Monday, 5 October 2015

Sense. This story makes none.

If you've been here for a while, you know by now that some of my stories make little sense until the big reveal at the end (at least that's how it seems in my ego-inflated head).  You know, something like an M. Night Shyamalan movie . . . before they started to suck.  Now don't misunderstand me, I don't mean to say I think my stories are as good as the Sixth Sense in any way.  I'd never be that arrogant.  Maybe as good as Unbreakable, though.  Yeah.  But not The Happening.  God no.  And definitely not The Village or Lady in the Water.  Those two steaming piles of horse shit represent several hours of my life I'll never get back.  Those 4 hours would have been better spent waxing my back or learning to juggle chain saws. 

Anyway, this isn't one of those stories.  Like all of M. Night's recent movies, this one makes no sense at the beginning, fails to improve by the middle, and by the end there is just no good resolution at all.

Make sense?  No?  Good.  Kind of makes you want to stick around to read it, just to watch the impending train wreck, right?  Hello?  Are you still there?

Damn it.

For the two or three die-hard masochists who still remain (likely just my parents . . . they'll read anything I write no matter how bad it is), I'll do my best not to bore you.  Much.

Just as I was sitting down to eat my very appealing-looking Frozen Vending Machine Hamburger© (I swear I saw something similarly appetising in Shaun Of The Dead), my pager alerted me that an assault had just arrived in the trauma bay.  Wait no, not an assault, but two assaults.  

My "meal" would have to wait.

Walk-ins are not terribly uncommon, but two arriving simultaneously is, and it usually indicates a pub brawl.  The patients are usually two of the lesser entrants who couldn't hold their own against their larger (and drunker) opponents.  Occasionally it's domestic violence or something similar where the two patients beat each other up.

Nope.  Not this time.  Not exactly.

When I got to the trauma bay a minute or so later, the first victim was obvious - a young woman sitting on a stretcher with a black eye, holding a toddler in her arms.  Since she looked reasonably ok, I immediately started searching for the second victim who I thought might need closer attention.  But the trauma nurse saw me looking around, smiled that "I-know-something-you-don't-know-but-will-definitely-upset-you" smile, and pointed to . . . the baby.  The same baby who was sitting happily in mum's arms, smiling, drinking a bottle.

Really?  Really?  The baby was the second trauma victim?  What the . . .

I went back to Lisa (not her real name™) to assess the damage.  No instability in her face, no bleeding, normal eyesight.  Her 6-month old baby was happy as can be with no ill-effects whatsoever.  After speaking with Lisa for a few minutes, I got her story.  Apparently she had been arguing with the baby's father when he had punched her in the face (because that's apparently what people do when they argue).  Unfortunately the argument was taking place on the top of the stairs (because apparently that's where people argue), and Lisa had been holding the baby at the time (because apparently screaming at your mate while holding your child is normal behaviour).  She tumbled backwards down the stairs, baby and all.  She lost consciousness, but the baby was shielded by Lisa and wasn't even scratched.

I evaluated the baby, and he seemed completely fine, bright-eyed, not crying, uninjured.  I did a quick head-to-toe examination, and finding not a single mark on him or anything remotely resembling a traumatic injury, I sent him to the main department to be evaluated by the emergency physician. 

Other than the black eye Lisa was also uninjured.  A CT scan confirmed no brain injury and no facial fractures.  As I was looking at her scan, a nurse brought in the baby.  To be scanned.

Yes, the emergency physician had bewilderingly ordered CT scans of the brain, spine, and face for the baby.  FOR THE BABY.  They were all negative.  Please try to contain your surprise.

What did not come back negative was Lisa's urine drug screen, which was positive for cocaine.

After the baby was cleared by the emergency doc, I sent them both home, still shaking my head in bafflement at the sheer absurdity of it all.

Did any of that make sense to any of you brave souls who stuck around?  Because none of it did to me.  Still doesn't.  I've read this back half a dozen times, and it's all completely ridiculous.

The only thing that makes less sense is that after it was all over, I went back and still ate that damned hamburger. 

Several people have already pointed out the obvious that the emergency doc was just covering his ass by over-ordering tests.  While I understand that perspective, there was absolutely no indication to expose this child to any amount of radiation, let alone 3 CT scans' worth.  

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Safety mechanisms

Seat belts.  Helmets.  Gun safeties.  Shoulder harnesses.  Shut-off valves.  Dead-man switches.  Fire extinguishers.

What do all of these things have in common?  1) They were all designed to save your life in an emergency, 2) They were all added to the safety arsenal as an afterthought when someone realised they were necessary, 3) They work when used properly.

I understand that last one may seem obvious, but stay with me here.  I'm going somewhere with this.

Pneumatic nail guns are wonderful inventions that make construction jobs infinitely easier (not to mention a hell of a lot of fun).

Wait wait wait, nail guns?  What the hell are you on about, Doc?

Yeah, you didn't see that coming, did you?  You thought this was going to be another seat belt or motorcycle story, didn't you?  Listen, I told you to stay with me.  Just think for a second - trauma, nail guns, safety . . . you better believe a good picture is coming.  So be patient.  Or just skip to the end if you want to act like an impatient child.

As I was saying, banging nails with a regular hammer all day runs the risk of repetitive stress injuries, not to mention smashing your thumb (we've all been there) and cursing in front of children who just want to "help" you build them a bird house.  Nail guns eliminate those risks, but they introduce new, even riskier risks, namely firing a sharp weapon somewhere into your body.

To counter that risk, every nail gun (except the ones that fire tiny nearly-harmless pin nails) has a safety mechanism built in to the nose so that the gun must be pressed against a hard surface with relatively significant force for it to fire.  If you're wondering how I know this, I own five of them, including a framing nailer, an angled finish nailer, a straight finish nailer, a stapler, and a pin nailer.  I love my tools.

But I digress.

Joe (not his real name™) was one of those people who didn't seem to think the safety mechanism on his nail gun mattered.  He was completing a frame on a house using a large framing nailer when there was an . . . incident.  An accident.  Well, something happened.  I can't say exactly what that "something" was, because Joe wouldn't tell me.  I'm not sure if it was because he was too embarrassed or because he was screaming in pain.

When he was rolled in, he was fully dressed and clearly in agony.  Most patients who come my way are at least partially disrobed so the medics can assess the extent of their injuries.  Not Joe.  The medics mentioned that because of an "apparent leg injury" they tried to remove his pants, but they wouldn't come off.  And every time they pulled, Joe yelped even louder.

As he was lying there on the stretcher, his leg looked fine.  No blood, no weird angulation from a bad fracture.  But when he rolled to the side so we could see the back of his leg, the problem suddenly became glaringly obvious.

If you're wondering why he was screaming, maybe this X-ray of his knee will satisfy your curiosity:
If you can't tell, that's a 9cm (3.5 inch) clipped-head framing nail that went into the back of his knee, through his femur, and into his patella (kneecap).  It was embedded so deeply and so thoroughly into the bone that the head of the nail had dragged the fabric of his pants at least 1 cm under the surface of his skin, pinning his pants to his leg quite effectively.  

Yes indeed, he had used one of these:

to fire one of these:

into the back of his knee.  Just to give you an idea of how big these framing nailers are, well, a picture is worth a thousand words:

They are HUGE.  And notice the nose of the gun being pressed into the wood?  That's the safety mechanism that all these guns have.  Well, almost all of them.  That nose didn't exist on Joe's gun, because he had removed it.

No, I did not ask him why. 

I still have no idea how he shot himself in the back of the knee, and he repeatedly insisted that there was no one around him and that he did this to himself by accident.  Regardless, the orthopaedic surgeon took him to the operating theatre and had to use various metallic instruments of death and destruction to remove the nail from his femur and patella.  A few days later, Joe walked out of the hospital, still insisting that he did this himself.  Somehow.

So now think back to all the safety mechanisms I mentioned at the beginning.  What else do those things have in common?  They only work IF YOU USE THEM.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Call Gods Madness

The Call Gods have many different ways of torturing me.  Sometimes they send me nasty surgical cases, sometimes they send me nasty patients, and sometimes they send me nasty patients with nasty cases.  And then there are those exceedingly rare occasions they send what seems like the entire city's population to my trauma bay all at the same time.  But whatever they do, they always seem to do it with an evil sneer.  I can almost see them laughing in pure murderous glee as my third gunshot wound to the head and/or abdomen of the day is dropped on my doorstep.  I swear I can hear them snickering as they drop off yet another drunk spitting asshole who fell and bonked his head on the street while leaving the pub.

I definitely heard them loud and clear when Mr. Screamer (not his real name™) came in.

It was a typical warm Saturday during the summer.  My kids were outside playing, enjoying lemonade and a run through the sprinkler, while I was trapped under the warm glow of the fluorescent lights in the trauma bay.

Oh, the joy.

The patient load was typical: a motorcyclist had lost control and crashed into the ground (the ground won, as usual); several car accident victims were brought in; a middle-aged couple had been brought in, both of them having been stabbed multiple times by their PCP-using son.  In the midst of all the barely-controlled chaos, I heard a blood-curdling scream followed by a string of expletives that would have made even Tyrion Lannister blush.  It was coming from elsewhere in the department, and I realised with a smile that all of my patients were (surprisingly) behaving themselves, so this bad character was apparently not one of mine.

The emergency docs must be having a fun time trying to corral that mess, I chuckled to myself, reveling in the fact that it wasn't my problem (this time).  Better them than me.

If you aren't hearing the dramatic "dun dun DUN" foreshadowing music yet, then you haven't been paying attention.

A few hours later when the next fall victim was brought in, Mr. Screamer was still at it, flinging obscenity at anyone who came near his room.  At this particular moment he was cursing at the security guards who were tasked with making sure he didn't harm himself or anyone else.  However, their presence seemed only to aggravate him further.  One of the nurses came in to the trauma bay laughing and told me the guy was one of their alcoholic frequent fliers who was back for the second time that week.


I silently laughed once again, apparently still oblivious to the Call Gods' warning signs.

When my phone rang at 3 AM, it didn't seem any different than the 395 other calls I had gotten that day.  (dun dun DUN)  The ring tone was the same and the voice on the other end seemed the same, but it turned out that this was the Call Gods calling.

"Hey Doc, so you know that guy who's been screaming bloody murder all night?  Dr. Dumbass (not his real name, though it should be™) just called me to say that he had apparently been beaten up, and he has a subarachnoid haemmorhage on his brain CT.  He wants us to consult on him and admit him."

The profanity that came to mind would have been perfectly suitable coming out of Mr. Screamer.

The guy spent the next 10 days in hospital with me.  You may expect that he calmed down once he sobered up, but HAHAHAHAHA no.  For his entire stay his demeanor vacillated between "Fuck you, Doc" and "I'm going to shit on your floor" before I was finally able to discharge him.

I should have seen it coming, but I obviously was trying my best to ignore them.

Fuck you, Call Gods.  Fuck you.

Monday, 14 September 2015


It's been nearly 4 years since I started this blog, and with every new post I find it harder and harder to find material that isn't boring, repetitive, or both.  I'd like to write about homeopathy, seatbelts, antivaccinationists, or smoking every week, but I suspect I would lose and/or bore everyone to tears by doing so.  Instead, I wait for the truly good stories, ones that I find inspiring or unusual. Barring that, I sometimes take more mundane subjects and try to spin them in an interesting way.

And sometimes the stories just write themselves.

I ordinarily hate phone calls from emergency physicians at midnight.  Rarely do I answer the phone and hang up with a smile.  By now you've probably guessed that's exactly what happened recently.  You'll find out why I was smiling momentarily, I promise. And I guarantee you'll end up smiling too.  And maybe even laughing your ass off.  Or maybe scowling.  Possibly vomiting.  Whatever.

No promises. 

Dr. Elise (not her real name™), a lovely and strangely competent emergency physician, had a rather strange lilt to her voice when I picked up the phone.  I immediately suspected by the tone of her voice what was coming, and boy was I ever right.  I like being right.

Dr. Elise: Hi, Doc.  So I have this really nice guy with his really nice wife. They were, uh, having some, uh, fun.  And then it got, eh, lost. 
Me: It?
Dr. Elise: Yeah, it
Me (smiling): What exactly is it?
Dr. Elise: ...
Me (smiling bigger): Elise?
Dr. Elise: ...
Me (chuckling audibly): Eliiiiiiise?
Dr. Elise: A . . . a vibrator. 

Smiling yet?  Because you know damned well a picture is coming.  I hadn't had a rectal foreign object in quite some time.  If you're wondering why I was so excited, you're not alone, because Dr. Elise and two of her colleagues asked me the exact same question.  Why do I get so damned giddy at rectal foreign objects?  Do I have some strange fetish?  Do I enjoy the schadenfreude?  Am I just a sick, perverted bastard?  No, I told her, the answer is much  more mundane than that: removing RFOs is very, very satisfying.  

For me, that is. 

Anyway, I got to the hospital a few minutes later, and I did my best to suppress my giddiness as I walked in.  I have no idea what most people would think of a surgeon with a stupid grin on his face as he walks into the hospital, but I suspect it would be nothing good.  Probably some serial chainsaw killer shit.  I went straight to the radiology computer and pulled up his X-ray:
Yep, that's a vibrator all right, I thought.  A BIG one.  Now to get it out.  

On the X-ray it looked awfully high in his rectum (yes his), so I went to get a pair of ring forceps that I suspected I would need.  I then went in to his room to introduce myself.  He looked terribly uncomfortable sitting there next to his wife.  Obviously.

Me: Hello, I'm Doctor {Redacted}.  You're Mr. Patterson (not your real name™)?
Mr. Patterson: Ugh.  Yes.
Me: Nice to meet you.  And you're Mrs. Patterson?

They both glanced at each other, looked at the floor, and whispered, in unison, "No."

See?  This stuff just writes itself sometimes.

As expected, I could barely feel the base of the vibrator with the tip of my finger.  And also as expected, it was caught under the sacrum.  Fortunately I was just able to nudge the base of it over the sacrum with my fingertip.  I slid the forceps along the length of my finger, grabbed it, and told him "Push."

He pushed.  I pulled.  


It was a very satisfying *plop*, which reinforced why I like these cases so much.  I then held up their lost toy and asked them both if they wanted it back.  They both wordlessly shook their heads vigorously, so I threw it straight in the bin, accepted their heartfelt thanks, said goodbye, and walked out. 

No embellishment needed this time.  None at all.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


If you've never heard of Amy Winehouse, take a moment to look her up (or just click on her name).  Go ahead - I'll wait here.  I promise not to leave without you.

Ok, she's gone!  Quick, let's ditch her!

Kidding, kidding.  But seriously, Ms. Winehouse was a ridiculously talented young lady (with a ridiculously ironic name) who, like many other musicians before her, ended herself way too young due to the effects of drugs and alcohol.  Arguably (and again ironically) her best-known song was "Rehab", an autobiographical song (which won numerous awards) protesting her father's wishes for her to undergo drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

That's a very garrulous and needlessly-stupid way for me to introduce rehab, especially considering that's not even the type of rehab I'm talking about in this story.  I'm talking about physical rehab here.  Hm, I guess I've never been very good at segues, so maybe I shouldn't even bother to try.  Though now that I think about it, I think Natalia (not her real name ™) could have used Amy Winehouse's type of rehab too.

There you go, a segue.

Natalia came in as a high-level trauma, having been shot in the left axilla (armpit).  That's always a tricky area, because I never know which way the bullet went - up into the axillary vessels, sideways into the chest, down into the abdomen, etc).  On her initial exam she had no breath sounds on the left side (uh oh), her abdomen was markedly tender (UH OH), and we found the exit wound on her right flank (UH FUCKING OH).  It's almost never good when a bullet goes in one side of the body and out the other.

Oh, and one other thing we found on her were track marks on her right arm.


Though some shootings appear on first glance to be drug-related, I usually don't like to assume they are, because I tend to be wrong.  Sometimes, however, it is exactly what it looks like.  According to the police officer who came with her, this was a drug deal gone bad, and Natalia ended up on the wrong end of the gun.

When I placed a chest tube in her left thorax, about 600ml of blood came out.  Fearing something very bad going on in her abdomen, I took her directly to the operating theatre where I found that the bullet had ripped two holes in her stomach, tore through her liver, and then went through her right kidney before exiting into the outside world.  After repairing everything (except the kidney, which I left alone), I admitted her to intensive care where she spent the next several days detoxing from heroin.  I guess if you really have to go through heroin withdrawal, doing it intubated and heavily sedated in the ICU is the way to go.

It took her nearly three weeks to get off the ventilator, and by the time her lungs were functioning well enough to get her off the ventilator, she was so debilitated and weak that she couldn't stand without three people helping her.  She clearly needed rehab (finally, the point!), the physical rehab type, not the drug rehab type.  But unfortunately Natalia wasn't having anything of it.  Even though she couldn't walk and barely had the strength to stand, feed herself, or wipe her own ass, she just wanted to go home.  And she kept threatening to leave against medical advice.

I had a sneaking suspicion there was a sizable bag of heroin back at home that was calling her name.

It took several more days (and several people) to convince Natalia that rehab was where she belonged.  I think that nearly falling and cracking her skull open while trying (and failing) to walk to the restroom finally convinced her.

Finally after two months in hospital, the transfer arrangements were completed, and Natalia finally left.  The following day I saw that her name was off my patient list, and I was thrilled for two reasons: 1) for getting her out alive, and 2) for preventing her from leaving against medical advice.  Success, right?


Around 10AM that morning my phone rang.  I recognised the caller as the social worker who had arranged everything for Natalia.

Well this can't be good.

Social worker: Hi Doc, good morning.  Did you hear about Natalia?
Me: Uh, oh.  Uh, no.
SW: Well she got to the rehab facility just fine, and she just . . . well, she just left!
Me: Wait, she did what?
SW: Yeah, I made all the arrangements, the ambulance took her there, they checked her in, and then she just . . . left!  She went home!
Me: . . .
SW: Can you believe it?

And I said no, no. no.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Wild coincidences

I was glancing back at some of my previous posts recently, and I realised I hadn't mentioned anything about seat belts in a while.  As an aside, I hope it doesn't sound too narcissistic to admit that I occasionally read my old posts, mainly to make sure I'm not repeating myself.  Because who the hell wants to read another repeated story about another repeated subject.

But I digress.  As I was saying, seat belts are a very sensitive subject for me (as I'm sure you can easily tell), one that I feel quite passionate about.  Obviously.  I wasn't planning on bringing up the subject for a while, because who the hell wants to read yet another story about yet another idiot who failed to put on his seat belt and sustained much more serious injuries than he otherwise would have.  Blah blah blah, we've heard it all a million times before.  Wait, am I repeating myself? 

Damn it.

Anyway, I was going to lay off the Seat Belt Preaching for a while, but after meeting Ryan and Douglas (not their real names™), it became instantly clear that not everyone in the world reads my blog (why the hell not?).  These two had apparently missed all my previous Seat Belt Preaching and had therefore not gotten the message. 

Theirs is a story I can't afford not to share.

The vast majority of patients I get in my trauma bay come one at a time.  Occasionally I get multiple victims from the same incident - 2 stabbing victims, 2 guys who beat each other up over a stolen bar stool, 2 occupants of the same car . . . you get the idea.  So when I heard a helicopter would be bringing me two car accident victims, both trauma bays were readied immediately.  Equipment was gathered, personnel arrived, coffee was finished.  The first young man rolled in about 15 minutes later looking very anxious but relatively uninjured.

Feel that foreshadowing yet?

"Morning Doc, this is Ryan.  He was in a high-speed MVC," the medic began.  "Front-end collision, major damage to the driver's side."

I started my evaluation, but less than a minute later the second victim arrived looking markedly sicker than Ryan.  I left Ryan's trauma bay immediately to tend to Victim 2, and the medic started his story.

"Morning, Doc.  Here we have Doug, high-speed head-on crash, major damage to the car, driver's side.  He's the other guy's best friend," he said as he pointed his thumb towards the other trauma bay.

Ok, I asked, which one was driving?  It's not a terribly important bit of data, but one I always ask anyway.

"Both of them," the medic responded.

Oh, ok . . . wait, what?  

"How . . . how is that possible?"  I asked, completely bewildered, trying to imagine one sitting on the other's lap.

"They were driving separate cars," he explained.

Oh, ok.  Wait, what?

"But . . . but you said they were best friends", I continued, my bewilderment not improving at all.

"Yes.  Yes I did," quoth he.

His smug grin did nothing to make me feel better.  I rarely have the desire to smack another man.  This was one of those times.

It probably makes just as little sense to you now as it did to me at the time.  I'm sure you'd like to avoid the stupid "WTF???" face I'm sure I was wearing just then, so I'll explain better than the medic did in hopes that you won't want to smack me in the face.

Apparently Ryan's truck's steering locked up and he lost control, crossing into oncoming traffic.  He tried desperately to regain control, but he was unable to.  When he looked up he immediately recognised the car he was coincidentally about to hit as his best friend Doug's.

They smashed into each other at a combined 225 kph (140 mph), utterly destroying both vehicles.  The bad news is that neither Ryan nor Doug normally wore his seat belt.  The good news is that Ryan, for reasons only known to him, decided to put his on that day.  And because of his seat belt, Ryan walked out of my trauma bay with a few scratches and bruises and a demolished truck.

Doug, on the other hand, suffered a subdural haematoma, an open fracture of his femur, a broken spine, and a broken foot.  After a month in hospital, two surgeries on his leg, one on his brain, a feeding tube, and a tracheostomy, he finally started to wake up.  Over the ensuing two weeks, his mental status improved to the point where he could look at me and give me a thumbs-up when I asked him to, but he was still unable to talk.  A few days later I transferred him to a rehabilitation facility that specialises in children.

He is just 17 years old.

There is no telling what kind of permanent neurological dysfunction Doug will have, if any.  The brain is a funny organ, and its recovery is highly unpredictable.  It can take a year or more to recover, but there is no way to foresee how much will come back.  What I do know is that his life (and those of his parents) has been permanently altered because he didn't listen to his mother, who badgered him daily about fastening his seat belt.  Ryan, on the other hand, will be left with a few minor scars and a damaged best friend to remind him.  I don't suspect he'll need any other reminders.

Seat belts are there for a reason.  They don't hurt.  They take one second to fasten, less to unfasten.  And they save lives.  SO PUT IT THE HELL ON GOD DAMN IT YOU IDIOTS.  NOW.

And now I'm done repeating myself.  For now.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Learning lessons

I know, I know, there's a very good chance that Lincoln never said that.  In addition to that one, there are plenty of other famous misattributed quotes, but regardless of its inauthenticity I must admit it sure looks good on a meme.  That's my second favourite quote meme, my favourite of course being this one:
Unfortunately the likelihood that Einstein actually said that is about as high as the probability that Lincoln said the first one.  Nevertheless I use that line with my daughter all the time whenever she forgets to learn from a mistake she's made.  "Life is a series of mistakes," I tell her, "but it's how you react to those mistakes that determine who you are."

For example, I dare say that nearly everyone who smokes cigarettes knows it is a mistake every time a new one is lit up, but nicotine is so addictive that no matter how much many smokers want to quit, their body simply won't let them.  Nicotine gum, nicotine patches, prescription medicines, hypnosis, cold-turkey . . . nothing seems to work for far too many smokers.  But I'm proud to announce a new discovery, a method that gets people to quit smoking (or not start at all).  It's not a medicine, and it's not therapy.  This amazing new technique is . . .

Well, you're reading it.

Yes indeed, SftTB is officially a Smoking Cessation Device.  That's right folks, it's Toot My Own Horn Time™ again.  After all the self-deprecation and major troll abuse I've endured recently, I think I deserve to pat myself on the back just a bit, though I run the risk of spraining my shoulder while doing so.

I'll start off with Susan (not her real name™) who emailed me some time back to tell me about her mother who had been smoking for 30 years.  She had tried several times to . . . hell, I'll just let Susan tell you:
Hey, Doc, me again! I have some news and I wasn't sure who to share it with...My mother has decided to quit smoking.  To most people it wouldn't seem like such a big deal, but to me it really is.  In the past three years she's had three people she deeply cared about die.  I've begged her to quit before. She understood why, but it terrified her.  I wanted to tell you this because, and in spite of knowing the risks and how disgusted I find the smell, a combination of peer pressure and depression almost made me try.  I made a promise to my mum when I was six that I'd never smoke.  She would understand if I did, because people follow their parents examples, but she wanted better for me. 
12 years later your blog helped me stand by my promise even when I was tempted.  I finally feel like I can breathe again, figuratively and literally.  I can also proudly declare that the only thing this girl has ever lit a lighter or a match for was to start a candle, see in the dark, and boredom. 
I've never, nor will I ever, stick one of those things in my face.
Just like Susan, I've never had a lit cigarette in my mouth either, and I'm sure my lungs (and Susan's and her mother's) are eternally thankful.  I only hope Susan continues to keep that promise.

Next up is Lisa (also not her real name™) who had emailed me a question about Jahi McMath back in February.  In her follow-up to my response, she sent the following:
Thank you Doc for answering my question.  As a side note, I read your article on smoking last week.  I have been smoking since I was 16 or so...I have not had a cig since Saturday....(hard as hell).  The last time I quit is when I ran track for 2 years in high school.  So my thanks on a very hard eye-opening article...more people should read your blog. 
4 days clean so far phew!!!!
Husband says if I stay off of them for a year I can plan that trip to Rome...but if I don't I can't go, so I have an incentive as well...thanks again...keep us the good work...and write a damn book would ya? (sorry did I just raise my voice to you?)  :)
I followed up with her 4 months later to see how she was doing, and she somewhat abashedly admitted to having one cigarette (though not enjoying it) after her mother passed away.  The best part was that she had been smoking for 34 years before successfully quitting.  All it took was reading a past article I had written to get her to quit smoking for good.

It may seem entirely trite and ridiculous to say, but if I can help just a few people with this blog to stop smoking, put on their seatbelts, get off drugs, or not drink and drive, then I will consider myself a success.

And you can quote me on that.