Â A roundup of some tricks ‘n’ treats (mostly treats) encountered lately while browsing the Internet.
– Here’s a sweet opener: The New York TimesÂ has a conversation with the writer behind the Candy Professor blog and tries to answer the question: Is candy evil or just misunderstood? The opening paragraphs give you an idea of the extreme attitudes Americans can harbor about candy:
For Samira Kawash, a writer who lives in Brooklyn, the Jelly Bean Incident provided the spark.
Five years ago, her daughter, then 3, was invited to play at the home of a new friend. At snack time, having noted the presence of sugar (in the form of juice boxes and cookies) in the kitchen, Dr. Kawash, then a Rutgers professor, brought out a few jelly beans.
The mother froze. Her child had never tasted candy, she explained, but perhaps it would be all right just this once. Then the father weighed in from the other room, shouting that they might as well give the child crack cocaine.
Read the rest. It’s definitely a treat.
– SomeÂ treatsÂ areÂ a little more complex and not particularly sweet: As the month-long pink ribbon campaign winds down, here’s aÂ thoughtful, and thought-provoking, dual look at how we perceive breast cancer. From the New York Times (again) comes a review of two books. One, “Promise Me,”Â is the story behind the Susan G. Komen Foundation, arguably the most vocal and well-funded breast cancer advocacy group in the United States, if not the world. The other can be summed up by its title: “Pink Ribbon Blues.” It’sÂ an exploration of the tyranny of positive thinking, the breast cancer marketplace and the scientific uncertainties surrounding screening and treatment for the disease.
The contrast turns on a dime, from inspirational to in-your-face. Dr. Abigail Zuger suggests that both points of view have validity: “The inspirational and the actual, the wish-it-were and the how-it-is; don’t read one without the other.”
– Here’s more food for thought: A nurse practitioner explains why she no longer believes in routine mammograms. I first encountered Veneta Masson’s essay a few weeks ago in the Health Affairs journal and wanted to blog about it. But I got busy and then other bloggers beat me to it. An excerpt from Masson’s essay was evenÂ published inÂ the Washington Post, where it was tweeted extensively.
Masson writes, “I shock friends when I admit that I’m no longer a member of the mammogram club.” But far from being heretical, she’s reasoned and articulate – in short, an example of a woman who has weighed the evidence and made a choice. Whether you agree with her or not, this is a treat worth reading.
– Time for a trick, and this is an unsavory one: a compilation of 10 of the worst recent patient privacy violations. (You have to click through a whole bunch of super-annoying links to read about each one, so be patient.) I didn’t have to decide whichÂ of these was the worst because the Hospital Impact blog did it for me: health care workers who “shared photos of a dying, nearly decapitated patient in the ER on Facebook for all of their friends – and the world – to see.”
There is a tendency to blame technology for patient privacy breaches, but what about the person who’s using the technology? The real issue here, it seems, is employees who are clueless or unprofessional or immature or venal or all of the above, and can’t (or don’t want to) understand the meaning of patient privacy. I call that scary.
-Â Is the bad taste gone from your mouth? If so, let’sÂ move on to a final treat. This moving story, aboutÂ one of the lowliest of hospital employeesÂ and the power of human connection, comes from the Notes of an Anesthesioboist blog, written by an anonymousÂ doctor who is an anesthesiologist, motherÂ and ardent oboe player. Her blog was a finalist for the best literary medical blog of 2008. “The Cleaning Guy” was first posted several months ago but it’s a story that’s timeless. Most definitely a treat.
West Central Tribune file photo