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Archive for April, 2014


More random advice

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

I am often surprised to hear how many people read this blog. I am no Huffington Post, but hopefully provide some useful information to you from time to time. I had some talent for writing and someday hope to pursue this more. Until then, this is the best I can do, aside from medical research articles, which I am proud of, but you can’t stick humor in those (hey, that’s a great idea for a new medical journal!). My colleague’s wife doesn’t think this is a good idea, to mix business with personal info, but I have to go with my gut. Steve Jobs, aren’t you proud?

I had a strange fascination with Consumer Reports magazine when I was younger. The Virgo in me must find out the ultimate best of everything. It is really exhausting. So I thought I found the best flushable toddler wipes, criteria: no stinging and sturdy. Unfortunately, the CVS and Target wipes clog plumbing as we found out the hard way- $700+ later and at least 2-3 incidents. I researched this since I had heard an inkling on the news and the Washington Post goes into it. I figured out that those 2 brands have the same contract manufacturer! They have been cooperative thus far with my complaint. We’ll see where that goes. Soooooo, Ralph Nader here says DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT flush the “flushable” wipes. We had a real stressful time finding out that a mass of baby wipes was pulled out of our old galvanized pipes which are encased in concrete. We were worried we would have to rip up our brand new floors, leading to a mega expensive proposition. Here I was thinking our “new house” was really new.

And yes, we finally moved in, I mean it has only been 9 years? It still met resistance. I miss Cheviot Hills, but I am content. Have some neighbors who are aggressive drivers, whose basic philosophy is, “My SUV is bigger/faster than yours, I am more important than you, and I’m in a hurry.” It is a contagious Westside epidemic which worsens as you go further west and north of Montana. unfortunately, I had to confront one of them after almost hitting our entire family. Another tried to pull around my left side as I was waiting for our gate to open (?!) and nearly took us down.

Getting to know all the restaurants in Westwood. I use the “Rule of Shim” my dad’s rule that only restaurants with a crowd are good. I caved and had an In-and-Out burger. It was divine and I felt ashamed after eating it! Simple Things is good but Lilliputian, Native Foods is yummy vegetarian (just tried the Santa Monica one). As for finer dining, I tried both Palomino and the restaurant in the W hotel, which were both good back in the day. There is a Frida hiding in WW as well. Speaking of restaurants, like my days in the era known as B.K. (before kids), I went out on a Saturday night to Connie and Ted’s in WeHo for seafood with a friend of mine. I thought it was really good! I tried their oysters (both East and West Coast), a whole fish from New York, the clear Rhode Island chowder, the onion rings, accompanied by a Sauvignon Blanc. I was impressed and the service was attentive also. It sure was a change from my usual CPK, PF Changs routine with the kids. It is getting a little scary when you don’t have to look at the menu, you see your favorite waiter and know their name! If you go to CPK in Westwood, try to sit in the very back (he is a sweetheart) and at the PF Changs Beverly Center, a fine young man named Matt covers the tables to your right! I love hearing all of your restaurant recs! A girl can dream…until then, hello Islands!

Another favorite question is how my girls are. They are almost 5 and are so darling and exhausting, dare I say “exuberant” as my books on child development explain? It broke my heart when I drove off to work and they stared at me through our front door. One of them asked if I can always be on vacation! Yeah, Kid, you and me both! I capped the end of our 10 days together with a trip to an upscale Chuck E. Cheese place (oxymoron), Easter Egg dyeing and another egg hunt. Amelie said, “This is the best day ever!” Love!

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Say it isn’t so!

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Viagra has been linked to an increased incidence of melanoma. So amongst sudden blindness (sorry, I know that is not really funny, but I still find it hilarious when I hear the commercials) that little blue pill might accelerate the development of melanoma. Cialis may also do the same.

I asked a patient of mine this week if he took it because he developed 2 melanomas in one year. He said no, but he and his wife told me the backstory of how Viagra was developed for heart patients. I guess the non-placebo group had a hard time giving up their participation in the study! Another patient of mine produced the memorable commercials with the bathtubs. Let’s just say that subliminal advertising is alive and well as I confirmed!

There also has been a five-fold increase in melanoma incidence in Great Britain since the 1970’s.

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Connecting those dots backwards

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Thank you for letting me escape the office once again, this time for my 20th med school reunion and my kids’ spring break. It was a great weekend. Although the turnout was as anemic as the 10th, I had a great time catching up with old acquaintances. I especially enjoyed catching up with the only woman that also showed up. I think it gave us both great comfort in sharing our very personal stories. While we always try to keep our professional lives together, goal-oriented women can dot their i’s and cross their t’s as much as possible, but sometimes along the way, the pencil breaks! You erase that blip and move on. It reminded me a lot about Steve Job’s final speech, where he said that you can’t connect the dots forward, only backward. Destiny, fate, karma, and luck somehow coupled with actions taken or lack thereof, leads us all down a unique path. I never would have imagined myself practicing medicine and raising a family in Los Angeles. All I knew was that I wanted adventure after medical school, not really stability. That’s the mind of a 20-something talking-thinking you know but not quite really knowing who you are and what you want. My 40-something mind knows exactly who I am and is craving stability and just to sit still!

I brought my usual weather karma to Chicago, at least for a few days. We took part of a massive Easter egg hunt sponsored by the Glenview Park District.CLICK HERE FOR EGGSTRAVAGANZA It was so great for the kids. The video I took is a little dizzying, but I wanted to capture the sheer mass of humanity. There was even another field of bigger kids that isn’t shown! The facilities there are gorgeous and brand new. I wouldn’t have traded growing up on the North Shore for anything in the world. I’m happy to share some of that with my kids.

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Just say no to Cipro…if you can

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Ahhhh, Cipro. A convenient drug to take and prescribe. I’ve learned over the years that the pharmacologic side effect/complication of tendon rupture is a REAL problem. I’ve heard a lot of stories from patients and fellow doctors who have had personal problems with it.

In fact, I just had one of my favorite jetsetting patients come in with a leg brace on. She told me a vague story of thinking she bumped her leg on her luggage. I asked, “By any chance were you on Cipro before this happened?” The answer was yes. She thought something wasn’t right, and then worked out and boom…screwed up leg.

There are often alternatives to Cipro, or Levaquin another related drug. Please have your doctor consider other drugs first and feel free to educate them about this underreported and underrecognized problem!

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The amazing human spirit

Friday, April 4th, 2014

One day on Facebook, I caught wind of a page for a high school classmate of mine called “Cure Eric.” He was in all my classes. I remember a quiet, but always smiling guy who didn’t have a mean bone in his body. I learned he had become a recording engineer, had metastatic colon cancer, and had been suffering for 2 years. Watching his posts was just awe inspiring. While other people are posting pictures about food and their kids, Eric is posting about how he just found out he had new lung or brain mets, and was going to go to the doctor. He never felt sorry for himself, he just talked about how he was looking forward to learning more about what the doctors would do for him. He never failed to keep up his spirits in these posts, and thanked his doctors constantly. Every time we heard about another bout of lung mets, or brain surgery, my medical mind would say, “that was it” but Eric’s courage and positive spirit were truly amazing. He survived through some bouts of illness that defy logic, and I am convinced his fighting, upbeat attitude, even towards the end helped him survive longer and better. Sadly, he was hospitalized for pneumonia recently and passed.

I also recently made a home visit to my patient who was diagnosed with ALS a couple years ago. The last time I saw her she was lying down in a gurney in my office and she was having problems getting nutrition. She hugged me and I thought she was saying goodbye to me. That must have been nearly 8 months ago. The next thing you know, she is sitting up comfortably at home and has a sophisticated computer device set up to converse with me. She is still doing well, although she cannot walk or talk anymore. Life is mysterious and beautiful!

Speaking of mysterious, I had a weird run of 3 melanoma diagnoses in one week. Even the pathologist was surprised. Then there were 2 incidental basal cell carcinomas this week, I just happened to find them even though the patients came in for other reasons. Please don’t hesitate to get yourself checked out!

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