Hi!  Welcome to my blog!

I’m Dr. Grasshopper.  At the time of this posting, I’m finishing up medical school and seeking residency in the field of internal medicine.  I’m also a science fiction and fantasy author.  I’ve often been struck how much these two fields overlap.

As I went through medical school, I’d get an email every few months from a writer buddy:

“Hey there!  How’s school!  I need a 34 year old woman to be exposed to an object for five minutes, then drop suddenly dead exactly three and a half days later.  She needs to bleed out of every orifice, and her face needs to be a sickly shade of green.  And oh, it would be great if she didn’t smell too bad, because it shouldn’t be discovered until the stunning climax of my novel.  How’s your work-in-progress?  Love, your writer buddy.”

Good times.  But it occurred to me that writers might be interested in the process I use to help my friends out with problems like this.  So, I figured I’d write a blog about using medical knowledge to enhance storytelling.

So here it is.

Some things you may want to know:

What topics do you plan to cover?

Well, pretty much anything I feel like covering.  But, what I’d really like to do is provide a bit of groundwork for starting from a desired symptom and working your way to figuring out how to make it happen in a marginally medically plausible way.  Some posts will be symptom-based, and will discuss different ways to produce the symptom.  Some posts will be about broad categories of diseases, and how they work.  Some posts will be organ-system-based, and will basically be me geeking out about how cool the human body is.  And of course, I reserve the right to post miscellany as I see fit.

How often do you post?

Whenever I can.

Can I ask you to talk about a particular topic that may be relevant to my work-in-progress?

Sure.  Shoot me an email at doctorgrasshopper (at) gmail (dot) com.  (You can also leave feedback there.)  However, I’d like to point out that I’m not going to be able to promise that I’ll get to it in any amount of time. . . so please don’t ask me to help you on a deadline.  Also, I may not get to it at all.  You understand.  You have a busy life, too.

Will you design a disease for my work-in-progress?

Probably not.  But I may see if I can bump you in the right direction for your own research. . . if I think it would make an interesting blog post.

Does that mean you won’t answer my email?

I won’t be able to answer emails directly; I may answer in a blog post, though.  No promises, other than that I’ll do my very, very best.

I have a (insert dear family member) who is suffering from (insert horrible disease), and your blog post about it was so flippant that it was insulting.  It almost seemed like you were celebrating the awful things that (insert horrible disease) does to a person.  Do you have any idea what this is doing to my family?

Yes.  Yes, I do.  I see it every day.  It’s my job.  And I’m so sorry you’re going through that.

The things I talk about on this blog are the things that destroy people and tear families apart.  I am very aware of that.  However, this blog is intended to be an intellectual exercise, and I prefer to talk about these topics as if they didn’t create soul-destroying tragedies.

By focusing on imaginary people instead of real ones, I get a chance to focus on the diseases themselves instead of the pain and suffering that they cause.  These processes are fascinating, and the adaptations of the human body are, too. I hope I can share with you how much I love the knowledge that feeds my profession, in a way that will let you bring it into your stories.

I’m going to use this site as a medical resource.  I’m going to print out one of your blog posts, bring it to my doctor appointment on Monday, and use it as a basis to argue with my doctor’s advice, because information I get on the internet is clearly superior to my doctor’s knowledge and experience.  Is that okay?

No, NO, NO, NO!!!! This is not a medical resource.  Look at the title.  This blog is only applicable to IMAGINARY PEOPLE.

If you need information about an illness or injury, talk to a doctor, not the internet!  There are a few good sites for basic, BASIC medical information on the web, but you probably don’t have access to the sites that are truly useful for real medical practice.  The stuff you find on the internet is NO substitute for a medical professional.  Information is one thing; interpretation and application of that information is entirely another.

Doctors don’t go to medical school for their health.  It’s physically, mentally, financially, and emotionally painful.  Let’s ignore the long hours and financial hardship for now.  Practically everyone in my class who showed up with an important relationship was alone by the end of second year.  I had a friend who lost her children because of medical school.  If you could replace the function of a doctor with a simple internet search, PEOPLE WOULD NOT GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL.  The costs are just too high.  All of the costs.

If you have a problem, see a doctor.  The internet will not help you.

And just so you really, REALLY get it, here’s a bunch of legal jargon that explains how I feel about the matter (from http://www.WebMD.com, modified to fit my site):

“The contents of this site, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on the Site (“Content”) are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Site!

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. This blog does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site. Reliance on any information provided by this blog, or other visitors to the Site is solely at your own risk.

The Site may contain health- or medical-related materials that are sexually explicit. If you find these materials offensive, you may not want to use our Site. The Site and the Content are provided on an “as is” basis.”

I will likely repeat this warning at the end of practically every blog post, because the general tendency of people is to be really stupid in really creative ways.  But really.  Don’t be an idiot.  And especially, don’t use me as an excuse to be an idiot.

That was pretty harsh.

Yes, I know.  Sorry about that.  Sometimes I get frustrated.  Thanks for understanding.

Can we get on with the content?  I want to see if this is worth my time.

Sure!  Here we go!

Published in: on January 19, 2010 at 6:40 am  Comments (9)  
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