My Friend Senator George McGovern–Gentleman and Statesman


Senator George McGovern Vandana Bhide

Senator George McGovern in his home in St. Augustine Florida

Senator George McGovern will be mourned, no matter what your political view. He lived part time in St. Augustine, Florida, the nation’s oldest city. He always returned to his hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Senator McGovern kept a busy travel schedule. Three years before his death, at the age of 87, he had a book tour to promote his biography of Abraham Lincoln. Senator McGovern went skydiving for his 88th birthday! He was a tireless advocate of feeding children around the world, travelling to Africa in his later years to promote his cause. He attended the funeral of his vice presidential nominee, Sargeant Shriver.

English: Senator George McGovern signing his b...

English: Senator George McGovern signing his book “Abraham Lincoln” at the Richard M. Nixon Library and Museum in Yorba Linda, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He supported candidates in the North Florida area. Senator McGovern was a very outgoing man who loved to entertain in his home. He hosted opera singers from Gainesville for an evening of opera in his home. He was quick witted and loved to give speeches at his parties.

George missed his wife Eleanor, who died in 2007. He moved part time to St. Augustine in 2008.  He told me his only regret was not spending more time with his children. He wrote about his daughter who died of alcoholism. His other children are successful and well adjusted.

I and many others will miss George’s insights and humor. He has a lasting legacy on America.

Senator George McGovern's 88th birthday party

Senator George McGovern’s 88th birthday party

Last updated by Dr. Vee on October 23, 2012

The Search for Google (Mount Rushmore Road Show)


Photograph of Mount Rushmore Courtesy of Ed James
 
“What do you think about dressing up as Abraham Lincoln for Halloween?” I asked my son. I thought I would dress up as George Washington, his friends could dress up as Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt and we could start a Mount Rushmore Road Show.
 
My son rolled his eyes and said nothing. I was worried he might be on Facebook “unfriending” me or placing an ad on Craig’s List: “For Sale, Lame Mom. Uses whole sentences to text. Takes notes at Parent -Teacher conferences. No, It’s NOT ok to contact me with other services or commercial interests.”
 
Maybe his mind, like the American advertising community, had already moved past Halloween onto the critical Christmas shopping season, which starts directly after Back to School shopping season. (I am still trying to figure what to do with those ten protractors for $20* I bought in the Back to School Specials frenzy).
 
But no, he texted me, “i want 2 dress up as google toolbar.”
 
Naturally we started our Google costume search on Wikipedia. When I moved to the United States from India at age five, one of my most prized possessions was a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It took my parents a long time to save up enough money to buy me a set. In fact, I have kept the 1978 edition until this very day to peruse on those late nights when I don’t get 30 junk emails (Note: place Unsubscribe in subject line), 20 email newsletters from Mailchimp or a notice urging me, “Vandana, read LinkedIn’s update about Dr. Extraordinarily Smarter and More Accomplished than You and on the verge of winning a Nobel prize.” 
 
Next we searched Google for Google (my son on an iPad, me on my iPhone).  Apparently I wasn’t feeling lucky because the search yielded only sponsored sites selling skull and crossbones ice cube trays, toxic waste candy, zombie blood energy drinks, and ketchup/mustard packet baby costumes.
 
 We moved on to eBay. No Google toolbar costumes but we were able to bid on some Angry Birds Halloween costumes and Albert Einstein wigs.  We also auctioned off 10 protractors, shipping included anywhere in the continental United States.
 
I figured some industrious and creative parent had already thought of the Google costume and posted a How To video on Youtube, but no such luck.
 
Finally I went Amazon.com because one can buy ANYTHING on Amazon. I didn’t find a Google toolbar but I did find a couple of protractors (on sale for a mere 10 for $5 with $4.95  shipping!) to put on my Wish List. Those helpful folks at Amazon were kind enough to make some shopping suggestions based on items bought by people who also searched for protractors.Plus they offerred to give me $50 off this purchase if I apply for the Amazon credit card, guaranteed to never exceed an interest rate above 26.5%!
 
I clicked a flashing advertisement with the enticing tagline, “Come on over to the dark side with dark chocolate mini candy bars.” We learned there was 1 gram of fiber per 5 mini chocolate bars. So we only have to eat 150 candy bars to get the recommended daily intake of fiber.  My son thought the candy bars were practically a health food and plans on substituting them for broccoli.
 
Of course I had to pin the picture of fiber-full dark chocolate bars on Pinterest and then on my Facebook wall so that everyone interested could “Like” the Dark Side! I couldn’t leave Facebook (keep me logged on this computer, Check) without contacting the 5 friends with birthdays this month, see status updates on 22 friends, no lie, play a couple of games of word scramble, print out coupons for more protractors, check out friends tagged on photos, say “Maybe” to the 18 events to which I was invited by people I’m not sure I know,  “Like” the 400th “Baby’s first steps” pictures of someone I don’t recognize and whew, I am exhausted!
 
I told my son we absolutely had to get off the internet because we had exceeded the two hour screen time limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
 
Let’s see what Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, KevinMD and Dr. Oz are tweeting about (dark chocolate) and we’ll call it a night!
 
Ultimately, my son nixed the Mount Rushmore Road Show mother-son bonding idea (South Dakota or bust!) as well as the Google toolbar costume. I tweeted to the world @VeeMD “My son is dressing up as a Mad Scientist for Halloween and I am dressing up as a Petri dish.” (Less than140 characters.)
*when bought with qualifying $50 minimum purchase
 
Last edited on October 11, 2012 by Dr. Vee

The Search for Google: A Commentary on Social Media in our Lives


The Search For Google (Mt. Rushmore Road Show)

Ever notice how pervasive the internet is in our daily lives? And how one can lose track of time for hours with a single web search? A recent example: Halloween Trick or Treating. An age old American childhood tradition. It started out innocently enough.  I simply asked my son, “What do you think about dressing up as Abraham Lincoln for Halloween?” He is studying American history in Social Studies class so I thought this would be a respectable Halloween character, avoiding commercialized blockbuster movie or pop culture idols. I thought I would dress up as George Washington, his friends could dress up as Thomas Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt and we could have a Mount Rushmore Road Show. This did not go over big with my son.  He looked at me, rolled his eyes and said nothing. I was worried he might be on Facebook “blocking” me or placing an ad on Craig’s List, “For Sale, One Lame Mom. Rants against energy drinks.  Eats brown rice. Still uses whole sentences to text. Takes notes at Parent-Teacher conferences. No, It’s NOT OK to contact me with other services, products or commercial interests.” I checked Angie’s List and became concerned when I was not listed as a preferred vender (mother).

Later that day my son used the most common type of adolescent communication: he texted, “Mom Please don’t embarrass me in public.” (At least he said please.) I texted back “How about dressing up like Facebook?” “OMG LOL!” was his immediate reply.

I thought that maybe his mind, like the American advertising community, had already moved past Halloween onto the more important Christmas shopping season, which starts directly after Back to School shopping season (I am still trying to figure what to do with those ten protractors for $20* I bought in the Back to School Specials frenzy). But no, he then emailed, “I think I’d like to dress up as a Google toolbar.” And so started the search for Google. 

Of course, being internet savvy, he went directly to Wikipedia. When I moved to the United States from India at age five, one of my most prized possessions was a complete set of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It took my parents a long time to save up enough money to buy me a set. In fact, I have kept it until this day to peruse on those late nights when I don’t get 300 emails, 30 email newsletters from mailchimp or a notice urging me, “Read about Dr. Extraordinarily Smarter and More Accomplished than You and On the Verge of Winning a Nobel Prize’s updates on LinkedIn!” 

Today, it’s easier to search the internet than the Encyclopedia Britannica. So naturally we went to YouTube (My son on an I Pad, me on my IPhone) and searched, “How to dress up like Google toolbar. The search returned “Bert & Ernie try Gangsta-Rap.” We moved on to eBay. We put in a couple of bids for Einstein wigs after examining the complete 360 degree view of the hair.  Next we put up for sale 10 protractors, shipping included anywhere in the continental United States.

We even did an advanced search on Amazon (who was kind enough to offer me some suggestions of similar items that I might be interested in buying). I saved a couple of protractors (on sale for a mere 10 for $5 with $10 shipping!) on my Wish List and emailed the list to my relatives for Christmas present suggestions.  All courtesy of those helpful folks at Amazon.

We did a general search on “Healthy Halloween ideas” and were encouraged by advertisers to “Come on over to the dark side with dark chocolate mini candy bars.” The manufacturer told us that there was 1 gram of fiber per 5 mini chocolate bars. That means we only have to eat 150 mini candy bars to get the recommended daily intake of fiber.  After reading the label, my son thought the candy bars were practically a health food and plans on substituting them for broccoli! I find it annoying that manufacturers have jumped on the dark chocolate bandwagon (Fortunately they are interested in our health, not in their sales), trying to convince consumers that candy (of course when consumed “in moderation”) can be part of a sensible diet!

The manufacturer of this candy bar was even kind enough to provide a fascinating article on theobromine, “a compound closely related to caffeine that only has a mild stimulatory effect on the central nervous system.”  They told us, “Preliminary research indicates that even relatively high levels of theobromine does not interfere with attention or mood.”  For our further education, we find out that dogs metabolize theobromine very slowly and it “carries the same risk to dogs as coffee, tea, cola beverages and certain houseplants.”  I bet that piece of useful information was never included in the Encyclopedia Britannica! 

Of course I had to post that article on my Facebook wall so that everyone interested could “Like” theobromine! And I certainly could not leave Facebook (Keep me logged on, Check) without contacting the 5 friends with birthdays this month, see status updates on 22 friends, no lie, play a couple of games of word scramble,  learn how to make gazpacho from Bobby Flay (He might be traveling to my hometown for a Throwdown and I better be prepared!),  print out a couple of coupons for more protractors, start a new game of solitaire (advanced hand), say “maybe” to the 18 events I was invited to by people I’m not sure I know,  “Like” the 400th “Baby’s first steps” pictures of someone I don’t recognize (Baby’s Mom, who I don’t actually know, asked to “Friend” me on Facebook and I agreed, since one has to exceed 7 friends on Facebook in order to well, Save Face) and whew, I am exhausted!

I told my son we HAD to get off the internet because we had exceeded the two hour daily limit of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. But not before we found websites to buy skull and crossbones ice cube trays, sour flush toilet candy, toxic waste candy, tongue tattoos, zombie blood energy drink, and a ketchup packet baby costume.

I thought idly about “quickly” checking behind the scenes photographs of Lindsay Lohan’s  first day of community service as a morgue janitor (CNN Entertainment informed me that “Thursday was suppose to be Lohan’s first day of work as a morgue janitor, but she was sent away after showing up late for the morning’s orientation. Her publicist blamed her tardiness on a combination of not knowing what entrance to go through and confusion caused by the media waiting for her arrival.”) As an act of good citizenship, I recommended this on Facebook (along with 586 other people!) as well as shared it on Twitter. 

Next I had to check what those down to Earth Housewives of Beverly Hills are up to on their behind the scenes blog (shopping, shopping, nails, hair, shopping, Spa, shopping, restaurants, shopping).  Learn about the newest medical breakthroughs on “The Doctors” (Who needs Mayo Clinic Proceedings?), Check. Let’s see what Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, Deepak Chopra, KevinMD and Dr. Oz are tweeting about (dark chocolate) and we’ll call it a night.

Fortunately, I am pleased to report that my son did not dress up like Tron, Harry Potter (Ok, I admit that’s who he was last year), Charlie Sheen, any vampire from Twilight, Jack Sparrow (SO last year) or an IPad 2. (Why dress up as an IPad 2 when one only has to enter 5 or 6 thousand internet advertising contests in order to have a “chance” to win one?)  He also nixed the Mt. Rushmore Road Show mother-son bonding idea (South Dakota or bust!) as well as, ultimately, the Google toolbar costume (If it’s not found on YouTube it can’t be worth making). I tweeted to the world @VeeMD “My son is dressing up as a Mad Scientist for Halloween and I am dressing up as a Petri dish.” (Less than140 characters.)

*when bought with qualifying $50 minimum purchase

Updated on October 30, 2011 by Dr. Vee

Feeling Patriotic (and Groovy)



May Day is always special to me because it is the day I became a United States citizen (Star Spangled Banner music quietly playing in the background as you read this post).

Photograph Courtesy of Jonathan Colman

Last updated May 2, 2010 by Dr. Vee

No PayDay Loan Needed!


Photographs Courtesy of Renee Rendler-Kaplan

I love American ingenuity. There is always somebody ready to capitalize on somebody else’s misery.

First, thanks for the many kind words from people who had no idea about the “hamster on a wheel” life of a primary care doctor. I discussed how difficult primary care doctors (internists, pediatricians, family practitioners) are finding it to make a living (I am still waiting for that 10 % pay raise from President Obama. I find it hard to believe that is going to solve the primary care crisis!).

I had to laugh though, when I got a “friendly” comment (AKA Smam) telling me that I qualified for a payday loan.

“$1500 Cash Payday pickup Cash Wired to Your Bank in 1 Hour Apply, E-Sign, and Get Cash Today”

Ha! Free money!!!??? Thanks, you made my day. Laughter is always therapeutic (except during an IRS audit, I guess). I could make more money if I knew how to do internet advertising/spam (which I would, of course, never be ethically willing to do).

Last updated May 1, 2010 by Dr. Vee

Run and Eat–Race for the Taste 5K Run to Benefit EPIC Community Services


The first ever Race for the Taste 5K run was this past weekend. We had over six hundred runners and they were amazingly fast!!!! The setting was beautiful Anastasia State Park, where runners had a great view of the ocean as they ran!

The runners then had free admission to the Taste of St. Augustine, where people could sample different food items and vote for their best in category.

Thanks to Dr. Pineau and everyone at Borland-Groover Gastroenteroloy Clinic for being title sponsor. Orthopedic Associates of St. Augustine, Dr. Marema/Koppman and OB/GYN Associates of St. Augustine were other key sponsors, making this Race incredibly successful! I had fun creating and sponsoring the Runner’s bags (Featuring Ask Dr. Vee, your Holistic Medicine Expert). I also had fun (but was stressed to the max) handing out water to the runners during the race!

Local celebs who ran in the race (and were fashionably dressed to boot, and did not sweat at all despite the 84 degree Florida heat) were too numerous to list, but included Bill Abare (former EPIC Community Services President), Dr. Ram Eyyunni, Dr. Ben Pineau (and son, who runs faster than me!) and Dr. Bill Platko.

All proceeds went to EPIC Community Services, which strives to help patients and families battling addiction through Education, Counseling, Intervention and Prevention.

This year I am Vice President of the Board of EPIC Community Services and am getting on the job training from Bev Slough, St. John’s County School Board President and current EPIC Board of Directors President. Patrick Canan, former EPIC President, and local attorney, did not dress up like Elton John, but he was a sponsor of the Taste of St. Augustine.

Patrick of Gypsy Cab (yummy hummus!) and Lorna McDonald of Raintree Restaurant (yummy berry crepes) were there to help St. Augustine become more tasty.

Thanks to all the great restaurants who were there, Patti Greenough and Teresa Andrews who worked tirelessly to make the event successful!

Rebecca Romaine, was EPIC in helping mastermind such a fantastically successful race. Valerie Lee was the water gal–we are already planning on how to improve our water skills for next year (ok, yeah, garbage cans for the water cups would have been an obvious idea. Also, some of the cups were flimsy. Who knew that you had to test run the cups in advance???) Fortunately, Tara Smith-Vighetti and
Renee Wauldron were there to help pour and hand out water cups during the race!

Preparation, preparation, preparation!

Last updated April 28, 2010 by Dr. Vee

Uh Uh Tomorrow is Payday


Photograph Courtesy of Bob Cuthill

Tomorrow is payday and that is difficult in the life of a primary care physician (I’m not trying to get you to feel sorry for me, just trying to explain the realities of being a primary care doctor in 2010).  Can’t make payroll tomorrow.  This has become a frequent occurrence over the past two years as reimbursements have decreased and the number of patients that need to be seen daily has increased.  


The next time you get frustrated with your primary care doctor (not necessarily the case for some specialists, who are reimbursed at much higher rates) because you don’t have enough time with them, and you have had to wait for a long time in the Waiting Room, remember:  Primary Care doctors have to see more patients in a shorter period of time to keep the practice open. 

Medicare, Blue Cross and other companies audit doctors who routinely see (and therefore bill) for longer office visits.  United Healthcare used to routinely, unilaterally, downcode my office visits from higher to lower levels.  They underwent class action suit and had to stop that practice.  In the end, remember that insurance companies want profits (How else can the CEO make $25 million dollars?) and one method is less reimbursement for doctors. 

But doctors are really rich, don’t work hard and make a lot of money, right?  Put yourself in my place.  If you sacrificed your twenties and thirties hanging out 48 hrs at a time in hospitals taking care of incredibly sick patients, would you be willing to earn less than many nurses, podiatrists, dentists and nurse practitioners?  Ask yourself honestly.  Do you expect to be paid for your time?  Or do you work at Wal-Mart for free?  Do you get free food at the grocery store (Ok, food stamps don’t count–hopefully at least your kids get to eat with the food stamps).  How about free gasoline for your car? How about a free car because you are a nice person and don’t want to get paid for working as a waitress. Hmm…you mean you do want to get paid?  And you work harder than doctors?  And how about those hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans you accumulated trying to become a waitress.  Probably don’t need to pay those back right? 

And when you go to the grocery store, you get free food, right (OK, food stamps for your kids don’t count.  It is important for your kids to eat).  And free gas for your BMW, right?  And your mortgage is free, too, right? 

Anyway, my point is that everyone deserves to be paid for working hard, and should be able to repay their hundreds of thousands of dollars of school loans (My family isn’t wealthy).  I don’t want to pay to be a doctor, which happens frequently. I have to “lend” my office money when I can’t make payroll.  Problem is, I “lent” the office $6000 last week to pay for the credit card bill with vaccines, medical supplies (know how much that table paper and gloves cost???) and my malpractice insurance.  So now I don’t have anything left to “lend” my practice.  And three people who work with me in the office also depend on me to feed their families.  Never thought this is what life as a doctor would be like. 

So the answer has to be see more patients, less time, not fair to patients or to me.  But the way it is in the primary care world.  Oh, and I have tried praying.  A LOT. 

 


Last updated April 25, 2010 by Dr. Vee