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Latest Posts

Life Disruption Caused By Cancer During The Holiday Season

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it? —Every, every minute?”

-Thornton Wilder

His cancer was growing and his symptoms were progressing alarmingly. As holiday music played in the background, I searched the calendar to see how rapidly his surgery could be scheduled. The young man and his wife first looked relieved when we found a surgical opening in the coming week, but their faces fell as they realized that he would spend December 25th in the hospital. Family plans were to be put on hold that year. The future was uncertain.

It has always seemed to me that ”cancer” causes more life disruption during this time of year. The quickened pace of life and the family expectations, particularly when small children are involved, push people to their limits.

On the other hand, Read more »

Holiday Decoration-Related ER Visits: Are These Statistics Sending The Wrong Message?

Yesterday’s ACEP Member Communication email (entitled Emergency Medicine Today, in affiliation with BulletinHealthcare) had this as its top story: Injuries Linked to Holiday Decorating on the Rise, from a website called HealthDay News. The reported cites a US Consumer Product Safety Commission press release, crafted with help from Underwriter Laboratories (the wire engineers). They claim:

In November and December 2010, more than 13,000 people were treated in U.S. emergency departments for injuries involving holiday decorations, up from 10,000 in 2007, and 12,000 in 2008 and 2009, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

“A well-watered tree, carefully placed candles, and carefully checked holiday light sets will help prevent the joy of the holidays from turning into a trip to the emergency room or the loss of your home,” said CPSC chairman Inez Tenenbaum in an agency news release.

Good advice. Though it’s been said many times, many ways. So when it came time for CPSC and UL to raise the topic, did we need the very questionable statistics to justify it? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Blogborygmi*

Winterize Your Mind And Body

This is a guest post from Dr. Jennifer Wider.


Winterize Your Mind And Body

During the winter months, certain health issues may arise that women should have on their radar. From mental health issues like stress, depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), to physical concerns like skin care, the winter can certainly pack an extra punch.

Depression peaks during the holiday season, affecting more than 17 million Americans, according to the National Mental Health Association. On average, women are more vulnerable to stress-related illnesses like depression and anxiety than men. One study, conducted by Pacific Health Laboratories, revealed that 44 percent of American women report feeling sad through the holidays compared to 34 percent of American men.

“Depression of any kind is more common in females than males,” explains Greg Murray, M.D., lecturer and clinical psychologist at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia. “A pattern of elevated depression in the winter months is more marked in women than in men.”

There are a host of different reasons why women may be more susceptible to stress during the winter than men. Women tend to be the primary caretakers of the family and often take on the extra burden of the holidays with gift buying, entertaining, and coordinating visits with extended family. For working women, the added responsibilities can be difficult to balance, especially if they are already balancing a family, job, childcare and eldercare duties. Read more »

The Holidays And The Circle Of Life

The holiday season is a time of both joy and sorrow. Tomorrow a childhood friend will be laid to rest — one of my favorite artists, Teena Marie, died unexpectedly two days ago and at least six other people have made their transitions as well. My own father died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve in 1981 leaving a great void in our family life. Why do people leave us during the holiday season? It has been said because they want to be remembered.

While I lamented about all the transitions that occurred in the past two weeks, one of my best friends announced that she had a new granddaughter that was born on Christmas Day. She stated that this was part of the “life cycle” or “circle of life.” Her comments gave me reason to pause and reflect. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Linda Burke-Galloway*

The Heart And The Holidays

The human heart resides in a lighltless 98.6-degree chest cavity. Its contracting muscles are further cushioned by the well-lubricated glistening smooth pericardial sac. One wouldn’t think that the heart could sense the time of year. The heart’s rhythm should remain independent of the holiday season. But then there is December in the EP lab. They are as busy as the malls.

Is it the depressing weather? Or the short days? Or a post-Thanksgiving hangover? It’s hard to say, but every year for as many as I can remember, the EP lab rocks in November and December. And with the advent of deductible health plans, this holiday phenomenon has only intensified.

The I-90 of the heart, the AV node, seems to give out more in the holidays. I’ll never forget the Saturday in December many years ago when I did five “urgent” pacemakers — and neither will the pacemaker rep. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*

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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