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Posts tagged ‘TEDMED’

TEDMED, Day 2, San Fran

Surfing … in the gym … sweat dripping off the end of my nose … full body bench pressing the board, then sweeping my feet underneath me, finding my balance … sticking the landing — this is a TEDMED morning workout.  Hard core beginning for the body & brain …

And right into the hard stuff with a “Don’t You Dare Talk About This” session that delved into difficult to discuss subjects … like the number of times children get stuck with needles through the immunization process (more than 40!), and the impact to their fear and loathing of needles and pain avoidance reactions into adulthood, addiction & obesity causes, organ donation difficulties, physician transparency resistance and violent threats … and in a raw, witty and candid talk, Elizabeth Kenny revealed her harrowing journey through antidepressant pharmacology.   I held my breath for her when she described the terror of being held at gunpoint in her home … and the greater terror when her brain could simultaneously tell her that no person was actually there … I celebrated with her when sanity returned to her, recognizing that “you’re not crazy, you’re toxic.”

TEDMED also tackled the tough issue of taking time to play, debunking our “work till you drop” mentalities that has many of us wearing our work schedules and sleeplessness as badges of honor and stamina.  @jillvialet is a Recess Champion with a powerful thought that “play matters because it gives us a brief respite from the tyranny of apparent purpose”.  She challenged us with the idea that “Work is not the opposite of play.  The opposite of play is depression.”  I spoke to Jill after the session … and was struck by her commitment to live what she shared … she was on her way home to be with her children … to play … with a sense of purpose and pride and happy expectation.

I had the gentlest, most thoughtful finger pricking of my life — actually warmed my forefinger — by @theranosinc.  This is the brainchild of Elizabeth Holmes — taking a single drop of blood, and running multiple tests at a fraction of the diagnostic costs, with a completely transparent pricing model.  This a fundamental shift in patient access and equity — a unique combination of new technology brought forward with a new way to think about access and business.

We ended today exploring “Stealing Smart”, blowing away the collaboration model in favor of a full-on melding of intellectual power.  Dr. Barbara Natterson-Horowitz, a Zoobiquitous Physician, @zoobiquity, called out the snobbery that blocks physicians from respecting and reaching across medicines disciplines to explore knowledge and experience.  She’s a cardiologist whose patients include gorillas, lions, macaws … and people.  She is passionate about the evolutionary commonalities between human and animal bodies, and is pioneering connections between physicians and veterinarians.  Vets know how to treat and heal multiple species … this valuable expertise can be applied to humans.

Lest we were left thinking that physicians are chiefly characterized by white coats and busy schedules, we closed with Rupa & the April Fishes … Rupa is a doctor who rocks the songs she writes on an orange guitar …


Riding waves

Riding waves

TEDMED ’14, Day 1

TEDMED is my yearly pilgrimage of inspiration & discovery. Typically in April, this year it slid to September, with a dual simulcast in Washington DC & San Francisco. Ambitious in scale … 2 states, 2,000 delegates, 90 speakers, 80 startups & 6,700 affiliates in 140 countries — and noble in purpose … unlocking imagination in service of health & medicine … TEDMED is an achevement in combining intellect & creativity in a myraid of logistical details that somehow all works.

Yesterday, I heard the stories from an autistic 16 year old, Rosie King who stirred the group with her simple questions, “What’s so special about being normal?  Have you ever felt great because someone told you how normal you are?”, a bioethicist who is more worried about the privacy of her credit card data than her genome sequencing data, and scientists who shared how to clean up your brain (sleep releases a chemical that flushes & cleanses), and that opossums are tick killing machines that impact lyme disease rates.  Good stuff even by TEDMED standards.

Yet, the talk that sits in my head is from Danielle Ofri @danielleofri, who spoke of “errors as the human metabolism.”  I was struck by her wisdom and candor in acknowledging imperfection, and owning our vulnerability in the relentless pursuit of learning more.  Her sensibility that errors are less about exposure for shame and punishment, and more for the illumination & discovery of new possibilities both for ourselves and others.  Maya Angelou said, “Now that I know better, I do better.”  Reflection, discussion & collaboration around our experiences help us know better.  And in that knowing … comes changes … and it is as simple and as complicated as that.





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