Scary Model of Cancer

Saw this at a doctors office in one of the patient rooms. 


At first I wasn’t even sure what it was. 


Looks like a stomach.


What are those globs?


Oy, they represent malignant tumors (from what I understood reading the fine print). 


Really makes it hit home when you see it in front of you on display like that. 


So much suffering from illnesses like cancer.


G-d should have mercy. 


We really need to find “the cure!”  


Imagine what a day that will be.  😉

You’re Getting Milked

Cow.JPeG

If you have a pulse and have been to the stores or even shopping online lately (hey, it’s the holidays so of course you have), you know that prices are on the rise.


And this is amazing, because–


Major factors point to pricing that should be driven down:


Commodities–which are the basic raw materials from agriculture to oil and gas and metals and mining–are at a more than 16-year low!


Manufacturing has moved to low cost sourcing countries (China, India, Vietnam, Africa, etc.)


Technology continues to benefit us in terms of cost-efficiencies from the transformation to robotics and automation.


Yet, we keep on seeing prices move ever higher:


Just a few examples…


– “Housing market is on fire” with existing home prices exceeding the pre-recession peak!


– “Car prices at records highs – and rising


– “Food prices are sky high“–it’s not your imagination.


Fashion “prices rising so fast


Health care spending is “again accelerating”


– “College costs are so high and rising.


Forget the B.S. of the basket of inflation stats your being feed…you know that your bills are going up, while your income is stagnant.


The real question is why is the middle class always getting milked–whose interest does it serve? 😉

Health Monitoring Ad Nauseam

Art
So the new Apple Watch promises to monitor our every virtual health status as technology and person blend to become one.  



However, the question raised in the New York Times is whether this level of continuous monitoring is really all that necessary?



“One central rule of doctoring is that you only gather data that will affect your treatment?”



But how can more data hurt you?



– Change in measurements are often normal: For example, “blood pressure jumps up and down in response to thoughts, hydration, and stress.”



– Data sometimes outstrips our ability to understand it:  So collecting more and more data may actually end up concealing the needle in the haystack, rather than culling the crucial piece of evidence we need for a diagnosis and treatment. 



– Data can sometimes belie the underlying truth: “Some patients die with ‘Harvard numbers, [and in others] test results can can look bad even when the patient is fine.”



– Obsessive-compulsive monitoring may actually stress us out: “If you were dieting would stepping on the scale 1,000 times a day help you lose weight?” Perhaps, the stress of monitoring every stat we generate may actually make us sick from fear and worry.  



The point is that as they say, “there can be too much of a good thing”–monitoring and checking is helpful, but not every minute of every day without some intelligent filtering and analysis. 



Perhaps, the technology will evolve to wear the monitoring is unobtrusive and where the artificial intelligence is there to more or less accurately decipher true warning signs from run of the mill changes in bodily functions, and where data is aggregated to get a holistic picture and diagnosis of the person rather than a snapshot of individual functions.



No one can live under a microscope and making ourselves sick with an endless stream of health tracking and worries is not helpful. 



However, in time, the technology will most certainly evolve to where it will be discreet, accurate, and truly lifesaving. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Technology Heals

Technology Heals

My wife took this photo today at The Drupal for Government Conference at NIH.

The man in the photo was not only participating in the conference, but also taking notes on his Apple Macbook Air.

It is incredible how technology is helping us do our jobs and be ever more productive.

This is the vision of technology taking us beyond the natural limits we all have and face.

I remember a few years ago when I was in the hospital for something and feeling bad about myself, and my wife brought me a laptop and said “Write!”–it was liberating and I believe helped me heal and recuperate.

I wonder if hospitals in the future will regularly provide computers and access to patients to not only keep them connected with their loved ones, but also let them have more options for entertainment, creativity, and even productivity, to the extent they can, while getting well.

Kudos to this gentleman–he is truly a role model and inspiration for us all.

(Source Photo: Dannielle Blumenthal)

Medical Hacks

Medical Hacks

Usually when we talk about the dangers of cyber attacks, we are concerned with the dangers of someone stealing, spying, or systematically corrupting our information systems.

But Barnaby Jack who died last week at age 35 brought us awareness of another, more personal and perhaps dangerous hack…that of hacking medical devices.

Barnaby, a director at computer security firm IOActive, became known first in 2010 for being able to hack at cash machine and have it dispense money.

In 2012, he drew attention to a flaw in insulin pumps whereby someone could cause it to administer a fatal dose to its unknowing victim.

This week, Barnaby was going to demonstrate how heart implants could be hacked, killing a man from 30 feet away.

With advances in the miniaturization and battery life of personal medical devices and implants for monitoring and managing patients health, more and more people could be exposed to malicious or murderous cyber attacks on their body.

With the potential for RFID embedded chips for managing our personal identities to bionics for replacing or enhancing human body parts with electronic and mechanical implants, the opportunity for someone seriously messing with our physical person grows each day.

If dangerous vulnerabilities are discovered and exploited in these devices, an enemy could go from the traditional attack on our information systems to potentially sickening, disabling, or even killing millions at the stroke of some keys.

Imagine people keeling over in the streets as if from a surprise attack by a superior alien race or the release of a deadly chemical weapon, only it’s not extraterrestrial or kinetic, but instead a malevolent cyber attack by a hostile nation or cyber terrorist group taking aim at us in a whole new and horrible way.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Bhakua)

With Surgical Precision

This is awesome–the iKnife (“Intelligent” knife) for cutting away cancer, can also detect the cancerous cells.

I had previously heard about dogs being able to sniff cancers such as lung, ovarian, and skin–but never a surgical knife doing this.

With the iKnife, a surgeon can use a electrosurgical knife to cut/burn away cancerous tissue, but even better yet, this knife sucks away the smoke containing the vaporized tissue to a mass spectrometer that analyzes the particles and is said to be 100% accurate (so far) in detecting cancerous tissue (from those that are normal).

This is critical because it can be life saving in guiding surgeons not to miss any of the cancer (and therefore also helps avoid repeat surgeries) as well as not removing unnecessary tissue that is not cancerous.

Dogs can help alert us to hidden cancers within and the iKnife can help remove them with greater precision and success.

Hopefully, with G-d’s help, one day we won’t need either anymore. 😉

Living Longer, But With Worse Quality Of Life

Living Longer, But With Worse Quality Of Life

Watching my parents age over the years has been hard–and very painful.

They are good people–they’ve worked hard all their lives (nothing was just given to them), they are devoted to serving G-d, and they are loved by their family, friends, and community.

They have lived a good life and we are grateful for every day.

Yet as they are getting older, the body like anything physical, starts to get sick and break down.

Both my parents have serious illnesses, and in the last two years my mom has become almost totally disabled and is moving from a rehab center to a nursing home this coming week.

I read this week in the Wall Street Journal, what I’ve been watching with my own eyes…we are living “longer, but not healthier lives.”

Over the last 2 decades, life expectancy has risen 3 years to 78 years, but unfortunately only 68 of those, on average, are in good health–meaning that people suffer for about ten years with various disabilities.

What is amazing is that people are being pressed to retire later in life with an increase in age to receive full social security benefits to 67 by 2022–giving the average person a healthy retirement to enjoy of just 1 year!

With the average working household having less the $3,000 in retirement savings, things are not looking too good for Americans to retire young and enjoy their healthy years either.

Additionally, despite longer living, in the last 2 decades, the U.S. fell from 20th place to 27th place in 34 member nations of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for life expectancy and quality of life.

The leading causes of death remain heart disease, cancer, and stroke. And disabilities are being driven by back, muscle, nerve, and joint disorders.

Seeing with my own parents, the deteriorating quality of life and true suffering as they age, I am left questioning the real wisdom of keeping people alive, when the quality of life has so deteriorated as to leave them in pain and misery.

While no one wants to lose their loved ones–the emptiness is devastating–at the same time, watching them endlessly and needlessly suffer is worse.

I see my mom clutching her wheelchair, always in various states of discomfort and pain, and less and less able to help herself, in almost any way–it is tragic.

So I ask myself is it also unnecessary and wrong?

I call it forcing people alive. We keep people going not only with extraordinary measures, but also with day-to-day medicines and care that keeps their hearts pumping, their lungs breathing, and their brains somewhat aware.

The patients are alive, but are in a sense dying a long and painful death, rather than a quick and painless one.

I love my parents and mom who is suffering so much now, and I don’t want to lose her, by does really caring for her mean, at some point, letting her go.

I tell my dad, “I just want mom to have peace”–no more suffering!

For the average person, 68 years of health is too short, but 10 years of disability and suffering may be too long.

We use advances in technology and medical breakthroughs to keep people alive. But what is the cost in pain and disability, and even in cold hard dollar terms for a nation being gobbled up by deficits, longevity, and miserable disease and disability?

People are living longer but at a significant painful price!

Is this real compassion and empathy or a senseless fight with the Angel of Death?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to wwwupertal)