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Showing posts from February, 2013

Chronic Illnesses and Dating

One of the biggest questions that comes up time and time again when patients talk about dating with a chronic illness is, "When and how do I tell my significant other about my condition?" The simple answer, is that there is no simple answer. A lot depends on disease severity, and how much symptoms interfere with your life. It also depends on how comfortable you are talking about your illness, as once you mention it, your partner will most likely have questions. It can be helpful to have either written information or websites you think it would be helpful to look at ready, so that the person can get an accurate picture of what life looks like with this illness.

Some patients are so open about their illness, they are advocates and speak out on behalf of others in their community. Some disclose on their social media profiles, or wear cool shirts like these from our friends at the Great Bowel Movement. The most important thing to remember is that each person is different and ea…

Finalists! (And Go Buy Time Magazine)

We're very excited to announce that we've been selected as finalists for the WEGO Health Activist Silver Stethoscope Award for 2012!  This award is given by the fine folks at WEGO Health to recognize healthcare professionals who utilizes social media, online community, and technology to make the world a better place.

Honestly, I'm shocked and feel quite humbled for the recognition.  To know that we're reaching people and making a small difference in this big world gives me, as my 1st grade teacher Miss Zurich would say, the warm fuzzies.

A shout out to our fellow finalists with links to their sites/blogs.  Congratulations! Becky Kuhn:  HIV/AIDS activistElaine Schattner: Cancer activistHeather Swift: Cancer activistSusan Urell:  Dental health activistTerry Matlin:  ADHD activist On a completely separate note, as I mentioned in my last blog entry I rely on The Daily Show for most of my news and Jon's guest last night was Steven Brill who wrote a 36 page cover story fo…

Ostomies 101

Quite a few of our patients with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease) have faced the decision of whether or not to get an ostomy. What is an ostomy, you ask? It is a surgical procedure where the end of part of the intestine is brought out to the stomach surface, and then stool is diverted into an external bag that adheres to the stomach's surface. Amazing that our bodies can do that, right? These can be temporary or permanent, depending on the needs of the patient.
Often times, an ostomy is an option that is used when medicines have failed, surgeries are not working, and quality of life needs to be restored. And quality of life is the whole point, right?! So if you are considering ostomy surgery, reach out! The best thing you can do is to talk to other people who have been through it. The concept can sound scary and foreign at first, but once you meet people who have chosen to have an ostomy, you may have a different opinion. To end, here are some categories of organizations who are g…

The Psychology of Good Deeds

I really don't like watching the news.  Or reading the news.  Full disclosure:  My main sources of news are The Daily Show and Colbert Report.  The humor takes the edge off of things.  It seems like all that we hear about lately is the latest shooting, cases of child abuse, our soldiers committing suicide.  It feels like the country's discourse has deteriorated beyond repair sometimes, as the media portrays us as this deeply divided populace of us-versus-them.  It can all feel very daunting, and dark.

Then I tap into the nerd center of my brain and remember the bell curve.  I'm sure you've seen this thing before

For those of you who don't share my enthusiasm for statistics, you want to focus on the percentages on the graph.  According to the bell curve, most people will fall somewhere in the middle (in the blue area), with almost everyone else showing up in the next section (the red area).  The middle line represents the mean, or average.  95.4% of us will fall rel…

Let's Talk About Sex...and Chronic Illness

I decided to broach a hot topic in today’s culture…sex. It’s a topic that some people love to talk about flippantly with their friends, but when they are at their doctor’s office, it just doesn't come up. And when you have a chronic illness like an Inflammatory Bowel Disease, you are already having to talk about your embarrassing digestive symptoms, so the odds of you voluntarily bringing up another socially awkward conversation are slim to none. 

I'm writing about this topic as I have recently read two blog entries from our friends over at the Great Bowel Movement.  They boldly asked a sex therapist to write about the issues that come up with IBD and sexuality. I also did some reading on sexuality on the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America website and wanted to share what I took away from all of this talk about sex. I also wanted to generalize it to other chronic illnesses, as much of the advice was applicable to other diagnoses.

1) People with chronic illnesses strug…

Let's Talk About Diet

We seem to be obsessed with diets in the United States.  Obsessed.  A new fad diet emerges every few months that quickly becomes the greatest, most revolutionary, easiest, quickest way to weight loss you've ever seen!!!  Yet our obesity rates are at epidemic levels, having spread to our youngest citizens, producing a massive public health crisis that will take decades to undo.  But that's a whole other topic, and not what I want to get into today.  Today I want to talk about the role of diet in physical symptoms, which is a question I get asked quite frequently.

What is the relationship between certain foods and chronic medical symptoms?  This is a tricky area that can feel a bit like navigating a mine field.  Many people that I've worked with have identified foods that make their symptoms worse.  For some, it's a few foods that aren't very difficult to cut from their diet; for others, it involves entire classes of foods such as gluten for Celiac disease, dairy fo…