From Our Listeners

Letters: Doctors And Health, Heroes And Bystanders

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NPR's Neal Conan reads from listener comments on previous show topics including what doctors tell patients about getting healthy and who acts and who freezes in a crisis.


It's Tuesday, and time to read from your comments. We talked last week about the conversations that go on in the doctor's office about losing weight, exercise, quitting smoking or, as Danielle in California told us in an email, the conversations that often don't go on in the doctor's office. Both my parents are 100-plus pounds overweight. Their doctors have never told them to lose weight. I get crazy mad, she wrote in all caps. I cannot understand how the doctors do not demand that they lose the weight. I'm 20 pounds overweight, and it's the first thing out of my doctor's mouth always: lose weight.

Even when a doctor does bring it up, many patients told us they don't want to hear it. I was overweight for most of my adult life, and during the past 20 years, gained and lost more than 100 pounds twice. There's nothing that a doctor or anyone else could've said to me about losing weight. That email from M in Illinois.

Many of you also wrote to tell us about times when you put yourself at risk or didn't to help someone in trouble. A listener named Vince emailed from San Francisco with a word of caution: Professional emergency workers usually advise against civilian heroics. It is very common for people attempting rescue to get themselves into trouble, as well, making things even more difficult for the professionals.

Another listener, Holly Scheneller(ph), wrote about the time 20 years ago when she was in need of rescue. When I was 20, I was in a single-car accident on I-10. My friend was driving and was thrown from the car and died. The man and two women who stopped to help are, to this day, strangers to me. One kept me from trying to wake my friend and respectfully covered her up. Another just hugged me tight while I cried. They kept from wandering around lost and helped me stay safe while I was clearly in shock. Even today, I cannot think of their selflessness without breaking into tears.

If you have a correction, a comment or a question for us, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is Please let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. If you're on Twitter, you can follow us there @totn.

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