Tag Archives: doctors

135journals: My husband’s first day as a free man

30 Jun
My dear husband will be wearing these glasses every day until forever. Promise!

My dear husband will be wearing these glasses every day until forever. Promise!

Yesterday was the first day of the rest of  Brian’s life. That is to say, it was the first Monday of his life as a member of the retired. What will he do with this endless expanse of possibility? Right now, his intention is to keep it open. He hasn’t spent the last whatever years of his life teaching Asian literature for nothing. The beautiful spareness of Chinese poetry pulls at his heart. So does the Japanese concept of Ma, or negative space. Although, in the Japanese thought Ma has a much more dynamic and interactive meaning than not being. It is part of the fabric of the whole, a part of the dance of possibilities. Oh dear, I am getting very abstract here. What I mean is, my husband is bravely trying to let himself be open and to find out what calls to him. And I am very interested to see what this human being to whom I’ve been married for the past 30 years is going to discover.

His first no-longer-employed Monday was not entirely filled with Ma. I had an appointment with a famousy-famous hip surgeon to see if I needed hip surgery at the famousy-famous Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. I didn’t think I needed hip surgery, but another one of my doctors thought, well, maybe, I don’t know, just check it out, so grumblingly, I did. I reorganized my gigantic binder of tests and visits and brought it in. And this time, I brought Mr. HH with me. Despite my relative certainty that I wouldn’t need surgery (maybe some kind of injection though because of osteoarthritis?) I did feel afraid. I’ve gone to many scary doctor appointments by myself, and most of the time I’ve managed okay, but sometimes I come out of them with this jumble of notes that don’t make any sense because I’ve felt a rushing of panic clogging my ears when the doctor was giving me information. So the dear husband and I agreed that he would come to scary appointment and be a second set of ears for me. Anyway, I had some X-rays, talked to perfectly nice doctor, don’t need surgery, then husband and I had a pleasant walk around the Upper East Side.

“Look at that building,” Brian said, pointing to an old brick building. “A Czech gymnasium. I see a lot of Czech names around here” (near 70th and York).

“I think  a lot of Czechs and Germans settled this neighborhood,” I said. “Every part of Manhattan is so different.”

“It’s so different when you walk it,” he said.

“I know what we should do!” I said. “We should get a big map of Manhattan and get a yellow marker and color in every street we walk after your retirement. And we should walk every street in Manhattan!”

“Where does anybody even get a map nowadays?” he said. “Everybody has GPS.”

“Huh.” I was stumped, too. Maybe off the internet? Barnes and Noble? I don’t know.

He looks at his phone. “There’s a gourmet shop ten blocks away. We can get cheese.” Cheese is part of his holy trinity of consumables, along with coffee and bread. So we wandered uptown past more stores. We people watched. I saw lots of people walking dogs. I saw a woman carrying a dog. I saw lots of doggy day care businesses. There is no shortage of dogs in New York. And I almost never, ever see dog poop. So, good work, New Yorkers. The Upper East Side is full of uniformed private school kids who burst out into the streets at 3:30 or so, along with moms and dads and nannies with strollers. I see a schlumpy looking guy in a Gilligan hat and pink socks lumping across the street. People wearing neon-bright sneakers–that’s a thing now, I guess. Lots of women with pretty legs and short skirts and little sandals. Workers with hard hats ignoring interested onlookers. Street sellers hawking fruit, scarves, books, watches.

At the gourmet shop we buy two small pieces of ridiculously expensive cheese and linger over other delicious but outlandishly expensive items–gluten free lemon bars, figs, bright red $5.99 a pound tomatoes. As we leave we see the pasta hanging on the line. They had gluten free ravioli for $12.99 a pound. We passed. We’ve made homemade pasta before, but it is a pain. Still, I liked watching it hanging there.

We two flaneurs amble back to our car, driving home through rush hour,  but the traffic still isn’t TOO bad. We listen to a podcast. “The drive was only one This American Life long,” Brian says. He makes chicken and salad and pasta for dinner and I fold clothes. I run off to my book group and when I get home, he is sitting on the back deck in the semi-darkness,  looking at the trees and the sky above.  His hands are folded behind his head. He smiles at me, and in that smile I see a happiness formed of the possibility of a joyful anything to come.

Writing prompt: What possibilities do you see?

What I Learned about the Future of Breast Cancer Detection from Joining a Clinical Trial

16 Jun
Helping other women lets me get in touch with my inner goddess (thank you, Wikimedia Commons and the ancient Minoan culture!)

Helping other women lets me get in touch with my inner goddess (thank you, Wikimedia Commons and the ancient Minoan culture!)

Because I just love living dangerously, I am a card-carrying member of the Sloan-Kettering Special Surveillance Program for women who are at a high risk of breast cancer. That means that every six months, as I did yesterday, I pop in to the famous cancer hospital for a mammo or an MRI and a little hands-on quality time with the wonderful Dr. Mangino who runs the program. I call it my Semi-Annual Sloan-Kettering Day of Beauty.  I’m lucky, because I still don’t actually have cancer. And anyway, today I want to tell a happy story. It’s a story about how I got to see the future of medicine.

One of the benefits of being an “interesting” patient who has the good luck to be treated at a teaching hospital is that I have the opportunity to be asked to participate in clinical trials. Last winter, before I went to my last S-K day of beauty, I was asked if I would, in addition to getting my usual MRI, get a special kind of mammogram for this study:


“Comparison of Contrast Enhanced Mammography to Breast MRI in Screening Patients at Increased Risk for Breast Cancer.”

According to the information provided by Sloan-Kettering via the National Institutes of Health, the purpose of the study is “to determine if Contrast Enhanced Spectral Mammography (CESM) will be able to detect smaller/earlier breast cancers as well as breast MRI can.”

What that meant was that instead of just having a plain mammogram, I had an IV needle placed in my hand filled with a special dye. As it circulated into my breasts, it made the contrast between different types of tissue clearer.

Honestly, except for the slight annoyance of the initial pinprick and the tangle of the IV line, it wasn’t a big deal at all. And after it was over, a young scientist working on the study spent time talking to me and showing me some of the preliminary results of the study. He showed me pictures of regular mammograms and contrast-guided mammograms. The results were remarkably different. It looked as if the different areas of tissue were limned in dark gray in the contrast-guided mammos, whereas the regular ones looked much more pale and indistinct. I felt sorry for radiologists who had the terrifying—but boring-looking—job of trying to find suspicious pieces of matter on such a vague field of off white. It looked very easy to miss a cancerous lump in such cases. After I saw that result last winter, I went home feeling very pleased that I had been part of something bigger, something that might be useful someday.

And yesterday, I was even more pleased, because the lovely Dr. Mangino told me that the next time I came, I would be getting a contrast-dye mammogram for real. “The study results are looking great,” she said. “I wasn’t convinced at first. But I’m impressed.” At the front desk, the young receptionist told me that Sloan-Kettering is still one of the few places—if not the only place—in the nation where contrast-enhanced mammograms are done. Yet. But if they’re as good as they look as if they are, they’ll be coming. And when they do, they’ll save lives. And I’ll know I did at least a tiny little bit to help.

Do you have any interest in joining a clinical trial of any sort? You can find out more at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Strangely, Having an Official Disease Diagnosis Does not Make Me Want to Take Up Sky-Diving

19 May
My doctor says that many of his patients find that learning to give themselves injections is "empowering." My verdict? Actually--yes!

My doctor says that many of his patients find that learning to give themselves injections is “empowering.” My verdict? Actually–yes!

I have not written in this blog for more than two months. It is no coincidence that I stopped writing after I visited a highly recommended rheumatologist who spent 90 careful minutes with me, squeezing my joints, asking me questions that were similar to what my last rheumatologist had asked, and asking me what I wanted to ask. But he also did something that my other, very smart but very cautious rheumatologist had not dared to do in several years of treatment: give me an actual, solid diagnosis. He said to me, looking at my three-ring binder filled with five years of MRIs, cat scans, biopsies, doctor visits, etc., “You’ve had a LOT of testing. But not a lot of treating. I think, given your family history, given your symptoms, given everything, that you have an inflammatory autoimmune disease in the spondyloarthropathy family.”

“The spondyla—“

He helped me spell it out for my journal and explained it for me. Because I have a certain blood factor called HLA B27, I am susceptible to a disease called ankylosing spondylitis (which basically turns your whole spine into one stiff unit) and several similar diseases—spondyloarthropathies. They include axial spondyloarthropathy (which has different manifestations, but can include having more arthritis all over your body), psoriatic arthritis (a combination of psoriasis and arthritis—nice!), Sjogren’s syndrome, which makes your eyes dry and other nasty things, and even Crohn’s disease—a severe intestinal problem which is called an enteric arthritis. I never knew that there could be an intestinal arthritis, but there you go. I know a lot of things now that I didn’t know, thank you Google, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Anyway, what I have is similar to rheumatoid arthritis, except that it lacks the exact blood factor that rheumatoid arthritis factor has. To have that, one would be sero-positive. This is sero-negative arthritis. But it’s not the same as osteoarthritis—which I also have in some parts of my body, such as my hips. That’s just bones wearing out and rubbing against each other. Or synovial fluid running out, or whatever. I can’t think about osteoarthritis right now.

To have a diagnosis after five years of searching for a reason for the pain and fatigue that have changed my life, and my husband’s life, so much, is a relief in many ways. For one thing, I have medicine to help treat the disease now, not just the pain and the sadness that it causes. To their credit, my doctors have believed that something real has been happening to me from the beginning, even if they couldn’t name it. But now I have two kinds of drugs that I get to inject each week, and they are starting to help. But on the other hand, I feel a shifting sense of identity as the fact of my diagnosis becomes real to me. It’s not a disease that will kill me. On the other hand, it’s not going to go away. I’m going to spend the rest of my life fighting against an enemy that wants to lock me in a stone cage made of my own body. I know its name now. And that’s good. But it’s not filling me with zest for life or an exciting new sense of purpose. Right now, it’s making me feel as if someone threw a brick at my head, and I’m just now sitting up and rubbing the bruise and going “whaaaa—?”
So dear friends and readers, please pardon my long absence. Perhaps now that I’ve told you what’s kept me away, I’ll be able to be silly, curious, and natural again. I hope so. I miss you.

Writing Prompt: Did you ever get any news that took a long time to digest?

Waiting for the biopsy results

26 Feb Some things are too scary for words. And can be found at Home Depot. (photo by Alexandra HH)
Some things are too scary for words. And can be found at Home Depot. (photo by Alexandra HH)

Some things are too scary for words. And can be found at Home Depot. (photo by Alexandra HH)

It is 12:56. And I am waiting to find out the results of my latest biopsy. This is such a familiar feeling. Unfortunately. What is it like out to find out if your future will be scrambled? At this point, I have had so many biopsies that haven’t been actual cancer (though a number have yielded results dangerous enough to require surgery and I am permanently in a high risk zone) that I have developed certain coping skills that get me through the waiting periods and the painful tests without too much emotional scarring. I have cultivated a certain pleasant blankness that includes focusing on the moment I’m living in and doing whatever little task I have at hand, and cutting myself off from making long range plans. It is only sometimes, at unexpected moments, when the darkness completely eclipses the light and I start to sob and shake so hard that I don’t even know what I’m afraid of—is it the helplessness? is it the pain? Is it death? Or is it being tortured to death? I sob and my poor husband stands by, thinking he’s not being helpful when really, he is. By not running away, by witnessing my sadness, he most definitely is. And then, I stop, and we watch Downton Abbey, and try to figure out if Lady Mary is enigmatic or just kind of a bitch.


No biopsy will ever be as bad as the first one—until I get the one, which I no doubt will, which will let me know that the game is up and cancer is here. The first biopsy was the worst because my children were young. I could not get over the terror that I was about to betray them by dying. I felt myself not to be an individual so much as a figurehead. I was Mother. And I felt that I could not let them be un-Mothered. They needed to trust that I would be, at very least, alive. I remember so clearly feeling as if I were behind glass, watching the rest of the world go through its busy motions. Sounds felt muffled. Even my beloved husband could not reach me. Other people were alive and I was somewhere between alive and dead, in a very special zone that normal people didn’t belong to and should never see.


It is 2:00 now. The results are supposed to be here, I’m supposed to get a call. I’ve been calm. I’ve been busy. I made phone calls and emails. But now, the sky feels heavy, as if it’s crushing down on me with extra gravity. Ring, phone. Just tell me. Just tell me what my future is going to be. I’ve waited long enough. Just tell me now.

Writing Prompt: How have you learned to cope with potentially scary news?

My Grim Gluten-Free Future

24 Feb Goddess Ceres, wheat, France, gluten
Goddess Ceres, wheat, France, gluten

Back in like Ancient France or whatever they weren’t beeyotching about wheat, oh no, they were like, oh thank you Goddess Ceres, here, we’ll make an awesome picture of you with gold leaf in it just to say how awesome le baguettes and la croissants and je ne sais quais else that’s made out of wheat is. But here in America? Non. (photo courtesy of Wikimedia, Public Domain).

You know what’s better than a piece of freshly-buttered sourdough toast? A piece of freshly buttered sourdough toast with a Belgian waffle and an everything bagel on it, that’s what. But now two (2) doctors have nagged me sufficiently to throw up my hands and say ALL RIGHT, I will TRY your stupid “GLUTEN FREE” diet even though I had an endoscopy and it did NOT show that I had celiac disease and I don’t even believe in gluten free anything and I hate the idea of being that “special” person who has to have that “special” thing at the restaurant and ask how everything is prepared. I know, I know, that’s just a form of snobbery on my part. Why shouldn’t I care what I eat? Food is life’s fuel. And, honestly, I generally eat pretty well. Much of that is the husband’s doing. He grows a fabulous garden each year and it’s always a race to stuff in as much produce into each meal as possible. He also has made me much more willing to give up on the super-cheap deals on chicken and beef in favor of the painfully expensive organic cuts where each cow has its horns hand-rubbed each evening and each chicken is knitted a pair of leg warmers so it doesn’t get cold as it roams freely over the acres and acres of Happydale Farm. Yeah yeah, I love the planet. But now I’m going to have to hunker down and do the walk of shame in Trader Joe’s and look at that package of oatmeal to see if it’s Gluten Free. Why shouldn’t oatmeal be gluten free? I guess some places, wheat hangs around the oat schoolyard and acts as a bad influence on the virtuous oat students, contaminating their virtue. So you have to make sure that they are kept away from each other. Sigh. There’s so much I have to learn. Another thing I’m confused about is that one of my doctors wants me to give up dairy and the other wants me to give up sugar. I guess it makes sense to give up sugar–even more than wheat, really. But does that mean maple syrup and honey, too? And isn’t something like organic Greek yogurt actually a very healthy food? Does anybody have any advice about how I can survive the next two heinous months?

Writing Prompt: Help a gal figure out how to go gluten free–I beg you.

135journals Book Club: In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust, Part 5: Grandmother’s Death

18 May


Photo: Super famous Dr. Jean-Marie Charcot teaches a lesson on “hysteria” at his also super famous clinic at Salpetriere. (Wikimedia commons/Public Domain)


After attending a very elaborately described party, the narrator turns his attention to the growing weakness of his grandmother and his youthfuly blasé manner toward her as she got sicker and sicker. Indeed, this section of Guermantes Way is extremely harrowing and horribly comic as the same time. Physicians are called in, and one is more useless than the next, adding “milk diets” or, more repulsively, leeches, among other ineffectual cures. But at the same time as the narrator presents himself as insensitive toward his grandmother’s suffering, his later reflections show that he has thought deeply about it. This could be in part because of his own suffering. As he writes, pain is a fierce enemy:

“It is in moments of illness that we are compelled to recognize that we live not alone but chained to a creature of a different kingdom whole worlds apart, who has no knowledge of us and by whom it is impossible to make ourselves understood: our body. Say that we met a brigand by the way, we might yet convince him by an appeal to his personal interests, if not to our own plight. But to ask pity of our body is like discoursing before an octopus, for which our words can have no more meaning than the sound of the tides, and with which we should be appalled to find ourselves condemned to live.”

Meanwhile, the narrator watches his own impatience as he takes her out on a day he had friends to meet, with dreadful results. When he returns with her grandmother in a terrible state, When his mother sees her, she is appalled, protective, full of tenderness. Proust wrote, in words that actually brought tears to my eyes, and made me think of the preciousness of my own mother. “. . . my mother went up to my grandmother, kissed her hand as though it were that of her god, raised her up, carried her to the lift with infinite precautions in which there was, with the fear of hurting her by any clumsy movement, the humility of one who felt herself unworthy to touch the most precious thing, to her, in the world.”

Yet despite the family’s evident wealth, their ability to bring in the most expensive doctors, the grandmother is treated with little but condescension as she suffers dreadfully.

In one terrible but funny scene, an imperious Doctor De Boulbon, who is a former student of the famous neurologist Dr. Charcot (Dr. Charcot is real, often called “the founder of modern neurology” and is a remarkable figure—among his discoveries was Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and research into other diseases such as MS and Parkinson’s disease, though he was also controversially involved in his experiments with “hysteria”) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean-Martin_Charcot

who basically tells the suffering woman that all she needs to do is change her thoughts and stop malingering. Proust writes “Dr. Du Boulbon when he came decided against . .my grandmother . . . Instead of sounding her chest, fixing on her steadily his wonderful eyes, in which there was perhaps the illusion that he was making a profound scrutiny of his patient, , . . .  tells her, “’ You will be quite well, Madame, on the day. . . which you realise there is nothing wrong with you, and resume your ordinary life. You tell me that you have not been taking your food, not going out?”

“But sir, I have a temperature,”

He laid a a finger on her wrist.

“Not just now, at any rate. Besides, what an excuse! Don’t you know that we keep out in the open air and overfeed turbuculosis patients with temperatures of 102.” .

. . . it was with the superior smile of a Parisian who, in conversation with a peasant, might hope to surprise him by using suddenly a word of the local dialect that Dr. du Boulbon said to my grandmother: “Probably a windy night will make you sleep when the soporisfics wold have no effect.”

“On the contrary, Sir, when the wind blows I can never sleep at all.” But doctors are touchy people. “Ach!” Muttered du Boulbon, knitting his brows, as if someone had trodden on his toe. . .

In the land of well-meant-(perhaps) but  ineffective care,  many positive thinkers are inclined to dismiss the very real and damaging sufferings of those in pain. There is almost a comedy of errors. The Duc de Guermantes walks over to shake the father’s hand in condolence while the grandmother is in her death throes—and doesn’t want to be kept waiting. Her two sisters don’t want to leave Combray to come to Paris because they found a musician they love to listen to, and his music is much more pleasant than sitting by the bedside of an old dying lady. On the other hand, their friend Bergotte, the famous writer (whom the author, unfortunately, no longer venerates as he once did) visits frequently.

One of the things that is so excellent in the narrator’s recounting of this sequence of events is that again, he is able to be very clear about what is going on without connecting the dots for the reader. A few comments make it clear where the narrator’s sympathies lie. Naturally, old ladies are known to die, but how difficult it is when a family is confused, when nobody knows the right thing to do, when a good and gentle lady cannot advocate for herself, and, even though she belongs to one of the richest families in Paris, gets not one to take her seriously. This sort of thing goes on today. One WANTS to believe doctors. But when one is both in agonies of pain and is bein accused of being neurotic and of needing to have a sunnier attitude and to get —when one is being “Brightsided,” as Barbara Ehrenreich called the phenomenon, in the book of the same—it can add to the pain a hundredfold. This unforgettable section of Proust’s masterwork is a reminder that the pain of those who are old, even if inevitable, matters as a deep human tragedy.


Writing Prompt: Have you ever suffered and felt as if you have not been heard?

The not-so-bad Bad Doctor

2 Nov

A few weeks ago, I went to a doctor who treated me quite rudely, I thought. I posted my “righteous rant” as my friend Joyce put it right in this very blog. I left feeling like a fat, depressed faker, and that was very disappointing. So finally, a few days later, when I was supposed to get some test results, I decided to give her a call and tell her what I thought. Yes, I have a larger pie hole than Donald Trump, was that not clear by now?

Anyway, I called and asked for the test results FROM THE DOCTOR. An hour later, the very nice nurse called. She gave me the results and I said, “Thank you, but I want to talk to the doctor because I was very disappointed in my visit and I think she should know that.” The nurse promised (nicely) that the doctor would call me back, and lo and behold, at 5:30, the doctor did. She told me she understood that I was unhappy and wanted to know why.

I said, “I felt as if you didn’t listen to me and that some of the advice you gave me was unsuitable.”

“Really?” she said. “Like what?”

“I told you I had arthritis and liked to walk on flat surfaces because it’s less painful, and you told me that exercising by walking was probably ineffective for me and I should get on a treadmill and work on a slant. First of all, walking on a treadmill is still walking and going on a slant hurts.”

“Oh, I was just thinking of the softer surface of a treadmill,” she said,

“I think that you were too dismissive about my vertigo. I already know I have it at times, but I’m not satisfied that that’s where the discussion ENDS.”

“I was just saying that when we get older, a lot of weird things go wrong and they are hard to fix.”

Etc. She said that the last thing she wanted was for a patient to leave upset and she was really sorry. Her tone was very conciliatory, open, nice—appropriate. I don’t think I would go to her again, because she really didn’t have anything that would help me much, but I did think she acted much more like a human being this time, and under much more difficult circumstances. So I am going to have to reevaluate my poor opinion of her. So often, it is those moments when someone is challenged that you see what they’re really made of, and I saw that she did mean well, and that she could be respectful and kind. Furthermore, she was the first doctor to point out that I really could lose a few pounds, which is difficult because they really mostly come from the medicines I take. But I decided to see if in spite of that, I could at least TRY to lose weight and not just give in. I rejoined Weight Watchers AND I joined a gym, in addition to the 10,000 steps I already walk. I have started measuring my portions better. The truth isn’t pleasant, but it probably would help my health, so as long as I’m trying every modality I can think of to be healthy, that might as well be one of them. I told her I was taking her advice on this front seriously and our conversation at the end was pleasant. So I have to say, hats off to you, Madame Physician! You’re not so bad after all!


Writing Prompt: Did you ever have reason to change your mind about someone?

Amazing Health Practitioners, Part 1

1 Nov

In September, I asked my Facebook friends to tell me some of the amazing, lifechanging doctors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, etc. that they have used. Part of the reason why is that I have a strong belief that going to one excellent doctor can be worth the price of five mediocre ones because they simply SEE things that other people don’t. They take time and effort. Well, I’m including a rough version of what people sent me. If there are more details that anyone has (phone numbers, other reviews, etc.), I can easily add them to this post when I edit it. But in the interest of speed and keeping my promise, I am sending this list, even in its crude form and I hope that it helps at least one person find someone who can help them. Because we deserve the justice of as good health as we can have.

September 17, 2012—VERSION 1:


New York/NJ/CT/Rockland


Mitchel Chalek, Village Acupuncture, Montclair, NJ

(Gentle, caring—just going there is like therapy. Who knew that lying around stuck with needles could be such absolute heaven?)

Dr. Aija Lee, 38 WEST 32ND STREET SUITE 107, NY. (212) 239-5559

“She saved my life and fixed lower back problems that had plagued me for years. Love her love her love her.”



dr jacqueline schwanwede., west orange, nj



Dr. Stanton Young, 14 East Fourth Street #606, , NYC, NY

(VERY caring—excellent doctor, charming staff, lots of personal attention.)



Dr. Mary Ellen Brademas, lower 5th Ave, NY, NY

(Very sharp, very funny, up to speed on new treatments)

Dr. Fayne Frey out of West Nyack, NY,

“She has a great bedside manner and her thoroughness saved my life with early detection”


Dr. Neil Breit, Westwood, NJ

“ working with me to properly diagnose my thyroid issues. When I saw him for a second opinion after another endo recommended surgery, he spent more than an hour reviewing every slide in my ultrasound with me, rather than simply reading the report like the previous doc. He noticed subtleties that the other doc missed, spared me surgery and a lifetime of meds, and likely identified a highly treatable disease. So grateful. but be prepared to wait 5 months for an appointment and another 1-2 hours — no joke — in the waiting room)”

General Practitioners


Dr. Israelowitz, Rutherford, NJ

Tiziana Jasper MD, 1135 Clifton Avenue, Suite 102, Clifton, NJ  07013, 973-778-4440

(recommended by another doctor)

Dr. Philippe Desplat, Dumont, NJ

Valley Health Medical


“He’s a DO, not an MD, and I don’t know if he has a specialty, but I’ve always had good experiences with him.”

Dr. Ann Wry in Rochelle Park, NJ

“Love her b/c she’s around our age so is tuned into women’s health & yearly includes EKG, which I think is awesome.”


Dr. Judith Wenger, Upper West Side, NYC

(On target, efficient office, talks to you)

Dr. Domnitz,  Wayne, NJ, at Associates in Women’s Health Care.

“He’s the best. He explains things clearly, does his research, and cares! I adore him!”



Anna Komorowski, oncology/hematology. (location unknown—yet)


Breast Cancer:

Dr. Debra Mangino, Sloan-Kettering

(For women at high risk of breast cancer: She’s the head of the Special Surveillance program at S-K—excellent)

Dr. Merril McIntosh, Englewood Hospital, Englewood, NJ

Recommended by two breast cancer survivors as “the best”


Dr. Koty, NYC

(Gentle, takes his time, great with kids as well as adults)


Dr. Loreti, Hackensack, NJ

(Funny, nice, low-key but caring)

• Pediatric Dentist:

Amr M. Moursi, DDS, PhD.

office 212 355 7760

Superb, specialist and extremely nice”

Pediatric Gastroenterologists:

Dr. Joel Rosh and Dr. Nadir Youssef, Morristown Hospital, Morristown, NJ.

(This hospital Thhas an excellent center for pediatric gastroenterology. Dr. Youssef is curt but gave great advice to my child)

Pediatric Pulmonologists:

Dr. Neil Kotin, NYC

(extraordinarily compassionate and competent)


Dr Tom Novella, Columbus Circle NYC 212 506 0242

“wonderful podiatrist”


Dr. Marc Notari, Lyndhurst, NJ

Very nice, friendly office, capable, gets things done efficiently.


Dr. Marc Leonardo, Upper East Side/Downtown NYC 212-452-0878

(Sensitive, wise, very good at calling you back)

Psychologists/Social Workers:

Dr. Kathryn Adorney

93 Franklin Turnpike

Waldwick, NJ

(201) 444-2248


(Slow, careful, thorough, caring. Great with ADHD kids)

Nancy Fish Bravman, NY and NJ Tel :201 796-8544

(specializes in women with pelvic pain issues, coauthor of Healing Painful Sex. Can do Skype appointments. Very empathetic. Works in NY and NJ)

Cathy Gilio, LCSW, Hackensack, New Jersey  07601,  (201) 306-0395  (Social worker)

(Does EMDR, works with ADHD kids and treats PTSD. Down to earth while being great for someone open to alternative therapies. Warm, compassionate, funny).

Ronnie Levine PhD 212 307 0079

• Talk therapist, (“modern psychoanalysis”), who actually helps effect change, not just patch up problems and behaviors. Very perceptive, fast on the uptake, helpful.

Elliot Zeisel PhD 212 289 3616

• Talk therapy, and NY’s best group therapy (the groups beat many practitioning NY therapists in both insight and helpfulness. Really.):


Drs john & constantine kintiroglou, West Orange, NJ

Dr. David Bacha, pediatrician, Tenafly, NJ 201-569-4477,

“a caring and compassionate person who loves kids and really listens to them and their parents.”

Dr. Paul Harlow, Pediatric Specialties, Hackensack, NJ

(Knows how to talk to kids, including about the kind of stuff they won’t listen to about from their parents—great for teens as well as younger kids.)

Pelvic Pain doctors:

The Medical Center For Female Sexuality, 2975 Westchester Ave Purchase, Purchase, NY AND New York City Office (914) 328-3700

(Very helpful, often as a first step, very caring, excellent with referrals)


Dr. Hollis Potter, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City, NY

(Dr. Potter is the leading expert in reading pelvic MRIs)

SoHo ObGyn, Dr. Dena Harris

430 West Broadway
New York, NY 10012
Tel: 212.941.0011

(One of the very few specialists in pelvic pain in the country. This practice does not give up on patients with complex problems. Expensive, but worth it.)


Jonathan Howard, NYU, neurologist (NYU Comprehensive Center for Multiple Sclerosis) Main doctor is Joseph Herbert, head of the center. Reputed to be brusque, but aggressive (in a good way).

(gentle, expert in MS)

Physical Therapists:

Beyond Basics, 1560 Broadway, Suite 311, New York, NY 212-354-2622

(Specializes in pelvic pain for both men and women, but also does regular physical therapy. Amy Stein, who runs it, is one of the leaders in the field)

Stacy Futterman, Five Points Physical Therapy,

(Specializing in Pelvic pain)


Niva Hertzig


177 North Dean Street
Suite 302
Englewood, NJ 07631

Physical Therapy:

Karen Donelson PT, see karendonelson.com

locations in Montclair NJ, & Columbus Circle NYC

“Got any physical ache, stiffness, or need re-training after an accident, or have plantar fascitis (cured mine!)?” Uses Feldenkrais

Optimum, Lyndhurst



177 North Dean Street
Suite 302
Englewood, NJ 07631

Phone: 201-568-5060

“Excellent physical therapist specializing in pelvic pain”


Dr. Grace Wright, 345 E 37th St # 303C  New York, NY 10016

(212) 490-6960

(Very thorough, intelligent—staff can be annoying, but she herself is excellent).

Yoga Teachers:

Stephanie Harding, South Salem, NY (Westchester) 914-274-0007

(Specializes in one-on-one treatment but also gives classes. Adapts the treatment to the individual, using a specialized form of yoga called Vini Yoga. Excellent, gentle, knowledgeable. Classes  )

Wintertree Yoga Therapy, 31 Cobblestone Terrace, Montville, NJ 07045-9490


She does a very gentle form of yoga combined with therapy—she mostly moves you and you rest into the poses she does. There is something very unusual and freeing about it. “It’s made me feel very creative,” said the person who introduced me to her.


Deborah Quilter, The Balance Center, 234 Fifth Avenue Suite 503, NY, NY 100001 212-79-8177  dqbalancecenter@gmail.com

“Uses her skills in feldenkrais, yoga, and as a certified personal trainer to help people restore their balance—helped me immensely.”

–      –  –  –




Dr. Neil Glickman

(compassionate, caring, fluent in sign language, expertise in working with mentally disabled, author of four books)



Joyce Greenberg, Seattle, WA

(deeply empathetic, has much experience working with elderly and the dying)

Compounding Pharmacies:

–call The Healthy Choice Compounding Company. Phil Altman. D (914-238-1700]

(will compound and mail prescriptions when appropriate. Swift service).

–Cold Laser Therapy for pain?

Dr. Mark Birkson


Dr. Bryan O’Young

(prominent fibromalgia specialist, does acupuncture, NYU?)

Writing Prompt: Who’s a medical practitioner who changed your life and how?