The Vitamin Incentive

Four out of five work days, Matt slips a little packet of vitamins hand-wrapped in foil in my bag. There they lie in neglect, woefully forgotten, until I discover the mushy wads caked to the bottom of the bag when I clean it out. (Mushy because I do a lot of walking in the rain without an umbrella. Can’t manage umbrellas: too much tension and metal sticks and little latches that pinch fingers. Also, having one’s umbrella turn inside out in the wind is embarrassing, but shouldn’t be, and that makes me mad. I’d rather save my occasions of personal embarrassment for things that I did in public on purpose but regret, or when I tell someone that I have Vanilla Ice’s cell phone number and they remain unimpressed).

Anyway! Occasionally I’ll remember to remove the vitamin packets from my bag and put them on my work desk, where they continue to remain un-swallowed, partially hiding under a fluttery sea of yellow post-its, weirding out my colleagues.

It took a little while, but Matt got wise to the vitamin graveyard in my bag a few weeks ago when he was rooting around for the car keys. First he got a little mad (and his “a little mad” is like seeing one teensy cloud during a sunny day), and then he got smart. Smart in this case means he sends e-mails with jokes and pictures as reminders to take the vitamins.  Unsurprising to both of us, it turns out I respond well to jokes and pictures. My omega-3 levels have never been higher.

Here for your viewing pleasure: select images from The Vitamin Incentive.

A’s Medical “Fact” of the Day

My sister A, a second-year med school student, occasionally contributes Medical Facts of the Day. Today’s is less gory than usual, which is nice because it means that salmon post I’ve got all geared up to go can bookend what you see below. Without further ado…

I Like Ike… and Rat Poison 

The year was 1955. Dwight D. Eisenhower was vacationing with the in-laws in Denver, Colorado, enjoying some golf when he started experiencing some angina. Later that evening, his crushing substernal chest pain intensified, and he was rushed to the nearest hospital. The coronary artery supplying the anterior portion of Ike’s heart, called the Left Anterior Descending or “Widow-maker’s artery” had been blocked by a ruptured atherosclerotic plaque, causing oxygen deprivation of his heart tissue.

In present times, “crushing substernal chestpain,” the telltale sign of a heart attack, is immediately worked up with an EKG and blood tests for cardiac enzymes, and patients are given sublingual aspirin, heparin, oxygen, morphine, and thrombolytics, and placed on secondary prophylaxis with Coumadin. But back in the day, treatment wasn’t so established. Ike was given oxygen, morphine, and heparin, and lay in bed sick for days at enormous risk of suffering from subsequent MI and death.

Wasn’t there something more we could do for this VIP??? Everyone was wondering. Everyone who knew, that is, since his illness was kept secret from the nation. His doctor, Dr. Paul Dudley White, the “Father of American Cardiology” suggested a new treatment – warfarin. Warfarin had been used as rat poison, where in application it led to thinning of the blood and hemorrhage in rodents. There had been very little research done on human subjects, but the drug’s anti-thrombotic effects seemed promising.

So Dr. White gave rat poison to the president. And the president lived, running for another term of presidency just a year later. Warfarin is now routinely used for patients at risk of thromboembolic disease, thanks to Dr. White, Ike, and any rats injured along the way.

Stay tuned for more Presidents in Medicine. Next up: Honest Abe the…Syphilitic?
(Side note: If you like Lincoln, Chris Sarandon, and history, check out Hour 3 of the PBS series God in America. Vested interests are present here.)
Photo credit: Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-104961

A’s Medical Fact of the Day

Photo from

My sister A, a second-year med school student, occasionally contributes Medical Facts of the Day. Though I’d prefer not to sandwich food posts around information like you’ll see below, these are fun for their shock appeal. Don’t you feel bad that she has to sit in class and absorb all this information?  With a straight face?? And more fun for me – I get to create the most eclectic group of tags ever separated by commas in the history of blogging!  Without further ado…

A’s Medical Fact of the Day:
Lessons from Immunity, Infection and Disease
Activities, places, food, and other things to avoid if you do not want to catch a horrible infection or parasite:
  • walking barefoot
  • spas and pools
  • fresh water
  • brackish and salt water
  • the tropics
  • the town of Norwalk, Ohio
  • caves
  • pine forests and river basins
  • anywhere a saguaro cactus is growing
  • breathing in urban areas
  • breathing in rural areas
  • meat of all varieties
  • sushi, oysters, crab
  • fresh-water fish
  • salt-water fish
  • you vegetarians think you are safe? watercress, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, spinach, raspberries, snow peas, lettuce, cantaloupes
  • Jamba juice (strawberry)
  • fried rice
  • food at catered events
  • marijuana that has been stored in barns
  • air conditioning cooling towers
  • hotel bedding
  • cruises
  • triathlons
  • 9-banded armadillos, prairie dogs, beavers, bats, reptiles, pigeons, pet birds, dogs, cats
  • bugs with 6 legs
  • bugs with 8 legs
  • centipedes
  • daycares and children in general
Now, go enjoy life! Just don’t buy marijuana from anyone who grows cantaloupes on a cave farm in Norwalk, OH, has kids, and runs triathlons on cruise ships with catered food.

Just Don’t Call It Pot Liquor

What’s the best part about cooking collard greens with some ham? It might very well be the salty, beautiful broth that results from an hour on the stove. The pot likker. From the recipes that abound on the web, there are quite a few ways to go about coaxing this balm of balms from greens and ham, and all of them sound delicious.  People feel very strongly about the stuff, and I tend to agree. Scrape your knee?  A cup of pot likker will make you forget all about it. Have a bad night’s sleep? Have some pot likker. Nasty breakup? Just get fired? See a mouse in your house?  Pot likker!

Seriously though, this liquid gold is the equivalent of (and some may even argue the superior to) chicken noodle soup when it comes to warming, healing, homemade goodness.

So am I embarrassed that I’ve only made it myself for the first time last week? Totally. But I’ll make it again soon, and you know what’s great when you’re red-faced from shame? Pot likker. And a glass or two of ice water.

Just Don’t Call It Pot “Liquor” Recipe

2 large bunches organic collard greens
Small (fist-sized) cooked ham shank (I’m going to try raw next time, or a different type of ham bone if the butcher has it, just to experiment)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
Teaspoon kosher salt
Half teaspoon red pepper flakes

Remove the larger chunks of meat from the ham shank bone and cut into small cubes.

Wash the collard greens and lay them out flat, stacking a few leaves on top of each other. Cut lengthwise down the stack of leaves along the thick stem, which can be discarded. (Or cooked? I’m not sure if these are too fibrous or if they turn out well from an extended cooking time). Roll up the cut halves of the leaves (like a jelly roll) and cut into smaller (1-inch) strips.  Continue this until you’ve gone through all of the greens.

Heat a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven to medium heat, then add the ham shank cubes and bone.  Cook over medium-low heat until the fat starts to render and the meat begins to crisp. Add the collard greens and smashed garlic, and continue to cook and stir until the leaves turn a bright green, around 2-3 minutes.

Add enough water to just cover the leaves, then mix in salt and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, until your apartment smells like heaven and the greens are completely tender and the rest of the meat has fallen off the hame bone (approximately 1 hour). What results is a pot full of love.

Spoon over polenta, white beans, or rice, have it next to a sweet potato, or eat by itself from a bowl with a hunk of good bread. We used the leftover pot likker as the starting point for a strange soup of leftovers, and it was delicious.

A’s Medical Fact of the Day

Today brings us our first guest post on The Wobblin’ Goblins. (Huzzah!) My sister A, a second-year med school student, will contribute Medical Facts of the Day. Though I’d prefer not to sandwich food posts around information like you’ll see below, one can’t deny that she begins her guest post series with a real zinger. And more fun for me – I get to create the most eclectic group of tags ever separated by commas in the history of blogging!  Without further ado…


As I sat in my chaise lounge armed with a slew of colored pens, highlighters and a sizable stack of index cards listening to the recorded lecture of one of my Virology professors, I learned this interesting fact:

“Herpes” comes from the Greek word meaning “to creep.” In the 4th century, B.C., Hippocrates described the propensity of cold sores to “creep” from single vesicular lesions to pustular, coalescent ulcers.

Incidentally, this professor has the amusing habit of going off on tangents about personal stories and tirades about improper diagnostic methods still abundant in clinical practice. He shared that his Maine Coon has a feline form of herpes that, like the human strain, is reactivated after periods of latency. This would be positively devastating if it were not for available antiviral treatments.

The good doctor also compared antibodies to the “cork on Steve Martin’s fork that prevents him from impaling his eyeball.”