September 09, 2012
BehindTheMedspeak: Why it's best not to take your doctor's word for anything
About 11 years ago I had a bout of iron deficiency anemia which compelled me to actually go to a doctor — something I avoid whenever possible.
I diagnosed it myself from changes in the curvature of my fingernails*, something I remembered from med school ages ago.
It was clear I needed a workup and treatment that was beyond the scope of my anesthesiology training + do-it-yourself ethos.
Long story short: The internist made the diagnosis and prescribed treatment with an iron supplement along with monthly monitoring of my red blood cell level.
After two months there hadn't been any improvement.
I went online and drilled down really deep and discovered that the internist's instructions on how and when to take my iron supplement were completely wrong.
He'd told me to take my iron with meals.
In fact, iron supplements should be taken on an empty stomach — and absorption is markedly enhanced by vitamin C.
I bought a bottle of vitamin C tablets and started taking one with each iron tablet — between meals.
In a month my red cell count was up and it kept increasing, reaching a normal level after four months.
The thing is, it's hard for someone who's not a doctor to drill down and interpret the original papers on a subject like the treatment of iron deficiency anemia — much less cancer or infectious diseases and their ilk.
There's a ton of contradictory information and even my board-certified, otherwise excellent internist — selected by me only after a really thorough vetting and exploration of doctors in the Charlottesville area — was ignorant of something that should have been basic knowledge for him.
Did I ever tell him I'd discovered he'd misinformed me?
That's not my job.
My job is to be a patient and get better.
Besides which, I may need to see him again one day and that'll go a whole lot better without my having called him out.
Note added at 9:33 a.m. Monday, September 10, 2012:
*From Wikipedia: "'Koilonychia' (from the Greek: koilos-, hollow, onikh-, nail) (also known as spoon nails) is a nail disease that can be a sign of hypochromic anemia, especially iron-deficiency anemia. Koilonychia [below]
literally means 'spoon nails.' It refers to abnormally thin nails (usually of the hand) which have lost their convexity, becoming flat or even concave in shape."
joe's Favorite Thing: Car Backup Warning Alarm — No wiring or tools needed
That every vehicle on the road doesn't have an audible back-up alarm is confounding to me.
Trucks do by law — why not cars and SUVs too?
They also kill people.
Above and below, my 1988 Mercedes, still chugging along and now tricked out with these nifty add-ons.
I first featured this device in 2007, five years ago.
Since then about hundreds of people have died in the the U.S. alone from being run over by cars they didn't realize were backing up.
Probably 10 times that number have been hospitalized with serious, sometimes permanent debilitating injuries.
And you're still thinking about whether or not to get one of these $2.99 alarms that quickly attach to ANY vehicle and work?
What's wrong with you?
Below, my April 27, 2007 post.
Wireless Backup Alert
Wireless Back-up Warning automatically sounds when vehicle is put into reverse.
Helps warn pedestrians, children and others of your vehicle’s movement in driveways, parking lots and on streets.
Just affix device to the reverse light on any car, SUV, truck or trailer — no tools needed!
Durable ABS plastic.
1-1/2" x 1" x 3/4".
Below, a follow-up post that appeared on June 26, 2007.
Backup Alert — Episode 2: Better than advertised
So impressed was I by this nifty device that I ordered a second one so that I'd have twice the alert power.
For those who scoffed upon reading Episode 1 back on April 27, 2007 that it's just one more irritating thing in the soundscape, I would point out that it's not superloud like a commercial truck or vehicle's backup warning but rather a chirp that's audible within about a 15 foot radius of the car.
Now get with the program.
"Technical Writing vs. Science Writing — By Kristina Bjoran
Below, excerpts from a masterful essay which appeared on July 7, 2012 on Ms. Bjoran's refreshing and informative website/blog cluster*cluck.
Among the many things I like about her style are her originality and sly wit mixed with up-front cleverness, best exemplified by her Twitter handle, @Bjoran_Identity, still the best one I have ever come across.
But I digress.
Below, excerpts from her thoughtful essay, which explores and defines an area which, for many people, didn't even seem to need clarification since they thought technical writing and science writing are the same thing. Not.
Technical Writing vs. Science Writing
Technical writing is all about documentation. Technical writers write manuals. They write white papers. They help write and edit journal papers. They often work within organizations that are producing or operating technologies of some sort.
The primary directive of a technical writer is to provide documentation of a product, technology, or service to avoid ambiguity and is as concise as humanly possible. There's little room or need in technical writing for creativity — especially if that documentation involves any legal implications at all.
[Up top and below, examples of technical writing.]
A technical writer must also learn/adopt the given form and style of writing of the industry in which she works. If she's working in a research institution and is helping create a scientific journal article on the, say, recent (possible) Higgs Boson discovery, she must write said paper in the same language and format as other journal articles in the field. She isn’t going to be creating a comic book for this purpose.
Like with any communications-related gig, technical writers must write for their audiences. They must write to serve a very specific purpose. And they tend to be heavily involved with collaboration; technical writing isn't about the author of the document — it's solely about the clear communication of a technology, service, or product.
Science writing, in an itty bitty nutshell, is writing about science for non-scientific audiences. It’s a field in which creativity makes a writer shine — sometimes more so than their ability to actually understand the science at hand (an unfortunate problem, but I'll save you the rant).
[Below, an example of science writing.]
Sometimes it's journalism, sometimes essays, sometimes documentaries. I'll stress again: it's any telling of science or technology that aims to provide understanding to the broadest of audiences. Almost always, science writing tells a story.
This may sound similar to technical writing, but it's not. Technical writing sheds truth; science writing breeds understanding. It's a fairly delicate distinction, but… not really.
Zen Dipping Bowl
From The Green Head: "This unique ceramic dipping bowl separates — yet balances — olive oil and vinegar into the harmonious yin yang symbol of shadow and light. It could also be used for chips and dips or anything else that pairs nicely in the universe."
Noisy Typer — "A typewriter for your laptop"
I sat next to him as he used it and darned if it doesn't sound like you've got an old-fashioned typewriter, complete with "ding" at the end of each line, inside your computer.
Free, the way we like it.
Smoke Armchair — Maarten Baas
Why do I have the feeling we may be hearing from Flautist sooner rather than later?
But I digress.
From a website: "Pieces of furniture are literally burned, after which they are preserved in a clear epoxy coating. The beauty and character of burned wood is now captured in a long lasting material, creating the strange sensation of sitting on burnt furniture."
The smoke chair is upholstered in black leather and has a secret repair kit underneath the seat in case of emergencies.
bookofjoe on Pinterest — "Clueless in Charlottesville"
Above, my Pinterest homepage.
Long story short: Jane told me it was a good thing to do considering the nature of what bookofjoe is about, what with all the pictures and graphics and visuals I feature, and Paul — coming from an entirely different place and perspective — agreed.
So I spent about an hour trying to join last evening and finally succeeded.
Below, my current referrers (how people on bookofjoe at the moment got here).
You can see why it was time to be more than a passive recipient of Pinterest Pins et al. and engage.
I have no idea what to do on the site (that I would want to do) now that I've joined formally or where to go next with it but I'm sure joehead Nation will have plenty to say on this and related topics.
As they say in the natural gas business, "Let 'er rip!"
Quick Change Universal Dock Adapter USB Mini Cable
From a website:
"This USB short cable is an all-in-one mini USB cable (mini-USB connector), a micro-USB cable (micro-USB connector), and an Apple dock cable (30-pin iPhone /iPhone /iPad/iPod dock connector)."
"It measures 5.5 inches long and has a unique clip feature so you can clip it to your bag or pocket just like a pen."
"It's convenient and is the ultimate mobile USB cable — ready for any situation."
A suggestion for those in the tech business who want to make a lasting impression: Buy a bunch of these, have them personalized with your name and/or that of your company,then give them to people you want to establish a relationship with.