Our new podcast “Happy New Year 2022” is live

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. Our new podcast Happy New Year 2022 is live at anchor.fm/dr-mario-o-laplume. 

We take a quick look at the, thank God Almighty, departing Year 2021 and the incoming Year 2022.

Then we briefly all the major challenges that we are encountering now that we are finally coming out of our hiding cocoons and trying to build ourselves a “new reality”, whatever that might be.

One of our biggest concerns should be “not to lose ourselves”, as Kierkegaard sagely warned us.

Please enjoy it and we will always welcome any suggestions at email@drmolaplume.com

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful. 

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy New Year 2022!!!

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good morning and Happy New Year 2022 to all of you. May the New Year finally deliver us from the horrors of this pandemic and its crippling Social Isolation to finally get back to a humane life. We still remember that three years ago we attended a fabulous barbecue party in a big farm deep in the Province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here is a picture of the bacchanal grilling that went on there.

And the following pictures were taken today in the home of our cousin Adriana and Antonio where a plentiful Festa Napuletana took place in stride. Let us hope that we will join you next year. Salute.

Let us hope that we can return to these glorious days of good food, strong wines and nice company. Let us raise our glasses in a well deserved community celebration. Salud a todos y todas!!!

Enjoy your meal!

Buen provecho!

Bon apétit!

Buon appetito!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

 

 

Physician and Nurse Burn-out. Part XII – Losing Oneself

“The greatest hazard of all, losing oneself, can occur very quickly in the world, as if it were nothing at all.” Søren Kierkegaard

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was born on May 5th, 1813, and passed away on November 11, 1855, in Denmark, and has been considered as the Father of Existentialism. In a great Wikipedia article they defined him as: “he wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, Morality, Ethics, Psychology and the Philosophy of Religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables.” In his times there was a big emphasis on the Cartesian evaluation of Religion, highlighting its rational and communal aspects to better Mankind in general. But Kierkegaard was interested in a much smaller dimension, the one that traverses the daily lives of each and every one of us making choices that may lead to significant future changes of the same.

Last week we discussed in earnest how it was so critically important for Health Care practitioners of all genders to choose very wisely their life companion and partner. We have borne his protracted SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and the calamitous effects of so many months of Social Distancing, which we are only starting to see at the social, political, economic levels and public health seared an indelible scar on our minds. Imagine that each and every citizen of the planet has been methodically herded into an alley abutting to a cattle chute, where we have been all marked by Death itself. We pray for the Salvation of all those relatives and friends that succumbed but, above all, we pray for all of us who were left around for the next Walking Dead’s casting.

Note. This image form of Dublin’s Famine Memorial was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

The other day we came across in a Miami street with a colleague of ours from Columbia University that went into Intensive Care Medicine as a sub-specialty. He looked like he had put on, not 10 years since we last casually met, but rather some 40 years. He noticed our indiscreet staring and asked us: “So I look that bad to you, eh? And how about you? When was the last time you faced the mirror?” He was absolutely right as we, physicians, and nurses, do not dare to gaze into it lately.

However, we can make our sorry state of affairs even worse, much worse. How? For starters if the Health Care authorities continue to negate or minimize the existence of an extremely serious Mental Health epidemic in our ranks, especially for female colleagues. And if those deadbeat politicians in Washington D.C, continue their disgraceful pandering in search of votes by endorsing any wacky conspiracy theory.

As our Pope Francis said: “Either we come together out of this one or we do not.”

Brothers and sisters, let us not lose ourselves. We still got much more Life Ahead.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Do not leave me alone.

 

Buon Natale !!!

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. Today our family is celebrating Christmas in several locations around the World. But perhaps our favorite spot is the home of our cousins Adriana and Antonio in San Donà di Piave where in festive days like this they hold kitchen court with Rosa, their Neapolitan suocera.

Queste sonne gli famossissime cuoce di un gruppo maggico nella cuccina: I SETTEBELLEZZI !!!!

Here is a sample of the delicious dishes with meats, sausages cheeses, octopus and oysters they had.

Of course we had the deliciously traditional Panettone, whose history we already had written about.

Buon appetito! Buon Natale!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Merry Christmas!!!

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. On the twenty-fourth and the twenty-fifth of this month we will be celebrating the holiest day of Christianity in all its denominations, which is of course Christmas or the day our Lord Jesus Christ was born in a humble manger of the city of Bethlehem, 2021 years ago. Like yesterday.

What better way to celebrate such a wonderful day than with the company of your children? In this picture taken yesterday you can see us with Gian Luca, after we cut our hairs to look pretty for you.

Note. This picture of Gian Luca and María Tomasa, his lovely mother , was taken today in Los Angeles in front of the art theatre where they are showing Licorice Pizza.

May God Almighty continue blessing you all in the dear company of your friends and loved ones.

Merry Christmas!

Feliz Navidad!

Joyeux Noël!

Buon Natale!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Physician and Nurse Burn-out – Part XI. Our beloved Spouse

“On ne devient pas un fou si on ne le veut pas » Jacques Lacan

(We do not become crazy if we do not want to)

-“Mario is very special…Not any girl can become his girlfriend and companion.”

You know how girls love to meet and speak of us, innocent men, behind our backs. A few months before our graduating as physicians in La Plata, Argentina in 1981, a large group of girls convened a meeting in a restaurant to “rate us all for good.” Yes, naïve men out there , we are being scrutinized by these girls at all times.

Rarely did they ever allowed a boy in their meetings but my lifelong buddy Jorge, with whom we shared all the up and downs of the Medical School studies and is the godfather of our son Gian Luca, happened to stop by that resto and was let in. Most likely because he had the reputation of being the “super-nerd” of our class and he was deemed harmless enough to sit in the midst of all that feminine cacophony.

-“The first half , they rated each and every one of us,” he told me when he returned to our shared dorm. “And the other half ?” I dared ask. “About you and only you.” He was amazed that each one of our feminine colleagues took turns to, besides extolling my brilliant mind and savoir faire with the ladies (false modesty apart), they would opinionatedly select which one of them could be my fit Life Companion.

Note. This reproduction of a US Navy Recruitment poster was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

The Selection of Your Spouse is the single most important personal decision that a practicing physician must decisively make in his/her/ihr life. The very critical one. The aspiring candidates must all carefully be vetted with a hawk’s eye. No less.

So, fair damsel of catwalk looks, will you be expecting your hubby to arrive every day at 5 PM to share hors d’oeuvres and cocktails? No good. Get yourself a banker.

So, fabulous stud with those big muscles, will you be expecting your wife from the hospital to do the laundry, fix dinner and make love? No good. Go back to Mommy.

So, great fun of all parties, will you be expecting your exhausted wife to put a friendly face when you parade her in your yard gathering? No good. Join the clergy (any)

So, inflexible enforcer of Feminism, will you be expecting your man to drop  the CPR team busy in the ICU to listen to your harangue? No good. Join the Communists.

These are only a few examples of the hard scenarios that physicians and nurses must ponder before making that critical decision. AND ONLY YOU CAN MAKE IT.

You must be aware that when your spouse waves goodbye every morning to you, he/she/sie is in fact slowly lowering a high tensile steel cable of your harness to lay you in PURE HELL. She will then tie the cable to the strongest oak of the park. Loyally, she and the children will show up at a re-arranged hour to pull you back up. And do not commit the silly mistake of lingering around for a drink or chat, as you mind will be slowly eroded until you end up mad ( we saw several of these cases)  When your family rings the bell above, skedaddle out of that dark hole to preserve your sanity.

Down in the entrails of Sickness and Frailties, you and your colleagues will be fiercely battling all kind of demons and monsters, including some of your own making. Whomever gets distracted for a single second, runs the risk of being eaten. One of the most silly and dangerous mistakes of us, male physicians, is to get a Trophy Wife to brag to all our colleagues, patients, family. There is only a problem. As the knucklehead is more interested in finishing her bridge game with the girls at the country club, you arrive at an impossibly cold and chaotic house with no dinner.

What do most of us, stupid men, do? When the cute OR assistant gives us a wink in the middle of surgery, we arrange for a discreet date, to avoid our horrible hearth. So goes the cutie Med student, then the cutie in Admissions, then the cutie….Until one day you find yourself in the doghouse in the middle of a terribly cold night, madly trying to make Fido share his blanket. Fat chance. Fido knows you are a Sorry Loser.

Forty years ago I had to make that terribly decision and I think I made the right one. Now I am standing at that critical junction of my career path for a second time before deciding which one.

Will I be so lucky as to win the Lottery twice? Stay tuned. More to come soon. 

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Gian Luca graduated from Florida State University!!!

Dear readers, listeners and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday our dearest son Gian Luca passed his last scheduled exam and graduated from Florida Sate University, the academic objective we have been eagerly pursuing as a family. Now our two children have graduated from college and we , as parents, could not be more proud.

Thank you God Almighty for making this feat happen and for being proud witnesses of their success !!!

In the above picture , you can see us both celebrating my birthday in the Lincoln Regal Cinema.

He wants to become a movies director and we will do everything we can for him to achieve his dream. 

Here he is when he went in November 2019 for his introductory course for upcoming students.

Here are our two children in the set-up they have chosen for their careers; Entertainment Industry.

This picture shows when they got the Miami-Dade College Award for most promising new artists.

Thank you God Almighty for giving us the privilege of having these two wonderful children !!!

Avanti bersaglieri che la vittoria e nostra!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Celebrating the Day of the Physician in the Americas

Today we are celebrating the Day of the Physician in the Americas, for which we wish all our colleagues of this great profession the very best in these difficult times of SARS-CoV 2 pandemic and resiliently persistent Social Isolation guidelines, which has taxed the patience of all of us. Salve!

We are transcribing  an article that we had written a few years back about the origins of this day:

“On December 3rd, we are celebrating the Day of the Physician in the Americas in honor of all the dedicated and hard-working professionals tending to the health care needs of people from Alaska in the extreme North to Ushuaia in the extreme South.

The Panamerican Health Organization (or Organización Panamericana de la Salud in Spanish) designated this day in honor of Carlos Juan Finlay Barres, a Cuban physician and researcher who had discovered in 1881 that the Yellow Fever was transmitted through an insect vector like Aedes Aegypti; he was born on December 3, 1833 in Puerto PrÍncipe, Cuba, and studied Medicine at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

Note. This reproduction of an image of Dr. Carlos Finlay was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

Dr. Finlay, dubbed as “the mosquito doctor” by his detractors, had a hard time to prove his hypothesis but he finally collected enough clinical data to submit to the Yellow Fever panel headed by Dr. Walter Reed that finally accepted his findings in 1901. That medical breakthrough prodded the Panama Canal authorities to set up the proper sanitary conditions in the workers’ camps in order to finish the humongous project. In 1902 Dr. Finlay headed the precursor office of the present day PHO.  Dr. Remo Bergoglio, an Argentine physician acting on behalf of the Sociedad Médica de Córdoba, submitted a proposal to celebrate this day on the floor of the PHO congress in Dallas in 1953.

To my dear colleagues of the Americas, thank you for your devoted daily work. Cheers!

A mes collègues de l’Amérique, felicitations pour votre travail dévouée de tous les jours. Salut!

A mis queridos colegas de las Americas, gracias por su trabajo abnegado de todos los días. Salud!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Physician and Nurse Burn-out – Part X Crying is not just for Sissies

Another day of grim statistics of rising new cases in the USA and elsewhere has swiftly passed.  The social media is awash with alarming reports of the Omicron variant that has arose in South Africa. The governments are clumsily trying to contain the spread of the Covid-19 to avoid another peak. In the meantime all the Health Care providers are exhausted of the efforts of the past few months. They are tired, demoralized, disgusted at the silly games that the D.C. politicians and sycophantic voices in the media, from almost every corner of the ideological spectrum, repeat like tragic clowns. And the families of physicians,, nurses, technicians, etc., are watching them slowly crumble away…

In this scenario, crying should be a natural human reaction…Why aren’t we welling up more?

There are troubling reports that the incidence of Mental Health disorders in Health Care personnel after the sacrifices they have made during the past year and a half is steadily rising to serious levels, with only palliative measures that concern financial benefits, and ignore the needed psycotherapy.

There are several factors that block physicians, and other medical personnel, to seek the needed counselling. The crazy work schedule of physicians and residents, the confidentiality issues that might affect the licensing status of practitioners, the personal issue of loneliness and divorce, all might contribute to it. We, the Health Care providers, are watching this drama unfolding before our eyes.

Note. This World War II poster of the Cadet Nurse Corps was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

It is always advisable to repeat, again and again, the major clinical signs of Professional Burn- Out. We transcribe a section of our book Emotional Frustration – the Hushed Plague. Here they are:

Professional burn-out is characterized by a most evident but ignored tragic triad:

  1. High emotional exhaustion
  2. High depersonalization
  3. Low sense of personal accomplishment

A – High emotional exhaustion

The increasing demands of payors, administrators and patients on the time and resources of the health care personnel produces a generalized dissatisfaction with the perceived quality of their delivered care services. The level of resilient frustration is so pervasively high in our system that physicians, nurses, technicians, receptionists, and other ancillary personnel are literally “counting the days” until the end of their silent martyrdom eventually comes—their retirement date.

B – High depersonalization

The negative feelings and bad vibes will inevitably foster the emergence of cynicism and sarcasm in the ranks of providers, with the resultant degradation of their rapport with the patients and families. It is a self-sustaining vicious circle. Patients complain that they are being ignored and/or mistreated, which triggers more negativity and disdain for the staff. As a result, the latter continue to react negatively without the possibility of pausing for a moment and reflect calmly.

C – Low sense of personal accomplishment

For the majority of us who have chosen the medical career, profit and social standing are secondary considerations. What we most value is the possibility of helping our fellow human beings and at the same time enjoy the unique standing conferred by possessing a voice of authority. With the landing of the abominable “bean counters”  in both the public and the private payor system, our maneuvering room has been drastically curtailed. Our decreasing satisfaction not only pushes us into early retirement but also into all kinds of drug and alcohol abuse in our ranks, plus the possibility of one day to casually start mulling about “the unthinkable.”

We will continue this discussion as the honest approach of all institutional parties and professional associations to the pressing issue of Mental Health Disorders in our battered professional ranks is of paramount importance to stem the steady exodus of colleagues to the Elysium of Retirement.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.