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Time and Nature Are Strong Medicines

March 06, 2000

Jerome Groopman's First Person feature ("Ultimately, the Decision is Yours," Feb. 21) reminded me of a very similar experience I had about 15 years ago. Without warning, I too was suddenly stricken by an unbearable pain, radiating down the length of my left leg. Friends told me it sounded like sciatica, so I went to an orthopedic surgeon. After he finished explaining his diagnosis of a herniated disc, he said, "You have two choices. You can lie down for two weeks with a 95% chance of a full recovery, or you can have neurosurgery." Confused, I replied: "That's a joke, right?" Embarrassed, he countered: "Well, I wouldn't do the surgery."

"Of course, I'll take the bed option," I sputtered as soon as I regained my composure. And I did. After a month of convalescence, I made a full recovery with no recurrence of the problem. To this day, I consider that decision one of the best I've ever made.

Dr. Groopman is to be commended for sharing his unfortunate experience and warning others that medical science is imperfect. In many cases of injuries and illnesses, nature and time are your best medicines.

--LINDA JOHNSON

Long Beach

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