Wednesday, December 31, 2008


For many years, I cared for a gentle and generous man who lived most of the year in Peru. He served as a teacher in a school for indigenous people. On most of his visits back to the States, he would bring small souvenirs.

On one occasion, he presented me with a small bronze statue of a llama carrying hoppers full of copper. The little creature has lived in my office ever since, proudly standing among several other mementos from patients. I smile and remember my patient and his stories whenever I see the llama.

Recently, I was honored
to be given a "Golden Llama Award" by Dr. Rob at Musings of a Distractable Mind. Golden Llamas are awarded because...well, um...just because. I was surprised and delighted to be recognized.

So, now I have two llamas, one bronze (pictured here) and one gold (on the sidebar). Both are fun and both are very much appreciated. Thanks to my patient and thanks to Dr. Rob.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Faked Memoirs


At the bottom of the sidebar to this blog is a list of books that I have enjoyed. One of them is "Left to Tell," an amazing story of survival and forgiveness in Rwanda during and after the 1994 genocide. I was moved by the story as I prepared to visit Tanzania in March.

A wonderful blogger and MCW graduate, Mary Rose Buckler, MD, brings some insight into the story...turns out much of the book is fabricated. Her post delicately hints at the details.

How sad! Just like the recent pulling of the faked memoir "Angel at the Fence," I would like to think that "Left to Tell" was written to make a point and to bring hope, rather than to cash in on an opportunity. It is hard to believe that there wasn't a story that would have moved people without fabricating any of the details.

Other recent fraudulent memoirs are listed here.

None of us is perfect, our cultural standards of "truth" differ, and our memories are subject to erosion. Still, as a person who writes a bit, I feel nothing but sadness for these discredited writers whose hard work went to waste.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Call for Submissions: SurgeXperiences 214

I am honored to be the host of the next edition (214) of SurgeXperiences! This is a “Blog Carnival” of blog postings that are related, however tangentially, to surgery and the surgical experience. The post will go live on January 4, 2009.

Everyone is welcome to submit, whether you are a physician, nurse, technologist, videographer, quilter, llama lover, patient, or friend of any of the above.

I will host SurgeXperiences on Reflections in a Head Mirror.

I will try to be a clever host, but, given the holidays and the need to recover from all of the potential meals and celebration, we will just have to wait and see what happens. If you want to submit, click on this link to go to the submission page.

Submission deadline: Saturday, January 3, 2009

I will put this message on my main blog next week, but wanted to give my three readers a heads up.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Passwords and the Aging Process

I am clearly aging. When I started working at my present job in 1987, our department had no computers at all, and, therefore, no password-protected security. Back in those days, I had no problem learning and recalling strings of numbers (credit card numbers, ID numbers, etc.) and adjusted quickly when a number changed. I chortled when the professors balked.

Security in those days depended much less on technology. When I started, the three keys I carried (office, clinic, outside door) provided all of the security the department needed. There were no electronic strips in name badges, no passwords, and none of the ubiquitous cameras. A few doors had punch-button codes that everyone knew. The most secure areas on campus could be accessed by calling a friend and being "buzzed" through a door.

Security has changed; many systems now require passwords. For example, to get to the first screen of our new medical record system, I sometimes need to log in three separate times using two different log in/password combinations. Every important website I visit requires a different password. And, of course, just when I finally get them all in sync, a screen pops up that requires me to change one of them. I currently carry a list of over 70 log in/password combinations. Too often, I forget to write down a new password and get locked out after making too many attempts to access a site.

Fortunately for me, one bit of security has never changed. When I walk into the operating room dressing area to prepare for surgery, the lock on my OR locker is the same one that I used in high school gym class from 1968 to 1972. The lock still works fine. And, best of all, I can remember the combination.

I know I am getting older. I can no longer remember new log in/password combinations when they crop up. I write them down and hope I can find my list when I need it.

But, the day I can not get into my OR locker because I can't remember the combination will be different. That event will be mark the day when I realize it is time to call it quits.