Episode 12: Coming Out to Your Physician: Caring for Members of the LGBTQIA Community

Over the past five years, Dr. Beth has learned the importance of asking patients, “…what is your preferred name and what are your pronouns?” It is a crucial question she didn’t know to ask earlier in her medical career, having received insufficient training in LGBTQ health. After months of caring for a patient with unexplained breast pain, Dr. Beth eventually learned the cause when the patient courageously chose to share his identity story with her. Dr. Beth offers tips to other clinicians for creating an environment that encourages patients to share their stories (e.g., waiting room, intake forms, types of questions) and addresses the need for clinicians to practice humility when treating a diversified patient population. Dr. Beth finishes the podcast with advice for patients and loved ones of LGBTQIA-identified individuals (e.g., disclose your gender identity and sexual orientation with your physician because it can impact your health and the medical care you receive).

Episode 11: Providing Light to the ‘Dark Side’ of Health Insurance (Special Edition – Part 1)

In this special edition podcast, Dr. Jonathan Burke explains why he chose to stop being a full-time primary care physician and change careers to join the proverbial “dark side” of health insurance. His response, “I was struggling with how medicine was practiced, the hamster wheel…[and] I hoped that I would be able to…change how things might work in the future.” In part one of the two-part series, Dr. Burke shares stories and answers questions (e.g., “Why are claims denied?”) to provide some transparency about the ins and outs of health insurance. He explains why doctors err on the side of “doing more” (e.g., tests, surgeries) and answers multiple questions about claims and bills, prescriptions, hospital/in-patient care, and out-patient care. The first question Dr. Burke was asked, “Why is U.S. healthcare insurance so expensive?”

To ask a question or leave a comment for a future podcast on health insurance, go to nicoledefenbaugh.com/blog or Facebook.

Apologies to our listeners for the audio feedback throughout the podcast. If you have suggestions for reducing audio feedback, please send a private message on our Facebook page (“healthstoriespodcast”).

Episode 10: Trust, Forgiveness & Medical Mistakes

Since the moment of her birth, Abbie has been the recipient of multiple medical errors. Approximately 700 medical mistakes occur each day in the United States (https://catalyst.nejm.org), leading to death.  Despite experiencing a near-death mistake herself, Abbie forgave and continues to trust in the primary care physician who caused it. After the most recent mistake by another physician, however, Abbie questions if forgiveness is possible and instead considers legal action against the doctor who caused a brain hemorrhage.  Facing two different errors, Abbie explains why she forgave one physician, continues to distrust the other, and how the simple yet powerful phrase, “I’m sorry” can mean the difference between absolution and litigation.

We would love to hear your feedback!  Please drop us a line at nicoledefenbaugh.com/blog or on our facebook page @healthstoriespodcast

Episode 9: I Just Don’t Understand! Increasing Your Health Literacy

Do you sometimes feel confused by what your doctor says or have difficulty understanding the directions on a prescription label? You are not only. Approximately 77 million people have basic or below basic health literacy (https://health.gov) and even the podcast interviewee herself, Dr. Ashwini admits, “As a physician, [I am health literate] maybe most of the time”. To explain complex concepts to her patients she draws images on the examination table paper and urges others to use visuals to increase comprehension. Given the gap between the health information we receive and our ability to understand and apply it to our own health care, Dr. Ashwini suggests that we “Ask what you don’t understand…it’s your right to know”. She addresses added challenges to health literacy due to language barriers and the growing job market for medical interpreters.

We would love to hear your feedback!  Please drop us a line at nicoledefenbaugh.com/blog or on our facebook page @healthstoriespodcast

Episode 8: The Anomalous, Chronic Patient & His Autoimmune Journey

When Michael is told, “We don’t know what to do with you because most people don’t live that long,” he realizes he’s lucky to be alive and he’s become an anomalous patient in the healthcare system. After 11 surgeries, losing 42 lbs. in eight days, multiple medical diagnoses (e.g., Crohn’s disease) and 31 years with a partial digestive system, his motto is “My body still works…with what it has”. Michael details the various procedures and treatments he endured including a memorable “shitty” night in the hospital and how he has become more comfortable talking about his body and its functions. His primary learnings: ask questions—even the embarrassing ones, educate and advocate for yourself, and embrace what’s happening to your body. His advice to others? “You have to find something positive in the midst of something that isn’t positive” and “Surround yourself with people who will love you and accept you for who you are.”

Michael’s blog: https://thewritingprofessor55.com/

We would love to hear your feedback!  Please drop us a line at nicoledefenbaugh.com/blog or on our facebook page @healthstoriespodcast

Episode 7: Forgetting Parents

There are more than 49 million U.S. residents 65 years or older and many live with undiagnosed medical conditions, leaving children and other family members with added responsibilities and questions. This can be especially difficult when a parent lives far away. Dr. Kevin McNeill recounts the overlooked signs of his mother’s undiagnosed dementia and how his father compensated for his mother’s memory loss. He provides insights as his mother’s caregiver and as a family medicine physician. Kevin suggests how to watch for warning signs, encourage parents to get tested, and involve other clinicians (e.g., social workers) and community members. He concludes with tips for addressing financial concerns (e.g., elder lawyer) and the importance of knowing your parent’s health insurance plan.

We would love to hear your feedback!  Please drop us a line at nicoledefenbaugh.com/blog or on our facebook page @healthstoriespodcast

Episode 6: Integrating the Whole Person

Registered Nurse and Reiki Master, Katrina Fritz, joins the podcast series to share her personal and professional experiences receiving and treating others with complimentary/integrative medicine (e.g., Reiki) and new approaches to patient-centered care (i.e., Flinders Chronic Condition Management). Katrina shares the powerful impact Reiki had when her brother-in-law died tragically and how she incorporates complimentary medicine in her clinical care with patients and fellow colleagues. She ends the interview with suggestions for how we might find a practitioner and how important it is to “trust your gut…and trust in yourself” with your health care.


Episode 5: When Pain Takes Over

Dr. Mattheus-Kairys recounts her years of chronic back pain due to a herniated disc, complications from surgery, and a spinal leak that occurred during her residency program. Throughout the next few years, Dr. Mattheus-Kairys discovers how to live with the pain and attempts a new activity that leads to a surprising friendship. For those living with chronic pain she offers several suggestions (e.g., listening to your body and also ignoring it, awareness of your limitations, adaptions to your daily practices) and provides an interesting historical perspective explaining why some clinicians lack empathy toward a patient’s pain. As a chronic pain patient herself, Dr. Mattheus-Kairys shares how her experiences have influenced the way she treats patients and informs us of the myriad of available tools and treatments beyond prescription narcotics.


Episode 4: Cannabis, Cancer & Care

“When the end of life is near, you still have a lot of life…”, recalls Dr. Gretchen in this podcast. Dr. Gretchen remembers the phone call she received, as her father’s caregiver, that he was going into hospice and how it [hospice] was an “amazing gift the healthcare system could have given to me…”. With a terminal diagnosis they chose to focus on quality of life and living—advice she suggests for her patients and their families. Dr. Gretchen describes her father’s choice to use medical cannabis for his pain and how it gave him control over his condition. She hopes to inspire listeners to not let a terminal diagnosis get in the way of living life, to walk each day in gratitude, and live in the present. At the end of the podcast she offers advice and steps to take when faced with hospice and a terminal diagnosis and reminds us to have a conversation with a loved one about your end-of-life wishes.

For more related podcasts, check out the “On Death” podcast by Eugene Kim.


Episode 3: The Unsuspecting Addict

During what appears to be a routine physical exam, Dr. D hears the story of how a patient’s decade-long addiction began with a single dose of Percocet (narcotic medication to treat pain) given to her in the hospital—the result of an error in the medical system and an all-too-common story about how addiction begins. Dr. D reflects on her preconceptions toward the patient and the importance of “switching gears” during the visit to encourage the patient to share her/his story. The message Dr. D relays to her fellow physicians, “Be aware of the power we hold in prescription pads” and offers tips for how to care for patients, including those who don’t realize they have an addiction. Dr. D ends with insights for those facing addiction and how loved ones might approach doctors for an intervention.