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Corrie Pikul (131 posts)
Kids get sick. Most parents learn this pretty quick and by the third child, they're pretty unfazed by fevers and sore throats. So when Deborah Copaken Kogan, an author and columnist for the Financial Times, noticed that her son developed a strange rash and swollen face, she snapped a photo of him and posted it to her Facebook profile. It was simply way to keep her son and herself entertained while they spent Mother's Day at the pediatrician's office.
But as the poor little guy's condition worsened, Kogan continued to update her friends on her son's health. "Was I consciously trying to find an answer out there in the hive mind?" she writes in this hold-your-breath-while-reading essay on Slate. "No, but some subconscious part of me must have been wondering whether one of my hundreds of 'friends' might be privy to some expertise on the befuddling Nutty Professor syndrome that had my child in its grips."
Thankfully, some were--and Kogan was able to beat her doctor to the punch in diagnosing her four-year-old with an extremely rare childhood auto-immune disorder. "Bravo, Facebook," said the doc. "Hooray for 'friends'!" is what we say.
For more ways to harness the power of social networking, take a look at these 11 Ways to Make the Hours You Waste Online Actually Mean Something
The way to avoid having those less-than-helpful doctor-patient interactions, says Cynda Ann Johnson, MD, MBA, dean of the medical school at Virginia Tech Carilion, is to recruit nice people and train them to be "the kind of doctor you want to go see." Yes, most medical schools offer communications and etiquette courses (sometimes with actors playing patients), and U.S. licensing requirements involve a clinical skills test that assesses communication. But a new entrance exam used by VTC and at least seven other medical schools around the country involves a "multiple mini interview" test that screens for courtesy, diplomacy, flexibility, decision-making and tact. (Gardiner Harris, the public health reporter for the New York Times, recently visited VTC on the day the multiple mini interviews took place, and called them the "equivalent of speed-dating.")
Johnson says that students can witness some pretty appalling behavior during their clinical training, and the school's goal is to give them a strong ethical foundation "so the won't succumb" to that--in other words, so they'll know better than their Dr. House-like instructors.
Until the new generation of docs takes over, use this advice to get the best possible treatment from yours:
We're going to try that trick the next time we eat or drink something cold. Even if it doesn't work, these icy treats are definitely worth the brain freeze risk:
A couple of months later, Donna Dannenfelser, Ed.D., a Long Island housewife-turned-therapist, is counseling pro football players in her home while her kids watch TV. The team starts turning things around. Fast forward a decade, and Dr. Donna, as the players call her, is advising high-profile patients and working as a supervising producer on a show based on her career (Necessary Roughness, Wednesdays on USA).
We thought the woman who made that call to the Jets would have some smart advice about the tough situations we sometimes find ourselves dealing with.
Situation 1: The blow off
We've got an awesome idea but the people in charge won't listen--not unlike that Jets trainer. How do you get past a no answer?
[On the jump, find out how she got a yes--and how you can too]
I thought of her with guilt last week, while I was tipping a package of peanut M&M's into my mouth (what? It was a rough week), and with enormous respect today when I read about a new study that explains the addictive power of high-fat foods. To measure how taste alone affects the body's response to food, scientists from California and Italy fed different groups of rats liquid diets high in one of these three substances: fat, sugar or protein. As soon as the fatty liquid hit the rats' taste buds, their digestive systems began producing endocannabinoids, chemicals similar to those produced by marijuana use, and these rats showed a craving for more fatty food.
Fat is necessary for proper cell functioning, one of the study authors told The New York Times, explaining that "we have this evolutionary drive to recognize fat, and when we have access to it, to consume as much as we possibly can." The problem is our prehistoric ancestors weren't out hunting deep-fried Twinkies, so we've got to outsmart these biological impulses.
I personally find the study reassuring. If we accept that most of us don't have the same snack-mastery--call it willpower, or fortitude, or discipline--as my old friend, and if we acknowledge that one high-fat potato chip will probably lead to a binge, we may be more likely to think twice about indulging at all. Or at least, to save the benders for when we really, really need them.
Wrong, wrong, 500 times wrong, says Kelly Reynolds,
Ph.D., an assistant professor of microbiology at the University of
Arizona. While the
floor may be crawling with 1,000 bacteria per square inch, the sink
hosts around 500,000 bacteria per square inch -- and she's seen sinks
millions more than that. "The sink is a ready source of bacteria just
washing off hands as well as food, which may carry fecal bacteria." The
number of bacteria it takes to make us sick depends on the type, but
Reynolds says that it takes between 100 and 1,000 bacteria to transmit
salmonella, which is the most frequently reported cause of foodborne
Reynolds says our kitchen sinks are often dirtier than the toilets of public bathrooms, which may be regularly scrubbed with powerful disinfectants. "If you dropped something in the toilet at the gas station, would you rinse it off and eat it? Use the same mentality for your sink."[Next: What to do if you drop food in the sink]
This week, Leigh Newman opens up about the war going on in her refrigerator. On one side: her husband and the healthy, affordable ball of mozzarella. On the other side: her, the kids and a bag of processed, overpriced yet inexplicably delectable cheese sticks, which "may or may not be made of actual cheese (depending on the brand), and this last point is moot because they do not taste like cheese. They taste like dairy Styrofoam."
What, you might ask, does all this have to do with making new friends? (And by friends we do not mean the ladies in your book group or the mothers of your children's friends or your neighbors or co-workers of your spouse. We mean grown-up, intelligent, just-for-you women who might just chat with you "about books and art and really mature things like slow cookers.")
Find out where the intersection of cheap snacks and new intimates lies (including a perplexing confession of adultery)
A small yet interesting study of 34 middle-aged women (some with rheumatoid arthritis, some with breast cancer), published in the May issue of Health Psychology, found that the women who frequently swore in the company of others turned out to be women who were less likely to feel that people sympathized with them and felt their pain (and this had the power to make them feel even more depressed). "Would middle-aged men—or, for that matter, women of a younger, more swearing-prone generation—feel the same way?" asks Boing Boing. "There's a possibility that this study could have more to say about what middle-aged women expect from themselves, or who other people expect them to be."
You know who doesn't care who other people expect her to be? Helen Mirren, who is one of the classiest cursers we've ever seen (watch her drop the f-bomb with aplomb). Dame Helen is a great example for those who are hesitant to harness the power of swear words when they need it most. Maybe if we were more accustomed to seeing and hearing women express themselves (uncensored!), we'd be less worried about what we shouted when we put our own hands in ice water...or on a molten steering wheel, or in the hinge of a door, or on a hot pan handle. In other words, if we got caught trying to ameliorate the ordinary pains of domestic life.
The hidden benefits of anger, cursing and negativity
This new report backs up previous studies by financial scholars as well as from financial institutions, all of which suggested that female investors were less prone to the overconfidence that can lead to big financial losses (and, less happily, whopping financial gains).
Since these two articles have already gotten the ball rolling, we'd like to point out a few more ways that women have an edge. We're not saying we're better than men; we're just taking a moment to celebrate our gender's advantages.
Can you guess where the nation's top four cleanest, most pristine beaches are located? (Nope, not in Kauai or the Outer Banks).