Back in April I posted about medical science and what I had learned at my latest continuing education conference (the American College of Physicians conference in San Diego). Go ahead and re-read that post to get my thoughts on how to approach medical science. I had said that I’d be doing future posts about some of what I learned at doctor school in San Diego. The first of those was a look at Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. Now I’m tackling Lyme disease, much at my own peril since there is raging controversy about this one – at least with some folks.
Here’s what you’ll find if you read on:
Lyme disease basics.
Acute Lyme disease.
Post Lyme Disease Syndrome, which some call “chronic Lyme disease.”
A couple of weeks ago on the Healthy Matters radio show we featured two of my colleagues from Dermatology, Drs. Jenny Liu and Erin Luxenberg. You’ll find us in the photo to the left in the WCCO studios in downtown Minneapolis getting ready for the show.
We’re obviously a pretty tense and serious group, eh?
As usual, we get way more calls, texts, and tweets than we can get to on the live broadcast. So for this blog post we are continuing the show, in a way, by having Dr. Luxenberg and Dr. Liu respond to some of the text questions from that show. So if we didn’t get to your question on the air, maybe we will cover it here.
In this post I simply want to invite you to read an essay I wrote which was recently published in a journal I admire. Called Intima: a journal of narrative medicine, it is a literary place where medicine is explored through story, narrative non-fiction, and art.
My piece is called “Don’t worry, at least we will die together” and is an account of an experience I had back in 2015 while in Jerusalem.
In addition to reading my piece, I hope you will explore Intima and immerse yourself in any of the outstanding works that were submitted. The journal, which originated at Columbia University in 2010, is a treasure that I hope many of you will come to know.
I haven’t posted much about my interest in Middle East issues, so I’ll give you just a bit of background. If you do nothing else, please click on the Intima logo above and check out my essay. For just a little more on my experience, keep reading. Continue reading →
As promised in my April 2 post, I plan to do a series of short posts about specific medical topics since I recently returned from “doctor’s school” in San Diego at the American College of Physicians meeting. Missed that post? Re-visit it at “Should you trust the latest medical advice?”
Today’s post will cover C. difficile infections, or CDI. This may be the ickiest post I’ve yet done!
First, a warning. What you about to read may make you go “Ewwww” and may make you wonder what kind of people actually talk about this stuff in polite company. I’ll tell you who talks about it . . . a bunch of doctors in a classroom on a sunny San Diego day. That’s who talks about it. Lucky for you, I’ll summarize here. Continue reading →
By yasmapaz from Puerto Rico, via Wikimedia Commons
I like dogs. And I like peanuts. But like many of you, I also have allergies. Many of us have a love-hate situation with dogs, cats, peanuts, pollen, dust, mold, trees, flowers . . .
Take a look at this puppy. Seriously, I can’t even stand the cuteness.
John B. Sweet, MD
So this past week on the Healthy Matters radio broadcast, I coerced my medical school classmate, Dr. John Sweet, into joining me in the studio. I’ve known John for years since we actually sat together in lecture back in med school. He listened to the professor. I just talked in class. Real surprise, there.
Anyway, John became a terrific allergist. So this week after the show, we decided to record a series of short videos in which John gives us a few nuggets of solid medical info about allergies. This post features two of those videos – one about pet allergies and the other about peanut allergies. (Spoiler alert: no one gets rid of their pet and yes you CAN give your little ones peanuts to help prevent allergies).
Not much reading on this post . . . you get to watch videos! We’re all about multimedia so let’s get to it. Continue reading →
The plaque in this photo above was a gift from a medical student and hangs on my wall right above my desk. It is a saying reportedly from Michelangelo that I use in teaching medical students and residents fairly often.
I even gave a speech to some graduating medical students called “I am still learning.” I don’t even think Michelangelo actually said this at age 87 but the sentiment still resonates. This post is about learning medicine.
This past week I’ve really been going back to school. I’m now back from several days in San Diego at the American College of Physicians Internal Medicine conference. ACP is my professional organization, and our annual conference brings many thousands of us together to learn about the latest in medical science, pick up tips for our practice from some of the country’s top experts, and re-connect with colleagues from around the world.
In the next several posts, I am going to highlight for you some of what I learned at the ACP conference in San Diego. Look for short posts in the coming weeks about:
Clostridium difficile infection
Menopause and depression
Pain control and opiates
Restless legs syndrome
Blood pressure in older adults
Weight loss and exercise
I’ll try to keep these future posts really short and helpful.
Quick reminder about the upcoming #ColonChat. It is THIS FRIDAY, March 24, from Noon to 1:00 p.m. Central Time. My colleague, Dr. Jake Matlock, will join me and others from the HCMC GI Lab for a fast-paced hour using Twitter to answer questions and bust myths about colon cancer. These are people who look inside intestines all day long so you know they are party-type of people.
It’s fun and informative! All you need to do is follow me on Twitter @DrDavidHilden during the hour. Tweet me your comments or questions during the hour using the hashtag #ColonChat, or if you tend toward the whimsical, you can use #ScopeItOut instead. Look for Dr. Matlock’s responses in real time during the hour. We’re bringing some nurses from the GI Lab to answer questions as well since we all know it is nurses who are the real experts!
Here’s a couple of myths we will shred to pieces during ColonChat hour:
Myth: Colon cancer is deadly so there is no point in looking for it. Wrong. We will tell you why it is important to screen for colon cancer.
Myth: Colon cancer is not preventable. The heck it ain’t! Find out why during #ColonChat.
Myth. Colon cancer is mostly a man’s disease. Nope. Women get it just about as often.
Myth: I feel fine and have normal bowel movements so I can’t have colon cancer. Most colon cancer doesn’t cause symptoms!
Myth: No one in my family had colon cancer so I’m not at risk. No no no! Although there is some genetic risk, most people who get colon cancer did not have a family member with it.
For lots more information on colon cancer, I invite you to check out my two recent previous posts on the subject. Here’s the links to them for you to check out, share on social media, and so forth.
True story. . . This past Saturday I set three alarm clocks in preparation for getting out of bed to do my Sunday morning Healthy Matters radio broadcast. It was the start of Daylight Saving Time here in the United States and the broadcast is done live. None of that sissy pre-taped business for me. Oh no. I drag my can down to the WCCO studios in chilly downtown Minneapolis to mumble my way through the show every Sunday morning.
But with that “spring forward” business with the alarm clock, I’m always worried that I’ll miss the show on this particular Sunday. So I set three alarm clocks.
You know what complicates the adjusting of the clocks ritual? It’s that the clocks are smarter than me. It used to be that before I went to bed on DST Saturday, I manually adjusted all the clocks. But now, most of them do it automatically. The nightstand alarm clock does. So does my backup alarm clock on my smartphone. But the microwave doesn’t. Neither does the one on the watch. So I go to bed not sure which device is going to change automatically and which ones aren’t so I get confused and some of them are correct and some aren’t and holy cow am I going to be an hour late and if I wake up at 3:00 a.m. and look at the clocks some are accurate and some are not and I’m going to miss the radio show and there will be the dreaded “dead air” time on the radio and . . . .
Dr. Jake Matlock. Now wouldn’t you want such a happy-looking guy doing your colonoscopy?
Hey, everybody. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and we’re going all in (bad choice of words when talking about colonoscopies, perhaps) here at Healthy Matters.
Here’s what we’re doing for Colon Cancer Awareness Month
On Friday, March 3, I wore blue clothes in recognition of #DressInBlueDay which kicks off #ColonCancerAwarenessMonth.
On Sunday, March 5, our live Healthy Matters radio broadcast will feature my colleague Dr. Jake Matlock. He’s a gastroenterologist who will help us unravel colon cancer screening and talk us through a colonoscopy from the guy at the fun end of the colonoscope. (In case you’re wondering, that would be you, my friend, at the no-fun end of the colonoscope!). Read more about Dr. Matlock later in this post. And be sure to tune in to the radio show Sunday, March 5, 7:30 a.m. Central time on WCCO 830 AM in the upper Midwest. It also streams live at WCCO.COM so you can listen anywhere in the world.
Right here on MyHealthyMatters.org, I’m doing posts to help keep you informed about colon cancer. If you missed my recent post (complete with pictures of me in a hospital gown), check it out – it was a popular post called “The one where I get a colonoscopy.” That post has lots of information about the various types of colon cancer screening.
Twitter chat. Later in March (date and time to be announced) we’ll be doing another Twitter chat in which we answer your questions in rapid fire tweet tweet tweet format. It’s fun and (hopefully) informative!
Here’s a guy you should meet
Check out my guest from the March 5 Healthy Matters radio broadcast:
That’s Dr. Jake Matlock. He’s a gastroenterologist at Hennepin County Medical Center and one of the best in the business at treating your various intestinal problems, among them colon cancer. He is an expert with a variety of scopes and skilled at what we call “advanced endoscopy” which means if anybody can get a scope into some dark and remote part of your innards, Jake can. He’s also a great teacher and “explainer of things.”
He was good enough to let me into the GI Lab where he works where I snapped a few pictures. Yes, that’s a real scope. It’s not as long as it looks. Yes it is. I lied.
So I’m fired up to have Dr. Matlock on the radio broadcast tomorrow (March 5). If you missed the show, the podcast will be available here so you can listen on your own device on your own time.
Jake and I did residency together quite a few years ago. I remember him as being the one who made us all just a little less anxious when he entered the room – he’s smart, good with a scope, and a good guy overall. You just get the sense that your patients are in good hands with him.
Famous people with colon cancer
In my last post about colon cancer, (which again, you can visit by clicking here) I described the why and how of getting checked for colon cancer. That post has lots of information, including the various types of tests you may consider. Be sure to read that post if you want to know more.
In this post, I won’t give any more medical information about colon cancer. Rather, I’m going to do something completely different and simply show you a few well-known folks who had colon cancer. Some of them died from it, others got test, treated, and are still going strong today. I think it is sort of interesting.
I’ve included a fact or two about each that I didn’t know but I found cool. I hope you do as well.
Charles M. Schulz
By Roger Higgins, public domain photo
The Minneapolis native and creator of Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and the gang had been having a serious of strokes from blood clots in his aorta. As part of his medical evaluation, they discovered colon cancer which had already spread into his body. You see, the presence of a malignancy (cancer) makes a person’s blood form clots more readily. I don’t know the details in Mr. Schulz’s case, but a big ‘ol clot in a huge artery seems like it was caused, in part, by the cancer. So the stroke could actually have been a manifestation of the cancer.
He died on February 12, 2000 and the last original Peanuts cartoon was published the very next day. He made it clear that he never wanted anyone else to draw his characters after he died.
Probably the greatest coach in the history of football, or maybe any sport, the great Vince Lombardi died of colon cancer when he was just 57 years old. He apparently said to his priest when near death that he regretted not having accomplished more in his life. Guess all those national championships weren’t enough!
I didn’t know this: Coach Lombardi demanded acceptance of everyone in his locker rooms, especially gay football players (he had a gay brother). In a book, his son said his father would “tolerate nothing but acceptance” on his teams. What an example from a true American icon – even back in the 1960s.
That’s the coach with Bart Starr. And though I’m a Minnesota Vikings fan now, I was born in Wisconsin and my mom has a picture of me as a toddler with a “Put me in, Vince” sweatshirt on.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
From US Supreme Court, public domain
Yup, “Notorious RBG” (a name I just love) was diagnosed with colon cancer in 1999. She underwent treatment, including chemotherapy and radiation. And get this . . . after all this she embarked on a new strenuous fitness program. By her 80th birthday, RBG could do 20 pushups. She is so dedicated to her workouts that she calls her personal trainer the “most important person in my life” (since her husband died). Apparently this workout would challenge someone half her age. Go get ’em, RBG!
And RBG is still going strong, even after she had a second cancer, this time pancreatic. I want to be like her in so many ways.
From her birth on a cotton plantation in South Carolina, Eartha Kitt became a national treasure. Singer, actor, activist. You know the song “Santa Baby”? That was Ms. Kitt. She won three Emmys for her acting and she played Helen of Troy under the direction of Orson Welles. You know the song “C’est si bon”? Listen to Eartha’s version here:
Eartha Kitt was much more than the woman Orson Welles called “the most exciting woman in the world.” She also was a social activist and became involved in issues ranging from working with inner city kids in Los Angeles to peace issues to LGBT rights.
Eartha Kitt died of colon cancer on Christmas Day 2008.
I love the music of Debussy, even though I still remember struggling to learn “Clair de Lune” like so many people learning to play piano. Our son, Alex, can play “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” – well at least he used to be able to (still practicing the piano, Alex?)
Debussy was a French composer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and he wrote sounds that not many had heard before. But don’t call him an “Impressionist” – he hated the term!
Listen to Clair de Lune while reading the rest of this post:
Debussy was diagnosed with rectal cancer (a type of colorectal cancer) in 1909 and in 1915 he underwent one of the first colostomy procedures ever attempted. It didn’t go well and he was in quite a bit of suffering when he died at the young age of 55 in his Paris home during a German aerial bombardment.
You know who else had colorectal cancer . . . ?
Here’s who: 136,000 people in the United States. In just one year. People like you and me.
You can get this done. If you missed my overview of the ways you can get tested for colorectal cancer, see my earlier post by clicking here. It’s not as hard as you think!
If you live in Minnesota, Dr. Matlock and his team at the HCMC GI Lab would be happy to help you. Call ’em at 612-873-6963. Trust me, there is no one more skilled at this that Dr. Matlock and his team. All kidding and funny pictures aside . . . he’s really good!
Thanks for listening, for stopping by, and for hanging out with me at myhealthymatters.org. Go ahead and subscribe by e-mail if you like, and follow me on Twitter @DrDavidHilden
It seems that about 75% of my life involves nasal congestion with sinus pressure around my eyes. It’s probably allergies to various tiny stuff floating through the air. Not sure about that but I am so stuffy so much of the time that the makers of decongestants have taken to sending me thank you notes for my business.
I’m particularly stuffy in the winter months which I attribute to dust and mold and whatnot floating through the air – especially when Julie (my wife) turns on the ceiling fan in our bedroom. Which is every single night. Even in Minnesota. In winter. When it is 5 degrees outside. Let’s say she likes the place cool. You could hang sides of beef in our room.
At the risk of exposing marital disharmony over the ceiling fan issue, I think the fan clogs me up as it perfectly distributes dust and pollen and such around the bedroom and into my nose. It’s like a fertilizer spreader spewing dust onto me as I sleep! So I pop the decongestants and antihistamines. Yet my sinuses remain perpetually clogged. In case you’re wondering about the marital harmony situation . . . I claim the ceiling fanneeds to be turned off to save my sinuses. My wife claims I just need to vacuum and dust more often. See what I’m up against? How can you reason with such nonsense?
But I digress.
Basically I’m pretty sure I have chronic sinusitis which is a long-lasting inflammation of the sinuses and nasal passages. Inflammation, being my body’s defense mechanism against all airborne invaders, tends to clog up the works in my head. I won’t get into the issue of inflammation vs. viral infection vs. bacterial infection except to say that most of the time the problem is not bacterial and hence antibiotics are not usually needed. Continue reading →