Tough Medicine

Tales from those life-changing moments receiving news of the worst - and the people who help us through.

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The Underdog Doctors Who Saved America’s “Blue Babies”

In 1945, a chain-smoking surgeon, a deaf female doctor, and a self-taught African-American lab tech developed a risky procedure that revolutionized medicine.

A Massive Stroke Ruined Half My Mom’s Brain. A Year Later, She Wrote Me This Letter.

I’ve been dwelling on what I lost. But a three-sentence note showed me what I still have.


This Man Spent Years Waiting for the Phone Call That Would Change Everything. One Day It Finally Came.

An intimate look at life on the kidney waiting list.

I Thought I Knew Everything About Autism—Until It Hit My Own Son

As a child psychologist, I help all kinds of families diagnose and deal with autism. But the hardest thing was when I started to see signs right under my nose.

My Mom Had a Massive Stroke Two Weeks Ago

At 26, I never thought I was old enough to get one of those life-shattering phone calls. But my phone did ring, and I already know that nothing will ever be the same again.

I Rejected My Prosthetic Hand and Finally Learned to Love Myself

As a kid I abhorred my malformed hand and missing fingers. It took trying out a replacement to realize that the hands I was born with are the only ones I need.


A Mother and Daughter, on How Epilepsy Made Us Stronger

Capturing the Briefest of Lives

When an infant dies or is delivered stillborn, distraught parents face the heart-wrenching process of how to memorialize a child who doesn’t survive.


Autistic and Aging Out

For an enthusiastic teenager and his long-devoted family, the prospect of autism colliding with adulthood unveils an entirely new set of caregiving concerns.