The Rogue Suitcase, Part II

I’m sure you’re anxious to hear what happened to my little suitcase packed for two continents and extremes in weather—part of my “Adventures In Travel” as an ASCP Consultant. We left the little rogue somewhere in Amsterdam with several airline baggage officers giving chase in multiple languages. My hotel concierge in Kazakhstan was very sympathetic to my plight, and they sent me in a car to the city’s one shopping mall. Remember it’s about -30 degrees, and so they dropped me off to find what I needed and would pick me up in two hours. I have a very good friend I’ve worked with internationally who would call that “power shopping.”  I needed professional clothing and shoes to work in, a few essentials, and definitely a coat, hat and gloves. It should be noted that, with rare exceptions, body sizes differ across the globe….and the language of sizes is a challenge. One kind store clerk kept bringing me black pants to try on that would have fit Twiggy (and if you know who that is, well, you know the root cause of my problem!).  Finally in sign language, she convinced me that “these were the biggest sizes she had” and with no other choices available I set my goal for lighter breakfast in the weeks ahead. The coat was another matter. After looking in every store I found the ONLY one in the entire mall that actually fit me, and was warm enough, and was not a men’s musher’s parka. Of course, it was not on the bargain rack, but it was worth every KZT tenge!

My suitcase caught up with me the last two days in northern Kazakhstan just in time to board the plane for our next few days in southern Kazakhstan. One of my travel companions shared a furry lambs’ wool hat with me and I had the rest of my travel wear for the next few days. At the end of our time in Kazakhstan I was headed for Namibia for another week of work in the summer sun with our colleagues there, and en route I had a 2 day layover in Frankfurt, Germany, where I celebrated my birthday! Armed with my coat and hat and gloves and boots on my body, I boarded the plane for Frankfurt. Due to the size of the plane they would not allow me to carry on my little rogue suitcase, but I figured what could possibly happen? We’re not stopping anywhere. I reluctantly gave it to the baggage handler. It made it to Frankfurt according to the computer, but was somewhere inside the Frankfurt air terminal and they “couldn’t exactly locate it just now.” Well … it caught up with me again just as I was leaving the hotel to board the plane to Namibia. By this time I’m having fun with this little game, and happily checked it at the airport wondering where in the world it would travel without me this time! Lo and behold, it didn’t make it to Namibia either … no surprise. It probably missed the last plane from Johannesburg to Windhoek (which I’ve almost done several times myself!) You can imagine that my new coat and hat and boots are a bit overdressed for the Namibia summer climate, so I was glad I had “layered” my working outfit in the bottom of my backpack—and I was good to go, but I had quite a story to share with my ASCP colleagues and Namibia classmates about lost luggage.

My little rogue suitcase finally caught up with me in Ondangwa the next day, so I was now well dressed for the remainder of my trip; I actually had too many clothes, and had to purchase a small duffle to get things home. Oddly enough, that little suitcase made it all the way back to San Diego without incident through intricate travel on the home stretch—I fully expected it to end up in Brazil, but it must have been tired of the game by then!

Lessons learned? 1) Never trust your luggage to make it to your destination—even if it’s your carry-on; 2) Always have one change of clothing with you at all times, even if you have to wear it; and 3) You can actually live and work for three weeks out of a backpack, on two continents and extremes in weather with both professional and casual attire—but you’ll have to trust me on that one!

Next time I’ll share a little about “Adventures in Travel” that involve passports … stay tuned. And, if you are ever in Frankfurt celebrating your birthday, I highly recommend the Marriott Hotel restaurant. They treated me like royalty and were very attentive since I was celebrating all by my self—and served me a very fine birthday dinner with a complimentary glass of champagne!  I had a lovely day actually, and if you would like to know how to spend your birthday in Frankfurt, contact me at bsumwalt@pacbell.net. I’ve got some ideas for you!

Cheers, Beverly Sumwalt

Cystic Fibrosis Related Diabetes

Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes (CFRD) is a type of diabetes that affects individuals who have Cystic Fibrosis. CFRD is an entity unto itself, having several aspects that make it different from other forms of diabetes.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is one of the most common genetic defects among the Caucasian population, and it is a devastating, systemic disease. When CF was first being diagnosed, children with this disorder rarely lived to reach their teens]; now the average life expectancy  of an individual with CF is around 36 years. Still horrifically short, but better. The fact that people with CF are living longer means they acquire other disorders, including a type of diabetes. It has been shown that with increasing age in the CF population there is increasing incidence of diabetes mellitus.  Roughly 20% of adolescents with CF have diabetes and about 50% of adults with CF have CFRD (1).

CFRD is not as straight-forward to diagnose as type 1 and type 2 diabetes, so it’s important for laboratory professionals to be aware of this disease. People with CF who have diabetes may not always have hyperglycemia. Also hemoglobin A1c (Hgb A1c) values, which is a test recommended by the ADA for diagnosing diabetes, may not be elevated in these patients. The oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) is recommended for diagnosis of CFRD, and yet even these results may be equivocal in CFRD patients (2). Nonetheless, the ADA/CFF guidelines suggest that all CF patients over 10 years of age should be screened yearly for CFRD using the OGTT. In addition, at least one study in the literature has found that when performing an OGTT on CFRD patients, a glucose level at the 1 hr time point correlates best with the patient’s lung function (3). Thus, if your lab performs OGTT on individuals with suspected CFRD, the physician requesting the test may want the glucose value on a one hour time point as well as the standard 2 hour OGTT.

Individuals with CF who get CFRD tend to have weight loss, protein catabolism, worsened lung function and significantly increased mortality compared to CF individuals without diabetes. The increased mortality is directly related to decreased pulmonary function, rather than to the atherosclerotic vascular disease seen in other types of diabetes. Insulin therapy is the recommended therapy for CFRD.

-Patti Jones

References:

  1. Moran A, Brunzell C, Cohen RC, Katz M, Marshall BC, Onady G, Robinson KA, Sabadosa KA, Stecenko A, Slovis B. Clinical care guidelines for cystic fibrosis-related diabetes.  Diabetes care 33(12):2697-2708. 2010.
  2. Rana M, Munns CF, Selvadurai H, Donaghue KC, Craig ME. Cystic fibrosis-related diabetes in children – gaps in the evidence? Nature Reviews: Endocrinology, 6:371-378. July 2010.
  3. Brodsky J, Dougherty S, Makani R, Rubenstein RC, Kelly A. Elevation of 1-hour plasma glucose during oral glucose tolerance testing is associated with worse pulmonary function in cystic fibrosis. Diabetes Care, 34:292-205. 2011.

I’ll Have Pasteurized Milk, Please

Recently officials determined the cause of death of a young mother in Las Vegas: tuberculosis. The family Mycobacteriaceae contains several pathogenic species, including the most famous, M. tuberculosis. While none of the articles I read mention the species, they do mention the patient consumed unpasteurized dairy products, which leads me to believe she died of the zoonotic organism M. bovis.

Since these organisms are recovered infrequently, clinical microbiologists should brush up on the basics of these organisms on occasion. The CDC has some general information on Tuberculosis; the illustrious contributors at Wikipedia go a bit more in depth. The best sources for information are reference textbooks such as the Manual of Microbiology. It’s important to remember that mycobacteria can infect any region of the body, not just the respiratory system, so it’s important to keep an open mind. It’s also helpful to know that some species are rapid growers and may present on blood agar in a routine culture.

-Kelly Swails

 

“Light Bulb” Moments During Residency

After four months on CP rotations, I am now on a 2-month surgical pathology rotation at the VA hospital where we have a 2-day grossing schedule. While it is not as busy as the two community hospitals I will rotate in surgical pathology at in 2014, the time away from anatomic pathology brings some trepidation as I feel I’ve lost some expertise in this area. Use it or lose it. But again, it helps to have a great support staff that makes life easier by helping me out and providing me with daily laughs to make the day go by faster and almost feel like I’m not at work

While I remember being stressed when I started my 3-month “intro to surgical pathology” rotation last year as a PGY-1, a lot has changed in a short year. Last year, I felt as if there was so much that I did not know but eventually a time came, without my even realizing it, when I got most of my diagnoses correct. Clinical pathology rotations were inherently easier for me due to my research and grad school background and my comfort level in the lab setting. But since I am in an AP/CP track, its important to maintain perspective as well as skills in both disciplines.

To accomplish these goals, I approach service duties on each rotation with the same diligence. I don’t play favorites even with those rotations that I find easier, more comfortable, or more likely to be my future choice of subspecialty. There is always something I can learn and I give each rotation and every patient that same respect. Next, I learn by performing my duties with as close to the same responsibility level as my attending as I can. I find that I learn more by “doing” than by just studying. This is especially true if I interact with all members through the clinical care process – from technicians to attendings to primary care physicians and other subspecialists, not just to deliver diagnoses but to help influence healthcare decisions. This was especially true on my lab medicine rotations. But I understand that this learning style may not be the same for others.

For whatever reason, PGY-2 feels as if it has flown by more quickly, probably because I have more responsibilities and also cover night/weekend calls. But whatever what advice I or another senior gives their junior, people will only listen when they are ready to hear and have their “light bulb” moment. I know it took me a while to understand the significance of much of what I was told last year…Are you ready for your “light bulb” moment?

I will leave tomorrow to attend CAP HOD and to present a poster at the CAP conference (where I probably won’t get to visit Disneyworld). I’ll let you know how it goes in my blog post next week!

-Betty Chung

 

How the Government Shut Down Affects Your Health

The shutdown has far-reaching implications for your health.

The government-funded Centers for Disease Control employs detectives that investigate foodborne illnesses, infectious disease outbreaks, and influenza viral patterns.  They work hard to keep us healthy and productive. You know what happens when the government shuts down? They stop detecting. Development of next year’s flu vaccine gets delayed. Flu outbreaks aren’t tracked. Right now, there’s a Salmonella outbreak that isn’t being investigated as thoroughly as it would be if the CDC were open for business.  (If you’re interested in the CDC’s role in outbreak investigation, that link is here.)

The Superbug blog has a great post about the government shutdown and your health. 

-Kelly Swails