Skip to main content


Rule of Nines: quick method to assess burns

If clothing or skin catches fire, stop, drop, and roll.

Writers must develop thick skin to survive. Where the skin is thinnest more damage occurs from burns: face, hands, perineum, feet, the skin of the elderly.
The Rule of Nines divides the body into multiples of nine to quickly approximate the extent of burns. Head 9%, each arm 9%, each side of each leg 9%, the trunk 18%, privates 1%.
Burns may be classified by cause or degree.
Dry heat injuries: open flames, explosions. Moist heat injuries: hot pot of red bean soup, steam from rice cooker. Contact burns: contact with hot pan, chicken grease, lard. Chemical burns: drain cleaner, oven cleaner, sulfuric acid, a particularly caustic rejection letter. Electrical burns: electrical current passing through body. Thermal burns: clothing on fire. Flash (arch) burns: contact with electrical current traveling through air, from one conductor to another. Conductive electrical injury: from touching electrical equipment. Radiation burns: therapeutic treatme…
Recent posts

ACS = acute compartment syndrome

Psychologically, the ability to compartmentalize one's roles in different aspects of life can be a sign of successful coping, but communication between and integration of various compartments are also necessary for a healthy psyche. Excessive stress in one compartment can lead to maladjustment, just as excessive pressure in one section of a limb can lead to severe complications.

"Compartment syndrome" sounds claustrophobic, like your tiny studio apartment or condo's about to spontaneously combust, and the condition is just that--a compartment of the body choking to death from lack of blood/oxygen.

In our bodies, there are "compartments" of muscle, nerve, blood vessels, encased in strong, connective tissue. If stress or injury leads to inflammation, edema and excessive pressure in a compartment, poor blood flow due to pressure on the vessels can lead to the 5 Ps: pain, paresthesia (altered sensation), pallor, paralysis, and pulselessness. If the pressure is …

Matrescence = a woman's transition into parenthood

The term, "matrescence," coined by anthropologist Dana Raphael in the 1970s, describes the process of becoming a mother, just as adolescence indicates one's passage into adulthood. Incidentally, a woman's breasts are not fully developed until pregnancy (I'll take my not-fully-developed ones backanytime).

Of course, there's "patrescence" as well, and there are stages the expectant father and new father go through, such as announcement, moratorium, focusing, engrossment, etc., but that is simply not the same as having your body stretched out, all systems taxed for 9-10 months, several hours to days of labor, having your vagina ripped open (sometimes all the way to the anus, in a fourth degree tear), and after all that maybe still having your belly sliced open like a watermelon in an emergency C section that leaves you debilitated for days, though that in no way excuses you from taking care of the baby 24-7.
The baby is waiting for you to be a full tim…

Fallophobia = fear of falling

Not all people like heights. The fear of falling is possibly related to fear of unknown depths. There's a risk of drowning, getting lost, flailing, crashing into a hundred pieces. Few of us would voluntarily walk off a plank, whether it's in a water park, on a pirate ship, or at the precipice of a major life decision that changes everything.

For the elderly, the concern of falling is real, and practical. Many medical charts of old folks at skilled nursing facilities begin with, "admit date: [ten years ago]; reason for admission: patient fell at home." All it takes is loss of balance, not landing right, and not being to get up, not being able to reach a phone. It's okay to fall, but only so long as there's people to help one get up, and proper care for fractures to heal.

Bones, like hearts, can be broken every which way. A greenstick fracture, a break on just one side, usually happens in children because their bones are resilient enough to only half-break. Whi…

2.18. PNA = pneumonia

Pneumonia, like jam, comes in many flavors--all of them bad. Mucus coughed up can be creamy yellow (Staphylococcal pneumonia), green (Pseudomonas), rusty (Pneumococcal), currant jelly (Klebsiella), or pink and frothy (not just pneumonia, but pulmonary edema.) A sputum culture can be done to identify the offending organism.

One can get this infection of the lungs out in the world (community-acquired pneumonia) or from a hospital (nosocomial pneumonia). There's also "walking pneumonia" (Mycoplasma pneumoniae), and ventilator-acquired or aspiration pneumonia.
That doesn't mean one must pick one of these poisons. Flu shots are better than nothing (pneumonia often follows a flu), and anyone older than 65 without contraindications might consider the pneumococcal vaccine (sepsis from S. pneumoniae was the main thing that did my mom in at the age of 63--maybe they should lower the recommended age).

Patients present with fever, chills, flushed face, sweating, shortness of bre…

2.17. Sphincter of Oddi = a weird sphincter

Ampulla of Vater: not Luke's father. Rather, the exciting Y where two ducts converge in a yellow wood and move into the duodenum (small intestine, part I), never to be heard from again.

Angle of His: reads like a typo, possible religious reference, or place where cats hiss and snakes bite. Possible compliment re: his jawline, or the acute angle formed as his esophagus enters his stomach (so hot).

Circle of Willis: not going to say this out loud for fear of Freudian-mispronouncing it, when it's merely a circular arterial complex at the base of the brain.

Duct of Wirsung: this duck ain't flying nowhere, with wind or wing nor song, because it's the pancreatic duct.

Golgi apparatus: sounds Rube Goldbergian, and looks it--tiny, convoluted complexes in the cell involved in transport of protein, etc.

Islets of Langerhans: possible vacation spot (on a drug holiday!), aka part of the pancreas that produces the insulin that keeps most of us nondiabetic and also, alive.

Loop of Henle:

2.16. renal = everything kidney

If you live in Asia or are a recent immigrant, you've probably tasted a kidney. Boiled or red-cooked, grilled or stewed, a plump, animal kidney can be crunchy or tender depending on cooking method. A polycystic (human) kidney looks deep-fried and covered with bubbles, a gigantic shrimp cracker gone wrong.

Kidney and nephron structure & function are the stuff of nightmares for anatomy and physiology students everywhere. However, having to memorize what's permeable or not at which convoluted tubule or portion of loop of Henle limb, or having to also know all the medication actions at each of those parts, is nothing compared to having an actual issue with one's kidneys. If blood is the essence of life, kidneys are what keeps life pure and balanced enough to continue.

No larger than a computer mouse on each side, at just 0.5% of the entire body weight, the kidneys have to filter all of one's blood volume, about 150-180 L of blood each day, producing 1000-2000 ml of uri…