Monday, November 30, 2009

The Intolerant Neutral Planet

The recent, blatantly racist Swiss vote banning the building minarets is upsetting, but, to me, not surprising at all. This is coming from a country where the ruling party's banners featured three white sheep kicking a black sheet off a Swiss flag with the words "For our security" under it. Although, as a non-white person, I have been subjected to subtle racism before, Switzerland is the only place where I experienced overt racism and the only place where I felt uncomfortable.
Here's my experience. A few years ago, I was at a conference in Germany and afterwords, since I'm into mountain climbing, I decided to make a short trip to Switzerland. I took the train from Frankfurt to Basel and an hour before we got to the Swiss border, I see three border guards enter my train car, talk into their radios and headed straight to me (the only brown person in the car). They asked for my passport. I showed it to them. They then asked to search my bags. Went through both my bags. I had a poster from the conference and they asked to open the tube and took out the poster (tearing it in the process). They then asked why I am going to Switzerland, for how long, who I'm staying with, whether I'm looking for a job, what kind of work I do, etc. They asked me to prove to them how long I'm planning on staying in Switzerland. I wasn't sure how to do this. Eventually, showing a print out of my return flight worked. After 45 min, they let me go and left (no questions to anyone else in the full car). Meanwhile, the entire train is staring at me (the presumed terrorist).
Things didn't improve once I got to Switzerland. Everywhere I went, I got a suspicious look. Especially in stores (every store), where the employees followed me throughout the store (to make sure I wasn't stealing anything, I guess). I started playing a game with them, where I would walk around in circles in the store and watch them follow me, to see how many laps I could make them do.
I was surprised that a country that I've always seen as so benign (so neutral) could be so hateful towards others. I suppose Switzerland's "neutralness" is really a manifestation of it's isolationism and xenophobia.

Zapp Brannigan:
With enemies you know where they stand but with Neutrals, who knows? It sickens me.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An unreasonably natural labor

Being in OB and expecting a child makes me see many sides of being pregnant and labor. I see pregnancy and childbirth as a natural process and think that there are some physicians who "medicalize" it too much (C-section rates are higher than the should be, people are induced more than they should be, etc.). So, I see the why people would want "natural" childbirth, with no medical interventions (like pain control). But, the extent to which some people take it is completely, in my opinion, unreasonable.

Case in point is a woman who recently delivered at our hospital (she was not my patient, so this is second hand). Things went relatively smoothly and, except for receiving a small perineal tear, she was able to successfully go through labor without any medical interventions. The baby was born relatively quickly and was completely fine. The woman just needed the tear sutured and was otherwise fine. When the resident explained that she will numb up the region around the tear with some local anesthetic before suturing, the woman became angry and was adamant she wanted a natural birth without any "chemicals."

Kind of ridiculous. But, childbirth is a highly emotional time and whenever people are dealing with emotional events, they tend to stop thinking rationally.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Ou se trouve le gerbille hôtel?

I wouldn't mind going to a rodent-cage themed hotel, but the hamster costumes kind of creep me out.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

From one end to another

That's what my Pathology attending said when I said I was doing my OB/GYN rotation next. I suppose he meant from one end of life to another (it could have also been from one end of the body to another, since I focused on Neuropathology). I started OB this week. We switch teams every week or so. Right now I'm alternating between an infertility clinic and an OB clinic. I haven't seen enough to comment on (although some of the infertility treatments are pretty clever), but it is nice to be expecting our own baby while on this rotation. It not only motivates me to study a bit more, but it definitely helps relate to what the patients are going through (since I've seen Mrs. mxh go through a lot of the same already). It's also a bit reassuring, since it has made me realize that a lot of the fears and problems that we've had so far are very universal.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Glad I got my vaccine

Just saw this case on the pathology rotation:

A slightly overweight, otherwise healthy 50ish year-old man, 5 days ago starts feeling tired and gets a slight fever (~100 F). He goes on a trip with some friends and returns 2 days later. At that point he is feeling much more tired, his muscles ache a bit, he is starting to get short of breath and his fever is a bit worse (~102 F). He goes to the local ER where they think he might have H1N1 and because of his worsening shortness of breath he is admitted. Over the next day his condition dramatically worsens. He is intubated, his fever skyrockets (~109 F (!)) and he is transferred to a larger hospital. He dies within 12 hours of arriving at the larger hospital. He is determined to be H1N1 positive.

On autopsy, except for his lungs, all his organs show no signs of any disease or abnormality. His lungs, however, weigh about 1200 and 1300 grams each (normal, i think, is about 450 and 500 grams for left and right lungs). It has multiple areas of necrosis, hemorrhage and consolidation (like a really, really bad pneumonia). What goes beyond a normal pneumonia is that it covers the entirety of both lungs (ARDS) and even goes up the airway to the trachea, which also shows inflammation and hemorrhage.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

All you need is brains

Caught a nice documentary last night on PBS. The Zombeatles... probably the coolest thing on PBS in a while.

You must catch the riveting story of the "Fab Gore"