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Latest Posts

A Physician With Neck Cancer: Just As Frightened As Any Other Patient

Two years ago we wrote “Let’s hear it for the ‘d-patients’” — doctors who become e-patients themselves. We said “D-patients prove that patient empowerment is anything but anti-doctor. Heck, sometimes it’s a doctor preservation movement.”

A new article in our Journal of Participatory Medicine provides a compelling example: A Physician’s Experience as a Cancer of the Neck Patient: The Importance of Patient Participation. The author, Itzhak Brook MD, makes our point:

I am telling my personal story in the hope that health care providers will realize the difficult challenges faced by a patient diagnosed with cancer and undergoing extensive surgeries. I am also discussing the importance of active participation of the patient and their family members in all phases of care.

JoPM co-editor Charlie Smith adds, in his introductory note: (emphasis added)

You may wonder why a physician’s account of his illness and the frustrations he experienced merit publication in this journal. But, if a doctor has this degree of anxiety, this much difficulty getting information about his care and this degree of struggle making good decisions, then patients can easily understand why they feel so overwhelmed and incapable, at times, of truly “participating” in their own care. What we are advocating for is difficult in the best of circumstances and requires all hands on deck for the task! Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at e-Patients.net*

I See Pump People

A few weeks ago, Chris and BSparl and I went out to dinner. Dining out with our little bird is a bit of a tangled experience, and we don’t spend as much time people watching as we used to because we’re very preoccupied with the baby wrangling. 

That night, though, we were sitting and settled and throwing gluten-free puffs (yes, all of us) around the dinner table like confetti when I saw this woman walk in with her family. She settled her family in at the table, and then reached to remove her coat, revealing a beeper clipped to her pocket.

Only it was one of them fancypants beepers with the tubes and the buttons and the accompanying not-making-insulin pancreas. I reckon it was an insulin pump.

Immediately, I wanted to swing mine over my head like a lasso and say “OMG lady, me too!!!” I’ve had this feeling before, of wanting to sidle up next to someone and say, “I like your pump — want to see my pump?” but to me that sounds more like an awkward attempt to flirt instead of a moment of diabetes bonding. Living in a very comfortable bubble of diabetes advocacy makes me think that everyone who has a visible “symptom” of diabetes wants to talk about it. I have to remind myself that some people just plain don’t want to talk about it.

But since I still wanted to say something, I targeted Chris instead. “Dude, 12 o’clock. Actually, my 12 o’clock, your six o’clock. MiniMed pump on that lady.” I said to Chris without moving my lips, as if a pump sighting was a covert Navy Seals operation. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Six Until Me.*

A Doctor’s Many Hats

I have taken on the task of writing 50,000 words for a novel in November (NaNoWriMo) and would have to carve time out of work or family [my posts are decreased by this new hat]. I can only wear so many hats.

But I am here, and my writing has been far more enjoyable than I expected. This is the time when it is easy to hit the wall (we get daily encouraging emails from successful writers to get us through this time), but I’m okay so far. I am writing about a doctor who encounters a very unusual patient. I am writing in the first-person, which was a good choice, as I know the first person of a physician intimately and stand no risk of getting those details wrong. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

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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