Skip to main content


Nonmaleficence = do no harm

No one wants to be Maleficent. The Hippocratic Oath, Florence Nightingale Pledge, medical ethics, nonmaleficence--a rose (with thorns) by any other name. Bottom line: do no harm. This also proves a handy guideline for teaching, parenting, friendship, taekwondo sparring, and other interpersonal interactions or activities.
Is somebody going to get hurt? Then no. Or, if hurt is inevitable, what option will do the least amount of damage while providing maximum benefit? Vancomycin may leave an elderly patient's hearing and kidney function in ruins, but at least the patient will still live to buy hearing aids and go through dialysis. Some bleeding risk from anticoagulant medications outweighs the risk of a massive heart attack--bleeding can be stopped, whereas dead heart muscle can no longer be convinced to do its job.

Just like beauty in math is defined by minimal complexity and maximal applicability, nonmaleficence means minimal harm and maximal benefits. However, there is one other, …
Recent posts

ABCDE = melanoma screening

Skin cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S.. The #1 way to prevent skin cancer is to use sunscreen and avoid sun exposure. Early detection is also key to good long-term prognosis.

Melanocytes are tiny, pigment-producing cells responsible for a whole lot of prejudice in human history as well as possible cancerous mutations in the form of melanoma. Thankfully, one can recognize early signs of melanoma through the ABCDE screening method, which coincidentally describes a number of family/relationship issues.

A for Asymmetry: asymmetrical moles can be cause for concern, as can any kind of favoritism among children, or someone loving another much more than one is loved back (if at all).

B for Boundaries: smooth and even borders to a mole are good; scalloped or blurred lines are not. Children will ceaselessly test boundaries, and discontent significant others will push the limits until they break.

C for Color: even coloring in a mole is good; several shades of red, bro…

CA = cancer

Our understanding of time breaks down at extremes. If the Big Bang happened, what came before it? And what, then, came before that?

We think time has a beginning and end because our lives have a beginning and end. Like most creatures on earth, our DNA comes with telomere caps, and as we run out of telomeres, our bodies age and die. However, if cellular regulation goes wrong, cancer cells can divide indefinitely and "live" forever, as HeLa cells do.

Ironically, DNA mutations that can lead to our demise also have the potential to make us immortal: in laboratory petri dishes across the world, in people's memories, through art and words.

There're a few things wrong with cancer cells, however.

They are anaplastic, having nonspecific appearances, so that under a microscope many different types of cancer look alike. Like cartoon characters with exaggerated eyes, they have giant nuclei. These cells have no function. They adhere loosely, break off, travel and spread (metastas…

Attachment = bidirectional bonding & trust

Children need family, not just for nutrition and safety, but also psychosocial needs like attachment, socialization and a sense of belonging.

Compared to our fellow denizens of Earth with their feathered wings or webbed toes, humans lavish a great deal of attention on relatively few offspring, and those offspring need every bit of that care for a long period of time. We don't kick fledglings out of the nest 21 days after birth, or go MIA long before fertilized eggs become tadpoles. Evolutionarily speaking, humans have babies when they do because it's the sweet spot of fetal growth v. maternal ability to provide growth requirements (& give birth safely). Though baby's brain (about 40% of an adult's) still needs years more to develop, baby is born when it's safe and relies on parents or guardians to protect, feed, and nurture baby until that brain matures sufficiently (arguably not until baby turns 30...)

Skin-to-skin bonding helps babies regulate their temperatu…

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…

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…