Carol Scott-Conner

Time Splintered

Time fractured when my first husband died.

There was a before, which no longer existed, and an after, which was unimaginable.

In between, the thinnest–unfathomably thin–line, was the today. The today meant putting one foot in front of the other. One today led to the next today. And finally the year was over.

Why Good Doctors Are Often Late

I am one of millions of Americans with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a potentially blinding degenerative eye disease. I was diagnosed more than five years ago and, thanks to careful monitoring and treatment, still have 20/25 vision in both eyes. I receive my treatment at a huge Retina Clinic nestled within a vast academic medical center. The Retina Clinic is frequently disrupted by add-ons and emergencies. Delays are common. I don’t complain because I, myself, have caused disruptions and delays.

How to Fire Your Doctor

Look your doctor straight in the eye. It’s okay to smile. Or not–it’s your choice.
Don’t mince words. When your doctor says, “I’d like you to try this prescription…” (or physical therapy or whatever) “…and come back in three months,” that’s your cue. By all means take the prescription, or the referral sheet, and then say, “I won’t be coming back. I’m going to look for a new doctor…”

Finding Answers

When he was 24 years old, my first husband had a stroke. A blood clot blocked a vital artery deep in his brain. One side of his body fell flaccid. Speech and language fled. To all of my urgent questions, the neurologists at Massachusetts General Hospital could only reply, “We don’t know.” They didn’t know why it happened. There was no way to dissolve the clot or reverse the damage. They simply tried to keep him alive and waited.


Carol Scott-Conner

“The plastic surgeons tell me that women who like to swim do much better with reconstruction than with prostheses,” says a young breast surgeon at our weekly Breast Cancer Tumor Board, the working conference where we discuss every new breast cancer patient before starting treatment.

There’s a slight note of surprise in her voice; to her, it’s simply another consideration when advising women before mastectomy.

For decades, the only option after a mastectomy was a prosthesis, or breast form–something shaped and weighted to fill the empty cup of the brassiere and lie, more or less comfortably, against the chest wall. I sometimes tell my patients that using a prosthesis is a bit like going back to the days when we were little girls, stuffing our bras with tissues or old socks to fill them out.

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