Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Last night my husband and I were searching for a movie to watch and I found this title on iTunes. I had never heard of it, but it seemed to have great reviews, and given my weird interest in topics around death and dying, I thought it would be an interesting movie. It ended up…

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…

Touch and Trust

For a physician, the sense of touch is closely entwined with the treatment of a patient. We learn the physical exam maneuvers that help us demystify the internal workings of the human body, at least enough to glean more precise information about the person’s ailment. We press on the sinuses to gauge whether a sinus…

Turning Off Social Media: Why Happiness Depends on It

The other day, an old Alanis Morissette song came on the radio and I was reminded of my childhood neighbor, Ashley. Ashley and I had spent hours listening to Alanis’ first album. I got to thinking how Ashley was the one girl on my street who treated me as a true friend; her being Jewish…

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 and Ethics: The Henrietta Lacks Case

After over six decades, the family of Henrietta Lacks has won, so to speak, a ruling in a case of medical research ethics. It was not so much a one-sided “win” as it was an acknowledgement of the importance of anonymity and consent to participate in research. It was also a win for the scientific…

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.”                                  …

My Crescent City Connection

Kindargarten, 8th grade, high school, college, medical school. Today is graduation day #6 for me and probably #7 or higher for many of my colleagues who have also completed masters programs, PhDs, and perhaps even another career altogether before embarking on a life in medicine. It is unreal to think that three years have passed…

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…