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Archive for April, 2013

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Early diagnosis is key

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

DR SHIM AS THE OSCAR WINNING EASTER BUNNY VIDEO

Go Patriots!

This month I have seen a lot of delayed diagnoses. This means removing parts of ears, noses, etc. Sometimes it means that cancers that get to my office have already gotten away from us. The saddest thing is that many of these are not melanomas, they are squamous cell carcinomas and basal cell cancers. Unfortunately, squamous cell cancers and basal cell cancers can be hard to recognize, even for non-dermatologist physicians. The things they’ve been mistaken for: cysts, pimples, rashes, dry skin spots, cuts that don’t heal. Early diagnosis is key. Biopsies are easy procedures and generally heal well so try not to delay things.

I enjoyed meeting fellow LA Adlai E. Stevenson HS alums over the weekend. Go Patriots! I was happy to meet the man who handed me my diploma (didn’t know who he was all this time, a cutie named Mr Roberts). My fellow Pats are doing all sorts of diverse things-law, engineering, business, entertainment. Our HS basketball team was #2 in the state last year. To imagine this makes me laugh, no offense to my classmates whom I cheered on. I used to think I was so special, the only one who was both a Patriette Pom Pon girl and cheerleader. But no, I met 2 others, one older and one younger. Funnily enough, I also discovered a plethora of Korean-American cheerleaders amongst my LA friends, must be in the genes. Our school was named top 25 for the arts in the nation last year also. 1700 kids participated in 4000+ AP exams in one year. Scary. I met a lot of 20 somethings who had 800 in their class, double the size of mine! I was one of only 2 Lincolnshire natives. Buffalo Grove and Long Grove-ers dominated. Really proud of my high school.

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.” A favorite line from Ferris Bueller. If you want to understand where and how I grew up, watch that movie or any John Hughes movie. A pure all-American experience in a simpler time before all this terrorism. Also had the pleasure of meeting up with my friend Lisa from Georgia who studied abroad at Oxford with me back in 1989/90. Could not believe it has been 18 years since I last saw her. Next year is my 20 year med school reunion!

As for the Easter Bunny video, click on the red link above and enjoy my lame attempt (note the mom sticking my hair back into the head) to be the Easter Bunny. Loved the jaded 4 year old and 5 year old classes, “I can tell that’s a costume, I see your hair!’ Luckily the 3 year olds were clueless, and one poor boy was scared of me. It was fun but next time I think someone with shorter hair needs the job!

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Advice from Reader’s Digest

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

A few months ago, there was a Reader’s Digest issue with inside tips from doctors. A couple of the better ones:

“Years ago, a patient sent his slides to three different pathologists and got three different answers. I got very upset on hearing that. Now I never rely on just one pathology exam. If your doctor finds something, ask him to send your slides to a nationally recognized reference lab, not just one or two slides but the whole lot-and get a second interpretation.” Bert Vorstman, MD Coral Springs, FL

“To know which doctor is good, ask hospital employees. Their word trumps an Ivy League degree, prestigious titles and charm.” Marty Makary, MD author of Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You

Today, a Medicare patient told me her eye doctor wanted her to come back to remove a bunch of benign skin tags and seborrheic keratoses. The patient did not ask for this. Her gut told her something was off (meantime this doctor wanted her to get cataract surgery as well). I informed her today that removing benign lesions like that are medically unnecessary and if her doctor was intending to bill Medicare for that, it would be fraudulent. Needless to say, I strongly suggested she get a second opinion to find out if she really did have cataracts. She also noticed there was no exam for glaucoma.

Most doctors mean well, but some just do not. A bunch of her friends went to this same doctor. Be careful out there! Ask your doctor who they would go to. That is often your best bet, not your friends.

At the same token, I don’t think you need to get all your slides reinterpreted twice, but if you have any difficult diagnosis, you are not getting anywhere or things seem hopeless, it is best to get a second or even, third opinion.

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