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A Piece of My Mind |

Cocktail Party Nephrology

David S. Goldfarb, MD
JAMA. 2013;309(24):2561-2562. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.4927.
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Kidney stones are often not taken seriously, even by those afflicted with them. When my vocational interests as a lithologist are revealed at a dinner gathering or cocktail party, a nidus of stone formers immediately surrounds me. The erstwhile patients await their turns to relate anecdotes about the amusing and inconvenient circumstances in which their momentary suffering occurred. Airplanes, restaurants, athletic events, weddings, foreign countries, and remote national parks feature prominently in these tales of what are usually short-lived events with happy endings and complete recoveries. The gleeful narrative contrasts with what I imagine an oncologist experiences at such affairs. He or she must be left glumly solitary, languishing in a dark corner, perhaps remaining silent about his occupation. Or perhaps, if her job description is widely known, those who experienced cancer among the guests prefer not to regale her with harrowing stories of bowel, breast, cervical, and lung cancers with darker narratives. Being a kidney stone doctor must be a relatively light-hearted profession in comparison, allowing one to grin and chuckle with the widely prevalent members of this open, welcoming club.

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