Dilettante Physician



At age 6, I decided to be a chemist, so I could earn money changing the colors of solutions in beakers and amazing my friends. When I got to college, I found that you actually have to measure things, Plus, to be good at Organic, you have to have excellent 3-d visualization.

Plan B: Neurologist. I was interested in the catecholamine neurotransmitters, which were them being discovered. Thought I'd be a clinician, or else research the brain/mind problem. (Little did I know that research on the catecholamines would save my life some day--and it wouldn't be my research. Or that neurological research involves grinding up the brains of cats. If it were rats, no problem--I'd bring them home to my cat.) Nobody told me that neurology is the third most depressing specialty in medicine, after pediatric oncology and pediatric burn ward. Most neurological diseases are devastating and incurable, or the only hope of cure is surgical.. "Yep, you've had a stroke. Too bad." Same for Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, epilepsy, migraine, myasthenia gravis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gherig's), malignant tumors, trigeminal neuralgia and trauma.

In the event, I had a legendary physics educator (Alfred Bork) and went on to get a physics degree. But I continued to read voraciously about medicine, and enjoy practicing on my friends. My grand slams are when I outdiagnose a doctor.

o Called a friend's Cushing's syndrome years before it was diagnosed (oddly, years before his cotrtisol level became elevated, even though he had hypertension, depression, buffalo pads, moon facies and rages-- doctors take note).

o A friend complained that he was exhausted a month after having the flu. Knowing that he'd been in Puerto Rico recently, Dr. Saunders diagnosed dengue. Serology proved him correct.

o A friend had dysphoric visions of hexagons during sleep. Was able (after reading Oliver Sack's book on the subject) to call the family history of classic migraine.

o One of my Spanish teachers in Costa Rica consulted me about her 'migranes' after detecting an interest in medicine. Her intense headaches began behind one eye, caused photophobia, work her up, occurred in the early evening, and occurred in clusters. Cluster headache--told her about inhaling oxygen.

While at the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine in San Antonio, I scrubbed in on a cardiac cath. I also have videos of balloon angioplasty and stenting, and am ready to try my hand at one if someone will volunteer.