Faster, Higher, Stronger: Your Gold-Medal Run

Faster, Higher, Stronger: Your Gold-Medal Run

The 2012 Olympic Games in London have just come to an end. For these two weeks every two years I spend more time watching sports on TV than probably the entire two years between them. I love watching a gold-medal run.

Names like Michael Phelps, Usian Bolt, Gabby Douglas, Missy Franklin, Oscar Pistorius, and others are now household words around the world. There’s something about the Olympic Games that draws us in.

There is such drama packed into those two weeks that little else can rival – the exhilaration of winning, the agony of defeat, and the sometimes heroic achievement of some athletes just to make it to London.

I love the intensity of the Olympic Games. I love seeing people who have pushed themselves to the limit, overcome great obstacles, and kept going even through periods of “failure” to reach their dream.

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Doctor, Doctor, Tell Me

Sick ChildI do it almost every day. Someone doesn’t feel well. They come to see me as a doctor and talk about their symptoms. I ask questions, do an exam, order tests, and prescribe treatment. For some “simple” medical problems, that is enough.

But more often than not there are so many more issues beyond just the physical symptoms. If I ignore these other factors, the patient may or may not get better. And I have done the patient poor service.

It has been estimated that perhaps 75% of the time a patient goes to see a primary care physician the primary problem is not physical. Instead, the problem is primarily psychological. That doesn’t mean symptoms are “all in your head.” It means problems such as anxiety, depression, and stress are extremely common, and they have strong effects on our physical bodies.

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The Bad (or Good) News about STDs

Fearful WomanThere’s one part of my job as an OB-Gyn physician that I dread. And I’ve had to do it several times in the last two weeks.

I dread telling a woman she has just been diagnosed with an STD.

Within just the past few days I’ve had to address HIV, HPV, herpes, and chlamydia. There’s just no easy way to tell someone that kind of news. The tears, the physical distress, the fear, often the shame, in a woman’s face just tears at my heart.

“I never thought this would happen to me.” “I thought I was being careful.” “Will this stop me from having children in the future?” “How am I going to tell my partner?”

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A Time for Everything

The Byrds Turn Turn TurnThe Byrds sang it: “A time to every purpose under heaven.”

I wonder how many people who still sing Turn! Turn! Turn! realize that the lyrics were taken essentially word-for-word from the Bible, Ecclesiastes ch. 3. It talks about a truth that those of us who live in this super-charged ultra-fast over-connected society often forget.

As an OB-Gyn physician I rejoice when it’s a time to be born. But I struggle to not feel like a failure when it’s time for one of my patients, or worse yet a close friend or family member, to die.

I find myself looking for the time to laugh and dance. I struggle to embrace the time to weep and mourn.

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A Salute to all Caregivers

CaregivingI have not been a caregiver in the sense that many are. But if the statistics hold, one day I may be. The number of adults serving as caregiver to a parent, a spouse, or another family member is enormous.

With more of us living longer, the number needing care for illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or other dementia, stroke, or other brain disorders is only getting larger. Numbers can’t describe the emotional, financial, and physical toll caregiving takes on one’s life.

Not having experienced caregiving myself I’m sure anything I say would be inadequate to honor those who take on the responsibility for caring for a loved one. But I do want to say Thank You!

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