Tag: Medicine

#MedicMondays: Aaron McDuffie Moore

Born to free African American parents during the Civil War, Aaron McDuffie Moore (1863-1923) was trained to be a school teacher, but after several years teaching high school he entered Leonard Medical School at Shaw University. He graduated in 1888 and became the first black physician in Durham.

In 1898, Moore and other investors founded the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co., and later persuaded the Duke family into backing a hospital for African Americans. When Lincoln Hospital opened in 1901, Moore became its first superintendent. After Mutual’s office moved from Main Street to Parrish Street in 1905 Moore moved his own medical practice there and in 1908 he and others opened the Bull City Drug Co., a pharmacy, on Parrish Street with a second branch, on Fayetteville Street in Hayti.
Moore also founded the first public library for African Americans, as a book collection at White Rock Baptist Church. The collection and its patronage rapidly grew and led to creation of the Stanford L. Warren public library.
Moore’s home was on Fayetteville Street next door to White Rock. It was demolished during Durham Freeway construction in the 1960s.

#MedicMondays: Dr. Vivien Thomas

With no formal medical training, he developed techniques and tools that would lead to today’s modern heart surgery. In operating rooms all over the world, great surgeons who received their training from Vivien Thomas are performing life-saving surgical procedures. We honor his legacy with the naming of the Vivien Thomas High School Research Program at the Morehouse School of Medicine. The Vivien Thomas Research Program for high school students was established to provide experiences in the research laboratories at the Morehouse School of Medicine. Students conduct research for six weeks under the direction of a medical school faculty member and learn the content, process and methodology involved in inquiry science. At the end of this summer experience, students present their research findings to the faculty and staff at MSM.

Vivien T. Thomas was born in New Iberia, Louisiana on August 29, 1910. His family later moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he was educated in the public schools. In 1929, after working as an orderly in a private infirmary to raise money for college, he enrolled as a premedical student at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial College. The bank crash that year wiped out his life’s savings, forcing him to drop out of school.

In 1930, he took a position at Vanderbilt University as a laboratory assistant with Alfred Blalock. Thomas’ abilities as a surgical assistant and research associate were of the highest quality, and when Blalock moved to Johns Hopkins in 1941 he asked Thomas to accompany him. Thomas joined Blalock’s surgical team and helped to develop the procedure used in the “blue baby” operation. He helped train many of the surgeons at Johns Hopkins in the delicate techniques necessary for heart and lung operations.

Thomas was a member of the medical school faculty from 1976 until 1985 and was presented with the degree of Honorary Doctor of Laws by the Johns Hopkins University in 1976. Today, in operating rooms all over the world, there are great surgeons performing life saving surgical procedures who received their training from Vivien Thomas. His achievements stand as a testament to the power of research, discovery, and persistence to improve the health of generations to come, a legacy we honor with the naming of the Vivien Thomas High Summer Research Program at Morehouse School of Medicine.

I Love Needles, But I Hate The Doctors! (Pt. 2)

I’ve written about my disdain for the doctors before. Well, my disdain for going to the doctors. There were so many things I don’t like about going to the doctors so I thought I would write a follow up list. Check it out –

The long wait (again) Yes, so in addition to waiting in the waiting room I know am in a separate littler room where I am forced to wait for the all-so powerful Oz, I mean doctor, to come see little old me. Not only am I sitting on a cold, hard slab of a table I’m also half naked or undressed in some capacity. I can’t dare get on my phone because the doctor might come in & I’ll be forced to end that phone call prematurely. I don’t want to touch those filthy magazines they have in the room because a bunch of sick people have already touched them, not to mention they’re not entertaining at all! I don’t want to read about the ear canal, I just want my inner ear infection to go away!


The doctor’s use of ‘fancy’ terms to tell me what’s wrong with me – You went to medical school & I didn’t. I get it. But I want to know what’s wrong with me in laymen’s terms, not in your ‘medical speak’. All that does is cause me to ask you even more questions because I don’t understand what you’re talking about which takes even more of your precious “doctor time”. Use plain English please. Thank you

fancy words

I always feel rushed – There’s never any time to ask questions at the end of my visit. I know doctors have quotas & can’t spend an inordinate amount of time with just 1 patient but I’m still the customer and if I have questions about my health, then darnnit, I should be able to ask all of them (I’ve even so much as offered to take my doctor to lunch so I could grille her during her lunch hour)


I never know how much I’ll owe when I leave – Although I have insurance it’s never quite clear exactly how much my portion of the bill will be. I understand the whole deal with my deductible & co-pay but I still never know how much the actual doctor’s visit costs. All I’m ever told to do is wait to be invoiced but by then it’s too late – the debt has already been accrued. They have a price list at the nail salon, dry cleaners and there are prices of everything at the grocery store. Why can’t they do that technique at the doctor’s office?


They never find anything wrong with me – I know this is a good thing but it just really sucks that I have to set time aside in my day, sit & wait for a doctor, pay a ridiculous amount of money for all of 10 minutes of actual “doctor face-time” only to find out that there was really no need for me to even come in. Again, I’m not complaining about being healthy, I just don’t think I should have to pay to find that out. LOL!


There’s no parting gift – With any other event you attend, there’s usually a party favor, a souvenir booklet, pictures, something. While I don’t need any of that from my doctor’s visit, it would be nice to receive a letter or a note of appreciation for my business. Maybe even a discount off of a future visit, you know like at the car wash – basically, something saying that they appreciate my visit & value me as a customer. After all, with so many doctors practicing medicine in this country, surely I can always take my business elsewhere.

party bag

Did I miss anything? What are some of your reasons for not liking the doctor’s office? Or are you the opposite of me & actually enjoy going? I’d love to hear in the comments section below –

I Love Needles, But I Hate The Doctors! (Part 1)


I hate going to the doctors and I know I’m not alone. No matter if it’s for a simple check-up or a major surgery, countless people avoid going to the doctors every year. There are all sorts of reasons for not wanting to go, ranging from not liking needles to afraid of hearing bad news.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid of the doctors. I know that they’re there for my health, so I have respect for their profession. I’m also not afraid of needles. Yeah, they hurt but only for a split second so that doesn’t bother me so much. I don’t have a problem being around sick people, or even using my health insurance.

I just don’t like going to the doctors, but not for the reasons you think –

  • It’s hard to find a good one – With so many physicians available it’s hard to determine which one is actually worth their salt. Sure, I can narrow down my search by getting a recommendation from a friend or looking online but that still doesn’t help me pick a doctor that is just right for me. There are too many reviews to read, websites to check out and phone calls to make just to find 1 good practitioner.


  • Finding parking & paying for it – Unless your doctor is in a rural area with several acres surrounding their office, more than likely they are in a city where it can be difficult to find parking. At one of my doctor’s there really isn’t any street parking so you are forced to park in the nearby parking garage (too bad that wasn’t listed on her website). Parking can range anywhere from $1-$10 for a visit, depending on how long the office visit is. So not only do I have to build extra time into my appointment to account for finding parking, I also have to tack onto that the price of the actual parking.

  • All the forms to fill out – This is especially annoying whenever I’m a first time patient but it’s super annoying nonetheless. Why can’t I just hand you my insurance card, my driver’s license & be done with it? Nine times outta ten, the doctor doesn’t even read my health history and the confidentiality forms are the law so I shouldn’t even have to sign those. Unless, there is someone who is chronically ill, I think the doctor is wasting a whole lot of paper printing out those forms that I leave mostly empty.
  • The long wait – Okay, if I made an appointment for a certain time, why am I not being seen at that time? I understand that people can run behind schedule but it’s never just 5-10 minutes. I’m usually sitting out in the waiting room for much longer than that. I’m out there stuck watching whatever channel the TV is stuck on, or reading some 2 month old magazine. I’ve even gotten to the point of bringing a book or a notepad with me (how else do I come up with these blogs?!) just to pass the time. The tricky thing is that doctor’s know that they plan on making people wait for a while – why else are there so many chairs in the waiting room already?

  • Intimacy – It’s a little awkward being naked around someone you don’t really know. Especially if it’s for the first time. What are they going to think of my body? Did I remember to shave my legs today? Are they going to talk about me (or any of my body parts) over dinner tonight with their family? And unlike a date, there’s not really any small talk first because you’re already naked before the doctor even comes into the room. How can I show my bare body to someone & I don’t even know their first name? It’s crazy to think that someone I found on Yelp! gets to see me naked. It’s just so hard to be at ease with someone groping all over your body and you don’t even know them.
  • What has been your experience at the doctors? Good, bad, or are you like me & hate going altogether?

August Is Spinal Muscular Atrophy Awareness Month!

August is SMA Awareness Month!! Spinal Muscular Atrophy, or SMA, is a disease that most people don’t know about. SMA is a motor neuron disease. It refers to a group of inherited diseases of the motor nerves that cause muscle weakness and atrophy (wasting).The motor neurons affect the voluntary muscles that are used for activities such as crawling, walking, head and neck control, and swallowing. It is a relatively common “rare disorder”: approximately 1 in 6000 babies born are affected and about 1 in 40 people are genetic carriers. In a person with mutated genes, this protein is absent or significantly decreased, and causes severe problems for motor neurons. Motor neurons are nerve cells in the spinal cord which send out nerve fibers to muscles throughout the body. Since SMN protein is critical to the survival and health of motor neurons, nerve cells may shrink and eventually die without this protein, resulting in muscle weakness. As a child with SMA grows, it is difficult for his/her weakened muscles to keep up with the demands of daily activities. The resulting weakness can also lead to bone and spine changes that may cause breathing problems and further loss of function.

SMA affects muscles throughout the body. In the most common types, weakness in the legs is generally greater than in the arms. Sometimes feeding, swallowing, and respiratory function (e.g., breathing, coughing, and clearing secretions) can be affected. When the muscles used for breathing and coughing are affected and weakened, this can lead to an increased risk for pneumonia and other respiratory infections, as well as breathing difficulty during sleep. The brain’s cognitive functions and the ability to feel objects and pain are not affected. People with SMA are generally grouped into one of four types (I, II, III, IV) based on their highest level of motor function or ability.

Here are some Spinal Muscular Atrophy facts (according to the Families of SMA organization):

  • One in every 6,000 babies is born with SMA
  • SMA can strike anyone of any age, race or gender
  • One in every 40 people carries the gene that causes SMA
  • The child of two carriers has a one in four chance of developing SMA
  • 7.5 million Americans are carriers
  • SMA does not affect sensation and intellectual activity in patients. It commonly is observed that patients with SMA are unusually bright and sociable

Read one mother’s journey about life with Spinal Muscular Atrophy – the ‘Tiffany Moore’s story’. Click here to find out how she dealt with amazing twin sons who were born with SMA. Learn about their personal story & the challenges they faced. You can also support the #MoreForMoore campaign by purchasing the Moore Campaign T-shirt and raise awareness for SMA!

So how can YOU make more people aware of SMA? Here are three great ideas:

1) Tell everyone

This idea has the benefit of not costing a thing. If you have a child with SMA or you have SMA yourself, you probably find that people are curious (to say the least). Don’t ignore them … teach them. Tell them about the disease and what it does, then tell them about this website and how they can help.

2) Donate

Fighting a killer takes money, and while we understand that times are tight and it costs a lot to care for someone with SMA, a donation of any amount can help. Your gift to FightSMA will fund life-saving science and research, and also makes possible programs offering support to families battling SMA.  Click here to donate.

3) Lobby your legislator

The National Pediatric Research Nework Act will soon be up for a vote in the U.S. Senate. This legislation would drastically improve our ability to find a treatment for SMA and could make finding a cure a reality. Click here to read help with how to contact your senator.

Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure for SMA. However, research aimed at finding a treatment or cure for SMA is moving rapidly forward. Much of this research is focused on SMN2, a gene that partially compensates for the function of the gene (SMN1) that, when mutated (abnormal), is the cause of most cases of SMA.

Thanks to the support of our community, there’s great reason for hope. We know what causes SMA and what we need to do to develop effective therapies, and we’re on the verge of major breakthroughs that will strengthen our children’s bodies, extend life, and eventually lead to a cure.



* If you know someone who has been recently diagnosed with SMA please e-mail infopack@fsma.org to request a free informational packet. For more information, visit any of the following organizations: