Swallowing That Sandwich

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Hospital visit from my daughter before the procedure

Since publishing “Death by Tuna Sandwich” in the New York Times about my self-diagnosis of a rare condition called swallow syncope – six people have either commented or contacted me describing the same symptoms. Interestingly, all of them have been male, two are brothers, and only two have had a formal diagnosis and treatment with a pacemaker.

Several readers expressed surprise that it took me so long to seek medical advice about my heart stopping, but this is a common theme in the stories I’ve heard from other sufferers. That’s because the symptoms typically begin very mildly, over many years, with nothing dramatic that would initially suggest a cardiac problem or prompt a medical consultation. I could compare it to something like headaches, or light-headedness, which for many people might wax and wane in frequency and severity depending on their age and stage of life.Read More »

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Director’s Corner: A Beautiful Brain – in Memory of David R. Colman (1949 – 2011).

June 2011

                       Dr. Colman was the Director of the Montreal Neurological Institute.

Last June I sat in David Colman’s office – having accepted his invitation for a private tour of  “the Neuro”.

Had I known he had less than a year to live, how much longer I would have lingered!

There was so much more I had hoped to learn from him, so much more he had to give – not just to the world of science and medicine – that loss is inestimable – but also to the world of writing and philosophy.

Dr. Colman’s unexpected death this month has left a surprising emptiness in me – I only ever met the man once. But his monthly blog musings (Director’s Corner, which he called his “monthly opportunity to vent”), and our occasional e-mail exchanges gave me insight and inspiration, as I’m sure they did for many.

A busy agenda had been arranged for me that day at the Neuro – yet our conversation was unhurried, drifting easily from current affairs, to the new iPad, to multiple sclerosis and myelin. He scribbled diagrams on my notepad, explaining the complexities of his research on cancer metastasis, and finally, as I moved reluctantly towards the door, photos of his daughters, one of them the same age as my own, turned our conversation to parenting.Read More »

New Evidence for Blood Clots With the Pill. Will Canadian Ob/Gyn Group Revise its Guidelines on Drospirenone?

April 26, 2011

By Kate Johnson

The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) has a chance to redeem itself and make good on its controversial new contraceptive guidelines.

As I wrote in my last post, the guidelines are tainted with undisclosed conflicts of interest, calling their recommendations into question.

Now, two new studies in the British Medical Journal have made the guidelines redundant – presenting the SOGC with a rare opportunity to correct its mistakes (BMJ 2011;340:d2151 and BMJ 2011;340:d2139).Read More »

Can you Trust the Latest Canadian Contraceptive Guidelines? “The Bayer Facts” are Revealing in Their Omission.

April 4, 2011

By Kate Johnson

If it wasn’t for “the Bayer facts”, the new contraceptive guidelines from the Canadian Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (SOGC) would be rather underwhelming.

But stripped down they are alarmingly revealing: “an egregious example of the extreme,” according to Dr. Allan Sniderman, a McGill University cardiology professor who has called for widespread medical guideline reform.Read More »