Ideas and Insights

What Having Heart Disease Has Taught Me

I’m often asked what it’s like to live with heart disease. For me, the physical limitations have been much less difficult to manage than the emotional and psychological ones. Heart patients are cautioned about becoming “cardiac cripples”—overly anxious and worried about their future to the point that it affects their health. Yep, I’ve done that. […]

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Childbirth and Mortality Through the Ages: Reflections on Mother’s Day

Bundled up to break the wind off the water, I stared down at the small, timeworn gravestones marked not by years of birth and death, but by days and weeks. Mary – stillborn, Stephen – 1 week, Sarah – 5 months and 12 days, Albert Henry – 6 years, 9 months, and 11 days, Louisa […]

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But You Don’t Look Like a Patient

Sitting next to me was an elderly woman stooped to a right angle. Next to her a gentleman tethered to an oxygen tank by a nasal cannula. Everything else – the dated magazines, water cooler, and photographs of farms and birds – looked like any other doctor’s waiting room. I’d been waiting to see my cardiologist longer […]

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Yes, Patients Can Change Public Policy — But Will Anyone Listen?

When I was a newbie in Washington, DC in the 90s working for US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in the Office of Organ Transplantation (DOT), one of my jobs was organizing public hearings to finalize organ allocation policies — in other words, identifying which factors (age, geography, race, blood type, waiting time) […]

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