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Best of the Blog, Part 2

The best way to cheer
yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
- Mark Twain

In this post we focus on cheerful, positive stories – my favorite
blog theme.

The cookie series

Girl Scout cookies – the story of a little girl who went
beyond the call of duty

9/11 cookies – what some of us did on that fateful day

Baking cookies part 2 – how one man made it back from near
death

Good can come from
evil…

The strength of weakness – Dr. Rob shows how we can turn
suffering into a force for good

Back Pain 911 – my own back injury teaches me compassion for
others

More than skin deep – a burn victim finds a way to “pay it forward”

Unexpected heroes

Two teen girls take on Glaxo Smith Kline – the ultimate
David & Goliath story

Spider saves man from cancer – a spider bite called
attention to a suspicious nearby lesion

Make a wish – An 8 year old “President” shows great bravery in
his final months

Your mom will always be your mom – and mine has impulse
control problems

My medical heroes – some doctors who are making a difference

Slice of life

Easter exercises – how creative parents get their kids to
exercise

An elderly woman assesses her healthcare problems

Understanding introverts – they’re worth getting to know

What the heck is a rehab doc? – my specialty is the least
understood in all of medicine!

Well, there you have it.
My thoughts in a nutshell from the past 6 months.  Stay tuned for more random thoughts… or make
a suggestion and I may blog about it!

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

More than skin deep

A few weeks ago I tripped and fell on the sidewalk.  I went down on hands and knees and scraped my left knee pretty badly.  The onlookers pretended not to notice, I suppose sparing me the embarrassment of asking if I was ok.  I dusted myself off and bled down my leg en route to work.

Since then I kept the wound moist with neosporin and band aids, allowing the skin to heal with minimal scarring.  But as I marveled at how painful this little patch of road burn is, I remembered a young girl I met about a decade ago who had a much more serious burn.

Inga was camping with her parents in a synthetic tent.  They had spent the day fishing and canoing near a campground somewhere in Eastern Europe.  They were huddled together inside the tent in the cool of the evening, speaking animatedly about the day’s events and the beauty of nature when Inga accidentally knocked over the kerosene lamp situated near the exit flap.  The kerosene spilled out onto the tent and the fire ignited immediately.  The tent began to melt in the fire and the zipper got stuck in the hot plastic material.  The unimaginable screams of her dying parents as they burned alive, trapped in this tent, brought help just in time to save Inga’s life.

But Inga was horribly disfigured by the fire.  She spent nearly a year in the hospital, receiving skin grafts and fighting off infections.  She was eventually able to return to school, but was treated like an outcast.  Her former friends were too horrified by her appearance to welcome her back and she spent most of her days sitting alone in the corner, covering her face with a scarf, blaming herself for the death of her own parents.

Her story reached the compassionate ears of a plastic surgeon friend of mine.  He traveled to Eastern Europe to meet Inga and see if he could help her.  As it turns out, she had no living relatives and was dirt poor.  He could see that the medical team taking care of her had carefully covered the defects in her skin, but had not attempted to restore a normal appearance with modern plastic surgery techniques.

The surgeon knew that it would take many surgeries over many years to give her the best result possible.  After some debate and soul searching, he decided to sponsor Inga to come to America where he committed to taking care of her financial needs and to giving her a new life.

I first met Inga after she had been in the states for several years.  She looked like a burn victim, with tight facial skin and abnormal contours – but compared to how she appeared in the photos of when she first arrived (with no nose or cheek flesh at all) this was a huge improvement.  She was meeting with the surgeon to have a seroma evacuated from under her left cheek.  He had to remove the extra fluid with a large syringe.

As I watched him numb the area and sink a deep, large bore needle into this young girl’s face, I cringed internally but tried to appear unphased for her sake.  She didn’t flinch, but sat staring forward bravely, her grey eyes fixed on the wall in front of her.  I saw a tear well up and trickle down her disfigured cheek during the procedure and I instinctively reached for her hand.  The tears continued in silence.  This burn had penetrated so much deeper than the skin.

I haven’t seen Inga since, though I’ve heard that she’s doing well in school, has made some good friends, and is planning to become a nurse one day.  Her decision to devote her life to caring for others is a beautiful example of “paying it forward.”This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

Smelling the flowers

There are cherry trees just outside my patio and 2 days ago
they decided to drop the majority of their pink petals on the ground.  It created a luxurious, 2 inch deep floral
carpet that surrounded my home.  It was so
beautiful and soft in appearance that I couldn’t resist scooping up fist fulls
of the flower bits and holding them out to my husband.  It was a sunny blue day and I giggled as I
asked him to join me in my child like glee.

“I’m not touching them,” he said, “It will make my nose
itch.”

“Aw, come on honey,” I cajoled him, “these petals won’t be
here like this again for another year!
Touch them, they’re so soft!”

He glanced at me sideways.
“No, I don’t want to touch them.
They’re dirty.”

I was crest fallen at first, but then I started thinking
about how something so beautiful to one person, can look entirely different to
someone with allergies.  What a sad thing
to have taken away – the ability to truly stop and smell the flowers.  I count my blessings that I have no allergies
to anything.This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

Thin workers woo investors?

I had an eye-opening conversation with Dr. Jim Hill
today.  He told me that Denver’s
Metro Mayors (Denver’s
metropolitan area is actually composed of 37 cities and towns!) are competing
with one another to see who can get their inhabitants the most fit and thin.

Why would they be so aggressive about fitness and good
health?  Because they say that large
corporations considering investing in Denver
(where they’d build factories or large office buildings) know that setting up
shop in areas where the population has a lower BMI means that health insurance
costs will be lower.

That’s right my friends.
Being thin can lure investors!  It
makes sense that a corporation seeking to avoid the skyrocketing costs of health
care would want to create facilities where new employees are likely to have
fewer medical issues.  And BMI is a good
surrogate marker for health… so there you have it.

Do you see this approach to wooing investors as a form of discrimination
or just good business sense?

Either way, I’m going to get on the treadmill later.

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

A little medical humor

I got a good laugh from a few sarcastic posts lately.  This first one (via Graham) is about the
medicalization of modern life (where every symptom must have a diagnosis):

Consumer: I get
very moody if I don’t eat in the morning. If I don’t eat until 3-4pm I get
headaches, drowsiness and feel nauseous… I think I’ve always had this. Since
I usually eat enough it doesn’t really bother me. I’m 21, male, and a
vegetarian. What do I have?

Physician: You have a condition
known as hunger.

The good news: it is easily treatable

The bad news: there is no permanent cure

This condition can be treated at a specialized clinic, the one you want is
known as a restaurant. This condition can also be treated at home, but you will
need specialized supplies from a grocery store. Most sufferers find that
several treatments per day are necessary.

———

And this conversation was pretty funny (though I can’t for
the life of me find where I read it – sorry I would certainly love to give
attribution here):

Physician: we’re
going to need to get an MRI of your teenager’s head since he had a seizure.

Mom: why are you
going to get an MRI of his head, it was his body that had the seizure!

Have you heard any good jokes lately?

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

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