Archive for the ‘words’ tag
A friend of mine who has been struggling with health problems recently posted a link to The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino. The basic analogy boils down to expressing the energy one has in terms of spoons. And when someone is sick, they don’t have a full drawer of spoons to draw from in their day. So they have to budget the way they spend their energy, sometimes down to such nuances as deciding whether to shower or eat in a given night.
It’s been a helpful analogy for a lot of people, so I thought that I would post it here as well. And if nothing else, it’s just a lot easier to tell someone that you’re low on spoons than it is to go into the details of what it is to not have the energy for things that might seem simple to someone in better health.
The hosting website is called ButYouDontLookSick.com and it’s intended to be a resource for people struggling with those diseases which aren’t necessarily visible to others.
Perusing through some news today I found a few articles siting new software that is bringing 3D visualization into the histological realm. Basically they are taking histological slides and using the same type of algorithms that CT and MRI use to generate 3D images that can be moved about in space and studied.
Reading these, I was really surprised to hear that such a thing hadn’t already existed. It seems like something that you could do with Mimics honestly. But I suppose it was the actual data collection at the microscopic level that wasn’t quite available. Without a scanner doing the registration for you, one is left with having to work out each individual slide’s relationship to the next, and that could certainly eat up some time. But Dr. Derek Magee at the University of Leeds seems to have found a good way of handling that. So the person using his software scans in prepared slides, and the alignment happens automatically and a 3D image is presented.
I find it puzzling that these articles about the technology keep referring to the scanners as “virtual slide scanners.” It doesn’t sound like there is anything “virtual” about them aside from the end result they produce of allowing a virtual 3D image. Every description seems to talk about an actual physical slide being scanned for digital information. That sounds like a scanner to me. But I leave that one up to any of you reading to decipher whether you think I’m just missing something, or someone early on was quoted while trying to push technological buzzwords. In my experience, either of those things could easily be true.
The work has been published in The American Journal of Pathology but is also discussed in these articles.
*image above is from a traditionally prepared histological slide*
I realize that I haven’t been writing as much here lately. That’s mostly because I’ve been spending so much time working out the details of my my final paper for the upcoming defense of my masters degree. It’s looking like I am going to present just next week, and it is overwhelming how much there is to get in order. I’d like to post the whole paper here at some point, though I suppose I should look in to whether or not I’m going to submit it anywhere else before I go putting it up online. Here is the abstract though, for those of you interested in what I’m up to these days…
There is a need for education materials for patients undergoing orthognathic surgery. The problem of conveying intricate accurate anatomical information to patients presents a design challenge for creators of such educational materials. The goal of this project was to explore possibilities for using new advancements in 3D animation technology to improve understanding on the part of patients prior to surgery. Computed tomography (CT) scanning, surgical observation, 3D animation, editing software, and DVD authoring technologies were utilized in the creation of a 3D animation for patients preparing to under-go the bilateral sagittal split osteotomy of the mandible and osseous genioplasty surgical procedures.
Sitting at a current 29-32 pages (depending on whether or not you count the script that I’m including but haven’t placed yet), I believe this is by far the longest paper I’ve ever written. And that’s all I’m gonna say about that for now, as I need to get back to all that academic sayin’ that’s got to get done already!
So I’m reviewing some Pathophysiology lectures before taking an online test this morning, and I just have to say that there is one slide that bugs me so much! The lecturer starts with the explanation that the suffix -oma refers to benign tissue growths, mentions one example of when this works, and then gives THREE exceptions!
The lecture then goes on to explain that malignant tissue growth often takes the suffix -carcinoma or -sarcoma. And at no point is it so much as acknowleged that both -carcinoma and -sarcoma end in -oma!
Now I know that we are talking about individual suffixes across various tumor growths here, and that technically -carcinoma would be the entire suffix, not just -oma, but why on earth would you not start with the specific terms and then move on to say that the benign tissue growths don’t take on the the entirety of these suffixes, but do still end in -oma.
The way this is set up is needlessly confusing!
To be fair, most of these slides are actually handled pretty well. But man, I see stuff like that and it just bugs me!
I have always had a difficult time with vocabulary definitions that I suspect fall short of the word being defined itself. Recently I started an online class in Pathophysiology which uses the book Pathophysiology for the Health Proffessions by Barbara E. Gould.
Now my first impressions of this book have been very positive. I like the layout. It seems easier to skim for what you are looking for in this book than it has in many I’ve owned before. I like the clear and concise level of explanation on a lot of things. When we got to the section on healing, I was very impressed to see alternative and holistic medicines discussed beyond the standard blurb about what some quacks think. I like the listing of literary and web resources at the end of every chapter as a starting place should you want to read more.
I am however finding myself at odds with the way this book defines certain key terms. Some of these seem a bit misleading. In the text, words are emphasized to their contextual meaning, making it easy to assume that the bold faced term, being defined in front of you means specifically what it says. But many of these words are broader than the context given, and should be noted as such. For instance, vasodilation reads in the text as a “relaxation of smooth muscle causing an increase in the diameter of arterioles.” And that would be fine, except that vasodilation isn’t specific to arterioles, it applies to any dilating vessel.
Just now I was looking at the description for glucocorticoids which reads “Glucocorticoids, sometimes referred to as corticosteroids or steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, are synthetic chemicals that are related to the naturally occurring glucocorticoids (hytrocortisone), hormones produced by the adrenal cortex gland in the body.” So we’ve got a word, that we are defining as a lab made drug, only to use the very same word to express the natural hormone in the body which it mimics.
And I know that these are small points. A second or third read, and I understand exactly what is meant in the glucocorticoid explanation. Vasodilation, does also apply as used in the text, it just means something a little bit broader though. I was totally prepared to rant about anorexia being defined as a “loss of appetite” but I finally found backup for that definition. The book is right, on that one. I guess the point is though, that words matter. And how these terms are expressed in textbooks, especially the ones that we don’t know yet, will affect the way we read and use them and understand new material.
One of the things I find most challenging in studying anatomy and medical sciences is this tendency for important words, and concepts to be expressed in a manner that will only be later contradicted when you learn more. And right now I am suspicious of this book for doing that with words. It’s a shame, because a suspicious student probably doesn’t take in as much as a trusting one. But with so many changing theories and new discoveries happening throughout these fields, I’d personally like for us to work on getting the intended and accurate message out in the first place. Then at least we’re all on a similar page in observing the actual discoveries and changes and not just playing catch up all the time on what our early lessons really meant.
I am a person who cares about words. I may sling them casually at times, but in the end I care about them. I’ve even gotten into more than one ridiculous heated argument about their exact meanings in the past. And I don’t look to discourage anyone from picking up this book (unless of course you’re just looking for a strong glossary in which case you should really be buying a medical dictionary or something like that instead.) I do however hope that any of you writing such a guide, or teaching new students will give careful consideration to the messages implied in what you put forth. Get it right in the beginning. And if you need to simplify, be clear that you are doing so. You always want to leave room for further understanding of the next chapter, not set up conflicting pieces and confusion.