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Latest Posts

There’s Always Something New To Learn

There they were, little maroon flags outside three patient exam room doors. You could almost hear the game show host ask the question:

Will it be Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3?”

So I asked the medical assistant, “Who’s next?” and she pointed me to Door #2.

It was a new patient with a familiar problem, one I’ve seen probably a thousand times before. Another day, another case. Bada bing, bada boom. Nothing to it. You would think that all cases, and all people are the same in some ways. Certainly, those managing our health care system of the future would like us to believe it’s so simple: just another case of heart failure (what can go wrong?) or supraventricular tachycardia (love that one, there’s NOTHING hard about that!) or maybe a few PVC’s (Check). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Wes*

Food And Migraine Headaches: Triggers Are Hard To Predict


At a Harvard Medical School talk on migraine and food, a nutritionist from Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center delivered a message that people in the audience probably didn’t want to hear: “There are no specific dietary recommendations for migraine sufferers,” said Sandra Allonen. But she did have some advice to offer—and she emphasized that the connection between food and migraine is a very individual one.

Several foods have been associated with triggering migraine. None of them has been scientifically proven to cause migraines, explained Allonen, but many people report a link between eating these foods and getting a migraine. Possible migraine triggers include: Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*

A Little Girl’s First Cavity

Sometimes a picture’s worth 1000 words. Poor kid. My sister-in-law snapped this photo today. Not a fun way to enter a new year… I think we’re all feeling a little bit like this, with the economy “messed up” and record unemployment levels. Let’s hope that 2010 brings some relief!


Frosty The Snowman’s Heart And The Last Tomato Standing

snowmanLike a good Rochesterian (Rochester, NY that is), my husband decided to shovel the snow off our balcony after the 2-foot-deep deposits threatened to melt into our condo’s window cracks. I was comfortably blogging away in our living room when I looked up to find Mr. DrVal had built me a miniature snowman, complete with a heart made from the last tomato of our now fully dead Roma tomato plant.

A few amazing things about this photo: 1) How can ripe tomatoes still be growing at the end of December in Washington, DC? 2) How did he get Frosty’s hat to stay on his head? 3) How did he find my secret scrub stash and why did he wear them out to shovel snow?

Anyway – I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a rather charming and creative way to spend a Sunday after a snowstorm. But watch out, Frosty: I’d like to eat your heart out!

DC Snowstorm Photos

balconysnowHow deep is the snow? Judging by my balcony, at least a foot and a half. I asked Mr. DrVal to demonstrate for you with a tape measure – of course, our mischevious kitty, Ona (full name is Ona Riss Kitty) wanted to be in the photo as well.

I caught these guys (second photo) digging out a Politico newspaper vending machine. Seemed like a very DC thing to do.

Of course, having grown up in Canada, the snow storm didn’t faze me much. I ventured out to get a salad, some frozen yogurt, and to see the movie Avatar. That was well worth the walk to the theater (saw it in all its 3-D wonder)!

Mr. DrVal summed it up with his usual dry wit, “It’s The Lion King meets An Inconvenient Truth.”

Please go see it though – the effects are really amazing.

All in a winter’s day…


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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