Breastfeeding & Pumping: A Practical Guide

I’ve been debating publicly talking about my experience with breastfeeding for a while now. After much thought, I decided to go for it because I myself found much comfort (and helpful information!) after I had my first baby through scouring the web. And by scouring the web, I mean at all hours of the day…

Sweet Gestures

After a very long and difficult string of weeks at work, often caring for patients who have endured terrible accidents (physically and biologically speaking), this evening I went to see a patient whose loved one’s gesture brought a smile to my face. This patient, a fairly young man who recently suffered a rare type of stroke…

Dr. Abraham Verghese on the Importance of Touch

Sometime during medical school, I heard about a book about treating patients during the onset of the AIDS epidemic in America. I was surprised and delighted to learn that the author, Abraham Verghese, was Indian, and, like me, his roots were from Kerala, India. Given my deep interest in HIV medicine and Infectious Diseases at the…

Dos and Don’ts of Dealing with Death

In many parts of the world, people understand the natural cycle of life and death. In America, it seems to be the opposite. Everyone expects immortality because of the vast scientific advances and research being done. It’s almost as if people feel entitled to living forever at any cost. But this way of thinking needs…

An Open Letter to the Boards

Dear Boards, Well, our last twelve months together have been a mixture of emotions, ups and downs, lessons, pain, and maybe one or two victories. I first heard the horror stories about you during first year of residency, but at that point I (along with my peers) was just trying to keep my head above…

Immortality & Ethics: The Henrietta Lacks Case

  In May 2018, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery installed this portrait of Henrietta Lacks while three of her grandchildren looked on. The fascinating story of this important woman was revealed in Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (2010). I initially read this book during residency, then revisited it two years ago for a…

The Sour Taste of Force-Feeding: Gitmo Hunger Strikers

“Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially.”                                  …

BRCA: Beyond the Pink Ribbon

In recent weeks, much attention has been given to a topic that previously had not crossed the minds or conversations of most of the general public: prophylactic mastectomy. It was not until a figure known world-wide chose this course of action for herself that the preventative measure became common knowledge. All of a sudden, everyone…

Beauty & Morbidity

It has been several years since I last looked at pathology slides under a microscope, identifying the different cells and patterns that constitute normally functioning organs and understanding mechanically how structure dictates function. The specialized myocytes of the heart contract in an interwoven manner to orchestrate a contraction. The glandular cells of the thyroid secrete…

The Dangers of Uninformed Autonomy

“There is a dignity in dying that doctors should not dare to deny.” [ Anonymous] Today, a patient I have been helping to take care of died. I and the medical team knew that she would die soon, but for the past 18 days, we have been sticking little bandaids on various components of her…

Lessons from (other people’s) faith

“God has no religion.” Mahatma Gandhi Approximately one week into my elective in Palliative Care, I am learning to bite my tongue when it comes to discussions on religion and faith. My own religious persuasion has evolved and devolved over time, and I cannot pinpoint any specific game-changing factors in the process. What I do…

Yellow

Whenever we admit an especially nice patient to the hospital whose diagnosis seems worrisome and somewhat elusive, we assume the worst — cancer. Of course this has no scientific basis whatsoever; it is simply the experience that all of us have collectively had throughout our training. Such is the case with a patient I admitted…