Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Author Question: When Were Casts Invented?


Ann asks:

I have a question about treatment of a leg fracture in the late 1860's. My character has broken his tibia (? --the bone at the front of the calf). It's not a compound break. Can you tell me if it would have been splinted or casted at that time, and how long before a determined person with such a break could walk using crutches? How long do such breaks take to heal?

Jordyn says:

Here is a great source that talks about the invention of plaster of paris. It looks like it would have been used for casting during your time frame. http://www.ehow.com/about_5134930_plaster-paris-history.html
This link says specifically:

Plaster Casts

  • The invention of the plaster bandage can be attributed to an Arabic doctor and is noted in the Al-Tasrif, an Arabic medical encyclopedia dated from around 1000 C.E. This earlier adaptation of plaster for orthopedic cast making was unknown by European and American doctors. The use of plaster of Paris in the modern medical field began in earnest during the 1800s. By the 1850s bandages were rubbed with a plaster of Paris powder and then dampened and applied around the injury. During the 1970s this type of cast making began to wane. Most of today's orthopedic casts are made of synthetic materials.

With a cast in place-- he should be able to walk with crutches but NOT bear weight right away. That would be very painful. People are usually in casts, depending on the break, for four to six weeks. Today, we usually splint people for a week to allow for swelling before the cast is put in place to prevent compression syndrome but I can't say whether or not that would have been common practice at the time. He will have muscle atrophy of the leg during that time from non-use/limited use.

*************************************************************************
Ann Shorey has been a full-time writer for over twenty years. Her writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul, and in the Adams Media Cup of Comfort series. She made her fiction debut with The Edge of Light, Book One in the At Home in Beldon Grove series. She’s tempted to thank Peet’s coffee and Dove chocolates when she writes the acknowledgments for her books.

She may be contacted through her website,
www.annshorey.com, which also contains her blog, http://annshorey.blogspot.com/ or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnnShorey.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Is Home Canning Safe?



Considering the state of the current economy, I can see families struggle with decisions about how to provide for their family's basic needs in a very economical way. Some have seen canning as a way to gap this issue and provide nutritional, homegrown food for their loved ones.

But, is canning safe?

Today, I'm hosting Melissa K. Norris as she discusses the canning issue. To celebrate the release of her novel, Pioneering Today,  we're giving away one signed copy to one person who posts a comment on this post by Saturday, Feb 2nd AND leaves their e-mail address in their comment. Must live in the USA to qualify.  Winner announced here Sunday, Feb 3rd.

Welcome, Melissa!

Canning your food at home can be a very satisfying, healthy, and economical way to provide food for your family. If you grow your own food, it is picked at the peak of freshness and canned immediately. We plant a large organic vegetable garden and only use heirloom seeds. Heirloom or heritage seeds are seeds left as God made them, untouched by the hand of science.



The key to home canning is knowing which foods are safe to water bath can and which ones need to be canned in a pressure canner. Water bath means you process your sealed jars of food by immersing them in boiling water for a set amount of time. Pressure canning is processing your sealed jars of food in a special pressure canner that allows you to set the pounds of pressure created by steam inside the sealed canner.



All acidic food can be safely canned via a water bath. All non-acidic foods, vegetables, meats, can only be safely canned in a pressure canner. Pressure canners create enough heat for the food to reach 240 degrees. A water bath, no matter how many hours you process, can’t reach this high.



The heat is important because Clostridium botulinum, commonly called botulism is a bacteria that can be deadly. The pressure cooker reaches high enough heat to kill it. Botulism cannot be smelled or detected by the eye.  We still boil our home canned green beans for three minutes before eating. My family has been growing our strain of Tarheel green beans for over a hundred years and I’ve never had store canned green beans at home. We have never gotten sick.



Home canning is safe and quite enjoyable. Our entire family helps and my children have helped plant, weed, pick, snap, and can our beans since they could walk. For a more thorough tutorial on home canning visit my Beginners Guide-Canning 101 Water Bath vs. Pressure Canning.

**********************************************************************



Melissa K. Norris is a novelist, newspaper columnist, and author of Pioneering Today-Faithand Home the Old Fashioned Way. Her stories inspire your faith and pioneer roots. She found her own little house in the big woods, where she lives with her husband and two children in the Cascade Mountains. She writes a monthly column, Pioneering Today, for the local newspaper that bridges her love of the past with its usefulness in modern life. Her books and articles are inspired by her family’s small herd of beef cattle, her amateur barrel racing days, and her forays into quilting and canning—without always reading the directions first.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Up and Coming


It. Is. Getting. SO. Close.

Poison is about to release!!

Have you pre-ordered yet? It's super-cheap on Amazon right now. Less than $9.00. 

But enough about me...

What is there for you?

This week I'm focusing on some historical medical aspects. Hopefully, even if you're not an historical author, you'll find this information valuable and helpful.

Monday: Author Melissa K. Norris stops by to discuss medical safety and canning and is also offering a chance to win a copy of her book Pioneering Today. So be sure to leave a comment WITH your e-mail address by Saturday, Feb 2nd. Winner announced here Sunday, Feb 3rd. 

Wednesday: Author Ann Shorey stops by and asks when were plaster casts invented?

Friday: Author Catherine Richmond blogs about 19th century contraception. Just what were the options for women during that time era? Truly interesting.

Have a GREAT week. 

Jordyn
 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Burn Injuries

One thing that has changed recently is how medical professionals talk about burns or burn terminology.

Burns used to be classified as follows:

  • First Degree: Skin is pink, but no fluid-filled blisters.
  • Second Degree: Skin had fluid-filled blisters of varying sizes.
  • Third Degree: Multiple layers of the skin are involved. There may be charring of the wound. The picture would denote, at the very least, a third degree burn.
  • Fourth Degree: Charring and burning that involves muscle and bone.



Now, we refer to burns as partial thickness or full thickness. Partial thickness would include first and second degree burns. Full thickness would be considered third and fourth degree burns.

Here is a good resource that discusses the difference. 

Treatment of burns depends on location, size and depth. 

Very simply, localized burns are usually treated by cleaning, leaving blisters intact, slathering them with triple antibiotic ointment and then dressing them.

Not all burns need to be followed up by a specialist at a burn clinic but burns that involve the hands or feet (because of functionality), the face (for cosmetic reasons or if they could hinder the senses), or genitalia (including nipples) are usually referred for further care.

Also, burn injuries need to be estimated on what percentage of the skin is involved. Based on the percentage-- a patient can be referred for follow-up or flat out admitted if the burn injury is severe. You may have heard this referenced to as the "Rule of Nines". Pediatric patients have different ratios so keep that in mind.

Here are a few links that help estimate burn percentage based on skin area:
  
 http://www.medstudentlc.com/page.php?id=85
  
http://www.emedicinehealth.com/burn_percentage_in_adults_rule_of_nines/article_em.htm:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK27240/

Most patients with significant burn injuries have significant pain. We do tend to give something that has a narcotic to help their pain. Also, based on the percentage of burned skin, some patients will also need fluid resuscitation, ICU admission, intubation--- etc, to manage the injury.

So, if you're writing about burns and your POV character is a medical professional, keep these things in mind so your character can be treated the right way with the medical professional using the right language. 


 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Author Question: Australian DJs and HIPAA

Remember the nurse who committed suicide in the wake of the Australian radio DJ's that posed as the Queen of England to get the medical staff to disclose private details of the Duchess?

I totally get, as a nurse, why she made that choice. 

Every day, nurses face critical choices that can have dire consequences. Most often, I can say from being in this field for almost 20 years, that 99% of the time, medical people DO NOT have ill intentions toward their patients. They are not maliciously trying to harm people. Do mistakes happen . . . yes. But usually it is the result of a system wide problem.

This nurse that patched through the radio personality posing as the Queen of England probably was thinking, "Wow, the Queen! I better patch her through post haste. I wouldn't want to do anything to upset the monarchy." 

She may have been star-struck-- I don't know. But we don't ask for credentials over the phone. If you say your Britney Spears's sister-- why should I doubt you?

I can understand the horror this nurse must have felt when she learned of the prank. I know she likely feared for her job. I know she likely felt horrified that that one simple action of transferring a phone call led to mass attention being drawn her way. 

Sadly, since I don't know this nurse personally and am only guessing, this may have been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. 

HIPAA issues/violations can have dire consequences for the healthcare provider. We can lose our jobs.

In short, HIPAA is a set of laws designed to protect patient's privacy. I've done a series on HIPAA that you can find here:

http://jordynredwood.blogspot.com/2011/12/author-beware-law-hipaa-part-13.html

http://jordynredwood.blogspot.com/2011/12/author-beware-law-hipaa-part-23.html

http://jordynredwood.blogspot.com/2011/12/author-beware-law-hipaa-33.html


http://jordynredwood.blogspot.com/2012/11/hipaa-and-law-enforcement.html


However, I recently got an author's question that kind of took a new spin so I thought I'd cover it here.

Glenda asks:
  
In the novel I'm writing (my first), I have a young mother of a four-year-old who is in a coma because of an automobile accident hundreds of miles away from her home.  There are no other next of kin other than the child.  How can a minister who's trying to help solve a mystery get more information about her condition? Who can the doctor disclose her condition to?  What information can be disclosed under HIPAA?  If you would address that in one of your future blogs, I would greatly appreciate it.  I've read through a lot of information but haven't seen anything that addresses a situation such as this. Thank you so much!

Jordyn Says:

I think it will be hard for this minister to get information unless he became the appointed legal guardian over her (since she's incapacitated and he's caring for her son and they can't find any other family.) This might be a better question to run by a lawyer-- how could he become her legal guardian? The hospital is going to want someone they can go to. If he served that way--- they would release info to him. Likely, he'd have to fill out a request through the medical records department.


In lieu of that-- likely what he would be told would be the condition. Grave, Critical, Poor, Fair, Stable, Good.-- something along those lines without specific information. 


In follow-up Glenda did ask her son-in-law who is a lawyer this question and here is her information after that consultation.

Glenda says:

My attorney son-in-law said that the minister would have to go before a judge to be a guardian ad litem (in South Carolina at least) in order to get medical information on the mother and to make decisions for the child while the mother was unable to do so.  Thanks for your advice!


My pleasure, Glenda. And best of luck with this novel. 

******************************************************************************

Glenda Manus recently retired after teaching 30 years in an elementary school. Her love of reading good books prompted her to try and write one of her own. Though book writing is a challenge (Amen, sister!) she feels God is with her on the journey.
 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Perspecitve...

I loved this short, sweet post by Dan Greene where he shares his thoughts on a cancer diagnosis. I love hearing what people have learned in a moment of crisis. Dan has offerred to let me share this blog piece here at Redwood's. You can find Dan at his blog a Writer's Room.

Welcome, Dan.


I’m a survivor….

In March of 2001, I thought my world was coming to an end. I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I had hurt my neck at work and had to get an x-ray. It just so happened part of my right lung was in this x-ray. There was a spot the size of a quarter on my right lung.

I smoked for almost 30 years. The thought of not being here for my family was the hardest part. When my son hugged me and said, “Dad, I don’t want you to die.” I was so scared I didn’t know what to do. After several tests it was determined that the type of lung cancer I had was a large cell cancer that is not as aggressive as small cell. It was caught in the earliest stage and it cost me half of my right lung.

I believe that God was looking after me when I hurt my neck. You take life for granted when everything is okay, but when faced with death you realize how important life and time here on earth can be.

I try to live life now to the fullest and try to enjoy everything I do. Sometimes, it’s hard not to be mad but mad to me is wasted time. 

I am in great health now. I don’t smoke. I still drink beer on weekends. Shed about 30 pounds. But the most important thing is that it’s 2013 . . . I am still here with my family and was able to write this note. I never had to have chemo or anything.

I was truly blessed with learning how precious life can really be even though it cost me half a lung.

So the next time you look in the mirror—make sure that the person who is looking back at you is who you truly want to be for the rest of your life!

And please . . . don’t smoke. It was cool in 1975 but deadly in 2001. 

***********************************************************************


Dan loves to write stories and poems. Expressing himself in the written word. He loves taking pictures. God helps him see who he needs to be.



Sunday, January 20, 2013

Up and Coming


Hello Redwood's Fans!

How has your week been?

What did you think of Lance Armstrong's confession? I found it to be medically very interesting how he had HUNDREDS of tests for illegal substances and was always found to be clean. I was one of those that believed in his innocence until his confession. I just couldn't figure out how not once he never tested positive.

One thing I have found interesting is that he refers to his cancer as "the disease". That fascinates me. Most people are fine saying, "I had cancer." but he doesn't do this. Now, I haven't watched all the interview yet so this could change. Hmm... I wonder why that is?
 

Sounds like a good book, right?

For you this week:

Monday: Dan Green offers perspective surrounding his cancer diagnosis.

Wednesday: Author question surrounding HIPAA which are laws that govern patient privacy.

Friday: Need an injury and treatment plan for a character? We'll cover burn injuries.

And no, this is not my house but I would like one in the woods someday.

Have a GREAT week and send some snow my way.

Jordyn

Friday, January 18, 2013

Author Question: Police Response 2/2

We're continuing with Amy's question about police response.

In short, police are responding to a presumed intruder though the intruder thinks he's rented the place! The genre is romantic comedy. You can read the first post here.

4. Firearms drawn?

If they are carrying long guns, then obviously the weapons are out and ready to be used. It would be typical to have their side arms drawn in this situation. It’s justified for two reasons. The first being that the man in the house called to report an intruder on his doorstep, which is felony in progress.

The second is that they know this girl and they are automatically suspicious of the man inside the home, which is also a potential felony. Felons automatically get that kind of special attention.

5. If this is plausible and the cops immediately detain the man for suspected foul play, how would they detain him? Cuffs? Secure him in the back of a cruiser until they make sure the girl is okay? Pin him to the ground?

They are going to give him some verbal commands to exit the house, come to them, face away and put his hands behind his back. They would cuff him and they would probably place him in a patrol car. They could also just sit him down on the lawn and keep a knee in his back. It’s a little more aggressive and humiliating which looks to be the goal here.

However, this guy is going to be scared and confused and he may not like the cops ordering him out of his own place (or so he thinks) at gun point. This could cause him to hesitate and/or verbally object to complying with the commands being given to him, which would result in the police using a more aggressive, hands on approach.

6. The man is holding the woman at gun point until the cops arrive, and he tells the police this when he first calls 911. It turns out to not even be loaded, and he puts it away before he the police arrive. But if the cops believe he has a gun, and he's the one to open the door, how would they react/respond? (i.e. guns drawn, telling him to put his hands where they can see him, patting him down for a weapon? etc.)

Okay… This question may actually change some of my previous answers, especially for question number three. If the man is holding her at gun point and he has informed dispatch of this, then the cops are going to roll all the way in lights and sirens. They would probably shut the sirens off at the end of the block so they can communicate over the radio easier. Cop cars don’t have a lot of sound proofing and the sirens really do hinder listening to and talking on the radio.

Secondly, they will use their cop cars to establish a barrier or cover for themselves at the street. Other responding units are going to spread themselves out to establish a perimeter around the home. Verbal commands are going to be shouted (or possibly called out over the public address (PA) speaker on the patrol car) to the home for the man to come out with his empty hands up and he’ll be detained as previously described. Mostly likely they would cuff and stuff him in a patrol car, as the cars are now right in front of the house. The general rule of thumb is always cuff then search the suspect before putting him in the car.

Also, the cops are going to clear the house to make sure there is no one else inside. This means a room to room search of the home with weapons drawn. They are going to open all the closet doors, check under the beds, check the showers, check the cupboards, check the crawlspaces and the attic, basically anywhere a person could fit into. This would be done immediately after the man in the home is detained. They don’t need permission, they’re just going to do it.

They will ask him, “Is there anyone else in the house?” They will proceed no matter what the answer is. They will announce themselves at the front door. “This is the Police! Is there anyone inside the home? If there is anyone inside the home you must announce yourself and come to the front door with your hands up. This is the police, we are coming in the house.” Two or three cops will clear the house together so they can provide over watch of each other and maintain security of areas that have not yet been cleared.

Finally, let’s not forget that the responding officers are going to get a coded channel on the radio before arriving on scene. This means that one of the police channels is dedicated to the units that are involved in this call for service and all other normal police traffic is goes to another channel. Depending on how quickly the situation is developing, the primary police channel may be coded and normal traffic goes to an alternate channel. However, since these cops in this scenario have to travel to this location and this is not a situation that just blew up in their face, the responding officers would likely use the alternate channel for their priority traffic and all other normal traffic would stay on the primary radio channel. Some typical radio traffic would be.

Lead Unit: “3 Adam 12, I need a code on channel two.”
Dispatch: “Copy… All units stand by for a code.” A two second, high pitched tone comes over the radio. “All units be advised that channel two is code for units responding to (address). All other traffic remain on channel one.”

After it’s all over and everything is secure and safe some typical radio traffic could be:

Lead Unit: “3 Adam 12, all units are code four; you may clear the code.”
Dispatch: “Copy.. All units stand by.” They do the two second tone again. “All units the code on channel two is now clear. All radio traffic return to the primary channel.”

Many thanks to my brother, Karl, for taking the time in answering these police questions.

It's always good to have an expert on hand.

****************************************************************************

Amy Drown has a History degree from the University of Arizona, and has completed graduate studies in History and Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. An executive assistant by day, she also moonlights as an award-winning piper and photographer. But her true addiction is writing edgy, inspirational fiction that shares her vision of a world in desperate need of roots—the deep roots of family, friendship and faith. Her roots are in Scotland, England and California, but she currently makes her home in Colorado. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GlasgowPiper.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Author Question: Police Response 1/2


Amy asks:

I'm writing a contemporary RomCom novel, and my opening scene involves the Colorado Springs Police Department. It starts as a sort of comedy of errors when my heroine returns from an extensive trip to find someone else has accidentally moved into her half of the duplex she rents. The man she finds there thinks she's breaking in and calls the police. What he doesn't know, however, is that my heroine is the daughter of a former police officer who has died and is very well known by the other officers on the force.

Amy contacted me as she was needing some police help, STAT, and my brother happens to work for a police department. Even though the questions are not medical in nature, the information was too good not to post here.

What follows is the scenario and her questions-- my brother's responses are below each question.

A special shout out to my brother, Karl, for giving such detailed answers. Part II follows next post.

Amy says:

The way I have written the scene, the officers responding to the call know exactly who lives at that address because they've known the heroine for years, ever since she was a little girl, and are rather protective of her since her father/their fellow officer passed away. So when the man who actually called about the break-in answers the door, they immediately suspect HIM of foul play.

One officer physically detains him on the front porch while the other verifies that the girl is OK. The man is confused by the fact that the woman whom he thinks just broke into his house is on a first-name basis with the cops, and why they are so protective of her when he is the one who called them. Of course, it is all resolved when they realize the man was given a key to the wrong half of the duplex and is supposed to have moved into the second story unit.


1. Is this plausible? Might two officers who personally know the address and the occupant immediately jump to this conclusion about her safety despite the fact that the man made the call?

If the cops know this girl and already feel an obligation to protect her due to the loss of her father, then it is very likely that they would take this stance no matter what the situation is, possibly even if she were doing something wrong herself. I will say that Colorado Springs is not like New York, we’re not going to give every cop’s kid or wife an automatic pass, but they will take care of their own and they would be ultra-protective of this woman who has a stranger in her home.

2. Would two officers arrive in one single cruiser, or two separate? The scene takes place in January -- what color is the typical winter uniform?

CSPD typically rides in single man cars. So if there are two cops on scene, there will be two cars. CSPD’s uniforms don’t change for the season. They wear blue shirts (short sleeve or long sleeve) over midnight blue pants. The only difference would be if they are wearing midnight blue jackets over their uniform shirts due to colder weather.

The jackets have some reflective striping on the arms above the elbow and the badges used for the jackets are embroidered patches. The cops might be wearing a mock turtle neck, or some guys still go for the outer sweaters. They are also authorized to wear plain (no logos), black, cold weather, knit caps on their heads.

3. Assuming the man calls it in as a burglary-in-progress, are two officers enough, or would more units respond? Would they arrive silent/dark, lights only, or lights+sirens?

Only two officers would typically be dispatched to a call for service like this, but more would possibly respond for a couple of reasons. First, if more are available and they assign themselves to the call, then more will show up. This is typical because a burglary in progress is considered a high risk call for service and cops like to look out for one another and catch bad guys.

Second, if this girl is so well known within the department, anyone who can respond, probably would. It may be a way for the author to really drive home the girl’s popularity or the sense of protection the department has for her, when six cops, a sergeant and a shift lieutenant all show up on scene. The police would respond lights and sirens, but the rule of thumb is to shut that stuff down several blocks away. If it is after dark, they may role down the block blacked out and no matter what time of day it is, they will park two to three houses away and walk in. One or two them could pull out some long guns too (shotgun, patrol rifle).

Tune in next post for the remaining questions.

**********************************************************************

Amy Drown has a History degree from the University of Arizona, and has completed graduate studies in History and Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. An executive assistant by day, she also moonlights as an award-winning piper and photographer. But her true addiction is writing edgy, inspirational fiction that shares her vision of a world in desperate need of roots—the deep roots of family, friendship and faith. Her roots are in Scotland, England and California, but she currently makes her home in Colorado. Find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/GlasgowPiper.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Author Question: Hallucinogenic Drugs


Kristin Asks:

I am an aspiring young writer who is currently working on a futuristic dystopian novel set during a second Holocaust. The villain is conducting massive Dr. Mengele-like experiments on thousands of people. My question is, is there a known prescription drug that you've run across that, once injected into the human bloodstream, could cause disturbing auditory and visual hallucinations and/or nightmares?

Jordyn Says:

Put simply, a hallucination is something a person experiences that others do not see and hear. They can be auditory (hearing) or visual.

Some hallucinations direct a person to do bad things-- to hurt or kill themselves and/or others.

There are many drugs that can cause hallucinations. I'm going to link you to a couple of lists.

http://www.ehow.com/about_5390930_prescription-drugs-can-cause-hallucinations.html

http://www.adr.org.uk/factsheets/hallucinations.pdf

http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/symptoms/hallucinations/overview.html

*********************************************************************

Kristin is a Christian high school girl in the Midwestern United States and an aspiring writer. She has written numerous poems and short stories, and several half-completed novels. She is currently working on a novel she hopes to complete in the spring, a futuristic dystopian entitled Asylum, written from the perspective of a victim of a second Holocaust who is being held prisoner in a mental hospital in London. Kristin lives at home with her parents, younger siblings, and her mutt dog, Shadow. She spends most of her free time writing or studying Spanish and Mandarin.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Up and Coming

Hello, Redwood's Fans!

The release of Poison is rapidly approaching. To help celebrate, over the next several weeks, I'll be posting the first five chapters. You can find the first chapter here.

Enjoy!

For you this week I'm highlighting author questions. These are some of my favorite posts to do.

Monday: Hallucinogenic Drugs

Wednesday and Friday: I'm highlighting my brother's police prowess as he tackles a long list of author questions. Even though they are not medical in nature-- it's too good of information not to post here.

Hope all of you have a fabulous week.

Jordyn

Friday, January 11, 2013

Proof of Heaven: Dr. Eben Alexander 3/3

Today, I'm concluding a three-part series on the non-fiction book, Proof of Heaven, written by Dr. Eben Alexander as he discusses his Near Death Experience (NDE) after he contracted a rare, often deadly form of E-coli meningitis. Here are Part I and Part II.

Toward the end of the book, Dr. Alexander lists the current medical theories offered as explanations for NDE's and why he now completely discounts them and now has a firm belief that there is a loving God and Heaven.

1. Primitive brainstem program to ease terminal pain. Discounted due to the vibrant nature of his experience.

2. A distorted recall of memories from the limbic system. Again discounted for the same reason as above.

3. Endogenous glutamate blockade with excitotoxicity-- mimicking the hallucinatory anesthetic, ketamine. I mean, really, this is how smart and scientific he viewed this process. As he explains in his book, he'd seen people under the effects of ketamine and the hallucinations are nonsensical whereas his were not. I would agree with that regarding ketamine as we use it for conscious sedation in the ED.

4. DMT dump which is a naturally occurring serotonin that causes vivid hallucinations. Dr. Alexander confesses to experiencing some hallucinations with drug use in his teens and argues against this theory because you'd have to have a relatively intact, functioning brain for which he did not while in his coma.

5. Functioning areas of cortical regions but he discounts this considering the severity of his meningitis.

There are four more that he lists in the book. What Dr. Alexander did do that I found interesting was write down his experience with as much detail as he could before he read about other NDE experiences so as not to taint his own perception or tarnish his data. Then he thoroughly researched what others had scientifically proposed and steps through why they are not relevant.

Overall, I found this to be a very fascinating book. It does at some points read like a textbook but I think we in the medical community need to pay attention to the spiritual aspects of our patients as part of their illness/injury process and I think learning from people who have had these experiences can help us to that.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Proof of Heaven: Dr. Eben Alexander 2/3

In today's post, I'm continuing my discussion on Near Death Experiences or NDE's by highlighting Dr. Eben Alexander's book Proof of Heaven. Here is Part I

Each medical specialty has a definite stereotype. I've found that most labor and delivery nurses have had cheerleading background. I. Kid. You. Not. For a while, I asked every L&D nurse I knew if they did cheerleading in highschool and ALL said yes.

I found that a very important job requirement for labor nurses because heaven knows if you didn't have that affinity, you would get TIRED of coaching women through labor shift after shift. I mean, I was rolling my own eyeballs at myself at what a pain I was when I delivered my own children.

Neurosurgeons are the same way. They are very cerebral. Smart. But not always personable. I've only met one or two that could interact socially in a pleasant way-- like the ham it up, crack-a-few jokes kind.

That is not to say they are not friendly . . . just so above (not in a snooty way) the average person intellectually. I mean, think about how intelligent you have to be to operate on the smartest, fastest biological computer ever created.

That's the sense that I got about Dr. Alexander. Driven. Uber-smart. I'm sure he has a Mensa card for sure. He bought into all the normally offered medical explanations for NDE.

I think God has a funny sense of humor. I imagine Him thinking-- how can I get Eben's attention? This man who loves the brain and its chemistry and lives and dies to fix it. What would be the one disease I could give him to convince him of My presence?

How about . . . meningitis. And not just your average, run-of-the-mill easily curable kind. But one that is so rare that most people die of it. So rare that you have a risk of 1:10 million chance of contracting the disease. Whereas you have a 30% chance of being in a serious car accident in the next year.

And that's what happened. Dr. Alexander contracted a rare form of E-coli meningitis. Generally only seen in adults if you've had neurosurgery or traumatic brain injury (I'm guessing skull fracture that would disrupt the normal protective nature of the bones.)

Dr. Alexander's meningitis did not respond to antibiotics. He was comatose for seven days. The family was at the point where they were considering withdrawing life support.

And while he was in that coma-- he had a NDE that changed his whole outlook on life and caused him to discount every previous medical theory he'd bought into from a very analytical, scientific point of view. That's what we'll talk about next post.