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Latest Posts

Brilliant JC Penny Viral Marketing Campaign: Men vs. Women

Men in Dog House

h/t to Dr. Wes

Bonus: try to hear the “messages” being voiced in the background.

“Blog Rally” About End-Of-Life Care: My Story

The successful “Engage with Grace” campaign resulted in ~95 bloggers promoting end-of-life care discussions with family members over Thanksgiving. Paul Levy called it the first “medical blog rally on the Internet.” I wonder how many readers took the challenge?

I spent Thanksgiving with my sister (mom of 3) and brother-in-law in Michigan.  After our dinner (with the kids tucked in for the night) we enjoyed a glass of wine and a game of Cranium (if you haven’t tried this game yet, you might want to pick one up in time for the next group of holidays – it’s like Pictionary, Charades, Trivial Pursuit, and American Idol wrapped into one). I looked for an opportunity to “pop the question” on end-of-life issues.

During a brief lull between rock song humming I casually inquired about whether or not my sister and brother-in-law had a living will. They said they hadn’t thought of it but agreed that it would be important to have one. We discussed various scenarios related to organ donation, end-of-life care, and cremation vs. burial preferences. Things degenerated a bit as I asked what their individual preferences might be for resuscitation under special circumstances (it was almost like a scene from Monty Python – “So, if you had no arms and no legs and you had a 10% chance of normal brain function recovery, would you like to be tube fed? How about if you had one leg and half an arm and a 5% chance of mental recovery? What about if you had 1/2 a liver, no spleen, and only one eye worked, but you COULD do math questions?”) We all had a good laugh at the black humor, but recognized that something important underlay the jesting. There is no doubt that we each had a 100% chance of dying at some point during our lives.

And then something unexpected happened – my brother-in-law looked me in the eye and said, “If anything happened to us, we’d really love it if you took our children and raised them as your own.”

I was very touched and happily agreed to do so. I replied with a wagging finger, “Now this doesn’t mean that you should take up helmet-free motorcycling…”

We all had a good chuckle and returned to Cranium, each feeling a little richer for the experience – we knew how we’d like to be cared for in case of critical illness, and I’d become the proud new godmother of 3.

Quote Of The Day: An Observation From Emergency Medicine

Dogs, as a general rule, do not like to be kissed on the mouth by drunk people. 

- Edwin Leap, MD

h/t to Grunt Doc .

Science Fiction Writing Contest – Winners Announced

I had the honor and privilege of being a judge for the annual MedGadget science fiction writing contest. Please check out the winning entries here. We judges were blinded to the author names when reading the selections – though it came as little surprise to me that a professional writer (Charles Pappas) won the contest.

Charles’ story hit close to home – it was the diary of a food-lover slowly gaining weight and watching their health insurance premiums increase as a chip implanted under their skin reported increasing cholesterol and insulin resistance directly to their employer. His struggle with weight gain and its financial implications was both humorous and poignant. Please head on over to Medgadget to enjoy the winning entry. Great timing for those of us recovering from Thanksgiving…

Taste Test: Organic vs. Regular Whole Milk

After my recent interview with Dr. David McCarron, I began to think of ways to increase my dairy intake. It occurred to me that I hadn’t had a glass of milk since I was a kid – sure I’d put milk on my breakfast cereal or add it to recipes, but I just never thought of it as a beverage for some reason. I bet many of you feel similarly.

So I went to the store to get some whole milk, and I was almost overwhelmed by the options. There were many different brands (from different dairies) as well as organic options. I wondered if there was a taste difference between them. Which might be the most delicious?

I purchased three different types of whole milk: one from a local dairy, one that was organic, and a generic store brand. I brought them home and asked my husband to participate in a blind taste test. I put samples of each milk in a white, paper cup and asked him which one tasted best.

After several rounds of sipping, my husband confessed that he couldn’t tell a difference between them.

Then an unexpected thing happened. My cat wanted in on the action and jumped up on the table to participate. She had a very clear preference – she chose cup #3, the generic, non-organic store brand. Way to go, kitty – no fancy milk for you!

What’s the lesson of this totally subjective, unscientific study of n=3? Milk is good for you, it’s the best nutritional value for the cost (25 cents/cup – compare that to soda), and there’s no real taste difference between brands. Milk is a legitimate beverage – I’m going to have some more regularly… if I can wrestle it away from my cat.

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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