Humans vs. disease: How it all began

An eternal battle

I have always been fascinated by the history of medicine and disease. I minored in medical history in college and have probably read dozens of books on the subject.

If you’re interested but don’t have that kind of time to invest, I just ran across a couple of short (very short!) videos on YouTube that I found to be remarkably good overviews of a complex topic.

The first is from Crash Course World History:

If only my history teachers in high school had been so entertaining!

I especially loved his statement: “You Continue reading

Guts and Bolts – It’s fun, it’s educational!

guts and boltsI just found this great game, Guts and Bolts, while I was surfing around on the internet last weekend!

It’s not new, just new to me  🙂

It’s a creation of BrainPOP, which features all kinds of cool educational games and tools.

The game is kind of a Dr. Frankenstein meets Joe the Plumber as you are introduced to different body parts and organs and learn how they are connected and work together.

As you level up, there are game quizzes that test your knowledge of what you’ve learned. I took these thinking they would be a piece … Continue reading

Are ICD 10 diagnoses not so crazy?

OK, this post is just for fun.

Last year I mocked the new catalog of diagnosis codes, the ICD 10. Every medical bill must include a diagnostic code, and I thought the ICD 10, which increased the number of available codes from 13,000 to 70,000, was really over-the-top ridiculous.

New diagnoses included such notables as “injured when knitting,” “sucked into a jet engine” and “problems with the in-laws.”

But my niece, who just graduated from medical school and is now a first-year resident, toured one of the first hospitals built in Washington state and shared with me a list … Continue reading

A physician’s own end-of-life story

I’ve always believed that if I were diagnosed with a terminal illness and had a choice between a few months of quality living and a few extra months filled with doctors’ visits, surgeries, lab tests and drug treatments, I would choose quality of life.

Many friends, some of them doctors, have told me, “Oh, you think that now, but when the times comes the will to live is just too strong. You’ll do anything for that extra time.”

Would I? I guess I won’t know for sure until my time comes.

That’s exactly what a hospice physician thought—Will I Continue reading

Direct-to-consumer advertising

I was watching Game 5 of the World Series this weekend (go Royals!) and I couldn’t help but notice all the ads for prescription meds—Belsomra, Cialis, Lyrica, Cymbalta and Symbicort to name but a few.

Direct-to-consumer advertising has been legal since 1997. There is no doubt in my mind it has contributed to the over-prescribing of medications in this country, as well as our skyrocketing health care costs.

Anyway, watching all those commercials made me want to repost this hilarious video from Consumers Union: The Drugs I Need. 

Did you check out the fine print … Continue reading

Nurses are awesome!

I was watching with much amusement and satisfaction last week as the hostesses of TV’s The View took a much-deserved bashing for their uninformed and frankly bitchy remarks directed at Kelley Johnson, a nurse and a contestant (Miss Colorado) in the Miss America pageant.

With apparently nothing better to talk about, the mean girls ladies of The View picked apart Ms. Johnson’s heartfelt and at times tearful monologue on the nursing profession, calling it “hilarious” and implying she was pretending to be a physician by wearing a stethoscope around her neck.

No, she wasn’t. Nurses use stethoscopes, too.

I was … Continue reading

Oliver Sacks reflects on dying

I just read that the brilliant physician-writer Oliver Sacks died yesterday from a rare form of eye cancer. Although he had been diagnosed with the disease several years ago, he learned earlier this year that the cancer, a form of melanoma, had spread aggressively into his liver.

At that time, he wrote a moving Op-Ed for the New York Times, and I bookmarked it because his words reflecting on his terminal diagnosis really resonated with me.

It is up to me now to choose how to live out the months that remain to me. I have to live in

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Female Viagra spoof

female viagraI wrote a post last week about Addyi, the new libido-enhancing drug recently approved by the FDA. It’s being called the “female Viagra” even though it is nothing like Viagra, and both its safety and efficacy are being questioned.

But there’s been a lot of press in the last few weeks on both Addyi and the problem of low sex drive in women. I think The Onion gets my vote for the funniest: FDA Approves Female-Libido-Enhancing Man.

In an effort to address the needs of women suffering from a lack of sexual desire, the FDA announced Tuesday that it

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A different kind of hospice caregiver

File this video under “Adorable.”

I’ve posted a lot about end-of-life issues and hospice in the last few months because my father recently passed away after a short stint on hospice.

So I couldn’t resist passing along this viral video of JJ the Hospice Therapy Dog doing his thing—being a warm, soothing and unconditionally-caring presence.

JJ has his own Facebook page, so you can go there if you want to watch other videos and read some of “his” stories (his owner is a hospice nurse).

You can also find links to learn more about … Continue reading

Cancer doctor’s fraud sends him to prison

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about Dr. Farid Fata, the Michigan oncologist who has been on trial for bilking millions of dollars out of Medicare and other insurance companies.

Worse than the fraud is that he actually falsely diagnosed patients with cancer and/or treated them unnecessarily with expensive, harmful chemotherapy drugs.

The good news is that he has been sentenced to 45 years in a federal prison.

U.S. District Judge Paul Borman this week heard stories of brittle bones and fried organs as patients chillingly described the effects of excessive chemotherapy at the hands of Dr. Farid

Continue reading

ZDoggMD “Snore” – A sleep apnea parody

Yesterday’s post was so depressing I feel the need for some humor. And few things in the health care world make me smile as much as ZDoggMD’s musical parodies on YouTube.

Here’s his latest.


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Frugal Nurse

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Just for laughs

bride of anguished englishWhat’s in your medical chart?

I like books about writing and the English language, and the other day I picked up a book titled The Bride of Anguished English: A Bonanza of Bloopers, Blunders, Botches, and Boo-Boos by Richard Lederer.

Among all the entertaining examples of mixed metaphors, slaughtered syntax and runaway sentences was a chapter with a medical twist. The American Association of Medical Transcriptionists had submitted a few gems of mangled English gleaned from physicians’ dictations. The results are some pretty hilarious chart notes.

I worked as a medical transciptionist for several years before and during nursing school, … Continue reading

Let’s talk about health care

Getting to know you

I started this blog a little less than a year ago. I was so frustrated by the decline in our health care system and the rise in costs. After listening to me vent my grievances on oh-so-many occasions, my friends and family finally suggested, “Why don’t you blog about it?” So I did.

And it’s been fun! But our health care system is still in decline and the costs are still climbing. And I’m still frustrated.

My real purpose behind the blog, I think, other than letting off some steam, was to start a conversation.

I’ve … Continue reading

In memory

end of life crossFarewell to a beloved husband and father

Today I am in Idaho attending the memorial service of my father-in-law.

He passed away two weeks ago at the age of 85, after suffering for several years from declining health and increasing dementia. His wife of 59 years and all four of his children were at his bedside when he died.

Death is not pretty, but neither is childbirth. Both involve pain, fear and uncertainty. And hope. Hope that mother and baby are healthy at the end of the ordeal. Hope that the dying one finds peace and an end to physical … Continue reading

Weekly rounds July 26, 2013

I’m not saying it’s cronyism…

The Los Angeles Times reported that the health insurance giant WellPoint, which operates health plans in several states, including California, posted a strong 2nd-quarter profit jump of 24%.

Carl McDonald, a health care analyst, was quoted:

“Earnings from WellPoint’s government business more than doubled sequentially in the second quarter, aided by the California Medicaid business, favorable Medicare prescription drug plan, seasonality, and what was likely another strong quarter of Medicare Advantage results.”

Interestingly, as I pointed out in a post last January, a former WellPoint vice-president, Elizabeth Fowler, worked closely with Senator Max … Continue reading