a limerick: There was a patient in a flimsy gown, Who was also wearing a frown. She was getting a bad cold, And feeling cold and old, She wanted another ...

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After many years of being mostly housebound by chronic illness (which includes chronic pain), here are a few of the dilemmas I’ve faced over and over. I’m confident that I’m not alone in my “should I/shouldn’t I?” world. Do I accept an invitation from a friend to get together or do I refuse it? If I refuse the invitation, depending on who issued it, it may be the last one I’ll receive ...

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To complement Aaron Lacy’s post on treating colleagues with respect, I’d like to expand that concept to include treating patients with respect too. That means if a patient says she’s freezing, and adding insult to injury, has been sick as well,  adjust the thermostat a little, please, even if you as the doctor isn’t cold. When a stray cat came to our door in the dead of winter, ...

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Announce to friends that you have cancer, and they will probably react with sympathy and compassion. Tell them that you've broken your leg, and they'll offer to get your groceries and drive you to medical appointments. Share that you suffer from depression -- and the sound of silence will fill your head. Depression has been my companion for as long as I can remember. My maternal grandmother, who immigrated to this country ...

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Many months have passed since the spring day when I was hit with the news from my yearly mammogram, but those typewritten words are forever etched in my memory: "The density appears greater in left breast." My doctor comforted me with statistics showing that mammograms aren't 100 percent accurate — but she also lost no time in sending me to a surgeon named Dr. Prewitt. Upon meeting him, I immediately felt ...

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Behind that computer in your doctor’s office, there is a war going on. As a patient, it affects your care. Your doctor is pushing back on the forces eroding your quality of care, but they are being torn apart by legislation, bureaucracy, and big business. Unlike, 30 years ago when doctors controlled patient care, your doctor is being outflanked by powerful people  that did not go to medical school or swear an oath to protect. Your doctor gave up ...

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STAT_Logo Thanks to a surprising and devastating diagnosis, I know more than most physicians about what it’s like to live with the brain cancer known as glioblastoma, everything from self-titrating my anti-epileptic medications to making sure the right ICD-10 code appears on my MRI referrals. As much as I’d rather not have this expertise, I’ve ...

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A partial excerpt from What Patients Want: Anecdotes and Advice. To complement posts regarding what doctors wish their patients knew, here are some things that I as a patient wish doctors knew: We’re not here for the magazines. We’re here because we’re sick, which often means we’re scared too. We’re often ...

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I often see patients for follow-up and learn they are not taking the medications either I or another health care provider prescribed. Sometimes the reason is obvious, and other times the patient is reluctant to give up the information. Patients have the right to take or not take medication that was prescribed. But, sometimes by not doing so, they are putting their health at risk. As a doctor, I want my ...

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“I know you think your organization is patient-centered … but it really isn’t.” The statement from a rare disease foundation president to a room full of industry partners stung as we observed a candid but cordial exchange about what “patient-centered” has come to mean in today’s health industry world. Everyone knew what they were hearing was right. Rewind a few days to the CBI Independent Medical Education and Grants Breakthrough Summit, where ...

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Healthy or not, everybody has his or her share of frustrations in life. The chronically ill don’t have a corner on that market! This piece focuses on frustrations that are unique to those with ongoing health issues. I’ve experienced all of them as a result of being chronically ill with a debilitating illness that settled in after I contracted what appeared to be an acute viral infection in 2001. Here are ...

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My job as a standardized patient (SP) at several different medical schools means that I spend a lot of time being interviewed and examined by students at every stage of their education. Occasionally, the interview is of such a nature that the SPs are told to dress in a certain “costume” because it signifies to the student that there is something about our cultural representation that affects our medical care. ...

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Until genuine rights are extended to all patients, the ongoing health-care-reform saga perpetrated by Congress and executive leadership will continue to fail the American people. Many Americans have suffered and died because of a broken health-care-delivery system. One of us lost a 19-year old son due to lack of certain patient rights – specifically the right to evidence-based medicine and the right to a complete discharge plan from his hospital. ...

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It is not enough to know that a patient’s medical condition warrants an MRI. For most insurance companies, a diagnostic test of this sort requires what is known as a prior-authorization. But, the doctor saying the patient needs this test often fails. The insurance company has a certain guideline the patient must travel first before they will consider the test. For example, a patient with back pain and numbness in one ...

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Countless times as a patient both at two hospitals in New York City, I have witnessed doctors arrogantly waltzing into an examination room and arriving not alone but with an entourage. Like Greeks bearing gifts, they arrived with something unwanted and threatening: medical students, interns, residents, and fellows. And not once, in all the many times that I have been subjected to this ignominious practice, was my consent ever obtained ...

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