Reflecting on perspective and thankfulness.

Rambling a little this afternoon. On perspective and gratitude.

On the drive to work, I heard NPR’s piece on Dr Paul Farmer’s (Partners in Health) efforts to build a modern-day teaching hospital in Haiti. Having recently read Mountains beyond Mountains and then hearing this story made me think about the disease that I treat, atrial fibrillation.

AF disproportionally affects the well off. My hospital is adorned with the best equipment, talented people and I can use pretty much any technology that I want. Haiti has 4 CT scanners in the entire country; my hospital alone has 3 CT scanners. OMG.

The word ‘perspective’ comes to mind. But then I had office.

It’s nice when AF ablation works. People feel better. They are thankful. And it feels good. It’s been like this lately. (Don’t worry, I know it’s not permanent.) The practice of Medicine goes in cycles.

As far as seeing less AF recurrences lately, I also wonder whether some minor changes in technique have made a difference. Over the past year or so, we have learned to pay more attention to the quality of each burn–and to spend extra time in areas where gaps are often found when we do repeat ablations. When I recently visited a prominent AF center, they said the same thing. We learned and adapted the same way independently. As Dr Farmer says, “Love learning and adapting.”

Though treating AF in a wealthy part of a mostly prosperous US city seems like a lesser problem than TB, malnutrition and AIDS in Haiti, it’s what I know. And it’s a challenge.

Staying on the thankful note, I have to say how grateful I feel about having met so many medical colleagues in the blogosphere. So many have been so supportive. This week, for instance, Dr Val Jones convinced USAToday to host our medical Grand Rounds. That was cool. Val has supported my fledgling writing since I started. Thanks Val.

Last weekend, Dr Wes Fisher linked my post on medical blogging. My twitter feed lit up with new followers. Thanks for that Wes. And for writing so candidly about the important struggles impacting the doctor-patient relationship. So many times, after reading a poignant DrWes post, I find myself thinking, “gosh, that’s spot on…people need to read this.”

Then Medcity news named me a top-10 cardiologist to follow on Twitter. Full disclosure: that made me feel pretty happy. Almost as happy as winning 25$ in a cyclocross race. My son noted that “my postage-stamped-sized following had grown.” Teenagers don’t impress easy.

And finally, what would a Friday be like if Twitter’s friendliest doc didn’t post a ‘weekend wishes’ note? Like beautiful writing? Check out the one and only @JediPD. I always feel honored that he mentions me with a heap of other respected medical writers.

It’s a funny thing, this social media/blogosphere: though we have not met in person, the master of the obvious in me says these are a friendly and hip bunch.

Happy weekend.

Look out, I found a Saturday morning coffee video to post.


One reply on “Reflecting on perspective and thankfulness.”

John, stories from Haiti definitely put our lives in a different perspective.
Knowing and supporting a mission friend there, who visits here about once a year and tells us of the people, their struggles and hopes, gives us pause to reflect on both how thankful we should be, and also how amazing the human spirit is.

We dump things into landfills that would be treasures there. At restaurants, we complain about (and send back to the kitchen) food that has the slightest discrepancy or taste we don’t like. We go to “all you can eat” pig-out places, where there they go to “if there’s anything left – grab it” markets. We toss 2 year old technology (and 6 month old cellphones) into the recycling trash heap as “old and antiquated”. These things would be lights years into the future for them.

For another look at both the problems and promise of that country, check out the Midwives For Haiti project on this documentary produced by a colleague of mine.
Part 1 is here:

Thank you for reminding me to re-think about all of this. I’ll stop complaining about my comparatively minor afib for a while.

Have a good weekend.


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