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:

Who Survives Cancer…. and Why?

When people are diagnosed with cancer, the question “why me?” looms large.  For those fortunate enough to survive, the question arises again. While definitive answers to who gets sick and who gets better remain elusive, the questions remain. In 2016, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. I didn’t spend much time asking “why me” because it didn’t seem like a healthy road to go down. After being successfully treated and recovering, I have the luxury of pondering the second question.  Why did I survive while others did not? In transplant support groups, I often hear people say that everything happens for a reason. I think that is true in a narrow, probabilistic sense. Personal medical history, comorbidities, environmental factors, and genetic abnormalities can dramatically ...
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How Autism Shaped Me as a Writer

      In eighth grade, I discovered a new word I didn’t know existed: ‘autism’.             Beforehand, I never knew what it meant, until I asked my parents about the definition one day. When I found out, my perspective on my childhood and the world around me shifted, rather than changed completely. Learning that word gave me a sense of clarity. It explained my prescription pills, the challenges I faced compared to other students, and why I couldn’t pay attention to my teacher in class. For those unaware, autism is a neurological disorder currently found in 1 of 100 children. It is often categorized by an impairment of communication skills and difficulty in social interaction. While the severity of it is variable between patients, ...
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The epidemic of Overuse

Insanity is trying the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. The father and son duo who I  have seen three times since Christmas break have returned again.  The father is scowling because last time I refused to an order an antibiotic for his son’s allergies.  Of course the first visit I had relented  because the office was busy and the father practically demanded one. “ There are some fragile older relatives in the house. What I am kinda saying is we need that antibiotic.” Flash forward a few months later they returned to see me again. The office was not as busy and dad was scowling about his son missing school yet again. The teenager had forgotten to take his ...
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Doctors as Detectives

During my prolonged treatment and recovery from acute myeloid leukemia, I spent many weeks in the hospital with a severely suppressed immune system as a side effect of chemotherapy. This condition is an open invitation to any infectious agents who happen to be in the neighborhood, and I had my share of them.  They included colitis, E-coli, the cytomegalovirus, and several others that were never definitively identified. I was also on numerous medications, including prophylactic antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-rejection drugs as well as other drugs to blunt the side effects of these initial medications.  These drugs nonetheless produced some nasty side effects on their own or in interaction with each other. The upshot was that on any given day, I would experience symptoms that ...
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My Second Family

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a patient. I’m not a nurse, even. I’m one of those numerous people who flock hospitals alongside the sick one, playing the role of all three simultaneously to the patient as and when he demands and requires. I am the attendant and the family of the patient. Back in 2006, it was at a dinner with some family friends, when my father suddenly didn’t feel right and wouldn’t even touch his favourite dishes. He went to lie down on the bed and a call went to our family doctor. Some tests were scheduled for the next morning. Tests, that revealed he had chronic renal failure with 95% of both kidneys failing to function. I was there in the room ...
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Women Who Inspire: Anandibai Joshi

The path for women physicians hasn't been easy. For the longest time we were considered inferior to our male counterparts. But we have come a long way. According to a recent study it was found that patients cared for by women doctors  have a lower mortality rate. They tend to live longer and fare better. Today on Women's Day I'd like to narrate the story of a brave woman who led the way-- Dr. Anandibai Joshi. Dr. Anandibai Joshi (1865-1887) Indian women pioneered many things not just in India but also in the west becoming a source of inspiration for women and women’s movement across the world. Early in my residency and sometimes even now, I'm made to perceive that I'm not good enough to ...
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The Kind of Nurse I am

“What kind of nurse are you?” I was asked this by the errant wife of a patient I was caring for on a step down cardiac unit last year. The patient had warned me about her personality prior to her arrival to visit him. She was angry the doctor had decided to discharge him with a low grade temperature. Honestly it was the tone of her voice that took me by astonishment than anything else. I shortly turned tearful as I could not reach the hospitalist in charge of his care. My manager was off and even if she was around I doubt I would get much support from her. I had resigned, giving my almost three weeks notice a few days before. I was ...
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When is a Little Knowledge a Good Thing?

In the summer of 2016 in seemingly good health, I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia through a routine blood test and subsequent bone marrow biopsy.  In 48 hours, I went from a carefree existence to a week-long, 24/7 chemotherapy drip and a 5 ½ week hospital stay. Although my doctors described my treatment plan, in retrospect it’s remarkable how little I learned about my disease.  This cancer is not “staged,” because it is so unpredictable, and there were no discussions of long-term prognosis, survival rates, or other such matters.  For my part, I made a conscious decision not to surf the internet collecting all sorts of dubious, unverifiable information about my disease. Instead, I simply trusted my doctors as we moved through my initial ...
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On Patients and Emotional Labor

Given my recent posts on the emotional labor of doctors and nurses, it only seems fair to turn the lens on myself and ponder how I experienced and expressed a variety of emotions throughout my treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. In the early stages of my care, I sought to be a “good patient” and cultivate positive relationships with my doctors and nurses.  I was seeking to transform routine, clinical encounters into more human and humane interactions. But it was also a strategic move on my part to insure I would receive the best possible care.  While patients’ demeanor should not affect their quality of care, nurses and doctors are also people with their own emotional states.  Getting on their good side seemed like a ...
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On Nurses and Emotional Labor

My last post described how doctors appear to rely on a specific feeling norm in managing and displaying emotional states in relation to their patients. The pattern I saw in my own care was initial emotional distance from doctors that gave way to greater emotional availability only when my prognosis significantly improved. In this post, I offer some speculations about the differences between doctors and nurses when it comes to emotional labor. Whereas doctors may be permitted an initial clinical detachment from their patients, nurses are socialized to be more explicitly caring in their interactions with patients.  This distinction between the emotional distance of doctors and emotional availability of nurses is furthered reinforced by the gender division of labor that leads to male predominance among ...
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