National Doctors’ Day 2020- battling the COVID-19 pandemic

Doctors’ Day 2020 will be somber for not only U.S. doctors, but for physicians all over the world. This year we are all working together against the biggest medical foe any of us have ever faced- the novel coronavirus pandemic

National Doctors’ Day

Did you know there is a national day to honor physicians? In 1990, the U.S. Congress established a National Doctors’ Day, first celebrated on March 30, 1991.

The first Doctors’ Day observance was March 30, 1933, in Winder, Georgia. The idea came from a doctor’s wife, Eudora Brown Almond,  and the date was the anniversary of the first use of general anesthetic in surgery.

an electron microscope image of the coronavirus
used with permission, CDC.GOV

Doctors’ Day 2020

But Doctors’ Day 2020 will be somber for not only U.S. doctors, but for physicians all over the world. This year we are all working together against the toughest medical foe any of us have ever faced- the novel coronavirus pandemic.

March 30 is Doctors' Day

You may not have a chance to honor your doctor in person, but you can commit to doing your part to establish a trusting, respectful relationship with your doctors. It will be good for both of you.

a medical person holding a stethoscope

how to communication with your doctors-

Be open and honest about your medical history,lifestyle, and concerns. 

Sometimes patients leave out important information due to forgetting, thinking it’s not important, embarrassment, or fear. But that may be the very piece of data I need to pinpoint what’s wrong.

So tell the doctor

  1. If you can’t do something you’re asked to do
  2. If you can’t afford medication, tests, or treatment
  3. If you are afraid of a test or treatment
  4. If other doctors are caring for you
  5. Your social habits-alcohol use, smoking, sexual behavior

Learn more tips on talking with your doctor here-

How to talk to your doctor to improve your medical care a male doctor holding a tablet

Give details about your problem, explain what you feel

I find that patients often have difficulty describing how they feel. They may say they hurt, cough, itch or get short of breath, but give few details. Maybe because we use  text messaging with its brevity, abbreviations and emoticons. We have forgotten how to use descriptive words.

I don’t think we doctors expect our patients to always recite a rehearsed narrative  about “why I came to the doctor today.” But it does help if you come prepared to answer questions as specifically as possible.

You might try thinking about your problem using the PQRST mnemonic. It will help your doctor identify possible causes for your symptoms, and may also help you understand your problem and even suggest ways you can help yourself.

Find out what PQRST means at this post-

How to tell your doctor what’s wrong with you.

Female doctor looking at an xray

Recognize your doctors are people first

As physicians, our patients’ “social histories” help us understand factors in your life that impact your health -where you live, your job, your family, your hobbies . Besides that, we enjoy getting to know you, especially the things that make you and your life unique and interesting. That feeling can go both ways.

a woman in white coat with mask over mouth

Exchanging a few social words can make the encounter more satisfying for you and your doctor. Some of us will be more open about sharing our personal lives, and some subjects may be off limits. But I don’t think any of us will object to polite,  caring interest in our lives outside of medicine.  

You may cry when you read about a unique doctor-patient relationship in this post-

A simple way to help your doctor beat burnout

Finally, in honor of Doctors’ Day, meet some physicians with unique experiences to share, just a few of the many doctors who work tirelessly to share the HEART of health.

INTERNATIONAL HEALTHCARE

Dr. Kent Brantly awoke feeling ill- muscle aches, fever, sore throat, headache and nausea. As his condition progressively worsened to include difficulty breathing, he learned the cause of his illness- the Ebola virus. Having spent the past few weeks caring for patients caught up in the Ebola epidemic that swept Liberia in the spring of 2014, Dr. Brantly had contracted the disease himself, and would likely die, as almost all victims do.

Continue this story at-

Surviving Ebola, “Called for Life”- Dr. Kent Brantly

affiliate link

 DISASTER HEALTHCARE

When she applied for a position in New York City at the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), Dr. Judy Melinek never imagined that decision would plunge her into the nightmare of September 11, 2001. She was at the ME office that day when the Twin Towers were attacked and fell, killing thousands of people.

She and the other staff collaborated with the team of investigators who worked night and day identifying remains of the victims, a task she vividly describes in the book. This was basically their only job, since the cause of death was for the most part irrelevant, and impossible to determine. Sometimes they had only a small body part, as little as a finger, to extract DNA to identity a victim. Such identification was critical to bring closure to the families who lost loved ones, people who left for work that day, and never came home.

Read more about Dr. Melinek at this review of her book-

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and The Making of a Medical Examiner- a review of words worth sharing

Meet the 91 year old still practicing physician, whose grandfather was a slave- Melissa Freeman, M.D.

Photos in this post are from the LIGHTSTOCK.COM collection, an affiliate link. Consider Lightstock for your photo and graphic needs. You will get quality media and help support the mission of this blog-to inform and inspire us all to discover the HEART of health.

exploring the HEART of dedicated physicians

Join me on Facebook March 30 through April 3 where I share stories about physicians past and present who share the HEART of health every day.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

5 lessons I learned when the lights went out

One winter night an ice storm hit my city. My house had no power for 5 days, some people as long as 2 weeks. We couldn’t cook, wash clothes, or watch TV.
As inconvenient as that was, the thing I missed most was light.

LIGHT -Matthew 5:14-16

From Jesus teaching in the Sermon on the Mount

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

5 lessons I learned when the lights went out-www.watercresswords.com-exploring the heart of health with faith, hope and love

(This post uses affiliate links for support by a commission if you purchase through them.)

The day my lights went out

On a cold December morning I awoke to no electric power in my house.No heat, no coffee,no hot breakfast, no television happened that day.

During the previous night rain fell, quickly turning to ice so thick that it brought down exposed power lines. It also took down tree limbs which in turn knocked down more power lines. By dawn, a city of a half million people was largely without power, including my home and clinic.

Upon arising, we started navigating the challenge of life without electricity. We had no heat, could not cook, wash clothes, watch TV, use our computer, or recharge our cell phones.

So, after opening our automatic garage door manually, we drove around looking for an open restaurant , finding traffic signals not working, and many businesses also closed. I didn’t go to my clinic since it didn’t have power either.

Somehow we made it through the day; it was something of an adventure at that point. But at sunset, we faced an evening and night in the dark.

My house had no power for 5 days, some people as long as 2 weeks. By the third day my clinic reopened so I had access to a computer, could charge my phone, and had a warm place to spend the day.

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As inconvenient as all the other things were, the thing I missed most was light.

I felt grateful to have candles and flashlights, but they weren’t the same as being able to flip a switch on the wall or turn the switch on a lamp and have bright light flood the room.

By living in the dark for 5 days I learned

I should not take light for granted.

Natural sunlight lasts from 8 to 14 hours per day, depending on where you live- unless you live at the north or south pole,where you may be in darkness for 24 hours part of the year. Once the sun sets, you are in darkness unless you create light in some way.

Light is a great equalizer.

It didn’t matter who you were or what part of town you lived in. Rich and poor and everyone in between experienced the power outage. Some people already had generators or were lucky enough to find a store with one for sale. Otherwise, you were in the dark.

Life without light is difficult.

Sitting in the living room listening to our battery powered TV (now a relic) by candlelight, wrapped up in blankets wasn’t too bad. I just had to remember to take a flashlight to go to the bathroom or into my closet to change clothes. With no power or windows to catch a little moonlight, these areas of my home were pitch black. We couldn’t cook, and could not safely store cold food-I had to throw everything in the refrigerator and freezer away by the third day. We quickly tired of peanut butter and crackers. Dirty clothes stayed dirty for the time being.

a sketch of 5 lit candles in a row
image from Lightstock.com, affiliate link

It takes work to produce light.

Power company crews worked around the clock, helped by  crews from other cities and states. It still took 2 weeks to get power back to everyone. It took even longer to get all the broken tree limbs picked up from  streets and yards and hauled off to a central site for burning. Subsequently the city undertook a plan to trim trees that posed a hazard to power lines  and to bury power lines.

Light should be shared with others.

Residents and businesses who had power invited others in , providing places to eat, wash clothes, charge phones, and stay warm. We were all in this together, and everyone seemed to make an extra effort to be kind to each other.

New York City at night
We enjoyed a view of the lights of New York City from the Empire State Building

Related scriptures about light 

Mark 4:21

Luke 8:16

1 John 1:5-7

Previous posts in my series on Jesus’ teachings from the Sermon on the Mount . 

Opportunities to do good

How to be blessed, happy, and healthy

The surprising blessing of discomfort

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

God's Promises for Women NIV Bible
God’s Promises for Women NIV Bible

God's Promises for Men NIV Bible
God’s Promises for Men NIV Bible

Share your “lights out” experience

I would love for you to share comments about a time you learned a lesson from a difficult experience. Or can you look back on a hard time and now see something that it can teach you?

Please share your insights, share this post, and follow watercress words as we explore the HEART of health and more words of faith, hope, and love.

Dr. Aletha 

faith, hope, love spelled out in wooden block letters
Faith Hope and Love , a graphic from Lightstock.com

New York City: music, museums, monuments, and medicine

I read her book in which Dr. Elizabeth Ford reviewed her career as a psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital, where she cared for mentally ill patients in the criminal justice system of New York City.

One of my favorite vacations ever was to New York City. I was curious about it but not sure I wanted to go there. But when my son’s work took him there for a year, I decided it was time to visit him and the city. And I am so glad I went. It was magical.

lady, 2 men posing together in a restaurant
good food, great company, grand city

This post features one of my new affiliates. TopView Sightseeing  helps people tour New York City, and since there is so much to see and enjoy there I decided to share it with you.  ( I am not directly compensated for mentioning this business; these are affiliate links that pay a commission to this blog if you use them to purchase; you should pay nothing extra.)


Besides visiting New York City, I’ve mentioned  it in several previous posts, mostly book reviews. I’m going to share links to them as well as some of my travel photos.

(These posts also have affiliate links to books and book sites. )

A Natural Woman- Carole King shares a lifetime of music, a season of pain

I reviewed Carole King’s memoir, A Natural Woman. Carole was born in Manhattan, attended school in New York City, and started her musical career there. A musical about her life, Beautiful, plays on Broadway. (I saw Beautiful in Tulsa.)

couple in front of THE LION KING sign
We saw THE LION KING in New York

Working Stiff -a book review to remember 9/11

Another memoir, Working Stiff, happened in New York City. Dr. Judy Melinek and her husband T.J. Mitchell chronicled her work as a medical examiner with the NYC Medical Examiner’s office following the Trade Center attacks on 9/11.

New York City at night
New York City by night from the Empire State Building


NEW YORK CITY: MUSIC, MUSEUMS, MONUMENTS, AD MEDICINE-watercresswords.com

Sometimes Amazing Things Happen:Heartbreak and Hope on the Bellevue Hospital Psychiatric Prison Ward by Elizabeth Ford, M.D. 

I read this book in which  Dr. Elizabeth Ford reviewed her career as a psychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital, where she cared for  mentally ill patients in the criminal justice system of New York City.

When the hospital flooded and lost power during Hurricane Sandy she and the dedicated staff fought to get permission to  evacuate the prisoner patients who languished for days in a ward without running water or hot food.

What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear- a book review

Dr. Danielle Ofri has a special interest in and writes about the patient- physician relationship . She is an attending physician at Bellevue Hospital,  Associate Professor of Medicine at New York University School of Medicine, and writes for The New York Times.

She has written several books; I reviewed this one.

Pandemic- a book review

Medical writer Sonia Shah reviews the history of the cholera epidemic of NYC among others in her book Pandemic.

MUSEUM-BEHIND THE SCENES AT THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
100 DRESSES
Our Tuneful Heritage


jewelry and ceramic figurines in a store window
window shopping


I hope you enjoyed this post.

Let me know if you make it to New York City and what you did there. And  if you use  TopView Sightseeing   tell me about your experience, I’ll share it with other readers. And thanks for using the other affiliate links in this post, I appreciate your support of the blog.

Thanks for exploring New York City and the HEART of health with me.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

Dr. Aletha     

Remembering 9/11 in literature

exploring the 9/11 legacy in literature #WorkingStiff#ProjectRebirth#CityofDust

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies,

and The Making of a Medical Examiner,

by Judy Melinek, M.D.and T.J. Mitchell

The author, Judy Melinek, M.D., wrote this  account of her training as a forensic pathologist, a physician specialist who investigates sudden, unexpected or violent deaths. Her husband, T.J. Mitchell co-authored.

When she applied for a position in New York City at the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), Dr. Judy Melinek never imagined that decision would plunge her into the nightmare of September 11, 2001. She was at the ME office that day when the Twin Towers were attacked and fell, killing thousands of people.

The main job of a medical examiner is to investigate death by examining a corpse- an autopsy. They look for evidence of cause of death, was it due to disease or trauma, and time of death, was it recent or remote. They hunt for signs that the death was self or other inflicted. Sometimes they may even need to establish the identity of the corpse.

Such was the case after September 11. She and the other staff collaborated with the team of investigators who worked night and day identifying remains of the victims, a task she vividly describes in the book. This was basically their only job, since the cause of death was for the most part irrelevant, and impossible to determine. Sometimes they had only a small body part, as little as a finger, to extract DNA to identity a victim. Such identification was critical to bring closure to the families who lost loved ones, people who left for work that day, and never came home.

Dr. Melinek describes not only the science of what she was doing, but also the emotion behind it; how she and the other medical examiners and staff felt about their work. She describes how it affected her relationship with her husband and young son, the problem of explaining to him what she was seeing and experiencing on a daily basis. She didn’t have the heart to tell him how many trailers full of partial bodies there were, after he saw just one and was shocked.

She also discusses other cases she worked on.  As a forensic pathologist, Dr. Melinek  understands why and how people die, and therefore also knows how people can avoid dying unexpectedly. Pathologists tend to be blunt, straightforward and to the point, as when she writes,

  • “So don’t jaywalk.
  • Wear your seat belt when you drive.
  • Better yet, stay out of your car and get some exercise.
  • Watch your weight.
  • If you’re a smoker, stop right now. If your aren’t, don’t start.
  • Guns put holes in people. Drugs are bad.
  • You know that yellow line on the subway platform? It’s there for a reason.
  • Staying alive, as it turns out, is mostly common sense.” 

Working Stiff moves at a quick pace, in a conversational style. When she uses medical jargon, she explains it in simple terms. She describes the cases she investigated in detail so those with weak stomachs (no pun) may want to skip this read.

Having experienced her father’s unexpected death when she was 13 years old, she was no stranger to it, and she learned more from the 262 autopsies she did during her training. As she says in this engaging memoir,

To confront death every day, to see it for yourself, you have to love the living.” 

Dr. Melinek also blogs at Forensic Pathology Forum 

The Statue of Liberty

Other authors have written about the medical consequences of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 in these books and articles.

City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11

mounted police officer
a New York City police officer and his horse represent the city proudly

by Anthony DePalma

“In City of Dust, Anthony DePalma offers the first full accounting of one of the gravest environmental catastrophes in United States history.

The destruction on 9/11 of two of the world’s largest buildings unleashed a vortex of dust and ash that blotted out the sun and has distorted science, medicine and public policy ever since. The likely dangers of 9/11’s massive dust cloud were evident from the beginning, yet thousands chose not to see. Why? As the sickening results of exposure became evident, many still refused to recognize them. Why? The consequences are still being tallied in the wasted bodies and disrupted lives of thousands who gave their all when the need was greatest, but whose demands for justice have been consumed by years of politics and courtroom maneuvers.

Separating reality from myth – and doing so with exceptional literary style and grace, DePalma covered Ground Zero for The New York Times for four years. DePalma introduces heroic firefighters, dedicated doctors and scientists, obsessive city officials, partisan politicians, aggressive lawyers, and compassionate judges and reveals the individual decisions that destroyed public trust, and the desperate attempts made to rebuild it.

The dust that was the World Trade Center has changed everything it touched. This is the story of that dust, the 9/11 disaster after the disaster, and what it tells us about ourselves and our future.”

(Amazon review)

Project Rebirth: Survival and the Strength of the Human Spirit from 9/11 Survivors

by Dr. Robin Stern and Courtney E. Martin

“Written in conjunction with the documentary Rebirth, a full decade in the making, an uplifting look at the lives of nine individuals whose lives were forever changed by the largest tragedy our nation has ever faced. 

In Project Rebirth, a psychologist and a journalist examine the lives of nine people who were directly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Written concurrently with the filming of the documentary, it is uniquely positioned to tackle the questions raised about how people react in the face of crippling grief, how you maintain hope for a future when your life as you knew it is destroyed, and the amazing ability of humans to focus on the positive aspects of day-to-day living in the face of tragedy.”

(Amazon review)

NYFD engine
honoring the brave NYFD firefighters who rescued survivors and those who lost their lives doing so

At Morgue, Ceaselessly Sifting 9/11 Traces

“Outside the chalk-white tent, the whistle of traffic along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive signals the forward movement of a city. But inside, 16 refrigerated trailers hum in a ceaseless chorus, giving voice to the dead whose remains are contained in their hold.

The trailers hummed as time separated the city from the 11th of September: as the smoking mountain of what had been the World Trade Center became a yawning hole; as 1.6 million tons of debris were sifted through on a Staten Island landfill; as commemorative services caused heads to bow. They hummed and they continue to hum, a mantra-like reminder that talk of closure is premature.” (excerpt from newspaper article)

Public health and medical disaster responses: The untold story of 9/11

By Kelly B. Close, MD

former National Coordinator of Disaster Volunteers for the American Red Cross

“You never know when your life is going to change.

My red business suit was almost buttoned, and I was rehearsing my presentation for the Milford, Connecticut Red Cross board of directors, even though my mind kept wandering to my wedding just nine days earlier in Walt Disney World. An urgent call from my new husband to come to the television interrupted my wedding day dreams.

As soon as I saw the images of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, I knew that my plans for the day – maybe even my life – had changed.” (excerpt from article at ems1.com)

Triumph Over Terror

by Bob Ossler with Janice Hall Heck

“What do Ossler’s insights reveal about finding meaning and purpose in the thick of chaos and personal tragedy?

Chaplain Ossler chronicles the best of humanity—acts of courage and goodness in the midst of unimaginable devastation. As terrorist attacks continue to assault humanity, Triumph Over Terror reveals how your spirit can triumph over terror’s reign, and how you can help others suffering from trauma and loss.”(Amazon review)

(This blog post contains several affiliate links, a commission is paid if used to make purchase. Thank you.)

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center, photo taken 8/16/2013 by Dr. Aletha

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

Dr. Aletha 

an open book with pages folded to make a heart
photo from Lightstock.com, affiliate link

use Lightstock.com, stock photos and other media, affiliate link to help fund this blog

Weekend Words to remember 9/11

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

I took this photo in August 2013, the only time I have ever visited New York City. I created this graphic with the YouVersion Bible App, download on the App Store 

Church of Our Lady of the Rosary
Shrine of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton

Manhatten, New York

Through the efforts of Charlotte Grace O’Brien, this church was originally established as a mission for female Irish immigrants coming to America during the late 19th century.

Elizabeth Ann Seton occupies a unique place in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. She established the first free Catholic school for girls in the nation and founded the first American congregation of religious sisters, the Sisters of Charity.  In 1975 she became the first American-born saint to be canonized by the Vatican.
Above the entrance looking out over New York harbor, is a white marble statue of Mother Elizabeth Seton sculpted by Robert E. Gaspari.  Francis Cardinal Spellman dedicated the shrine on September 8, 1965.

In 2015, the Parish of the Our Lady of the Rosary was merged back into St Peter’s Parish to form St Peter -Our Lady of the Rosary Parish.

I

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4 , NIV

THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide

Matthew 5:4 is one of the Beatitudes, from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Other posts in this series include –

How to satisfy hunger and thirst

The surprising blessing of discomfort

How to be blessed, happy, and healthy

Remembering Independence Day, July 4, 1776

On Independence Day, celebrated on July 4th, Americans celebrate our country’s freedom with fireworks, family, and friends. Amidst the fun and hoopla, let’s pause to remember the supreme price of freedom.

On Independence Day, celebrated on July 4th, Americans celebrate our country’s freedom with fireworks, family, and friends. Amidst the fun and hoopla, let’s pause to remember the supreme price of freedom.

Freedom is our most revered right as citizens of the United States

The United States flag displayed at Grand Central Station, New York City, NY
The United States flag displayed at Grand Central Station, New York City, NY

 

Let’s hoist up our American flags, prominently wear our red, white, and blue, and proudly show our dedication to those to whom we owe this weekend: our nation’s veterans and U.S. military.

 

Our country is great because of them. In their honor, I want to invite everyone to take a moment with me today and pause in honor of those who have fought and those who continue to fight for our freedom.

statue of General George Washington, first President of the United States of America - New York City
statue of General George Washington, first President of the United States of America – New York City

 

As the world’s largest women’s patriotic service organization, the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) thanks the brave men and women who fought – and continue to fight – at home and abroad, along with their families who sacrificed along with them, to allow us the privilege to live in the Land of the Free because of the brave.

(message courtesy of ALA leadership)

 

 May God bless America and our friends around the world.

The Statue of Liberty
“Liberty Enlightening the World” on Liberty Island, New York City, gift to the United States from France

 

I am proud to be a member of the American Legion Auxiliary and the Daughters of the American Revolution. 

Have a happy, healthy, and safe Independence Holiday.    Dr. Aletha 

In memory of the events of September 11, 2001

After 14 years, a new Word Trade Center has emerged.

One World Trade Center, photo taken 8/16/2013
One World Trade Center, photo taken 8/16/2013

IMG_1551
view of Manhattan and Liberty Island from the harbor

a New York City police officer and his horse represent the city proudly
a New York City police officer and his horse represent the city proudly

honoring the brave firefighters who rescued survivors and those who lost their lives doing so
honoring the brave firefighters who rescued survivors and those who lost their lives doing so

see more photos from my visit to New York City here