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Halloween Horrors

Paul Gross

One October evening last year, I went to our local pharmacy to pick up a prescription for my daughter. I made sure to bring Cara’s insurance card because my employer had switched us to a new health plan.

I wasn’t sorry about the change. Our prior plan had been operated by incompetents–although they might only have been crooks, I couldn’t be sure–who also managed our flexible spending accounts. These accounts, you may recall,

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In the Nick of Time

Barry Thompson

When the ringing woke me at 3:00 a.m., I hoped that it was my alarm clock. For a neurologist on call, middle-of-the-night phone calls mean trouble; as a rule, you don’t get awakened at that hour unless it’s something really serious.

At 6:00 p.m. the prior evening, a young man had shown up in the ER of one of our satellite hospitals with a severe headache. He’d been diagnosed with a tension headache

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Losing Tyrek

John Harrington

Tyrek’s mother and I must have spoken for two hours in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, covering every topic but the one that was glaring at us: death. A fourteen-month-old child is not supposed to die–and even though I knew the situation was dire, I couldn’t bring myself to face it. So I excused myself, sat down with her son’s chart and stared blankly at it. 

I first met Tyrek and his parents

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Once

David Goldblatt

Movement disorders can be horrifying. Afflicted persons are solidified or contorted. They may flail so violently that a fork endangers their lives. As a beginning neurologist, I assumed that all such patients curse their fate. Once I got to know Brian, though, I realized that I could be wrong. 

Brian and one of his brothers had inherited Wilson’s disease, a rare, genetic movement disorder that had spared their eight siblings.

People who have

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Our Town (Chinese Spoken)

Juan Qiu

By the time Mrs. Zhang came to see me, her headache, left-sided weakness and facial numbness were two weeks old. Like many Chinese immigrants in this country, she’d hesitated to seek medical care because of language and cultural barriers and her apprehensiveness about Western medicine. In fact, she hadn’t seen a physician in the ten years since she and her husband had come to America. Only after a friend told her about me,

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A Brush With the Beast

It all begins one Sunday morning when Mrs. Morris, a 75-year-old retiree with a heart condition, trips on her way out of church. She falls flat on the sidewalk, can’t get up, and ends up in our Bronx emergency room. A CT scan shows a pelvic fracture, and she’s admitted to our inpatient team.

When I join the family medicine residents to see Mrs. Morris the following day, she can’t get out of bed. She’s

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The Pencil Man of Western Boulevard

Paula Lyons

His history was Dickensian. As a little boy, born with an IQ of about 80 and a wandersome nature, he’d toppled onto the train tracks and gotten run over. How he didn’t die is a mystery–this was more than fifty years ago, and he lost both legs up to his hips–but live he did.

I met him in the hospital, where he’d had surgery on the pressure sores that came from long hours

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Mothers and Meaning

John G. Scott

“Dr. Scott, this is Dr. Font.” The call came from my mother’s cardiologist as I was about to see my first patient of the morning. “Your mother is worse. You’d better come as soon as you can. I don’t think she’ll survive the day.” Those blunt words shattered my denial: I had convinced myself that it was possible to fix the cumulative, lifelong damage wreaked on my mother’s heart by her atrial

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My War Story

Marc Tumerman

My practice is in a small rural Wisconsin town just down the road from a large military base. I see soldiers pretty regularly these days; they stay here for several weeks of pre-deployment training before shipping off to Iraq. They come from all over the country–men and women of various ages, some single, some married and with families. Their health-care needs aren’t too different from those of my civilian patients: maternity care, chronic

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