Friday, June 30, 2006

Fun with Defibrillators

No one feels very good about having a serious disease--be it heart disease, cancer, or a multiple of other scary diagnoses. However, there is a lighter side to having medical problems that I have just discovered anew this week. I am not sure what is going on at my local mall, but apparently, the metal detectors that screen for shoplifters have been reset to be more sensitive. Since getting my cardioverter implantable defibrillator last year, I can count on one hand how many metal detectors I have set off because of the metal in my device.

However, while shopping at the mall this week, I set off every detector I went near or by. At first, I was annoyed and with my pissed-off look, no clerks dared to stop me or ask me about the detector going off. I know that these things are set off frequently by other items but the rate they were going off the day I was shopping got to be comical. At one point, two teenage girls were behind me as the metal detector went off. I turned to see the store manager stopping the girls to ask them about the contents of their large purses. Me, I just saundered over to a bench, sat back and watched the show. Dark humor, yeah, I know, but give me a break--sometimes, being a medical freakshow has its sick twisted side.

My defibrillator has also gotten me some funny stories this week. I went in to see my electrophysiologist to check out my device. He and his staff looked rather disgusted and put out. As a psychologist, I couldn't help but ask them what the problem was. The physician's assistant just shook his head and said, "well, the patients we have here just don't listen. We just got a late call for an emergency from one of our patients this week who is about 70 years old. He has a defibrillator and heart problems and he is out drinking and partying with two hookers and his brother. He gets dehydrated from all of the alcohol, then has sex with the hookers and gets his heart rate over the recommended limit, then gets in a fight with his brother, his defibrillator goes off, shocks both of them, they fall down and end up in the emergency room. Then it's our problem." Somehow, the image of this guy and his brother being shocked in a drunken stupor seems more comical than anything. I realize it is serious but I have to admire the tenacity of these guys to party like this and live life with such gusto. Me--I'm sitting home drinking water and doing yoga. Who is having more fun?

Okay, maybe the hookers and high levels of booze are out for me--but the zest for life and lack of fear is frankly, more uplifting than scanning the internet about my condition and being convinced that each heartbeat is my last. After hearing another story about a patient of my doc's who has survived 66 shocks with his defibrillator, I would rather err towards throwing caution to the wind and enjoy life while I can then dwell on fear and doom. That, in the end, no matter how long each of us live, would be the biggest misfortune of all.

Update: Well, apparently Dick Cheney is not having as much fun as the guys I wrote about above (you know, the sex, hookers and all) as his defibrillator has not gone off yet. I guess running the country means means you have to take life a little more seriously.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Carnival of Homeschooling

The 26th Carnival of Homeschooling is up at The Homeschool Cafe.

I thought this post about getting kids off sugar was interesting. I don't know if it improves behavior--maybe health--for those who don't process it well. Someone in the comments to the sugar post mentioned having problems if they eat Splenda--a sugar-free substitute. I notice that with any type of aspartame (nutrasweet), I get headaches and feel weird--although, I have read that this is common. I switched to Splenda but find I still feel rather sick if I eat too much of it. Anyone else have a sensitivity to sugar substitutes?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Podcast on the End of Medicine

Do you ever wonder if your doctor is really doing a thorough job when you go in for your yearly physical? I do. You go in and he/she hits your knee with a rubber hammer, runs a few blood tests and asks about any symptoms--all the time, checking their watch to make sure they can get to the next patient. What if a tumor is growing inside you or your arteries are clogging up faster than last night's dinner in the drain of your kitchen sink? Wouldn't you want to know in advance so that treatment could be started immediately before your life is threatened? Well, soon you might.

Today we are joined by Andy Kessler, the author of the new book, The End of Medicine : How Silicon Valley (and Naked Mice) Will Reboot Your Doctor. He talks to us about new technology (including his exerience with having a virtual colonoscopy), how Silicon Valley can assist in bringing healthcare prices down to scale, and how socialized medicine might be an impediment to living longer.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking here or via subscribing to iTunes. There's a lo-fi version for dialup here, and a complete podcast archive here. You can leave any suggestions or comments below.