The C2S blog draws on the arts, the social and biological sciences to explore the many meanings of health and "dis-ease." Designed to be a locus where patients, their families and professionals can meet on a level playing field, it is the natural off-shoot of the Cell 2 Soul Online Journal. We encourage the submission of ideas, essays, poems, stories, humor, and timely reviews relating to the humanities and health care.
Sam Berns, a Massachusetts high school junior whose life with the illness progeria was the subject of a recent documentary film, died on Friday, January 10, 2014 in Boston, age 17.
The full length documentary, Life According to Sam, has been produced by HBO and should be available on NetFlix one of these days. “What is aging in Sam Berns, is aging in all of us. But in Sam’s body, the process is rapidly accelerated." For more on the documentary, see MedFlix.
Minds on the Edge: Facing Mental Illness is a multi-platform media project that explores severe mental illness in America. The centerpiece of the project is a television program that premiered on PBS stations in October 2009. This video component is part of a national initiative that includes an extensive web site and an ambitious strategy to engage citizens, professionals in many fields, and policy makers at all levels of government. The goal is to advance consensus about how to improve the kinds of support and treatment available for people with mental illness.
Susan Rose, from North Adams, Massachusetts, alerted us to this excellent PBS forum. She writes: "As a person who has struggled with a mental illness for decades, I found this 2009 video compelling. The Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer and Nobel Prize winning neuroscientist Eric R Kandel were just two of the speakers. I wish I could share this with the people closing Greylock Pavilion, our inpatient mental health unit in North Adams, Massachusetts. Everyone needs to listen to the discussion on this video. The situation is worsening because nationally many psychiatric units are closing their doors for financial reasons. The consequences of these closings will be devastating to mental health patients, their families, and the communities they served. The pain of mental illness affects everyone. The cost saved by shutting down mental health units will be offset by an increased rate of incarceration, as patients are forced into jails because there is no other place for them to go."
Janet Stursberg from Vancouver, B.C. sent us this Flash Mob tribute to Nelson Mandela by the Soweto Gospel Choir. It was held in a Woolworths store in South Africa. In Janet's words, this is a "three hankies moment." If, for some reason, it is not on your redar screen, please take the time to view it. Click below, or go to this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHHjP7XrBq0&feature=youtube_gdata_player) for full screen. Mahalo, Janet!!
“The Right Care Alliance is a movement of clinicians, patient advocates, community leaders, and patients who see that overtesting, overdiagnosis, and overtreatment are endemic to modern health care – they are built into the culture of modern medicine. We see overuse as the flip side of the coin of undertreatment and lack of access, and a major cause of harm to patients."
They came to “understand the power and importance of coming together, to share our concern about practices that harm patients, and our belief in the moral necessity of working together to reduce overuse”
With colleagues, Vikas and Shannon created The Declaration of Principles of the Right Care Alliance. Please read it and consider joining this Alliance by signing this declaration. It will demonstrate your solidarity with the movement to assure all of us compassionate, safe and appropriate care.
This week marks the convergence of two great gustatory holidays, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. The last time this happened was 1888 and the next time may have Jews lighting candles from spaceships 79,043 years from now (by one calculation). For enjoyment, see these links:
Dr. Len Hoenig, our South Florida Kosher Korrespondent, sent us Thanksgivukah Gobble Tov greetings:
An Esay on Unesesary Leters
There is far too much paperwork and computer work in medicine today: endless forms to fill out, prescriptions to e-prescribe, medical records to input etc. It occurred to me that one solution to this problem would be to streamline and simplify our English language.
The great playwright, George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) suggested this very idea a number of years ago and several essays have already been published on this topic. So while my idea is not new, perhaps it is timely, given the mounting paperwork and bureaucracy inherent in 21st Century medicine.
There appears to be a lot of redundancy in the English language, especially in medical terms. Take, for example, the word “sick”. Why do we need both a “c” and a “k” in this word? Why not write it as “sik”? The letter “c” is totally unnecessary in the alphabet since the letter “k” and “s” will replace, respectively, a hard “c” and a soft “c”.
Think how much easier it would be for children to learn the alphabet if it were only 25 letters instead of 26. No more ABCs, just ABDs! I would also eliminate double letters in words such as illness. The word can simply be written as “ilnes”. Think how easy it would be to write “Cell 2 Soul Blog” as “Sel 2 Sol Blog”.
Another letter to eliminate would be “x” which can be replaced by other letters, e.g. “xerosis” (abnormal dryness of a body part) would become “zerosis”. Also the pronoun “you” can be simplified to “u” as is done in text messaging (e.g. “gr8 2 no u” means “great to know you”).
Putting all of the above together, the English language and medical paperwork would start to look more compact and elegant as follows: now u kan se eksaktly how nise the English language kan be when unesesary leters are iliminatid!
Even as Americans struggle with the changes required by health care reform, an international survey released last week by the Commonwealth Fund, a research organization, shows why change is so necessary.
The report found that by virtually all measures of cost, access to care and ease of dealing with insurance problems, Americans fared poorly compared with people in other advanced countries.
Classifying animals as emotional support animals has long been permitted under antidiscrimination laws, allowing owners to take them into restaurants and shops or to residential buildings that have no-pet policies. To demonstrate the need for an emotional support animal, the animal’s owner needs a letter from a mental health professional.
But their presence on airplanes is increasingly facing a backlash from flight attendants, passengers with allergies and owners of service animals, like Seeing Eye dogs, who say that airplane cabins have become crowded with uncaged animals who have no business being there. The Department of Transportation does not require airlines to keep data on emotional support animals. One that does, JetBlue expects more than 20,000 emotional support and service animals this year.
A recent article in thje NY Times discusses the role that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) plays is determining one's health later in life. It asks us to:
"Imagine if scientists discovered a toxic substance that increased the
risks of cancer, diabetes and heart, lung and liver disease for millions
of people. Something that also increased one’s risks for smoking, drug
abuse, suicide, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, domestic
violence and depression — and simultaneously reduced the chances of
succeeding in school, performing well on a job and maintaining stable
relationships? It would be comparable to hazards like lead paint,
tobacco smoke and mercury. We would do everything in our power to
contain it and keep it far away from children. Right?"