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Why Are People Embarrassed By Certain Conditions?

April is “Embarrassing Subject Month” for my podcast. I am covering the following problems:

  • Hemorrhoids
  • Digestive problems (constipation/diarrhea)
  • Urinary incontinence
  • “Male problems”

It should be fun, and it will be promoted on iTunes, so it should drum up more subscribers and downloads.

But it begs the question: Why are certain conditions embarrassing to people? Why can people open up to me about so many personal things, yet be embarrassed to discuss hemorrhoids? Why is it easier to talk about your marriage falling apart than your urinary “accidents?” Why is diarrhea more embarrassing than vomiting? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Musings of a Distractible Mind*

The “No Viagra For Sex Offenders” Amendment

There’s been some buzz on Twitter that the Democrats in the Senate have killed an amendment which would have prohibited federal funding for erectile dysfunction (ED) medications for sex offenders, which means in the upside-down logic of Washington D.C. that the Democrats favor giving Viagra to pedophiles. Right? Well, not exactly.

First, just a point of procedure: Remember, healthcare reform (HCR) is now a law, on the books, signed by the President. But there was this reconciliation sidecar bill which was meant to fix the HCR law as originally passed—it was passed in the House pretty much as soon as the Senate bill was passed. But it had to pass the Senate in the identical form, word for word, in order to go directly to Obama’s desk for signing. If the Senate mucked things up by tacking on amendments, it would have to go back to the House for approval, and given the razor-thin margin in the House, Democrats very much wanted to avoid that. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Drug Seekers And Pain Complaints In The ER: How To Know What’s Real

The first seven patients I saw today were in the ED for:

  • Dental Pain (ongoing for three years)
  • Back Pain (third visit in one month, 18 in 2006)
  • Migraine Headache (six visits in a month, and second ED visit in 18 hours)
  • Back Pain (this one was legit)
  • Chronic Recurrent Abdominal Pain (ran out of Oxycontin and doctor “out of town”)
  • “Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome” (in which only narcotics stop the vomiting)
  • Oxycontin withdrawal

Sometimes I wonder why I bother. I occasionally wish my job demanded something more than a valid DEA license, and decision-making skills beyond “yes narcs” and “no narcs.” It just drains the carpe right out of your diem to start the day off in a series of ugly little dogfights over drugs with people whom, to put it charitably, you have concerns about the validity of their reported pain. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Movin' Meat*

Tales From The ER: With Friends Like These…

Other night, two dudes were rather unceremoniously dumped on our ambulance ramp.  They were, reportedly, not breathing very effectively, thought to be due to ingestion of some substance or another.

Dude who ‘dropped off’ his fellows walked into the ER waiting room, went to the vending machines, got a snack, and left.  Didn’t talk to anyone.

With friends like these…

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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