Our Med Bag

Hello, and welcome to The Med Bag, a blog created for sharing health and medical stories from people from all walks of life,

To contact The Med Bag email us at: medbag2018@gmail.com

 

Latest Posts from The Med Bag:

Facing Chemotherapy 3: Your Own Worst Enemy

Chemotherapy kills fast growing cells and hence can be effective against cancer.  But it does not discriminate between healthy and malignant cells.  Hence, the trade-off for killing cancer cells is killing fast-growing, healthy cells as well. The most serious side effect may be chemotherapy’s impact on the immune system. It drives down white and red blood cell counts as well as platelets. Low platelets can lead to unusual bleeding and low red blood cell counts can bring fatigue. Perhaps most important, low white blood cell counts leave us vulnerable to infectious agents we might normally resist and never even notice. To counter this heightened susceptibility to infection, patients receiving chemotherapy must take various precautions to minimize their exposure to infection. Wearing masks, washing hands, limiting ...
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The Second Victim

In May of 2018, I received some tragic news from a coworker of mine that still works on my old unit. Our coworker Mary Jane was found dead. Mary Jane was a second career nurse that struggled to keep up her morale at times working in our busy step down unit. We all had our moments of self-doubt and stress from working with complex patients and their families. The news was horrifying for several reasons. Primarily because Mary Jane’s situation is not the first time a healthcare provider has taken their life due to personal and professional stressors. Level of experience does not always deter medical professionals from taking such a drastic step. Mary Jane had a family that loved her and had a whole ...
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Facing Chemotherapy 2:Wait for it

When I received my first round of chemotherapy, I anticipated some nasty side effects.  What I didn’t realize, however, is that they take a while to show up. This led to a false sense of confidence about how well I was weathering my treatment. My stereotype about side effects was evident in a question to my nurse as I was about to receive my first chemo infusion. I asked if I couldn’t get to the bathroom on time, where do I throw up? She smiled and said that was unlikely due to the premeds they used to control nausea.  What she didn’t say is that such side effects would take some time to appear. When I still felt fine a week after my treatment concluded, ...
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Facing Chemotherapy I: This Stuff Could Kill You

Steve’s Odyssey continued:  When I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, I received an initial round of “induction” chemotherapy to get my disease into temporary remission and buy time to consider my long-term treatment options. I had no prior experience with cancer or chemotherapy. My first lesson about this treatment was when my nurse Jane approached me wearing the hospital equivalent of a hazmat suit, face shield, gloves, and mask.  She then placed a thick mat over my torso to protect me from any accidental spillage of the drug. All this vividly symbolized the toxicity of the medication I was about to receive. I realized that while it was intended to cure me, this could only happen by first poisoning me. It was some time ...
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Holidays Past and Present

Holidays past and present. Celebration has taken on a new definition since recovery: In my using days I approached the holidays with a frenetic search for the wildest parties; where the flow of free booze was bountiful, the company raucous, and the music deafening.  Was I seeking fun and companionship?  Hell, no.  When I was sober, I was extremely uncomfortable in those surroundings, I didn’t particularly like the people, the boring conversations, or the atmosphere.  So why did I bust my ass to be part of that scenario?   Because during the holidays I deduced that I could drink twice as much as I usually did, and it would be socially acceptable.  That reasoning even spilled over into our family gatherings.  During the Holidays we all trekked to the liquor store to stock up on the fancier ...
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The White Room (A Poem About Dementia)

The White Room I lie on the bed in the white room They sit around me These strangers with familiar voices I think we are waiting for something or someone. These strangers, they look at me They mutter words I don’t understand A man in a white coat walks in He stands next to my bed. He speaks not to me, but to these strangers They are talking about me, I know. About what, I don’t understand. Irritated, I kick off the covers. Mother! They chide me and pull them back. About the poem: This is a poem about dementia, the hallmark of the disease being loss of memory. I write about a scene I came across during my rounds in the hospital—an elderly woman ...
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Treat the Child and the Parent

My first job as a physician assistant was with a pediatric practice in Maine. I began working in June, so I was well-acclimated by the time winter arrived. I’d gotten to know many of the young patients as well as their caring mothers and fathers by the time snow started flying. Many of the mothers were experiencing motherhood for the first time, and they were as uncertain about all the pitfalls of raising a child as the child was about being manhandled by a stranger, albeit gently and kindly. My job as a PA had me treating the parent as much as the child, as it turned out. I always allowed time to answer questions asked by the parents in an effort to avoid having ...
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From Being a Nurse to a Patient

“ You learn about those who truly care for you in your darkest of times, for they appear to be the light out of the darkness.” At the age of twenty-eight  I was a  nurse and working on a step down unit and a nursing home setting depending on my two employers’ needs. Overall I felt like I was healthy, I was going to school for my masters degree. I never expected to have difficulty with my health at this point. In January of 2016 I hurt my back and was put out on leave for about a week. I slowly but surely recovered or so I thought. Some weeks later on March 6th 2016, a Sunday night as I was winding down my shift at my ...
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On Being A Hospital Virgin

I’m told I was born in a hospital, though I have no memory of it.  I do, however, have a brief newspaper story identifying me upon my birth as the 100,000th registered patient at Madison General Hospital, so I guess it really happened. For the next 63 years, I was in good health and had no reason to be hospitalized. Then, in 2015, I developed a nasty bladder infection that triggered a four-day hospitalization for IV fluids and antibiotics. I received excellent care, but it was a totally new and sometimes confounding experience for this hospital virgin. My guide through this unfamiliar terrain was a wonderful nurse named Jane. We developed a nice rapport over numerous visits checking vital signs, drawing blood, administering medications, and ...
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About The Med Bag

A relationship like no other The relationship I have with my medical provider is unique as it is based almost entirely on trust. I tell him/her the most intimate details of my life--that I don’t reveal even to my closest family members or significant other. He/she is not just my health care provider but also my confidant in some ways. But lately I’ve noticed a growing distance. I can no longer call and directly talk to my doctor. I have to leave a message. Nor can I always see him/her when I have a concern. I have to make do with a substitute. Then when I’m really sick and need to go to the hospital I see another bunch of strangers. I’m told my doctor ...
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