Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Today, I was just in employee health for my annual PPD (skin test for tuberculosis) and I was reminded about flu vaccines. While I am a believer in vaccines (when was the last case of polio you saw?), I do not take the flu vaccine. I am allergic. But, I encourage others to take appropriate vaccines on schedule. I have vaccinated my children. I have vaccinated my pets. I have only stopped certain vaccines for myself due to my allergy.

I asked rhetorically in the last paragraph, "When was the last case of polio you have seen?" Years ago there were rooms of patients in iron lungs at hospitals like Rancho Las Amigos in Los Angeles County. Now the hospital is a rehab hospital. Iron lungs are a thing of the past. There are pictures from this time: http://www.polioassociation.org/Faces_of_Polio.pdf. I remember getting polio vaccination as a child. I knew someone who wasn't so fortunate. She had polio as a child. Her disease did not get to her respiratory muscles. But, she wore long leg braces and used crutches.

I remember when I had measles. I felt deathly ill. But, I was luckier than some. I survived. Roald Dahl's daughter died, as did many others. He wrote an essay about her death:  http://www.people.com/article/roald-dahl-vaccine-measles-letter-daughter-olivia-death. About two weeks after my bout of measles, the vaccine was released. Even as a child, I understood that children wouldn't suffer as I had. I was jealous. I was unhappy that I had suffered. And those who have suffered measles, especially when very young, may suffer another complication SSPE--subacute sclerosis panencephalitis. They then may suffer a progressive decline and death. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subacute_sclerosing_panencephalitis)

Last year, there was another measles epidemic. It was small, compared to those of the past, but, it reminded us that the disease is not gone. That avoiding vaccinations carries risk. But, fortunately, for most of the anti-vaxxers, herd immunity has protected them. While they risk not only their own children, but others who have medical reasons to not be vaccinated.

These diseases are still around. Some of us must rely on herd immunity. As I do for flu vaccines.

Physician to Patient (and Back Again)

Just had another short piece published about my experiences as a patient: http://aansneurosurgeon.org/features/from-physician-to-patient-and-back-again/

I found it difficult to change roles from physician to patient, and now back to physician, or should I now admit, both. My experiences as a patient have certainly changed me. I hope it has helped to make me a better doctor. I also should apologize in advance for a few typos, caught too late.