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Father To Daughter: The Lessons Of Illness

Ruthie and Andrew

When I was diagnosed with leukemia my daughter, Ruthie, was just two and a half. She has vague memories of our household being turned upside down with worried, hushed conversations and friends and relatives calling A LOT. Because a leading specialist, Dr. Michael Keating from MD Anderson Cancer Center, advised against having treatment right away (something better was coming along), I did not have treatment for more than four years. By then Ruthie was seven. She has vivid memories then of me going off to Houston, accompanied by her mom, for a week of initial treatment and then successive weeks of treatment every month for quite a while back here in Seattle. She also remembers me tired, nauseous and, some days, in bed.  The better memory is me participating in a clinical trial that worked and then returning to a full and active life.

Ruthie and I had never really talked about her observations of this until last night. Now, almost 18, Ruthie will be headed to college soon. It’s been a “journey.” As with many teenagers, they can be rebellious and oppositional, at times. But, in most cases, they eventually return to that loving person you remember. Ruthie has been making that return and, as she does, we’ve been talking more.

Last Friday night Ruthie called me in a panic. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Andrew's Blog*

What Is The Best Type Of Thermometer For Babies?

A fever in an infant can be the first sign of an illness. While a rise in body temperature above 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit is part of a healthy immune system response, it does signal potential danger and need for further evaluation. Since a reading may lead to a call or visit to the child’s doctor or emergency room, accuracy is key. What is the best type of infant thermometer?

A digital rectal thermometer.

This is according to such authorities as the American Academy of Pediatrics, Consumer Reports, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The definition of a fever is important as well. According to the AAFP:

A normal temperature is about 98.6°F (37°C) when taken orally (in your child’s mouth) and 99.6°F (37.5°C) when taken rectally (in your child’s bottom). Many doctors define a fever as an oral temperature above 99.5°F (37.5°C) or a rectal temperature above 100.4°F (38°C). Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

When A Surgical Superhero Has To Cut… Wind?

Yes, I have an alter ego. Yes, I dress in funny clothes with a cap covering my head and a mask covering my face. And yes, dressed as such I try to fight the powers of evil (mainly sepsis and bleeding and cancer and the like). I am … a superhero. But there is often little understanding for what goes on under the paper thin masks and baggy gowns we wear. certain …um…occurrences, well, occur with us just as much as with other people.

A common cold behind a theatre mask is no small thing. Remember you can’t blow your nose. Sniffing loudly only works for a while and attracts all sorts of strange stares. Just leaving it is really the only option. The positive side of this is you suffer less from the mild dehydration that accompanies massive loss of …mucus. There is, after all, fluid replacement (it is a very short trip from your nostrils to your mouth over your upper lip). ‘Nuf sed. Somehow this never appealed to me though. So, for all you budding surgeons out there, when you have a cold, plug your nostrils with tissue before scrubbing up. once you’re scrubbed, it is too late. The side effects are only a slight change in voice which is a small price to pay to avoid the constant lip licking and salty taste throughout the operation. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at other things amanzi*

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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