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Concierge Care

Deborah Pierce

I am a family physician. Like most of my colleagues, though, I must sometimes step out of the comfort of my clinical role to take on the role of patient or family caregiver.

Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

During visits to the doctor, I find myself noticing many details and comparing the quality of care to that in my own practice.

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Imagine

Linda Koebner 

“Her vitals are fine,” the nurse told Besarta’s mother during a rare visit to the family’s basement apartment in the Bronx.

Besarta’s mind is also fine–sharp and clear. She asked me to use her real name in this story.

Her twenty-five-year-old face is beautiful and flawless, despite the howls of frustration, rage and pain she directs at her family, at fate and especially at Friedreich’s ataxia, the disease that controls her.

When I

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Saving My Appendix

Andrew T. Gray

The doctor was adamant. “This is America, not Sweden,” he told me. “We operate.” 

How did this happen to me? I wondered, looking at him across the ER exam room. How could I, a healthcare provider, not have insurance? 

I had woken up that morning with a mildly upset stomach. Nonetheless, I’d gone to my job (begun only six weeks earlier) as a physician assistant at a Beverly Hills HIV clinic. I’d seen patients

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What to Say When You’re Terminal

Ellen Diamond

For the past fifteen years, I have had an incurable form of leukemia.

Such diseases used to be called terminal illnesses, but we don’t hear that term as much anymore. With all the new drugs and treatments available, doctors have become more reluctant to refer to diseases they can’t cure yet as “terminal.”

In the years just after my diagnosis, when friends and family would ask what could be done

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Lost and Found

Julie Evans

When Mom died of alcohol poisoning on her sixtieth birthday, I was seventeen and then I didn’t have a mom anymore. 

My heart was crushed, but there was no time to grieve, because my dad was dying. A man in his late fifties, he’d battled emphysema, a brain aneurysm, colon cancer and then bone-marrow cancer. 

Over the

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What About Bob?

Joseph Fennelly

The time: early one morning, thirty years ago.

The place: my local hospital.

At this point, I have been an internist for twenty years. I’ve just entered the cardiac care unit, where my patient Bob, a ninety-five-year-old man with advanced senility, has been brought because he’s having chest pain. 

As I step through the door, Bob codes.

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Stigmata

Kevin Koo

I started my third year of medical school as a surgery clerk. 

With this eight-week clerkship came a flood of conflicting advice from older, wiser peers: “Ask a lot of questions, but speak only when spoken to.” “Offer to help, but stay out of the way.” “Be friendly and likeable, but not too friendly–or too likeable.” For the medical student, such is the mystique of the OR.

Three weeks into my general surgery

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