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A winter break for Scope

A winter break for Scope

snowy fence

Happy Holidays from all of us at Scope! We’re taking a holiday break; from now until Jan. 5 we’ll be on a limited publishing schedule.

Photo by K.Hurley

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts for week of Dec. 6

Grand Roundup: Top posts for week of Dec. 6

The five most-read stories this week on Scope were:

Role reversal: How I went from med student to ED patient in under two minutes: In the latest installment of our SMS Unplugged series, second-year medical student Hamsika Chandrasekar shares her recent experience as both a trainee and patient in the emergency department.

Stanford Rhodes Scholar heading to Oxford to study ways “the brain can go awry”: Undergraduate Emily Witt is one of two Stanford students selected to receive the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study abroad at Oxford next year. In this Q&A, Witt discusses her work and future plans.

Stanford alumni aim to redesign the breast pump: This post features the work of three Stanford graduates who are designing and building a breast pump that is discreet, intuitive, and supportive of mothers.

Blocking a receptor on brain’s immune cells counters Alzheimer’s in mice: In a new study led by Stanford neuroscientist Kati Andreasson, MD, blocking the action of a single molecule situated on the surfaces of certain brain cells was shown to reverse memory loss and a bunch of other Alzheimer’s-like features in experimental mice.

How I’ve survived survivor’s guilt: In this first-person piece, part of our Inspire patient series, a cancer survivor shares that she’s torn between being grateful that she is doing well and feeling anguished over knowing that other cancer patients haven’t made it.

And still going strong – the most popular post from the past:

Researchers explain how “cooling glove” can improve exercise recovery and performance: The “cooling glove,” a device that helps people cool themselves quickly by using their hand to dissipate heat, was created more than a decade ago by Stanford biologists Dennis Grahn and Craig Heller, PhD. This video demonstrates the device and explains how it can be used to dramatically improve exercise recovery and performance.

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts for week of Nov. 30

Grand Roundup: Top posts for week of Nov. 30

The five most-read stories this week on Scope were:

Why I screamed when my boyfriend hugged me: In the latest installment of our SMS Unplugged series, a second-year medical student reflects on her own prejudices and calls for people to admit their imperfections and “to challenge ourselves to be better.”

Stanford bioengineer develops a 50-cent paper microscopeManu Prakash, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering, has developed an ultra-low-cost paper microscope to aid disease diagnosis in developing regions. The device is further described in a technical paper.

Stanford-led study suggests changes to brain scanning guidelines for preemies: For a just-published study, a group of researchers at Stanford and elsewhere examined what type and timing of brain scans give doctors the greatest ability to predict preemies’ neurodevelopmental outcomes in toddlerhood.

A doctor’s attire – what works best?: A recent article in The Atlantic focused on physicians’ clothing and highlighted the subtle effects a doctor’s dress may have on patients.

How one mom learned the importance of the flu shot – the hard way: In this first-person piece, a mom discusses her daughters’ experience with influenza and shares how it served as a reminder to not become complacent about disease and illness prevention.

And still going strong – the most popular post from the past:

What are the consequences of sleep deprivation?: Brandon Peters, MD, an adjunct clinical faculty member at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, explains how lack of sleep can negatively affect a person’s well-being in this Huffington Post piece.

Infectious Disease, Parenting, Pediatrics, Public Health

How one mom learned the importance of the flu shot – the hard way

How one mom learned the importance of the flu shot - the hard way

tamiflu‘Wow, I’m a pathetic sight,’ I thought as I stepped out of the bright fluorescent light onto the rainy pavement, fumbling with my half-open umbrella and crying. I was coming from Walgreens, clutching on to a crisp white paper bag containing Tamiflu and bottles of Children’s Tylenol (cherry and grape) and re-playing in my head the comments a pharmacist had just made to me. “Did they not get their flu shots?” she had asked, not unkindly, as she packaged up my loot. “Is that why your kids got sick?” Hence my (guilty and big) tears.

My two girls – ages eight and five – had indeed not gotten their flu shot. I had meant to take them in – I’m a super-organized mama who usually follows doctors’ orders to a tee, the type who carefully monitored and recorded the contents of her newborns’ diapers for weeks and who typically schedules well-child exams as close to her kids’ actual birthday as possible. And yet time slipped away from me this fall, I hadn’t taken them in (no excuses – just life), and earlier that day my oldest had tested positive for a particularly nasty type of Influenza A. Hours later we were called by the girls’ school: The little one was now sick with a high fever (and likely the flu). The doctor suggested we start her on Tamiflu, too, and hope for the best.

My guilt, as I watched my kindergartener later cry out in pain (when my husband asked what she wanted for Hanukkah, in an effort to get her mind off her sickness, she moaned, “I just want to feel better”), was practically all-consuming. How could we have not taken them in? I kept asking myself. I go every year, and I always follow the pediatrician’s recommendations about vaccines. I believe in the importance of vaccines. So what was I thinking?

Later that evening, after the kids (following much negotiation and crying) agreed to take their “yucky”-tasting Tamiflu and had finally gotten to sleep, I took to Facebook, where friends and acquaintances sweetly tried to cheer me up and came to my defense. The girls might have gotten sick even if they had gotten a flu shot, some suggested. (Although: This year’s vaccine offers protection from this particular strain.) They could have had a reaction from the shot itself, someone pointed out. (Yet: My kids have never experienced side-effects from being vaccinated.) The pharmacist was just trying to fill a quota for flu shots or make you feel bad, one old college friend suggested. (But: The pharmacist actually wasn’t being pushy or judgmental with her question; she seemed more curious than anything.)

The bottom line is that I messed up and didn’t come through in protecting my kids this time around. It was a hard pill to swallow. But what comforted me in the end was the thought that my daughters’ illness is temporary and in the grand scheme of things, not all that bad. I am blessed for my children’s overall good health (I know many parents have to face far, far worse things than the flu), and I am blessed to have the resources that enable us to see a good doctor and purchase not-inexpensive antivirals.

The experience, also, reminded me of some valuable lessons. A parent – or anyone, really – should never take good health for granted. And one should never become complacent about disease and illness prevention.

I’m fairly confident this is the last year my girls will ever go without a flu shot.

Previously: Side effects of childhood vaccines are extremely rare, new study finds, The earlier the better: Study makes vaccination recommendations for next flu pandemic, Working to create a universal flu vaccine, Ask Stanford Med: Answers to your questions about seasonal influenza and European experts debunk six myths about flu shot
Photo by kanonn

Global Health, Infectious Disease, Stanford News

Back home from Liberia, Stanford physician continues to help in fight against Ebola

Back home from Liberia, Stanford physician continues to help in fight against Ebola

Colin Bucks - 560

Earlier this fall, we shared the story of Stanford physician Colin Bucks, MD, who, as a volunteer with the International Medical Corp, treated some 130 patients with Ebola in Liberia. Bucks is home now (he emerged from a 21-day home isolation on Nov. 14) but is still helping from afar. As reported by Inside Stanford Medicine:

Since his return to California, Bucks has been much in demand as a member of a small cadre of clinicians who have had direct experience with Ebola. He’s been working with health professionals at universities and nonprofits around the world who are doing research on new approaches to combating the disease, tracking trends in the epidemic and developing new designs for protective gear, which are cumbersome and stifling, he said.

“The heat stress is massive,” he said. “Your vision is limited. So anything we can do to improve PPE [personal protective equipment] will help improve patient care.”

During his quarantine, he said he did not have a moment of boredom; he was on the phone for 15 hours at a stretch consulting with health experts across the country on Ebola preparedness and on the needs in West Africa…

Previously: Stanford physician shares his story of treating Ebola patients in Liberia

Scope Announcements

Happy Thanksgiving from Scope

thanksgiving cookies

We’re taking a break for the holiday, and we’ll resume publishing on Monday. Enjoy your day!

Photo by distoplandreamgirl

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts for week of Nov. 16

The five most-read stories this week on Scope were:

My last promises to her: Advocate for lung cancer awareness and live life to the fullest: In the latest installment of our patient-penned Inspire series, a California man talks about becoming a patient advocate after a lung-cancer diagnosis.

Stanford anesthesiologist explores consciousness – and unconsciousness: Anesthesiologist Divya Chander, MD, PhD, is one of a leading group of neuroscientists and anesthesiologists who are using high-tech monitoring equipment in the operating room to explore the nature of consciousness. She discusses her work in this Q&A.

Learning the pelvic exam with Project Prepare: In this piece, part of the SMS Unplugged series, Hamsika Chandrasekar discusses how a group of patient/educators is teaching medical students the art of performing a delicate exam.

Tackling the stigma of lung cancer – and showing the real faces of the disease: After learning that the first question typically asked of lung cancer patients is “Did you smoke?” Janet Freeman-Daily set out to help change public perception of her disease.

Big data approach identifies new stent drug that could help prevent heart attacks: By using a “big data” computational approach, learning about the genetic pathways involved in coronary artery disease, then testing the new theories on mice models in the lab, researchers at Stanford and Columbia were able to pinpoint a potential new treatment for patients who need stents.

And still going strong – the most popular post from the past:

What are the consequences of sleep deprivation?: Brandon Peters, MD, an adjunct clinical faculty member at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, explains how lack of sleep can negatively affect a person’s well-being in this Huffington Post piece.

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts for week of Nov. 9

Grand Roundup: Top posts for week of Nov. 9

The five most-read stories this week on Scope were:

Cheating jet lag: Stanford researchers develop method to treat sleep disturbances: A team of Stanford researchers, led by neurobiologist Jamie Zeitzer, PhD, has developed a technique that helps people shift their sleep cycles by flashing light briefly at their eyes while they sleep. The method could someday be helpful to jet-lagged travelers, as well as shift workers and teenagers who have a hard time getting up at the right time.

Dreaming vs. doing: How my definition of compassion changed during medical school: In the latest installment of the SMS-Unplugged series, medical student Jennifer DeCoste-Lopez discusses her views on caring for patients and comments that she hopes that what “remains and grows stronger throughout my career is the passion for being present with the patient in front of me…”

Stanford scientist Lucy Shapiro: “It never occurred to me to question the things I wanted to do”: Stanford developmental biologist Lucy Shapiro, PhD, was recently awarded the 2014 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize for her achievements in science. She discussed the award, her work, and work-life balance in this Q&A.

Being bilingual “provides the brain built-in exercise”: Research published this week in the journal Brain and Language shows that being bilingual makes the brain more efficient at processing information.

Examining the role of exercise in managing and preventing diabetes: In this Q&A, Baldeep Singh, MD, a clinical professor at Stanford who focuses on chronic disease management, discussed the importance of regular physical activity for patients diagnosed with diabetes and those working to limit their risk of developing the disease.

And still going strong – the most popular post from the past:

What are the consequences of sleep deprivation?: Brandon Peters, MD, an adjunct clinical faculty member at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, explains how lack of sleep can negatively affect a person’s well-being in this Huffington Post piece.

Patient Care, Pediatrics, Stanford News

Eightysomething "neonatology superhero" still at it

Eightysomething "neonatology superhero" still at it

archive Sunshine pic

Several years ago, as I’ve recalled here before, I was assigned a story for Stanford Medicine magazine on the evolution and importance of children’s hospitals – and there was one interview I was particularly excited to score. It was with neonatologist Philip Sunshine, MD, a physician I wanted to talk with in part because of how long he had been here and how much he knew about children’s hospitals and the field of pediatrics, and in part because he had what I considered one of the most amazing last names for a doctor ever. (Dr. Sunshine? How cool is that?)

Fast forward to earlier this week, when I came across a Healthier, Happier Lives blog post noting that Sunshine has been caring for preemies for more than five decades now. Has been – as in, still is! At the age of 84, he’s still at it, as I learned from the piece:

Sunshine started at Stanford in the 1950s, back when the Stanford University School of Medicine was located in San Francisco. What this gentle giant has accomplished since then not only forms a narrative of modern-day neonatal care, but also provides a legacy for modern medicine to follow.

Sunshine is the discoverer of a rare and deadly metabolic disorder, a member of the team that first implemented mechanical ventilation at Stanford, and originator of a scoring system for selecting infants needing assisted ventilation. He has authored several groundbreaking research papers and has received countless awards, including the prestigious Virginia Apgar Award in Perinatal Pediatrics from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The list of his accomplishments continues — all very deep, all very scientific and all very lifesaving.

Burned out from glory? Nope. This pioneer is still excited to come to work — even on days he isn’t on duty — to check in on his patients in the Packard Intermediate Care Nursery and keep in touch with colleagues.

Oh, and as for my interview with Sunshine back in 2006: He was knowledgeable, helpful (he plucked an out-of-print book on a Canadian hospital from his bookshelf and let me take and read it for background), easy to talk to, and clearly a kind man. Just what you would expect with someone in his line of work. Or with that last name.

Previously: A pioneer of modern-day neonatology and Neonatologist celebrates 50 years of preemie care
Photo courtesy of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital

Grand Roundup

Grand Roundup: Top posts for week of Nov. 2

The five most-read stories this week on Scope were:

Memory of everyday events may be compromised by sleep apnea: New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience offers more evidence that sleep apnea can cause difficulty in sufferers remembering where they left their keys and other daily events.

Cheating jet lag: Stanford researchers develop method to treat sleep disturbances: A team of Stanford researchers, led by neurobiologist Jamie Zeitzer, PhD, have developed a technique that helps people shift their sleep cycles by flashing light briefly at their eyes while they sleep. The method could someday be helpful to jet-lagged travelers, as well as shift workers and teenagers who have a hard time getting up at the right time.

The book that made me go to medical school – and other good reads: In response to young readers’ inquiries about which books they should be reading to prepare for a potential future in medicine, second-year medical student Natalia Birgisson offered some suggestions.

Rituals of the body – honoring the loss of bodily wholeness in medicine: As part of Scope’s SMS Unplugged series, MD/PhD student Amrapali Maitra discusses her experience observing an amputation and suggests the initiation of rituals to “help physicians recover the awe and the empathy toward bodies we care for.”

Some headway on chronic fatigue syndrome: Brain abnormalities pinpointed: Stanford researchers conducted an imaging study and discovered distinct differences in the brains of healthy people and those with chronic fatigue syndrome, a disorder that was once written off as a psychiatric phenomenon because no one could figure out what else might be behind it.

And still going strong – the most popular post from the past:

What are the consequences of sleep deprivation?: Brandon Peters, MD, an adjunct clinical faculty member at the Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine, explains how lack of sleep can negatively affect a person’s well-being in this Huffington Post piece.

Stanford Medicine Resources: