Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Tag: Scott Simon

A Brief Chat with Scott Simon

I wrote a new piece for Shots, the NPR health blog. In an especially nice turn, the piece was “picked up” for a discussion on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. I had the chance to answer some questions from Scott Simon, longtime host of the program and one of my favorite radio broadcasters.

simon_mother_originalSimon is well-known for many reasons, but one of the most endearing things about him is the period when he sent numerous tweets from a Chicago ICU next to what turned out to be his mother’s deathbed. His tweets moved millions of us. [It turns out those tweets will now be used as narrative thread for a new memoir about his mother.]

I would’ve liked to tell Simon about how his tweeting impacted me, but this being national radio, we had to focus on the matter at hand, and I didn’t get the chance. Still, it was a thrill for me. Our conversation was whittled down to less than three minutes, and you can stream the audio anytime as it’s now permalinked to the written piece.

Give it a read and a listen. Hope you it makes you think.

Post by NPR.

Tweeting Sons & Moms

By now you’ve probably heard tale of NPR’s Scott Simon and his tweets heard round the world.

HIs 84 year-old mother was hospitalized in the ICU in Chicago, having gone through an emergency operation because of longstanding cancer.

In real, time-sequenced fashion, Simon used his Twitter stream to share his thoughts and sentiments to more than a million followers. Many mainstream media outlets ran the story because of the poignancy of what was happening.

Scott Simon and his Mom.

Scott Simon and his Mom.

Alas, Patricia Lyons Simon Newman died from complications of her condition. Simon was at her bedside for days, holding her hand, sharing her thoughts, her humor, and pathos.

Many pundits have called it “Twitter’s finest hour,” showing that the micro-blogging tool that is so popular (but often thought so inane) has some real use in conveying emotion, sentiment, and a sense of community. [Of course, Twitter’s also been known to play a role in revolutions amidst government internet crackdowns.]

Another blogger-cum-Twitter personality, Dr. Bob Wachter, also blogged and Tweeted about his own mother’s illness. Wachter is a well-known name in academic medical circles, credited with having coined the “hospitalist” concept in the late 1990s. He’s also the immediate past president of the American Board of Internal Medicine. Suffice it to say that he has clout.

So it’s well worth a read of his synopsis of his mother’s stay (ordeal?) at his own medical center, the University of California at San Francisco, always considered one of the nation’s best training grounds for doctors. As he says in the post, he’s “eaten at [his] own restaurant many times,” having had other family members treated at UCSF.

It makes an interesting read to hear an elite faculty member describe the care received by his own elderly mother from doctor-colleagues in another specialty (in this case, surgeons).

The very quick takeaway–lots of good things happened, but much could be improved upon. If you are interested in why health care is both so challenging and at times so NOT patient-centered, his post is worth reading.


One other note: GlassHospital readers will enjoy a blog post that I wrote for NPR’s “Shots” blog, which offers a slice-of-life of daily doctoring and some hope for the future. Essay linked here.

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