Jun 19, 2014

Doctah's Orders - Some Advice from a Sort-of Doctor

Doctah's Orders - Advice from a Sort-of Doctor | Business, Life & Design

Having a sister in med school is really awesome.  Because every weird symptom you have, or strange skin thing, or whatever is too gross to talk about with normal people, she'll listen to, look at, ask questions, and share whatever she may happen to know about that body part.  In the past couple years, the breadth of knowledge that Sister2 has gained has been truly astounding.  It's also fun, because whenever you question her, she says, "Trust me.  I'm a doctah!"

It's getting to the point now where it's amusing sometimes.  She's starting to forget what's technical jargon vs common terminology.  So she was telling us about how med school has improved her understanding of an old injury, offhandedly mentioning that it was a "gelatinous mass," while I was totally astonished that "gelatinous" can refer to anything other than Jello.  She also routinely mentions things like palpating, palpitating, and intubating, which I keep getting jumbled.

Sometimes she uses us as practice, which can also be funny.  When she learned how to "palpate" abdomens - and Sister3 was too ticklish to hold still for it.  When she got a stethoscope and showed us all how to do it and we compared our heartbeats to the dogs' (theirs are much faster!).  At some point she's going to learn to do needles, but I don't know if I want to volunteer for that one.

She passes on everything she learns that could be relevant.  On her advice, our Mom went to the dermatologist, and they caught something that wasn't dangerous but could have been disfiguring if left unchecked.  She also explained that the supposed benefit of a glass of red wine is less than the damage it does to your liver, so this exchange is only practical after a certain age.

We've all filled out advance directives (instructions for if you're in a coma or incapacitated) on her advice and we're all taking folic acid now, because Sister2 discovered that folic acid can prevent birth defects, but must be taken a year in advance to be truly effective.  So we're all prepared for accidental pregnancies. (Hey, it might be an accident, but you still have to be prepared.  Or something.)

She also helps us figure out fact vs fiction with supplement advice.  Evidently, with all the weird things that are supposed to help with sleep issues, Magnesium is the only thing found to be effective by the sleep specialist who spoke to their class.

As far as other vitamins, most multis completely overdose you, and you'd be better off getting your nutrients through a healthy diet.  However, the only ones you should worry about taking an excessive of are the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, & K - More information here).  Water solubles we just pee out the excess.

Advice You Should Follow

  1. Fill Out an Advance Directive - you might find your next of kin have completely different ideas about how to handle medical emergencies and life support than you do.  Also, the directive assigns who gets to make your medical decisions.  Make sure you know what will happen!
  2. Take Folic Acid - if you're a woman, that is.  It's a very easy thing to do, and it's included in a lot of multi-vitamins.
  3. Visit the Dermatologist - At least once if you're young, so you can get educated about what to look for.  If you're older, go every so often so they can keep an eye on you.  Several of my family members have had Melanoma, which is scary and dangerous, and might not have been caught without the dermatologist.
  4. Educate Yourself - it's easy for us now that we have a med student in our family, but there are tons of resources out there.  If you have questions about anything, or at risk for anything, you should know what to look for and how to keep yourself healthy.  Just don't let WebMD make you paranoid.
On very rare occasions, her extra knowledge can be bad.  New med students learn so many things and it's easy to start over-diagnosing, or imagining diseases that aren't there.

One day I was driving all of us to a state park to go hiking.  I started to feel light-headed (scary when driving), and we tried to fix it by giving me water, and a granola bar from the snack bag.  I recovered quickly, leading Sister2 to conclude that I was diabetic (because I had skipped breakfast and the granola bar was obviously the miracle cure) and should get that checked out. (Which totally freaked me out and I spent weeks researching it and always check the option at the blood bank to have my blood sugar tested - it's always fine.)

This is one example where it's easy to see where the mis-diagnosis came from.  And I think we all get a little paranoid if we spend too much time on WebMD.  Honestly, the fact that she's spent 2 years pouring through information on ALL THE DISEASES and we've only been diagnosed with a couple is pretty impressive.

Overall, the times her knowledge has been truly beneficial have far outweighed the inconvenient ones.  And isn't that what being a doctor is all about?  "First do no harm."  I'd say she's well on her way!

Have you ever been just a tad bit hypochondriac or had any WebMD self diagnosis mishaps?


  1. I was dizzy and thought I had a brain tumor...it was a severe sinus infection. Whoops.

    It's cool to have a doctor in the family!

  2. At least she's trying to diagnose you with physical diseases. After her psychology unit she kept texting me about my potential mental disorders. -Sister3

    1. Oh, this could be a fun game! Maybe I'll think of some too. ;-)

  3. Oh man.. having a sister in med school could get to be TOO much fun.. I mean really..! Consider yourself really lucky to have a doctor in the family. Imagine the incredibly inappropriate, strange questions you can ask her now! I work in pharmacy and I HAVE TO ask.. how's her writing? I could assume the worst. But I bet some overcome the stereotypes!



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