Category Archives: health & medicine

My Small Breasts and I

No, not actually my small breasts and I, but building on my brief claim to search fame for being the top hit for “blog breasts” back in 2004: it’s apparently Body Image Season on BBC Three and one of the latest episodes was a special on women with small breasts and how their breast size affects their body image, lifestyle, etc. Having the opposite problem, it was pretty interesting, especially watching one woman attach a suction apparatus to her chest every day in hopes of boosting her cup size.

However, the most interesting thing I learned about was the site Cosmetic surgery financing at its finest, the site basically pairs up women who want to get breast implants with men who are willing to “donate” money to their cause.

Only in America. You’ve got to love a free market.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to next week’s episode My Big Breasts and Me.


During lunchtime discussion today, I found out one of my friends/coworkers has had hiccups in the past for something on the order of 24 hours (I can’t remember if it was more). On top of that, it’s actually happened to him more than once– unbelievable! (There are often days when we discover fascinating things about him, despite his mild-mannered exterior).

After reading about hiccups in Wikipedia, I probably know more than I should ever know about hiccups, but here are a few interesting tidbits:

  • In 1988, Francis Fesmire of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine published his research on “Termination of intractable hiccups with digital rectal massage.” In 2006, he was one of the recipients of the Ig Nobel for medicine for his research. Aside from being “research that makes people laugh and then think,” as the Ig Nobel folks say, the additional interesting thing about this is that there’s an episode of House where a patient who claims to be suffering from hiccups, after being told they will go away on their own, requests a specific treatment/cure that he read about, one that some guy one a prize for. Later, House throws the patient’s file on the counter, telling the nurse to make a note about “drug-seeking behavior.” Dr. Cuddy asks, “Morphine?” House answers, “No, anal-digital stimulation.”
  • As recounted by my friend during our hiccups discussion, Charles Osborne, after slaughtering or weighing a hog (I’ve found conflicting reports on what he was actually doing, but it definitely involved a hog), suffered from hiccups continuously for 68 years, from 1922 to 1990. (He obviously holds the Guinness World Record for “Longest Attack of Hiccups.”) Contrary to what we thought earlier– that he had hiccups all the way until his death– his hiccups actually mysteriously disappeared on their own in 1990, a year before he passed away. Nevertheless, he still managed to live to the ripe old age of 97, marrying at least more than once and fathering several children.

Check out this interview of a girl who had hiccups for five weeks (the video shows her after about three weeks in):

The case of the double eyelid, part 3

Believe it or not, but yes, I have been asked to appear on the Montel Williams Show. Next week, they are taping a show on race and one of the topics they are focusing on is the idea of “erasing race.” One of the guests will be an Asian woman who has had Asian blepharoplasty (double eyelid surgery) to look more “westernized” and the representatives from the show contacted me to see if I (or someone I know) would be interested in appearing on the show as someone of Asian heritage who is against such surgery.

I assume they found me by stumbling on my 2005 blog posts on the topic (part 1 and the very brief part 2), but I’m not quite sure of the path they took to find the posts since, unlike some Google searches, I don’t show up as one of the top results for “double eyelid surgery” or “Asian blepharoplasty.”

In any case, while Montel is one of the more respectable daytime talk shows, it sounds like I would basically be going on the show to tell this woman that I think what she’s already done to herself is wrong. And to be honest, while I am against this desire among some Asian people to try to, as the folks at Montel say, “erase their race” and look more westernized, this desire to deny one’s own heritage, and (for the most part) purely elective plastic surgery in general, at the end of the day, like most things, I don’t feel so strongly about it that I expect other people to replace their own judgement and choices with mine. While I may not make the same choices, your body is yours and, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else, you are free to do with it as you wish. If you think double eyelid surgery or breast implants or liposuction will make you happy and you really want to do it, you should do it.

So, given all that, one of the things I’m really against is staged conflict (I have enough problems without having to create drama) and that is exactly what most daytime talk shows and going on Montel would be. Sorry America, I won’t be launching my talk show career just yet.

28 on 28 and life at the ER

2 IVs while at the Stanford Hospital ER
2 IVs while at the Stanford Hospital ER
Originally uploaded by sindy

Thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday on Friday, including my co-workers who called me during my usual work-at-home-Friday to sing “Happy Birthday.” I turned 28 on the 28th!

Unfortunately, I spent Friday evening, into the wee hours, at the ER and then most of the afternoon and into the late evening on Saturday again at the ER. No, it wasn’t a “drinking related emergency” or any such fun– I had been suffering through five days of an excruciating headache and eventually ended up in the ER. The photo here shows the TWO IVs I ended up having put in on Saturday after they failed THREE times to get an IV in, finally got one in (the one in my hand) and then realized they needed to put a larger needle in higher for the contrast scan.

In any case, a total of fourteen hours later, I’m sick of the ER, but finally pain free and everything looks okay. (If you’re going to the ER and you have the chance, bring a book– you’re going to be waiting.) Thanks to the ER staff who, although they couldn’t get my scans to happen faster (who am I to trump a trauma?), were very nice and took care of me well.

Oh, the places you’ll go (on the Internet): phreequeshow

In this past week, not one, but TWO movies on cable with conjoined twins: Twin Falls Idaho and Brothers of the Head. In reading about conjoined twins on Wikipedia, I was led through the World Wide Web to eventually land on this website:


Fascinating and, in many ways, inspiring. (You try to dress yourself, eat or any number of things without any arms or legs.)

Bull Terriers and deafness

Bull Terrier
Originally uploaded by sindy

I spent most of today at the 6th Annual San Jose City College Street Rod & Classic Car Show and among other things, met this cute little Bull Terrier. Interestingly, the dog didn’t respond to calling her name (I think it was “Whetta”) because she’s deaf– factoid for the day: as many as 18% of Bull Terrier puppies are born with less than perfect hearing. Apparently, congenital deafness can appear in any breed, but is particularly prevalent in those with white pigmentation and there is a fair amount of information known about the genetics behind deafness in dogs. Deaf dogs and, in turn, their owners, live difficult lives– they require excessive care, are difficult to train, and because of the disability, are prone to problems such as being easily startled (and as a result biting) or dying from unfortunate accidents (cars, etc.). Some say to euthanise deaf puppies immediately, others say that such dogs can grow up to live happy, healthy lives, and still others say that they can be raised to live happy, healthy lives, but should not be allowed to breed.

My point in all of this: congenital deafness and how to handle these puppies raise interesting ethical questions, especially considering the fact that the problem may be of our own creation– the possible result of breeding habits over a hundred years (originally by cross breeding the now extinct Old English Bulldog and Old English Terrier breeds). On one hand, dogs are dogs– not people– but on the other hand, many pets become like parts of families, loved even more than some of our actual family members. Did you know that when you pet a dog, not only does the dog’s blood pressure drop, but so does yours, relieving stress almost immediately? So, what is our responsibility to these creatures?

For more: Another photo of the Bull Terrier

Cocaine, The Legal Alternative

Cocaine, The Legal Alternative
Originally uploaded by sindy.

I picked this up at the only place I’ve seen it sold (the friendly local gas station down the street) because I heard it’s finally being pulled off the shelf and being redistributed under a new name. Apparently, the FDA considered the energy drink illegal because a) it is being marketed as a “legal alternative” to the illegal street drug (as you can see if you can make out the tag line on the can in the photo) and b) the company claims that it treats or cures disease. When I last checked the website (a few weeks ago, before they pulled the product from the shelves), there were actually a few disclaimers related to both of the above statements– that the drink doesn’t contain any illegal substances, isn’t really an alternative to any illegal substances (and who cares if it really is– is that really illegal?), and doesn’t treat or cure disease, the last point most energy drink marketing materials point out for themselves.

In any case, being a good sport, Redux, the company behind the energy drink, is rebranding the drink with the new name “Censored.” Ha!

If anyone remembers, Cocaine got some attention a while back from a spot on The Daily Show because of the name controversy (if anybody knows where I can get a clip of the spot, please let me know). In the end, it seemed like the worst thing about the drink wasn’t the name or the marketing message, but the taste itself. And after having tried it today, I can say it does taste pretty bad– it tastes like some combination of overly sweet energy drink and cough syrup and goes down with a frightening burning sensation that is probably similar to the way real cocaine burns away your sinus cavities. Yum.

Of course, all this ridiculous hype fails to mention how the original Coca-Cola formula contained stimulants from coca leaves because the original recipe was a cocawine, a mixture of wine and cocaine. How’s that for ya?

Read: Banned ‘Cocaine’ energy drink re-emerges as ‘Censored’


I was among a group of well-educated young men the other day and I was once again surprised to find out that all of them knew almost next to nothing about HPV, including the fact that at least half of them will have been infected with one or more genital strains at some time in their lives. Can someone please start educating our young men about this virus? Just because it’s not well-known for making your penis burn when you pee (gonnorhea or chlamydia) or producing open sores (herpes) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know about it– especially since it is the most sexually transmitted infection among young people.

Fact: HPV stands for Human papillomavirus, a member of a group of viruses that can cause changes in cells leading to abnormal cell growth. More than 100 strains have been identified; about 30 can be transmitted sexually. Of those transmitted sexually, some can cause visible genital warts and others can cause cervical cancer.

Fact: HPV is the most sexually transmitted infection among sexually active young people. Approximately 20 million people are infected with HPV and about 6.2 million Americans get a new genital HPV infection each year. At least 50 percent of sexually active men and women acquire a genital HPV infection at some point in their lives. For women, that percentage rises to 80 percent by age 50.

Fact: approximately 10 of the 30 types of genital HPV types can lead to the development of cervical cancer. Cervical HPV infection becomes undetectable for most women (90 percent) within two years, but persistent infection with these high-risk types of HPV is the main risk factor for cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is the only cancer where 100 percent of cases are caused by a virus.

Fact: most people with HPV do not know they are infected. Aside from those strains that cause genital warts, HPV infections usually cause no visible symptoms. The virus lives in the skin or mucous membranes and it is usually spread through genital contact. Because there are no symptoms and most people do not know they are infected, most people do not know they are spreading the virus, especially since HPV infection can occur in both male and female genital areas whether or not they are protected by a latex condom.

Fact: for women, annual Pap tests are the key to early detection and treatment. Pap tests and, if necessary, colposcopy are used to detect and treat pre-cancerous and cancerous cells, preventing them from developing into life-threatening cervical cancer. Most women who develop invasive cervical cancer have not had regular cervical screening.

Fact: for men, aside from strains that cause genital warts, for the most part, HPV does not pose the same types of health risks that it poses for women. HPV has been linked to penile and anal cancers in men, but these are extremely rare, especially in men with healthy immune systems. However, men should be aware of HPV because of their role in transmitting the virus to their female sexual partners and the greater health risk it does pose to those partners.

That’s right– because at the end of the day, whatever the difference in health risks, men and women, among other combinations, come together to be sexual partners and any type of partnership, however fleeting, involves shared responsibility. Realistically, I don’t expect everyone to get tested constantly and, if found to test positive for HPV at some point, eliminate all genital contact until your body gets rid of it on its own (since eliminating all genital contact is the only way to prevent the spread of the virus and there is no “cure” for HPV infection). However, to all the men out there, even if it won’t make your dick fall off, please at least be aware of HPV. Certainly, you should be aware of HPV since some strains cause genital warts. For the other strains, especially those connected to cervical cancer, you’re lucky in that you’re just as responsible for transmitting it, but you won’t get sick from it– the least you can do is if your girlfriend or your wife ever comes home from the gynecologist and tells you that she’s tested positive for HPV, you’ll know what she’s talking about and what might be ahead.

For more info: