Archive for the ‘medicine’ Category

If you are under 13, good. Stay here and learn this now, because body parts are body parts and the more you know about them the less scary they are. The less scary the less likely you are to misunderstand and misuse them.

Really, though, I know most people who read my blog are well past 13 and probably already know this. Still, I figure I’d better put it out there.

Last night I was watching a week-old episode of Conan on TiVo and he was talking about a woman who flashed her “vagina” on So You Think You Can Dance. I did whatever I do whenever anyone mentions a Celebrity Vagina Sighting. I looked it up on the internet. Because I know that rumours of the Celebrity Vagina Sighting are greatly exaggerated. Despite all the glimpses of famous nether regions we’ve all been treated to in the last 10 years or so, I can’t think of a single time we’ve seen a vagina.

We have certainly seen pubic hair. And Labia Majora. Labia, which is Latin for ‘lips’ is also the name given to the two sets of folds concealing the actual VAGINA from the harsh outside world. Frankly, in order to see an actual vagina you need a) a woman’s permission and b) a very direct pose. You will no more see a candid shot of a vagina than you will a candid shot of a lung or a sinus or a medulla oblongata.

This is the female genito-urinary anatomy, as depicted in ASCII format because I’m on a borrowed computer and can’t upload a drawing and am not going to link to a picture in a medical textbook because I’m too lazy and too on a roll with the text writing. And also because I think ASCII depictions of anything are hilarious.



() These things are the Labia Majora. They are the large outside folds of skin, fatty deposits and muscle. Unless groomed or sexually immature they will have pubic hair on them.
{} These things are the Labia Minora. They are the small inside folds of skin, nerves, and blood vessels. They are called “minora” because they are thinner than the outside lips, but it is perfectly normal if they extend beyond the outside lips on some women.

Together these two sets of organs are the VULVA. And these are what you see in all those unfortunate crotch shots of stupid young girls who think fame is worth compromising your dignity.

B the top loop of the B is the urethra, where urine exits the body. The infamous clitoris sits atop the urethra, but I don’t know how depict that in ASCII. So just know for future reference that the top loop of the B is a busy place.

The bottom loop of the B is the actual vagina itself. It’s tucked away under quite a lot of things, as you can tell. This is where the penis goes during intercourse and where the baby leaves during a vaginal birth. This is also where menstrual blood leaves the body during a woman’s period, and where mucus discharge leaves the body before ovulation, after intercourse and (although thicker and a different colour) if a woman has a vaginal infection of fungus or bacteria.

If you are kind of squicked out reading this, I understand. We apparently don’t like to talk about this stuff, given the fact that a highly educated Harvard graduate who is the son of a doctor, married and the father of two children thinks that the Vulva is the vagina.

But still, I must set the record straight.

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Jagged Little Pill

You wined me and dined me
When I was your girl
Promised if I’d be your wife
You’d show me the world
But all I’ve seen of this old world
Is a bed and a doctor bill
I’m tearin’ down your brooder house
‘Cause now I’ve got the pill

I’m following the Birth Control Pill discussion over at NiT with great interest. I’ve never known a world without the Pill. When Loretta sings about being chained down by babies it sounds like a cute novelty to me, not a hard and bitter reality. Birth Control Pills are not something I’ve ever needed for their stated purpose, but something I’ve taken three separate times in my life. I took them for awhile in my late teens to deal with painful periods. I took them for awhile after I was married but before we realised that nature had taken care of that issue for us. And now, recently, I just finished taking them again–with disasterous results [1].

I don’t like birth control pills because I don’t like what they represent. From my personal experience they’ve been sold as the “take one and your life will get easier” solution to a wide variety of problems. They’re sold as glossy dreams in women’s magazine, in spreads identical to the ones which sell soap, soup and sofas. Sure, the fine print talks about all the myriad problems which may be associated with monkeying in your brain chemistry. But seriously, who reads those and gives them equal weight against the Smiling Couple Swimming In A Pool In Mexico Without Snotty Babies Or Condoms Suffocating Them? What’s a little migraine or two compared to the freedom to have spontaneous sex without latex intervention? We’ve been conditioned by the marketplace to regard The Pill as a clean and harmless solution to one of life’s most vexing problems.

Even the staff at my gynecologist’s office has been lulled into a hot pink and lavender complacency by the Birth Control industry. There are pens and pads of paper and tote bags and umbrellas, all delivered by a very nice looking blonde lady in the middle of the morning while I sat in the waiting room. The names of the pills are a familiar part of the office decor and after awhile are as non-threatening as the subtle flowers on the wallpaper border [2]. Birth Control is taken without incident by so many women that I think people in general seem to have forgotten that every birth control pill is a serious cocktail of chemicals designed to forcibly alter natural body function.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an anti-pill crusader yearning for the good ol’ days of the rhythym method. I’m not a “condoms only” girl who thinks that only the Man is responsible for pregnancy prevention. I just wish that doctors and nurses would treat the medication with the seriousness that such a drug requires.

[1] My BCP Horror Story

I just didn’t get along well with these pills at all. They kept me in a state of worsened, instead of lessened, pain. In October, about a month after starting them, I noticed that I had a lot of numbness in my hands and feet. I called my OB/GYN’s nurse and asked her if that was normal. She said “that’s not from the pills. It’s probably something else.

Well, come to find out, it can be worsened by the pills and can be one of the signs of several serious diseases. Had the staff at my doctor’s office not been lulled into such complacency about the effects of birth control pills, and not convinced that I was just a big whiner, they would have diagnosed and treated a serious condition with much more expediency.

[2] I know that pharmaceutical sponsorship is one of the necessary evils of the current medical climate. I still like to whine about it, even though I’d take a free pen, too.

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Smoke if you want. Quit if you want. I’ll support you either way. But since the ‘Coma wants to quit, I have to help her the best way I know how.

Serious Motivational Aids antismoking.jpg

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UPDATE:  Feel free to just skip this post.   I should have followed my normal rule and sat on it for at least an hour.   I overreacted.   Since I don’t delete whole posts I can’t delete it.   But I do want to run it with a giant flashing “I was in a really bad unrelated mood” sign. (more…)

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Sorry, Eric Lee

You had very good comments, but I keep forgetting to check my spam filter, so I missed them until just now. Besides which, I’m up at 4 in the morning because I’m in pain, and you asked a good question about pain, so I’m just going to answer it in its own post.

Medications, acupuncture, local electrical stimulation, and brain stimulation, as well as surgery, are some treatments for chronic pain. Some physicians use placebos, which in some cases has resulted in a lessening or elimination of pain. Psychotherapy, relaxation and medication therapies, biofeedback, and behavior modification may also be employed to treat chronic pain.

What are your thoughts on those treatments? Do you know of any advances that have recently been made in this field?

I do know about all of those things, and have had many of them myself. I have had relaxation therapy and am able to hypnotise myself as a form of pain treatment. I’ve had surgery, massage therapy and have looked into getting a TENS unit to block the pain.

Can I just tell you how mad all this makes me? I hesitate to say anything because I always think that I’m going to come off as some kind of out-of-control junkie. But I think it’s my mission in life right now to educate people about pain medication. I remember back in September I told Hutch and Aunt B. that I was afraid to take my perscribed pain meds because I thought they’d turn me into an addict. This was after surgery–one of those surgeries I had to lessen my pain. In the months since then I’ve come to realise that my attitude is a normal one, a counterproductive one and the result of propaganda. When it comes to pain meds I’m in the ‘no zealot like a convert’ camp.

And here’s why. The simplest and best solution to many types of pain is an opiod pain reliever. They are relatively clean and have few side-effects, so they aren’t hard on your system. A person in pain can pop one of those pills and go about their daily tasks unimpeded. It’s a CLEAN, SIMPLE AND CHEAP treatment.

But we’ve stigmatised those drugs to the place where we’ve decided that it’s ‘better’ for a person with chronic pain to lay around on a couch undergoing self-hypnosis for hours or to carry around an electric box to shock their brain. Or to actually CUT THEM OPEN with invasive surgical procedures. Talk about rising health care costs! Hmmmm, let’s see. We can either prescribe a pill which costs about 12 cents to manufacture OR we can do any one of these other things, all of which are infinitely more expensive and often less effective.

Don’t get me wrong. I and most other chronic pain patients you meet will do anything to get rid of the pain. We will be cut open. We will shock our brains into blissful oblivion. We’re not just out for the drugs.

But we do think it is beyond stupid that we cannot GET the drugs if we need them.

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except my dad, my brother and Roger Abramson.

I’m prattling on about tort reform over at Mack’s place.

And no word about how my position on TR directly contradicts my libertarianism. I know that it does. And I’m duly ashamed.

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Last night Aunt B. had a post which rang a few bells with me. She was discussing the misbegotten adventures of a woman in a store looking for advice on herbs from the clerk. Of course this is ridiculous. Store clerks are not qualified to diagnose and treat illness.

But I think it says something about how much our society secretly yearns for the lost art of the Wise Woman. I think that a part of every ailing person longs for the comfort of a mother, and modern medical care completely denies that. The purely clinical nature of 21st century treatment offers some level of physical healing but lacks the succor found in the craft of the Wise Woman. Medicine has pulled away from a healing art and morphed into a kind of dry, white, sterile science. In turn, the arts of herbal healing and insightful analysis are now annexed under the labels of Occult and Witchcraft. I believe that witchcraft exists, but I don’t believe that all Wise Women throughout history were witches. In fact, the history of medicine refers back to many texts about herbs and herbal lore.

I am a Christian and a woman. When I watch the Da Vinci Code fever sweep the world, when I hear about women asking other women for medical advice, whenever people talk reverently about Mary of Magdala it makes me realise again just how much we crave the sacred feminine. I believe, because the Bible said so, that we are made in God’s image. Male AND Female. Which means that I believe that God has as much an essence of femininity as masculinity. I believe, as David said, that the Earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof. Which leads me to believe that the healing arts of the Wise Woman are as much God-directed as any medical care in a hospital.

There is always talk about how to “reshape” Christianity to refocus on the feminine aspects of God, as we continue to anthropomorphise God to meet our purposes. For me I’m content to let God be God and worship as such. But I would really like to see modern medicine reshaped. As clinical treatment strays further and further from the realm of the healing arts traditionally practiced by Wise Women it becomes less and less effective on a whole-person level. Two soon-to-be-released books–Better and How Doctors Think will once again talk about the flaws in modern medicine.

Flaws I believe could be healed by looking in the direction of holistic medicine. As with faith, I believe things are best when you consider the balance between the feminine and the masculine. Surely it could help medicine, too.

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