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Letter to the Insurance Company Psychiatrist

Dear Dr. Anonymous:

Are you a Phil, Michelle or Darrell? Two years ago, you booted my seventeen-year-old son out of treatment, signing your denial letter “MD Psychiatrist.”

I understand that you were hired to qualify, or disqualify, patients based on a cost-benefit analysis. Your letter suggested that my son’s condition could be “managed at a lower level of care.”

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The Birthday Party

Forty years ago, I experienced a miracle—the first of many in my nursing career. I was about six months into my first nursing job, in the neonatal ICU at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago. It was there that I met baby Jonathon, and it was his mother who made me a true believer.

Jonathon had come to us with severe kidney disease. He looked sickly: His skin was very pale—translucent even. He acted like a healthy infant,

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Hope Is the Thing With Feathers

When my son Locklin was a month old, he became very sick. He started throwing up and kept throwing up and ended up in the hospital.

The hospital ID band on my son’s wrist fit on my ring finger. I could cradle my son’s whole body in my hands.

The oxygen meter clamped to his finger was the size of a paper clip. It glowed red and blue, the colors of emergency, like tiny police

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What Makes a Good Therapist?

I thought she could help me with night terrors, this nice new therapist. The night terrors started a few weeks after my son went to prison–five words I had never thought I would string together.

I’ve had nightmares since childhood, but these are extraordinary. I tumble into slumber, then wake myself screaming bloody murder, like the woman in Psycho.

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Look Me in the Eye

I was new.

Seventeen days earlier, a discerning pediatrician had recommended tests to untangle my five-year-old son’s cluster of puzzling symptoms—headache, vomiting and double vision. The alarmed face of the radiation technician in the booth during the CT scan was my introduction to a world where I didn’t know the rules, the language or what was expected of me.

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Life With Father

Life With Father

After forty-three years as a nephrologist-internist and teacher, I recently retired from medicine. This final stage of life is a time of reflection. Was I a good physician? On a more fundamental level, was I a good friend, husband and father?
Despite its many challenges, I have never regretted following my cherished vocation. There were far more rewards than regrets. By contrast, my record as a father feels a bit less exemplary.
During my first

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Sweet Child of Mine

Sweet Child of Mine

You know what stress is, right? You’re late for work, your car won’t start, gas costs more than you expected. We’ve all been there, and it’s not pleasant, that palm-sweating, heart-racing anxiety. Luckily, it’s not long-lasting–not toxic.
What is toxic stress? It’s prolonged adversity and/or abuse–not having enough to eat, or being exposed to violence. It’s the kind of stress that puts you on edge and keeps you there, day after day after day.
If

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Hunting

Scott Newport ~

“Seriously?” began Amy’s text, which popped up on my iPhone one blustery November morning.

“How do you know?” she went on. “Why don’t I feel him with me?”

I had no idea how to answer.

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MaMA

 
Day Three: “Mama”–­ accent on the second syllable, “maMA” – how he opened all calls to me. They had put in the PICC line, a catheter in the arm used for long-term intravenous antibiotics, medications and blood draws. “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”
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Who Will Hear a Stored Voice?

I’m crying a lot these days. Goes with the territory, and the triggers are everywhere.

My thirty-one year-old son had a newer laptop than mine and an iPhone 6. My iPhone 5 was a hand-me-down from him. (Prior to that, my iPhone 3 was given to me by a former resident, now friend, who upgraded to a 5 and was tired of mocking me for my flip phone.)

I have been paying my son’s

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Please Don’t Ask

 
“Please don’t ask” was my silent plea to my patient as I entered the exam room. I knew if she did, I would start crying, and not for the first time that day.
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Haunting Diagnosis

The day began like every other summer day. My eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter ate their cereal, watched Sesame Street, and played—him with his Star Wars figures and her with her Barbies. After lunch, they gathered a few favorite books and toys to entertain them while they waited in the pediatrician’s office for their annual physicals.

Normalcy ended when the physician announced: “Your daughter has a severe curvature of the spine. She needs to see

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