Life as an Extreme Sport

I Had Two Ultrasounds This Morning

I had two ultrasounds this morning. Your standard, fill-your-bladder-and-let-them-press-really-hard-because-haha, ultrasound, and a transvaginal ultrasound. So, obviously, the intent was to stare at my uterus. I’ve been suffering from menorrhagia off and on for a while – more on than off of late – and given the family history of fibroids, it seemed likely that was the problem. Perhaps endometriosis. Either way, the fix was simple and convenient (a Mirena); I just needed the ultrasounds to get that rolling. I had two ultrasounds this morning. The radiologist is on-site, and the technician thought it was likely that my scans would be read by this afternoon, although the doctor probably wouldn’t look at them until Monday. Fair enough. I already had an ob/gyn appointment scheduled on Monday, so timing worked out well – electronic health records can be a pain in some regards, but in this case they were certainly working out

Continue reading »

I’ll Always Remember the 5th of November

Five years and a few hours ago, my mind filled in the blanks. It was around 6am; my father had guided me – by force and cajoling – to bed a few hours earlier, and then stood there to make sure I took the strong sedative he poured into my hands. I needed to sleep, he argued. She – we all – needed me to calm down. Worn out, I acquiesced and slipped into a hallucinatory blue twilight filled with the suns and stars decorating my sister’s bedroom. Awareness is an odd thing. Although I was upstairs, away from the sick room, it’s clear that my brain registered some change. Maybe I heard the small beeps from a machine change; maybe just the right pause of my sister’s footsteps alerted me; maybe I heard the cat rouse herself from slumber at the foot of the hospital bed in order to

Continue reading »

Patients, Academics, and the Conflict of “Risk of Harm”

On a recent Thursday, I had one of those odd convergence moments where my work life converged with my academic life: I attended a webinar on Protecting Patients from Harm: Ethical, Legal & Policy Responses to Domestic and International Marketing of Clinically Unproven Stem Cell Interventions. As usual with these sorts of talks, the really interesting stuff comes up in the audience question-and-answer period.[note]The audio is worth listening to just for a really good example of why it’s important that your webinar moderators understand what each speaker does, so that they properly aim the questions. Asking the stem cell researcher about ethics and the ethicist about lab assays was just weird and reflected badly on the webinar itself.[/note] One of the questions that was asked and not really answered to my satisfaction was the question of harm. In particular, the question is what’s the harm in allowing someone who is

Continue reading »

Novel Therapies Should Be Tortoises, Not Hares

I knew there were going to be a lot of hard things about losing Mom to cancer: holidays and birthdays and events like my sister graduating from medical school. This was almost a given, in those panicked moments after hearing the diagnosis and knowing what it meant, that it was a matter of when and not if. I didn’t realize quite how pervasive it was going to be, though, or that it would create such a strange position to be in every time I read about a new treatment for lung cancer, or I read through clinicaltrials.gov for work and see something being tested, or hear about new drug approvals. Each time, I have that brief flash: this existed five years ago. This may have saved Mom. Early on in treatment, a couple of colleagues pulled me aside and I got one of those lectures. The one that offered whatever

Continue reading »