One Person at a Time

I have a soft spot for public health. True, I’ve been a family physician for 32 years, and have touched many people’s lives, but decisions made by public health practitioners have an outsized impact on health.

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The World in Need

When John Donne wrote “No Man Is an Island,” he was lying on his sickbed, thinking, perhaps, it would be his deathbed. When he heard the church bells tolling for a person recently deceased, it got him thinking. His life­—everyone’s life—was diminished by the death of that unknown person. We are all connected.

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I’m a Slow Reader (Here’s Why), and Living on Borrowed Time

I’ve read novels ever since my youth, and I’ve had an enduring fascination with the side character of the rich elderly female relative who “took to bed” decades earlier. Even before I was a doctor I wondered, “What illness caused her to ‘take to bed’?” There are seldom enough clues to unlock the mystery of which exact medical diagnosis she had that kept her in her bedroom. Writers of novels one to two centuries ago didn’t focus on those clues. She was, after all, a side character.

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The Purpose in Pain

When my husband and I worked at a mission hospital in Kenya for six weeks in 2013, we ate dinner every evening with another volunteer doctor, an orthopedic surgeon. We often discussed the use of opioids, or rather, the seldom-use of opioids in Kenya. After a U.S. surgery, he said his patients would receive opioids round the clock in the hospital, and they’d go home with a prescription for 30 to 60 pills. Yet here, patients’ pain was managed with non-opioid pain medications, and nobody was prescribed opioids after discharge.

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A Vaccine Trial is Not a Trial: What Participating Looks Like

I love vaccines. To those of you who have read my other articles on the subject (available here and here), this comes as no surprise. But, you may rightly say, “love” is an awfully strong word. Shouldn’t I only love people, not things?

I love vaccines because I love people. Millions of people are alive today only because they were vaccinated. Who are these people? Nobody knows, because the vaccine kept them from getting sick and dying. One of them could very well be me. Or you.

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Virtual Doctoring, Virtual Church, Virtual Life

When this pandemic started, I, at least, had heard of Zoom. My husband Don, also a family physician, had no clue. We’re both in our 60s and feel simultaneously confused and outdated whenever a new form of technology emerges. Picture a donkey leaning back on the rope held by someone trying to drag it forward. You get the idea.

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Thinking of Ultimate Things

After 10 weeks of avoiding people, I realize how much I miss them. People, that is. I always thought I disliked crowds, but now I find myself missing crowds also. People bring me pleasure. People are precious.

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Anxious? Me, Too. How To Lean On God When Feelings Don’t Cooperate

I’ve been a family doctor in the same location for 30 years, so many of my patients have been with me a decade…or two…or three. Following people through their life stages has been a joy. We’ve grown older together. I’ve been acutely aware of this in the last two weeks as I’ve called patients to reschedule them. I’ve wanted to call them myself to make sure they don’t need anything, because I’d rather they avoid any medical facility for the next six months.

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From a Physician on the Frontlines

Photo: Pexels

For years and years the media has tended to sensationalize every little thing, which is making it very hard to hear the voices that are sounding a REAL alarm. We doctors don’t tend to be alarmist.

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If the Lord Wills; or, “Lord Willing”

How does a Christian measure the substance of a life? By what was accumulated? Not hardly. At least no serious Christ-follower is going to pick that answer. What about by influence? Now that is something that may resonate. By influencing others, we carry on our earthly work beyond our lifetime.

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Doing More By Doing Less

Photo: Pixabay

Faith-based health professionals care with compassion and respect for all patients, but they will leave medicine rather than violate their conscience if forced to participate in morally objectionable procedures and prescriptions.

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Person-First Language

Words are important. The words I use to describe my patients, even if I am only thinking those words and not speaking them, affect how I feel about them and how I treat them. I’ve known this for a long time, so I work hard to guard both my thinking and my speech as I care for patients. I don’t consider myself prone to making snap judgments about people based on their appearance—that is, I don’t see myself as biased.

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Unmasking Medical Marijuana

Unmasking Medical Marijuana May 23, 2019

At age 60, I can pretty much say I will never recommend marijuana to any of my patients. I have far too clear memories of my teenage years, when I knew many friends and family who smoked pot, to their detriment. In high school it wasn’t hard to tell who was using regularly because it interfered with their learning. They seemed slightly disoriented and less aware of what was going on around them.

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Transgender Athletics: A Justice Issue

Transgender Athletics: A Justice Issue March 14, 2019

Nobody who knows me would call me an athlete. If I wasn’t picked last for team sports at school, then it was next to last. Every time. Because of this pathetic natural ability, I have never been one who availed myself of all the sports opportunities I was given.

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A Plug for Written Prayers

A Plug for Written Prayers January 31, 2019

When I was a young Christian, I thought written prayers were stale, while my own prayers were spontaneous and alive. Now I think the opposite. Left to my own devices, my prayers sound remarkably similar to one another. And by similar, I mean dull. Heartfelt, but dull.

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Trusting Vaccines

Trusting Vaccines November 29, 2018

Worldwide, only clean water has saved more lives than vaccines. Wild smallpox has been eliminated, and polio nearly so. Twelve other major diseases that were the scourge of mankind have been controlled. So why would anyone not want to control disease? Dr. Amy Givler delves into this question in this week’s blog post on The Point.

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Opioids: A Brief History

Pills tumbling from bottle into open hand

In this week’s blog post, Dr. Amy Givler shares the story of how opioids became a problem in every community in America, including yours. And it is the story of how opioid addiction has overwhelmed and devastated some communities, maybe yours.

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Treating the New Chronic Pain Patient

Pills tumbling from bottle into open hand

I had a tooth pulled last month. I wasn’t expecting much post-op pain because the tooth already had a root canal, years earlier. Yet with my mouth clamped on a large cotton wad after the procedure, I heard my oral surgeon say to his assistant, “Print out a script for Norco 7.5’s – 30 of them.”

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Placebos: Can we use them? Should we use them?

Photo: Pexels

The word “placebo” actually comes from a mis-translation of the Bible. Psalm 116:9 in the Latin Vulgate roughly states, “I shall please the dead in the land of the living.” Later translations better reflected the original Hebrew with, “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living,” (KJV) but in the Middle Ages, the Latin Vulgate was the only Bible most people knew.

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WPC Pulse – February 2014

Photo: Pixabay

When patients of mine have sciatica, they are miserable.

But sometimes it’s hard to convince them that their leg pain – or foot pain, or toe pain – actually originates in their back. “My back doesn’t that hurt much, Doc. It’s the leg that’s hurting so bad.”

Sciatica is like that.

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WPC Pulse – March 2012

Photo: Pixabay

What is it to be a leader? I don’t see myself as a natural leader, but whether I like it or not, my job makes me a leader. As a doctor I am leading each of my patients to a life, we both hope, of better health.

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