lifestyle

The Literal Price of Health Care

With all the dialogue on Obamacare, Trumpcare, the ACA, and the AHCA, Dr. Fizzy briefly reflects on the cost of health care.  Recently my daughter sprained her ankle. Because she’s a bit of a drama queen, I took her to urgent care after she refused to put weight on it for a day. The x-ray didn’t show a fracture and they gave her a crutch and an Aircast, which she used for exactly one day before she was better. A couple of months later, I got a bill for $150 for the crutch and Aircast that we barely used. Because of large deductibles and other reasons, we end up paying a lot of our outpatient healthcare expenses out of pocket. But the problem with that is that you have no idea what you’re going to pay until the bill actually arrives. If they had told me it was going to be $150 for that stuff, I never would’ve taken it. Think about how crazy it is. You would never go to a furniture store, buy a sofa, and just wait a few months until the bill comes to see how much you ended up paying for it. But that’s what I’m constantly doing with my healthcare bills. I can give multiple other examples. Recently, my own doctor ordered a lab test which I didn’t think was entirely necessary, but...

Could your energy drink or Starbucks kill you? Take the Caffeine Risk Calculator

As medical students and health professionals, it’s tempting to overdose on caffeine. Since we work and study for long and unorthodox hours, more often than not, it’s very easy to get ahead of ourselves while drinking our regular cup of coffee or tea. However, you might want to put a hold on the extra cup. Richland County Coroner Gary Watts reported yesterday that a 16-year old South Carolina high school student died from heart problems caused from caffeinated drinks. Watts says the teen drank a large Mountain Dew, a latte from McDonald’s, and an energy drink in just two hours, before collapsing on April 26th. Death by caffeine overdose is incredibly uncommon. However, this teen’s death begs the question: how much caffeine is too much? As we know, caffeine is highly addictive, and people who don’t consume it regularly shouldn’t consume too much at a time. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the recommended amount of caffeine consumed in the US is approximately 300 mg per person per day – the equivalent to between two and four cups of coffee. The Mayo Clinic reported that adolescent teens should never consume over 100 mg daily, and children should never consume it at all. Common symptoms of caffeine overdose include migraine headaches, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, frequent urination or inability to control urination, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors, all of which require medical attention. And this doesn’t include the...

Chef Uy Presents: How To Cook Avocado Toast with Pesto and Egg

Natalie Uy is a resident in Internal Medicine who loves to eat and doodle. Her food blog, Obsessive Cooking Disorder, is a collection of recipes she made during her study breaks and stories on my medical / life adventures. Here is her recipe on how to prepare Avocado Toast with Pesto and Egg. Pesto is one of my favorite sauces because it elevates anything into a “fancy” dish. Pesto comes from the Italian word, pestare (to grind, pound) and tehnically refers to anything that is pounded. Pesto has been around since the Roman times and medieval times, although although we traditionally think of Genoese pesto, where basil is the main ingredient, doesn’t come around until the mid 1800s. (source) Pesto is classically made with basil, garlic, cheese, olive oil, and pine nuts, but I’ve seen variations with every possible green leaf and every nut. One fun fact about pine nuts is that it can give you Pine Nut Syndrome or “pine mouth” – in which eating pine nuts can cause taste disturbances (a bitter metallic taste), lasting from days to weeks afterwards. In fact, there’s lots of science journals describing and documenting Pine Nut Syndrome, like Pine mouth (pine nut) syndrome: description of the toxidrome, preliminary case definition, and best evidence regarding an apparent etiology and “Pine mouth” syndrome: cacogeusia following ingestion of pine nuts (genus: pinus). An emerging problem?. Food science – that’s a pretty fun research...

From SXSW to SHM: Our Tour to Promote Value Conversations Between Doctors & Patients

At a movie premiere for the new Terrence Malick flick, “Song to Song”, Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, and Rooney Mara walked the red carpet to flashing cameras and screaming fans in front of the famous Paramount Theatre in Austin. The next day, down the street, to a lot less fanfare, our Costs of Care team – Neel Shah and both of us – took the stage at the annual SXSW festival for own version of a premiere. We were about to step out of the normal medical conference crowd (i.e. no screaming fans but some with #pinksocks on) and see for the first time if videos we made depicting scenarios of doctors and patients confronting healthcare costs would translate to the real world. Would it work, or would the critics, like with the “Song to Song” premier, give us a rotten tomato? Luckily, we had a very positive response, and our session was dubbed one of the most interactive on Twitter and even garnered a tremendously generous “Best Picture” nod from the healthcare round-up by Medical Marketing & Media (not exactly the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, but we will take it!). In our first “public”-facing debut, it was clear that the public increasingly wants physicians to address costs of care with them – conversations that have been historically controversial. The patients in the room wanted to...

Why is this med student marrying her diploma?

Higher education is a demanding commitment, and graduating medical school is quite an achievement. While many medical student graduates go unto their medical track, business as usual, Angie Hamouie did something unique upon receiving of her diploma. Angie has a public website, showcasing the inspiration and details of her “Graduwedding”. She describes her idea in the home page: Imagine a graduation party that’s as EXTRA as a wedding. That’s a Graduwedding. It’s unlike any graduation party ever. A graduation is a person walking across a stage and accepting a really expensive piece of paper. But a ~Graduwedding~ is so much more– It’s the union of two souls, in this case Angie and her Medical Degree (MD).   The idea for the Graduwedding occurred after Angie discovered the results of her match into residency (read that story on the Enmatchment page!) She was so elated, she wanted to celebrate with literally anyone and everyone she’d ever met, and even people she hadn’t. This was such a big deal for her, because it was the culmination of 3 degrees and 9 years of higher education. Her match represented everything she had worked toward. Angie realized this graduation would only happen once in her life. She wondered, why is it that no one really celebrates their graduation? And if she threw a party, how could she convey that this party was a Big Deal?  ...

Social Rejection And Alcoholism

Source: Pixibay We all know that there’s a distinct connection between leading a miserable life and alcoholism. Sometimes, cause, consequence, and correlation become inextricably tangled within the vicious cycle of heavy drinking and personal misfortune. A recent study, however, has shone a light into the connection between alcoholism and social rejection. It’s an important finding, which has implications across the board – on a healthcare level, it could help us to both prevent and treat alcoholism in vulnerable people. On a societal level, it demonstrates the kind of changes we need to make in order to keep the (fast-growing) spectre of alcoholism at bay. The study, published by the Research Society on Alcoholism, saw participants use their smartphones to record social interaction and personal alcohol usage for fourteen consecutive days. Researchers then analyzed the style of interactions recorded, and the alcohol usage on the days when they occurred. They found that there was an association between rejective social experiences and the amount of alcohol drunk, with those who had had interactions classified as ‘rejective’ tending to drink more than those who had not. Researchers were keen to stress that the closeness of the relationship in question appeared to be a significant factor. Those who had experienced rejection from those they considered ‘close’ were significantly more likely to drink heavily on the days when said interactions occurred than those who had experienced...

How Do I Make Such An Important Decision?

As a fresh first year medical student, every upperclassman I talked to said the same thing: “Don’t worry about Step 1 and residency right now. You still have a long way to go. Just enjoy your life right now!”   Finally looking forward to wrapping up my first year in a few weeks, the feeling of impending doom is slowly encroaching on me. In exactly a year from now, I will be taking probably the most important exam of my life. And in 2 years from that point, I will know where I will be going for the next phase of my training – residency. So the most obvious question is – what do I want to do with the rest of my life? Let’s try to break down this complex, loaded question into a few basic steps.   1. Medicine or surgery? Image: Source   As a growing medical student, this is the first question you need to ask yourself. Medicine and surgery are the two prongs of the medical field. Are you the kind of person who loves the operating room and cannot imagine living outside it or can you survive without ever operating?   It goes without saying that this is a hard decision to make so early on in your career. You have barely stepped into the medical community and you are already expected to...