Having a sick child is never easy. But if your child has to be sick, hope for something mechanical: a broken bone, a gash that needs stitches—something that can be physically mended. Failing that, wish for something commonplace. Chickenpox, a bladder infection, bronchitis. Doctors can manage these things with their eyes closed. If pushed, consider the merits of illnesses that are at least well understood—illnesses that can be definitively diagnosed and have generally agreed-upon courses of treatment. What you least want is something obscure, something not yet well characterized—and least of all, something both obscure and pertaining to the mind.
I am in my first month of nursing school. It is the early 70s and this is a three-year program, hospital-based, all practical training. It is my first day in my first ward...A remembrance, by English professor and disability studies scholar, Janet Lyon.
In the asylums, the garrison hospitals, the rogues’ hovels, and so on back through time, it is possible to see medicine moving toward this moment, when the malingerer ceases to be a monster and becomes a mirror to ourselves.
"Postpartum depression isn’t always postpartum. It isn’t even always depression. A fast-growing body of research is changing the very definition of maternal mental illness, showing that it is more common and varied than previously thought." ‘Thinking of Ways to Harm Her’ and "After Baby, an Unraveling". [more inside]
Healthtalkonline.org is a database of hundreds of interviews with patients afflicted by various conditions, ranging from ethnic experiences in mental health to Alzheimer's to experiences with being a clinical trial subject to cancer. It also includes a section on youth experiences with illness.
This Video Will Hurt
A detailed explanation of a fascinating field of science and medicine by the always interesting C.G.P. Grey.[more inside]
In 1986, Sandra Clarke was working as a staff nurse at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, OR when a dying man asked her to sit with him. She agreed but first needed to make her rounds and the man died alone in his room before she was able to return. Troubled, and feeling that she had failed a patient, she resolved to gather volunteers to stay with those who were alone and close to death. Ms. Clarke enlisted her entire hospital for a bedside vigil system to help ensure that patients would not be alone when they died. In 2001, Sacred Heart formalized the program as No One Dies Alone (NODA) and over the last decade, it has spread to hospitals across the US. "Susan Cox Is No Longer Here" offers us a glimpse into the NODA experience in Indianapolis. [more inside]
John Green: "Why Are Americans Health Care Costs So High?" A quick, handy little overview of common misconceptions on the US healthcare system. (SLYT)
A Life-Or-Death Situation. "As a bioethicist, Margaret "Peggy" Pabst Battin fought for the right of people to end their own lives. After her husband’s cycling accident, her field of study turned unbearably personal." Via.
291 diseases and injuries + 67 risk factors + 1,160 non-fatal complications = 650 million estimates of how we age, sicken, and die
As humans live longer, what ails us isn't necessarily what kills us: five data visualizations of how we age, sicken, and die. Causes of death by age, sex, region, and year. Heat map of leading causes and risks by region. Changes in leading causes and risks between 1990 and 2010. Healthy years lost to disability vs. life expectancy in 1990 and 2010. Uncertainties of causes and risks. From the team for the massive Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2010. [more inside]
20% of Anorexics Are Men. And that number is reportedly rising. "Diagnosis is hard. Finding treatment is even harder. Many residential centers don't admit men, out of a belief that treatment should be sex-specific." Article contains images and descriptions that may be disturbing to those with eating disorders. Single page version here.
"Experimental adaptation of an influenza H5 HA confers respiratory droplet transmission to a reassortant H5 HA/H1N1 virus in ferrets." After an extensive, months-long debate, one of two controversial papers showing ways the H5N1 "avian" influenza virus could potentially become transmissible in mammals with only 3 or 4 mutations was published in Nature today. The journal included an editorial on the merits and drawbacks of "publishing risky research" with regard to biosafety. The debate included an unprecedented recommendation by The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) to block publication -- a decision they later reversed. (Via: 1, 2) Nature's special report has additional articles, including interviews with the teams behind both papers.
"...we still can’t tell whether we are all about to die or whether we are being sold a bill of goods."
'The stories about epidemics that are told in the American press—their plots and tropes—date to the 1920's, when modern research science, science journalism, and science fiction were born.' This is the story of how the media back then (January, 1930) helped fuel fears about a parrot-fever pandemic, and the subsequent public backlash. (Via) [more inside]
After 45 years, $2.5 billion, and one legendary reunion, Jerry Lewis has announced that this year's Labor Day Telethon to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association will be his last. (previously) [more inside]
For years, it's been observed that some people infected with HIV never develop full-blown AIDS. Now American and Chinese scientists think they know why. But remember kids, barebacking is still dangerous, and a cocktail is not a cure. Maybe this research will change all that.
Assisted Suicide law in Oregon stuck down by feds. Voters have approved assisted suicide twice. But apparently John Ashcroft knows better than we do. . .