On the Ethics of Treating Ebola (or refusing to)

The topic has come up among our students too. We train at one of the nine South African hospitals that are to be the first port of call for suspected Ebola cases. What would we do if we actually had a confirmed case? Would we, as students, treat them? Mostly we think we would not (right now… read on).

Reviewing “Ebola” – and can we just admit that we don’t have a handle on this?

I read Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus by David Quammen. There is hardly a more current book on the matter and I am getting so many questions from friends and family that I figured I might as well inform myself a little more. In 1976 a deadly virus emerged from theContinue reading “Reviewing “Ebola” – and can we just admit that we don’t have a handle on this?”

Late Presentations: A New Perspective

When medical students and doctors get bored, they start sharing “late presentation” stories. My first such experience was in third year, when a homeless man presented to us with horribly advanced rectal cancer. I was so disturbed that he had allowed it to progress so far, and I shared the story in a post. IContinue reading “Late Presentations: A New Perspective”

Let’s Talk About Women in Medicine

A while back, when my post about South African Public Hospitals was popular, someone recommended I write about women in healthcare. I chose not to because at the time I just didn’t feel really strongly about it. I suppose I kind of wanted to believe that there was no sexism in South African medicine, theContinue reading “Let’s Talk About Women in Medicine”

PSA: Coronary Artery Disease Sucks

As you may recall, I was on Cardiology Week recently. Despite the hard work, it was really quite rewarding. We have a fantastic Cardiology Unit, and it shows. Anyway, because our country has a smorgasbord of infectious and lifestyle diseases, the majority of what we dealt with was acute coronary syndromes. One day in theContinue reading “PSA: Coronary Artery Disease Sucks”

A Tale of Two Sisters (and Grief and Mental Health)

Two little sisters had an extended stay in the small rural hospital. They were the stars of the Paeds ward. The little one was absolutely shining and brightened up the whole ward. I spent ward rounds with her in my arms, on my hips, and eventually falling asleep on my back. She was loved. The olderContinue reading “A Tale of Two Sisters (and Grief and Mental Health)”

Mitchells Plain Diaries

This is a recipe for a Township on the Cape Flats: 1. Take one medium-sized residential zone. 2. Pre-heat to levels of Rage and Discontent, using a Past like Apartheid. 3. Grease the pan with a good measure of Hope by Changing Living Standards. If this is unavailable, Promising Change is a good substitute. 4. CombineContinue reading “Mitchells Plain Diaries”

Books as a Mirror for Attitudes toward Mental Health

For Mental Health Awareness Month I wanted to make a list of books about mental health. I was done with a rough draft when I realised I didn’t like it: I hadn’t read that many YA about mental health and some pretty voracious readers are sure to post some fantastic lists. What I do wantContinue reading “Books as a Mirror for Attitudes toward Mental Health”

Book Review: Postmortem by Maria Phalime

A South African child, born in Soweto, grows through her hardships and losses, excels at school, and decides that to pursue a medical career. She endures great challenges to reach her goal, but after four years as a qualified doctor, she hangs up her stethoscope and leaves the medical profession for good. What causes ourContinue reading “Book Review: Postmortem by Maria Phalime”

Book Review: Seven Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them

Infectious Disease is interesting. In fact, I would wager that it forms at least part of the backbone leading to most medical students deciding to study medicine, regardless of whether or not they end up enjoying ID. Seven Modern Plagues by Mark Jerome Walters investigates seven diseases causing havoc today. He looks at the circumstances thatContinue reading “Book Review: Seven Modern Plagues and How We Are Causing Them”