World Diabetes Day, the super moon and Yanni: What do they have in common?
I am excited to begin this new blog “From the Doctor’s Bag” on Healio.com and grateful for the space to talk about topics not strictly medicine that affect our stressful workdays — topics without a P-value or area under the curve. I want to focus on topics that affect health care providers as simply humans, members of society. Professionals, yes, but still parents, siblings, spouses, neighbors or friends. Humans who are as vulnerable as everybody else and who, whenever possible, can have some fun!
For this inaugural blog post, some thoughts about November.
November is a special month. It started with the daylight-saving time change and the annual discussions about its necessity. Did you know that there are health hazards associated with this inconvenient ritual? Increased incidence of heart attacks in the morning of the Mondays after the spring-forward change. This has been attributed to the lost hour of sleep and related physiologic consequences. Our group has reported glitches in insulin pump clocks that could be potentially harmful due to incorrect insulin doses if a patient forgets to make the DST change on his or her pump.
At Michigan State University’s clinics, November 8 witnessed the long-awaited switch from one EHR system to a new one: A process that took over 1 year of prepping. So, on that Tuesday, while people around the country were flocking to vote, we at MSU were actively engaging in our “Go-Live Day.” We and our patients survived the switch, but that is a story for another day. Mid-November, was the deadline for all doctors (now called providers) to close their office notes in the old system — or else!
As I was driving to work one morning last week, the radio headlines in Michigan included something like “Hunters and drivers are on the watch for deer.” Living in lovely East Lansing (where everything is a 10-minute drive), I arrived at work shortly after 8:00 a.m., so I did not listen to the radio’s elaboration on the deer headline. However, in our endocrine clinic the story continued: I heard our fellow saying that he had hit a deer the prior day, in the early morning in Ann Arbor (it was still dark). Luckily, he was not hurt, but his new hybrid car was badly wrecked (he was willing to give me the car’s picture, but I opted not to post here). Sadly, the deer died in the middle of the road minutes after the collision.
And what about the super moon? November 14 marked the occurrence of the largest full moon since 1948, a natural phenomenon that occurs about once a century, according to what I read.
I had heard about the super moon 2 days earlier, so I was waiting for the moment. Unfortunately, we had cloudy skies in the Lansing area on November 14, so I took some pictures the following morning on my way to work. I pulled over to a park. In the west was the super moon setting; in the east was our super star, the sun, rising in a spectacular dusk scenery!
November 14 is also World Diabetes Day, inaugurated in 1991 by the International Diabetes Foundation and WHO “in response to growing concerns about the escalating health threat posed by diabetes. World Diabetes Day became an official United Nations Day in 2006 with the passage of United Nation Resolution 61/225.”
People around the world, patients and health care professionals recognize this day every year in the hope of raising awareness about diabetes. The organizations are attempting to turn the tide of the rapidly spreading epidemic by raising funds for diabetes research, by supporting each other in the fight against diabetes, and by standing with patients who suffer from the disease and its complications.
The logo of the WWD is a blue circle, and I have been wearing it as a pin on my white coat since I became aware of its existence.
While we are still talking about mid-November, I wish to share a personal November story: Our daughter Jinan was born on November 15, 1996, and passed away in March of 1997. She was born with schizencephaly, a debilitating congenital anomaly that was reported (at the time) in a handful of newborns from around the world. I recall reading that most have died in early childhood, including Jinan. I will share her story in another post.
And finally, November ends in the wonderful annual holiday Thanksgiving. Of course, by many measures this holiday is perhaps the warmest occasion for families. Our family will visit our daughter Dua and her husband Abubakr in Champaign, Illinois. This will be their second Thanksgiving as a small family, and the first occasion that we visit them.
Now, how would Yanni fit in this post?
I heard of Yanni in 2002 while I was doing a locum at Tawam Hospital in Al-Ain, United Arab Emirates. The work was quite busy, because all other endocrinologists were on vacation, so I had to see their patients in clinic and in the hospital. At that time, I was completing the analysis and writing the manuscript of a large study we had done on gestational diabetes at King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. So after work, I would spend the time in the hospital residence working on the study. When I needed a break, I would take the bus to downtown and spend some time in its cozy mall.
That’s when I spotted a CD of Yanni’s. I had never heard of him prior. I bought the CD, went home and put it in my laptop while working on the study. Since that day, I got hooked on his great sound — soothing and international. Then later, I Googled Yanni and found great things about him. I found that he had emigrated from Greece to California in the 70s to study psychology, if I remember correctly. Yanni had played piano since he was 5 years old, so after a short time in college, he just switched to music. The rest is history!
Learning about Yanni, I found out that his birthday is November 14! And I know that he dedicates part of his fortune to charity causes, including pandas. So, I have been trying to reach out to Yanni for some time, to convey to him this message:
Dear Yanni, Can you please do something for diabetes? Since you share some bonds with diabetes: November 14th? Will you add diabetes to your charity list?
Unfortunately, to this day, I have not reached Yanni through the usual channels available to fans. So, I am hoping that someone who is still reading may have the connections to Yanni to deliver this message to him.