Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Friday Rewind 5/24

Slightly belated since it is already Saturday morning here, but alas, here are some highlights from what the week offered.

1. The Best of This Week

  •  Sitting at an outdoor cafe with a cool breeze blowing, sipping fresh squeezed mango juice. Can you say refreshing! Although it’s the weekend and I am stuck working, it’s somehow not as bad when I can do it outdoors at a cafe.

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  •  Spending my perdiem on a super cute computer/work bag, which was hand-made by local Cambodian artisans. I am all about supporting the local economy.
  • Work meetings that led to some very creative ideas and reminded me why I do my job–helping people build their capacity to improve health outcomes and rise out of poverty. Some pretty exciting things are in the works–including a possible partnership with this group. See video below:

  • Getting an unexpected small scholarship for medical school! Woo hoo. Every little bit helps.

2. The Worst of This Week:

  • Arranging my work trip to include a weekend and Memorial Day so that I can overlap with a new hire that I was going to train–only to get an email one day before her arrival that she accepted another offer and is not coming! This was frustrating on so many levels–but mainly because I don’t get to spend the 3-day weekend with my husband. He typically works way too much and it was a rare occurrence that he is actually home for Memorial Day. I am very bummed as this was totally avoidable.

3. Medical Breakthroughs of the Week:

  • Teen Smartphone ‘Addicts’ Also Have Other Ills: Not a breakthrough but certainly an interesting read in any case- teenagers who spent enough time on their smartphones to be called “addicted” also tended to show signs of other psychological problems, according to a small study reported here.
  • Vitamin C May Be Key to New TB Treatments: In a serendipitous discovery, researchers said they killed cultured strains of drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria with vitamin C. My mom, who is a cancer researcher has her own theories about Vitamin C’s potential therapeutical potential in oncology–here is proof of it’s benefit as related to TB.

4. Just for Fun-The Friday Rewind Image Challenge 

What’s the diagnosis?

a) Familial hypertriglyceridemia

b) Injection-drug abuse

c) Sarcoidosis

d) Systemic sclerosis

e) Takayasu’s arteritis

* Courtesy of The New England Journal of Medicine

The Answer: Shown in the comments section.

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The Friday Rewind 5/10

Another week has come and gone–here are some highlights from what the week offered.

1. The Best of This Week

  • The 2nd Annual L.A. Gang Violence Prevention & Intervention Conference: It was great seeing the trauma team from my hospital out of their scrubs. At first I kept looking at them, thinking where do I know these people from?– only to realize, they clean up well! The conference brought to light, in very real terms, the epidemic that is youth gun violence. It was inspiring to meet former gang members who are playing such a big part in helping disadvantaged youth. I don’t know what this says about me, but I recognized at least two from the documentary series Gangland. To learn more about the conference, see my post Issues Closer to Home.
  • Since posting the “Dr. Carson Challenge“, I finished reading my sixth book this week. Although this in no way meets the challenge (two books a week),  I have successfully retrained my brain to remember (and enjoy!) the lost art of reading for pleasure. I now find myself  voluntarily turning off the TV and looking forward to the moment I can pick up my NOOK again. I just started reading the 1925 Pulitzer prize winning novel, “Arrowsmith” by Sinclair Lewis. Below is a list (in no particular order) of the books I recently completed:
  • “Gifted Hands”-Ben Carson
  • “On the Road”-Jack Keruac
  • “How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America”-Dr. Ottis Webb Brawley
  • “Not Entirely Benign Procedure: Four Years as a Medical Student”
  • “The Emperor of All Maladies”-Sidhartha Mukherjee  (592 pages)
  • “Complications”-Atul Gawande
  • Only 11 weeks to go before my last day at work!
  • Only 5 weeks to go before our belated honeymoon and 11 blissful days on the beach!

2. The Worst of This Week:

  • It is 4:36 pm and I am staring at a dead body. Just one day after attending the LA Gang Violence Prevention and Intervention Conference, another senseless act of violence has brought in a young gun shot victim through the doors of our Emergency Department. I am struck by how white his feet are. The rest of him doesn’t look particularly dead. He looks like he’s sleeping–ready to wake up from his nightmare. I wonder if the shock of seeing a young person die will ever wear off. A deep sinking feeling hangs over me.

3. Medical Breakthroughs of the Week:

Below are links to some of the more interesting health discoveries from this week.

  • Bipolar Disorder Tied to Flu Exposure in Utero: Prenatal exposure to the flu virus has previously been linked to schizophrenia, and investigators now say the same exposure may be a risk factor for bipolar disorder. In a population-based cohort of Californians born between 1959 and 1966, exposure to influenza in utero was associated with a nearly fourfold increase in the risk of bipolar disorder.
  • Study Suggests Heart Risk for Newer Oral Contraceptives: Women taking fourth-generation oral contraceptives, which use anti-androgenic progestin, had a significantly longer corrected QT interval (QTc) than women who didn’t use any oral contraceptives, but women taking earlier formulations of birth control pills had significantly shorter QTc (P<0.001 for both), researchers reported. Having a prolonged QTc interval is a marker for an increased risk of sudden cardiac death, the researchers said. It’s been shown that testosterone and progesterone shorten QTc, while estrogen lengthens it.
  • Exercise Ups ‘Good’ Estrogen, Cuts Breast Cancer Odds: Exercise changes the way the body breaks down estrogen, increasing the ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ estrogen metabolites, and so may lower the risk of breast cancer, new research suggests. “We found that in healthy premenopausal women, an exercise regimen of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic exercise per week for 16 weeks resulted in significant changes in estrogen metabolism in a direction consistent with reduction of breast cancer risk,” researchers said.

4. Just for Fun-The Friday Rewind Image Challenge 

What is the diagnosis?

a) Bedbug bites

b) Dermatitis herpetiformis

c) Ecthyma

d) Guttate psoriasis

e) Lichen planus

* Courtesy of The New England Journal of Medicine

The Answer: Shown in the comments section.

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The Friday Rewind

Time to wrap up the work week! As a way to reflect back on the best and the worst, the new and inspiring, the mundane and the news-breaking, I am starting a weekly post simply known as– The Friday Rewind.

1. The Best of This Week:

  • Biked (and jogged) a total of 59. 7 miles, completing over 5 hours and 45 minutes of cardio-strengthening training! How do I know this? I use the convenient free ap–Map My Run–which logs all of my work-outs and  emails me a summary at the end of the week. This is a data lovers dream!

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  • After a short hiatus, my husband and I returned to our nightly ER viewing habit (the old NBC medical drama, 1994-2009). This is quality time very well spent. We are now on season 7 of 15. I love this show because they make zero attempt to explain medical terminology and expect viewers to just get it. It makes me feel good when my husband turns to me and asks, “so what is a compartment fasciotomy,” and I immediately know the answer. Finally, I know about something he doesn’t! Of course, he has a disturbingly impressive memory, and with his uncanny ability to recall medical facts like an encyclopedia is well on his way to an honorary MD. (Secretly, I think the wrong person is going to medical school–if ever given the chance, he would crush me…)
  • Only 12 weeks to go until my last day at work.
  • Only 6 weeks to go until our belated honeymoon and 11 blissful days on the beach!

2. The Worst of This Week

  • I have had an unrelenting cough for 33 days and counting. Three doctors visits, one chest x-ray, one nebulizer breathing treatment, two steroid medications, an antibiotic and an inhaler later–I am still non-the wiser to what is causing this annoyance. Coughing is one of the top five most common reasons for a doctor’s visit, with up to 40% of non-smokers having reported a chronic cough at some point in their lives. A 2006 study found that among women with an average age of 48 who had a cough lasting for six months, 39% were found to have asthma, 9% had chronic upper airway cough syndrome (commonly known as postnasal drip), and 9% had gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), while 11% had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a serious, progressive disease that includes both emphysema and bronchitis. My money is on asthma…

3. Medical Breakthrough of the Week

  • Rather than picking just one medical breakthrough of the week, I will let you in on a treasure trove of medical discoveries! The website MedPage Today (www.medpagetoday.com) is a phenomenal resource of the latest in medical developments. This is a particularly helpful tool because it summarizes medical literature into easily digestible articles–each article alerts the reader to breaking medical news, presenting that news in a context that meets their educational practice needs. Sign up for daily email alerts to stay on top of all that is new in medicine!

4. Just for Fun- The Friday Rewind Image Challenge

A 26-year-old woman presented with pain and discoloration in the fingertips of both hands on exposure to cold (Panels A and B). She had had the same symptoms every winter for the past decade. The patient’s history and physical examination revealed no signs or symptoms suggestive of systemic lupus erythematosus or scleroderma. She reported that she did not smoke. What is the diagnosis?

a) Carcinoid syndrome

b) Mastocytosis

c) Normal pregnancy

d) Radial-artery occlusion

e) Raynaud’s phenomenon

* Courtesy of The New England Journal of Medicine

The Answer: Shown in the comments section.

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