The Problem With Being Too Persuasive

Photo: aspearing

When I was a first-year resident, I admitted a 34-year-old HIV-positive man to my inpatient general medicine service for fevers. On physical exam, I found a large lesion on his right retina near the macula (the retina’s center). I called up an infectious disease specialist, who confirmed what I’d suspected: he had […]

The Neurology Of Near-Death Experiences

Photo: b1ubb

I’ve never had a patient confess to having had a near-death experience (NDE), but recently I came across a fascinating book called The Spiritual Doorway in the Brain by Kevin Nelson, M.D. that reports as many as 18 million Americans may have had one. If true, the odds are not only that […]

The Rippling Effect

Photo: A6U571N

Several years ago, a graduating medical school class invited me to be a guest at their graduation dinner. A resident with whom I’d worked previously had also been invited and was scheduled to speak. When the time came for her to make her remarks, she began by telling a story of a […]

When A Beloved Pet Dies

Photo: wsilver

Several years ago, my wife and I had to put down one of our cats. Minnie was really my wife’s cat, having journeyed with her from Vancouver to Chicago almost a decade earlier. At some point during that time Minnie developed a urinary tract infection that damaged her kidneys. After that, according […]

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 […]

The Caregiver's Manifesto

Photo: LaPrimaDonna

How many patients have I known over the years who’ve found themselves caught in the quicksand that is caring for a chronically ill loved one? Too many to count, so I’ll recount just one. Mrs. S is an elderly woman married to a retired university law professor, who has been slowly losing […]

The Six Reasons People Attempt Suicide

Though I’ve never lost a friend or family member to suicide, I have lost a patient (who I wrote about in a previous post, The True Cause Of Depression). I have known a number of people left behind by the suicide of someone close to them, however. Given how much losing my patient affected me, […]

Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance

One day, about a year and a half ago, my wife and I were walking along a street near our home when she grabbed my arm and suddenly exclaimed, “I think that woman is in trouble!”

I followed her gaze to a car stopped at a light and saw to my horror a woman being […]

How To Keep Your Child (And Yourself) Safe From Strangers

Photo: Tasslehoff Burrfoot

It seems almost every few months a story of a child abduction saturates the news. Amber alerts occur several times a year in many localities. Stories of children who vanished years or even decades past re-run every so often as reminders that some families remain locked in grief even as the […]

Only Three Ways To Die

Photo: DerrickT

“The absolute truth, Dr. Lickerman?” Emily (not her real name) said to me, tears sliding down her red, swollen cheeks. “It was a relief.”

She wasn’t referring to being fired from a job she secretly despised or having a divorce finalized from a husband she no longer loved. She was describing instead […]