My Turn: Personal stories by Health section readers

My Turn is a forum in which readers can recount a personal health or fitness experience.

My Turn: A woman and a girl, united by cancer and courage

March 1, 2012

My Turn: A woman and a girl, united by cancer and courage

When my 14-year-old niece Lindsey died last year, my friend Mary took it personally. Although separated by decades, Mary Schnack and Lindsey Stewart shared a common menace: cancer.

My Turn: Body dysmorphic disorder takes quiet toll

February 20, 2012

My Turn: Body dysmorphic disorder takes quiet toll

I am the woman who passes a mirror and shifts her gaze away. I am the woman who wears oversized clothing to mask the extra 20 or 30 pounds of weight that don't register on my scale. I am the woman who takes the picture rather than appear in the photograph. I am the woman who has had her eyes done, face lifted, collagen and Botox — more than once.

My Turn: Make the call — to your doctor

February 27, 2012

My Turn: Make the call — to your doctor

"You have malignant melanoma," the dermatologist told me. But that wasn't the worst of it. The worst part was that thepathologist's report had been in my chart for over a year and my dermatologist had never told me.

Music keeps minds active and memories alive

January 30, 2012

Music keeps minds active and memories alive

My name is Bob, and I know what it's like to be flat on your back for more than two months.

My Turn: Carrying on in the wake of tragedy

January 9, 2012

My Turn: Carrying on in the wake of tragedy

I like to help people. Tell me what's wrong, and I'll take on anyone and anything to try to make it better. Then news came about a boy, and everything changed.

My Turn: Ready to celebrate a new hope for cystic fibrosis

January 9, 2012

My Turn: Ready to celebrate a new hope for cystic fibrosis

For years, a picture of Dr. Francis Collins, torn from the pages of a 1989 issue of Newsweek, held fast to our refrigerator door. Two red magnets placed him in the middle of Little League schedules, school rosters and Citizen of the Month certificates.

My Turn: Hearing-impaired people need friends and some patience

January 9, 2012

My Turn: Hearing-impaired people need friends and some patience

Imagine yourself in a country where nobody speaks your language. It becomes a necessity to rely on your other senses and hone your powers of observation. You welcome the times when you can "fill in the blanks" and get the gist of a conversation. Each situation is stressful: Will you be a participant or an observer?

My Turn: Love formed in Alzheimer's crucible

January 9, 2012

My Turn: Love formed in Alzheimer's crucible

Alzheimer's disease brought us together. The illness resulted in a relationship of greater intimacy and closeness than I ever could have imagined.

My Turn: A penny for your walks

January 2, 2012

My Turn: A penny for your walks

By all accounts, Americans are becoming heavier. The number of people deemed to be obese continues to grow. The remedy is obviously proper diet and exercise, but getting enough exercise is not always easy. People need incentive, and I've got one to suggest.

Sweet revenge on cancer treatment

January 9, 2012

Sweet revenge on cancer treatment

I was baptized at Our Lady of Hypochondria Church.

My Turn: Oh, the ho-ho-horror

November 28, 2011

My Turn: Oh, the ho-ho-horror

Dear Parents,

My Turn: PSA scare prompts reflection and education

1:51 PM EST, December 19, 2011

My Turn: PSA scare prompts reflection and education

When my family doctor called five years ago with the news that my PSA levels had spiked, I hung up the phone and did what all of us do. I panicked. I thought, "So this is how I'm going to die."

My Turn: A teen's brush with death

October 10, 2011

My Turn: A teen's brush with death

There are very few specific details I remember about my experience with lung cancer, though it was just eight years ago. But there are some moments I will never forget. It has been difficult for me to put those into words; now, my words are needed only to point out a handful of scenes from the new movie "50/50" that artfully convey situations and emotions I could never quite express.

October 17, 2011

My Turn: A bumbling dance with Dr. Web

My doctor recently suggested that a diminishing number of my white blood cells might signal a serious condition. After eliminating all the usual suspects, he referred me to an oncologist. I wondered whether anyone is ever happy to see the doctor whose office resides in the Cancer Center?

My Turn: A husband's 'muddle through' song

October 31, 2011

My Turn: A husband's 'muddle through' song

Martina McBride, thank you for singing a song for breast cancer husbands. We really appreciate it, and you are absolutely right, we need to live up to the title: "I'm Gonna Love You Through It."

My Turn: Radiation patients share a survivor's song

October 3, 2011

My Turn: Radiation patients share a survivor's song

There is dancing today in the radiation waiting room. Upright and youthful-looking despite his lined face, the smiling man jitterbugs with any woman who accepts his courteously offered hand.

My Turn: A mother's descent into Alzheimer's disease

September 19, 2011

My Turn: A mother's descent into Alzheimer's disease

There was a cake with my mother's name spelled out in buttercream, small gifts and a song. The guests included 20 men and women suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia who lived in the secure wing of my mother's new home — a nicely appointed assisted living facility with art on the walls, gentle hands, crafts and music.

My Turn: Friends shine after physical therapy

July 25, 2011

My Turn: Friends shine after physical therapy

I sat across the table from Chuck, marveling at his robust good health. We'd just been to see a play — and instead of looking pale and pinched after it ended, he stood up, clapping wildly through the last curtain call.

My Turn: Her father's perfect death

September 26, 2011

My Turn: Her father's perfect death

When people ask about my father's death, I always respond the same way: "Except for the fact that he died, everything was perfect."

My Turn: She ditched the boyfriend but not the exercise habit

September 12, 2011

My Turn: She ditched the boyfriend but not the exercise habit

When I was 22, my boyfriend "Jim" asked me to take a little exercise class with him at the local junior college. At the time, I had no idea that this simple request would mean so much to me 28 years later.

My Turn: Response to husband's eye patch? Argh!

September 5, 2011

My Turn: Response to husband's eye patch? Argh!

The man in the picture is not a pirate.

My Turn: Lung cancer's reality sharpens focus on her life's journey

July 18, 2011

My Turn: Lung cancer's reality sharpens focus on her life's journey

June 26 marked the seventh month since my diagnosis of Stage 3B non-small cell lung cancer. Life expectancy from date of diagnosis, with treatment, is 12 to 18 months. So I'm a little shy of halfway there, if we're going by the more optimistic figure. Of course, statistics are only statistics, not a finite rule applied to everyone fighting cancer. A number of people survive far beyond that bleak prognosis; I've met some who've passed the seven-year mark, a few even making 10 years and beyond. But that's rare.

My Turn: Losing Lauren, but not the strong cord of connection

August 22, 2011

My Turn: Losing Lauren, but not the strong cord of connection

Rumi said it best: "Grief can be the garden of compassion." I spotted this quote as I sat in my garden grieving over the sudden death of our 26-year-old daughter.

My Turn: Husband hangs up his mountain biking pedals

June 20, 2011

My Turn: Husband hangs up his mountain biking pedals

In the last four years, my 42-year-old husband has had three mountain biking-related surgeries. He's had more busted fingers, dislocated shoulders and other injuries than I can recall.

My Turn: The academic debate over the causes of autism hits home for this family

July 11, 2011

My Turn: The academic debate over the causes of autism hits home for this family

Autism is an environmental disorder — at least in some cases. Just as lead paint chips can cause learning disabilities and radon in the basement can cause lung cancer, certain chemicals and other outside influences seem to help set autism in motion.

My Turn: iPhone as OCD treatment

June 27, 2011

My Turn: iPhone as OCD treatment

You would have to be in solitary confinement to have not seen that TV commercial for the iPhone that tells you that "if you don't have an iPhone" you can't download music, you can't pay for your coffee, can't easily purchase an airline ticket....

My Turn: Bustin' more than a move

May 2, 2011

My Turn: Bustin' more than a move

"They shoot horses, don't they?" I was panting heavily. My daughters looked bewildered. Obviously, my reference to the 1969 movie — wherein Jane Fonda nearly dances herself to death during a marathon — utterly escaped them.

My Turn: The baby was fine, the reactions weren't

June 13, 2011

My Turn: The baby was fine, the reactions weren't

In case you were wondering, being the parent of a 2-year-old child who can't walk, needs oxygen and has a feeding tube protruding from her belly is a strange experience. It certainly wasn't a part of our master plan.

My Turn: Her war on belly fat

May 9, 2011

My Turn: Her war on belly fat

"Nobody in our family has a flat stomach, Carolyn," my dad stated authoritatively. A scientist, he generally gave us The Last Word on Every Subject. I looked up from my rounded belly. "Well, I still wish mine were flat," I told him as we sat at the table after dinner, nibbling as we talked.

My Turn: With age, the wisdom to fight cancer

March 28, 2011

My Turn: With age, the wisdom to fight cancer

I am now almost finished with my journey of medical treatment for breast cancer. I have been given examinations, explanations and expectations; I have gone through and successfully recovered from surgery; I have just completed a schedule of radiation therapy; and I will now be starting on a special prescribed medication.

My Turn: The pup who saved my life

February 7, 2011

My Turn: The pup who saved my life

My dog saved me.

My Turn: Bill Hillman thanks chest compressions for helping to save his wife

February 7, 2011

My Turn: Bill Hillman thanks chest compressions for helping to save his wife

It was 4:05 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2009. I heard my wife, Dianne, say, "I think I'm having a heart attack."

My Turn: Touched by another human's touch

May 23, 2011

My Turn: Touched by another human's touch

I was deeply shaken to learn I had hypopharyngeal cancer. As a physician, I had access to my hospital's laboratory results, so I took a shortcut: Rather than wait for my surgeon to call me, I looked for my name in my hospital's pathology laboratory log book.

A little white lie to a beloved neighbor

November 15, 2010

My Turn

A little white lie to a beloved neighbor

My last words to you, June, were a lie.

September 6, 2010

My Turn

After Mom's pancreatic cancer diagnosis, every moment becomes precious, strange

I have always had an obsession with knowing what will happen next. I check weather.com on a nightly basis and have a predilection for scanning the TV listings so that I can plan my Sunday afternoons accordingly.

Here's the veggies. Now create.

August 30, 2010

My Turn:

Here's the veggies. Now create.

In my junior high home ec class, I liked the emphasis on precision we were taught: Use a butter knife to level off the dry ingredients in a measuring cup, and never pour salt into a measuring spoon over a bowl of already waiting ingredients.

My Turn: What to expect when we're not yet expecting

April 25, 2011

My Turn: What to expect when we're not yet expecting

According to Resolve, the National Infertility Assn., one in eight U.S. couples of child-bearing age is diagnosed with infertility. Two long years ago, my husband and I unfortunately found ourselves in this category. It's been a heartbreaking journey ever since.

In diet studies, big question goes unexplored

August 23, 2010

My Turn

In diet studies, big question goes unexplored

Fifteen years ago, I gained the dreaded "freshman 15" — times two. I packed on 30 pounds in what felt like a blink of an eye. Sophomore year, things were going to change. I adopted a Spartan regime: limiting my calories and fat intake, emulating Greg LeMond on the stationary bike and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the weight room.

My Turn: Finding a church that goes with the grain

August 16, 2010

My Turn: Finding a church that goes with the grain

Medical science has determined that one cannot separate mental and emotional health from physical well-being. Which one of us hasn't suffered the bodily reaction to stress — felt the heart race when running late to an important meeting at work or experienced an adrenaline surge during a freeway delay?

My Turn: 'Little old lady' chalks up a marathon

August 9, 2010

My Turn: 'Little old lady' chalks up a marathon

I completed the Pasadena Marathon six months ago. I am 68 years old, 5 feet tall and have short, chunky legs. A stranger would consider me to be a "little old lady," as in the song, "the little old lady from Pasadena."

Sometimes it's not about the swift

July 19, 2010

My Turn

Sometimes it's not about the swift

When I stood on the starting line of the Los Angeles Marathon this spring, my main objective was to beat my husband. This was to be John's first marathon and my 10th.

My Turn: The hand that rocks the cradle can shake up the diet

August 2, 2010

My Turn: The hand that rocks the cradle can shake up the diet

I have always loved helping people achieve their fitness goals, whatever they may be.

Poetry in motion

May 10, 2010

My Turn

Poetry in motion

My name is Bob and I'm an exercise coward. I've tried to stick with various exercise programs but always failed until I reached 71 and my Kaiser internist prodded me into an honest shot at losing weight.

My Turn: A new cause with every breath he takes

June 28, 2010

My Turn: A new cause with every breath he takes

For many, Yellowstone National Park is a place where nature gives a lifetime of memories — the beauty of the landscape, the wildlife and the geysers. For me, Yellowstone is a reminder of a turning point in my life, one that resulted in a death sentence. It's a memory I'd rather forget.

He's got religion, set on frappe

May 10, 2010

My Turn

He's got religion, set on frappe

When I open the freezer, out spill industrial-sized bags of spinach, blueberries and chopped bananas from Costco.

Today, he can run

1:34 PM EDT, April 26, 2010

My Turn

Today, he can run

About 10 years ago, during Healthy Heart Week, I took a stress test on a treadmill. After an extremely short time, I almost vomited and fainted, in that order.

Nutritionist teaches this old dog some healthy new tricks

May 31, 2010

My Turn

Nutritionist teaches this old dog some healthy new tricks

I always aimed to keep the doctor away, following the American Heart Assn.'s now-outdated low-fat, high-carb diet. Because I couldn't make heads or tails of the trends in dietary supplements, I sought a nutritionist.

A sunset hike two days before a full moon

April 19, 2010

My Turn

A sunset hike two days before a full moon

I slept very well last night. Getting a good night's sleep doesn't always come easy when the day's work is closer than it should be, when too much time has been spent behind a desk, or when everyday worries assail the quiet of the night.

A chronic fatigue syndrome sufferer reconnects with the world

May 24, 2010

My Turn

A chronic fatigue syndrome sufferer reconnects with the world

Suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome meant I was exhausted all the time. I felt like I had cotton candy where a brain should be.

Do's, not don'ts

May 17, 2010

My Turn

Do's, not don'ts

Don't you dare diet: Don't even consider it, or you'll want to pig out.

The reluctant athlete

May 10, 2010

My Turn

The reluctant athlete

"I haven't done this since the eighth grade, so be gentle with me." Those were my first words to William, a personal trainer, at our first session.

A future without a baby is just fate, after all

May 10, 2010

My Turn

A future without a baby is just fate, after all

I was five years into trying to conceive when I received the diagnosis that stopped my quest: premature ovarian failure. The only option for pregnancy would be donor eggs, and that was beyond our financial means and our level of acceptable medical intervention.

Little lady, big biceps

April 12, 2010

Little lady, big biceps

My fourth-grade teacher called me "the teeny weeny girl with the teeny weeny voice." My dad delighted in telling about the time he came upon a group of kids playing house in our backyard. He overheard one of my playmates find out I was the mom and comment in disbelief, "That runt the mother?"

Her husband's heart quit on him, but she didn't

February 1, 2010

MY TURN

Her husband's heart quit on him, but she didn't

My husband left me. He didn't mean to, but he did.

Mental health is a luxury for the uninsured

January 18, 2010

MY TURN

Mental health is a luxury for the uninsured

When I get anxious, I call Jeff. He sits at a government desk in an old, dilapidated building at a large state mental-health complex that has everything from an inpatient hospital to a facility for northern Nevada's criminally insane. Like most mental health nurses, he's a busy guy, fielding phone calls from hundreds of patients, many homeless, some disoriented, all desperate.

The agonizing mind games of Alzheimer's

May 10, 2010

My Turn

The agonizing mind games of Alzheimer's

"Do you have a boyfriend?" he asked me. He was about 84 years old and interested in a date.

Runner found little tricks that made a big difference

January 4, 2010

MY TURN

Runner found little tricks that made a big difference

I didn't always love to run, even though I've been a runner for well over 20 years. It was all I could do to slog through three miles of uninspired, unenthusiastic task running. And then . . . it all changed.

A longtime vegetarian gets a high cholesterol count

January 18, 2010

MY TURN

A longtime vegetarian gets a high cholesterol count

My blood test results arrived in the mail last year -- and I was shocked. My report, with total cholesterol listed at 248, contained a handwritten note from my doctor in the margin: Come in to see me for medication.

One life lost, another changed

September 28, 2009

MY TURN

One life lost, another changed

Many people who don't protect themselves from the sun may never get skin cancer. And certainly, you can roll the dice if you wish. But there are things I now do regularly to protect myself from it. I don't have to remember to do them; they're automatic. I was never this careful before my husband died of the disease. That tragedy was my motivator. But maybe I could be your motivator -- if you know a little bit about what my husband, Jerry, went through and what I went through as his wife.

Exercise is a life stage, at any stage

March 22, 2010

My Turn

Exercise is a life stage, at any stage

Whether it was a boyfriend, health goals, personal time or beautiful views, one senior has tried to find a reason and a plan to get or stay in shape.

Diabetes may create a chasm between patient, doctor

October 26, 2009

MY TURN

Diabetes may create a chasm between patient, doctor

Ask the average healthcare worker about the biggest problem in diabetes care today and he or she will probably tell you that it's getting patients to "control" their blood sugar levels.

Food allergies are answer to medical mystery

April 5, 2010

My Turn

Food allergies are answer to medical mystery

Symptoms of weakness and nausea were afflicting me, sometimes disabling me for hours at a time. So I went to an internist, who ran a series of tests, which turned up nothing.

Avoid the sun -- but not a biopsy

December 28, 2009

MY TURN

Avoid the sun -- but not a biopsy

I'd always had a vague feeling that my mother needed to be aware of skin cancer. A redhead with creamy-white freckled skin, she was at higher risk than darker-skinned people. Years earlier, Southern California's beaches had represented pure heaven for her as a young woman who'd immigrated to Los Angeles -- a life far away from New York's gritty streets, cold winters and oppressive summers. Baby oil and the "healthy" glow of a tan were her standard summer fare.

One side effect of an illness can be a loss of friends

December 7, 2009

MY TURN

One side effect of an illness can be a loss of friends

"Don't you wish you had just slapped her in the hospital?" a good friend asked me after my daughter had recovered from a four-year battle with anorexia.

A reality check on skis

March 29, 2010

A reality check on skis

"I really want to try cross-country skiing!" pleaded my daughter as we headed toward the airport ladies' room to change clothes so we could hike to the "M" behind the University of Montana and reward ourselves with sweet potato fries on the "hip strip" in downtown Missoula.

Born to run? No, but this former 'Butterball' does now

January 11, 2010

MY TURN

Born to run? No, but this former 'Butterball' does now

Last night at dinner, my 6-foot-tall husband looked down at my plate and said, "You eat more than I do."

What it's like to 'wear oxygen'

June 1, 2009

MY TURN

What it's like to 'wear oxygen'

A year ago I was diagnosed with COPD, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a catch-all label for many different breathing problems. My particular situation is that my lungs are compressed and cannot expand sufficiently to provide needed oxygen.

Yoga: Not as soothing as she'd imagined

May 18, 2009

MY TURN

Yoga: Not as soothing as she'd imagined

A little, light torture, anyone?

Hearing loss is frustrating, but family and friends can help

October 19, 2009

MY TURN

Hearing loss is frustrating, but family and friends can help

As we have grown older, my husband and I have developed hearing problems: For me, hearing requires more effort, while he cannot hear sometimes in spite of any effort.

After a scary finding: Love is all around

May 4, 2009

MY TURN

After a scary finding: Love is all around

It does take a village. . . .

Parent of child with Asperger's syndrome learns the power of compassion

May 4, 2009

MY TURN

Parent of child with Asperger's syndrome learns the power of compassion

On a trip to the art museum, my son, my husband and I stopped in the cafeteria for lunch.

A Weighty Reality Check

October 5, 2009

MY TURN

A Weighty Reality Check

One afternoon in 1978, when I was 24, I lay down in my apartment and decided to "face reality." It's a term I had just read in a Self magazine, and I decided to give it a shot.

Broken ankle, heal so I can wear heels

May 4, 2009

MY TURN

Broken ankle, heal so I can wear heels

Whenever I heard the phrase "broken ankle," I assumed the subsequent events: cast, crutches, cast off, bit of limp, back to normal. I never considered the possibility that the ankle supports the full weight of the body. In short, the anklebone is not only connected, it had better be well-connected.

Soft landing after double mastectomy, thanks to her husband

May 4, 2009

MY TURN

Soft landing after double mastectomy, thanks to her husband

Our king-size bed used to be such a symbol of fun for me, and not just for the reason you might think.

The joy of not being employed

May 4, 2009

MY TURN

The joy of not being employed

I like doing nothing.

Dependent on, not addicted to, Oxycontin

May 25, 2009

MY TURN

Dependent on, not addicted to, Oxycontin

Every morning I get out of bed slowly and shuffle off to the bathroom to take my pile of pills, including a pain medication that has been vilified to the extent that I shudder to speak its name (to borrow a little from Harry Potter).

The first doctor was wrong: It is rheumatoid arthritis

April 13, 2009

MY TURN

The first doctor was wrong: It is rheumatoid arthritis

This isn't an easy subject for me, but it's one many will relate to. I have rheumatoid arthritis. Thanks to the wonders of medical science and a doctor who worked with me for five years to get my "Molotov cocktail" just right, I am, for the most part, in remission.

As mom faces renal cell cancer, a daughter learns patience

April 6, 2009

MY TURN

As mom faces renal cell cancer, a daughter learns patience

I'm impatient by nature. But I thought I had learned how to remain still in yoga classes, coaxing calm and patience from an overactive mind. I thought I learned patience when my daughter was born 2 1/2 weeks late. But I didn't really learn anything until my mom was diagnosed with renal cell cancer.

Meditation on my mind

March 30, 2009

MY TURN

Meditation on my mind

Although meditation has been described as a reflective mode of thought, a more accurate definition might be a mode of "no thought," not unlike that of an employee at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Our daily worries and chattering minds recede into the background and the pure energy of our own being comes through, letting us experience complete delight in living.

Living with Parkinson's disease

May 4, 2009

MY TURN

Living with Parkinson's disease

It is either denial or the ability to live in the moment, but my Parkinson's doesn't bother me too much psychologically.

The truth about colonoscopy prep

March 9, 2009

MY TURN

The truth about colonoscopy prep

Colonoscopy: The very word sends shudders down the spine of anyone who has drunk "the drink" -- the concoction that cleanses the colon so the doctor can later examine it. I've enjoyed three different procedures with three different preps, and I've made it my mantra to minimize the misery:

Frank talk about cancer connects loved ones

March 2, 2009

MY TURN

Frank talk about cancer connects loved ones

When I learned recently that yet another friend had been diagnosed with cancer, I experienced my usual reaction: disbelief and sadness, followed by anger at Life In General. But for the first time, I also saw what these under-35 friends and family members have in common. They, or those they love, talk about their illness with a refreshing frankness.

Diving face first into 'safe cosmetics'

October 13, 2008

MY TURN

Diving face first into 'safe cosmetics'

Our beauty regimens may be poison -- and I don't mean the expensive perfume of that name. Revelations of toxic ingredients in cosmetics, lotions, nail polishes, shampoos: They lead women to wonder about the safety of stunning.

Which is a stronger health indicator: genetics or lifestyle?

February 16, 2009

MY TURN

Which is a stronger health indicator: genetics or lifestyle?

A good friend of mine was approaching her 49th birthday with trepidation. Why, I asked her, was she so afraid of 49?

DVD-driven home workout gets the job done

November 3, 2008

MY TURN

DVD-driven home workout gets the job done

People say it takes too much discipline to work out at home, but I think it takes more discipline to get myself to a gym.

Get out of my bike lane

September 15, 2008

MY TURN

Get out of my bike lane

Southern California should be a bicycling paradise. The weather is perfect, the roads wide and the terrain favorable. Given our natural advantages, we should have named one of our cities after the Madonna del Ghisallo, the patron saint of cyclists.

When animal dander attacks

September 15, 2008

MY TURN

When animal dander attacks

I had zero interest when my fiancée approached me about boarding a friend's cat for six months while the friend was out of the country. I've always been a dog person, and it's easier to get someone to switch religions than their preference in dogs or cats. I relented when the owner couldn't find anyone else.

Nurses: the good, the bad and the difference between them

November 10, 2008

MY TURN

Nurses: the good, the bad and the difference between them

Over the last two years, I have spent a significant amount of time in hospitals in L.A. and Chicago because of medical crises with various members of my extended family. And no matter how well- or little-known these hospitals are, one fact remains the same across the board: You know a good nurse the minute she/he walks into the room.

Anxiety disorder leaves parts of life in limbo for author Samantha Schutz

September 22, 2008

MY TURN

Anxiety disorder leaves parts of life in limbo for author Samantha Schutz

In the last few years, whenever I tried to talk about my experiences with an anxiety disorder, I ran into the same problem. I couldn't describe myself as having an anxiety disorder because I'd gone months without having a panic attack. And I couldn't say I used to have an anxiety disorder because I still felt its effects.

A diabetic turns to the tattoo as medical I.D.

September 8, 2008

MY TURN

A diabetic turns to the tattoo as medical I.D.

THE TATTOO machine's loud buzzing would shock the hairs on my upper arm in different directions if they hadn't just been shaved off to create a smooth surface.

Walking the Avon Walk for her mom

September 1, 2008

MY TURN

Walking the Avon Walk for her mom

IN 1997, the year Princess Diana died, the year Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio reigned at the box office with "Titanic," I lost my mother to breast cancer.

A young mother draws strength from her struggles with MS

August 18, 2008

MY TURN

A young mother draws strength from her struggles with MS

AFRIEND recently asked me what it felt like to have multiple sclerosis. We were sitting at the park watching our kids play, and we would have looked like any other suburban moms except for my silver walker covered with Spider-man stickers stationed nearby.

Smaller gyms help exercise social skills

July 7, 2008

MY TURN

Smaller gyms help exercise social skills

WHEN IT comes to health clubs, do you prefer the enormous, multilevel variety where you can retain your anonymity even after years of blood, sweat and towels, or do you opt for the small mom-and-pop "Cheers"-type gym where everybody knows your name?

Treatment policy seems to write off seniors

July 21, 2008

MY TURN

Treatment policy seems to write off seniors

FOR THE last few years, I have been treated for a gastrointestinal problem that is monitored by periodic colonoscopies. I'm sure that those of you who are familiar with this test well know how difficult, uncomfortable and unpleasant it is, especially the preparation.

Waiting for a liver transplant, she tries to reclaim the rhythm of her life

June 30, 2008

MY TURN

Waiting for a liver transplant, she tries to reclaim the rhythm of her life

WHEN you're lying in bed and can't keep food down, muscle metabolizes first.

Riding a bike to work is more than a healthy commute: It's a sign of adulthood

May 12, 2008

MY TURN

Riding a bike to work is more than a healthy commute: It's a sign of adulthood

THE SKY above Hyperion Bridge at 6:45 in the morning can be an aimless gray, a luminescent peach or an adolescent blue. I have cycled across this bridge for five years and in every season, yet it was only recently that I glanced west at just the right moment and spotted Griffith Observatory.

Comforted by 'Life in the Balance,' Thomas Graboys' memoir on Parkinson's and dementia

May 12, 2008

MY TURN

Comforted by 'Life in the Balance,' Thomas Graboys' memoir on Parkinson's and dementia

I gasped when I saw the subtitle of Thomas Graboys' new memoir, "Life in the Balance: A Physician's Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson's Disease and Dementia." My father, also a physician, carries these same diagnoses.

'Any spotting?' the Doctor Asks—and Uterine Cancer is Diagnosed

June 23, 2008

MY TURN

'Any spotting?' the Doctor Asks—and Uterine Cancer is Diagnosed

ROUTINE best describes this year's visit to my gynecologist. I had no medical complaints; I was just working through my to-do list. After a physical exam and a brief conversation about life and the latest research, my doctor of 15 years said everything looked good. My Pap smear would later prove normal.

Living life by the numbers on her bathroom scale

March 31, 2008

MY TURN

Living life by the numbers on her bathroom scale

MAYBE it's a pointless ritual, since I often predict to the half-pound the numbers that come up. Nonetheless, every morning I step onto my bathroom scale -- twice, in fact, to confirm a good number or, more futilely, to stamp out a high one.

It's time for U.S. to revisit universal healthcare

May 5, 2008

MY TURN

It's time for U.S. to revisit universal healthcare

HIKING along the Dove River in England, I fell hard on my left hip. It was clear that I had broken something and that the rest of my vacation would be spent in a hospital 6,000 miles from home.

For a Paxil-free life, she'll take the long route

March 3, 2008

MY TURN

For a Paxil-free life, she'll take the long route

Some people can't stand the word "irregardless." A close friend of mine cannot stand hearing the word "panty" used in the singular.

Medical crisis or trifle? Doing the denial dance

March 24, 2008

MY TURN

Medical crisis or trifle? Doing the denial dance

My husband phones me in my home office, one floor above his office. His speech is slurred. "You sound funny," I say. "What's wrong?"

The sailor in twilight

June 16, 2008

MY TURN

The sailor in twilight

The phone rang as I wrestled with the wood-framed window to close out the Santa Ana wind dusting the desk in my father's office. David, the hospice worker assigned to his case, wanted to know more about this 90-year-old man whose ability to speak has all but left him. Perhaps he could try to talk to him about his interests.

For a Nebraskan, going vegetarian means going against the grain

February 18, 2008

MY TURN

For a Nebraskan, going vegetarian means going against the grain

FIVE years ago I made the most difficult, painful decision of my life. I converted from a carnivore to a vegetarian.

Long, full lives -- of pills and doctors

May 26, 2008

MY TURN

Long, full lives -- of pills and doctors

ARE WE really living that much longer than previous generations did? I don't think so. The insurance industry's actuarial tables may say we are, but I've never understood that industry's mathematical models of anything, especially billing. Take the case of my 81-year-old mother and 83-year-old father.

Coaching point for parent coaches

February 4, 2008

MY TURN

Coaching point for parent coaches

JUDGING from recent studies of the college recruiting process, there are more than a few sports stage parents out there. I should know. I was one of them. Yet beyond being constantly told to back off by friends who were frenetically pushing their kids in school, I found scant little coaching for parent coaches.

The story of an illness from cover to cover

January 28, 2008

MY TURN

The story of an illness from cover to cover

I'VE had my little blue book for almost a year now. It's a square book, covered in a light denim material -- like new jeans. The book has a brightly colored ribbon with six small loops running lengthwise across the cover. Inside the loops are six colored pencils. The pencils are small, like the pencils at golf courses. And they're always falling out of the loops if you try to put the book in your backpack or purse.

'Biddy' comes of a good age

March 17, 2008

MY TURN

'Biddy' comes of a good age

It was a summer evening of the kind Los Angeles is famous for -- hot and busy. On that night, as I approached the street-front restaurant door, I was struck by lightning, metaphorically speaking.

In weight loss, an unexpected gain

April 7, 2008

MY TURN

In weight loss, an unexpected gain

MY vacation souvenir was 10 pounds. A sore knee had kept me from working out for three months, and my midlife metabolism just couldn't handle the butter-drenched lobster, shoofly pie, homemade pizzelles and campfire s'mores from three weeks on the road.

Generation Adderall

March 10, 2008

MY TURN

Generation Adderall

Finals week. The words conjure up a stream of crazed thoughts among the best of us. Hours spent staring at the library clock, Facebooking or reading that stupid paragraph over and over until it registers. College students are not supposed to have the will, desire or aptitude to actually sit down in the library and study continuously for hours on end.

A mom, her (sort of) kids and a lighter spa experience

January 7, 2008

MY TURN

A mom, her (sort of) kids and a lighter spa experience

IT'S become our annual tradition. A fortysomething, fiftysomething, sixtysomething and seventysomething spend the weekend at a health spa in Ojai. My mom treats her sisters and me. To take advantage of the mother-daughter special, her sisters masquerade as her daughters.

Cataracts bring vision's value into focus

January 21, 2008

MY TURN

Cataracts bring vision's value into focus

IT was an affront to my baby boomer self's illusion of eternal youth to experience a growing inability to decipher freeway signs. I was forced to rely upon passengers, including my teenage son's sharp vision (and tongue) for navigating.

Grateful to see addict in his rearview mirror

December 31, 2007

MY TURN

Grateful to see addict in his rearview mirror

'Tis the season when we invariably find ourselves reflecting upon the closing year and at some point conducting a personal audit. This year-end self-evaluation generally includes recalling earlier resolutions resolutely made and quickly forgotten, a relationship "tally" and/or "assessment" and a scary full-length-mirror body scan.

Sleep apnea sparks a great awakening

December 17, 2007

MY TURN

Sleep apnea sparks a great awakening

I recall with fondness the years prior to 1989 when I could take for granted my ability to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep for a full eight hours. After a car accident and subsequent surgeries, however, insomnia and its shiftless cousin, fatigue, settled in for an unwelcome stay -- that is, until recently.

'Too young to have a mother that old'

December 10, 2007

MY TURN

'Too young to have a mother that old'

With all the medical technology that enables older and older women to have children, maybe it's time to consider the child's point of view.

That's cancer veteran, conqueror or activist to you

November 12, 2007

MY TURN

That's cancer veteran, conqueror or activist to you

"Since you are a cancer survivor, it would be wise to run a few tests," said the neurologist I recently visited. I cringed when I heard his words. The thought of a few tests didn't bother me: I like it when a doctor pays attention to my history. However, the word "survivor" did.

A healing ritual steeped in comfort

December 24, 2007

MY TURN

A healing ritual steeped in comfort

The herbs, tightly enclosed in a plastic bag then folded inside a brown paper bag, still manage to permeate the house with their earthy, overwhelming aroma. I store them in the laundry room off the kitchen, and when I open the pantry door, the odor always makes my nose twitch, however much I anticipate it.

Baking: The only worry-free workout

November 19, 2007

MY TURN

Baking: The only worry-free workout

My usual walking routine is to trek briskly for at least an hour a day, up and down the neighborhood hills. I find this to be the perfect way to ward off osteoporosis and scare away extra pounds. It's also good for my mental health. As my feet pound the pavement, I think about everything and anything and, sometimes, nothing at all.

When cancer's the houseguest, few rooms are truly safe

November 5, 2007

MY TURN

When cancer's the houseguest, few rooms are truly safe

The house is quiet today; I am alone. There is so much I should do here, so many things that go undone -- a full wastebasket here, a stack of mail there. Yet instead, I look and see what cancer has wrought.

Shh. She's plugged in - to silence

October 29, 2007

MY TURN

Shh. She's plugged in - to silence

A couple of months ago, I woke up early for my usual workout. I pulled on running clothes and shoes, fastened my hair back and reached for my iPod. Instantly, my stomach clenched as I looked down at the angry red color indicating the battery was dead. How was I supposed to go for a 5-mile run without Fergie, Gwen and Justin urging me on? Heading out into the hot Southern California summer sans music, I braced myself for a horrible workout.

My life with a big black boot

October 15, 2007

MY TURN

My life with a big black boot

There I was, a relatively healthy old guy in a stall shower, preparing to celebrate a 34th wedding anniversary with my ever-loving spouse, Elsie. While reaching to turn off the spray, I slipped, lost my balance and fell forward, hitting my noggin on the shower seat, then bounced onto the tile with a thwack to my ankle -- an obvious detriment to a soccer tryout with the Galaxy.

Like doctors, seniors don't have time to waste

December 3, 2007

MY TURN

Like doctors, seniors don't have time to waste

Time matters in medical treatment.

Finding the right words for someone who's ill

August 27, 2007

MY TURN

Finding the right words for someone who's ill

Many of us have been through illnesses that require operations, risky procedures or recurring downtime that can change our lives, even if we fully recover. Any of this makes us face our death.

Hands off other people's pills

November 26, 2007

MY TURN

Hands off other people's pills

My pill case was raided twice, on two separate trips across the country -- once by my mother-in-law and once by my wife. Each time, the culprit paid a price but lived to tell about it.

A mother assesses risk to life and limb

October 8, 2007

MY TURN

A mother assesses risk to life and limb

"I can't save the leg," the surgeon states plainly. My 15-year-old son Brooks' head drops as fast as his dream to surf.

Doctor's orders divert a girl from 'frenetic' to fine

September 10, 2007

MY TURN

Doctor's orders divert a girl from 'frenetic' to fine

Before I had my daughter I thought everything I did mattered. The tone of voice I used, how much I held her, the way she was disciplined, or not.

No, it's not contagious

August 20, 2007

MY TURN

No, it's not contagious

I feel a fluttering inside me. Well, sometimes it's more like an elbow to the gut. She's my third child, a happy surprise. But the real surprise will come once she is born. We have a rogue gene in our family that gives her a 50% chance of having a rare skin disease called epidermolysis bullosa -- EB for short -- characterized by extremely fragile skin that becomes blistered with even minor friction.

This just in: Eat chocolate

October 1, 2007

MY TURN

This just in: Eat chocolate

Lately I've tried to make sense of the dizzying news from the world of nutritional science. Believe me, it hasn't been easy.

Ahh, Paris -- where the people are lean and leisurely

July 30, 2007

MY TURN

Ahh, Paris -- where the people are lean and leisurely

We were standing in the perpetually long line at Versailles waiting to purchase our tickets, after which we would stand in another long line to get into the famous palace, when I turned to my 17-year-old grandson and asked if he noticed anything odd about the throng of people around us.

Happy from the feet up

September 3, 2007

MY TURN

Happy from the feet up

The slap, slap, slapping resounded through the air, punctuated by screams of pain and slightly hysterical giggling. It sounded like dozens of hands thwacking dozens of bare buttocks.

Lessons my daughter taught me

July 16, 2007

My TURN

Lessons my daughter taught me

In my 45th year, I learned about life -- through my 12-year-old daughter's pain.

10,000-step program can be addictive in a good way

September 17, 2007

MY TURN

10,000-step program can be addictive in a good way

It's time to come clean about my addiction. People have been staring at the slight bulge under my shirt.

Does everyone need a pill?

July 9, 2007

MY TURN

Does everyone need a pill?

I thought I was healthy, but I have discovered health problems I didn't know I had. Menopause, for example. In my mother's day this was normal for women my age, but, apparently, medical science can now cure it.

Just because my son's shy doesn't mean he's autistic

June 18, 2007

MY TURN

Just because my son's shy doesn't mean he's autistic

Years ago HIV/AIDS was the "it" health news item. As consumers of media, we have moved on to the next epidemic: autism.

Proud to join the 'geezerjocks'

June 4, 2007

MY TURN

Proud to join the 'geezerjocks'

As a newly minted senior citizen, I have sometimes wondered if the perks of advanced age come anywhere close to compensating for the deficits.

Walking in L.A. is far from pedestrian

June 25, 2007

MY TURN

Walking in L.A. is far from pedestrian

Many people, while conceding that recreational walking is a convenient, low-tech and effective exercise, complain that it is much too boring to be worthy of their efforts.

When forgetting is a gift

May 7, 2007

MY TURN

When forgetting is a gift

The caregiver is pictured on the news broadcast during a "feature" segment. He opts to care for his mother who suffers from Alzheimer's rather than put her "in a home." She is in her 70s and is functioning -- on her feet, bustling about the kitchen, albeit forgetting who is coming to dinner that night. He proudly announces to the television audience that "nothing is too good for my mother." I shudder at the implication that I have just placed my father in an Alzheimer's care facility -- after living with him for 12 years in our home -- because I didn't try hard enough to keep him here with me.

A motion for less motion for babies

May 14, 2007

MY TURN

A motion for less motion for babies

The time has come for someone to conduct the definitive research study on baby bouncing. Not the kind where the baby does its own bouncing, but mothers bouncing babies to settle crying "events."

Doctor used the power of friendship to heal

June 11, 2007

My TURN

Doctor used the power of friendship to heal

It was March 1997 and I was leaving the USC psychiatric ward.

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