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Medical Fatigue: Hitting “The Wall”

How is it that a person with an illness forgets to take their medicine, or refuses to get a treatment, or forgoes important monitoring? I’ve been thinking about that because someone close to me has hit that “medical fatigue” wall. There has been no effective treatment for their digestive system illness and they are tired of the prods, pokes, and special exams. They just want to live their life and “cope.”

One can understand – especially in a child or teenager. Imagine someone with diabetes. Diet, exercise, monitoring, medication. It can be so tiring. If only the illness – the boogieman or what some call “the beast” could just go away!

But it can’t and it doesn’t. And medical treatments may well be imperfect. They probably are. So do you give up? There is no “right answer,” only a right answer for you. Here are some examples: This week I am interviewing Kathy Sparks of suburban Seattle. Kathy is a nurse who was diagnosed with melanoma on her forearm. It was cut out. Then more was cut out. Then it came back. She had chemotherapy with lots of side effects. A remission followed, and then it came back again, this time in her breast. As time passed doctors gave her only months to live. Unwilling to try to fairly toxic chemo again, she spent time making peace with her impending demise. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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