Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Best wishes to Dr. Choi

In January of 2009 I made a post called "The Patient Patient" which I dedicated to Elisa Choi, M.D. at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr Choi is, or unfortunately I now must say was, my infectious disease doctor. The past tense is because I was notified yesterday that she has left the Practice at Health Care Associates, and I will be reassigned. This is very distressing to me, but my primary care physician, the poet and doctor Rafael Campo who originally put me under Dr. Choi's care is still my primary care physician and will, I am sure, make an excellent choice in reassigning me.

And yet there is a great sadness in this for me. It has been a huge comfort for me that Dr.Choi has been in my court over the last six years and so I would like to take a moment to give tribute to her.

I have made some allusion to the time in 2004 when Tufts medical insurance dropped me and I was left without HIV meds- ok, that's a comment about "Death Committees," any one who thinks they aren't present in private insurance really needs a reality check. I was without my HIV meds for a few months as a result. These were the months following the death of "The Mad Genius," a time of fear and despair. The result of this was a rather complicated and confusing case of medication resistance that surfaced when Dr. Campo and the social workers at Beth Israel managed to get me medications again. It was at this point that Dr. Campo sent me to Dr. Choi whose specialty this is.

Dr. Choi guided me through the process of identifying the medication problems and she found a new "cocktail" that eventually brought the virus under control. She also identified a host of other problems- in particular damage to my bone marrow that AZT had caused and she got me back on the road to feeling like I had some future after all. All this time my liver enzymes were way out of normal range, and the easy explanation was that it must be my HIV meds, given that I consistently tested negative for Hepatitis C- that great passenger in HIV infection. Dr. Choi was never content to take the obvious cause without proof, and it is really this that I most respect her for. She is a great scientist and wants an exactly defined cause before she rests with any diagnosis. After many, many, tests she insisted on a Hep C viral test, in spite of the negative antibody test, and found that I was indeed carrying a lot of Hep C virus. "If I can beat HIV I can beat Hep C! Don't worry." She actually said that to me once. Further exploration revealed that I was losing other Hepatitis antibody's as well.

I can not explain the importance that my relationship with her has had for me without being so personal about my health. I have seen her every two months for 6 years now, and relied on her to get me through some very scary problems. But there is also another connection that has developed.

In 2007 Dr. Choi had a child. One isn't necessarily aware of pregnancy with male doctors but you know with your female doctors. I really wanted to do something personal- for me that means giving some of my art work- to mark the occasion, but juvenile isn't really my thing. I walk to my appointments at the BI through the Fenway and I had the idea of taking photographs of the ducks and geese, thinking a kid might enjoy them. The image here is one of the results. It has ended up being a large and very successful series of prints, and each one of them has a little thought of Dr. Choi and her family attached to it. I offer her my greatest respect and best wishes for the future!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Oh Joy

I have discovered that yet another fascinating Emmanuel Church person is writing a blog. You will find it over there on the right in my blog list- "The Crooked Line." Look through it, it is very worth reading!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Your Tax Dollars at Work

I was walking through Boston Common yesterday. We are having "Marine Days" here in Boston and the first sign I saw of the activity on the common was trio of smartly dressed officers walking up the path that runs parallel to Beacon Street. They were walking toward the State House. They nodded very politely. Then, as I proceeded down the slope I noticed a group of soldiers wearing fatigues and carrying rifles darting in an out of the trees. We will assume that the rifles were not loaded. The open field of the common was off to the left and as it became visible I saw tents and heavy equipment, vehicles and helicopters, all surrounded with metal railings and with very polite and well washed marines allowing the public to to clamber through them. Here are some pictures from this morning's globe. The engineer in me became fascinated. I actually walked through one of them. The engineer in me sometimes feels like my evil genius.

My route took me through the Public Garden. It has been truly spectacular this spring. Two weeks ago we had some warm weather that brought out all the flowers and then it turned cold so they have persisted. It has been a huge flower arrangement that has been sitting for weeks in the refrigerator of the early spring weather of New England.

Next I headed for Copley Square. The Marines were there as well. They had 4 machine guns set up around the large fountain where the skate boarders practice all winter while it is empty. It's still empty, but only one skate boarder was there in the cross fire of the machine guns. He looked very brave, but then there were no marines actually manning the machine guns at the time. They still looked very threatening though. And there was a large, I think it's called a mortar? I didn't stop to ask, a very large gun about 12 feet high, which they had pointed at the Boston Public Library. I can't imagine what these people are thinking about. I'm sure this is all meant to gain good will and show us how our tax dollars are spent, but pointing machine guns at skateboarders and artillery at the BPL is a little to ominous, dare I say prophetic, to be comfortable.

Here is another article from this mornings Globe- "Travesty of Justice" by Kevin Cullen. I recommend to you that you read it carefully. Be mindful that in describing the actions of the FBI and the Court system he is discussing the same entity which enforces it's will with the Marines who are flexing their muscles for us all in our fair "City on a Hill." Then go look at those gun emplacements on Copley Square.

Oh! By the way, did you hear that the BU class of 40 years ago will finally have a graduation ceremony. Those of you who remember will know that they never graduated because of the National Guard killing 4 students at a war protest at Kent State University. Those of you who don't can read about it here. BU has invited all the members of that year's class to join in this year's graduation, so they will finally have a ceremony. I add this as a reminder to those who think that it can't happen here. Think about Kent State in 1970 while enjoying "Marine Week".