Most Effects Are Smaller Than We Think

Photo: OliBac

I saw a patient the other week who complained of intolerable hot flashes for the last several months.  They were happening day and night, often awakening her from sleep, and after a series of questions, I realized they were significantly interfering with the quality of her life.  So I suggested she begin hormone-replacement therapy.

“What about the increased risk of breast cancer?” she asked, alarmed. Continue reading…

Pronouncing Someone Dead

Photo: Tim Green

When I was an intern in internal medicine, I admitted a patient to my service with pancreatic cancer.  Pancreatic cancer is a bad one; back then, only ten percent of patients with it would be alive within five years after being diagnosed.  My patient was a farmer in the full bloom of late middle-age health when he began rapidly losing weight. Continue reading…

When You Don't Like Yourself

Photo: erix!

Some people have the misfortune to have been born to abusive parents who belittled them and prevented them from developing a healthy self-esteem.  Others are born predisposed to view themselves in a negative light because of their physical appearance, a disability, or for no reason anyone, including themselves, knows.  Research has consistently supported the notion that it’s difficult to be happy without liking oneself.  But how can one learn to like oneself when one doesn’t? Continue reading…

The Importance Of Having The Right Gear

Photo: kevindooley

We humans are often distinguished from other animals by our ability to make and use tools.  We got things rolling with the wheel and haven’t stopped since.  Now we have supercranes to build skyscrapers, cars and airplanes to move us from here to there, and screwdrivers to put things together.  The problem we find isn’t a lack of tools; it’s that we often use the wrong tool or no tool at all and end up struggling far more than necessary to accomplish the task at hand.  When obstacles seem insurmountable or just harder to slog through than we think they should be, often the problem is simply that we’re using the wrong tool. Continue reading…

The Importance Of Tone

Photo: tawalker

Several weeks ago, I was editing together some video footage for a home movie and was surprised to discover how irritated, negative, and just plain mean I sounded when talking to my wife.  I remember most of the interactions that were filmed but not any of the feelings I was quite clearly projecting.  In one segment, my wife was trying out a tripod and having trouble figuring out how to use it correctly.  “You’re holding it wrong,” I snapped sharply.  “That’s not right at all!” Continue reading…