Occasionally, as I read the highly technical articles, I was struck by the remembrance that at one point in my educational life, I aspired to be a doctor. I even told my parents about this desire, and their response was they would support me, not financially as that was not possible, but emotionally. Well, then I ran into college chemistry. Poof! Medical school dreams went out the window.
When I began to work for the state medical society, I took to the content of the work immediately. And I loved reading these journals. I hadn’t thought about them for quite a while, until I read Julie Z’s recent post on the birth of her daughter, Phoebe. Julie described in complete and hilarious detail what that day, July 11, was like eleven years ago.
Total recall! That’s what made me remember the medical journals. I recall several very interesting studies from these journals. The first article is the one that Julie’s account reminded me of. Researchers did a study on birth information. First, they interviewed the women who had gone through labor. They asked them for all sorts of details. Then the researchers went to the medical records, and confirmed time and again the accuracy of the mothers’ recall. It was total. The mothers got all the details right: timing, length of labor, sequence of symptoms, etc. This recall was still accurate years and years after the birth.
Another article that intrigued me was whether or not people can postpone the event of their own deaths. The researchers studied Jewish people and Chinese people. They looked at deaths before and after high holy days, for the Jewish participants, and Chinese New Year for Chinese participants. In both cases, deaths declined before the significant calendar events, and then spiked afterwards. Their conclusion—people can delay their own impending deaths to live just long enough to participant in something of importance to them.
NEJM had a feature I loved. It showed various imaging photos—for example, an x-ray, a CT scan, or an MRI. Then posed the question what the diagnosis might be. One story was about a man who presented at the emergency room with a partial paralysis. The hospital staff did an CT scan and the cause was immediately visible. He had a nail embedded in his brain. It turns out the man was desolate, and tried to commit suicide by firing a nail gun at his head. A nail pierced his skull right between the eyes, but didn’t kill him. But the real kicker in this story is that the nail gun event happened 12 years before he came to the emergency room for treatment.
So, I never became a doctor. However, I have occasionally diagnosed family members' symptoms--accurately, I might add. Once, my husband thought he was having a stroke because one side of his face seemed to him to be paralyzed. But, with a bit of quick research, I came up with another possibility. Bell’s palsy—my diagnosis. And, when he saw a doctor, sure enough—the doctor confirmed my diagnosis! HA! Another time, my son had a sharp pain in his side, and began to think all sorts of dire things. Maybe, pleurisy, I ventured. And again, the doctor confirmed my diagnosis. Thankfully, both my husband and son completely recovered (with the doctor's help, of course.)
Well, I don’t read these journals any more. Perhaps it’s just as well—as I get older, and have more aches and pains, best I not know too many technical names for them! Now ask me about the day my son Geoffrey or my daughter Kristen were born—and I will have TOTAL RECALL.
K and G (of KGMom)