Disease

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Can you die from a tattoo?  You betcha.

I never looked very closely at the literature since getting tattoos on your body is against Jewish law.  I remember from Jewish Religious school when I was quite young, having it reamed into y poor little noggin along with a bunch of other stuff, that when God came for the resurrection of the flesh, not only was it a really good idea that you had a little bit of earth from the land of Israel in your pocket (in Boston, tiny sacks of such alleged origin were overpriced at best) but there had to be no, absolutely no, placed-there-on-purpose marks on your body.  It would be really bad because you wanted God to know you were the right (strictly Kosher) Jewish body.

Somehow, it seemed to be possible to get by with a scar.  I figured it was because if you had an accident, an omniscient God would know about it anyway. Read more on Death By Tattoo…

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I remember the first time I saw a young patient with older person’s diseases.  I was in a public clinic, not far from the industrial waterfront in California.  She was 24 years old, weighed 380 pounds, had already had what she claimed was a “slight” heart attack.  She had type 2 diabetes which I thought was virtually impossible to get at such a tender age.  She was able to do little other than to shrug her shoulders.  She said something about health problems having been in her family.  Me, the only thing I could think of was that I was only through 3 years of so of a seven year medical school at her age.  I was quite overweight, but if I had been struck with her degree of obesity or her medical problems, I don’t think I would have had the stamina to get by.  Sure enough, she was neither working nor going to school.  When you are an adolescent, you think you are going to be strong and healthy forever.  I remember looking at patients and never thinking I would be as ill as they were. I remember seeing patients in intensive care in comas, never thinking for a moment that I would have three of them in my life before I was able to figure out the hereditary metabolic that had caused them. Read more on Patients Avoiding Hospitals and Doctors…

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Back in France, when I wished there were more hours in the day to study, two female Mormon missionaries showed up at my door.  They tried to get inside, wanting to assimilate me to that religion.  I had not yet developed the method of chasing Mormon missionaries that I used years later, when we lived in Palm Springs.  I took the bus and the Mormon missionaries would nail me at the bus stop.  I did not want to run away and miss the bus, so I yelled “Devil get thee behind me” in English and numerous Psalms in Hebrew.  This method worked quickly and efficiently for getting rid of many southern California Mormon missionaries.  This method has been replicated by me in numerous situations.

Back in France, I was less experienced.  I hit them with Genesis Chapter 3 verse 16; in French “Tu enfanteras avec douleur.”  I suppose I could have used the English standard version.  I basically convinced them not only that I knew my Old Testament pretty well, but that I had enough problems being female and a French medical student without being a Mormon.  The older of the two women, a preceptor guiding a young student, said the equivalent of “she knows Scripture; we better leave her alone,” and I hid my joy. Read more on Women’s Pains…

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Warning:  Daily use of aspirin can lead to side effects which may include total loss of impulse control, man boobs, toe hair, and third nipples.  Please consult your doctor before taking this and other over the counter medicine.

Well, not really. But your really should know the risks and benefits of anything you take, even if it’s over the counter, even if it’s aspirin. I have an early memory, and I cannot have been beyond high school or early college, for I was still going to Friday night services with my Parents-of-Blessed-Memory.  My father would not let me in the choir with the other retired senior types with weak voices; but, it seemed to amuse him to no end when I out sang them and the cantor from the congregation.  The cantor had some kind of a congenital dislocation of the hip and some kind of back pain and I don’t know what else.  My parents had discouraged my still premature medical curiosity and told me not to ask him. Read more on To Aspirin or Not To Aspirin; That Is the Question…

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It is very hard for straightforward and presumably honest medical researchers to give us much of anything objective about something that has been labeled “alternative medicine”.  Maybe there should only be two kinds of medicine.  Good and not good; helpful and not helpful. I was minding my own business – well, as much as ever — when I found an article about chelation as a preventative for heart disease.  It basically says that chelation seems to “work”.  But it also seems that some people are ashamed to find this out and don’t want too many people to take advantage of this as a treatment option.  This makes about as much sense as most of what I have read recently about medical research, but I do have one way to put it in context. I have spoken at some alternative medicine meetings where I have proselytized about the effectiveness of high dose vitamins — chelated, to pass the blood-brain barrier.  I have been told that I would be skewered by colleagues.  Colleagues never seem to have much worried about what I have to say.  As a matter of fact, the world seems to have a pretty bad track record as far as listening to what I say. Read more on Chelation As Preventive Therapy for Heart Disease…

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The psychological ability to adjust to chronic medical illness is an area where there has been very little study.  Lately, I find myself working mostly with this population of people.  I’m noticing that some adjust very well and some do it very poorly.  It depends on a lot of factors.

The situation is clearest when the illness we’re talking about is back or neck pain.  Back pain, more than neck pain, has been clearly correlated to the presence of major depression.  If a person walks into the office crying and says they’re having trouble controlling what’s going on, it’s a pretty sure bet we’re dealing with depression.

Most back pain patients aren’t prepared for the kinds of life adjustments they are required to make.  Generally, many will need to switch from a job that has involved lifting or other physical work to a job that is more sedentary.  Quite honestly, most back pain patients are in no way prepared to do this.  Mostly, this is because anything that is sedentary is going to require a higher level of education.  Most of the folks I’m seeing are not highly educated, so the back pain leads to incapacity. Read more on Adjusting to Medical Illness…

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I enjoy having friends, like just about everyone does. But that’s not why I’m in this business. When a patient needs help, I will do my best for them every single time.  And if a few colleagues get bruised egos along the way, so be it.

She was a 53-year-old woman, but I don’t think she even would have liked to hear me to refer to her as a woman.  We’re talking about someone who was short and stout and wore the kind of cap one would expect to see on a newsboy during World War I.  She wore a very male looking zipper jacket, and told me she had the name of the other woman to whom she had dedicated her life tattooed on the back of her neck.

Regardless of all this, her face was red and she was crying. She told me she was chronically suicidal and never thought about anything else.  Despite being medicated, her depression seemed to have gotten worse. Read more on What is there to Treat?…

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Ever heard of capitation?  In healthcare, it can mean that a clinic makes more money by following more patients.  Payments are per person, rather than per service.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, then, that they refused to dismiss this guy from their care.

He was a 32 year old young man who was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.  He had been working independently as a pool cleaner but he couldn’t stand it anymore.  He was always nervous.  As a matter of fact, this man was nervous about everything he did.  Perhaps it was a generalized anxiety disorder, but surely something a great deal more.  He wasn’t having panic attacks, and he exhibited far more than the usual one or two things found in generalized anxiety disorder.

I tried to start him on some medications — as much as I didn’t like the medications he had been started upon.  He had been given regular Xanax in slowly increasing doses.  As nervous as he was, he wasn’t stupid.  He said, “It’s really funny.  The medication makes me sleep, but it sure doesn’t stop me from being nervous.” Read more on The Nervous Pool Cleaner…

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Whitney Houston’s death might be “old news” already, but I still think her death may not have been in vain.

Because Whitney was a star, we were treated to hearsay before facts.  She drank in the morning, in a public place, and according to some observers may have been behaving a bit strangely.

There is an old screener for alcoholism called the “CAGE” questionnaire.  It’s named after the four questions that presumably even a primary care physician — who has little room left in an overtaxed memory — could remember. Read more on Whitney Houston’s Death May Not Have Been in Vain…

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Maybe the folks who continue to argue against stem cell research are just afraid their own stem cells could beat them at a game of checkers.

Listen, I want to live forever.  Not like in the song “Fame,” but like in the way that most of us would do anything to live.  Or like the guy who had to leave the country to get life-saving treatment for cancer of the trachea.  Now he is alive when everyone thought he wouldn’t be. It’s a treatment he couldn’t get in the States.  In the States, stem cell benefits are masked by misinformation and fear.

Okay, so I had a metabolic disease that threw me into a coma and nearly killed me a few times.  But here I am to talk about it.  I think about it every blessed day and I find myself grateful to this universal intelligence.  Yes, I am a theist. But I still live in a personal world where I would do anything to live. Read more on Stem Cell Benefits Masked By Fear and Misinformation…