I have been spending some time thinking about compassion lately.  I have been reading medical sites that are asking how they can teach compassion to their medical students.  Some say that it cannot be taught.  I believe that if you have a heart for it, and a place to nurture it, compassion can be taught.

When I was in nursing school, in the 70’s, we were taught the importance of caring for each patient as if he/she was a family member.  The thought should always cross our minds, ‘How would I do it if this was my father/mother?’  When we were in our rotations, each area would emphasize what the patient on that floor or unit needed most.  On the geriatric floor, it was our job to look them in the eye when talking to them, touch them once in a while to make them comfortable or to give an extra back rub when possible.  I don’t think they have done that for a long time.  In the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) many of our patients were on ventilators, or were not awake and it was imperative that we give them a small pink sponge soaked with water to keep moisture in their mouths, put vaseline on their lips, and sometimes to place something over their eyes to make things darker.  It is daylight all day in that unit.

I could go on and on, but I am sure you understand, everything we did was with kindness and respect.  In my mind, compassion is more than empathy, that empathy is the beginning to learning compassion because once you begin to put yourself in the other person’s shoes, then you understand why you want to do those other little things for those that are hurting.

Here is a wonderful article about compassion from Stanford University.  I hope you enjoy it.

From suffering to compassion: Meditation teacher-author Sharon Salzberg shares her story

https://shar.es/1p5x83 meditation master and author Sharon Salzberg showed her recent Stanford audience that she could field even the toughest questions about the nature of This message was sent using ShareThis (http://www.sharethis.com)

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Here is a fantastic article by Dr. Margaret Aranda that I found and wanted to share with all of you.  I say it all the time!  You have to be your best advocate.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what degrees you have!  Women are treated differently in the medical field..


MONDAY, MARCH 9TH, 2015 / MARGARET ARANDA, MD Margaret Aranda 2015
It was just another sunny Malibu, California day back in April of 2006. My daughter and I had finished visiting Grandpa, and were on the road in front of Pepperdine University, where the sea gulls float in the air amidst the robust sea breeze. The smell of salt water permeated everything, and one could almost hear the crash of the waves, over and over again. My father had Alzheimer’s disease, so we were “regulars” at the Home. It was about 10 miles away, and we were headed home. POOF! In less than an instant of time, my truck was facing oncoming traffic as I heard a huge CRUNCH! Behind me, another truck was totaled in one large SMASH!

No one stopped. Blank, faceless people drove their cars to avoid hitting us, swerving to avoid hitting us. It was 2 pm on a Tuesday; they had nowhere to go.

I panicked and did the one thing that you are not supposed to do: get out of your car.  I had to check on my daughter, my 3-year old baby, who was strapped tightly to her car seat. I was obsessive about that.  I tried to stop the faceless drivers then, to help me get off the road, but they all drove by, glazed eyes. They had nowhere to go.

Our baby was fine. The driver had leaned over to stop her Chinese food from falling off the passenger seat, and lost control of her car as she pressed the gas instead of the brakes. There were no skid marks on the ground, and I never hit my head. We were ‘centrifuged’ and my brain suffered a torsion spin injury. We didn’t learn that for years. I felt fine on the scene. I watched the tow trucks take the other two cars away, wondering why they weren’t taking mine away, too. The rear axle was broken. The lady had been driving at a speed of about 90 mph.

People often stop me here and ask, “Did you get any money? Did you sue her?” Perplexed, I still fail to see the reasoning. So what if I got $70,000. I couldn’t walk; I couldn’t talk. For most of the nine years thereafter, I was bedridden.

Dysautonomia Diagnosis

I was confined to a wheelchair and couldn’t fit down a restaurant aisle. I couldn’t look at the shelves of yarn or I would throw up. The doctors thought I was malingering, until a cardiologist performed the Tilt Table Test and diagnosed me with dysautonomia. I was imbalanced and ataxic, and self-diagnosed a vertebral artery dissection. I went to Neurorehabilitation for weeks, and getting out of bed felt like I was a tremendous rock with no inertia, trying to move. Later, with the traumatic brain injury (TBI), I developed and self-diagnosed diabetes insipidus (DI), before I died of kidney failure. Even in the hospitals, the doctors asked me if I wanted valium, told me I was “too young to be a drug addict,” and asked me if I had a “psychiatric history.” The nurses would tell me to “just be a patient,” and then tell me “it’s a good thing you’re a doctor” when they tried to give me a beta-blocker to slow down my heart rate. My heart rate goes down to 35 beats/min every night. Slowing it down even more could have killed me during my sleep.

I lived on an IV PICC line for almost 4 years. What an oxymoron for an anesthesiologist to be constantly changing her own IV at home. It was a hard time. I got myself off the IV, by going down from 60 ml/hr to 59 ml/hr and so on. Finally, we pulled it out. The doctors did not realize that it could not stay in forever or I would die of an infection.

What I Learned: Fighting for Myself, Educating Others

What is the bottom line that I learned from all of this, being a doctor myself? Arguing with other doctors and surgeons for years? This is it: Women have to be knowledgeable about their own health. I had to fight for my diagnoses, each one of them, even the dysautonomia. It didn’t matter that I was a physician, my symptoms were downplayed and often ignored. Medications were offered that would have killed me. I had to fight. I had to become the expert in my own health. This was not an easy task when I was gravely ill but the choice was clear: fight back or die.

Eventually, I reached a point where I could at least write. My Stanford, USC, and Perelman University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine brain overflowed with medical information.

I did think straight on paper and in my own time (despite the doctors best attempts to convince me otherwise). So, in my trapped-in form of disarray, I learned about menopause, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and common women’s health issues. I made it my mission to educate girls and women. Recently, I completed my fifth book, Archives of the Vagina: A Journey through Time.   It starts from a girls’ First Period, and continues with thoughts Aristotle had on menstruation, other men who contributed to women’s age of consent for sexual intercourse. I pass it on to you as my life’s work to help women worldwide. If you are ill now, keep fighting.

Become the expert in your own health. Find your voice and when you can, help others find theirs too.



Now, let me tell you what happened.  I know that I said I would get caught up with my A to Z Challenge, and I will, but a strange thing happened. I wrote this blog all about Peanut Allergy and it was ready to publish when I received a phone call from someone who was impressed with a response I had given her on a site that I visit everyday,  It has to do with how physicians, physician assistants and nurses are treated within the medical community.  She is doing some great work to change things.  She asked me to publish what I had written on her site to some other Physicians’ sites and to please talk to a journalist about it to shine a bright light on the problem.  After that, I got to work sharing it everywhere I could think of.  By the time I came back to post my peanut piece (see how I did that? Alliteration.), all the words had disappeared.  Just the words.  Not the pretty “P”.  I looked all over the internet and it did not show up.  So, I write again.  Thank you for your kind understanding for my tardiness.

These days we hear so much about peanut allergies in children.  Doesn’t it seem like everyone has a peanut allergy?  Well, the pediatricians in 1997 were thinking that also and, although the number had increased some, it was not as much as it was thought.  By the year 2000, the American Academy of Pediatrics had put an alert out for parents not to feed their children any type of nut until they were around three years old.  About 40% of children with an allergy to peanuts also are allergic to tree nuts such as:  walnuts, pecans, cashews and  pine nuts.  A peanut allergy is usually chronic and lasts a lifetime. There have not been many clinical tests/studies done up to this time, especially ones that included children.  The American Academy of Pediatrics paid attention to the numbers of children being diagnosed with peanut allergies for the next few years, and by 2008 it was clearly noted that the numbers had tripled!  The idea of no exposure to the nut was not the answer.

The LEAP (Leap Early About Peanut) study, designed and conducted by the ITN (Immune Tolerance Network) with additional support from FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) and led by Professor Gideon Lack at Kings College London, is the first randomized trial to prevent food allergy in a large group of high-risk infants.  The study included over 600 children ages four to under eleven months old, who were thought to be at increased risk for developing peanut allergy because they had severe eczema, egg allergy or both.  Children already eating peanut products and those with suspected peanut allergy, or had a positive peanut skin test were excluded.

The LEAP study demonstrated that consumption of a peanut-containing snack by infants who are at high-risk for developing peanut allergy prevents the subsequent development of allergy.

Peanut allergies are present in approximately 0.6% of the United States and is the most common cause of food-related anaphylaxis death in Western cultures (U.S. and U.K.) and are rare in other countries.  The most common food allergies are:  Eggs, milk, wheat, and shellfish.  There is a difference between a food allergy and a food intolerance.  A food allergy usually is sudden and happens shortly after ingesting a small amount of the food in question.  It happens each time that food is eaten and the symptoms may increase and can possibly be life-threatening.  The symptoms of a  food Intolerance will usually begin slowly after eating a larger portion of the food and may only happen when the child eats the food often.  It is not life-threatening.  Both allergies and intolerance to food share some common symptoms:

1.  Nausea

2.  Stomach pain

3.  Diarrhea

4.  Vomiting

When food irritates your stomach or your body can’t properly digest it, that’s an intolerance. You may have these symptoms:

1.  Gas, cramps, or bloating

2.  Heartburn

3.  Headaches

4.  Irritability or nervousness

A food allergy happens when your immune system mistakes something in food as harmful and attacks it by producing special proteins (Antibodies)  called immunoglobulin E (IgE) These antibodies release chemicals, like Histamine  that can affect your whole body, not just your stomach. Symptoms may include:

1.  Rash, hives, itchy skin, or swelling

2.  Shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, or congestion

3.  Chest pain

4.  Sudden drop in blood pressure

5.  trouble swallowing or breathing — this is life-threatening. Call 911 immediately

The pediatrician will probably do skin testing either by:  Skin Prick Test (SPT),  Patch Test, and Radioallergosorbent Test (RAST), a blood test, to find out if the child has an allergy or intolerance to a food.

As parents, you will be responsible for safeguarding your child from this serious allergy.  The first thing on the list is to learn to read food labels and avoid peanuts completely.  The child should have a medical alert bracelet.  Speaking to the school, other caregivers or teachers in activities to make them all aware of your child’s severe allergy and what to do in an emergency.  Parents should learn CPR and how to use the autoinjector with epinephrin in case the child begins to have early symptoms.  And autoinjectors should be placed where they would be within easy access.











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