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.
Anna Fels, in Are Opioids the Next Antidepressant?, in the Sunday, June 5th NY Times, poses some tantalizing questions about these drugs for patients with depression and other psychiatric disorders. The article, and the especially the readers' comments re well-worth studying.
Trying to make a doctor’s appointment with a group practice, 13 minutes of nonstop recorded repetition (3-4 times each sentence).
“Your call is very important to us and we look forward to speaking with you. We know your time is valuable and assistance is just a moment away. We apologize for the delay. We’re experiencing a high call volume. A representative will assist you momentarily.” And this nugget of intimidation: “If you choose to hang up, you’ll lose your place in line.”
They say the call may be recorded. Oh yes, oh please, oh yes!
Jane Seskin is a clinical social worker and the author of Witness To Resilience: Stories of Intimate Violence. Her experiences calling a doctor's office led to this fine piece that appeared In the NY Times, May 23, 2016. Jane is a C2S reader, and her piece is published with her approval.
The Dalai Lama, who tirelessly preaches inner peace, has commissioned scientists to help turn secular audiences into more self-aware, compassionate humans. To this end, he ordered up something with a grand name to go with his grand ambitions: a comprehensive Atlas of Emotions to help the more than seven billion people on the planet navigate the morass of their feelings to attain peace and happiness.
New findings about schizophrenia rekindle old questions about genes and identity. Annals of Science The New Yorker March 28, 2016 By Siddhartha Mukherjee
Mukherjee, the author of "The Emperor of All Maladies, has a personal interest in schizophrenia, hence the title: "Runs in the Family." This lucid New Yorker essay takes us from a "lunatic home" in Calcutta where his cousin resides to that sterile labs of prestigious research institutes whose scientists are teasing out the fascinating and complex genetics of mental illness.
While this is a long article, it is worth the effort and is available free full text.
"On a cloudless Sunday afternoon in April, a 100-year-old woman named Ida Keeling laced up her mustard yellow sneakers and took to the track at the Fieldston School in the Bronx. Her arrival was met without fanfare. In fact, no one in the stands seemed to notice her at all."
This is a fine piece about healthy aging. Ms. Keeling is an outlier; but it is important to study (and celebrate) the lives of exceptional people. If you click on the article, don’t skip the one minute video!
Although geriatricians and researchers have warned for years about the potential hazards of polypharmacy, usually defined as taking five or more drugs concurrently; it continues to rise in all age groups, and has reached disturbingly high levels among older adults. A recent study showed that 39% of people over age 65 in the U.S. take 5 or more different prescription medications a day (not yo mention other over-the-counter meds and supplements).
This is a concise, lucid and useful article by one of the Times best health reporters. It might pay to read it and remember its warnings.
“There’s a growing concern that many of the terms we use [when labeling a tumor] don’t match our understanding of the biology of cancer.” Calling lesions cancer when they are not leads to unnecessary and harmful treatment, he said.
An April 15th NY Times article by Gina Kolata explains this paradigm shift well.
This is an important step; but there are many other tumors that likely fall into the same category. As practitioners and as patients when we receive a diagnosis of cancer, it behooves us to question the necessity of aggressive treatment for indolent tumors. Breast, prostate and a number of skin cancers quickly come to mind, but there will be many others. The study reported in JAMA Oncology hints that we have a ways to go and that we are in the infancy of this endeavor.
Ellen Rand writes us: "What’s the reality of caring for loved ones in decline? We’re not likely to see the rawness, the intimacy, the messiness, the profundity of it in the movies or on TV – except for a few rare pathfinders. David B. Oliver was one of them.
David and his wife, Debra Parker Oliver, possessed a deep knowledge gained over their professional lives researching and teaching about aging and end-of-life issues. That he responded to his own deadly illness in a meaningful way is tied both to his character and to his life’s work."
Ellen's beautifully written introduction to the Oliver's moving and instructive videos will interest many of you. We are grateful to her for having sent us her essay (which you can access here: Download Reality TV
Ellen Rand has been a journalist for more than 40 years, including five years as a housing columnist for The New York Times. She is a hospice volunteer with Holy Name Medical Center in Bergen County, New Jersey, a member of the Hospice Volunteer Association and the Association of Health Care Journalists. Her essays have appeared in several medical humanities publications, including Pulse—Voices from the Heart of Medicine; KevinMD; and Life Matters Media. She blogs athttp://lastcomforts.com. Ellen is the author of the recently published: Last Comforts: Notes from the Forefront of Late Life Care which has been called "a must read for caregivers, individuals with serious illnesses, their loved ones who care about their care and elected officials. A must read for caregivers, individuals with serious illnesses, their loved ones who care about their care and elected officials. "