You are never going to believe this. After suffering three sleepless nights thinking my inattention to detail had led to the demise of a family pet, Boo, the hamster, and enduring the wrath of my 8- and  12-year-olds and the disapproving gaze of my 16-year-old and my wife, ITAL Boo came back from the dead! I left the cage open by mistake the other night and started feeling empathy for otherwise well-meaning medical personnel who make mistakes. We left on a brief family road trip from Seattle to Portland, Oregon, leaving the two cats to roam the house and arranging...

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Estimates are that as many as 98,000 Americans die preventable deaths each year from medical errors in hospitals. I have often wondered how that happens Then it hit me as I made an error that may have cost a living thing its life! No, I didn’t kill a person who was sick. But my mistake may have led to the untimely death of a being that was fairly helpless - our hamster, Boo. She’s missing and when I made the big mistake of leaving the cage open briefly to get her more food, either she got out or the cat,...

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Last week, I wrote about how lucky we are when we have someone who loves us and helps us cope with our serious health concern. But there’s a flip side too: what if the caregiver not only isn’t equipped to help us, but can’t cope themselves? Certainly, there are instances where a spouse of someone with MS or Alzheimer’s or cancer says, “I can’t handle this any longer.” If they want out, does that make them a terrible person? It sure is heartbreaking on many levels. But maybe it doesn’t have to come to such a breakup. I recently spoke...

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I found out something today that could apply to many of our HealthTalk regulars, people with autoimmune conditions like MS, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s, and psoriasis. There could be a connection fbetween your condition and an underactive thyroid, that small gland under your Adam’s apple that regulates energy and metabolism. It turns out the major cause of an underactive thyroid is an autoimmune condition where your body attacks itself, so there could be  crossover with an autoimmune condition you already have. That means you could be tired and have other symptoms that might be tied to a number of things, but...

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So you or a loved one is diagnosed with a serious health problem. You go to the doctor, perhaps a specialist. They are supposed to know all about the latest treatments, right? Well, yes, that’s right most of the time. But a new study shows that with some cancers, patients are not always offered what the experts agree is the best, research evidence-based medical approach In other words, there are some doctors who won’t offer you what the national standards now say is best for someone in your situation. According to a recent report on MedPageToday.com: [T]here’s still plenty of...

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I have told you previously about my daughter Ruth, age 12½, and her chronic stomach inflammation problem. We’ve been on a three-year odyssey trying to get the right diagnosis and treatment. It has taken us to many doctors and even from Seattle to Ohio to see a specialist. In the meantime, Ruth missed a lot of school (70 days in one year). Last year at this time, she was mostly staying home and feeling in pain and tired. I don’t want to jinx it, but now she is on an experimental approach using the cancer and Crohn’s drug methotrexate as...

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There is an incredibly sweet Valentine’s Day feature on the front page of today’s Seattle Times. It’s the story of 84-year-old Carl Buck, a retired Boeing engineer, and his wife, Joan, 74. Joan has MS and lives in a retirement home. Carl could no longer provide the assistance Joan needs for her MS, but he visits her twice every day. They have a deep love for each other. This is not Carl’s first love, nor Joan’s. Carl’s first wife died at age 39. Year’s later, Carl couldn’t get out of his mind his attractive former neighbor, Joan, a woman who...

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There was big news last week when we learned from the American Cancer Society that the overall number of cancer deaths in the United States had dipped for the first time in 70 years. It wasn’t much, just a few hundred. And while the number went down overall and for men, it went up a bit for women, who lag behind men in stopping smoking (smoking is a major cause of cancer, as you know). (The drop in cancer deaths occurred in 2003, the latest year for which data are available. There were 556,902 cancer deaths in 2003, 369 fewer...

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The mail has been coming in fast and furious. You’ve shared some great stories and interesting ideas that I find very thought-provoking and helpful. Please don’t be upset if it takes me a few weeks to respond to your message - the sudden growth of this blog has been a little overwhelming. I’ve selected some of the most interesting e-mails and comments from the past month to share and discuss: “I learned a new word: blog. I was reading your blog via the Lymphoma Education Network one evening, and it was like bumping into an old friend. Thank you for...

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I have a friend named Gretchen who is the head of marketing for one of the nation’s largest medical centers. I have done business with her for years, so it was fun to have lunch with her a few weeks ago. I talked with her about how I wanted to speak out more about the issue of adult children and their aging parents. How do we respectfully help our parents when they are sick? How do we help them when it may not make sense for them to stay in their homes or continue to drive? Many of us are...

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