Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Woman Donates Part Of Liver To Her Fiancé

When Megan Ellerd and Steven Ferretti met seven years ago, it was “instant love,” she says. Not long after, the young couple found out that Steven had autoimmune hepatitis — but they didn’t worry too much about it, hoping that it wouldn’t affect them until much later in life. In 2008, however, the two were happily engaged when Steven’s condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. His liver was failing, and he needed a transplant.

Although Steven had severe liver disease and was experiencing painful symptoms such as ascites (fluid buildup in the abdomen), he would have had to become deathly ill in order to qualify for a donor organ from the transplant waiting list. For a couple with a wedding to plan and a bright future ahead, the prospect of Steven spending many months, if not years, in progressively worsening health was just not an option. For Megan, the choice was clear. She had known from the beginning that she would donate part of her liver to him if she could — and when testing Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Columbia University Department of Surgery Blog*

Addicted To Working: How It Can Affect Marital Relationships

“I doubt that all the philosophy in this world can eradicate slavery; at best it will change its name. I can imagine worse forms of servitude than our own, more insidious forms, that will foster in men an appetite for work as rabid as the passion for war among barbarian races, either by turning people into stupid and content machines that believe in their freedom whilst fully enslaved, or by suppressing any human leisure. I prefer our physical slavery to this subjection of the spirit”.

- ‘Memoirs of Hadrian’– Marguerite Yourcenar

Nobody considers himself to be addicted to work. But we should go over how many times a day we check our e-mail or call our office while on holidays, even when we must do it almost secretly. No doubt iPads, iPhones or Blackberrys make it easier to fall into temptation, and we fool ourselves by saying we’re getting the device just to check the weather.

We tend to think workaholism is a synonym for working many hours, but this is a narrow view that ignores the addictive nature of that condition. An average workaholic has a strong inward motivation to work every minute, anywhere, not really for the money, or the promotion, or because of a lack of social life. Just for the sake of it.

Scott points out two traits to define this addiction: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Diario Medico*

Weight Gain Associated With Years Following Marriage And Divorce

Women gain weight after marriage and men after divorce, especially among those over 30, likely the result of “weight shock” to people’s routines in physical activity and diet, sociologists reported.

The research, led by a sociology doctoral student at The Ohio State University, was presented at a roundtable on Marriage and Family at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association. They used data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth ’79, a nationally representative sample of men and women ages 14 to 22 in 1979. The same people were surveyed every year up to 1994 and every other year since then, reported a press release.

Data on more than 10,000 people surveyed from 1986 to 2008 was used to determine Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at ACP Internist*

The New Meaning Of The Refrigerator Nurse

Meet Nurse Prudence Perfect. She is the unit’s refrigerator nurse. It’s her job to make sure that everything is perfect and meets Joint Commission standards because you never know when the old JC will drop by for an unannounced visit. Insulin vials labeled and dated? Check. Refrigerator thermometer easily accessible and log up to date? Check. Hey, who put their lunch in here? There is to be no food in medication refrigerator! Prudence is gearing up. Stand by for one of her Joint Commission inservices.

For you nursing history buffs, the term “refrigerator nurse” goes way back to a time when Prudence was a graduate nurse. The term was coined back when it only took one paycheck to support a family, and when nurses, typically women, quit working once they got married. A nurse who went back to work after she was married in order to buy luxury items for her family, such as a refrigerator, was known as a refrigerator nurse. Some have suggested that these nurses were less dedicated to their patients and to the nursing profession, but this is simply not true. It was a different time back then. Women who went back to work after they got married broke with convention. They were rebels and some of the best nurses I’ve known.

This week, I also became a refrigerator nurse, but not in the classic sense. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

ER Physician Recharges At The Beach

This is my column in July’s EM News.  Have a restful day!

We travel to Hilton Head, SC, every spring for an ‘end of school-year’ vacation. It is a tradition that started several years ago; one which our family treasures. We plan months ahead, when we arrange lodging. Then, as the date draws closer we have to restrain ourselves from jumping up and down at odd, inappropriate times. The beach calls to us in an inexplicable way.

We live in a beautiful county, surrounded by mountains and lakes. It is, in itself, a worthy destination, perfect for biking, hiking, fishing and/or kayaking. But when May rolls around, our eyes turn to the east, and we long for the sand and sea. It is one of the special gifts of South Carolina, that highland forests and crashing surf are half a day’s car ride apart.

The morning we leave, the car is packed, the snacks tucked away, and we drive through the local Chick-fil-A for drinks. Then my dear wife immerses herself in a novel, her i-Pod turned to her music collection (eclectic as when we first met, running the gamut from Prince to Loreena McKinnet, from Aaron Copeland to Veggie-Tales). The children slip off their shoes and drift into games, or their own books and music before boredom takes them to sleep.

I am left enjoying the singular pleasure of driving across the state of South Carolina, Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at*

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

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…

Read more »

See all book reviews »