The Surgical Assembly Line

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When I think of an assembly line, two images pop into my head:

  • The I Love Lucy Chocolate Factory episode where Lucy and Ethel are trying to wrap chocolates (and eat them too!) and can’t possibly keep up.
  • My high school history class, when we learned about Henry Ford’s invention of the concept of an assembly line, where hundreds of cars were being assembled in one day. It revolutionized manufacturing, helping companies produce much more than ever before.

I thought of both when ...

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Treat Your Human Body Like You Treat Your Car

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My friend Janet has a bad wound on her leg. It has been there for two months, and just looks worse and worse. Now it looks so bad she doesn’t even want to leave the house.

“What does your doctor say about it?” I asked her.

“I’ve been back to him five times!”, she responded. “He keeps giving me antibiotics, but it doesn’t seem to get any better.”

“Five times???” I asked her, incredulously.

It was time for “the talk” with Janet.

… the talk ...

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Busting the Cure Balloon and Finding a Workable Solution

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“The cure cannot come soon enough.” 

As someone who works in healthcare, and who speaks to patients and their loved ones every day, this is a statement I hear frequently. Whether we’re talking about someone’s cancer diagnosis, or Alzheimer’s Disease, or ALS, or MS, or diabetes…  it seems to be everyone’s hope – that a cure is on the horizon.

When my father was alive, and in his 24th year after his prostate cancer diagnosis, he lamented the fact that he had ...

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Ac-cen-tu-ate – the Negative?

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It’s time to take a trip with the Way-Back Machine to a song many of us heard when we were kids – because our parents played it on the radio or record player. We all sang along!

With lyrics by Johnny Mercer, and sung by Ella Fitzgerald (that’s Ella in the photo above), the song “Ac-cen-tu-ate the Positive” became popular in the mid-1940s, with its very (yes) positive message of how we should focus our lives.. on ...

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“When I’m Sixty-Four” and If I’m Alone….

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Back in 2004, I was between husbands, and in my early 50s. As silly as that may sound (“between husbands”), the truth was, I spent 18 years with that status, between divorce and remarriage… and I was alone.

“Alone” is the key to today’s post.

Back in 2004, I was also diagnosed with a rare and terminal lymphoma. Yes – terminal – and yet here I am writing about it in 2019. You can read the story in ...

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The Folly of Driving to the ER

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Hugh, a gentleman of about 68 years, lived alone. Hugh wasn’t feeling well. It was just a general feeling that something – who knows what? – just wasn’t right.

After a short while, Hugh walked over to see Phil, his next door neighbor. Phil agreed to drive Hugh to the Emergency Room.

It took them about 30 minutes to get there. Hugh signed in, and together he and Phil sat down in the waiting room. Within 15 minutes, Hugh keeled over, out ...

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Black Box Warnings May Save Your Life

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This often comes as a major surprise for patients: that when a prescription drug is known to be effective, and is approved by the FDA for some patients, that doesn’t mean it’s effective and safe for all patients.

It’s true that some people may be allergic, or the drug might have been prescribed to treat the wrong diagnosis, or the patient may not take the drug properly and over (or under) dose….

…But those situations are not what I’m addressing in this ...

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No Diagnosis? It May Not Matter

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Years ago I watched a movie called Serendipity.  It starred Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack. It was a “romcom” – and adorable – and it occurs to me that it sets the stage for today’s post.

The story was about two young people who met in Bloomingdales while shopping, and through a series of events, they were attracted to each other, but never exchanged names. They then lost track of each other. Over the years they continued to ...

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OK, But What’s the Question?

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In my previous life as a speaker and writer on patient empowerment issues, I received email, even postal mail (meaning, yes, someone paid for a stamp!) from patients who were being challenged in some way by the healthcare system. Sometimes I would hear from 8 or 10 people in a week, 25, 30 or more a month.

Their stories were often sickening and terrifying. At the least they were frustrating to read (even more so to live through, I’m sure) and ...

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Aging and Alone? Who Will Hold Your Hand Through Healthcare?

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There are many names now being used to describe those of the baby-boomer generation who are aging and alone. “Elder Orphans” or “Solo Seniors” are two of them; describing the concept of someone who is older and has no family or younger friends to help them in time of medical crisis (or any other life-assisting event like moving, or shifting financial needs.)

  • Who can help them make end-of-life decisions?
  • Who can make decisions for them if they get sick?
  • Who can help them ...
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