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Be a good patient in 5 easy steps

Posted by Dr. Suzanne Koven May 20, 2012 01:48 PM

doctor-examining-a-patient-clip-art_433473.jpgI'm currently having a chance to do one of my least favorite things: be a patient. And the whole time, I'm missing no opportunity to declare what a bad patient I am. "I'm sorry I'm such a bad patient," I said to the phlebotomist when I winced as she drew my blood. "I know I'm a bad patient," I said to the x-ray technician who re-positioned my fractured arm. "We doctors are the worst patients," I said to the physician whose advice I questioned.

But am I really such a bad patient? Is a good patient simply one who never complains or disagrees?

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Weight Loss Is Math, Sort Of

Posted by Dr. Suzanne Koven May 16, 2012 06:27 AM

abacus.jpegThe woman sitting before me is in her 60s, obese, and exasperated. "I'm telling you, doctor, I eat almost nothing."

I ask her to describe her daily food intake and she launches into her recitation: a small bowl of cereal...a little cottage cheese...a chicken leg with salad. She can't possibly be gaining weight on these grim rations.

Or can she?

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Elegy For My Patients

Posted by Dr. Suzanne Koven May 2, 2012 04:55 AM

angel-of-grief.jpegLike many of my medical school classmates I'd decided against a career in pediatrics even before setting foot on the children's ward. "Who could bear to see a child sick...or die?" we asked ourselves--most of us knowing that we couldn't.

Over 20 years later I have seen many patients die. Most of them have been old, their deaths not tragedies, not crimes against nature--but still losses.

Sometimes, when I can't sleep at night, I think of them, one by one:

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About the author

Suzanne Koven, M.D. practices internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She writes a monthly column for the Globe's G Health section and her essays have appeared in the More »

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