Monthly Archives: January, 2012

A new treatment for AIDS?

Raised in a loving, traditional home on a dairy farm in Northern Vermont, I was ill-prepared for the patients I would meet in a big city like Nashville. On my first ER call as a brand new intern, a twenty-three year old male showed up with crushing chest pain that turned out to be a …

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At least swallow one pill

At midnight one night, a patient came into the ER claiming he had overdosed on his wife’s Valium because he was depressed. Turns out, at nine the next day he’d be sentenced to prison for aggrevated sexual assault. (He was currently out on bail.) He waved his wife’s Valium bottle at me and insisted he …

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Next time, use black ink!

About fifteen years ago, a woman came in with a back strain after moving heavy furniture. Since her Ibuprofen 800 mg hadn’t touched the pain, I wrote her a prescription for the lowest dose of a narcotic pain killer. The script read Lortab 5/500. I wrote for 30 pills and 0 refills. Later that day, …

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Seaweed, anyone?

Chomping hard on the inside of my cheeks to keep from laughing has proven a useful skill over the years. Especially the day Mrs. T. came for her office visit: “Hello, Mrs. T. How are you today?” “I just finished my seaweed wrap so I feel great.” “Seaweed wrap?” I asked, cocking a brow. “Yes, …

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A great place to store ice?

Mr. L. was one of my favorite patients– brilliant, funny, kind.  At age 74, he was generally in good health until he was rushed to the ER one day after his wife  suspected he was having a mini-stroke. When I asked what alerted her to a problem, she laughed and provided this explanation: They were …

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My miracle patient.

Mrs. B. gripped my hand and gazed into my eyes. “I just want to live long enough to see my daughter graduate from high school. Is that too much to ask?” My eyes pooled with tears. As a parent myself, I understood her anguish. But Mrs. B’s leukemia had defied every chemotherapy and there was …

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A Gift to Remember

In twenty years of practicing medicine, I have found manic patients who refuse to take medication are the most frustruating to treat. They drive me and everyone who loves them nuts. Case in point: A seventy-year old manic who informed me he had “fired” his last four doctors because they were all “crazy.”  Great. . …

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You know you have a cheap HMO when…

You Know You Have a Cheap HMO when . . . 1.  You request a prior authorization for Viagra and they mail you tongue depressors and duct tape. 2.  Your doctor has moved into a trailer park. 3.  Their idea of a cardiac stress test is your doctor performing a breast exam with ice-cold hands. …

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My most embarrassing encounter

As a child, my family doctor was an elegant man attired in a tailored shirt, classic tie, and crisp lab coat. Every hair in place, every word a cornucopia of wisdom, his presence exuded sophistication and grace. He was a tough act to follow, and even more so after the birth of my first child. …

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The Onion Room

I would have quit if I weren’t the boss. It started when my first patient arrived thirty minutes late but demanded she still be seen. “It wasn’t my fault—traffic was terrible.” The next patient screamed at my secretary for trying to collect a co-pay. After smoothing my receptionist’s ruffled feathers, I entered the next exam …

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