Monday, September 26, 2005

Share Your Stories

Nashville blogger Sharon Cobb shared her story today of her diagnosis of ovarian cancer. I wish Sharon the best, and congratulate her on taking control of her health (she insisted on a test for early diagnosis that found the cancer). I am interested in others' stories of medical near-misses or having to stand up for your own health, and ask that you post them as comments. In my own case, I broke a chunk off the back of my patella (kneecap) and hobbled around on crutches for 6 weeks before surgery b/c the ER docs didn't catch the break. I also struggled for months to get a serious thyroid condition diagnosed, meanwhile being told that I needed to "reduce stress," and "You're tired? Ask all my nurses - they're tired too." Don't get me wrong - I now have several wonderful healthcare providers who I trust and respect, and have had nothing but good experiences with. I'm just wondering - have you ever had to be an advocate for your own healthcare? Have you ever been misdiagnosed or not diagnosed because a physician didn't take you seriously? How common are these experiences? If you don't mind, please post your stories here. Feel free to post anonymously. Examples like Sharon's, and your own, are important reminders to pay attention, be informed, and ask questions when it comes to your health.
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Playing Catch Up

Posts have been in short supply lately, because I've started the 5th of 6 semesters for my Master's in Library and Information Science, which I'm working on part-time while also working at medical library full-time. You're thinking, "You need a Master's to check out books?!?" Um, no. Those people who check out and stamp your books are probably not "real" librarians, but are likely library assistants, volunteers, or student workers. "Real" librarians have to be managers, budget experts, purchasers, license negotiators, equipment evaluators, teachers, faculty members, copyright law advisors, and masters of all things information-related. And they are all of those things while providing you with expert help on whether there is research on how to prevent non-traumatic blood loss in ICU's or where to find that blue book by that guy that has something to do with brain tumors, how many miles of shoreline Lake Michigan has, or how many people in Georgia had bachelor's degrees in 1990. For more along these lines, check out this post entitled, "Why you should fall to your knees and worship a librarian." Ahem.

That said, I've been a very busy woman. Here are some links to recent women's health items that have caught my eye, but I haven't had time to dig into thoroughly.
  • Contraception for women over age 40 - National Guideline Clearinghouse
  • Contraceptive choices for breastfeeding women - National Guideline Clearinghouse
  • Digital mammography trial results announced - National Institutes of Health
  • Drug offers alternative to surgical treatment after miscarriage - National Institutes of Health
  • Mothering the Mother During Childbirth and After - NYTimes story on doulas assisting low-income teenagers
  • On Moral Grounds, Some Judges are Opting Out of Abortion Cases - NYTimes
  • More first-time moms opting for c-sections - National Women's Health Information Center
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  • Thursday, September 15, 2005

    All About Women event - Sept 30 & Oct 1

    This year's All About Women event (Nashville, TN) will take place on 9/30 & 10/1 at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. This year, the free, two-day event is themed "Live Well," and will feature representatives from numerous health and wellness service providers. Health screenings for anxiety, blood pressure, dental health, blood sugar, body fat, cholesterol and other issues will be provided. There will also be massage services, and information on food and nutrition, finances, domestic violence, substance abuse, and other topics. Bra fittings, door prizes, and free onsite childcare - what more could you ask for? More details at http://www.allaboutwomentn.org/.
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    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    Book Review: Baby Catcher

    Vincent, Peggy. Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife. New York: Scribner, 2002.

    “You have to lie down! What if the baby falls out?”
    “What if the baby falls out? What if…it…falls…out, is that what you said? Well, darlin’ that’s the whole point, ain’t it?”

    Beginning with the dramatic story of “Zelda,” Peggy Vincent chronicles her 30+ years of “catching babies” through descriptive accounts of births she attended in hospitals, birth centers, and homes. Vincent details her journey from nursing student to Lamaze instructor to midwife and mentor, inspired by physicians who viewed normal childbirth as a “retrospective diagnosis” and women who were not allowed to control their own birth experiences. The author lovingly tells of the women and births she encountered, including both happy and unfortunate outcomes. Vincent’s work also depicts the struggles midwives face in fulfilling women’s desires for how, where and when childbirth will occur, from reluctant emergency responders to indignant obstetricians and malpractice insurance struggles. This book will be of interest not only to expectant mothers, but also to midwives and others concerned about how the medical establishment treats the process of birth.

    Note: The companion website for Baby Catcher is located at http://www.babycatcher.net/index.html, and includes an excerpt, the author's bio, answers to FAQs on home birth and midwifery, links to the author's other essays, and a list of recommended reading.
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    Preparing for Future Disasters

    It's a good idea to have a disaster kit prepared and stashed away in a closet somewhere, especially if you live in an area prone to natural disasters. Ready.gov, a website of the Department of Homeland Security, provides simple instructions for preparing a kit of emergencies supplies, including a checklist. The site also provides advice on creating a family communication plan, and descriptions of what to expect in natural and other disasters.
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    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    Don't Forget Women in Katrina Donations

    Many agencies, such as Second Harvest, are collecting food and personal hygiene items for Katrina victims in shelters. The hygiene items listed are usually those such as deodorant and baby-oriented products such as diapers and wipes. Along with canned foods, I'm planning to donate tampons and pads for women to use. Why? If people can't get diapers or deodorant, where are they going to get menstrual products? This need is never specifically mentioned by the donation sites, but I can't think it doesn't exist. I hope through this type of donation, I can help relieve at least one worry of the women displaced by the hurricane. Normally I'm not a supporter of disposable menstrual products, but most women use this type of product, and I hope this will help relieve some of the indiginity of the situation.
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    Sunday, September 04, 2005

    Chief Justice Rehnquist Dies

    Chief Justice Rehnquist died Saturday night after a year-long battle with thyroid cancer. See the NYTimes story. I'll be interested to see how this plays out given other things such as Iraq, Katrina, Roberts' confirmation, etc. I think we as a nation have somewhat of a difficult time focusing on more than one important thing at one time, we're so accustomed to moving along to the next thing with the news cycle. I sincerely hope we are able to maintain charitable efforts toward Katrina relief while also following the Supreme Court story through what I think will be a long debate.

    Thyroid cancer information
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    Saturday, September 03, 2005

    Health Concerns After Katrina

    I haven't been posting this week, as I've been following and absorbing the news out of the Gulf Coast. I'm truly stunned by the conditions, the response, the entirety of the devastation. That said, here are a few resources related to health after hurricanes.

    First, though:
    You should check with your employer to see if they match donations.
    Also, Charity Navigator evaluates agencies for organizational efficiency and capacity. and provides this list of highly rated charities working on Katrina relief. They also provide tips, such as designating your gift for the specific relief effort.

    Donate to help people:
  • American Red Cross
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Mercy Corps
  • Salvation Army
  • Second Harvest

    Donate to help animals:
  • American Veterinary Medical Association
  • Humane Society of the United States
  • PetSmart Charities


  • CNN article on health concerns
    CDC Resources:
  • Health Concerns Related to Hurricane Katrina
  • After a Hurricane: Key Facts about Infectious Disease
  • Disaster Mental Health Resources
  • Prevent Injury after a Natural Disaster
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Keep Food and Water Safe

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