As we approach the High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur this month, I find myself becoming more reflective, particularly about what’s important in my life. Twenty years ago I was asked to complete a biographical survey for a physician newsletter about my personal interests, which included questions such as the latest book I read, my favorite movie, etc. There was one question that stood out, “What is the meaning of life?” My response, “God knows.” It occurred to me a few years later that I could delve into a better understanding of this existential question by probing my patients for their stories about what has been meaningful in their lives. You may wonder how during a 15-20 minute visit with patients I could have time for such a discussion. One cannot come out and say, “Tell me the meaning of your life,” but I felt I could approach the Continue reading →
On April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was sitting in his living room having his portrait painted by artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff, who later became most renowned for “Unfinished Portrait” of FDR. Also present was Lucy Mercer, Eleanor’s social secretary, but most notorious because of her affair with the president. His dog, Fala, and two cousins were in the room as well according to biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin. At 1:00 pm, FDR complained of “traffic pain at the back of my head,” and collapsed, unconscious. His cardiologist quickly arrived and recognized the signs of a cerebral hemorrhage, a type of stroke. One could argue that one of FDR’s visitors that day triggered his stroke, but it is much more likely that years of untreated high blood pressure led to FDR’s demise at the age of 63.
High blood pressure or hypertension still remains a hidden killer at large. It is estimated that high blood pressure kills approximately 1000 Americans each day due to its effects on Continue reading →
On May 12, 1990, I was speeding on my mountain bike down an unfamiliar mountain trail. All of a sudden, the trail veered sharply to the left while I kept going straight. I went flying over a short wooden fence down a steep mountain hillside, and rolled and tumbled like I was in a bad dream. When I finally came to a stop, I was surprised I was still conscious. My bike helmet and glasses frame were cracked, and with the awareness of sharp pain emanating from my left wrist, I feared my wrist was cracked too. After I was transported to the ER, I found out that I had a broken wrist bone and derangements of the surrounding ligaments. I needed to have surgery if I was ever to play the violin again. Continue reading →