ISSN 1535-7821
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 Vol. 21 No. 1 2005   

Link to ArticleNotes from the Chair

Link to ArticleMessage from the Chair, Eris Weaver

Link to ArticleBook Reviews

Link to ArticleThe Other Midlife Crisis:  Arthritis and All Those Aches and Pains

Link to ArticleA Woman's Guide to Menopause and Perimenopause

Link to ArticleTopics in Autism: Siblings of Children with Autism, a Guide for Families

Link to ArticleEating Gluten-Free with Emily: a Story for Children with Celiac Disease

Link to ArticleThe Gale Encyclopedia of Neurological Disorders

Link to ArticleAbout Face: A Plastic Surgeon's 4-Step Nonsurgical Program for Younger, Beautiful Skin

Link to ArticleDispatches From the Frontlines of Medicine: Your Husband's Health: Simplify Your Worry List

Link to ArticleThe Girls' Guide to AD/HD

Link to ArticleMore than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement

Link to ArticlePublication Information

Link to ArticleSubmissions

Link to ArticleAdvertising

Notes from the Chair

Message from the Chair

By Eris Weaver

In my column last issue, I off-handedly mentioned that I had resigned from my position at the Redwood Health Library. I didn't realize what a flurry of interest that would engender! The first response when folks first hear the news is "Why?!"  (Librarians follow that question with "Did your funding get cut?")

I'll explain a bit further.

One of the keys to a healthy life is balance. A nutritionally balanced diet includes a variety of different types of foods: protein, carbohydrates, fats, etc. Our muscles and bones develop and stay healthy only with the right balance of rest and exercise. Our psychological well-being depends upon a healthy balance between the demands of work and family and the pleasures of play and relaxation. We even seem to seek balance by choosing partners and friends whose personality traits complement our own.

I am currently embarking on a new adventure, seeking a different balance between work and the other facets of my life.  I resigned in order to open a space in my life for some deep rest and reflection. I have been working or going to school (or both!) continuously for the past 30 years; I have raised a son to adulthood and helped build a co-housing community. I am tired and cranky and ready for a break -- and I don't want to wait until I'm 65 to relax and enjoy the fruits of my labors! I feel incredibly lucky to have both a supportive spouse and the financial security necessary to take this flying leap, trusting that when the time is right the next new opportunity will present itself.

This wasn't driven by problems at work. I have had the best boss in the world, loved my co-workers, and believed that the work we were doing was important. But it became clear to me that it was time for something new, even though I had no idea what that might be.

As soon as I gave notice, I began to get interview offers. Kind colleagues have called to tell me about the times they have made this leap, and what a wonderful experience it was for them. I have been called courageous. (I'm not sure I deserve that one.) I have been looked upon with envy. ("I wish I could do that!")

I'm sitting here writing this on my first unemployed Monday. I don't know where I'll end up, whether it will be doing consumer health or if I'll even still be in a library.  But I do intend to enjoy the ride, wherever it takes me.



Wilson, Michael RThe Other Midlife Crisis:  Arthritis and All Those Aches and PainsWhiskey Hollow Press, 2003.  vi, 314 p.  ISBN 0-9742976-0-7.  pbk.  $21.95

A board-certified orthopedic surgeon has written this unabashedly personal book "by a boomer and for the boomers" on common musculoskeletal complaints.  And there are many, as arches collapse and connective tissues age.

After reviewing basic medical terminology, nine chapters are dedicated to common injuries, overuse conditions, fractures and diseases of specific joints and bones.  Well-known topics such as tennis elbow, low back pain and cartilage tears are matched with those on less frequently discussed nail infections, hammertoe, and frozen shoulder.  These and many more are explained, often using spirited informal case histories, with information on prevention and current treatments, both surgical and non-surgical.  There are separate chapters on arthritis, osteoporosis, and “conditions I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy” (gout, pseudogout, osteomyelitis, septic arthritis, and tumors). 

This book is written in a conversational style that should appeal to and be easily understood by the intended audience.  Text boxes highlight important preventive or treatment information, and the clear diagrams of joints and bones are very useful.  The author emphasizes careful diagnosis and least invasive treatment possible, recommending exercises and physical therapy for both injury prevention and recovery. 

The Other Midlife Crisis has better diagrams and is more fun to read than I.M. Siegel's All About Joints, a Maintenance Guide (Demos, 2000), but has no glossary, index or bibliography.  Prefer the copiously illustrated The Body Almanac (American Academy of Surgeons, 2nd ed., 2004) as a first choice or for a more general audience.  Recommended.

Reviewed by Nancy Crossfield, Saint Agnes Medical Library, Fresno, CA.

Minkin, Mary Jane and Wright, Carol V.  A Woman's Guide to Menopause and Perimenopause.  Yale University Press, 2005.  394p. Index. ISBN 0-300-10435-9

Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine and Carol V. Wright, PhD, health writer, collaborate on their third book.  The book goes beyond the topics of menopause and perimenopause to discuss related issues in women's health, ranging from cancer to osteoporosis to PMS.  Most of the book is in question and answer format, with answers ranging from a sentence to a few pages.  There is a glossary, a resource list, and some computer illustrations and charts.  The book recommends hormone therapy for all of the discomforts of menopause and states that numerous scientific studies as well as mountains of anecdotal evidence show that HRT does work for everyone.  The book starts with a chapter about the history and politics of the Women's Health Initiative and its findings on HRT, before even beginning to explain what menopause is about.  The authors feel that the potential risks of HRT, as identified in the Women's Health Initiative, are not completely understood.  In fact, many therapies other than HRT (ranging from St. John's Wort to Dilatation and Curettage) are explained by some version of "nobody knows how or why this works". 

The chapter entitled "You and your Doctor" reads like a litany of the doctor's pet peeves (patients who ask the same question more than once, patients who expect their doctor to be available during her maternity leave, etc.), without offering helpful advice for improving physician/patient communication. This book is not recommended

Reviewed by Cara Helfner, Kessler Health Education Library, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA

Editors note: For another point of view about this book, see the review in Library Journal, January, 2005, p. 139. "Owing to its objective coverage of the HRT controversy and the Women's Health Initiative, this is a valuable resource and worthy replacement for Morris Notelovitz and Diana Tonnesson's Menopause and Midlife Health  and is essential for all public and consumer health libraries".

Harris, Sandra L. Ph.D. and Beth A Glasberg, PhD.  Topics in Autism: Siblings of Children with Autism, a Guide for FamiliesWoodbine House, 2003.  168p. index. resource guide. referencesISBN 1-890627-29-1. $16.95

The purpose of Topics in Autism is " to help the children become more fully siblings."  (p 132)  The primary audience is parents rather than siblings, although there are many sibling vignettes from participants in the authors' support groups and from their sibling research study, from which this book arises.

The authors have spent more than 40 years working with families affected by autism, and autistic persons of all ages.  The book is filled with practical information on topics that include how parents can explain autism to their normal-developing children, sensitivity to the social issues confronting their children whose sibling is “differently developing,” building family support systems, establishing mutual relationships, training siblings to become teacher for their autistic brother or sister. 

I find the presentation circular and indirect at times, but Chapter 7, about adult siblings is an exception in which framework and content are tightly knit.  The Resource Guide and References are excellent.  This book can give parents and siblings (from preschool through adulthood) what they need in order to accomplish that mission and to recognize and deal with their own personal issues.

Reviewed by Arlen Gray, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia

Kruszka, Bonnie J.  Eating Gluten-Free with Emily: a Story for Children with Celiac Disease.  Woodbine House, 2004.  14 leaves.  ISBN 1890627623.  $14.95. 

Written for children from 3 to 8 years this book is written in an easy-to-understand, matter-of-fact style.  The message is that there are many things about a child that make them an individual; having celiac is just one of Emily's characteristics. It explains the tests for diagnosis in a non-scary way and gives suggestions on how to handle common situations such as parties, eating dinner at a friend's house, going to camp and comments from kids at school.  It also suggests having an emergency snack bag and what to look for on food labels.  This book has just the right amount of information for a child.  It is a welcome addition to the children's consumer health literature.

Kate Smith, Family Health Library, The Children's Hospital, Denver, CO

Chamberlin, Stacy L., and Narins, Brigham, editors. The Gale Encyclopedia of Neurological Disorders. Thomson Gale, 2005. 1011p. index. ISBN 0-7876-9150-X (2-volume set). $325.00.

The complexity of the brain and the range of its possible malfunctions make a comprehensive encyclopedia of neurological disorders a tall order. The Gale Encyclopedia of Neurological Disorders succeeds at creating a bridge from the complex science of neurology to the language of the general public and offers a tool non-neurologists can use to understand basic terms and concepts.

Among the almost 400 full-length articles are the expected topics such as Parkinson Disease, epilepsy, stroke, etc. These are complemented by broader neurological topics (back pain, headache, and fatigue) as well as fairly rare conditions such as Sandhoff disease and monomelic amyotrophy. The Encyclopedia also covers drugs, treatments, therapies, and diagnostic equipment.

Disease and syndrome articles follow a standardized format that includes definition, description, demographics, causes and symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, recovery and rehabilitation, clinical trials, prognosis and special concerns. Key terms are highlighted in sidebars, and articles end with excellent resource lists.

While the language can sometimes be at a higher level than other Gale encyclopedias, the authors have generally done an excellent job at explaining potentially complex diseases processes and medications. Medical and science terminology is not shied away from, but rather addressed head-on and explained in an easy to understand manner. Cross-referencing also directs readers to other areas to help round out their knowledge.

Essays were written by over 70 medical writers, physicians, nurses, and pharmacists from 10 countries, and edited by Stacey L. Chamberlin and Brigham Narins, editor of several other Gale publications. This text would be a good addition to a public or consumer health library and is also available as an eBook.

Reviewed by Amy Bayley, Stanford Health Library, Stanford, CA

Brown, Gregory Bays and O'Boyle, Jane.  About Face: A Plastic Surgeon's 4-Step Nonsurgical Program for Younger, Beautiful Skin.   Ballantine Books, 2005.  2244p. ISBN: 0-345-46728-0.  $24.95.

Dr. Brown has over 20 years experience as a plastic surgeon.  About Face is divided into two main parts.  After a brief section, How Skin Works, Part 1 provides an overview of the four steps for younger, beautiful skin:

1.  Eat Right: Systemic Skin Care for the Whole Body; 

2. Keep Your Face in Shape by Moving Your Arms and Legs;

3. Topical Creams, New and Old: Which Ones Work to Build New Skin; and

4. New Medical Procedures for Skin Rejuvenation Without Surgery. 

Part 2 provides customized skin care programs for different age groups and seasons. The dietary advice is generic and follows a low-glycemic index program and includes some vitamin and dietary supplements recommendations.  A section on yoga is excerpted from the 20-Minute Yoga Workouts by the American Yoga Association. The sections on topical creams and new medical procedures are very thorough.  Although the author did recommend the product developed with his patent for epidermal growth factor, it was not heavily or exclusively promoted.  His program is reminiscent of Dr. Perricone's popular Wrinkle Cure.  The tone is conversational and matter-of-fact.  Dr. Brown provides basic information, along with personal stories of patients.

Reviewed by Linda King, MLS, AHIP, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Lewis Library, Fort Worth, Texas

Wilson, Kathleen W. Dispatches From the Frontlines of Medicine: Your Husband's Health: Simplify Your Worry List. Whiskey Hollow Press, 2003. 197p. glossary. ISBN 0-9742976-1-5. $14.95.

Dr. Kathleen Wilson, an internal medicine physician specializing in midlife medicine, delights the reader of her new book Your Husband's Health: Simplify Your Worry List with her straight-forward and practical advice for women who are worried about their man's health. At once, the book is humorous and engaging, providing the reader with helpful and relevant information on the most common health concerns which men in midlife face. Research has shown that women between the ages of 30 and 45 are most often the ones in the family to seek out consumer health information for themselves and their families. Dr. Wilson's book, written with a lens that focuses on a wife's concerns for her husband, zeroes in on this phenomenon, assimilating in one volume information on the hot topics women would be looking for.

Dr. Wilson has succeeded in "simplifying the worry list" for women by starting with a man's head - where he is at emotionally and how to help him recognize a stumbling block and get "back on track." She continues down the body, with sections on heart disease, cholesterol, and hypertension and cancer, while sharing personal vignettes from her own life or practice along the way in illustration.  "Further Down the Worry List" she presents sections with advice on health issues that may not seem as critical, but yet are important to consider in a man's overall health and quality of life, such as weight, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, urologic problems and sleep disorders.

While other books have been published on men’s health as they age, Dr. Wilson's book comes from a different vantage point; the point at which the woman stands as the caregiver and the one who safeguards her husband’s health. Readers will appreciate the book's focus, readability, and style.

Reviewed by Elizabeth K. Hill, University of Idaho Library, Moscow, Idaho

Walker, Beth.  The Girls' Guide to AD/HD.  Woodbine House, 2005.  174 p. indexISBN 1-890627-56-9. $17.95.

The majority of the scientific research and consumer health literature about Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) is based on studies of boys.  As girls with AD/HD more often have the inattentive subtype, it may go unnoticed or not be recognized until a later age.  There is little reading material available specifically for girls with AD/HD and Beth Walker, whose daughter has AD/HD, has attempted to meet this need.  She has created a fictional teenage girl as her narrator, and has interspersed occasional comments from two fictional friends throughout this book. At times, however, her tone is somewhat uneven, with the narrator sounding like an adult providing advice. Nevertheless, this is an engaging book filled with quizzes, tables, humorous footnotes and "Fun Facts to Forget," which provide frequent changes of pace helpful to readers unable to remain focused on long sections of prose. 

This book contains valuable information about strategies for dealing with AD/HD, particularly in the chapters on school and social relationships. It provides more detailed information on some topics, such as the sections on neurology and neurochemistry. The book could have benefited from additional information about driving, substance use/abuse and early sexual activity, as adolescents with AD/HD have been identified as being at high risk for difficulties in these areas.  In addition, the author includes some anecdotal information not substantiated by research, especially in the sections that identify the positive aspects of having AD/HD.

This book is recommended, with reservations, as an additional purchase for libraries that serve teenagers and their parents, and already have respected titles such as the American Academy of Pediatrics" recent ADHD: A Complete and Authoritative Guide, in their collections.  It is a good age appropriate introduction to this topic for adolescents. 

Reviewed by Deborah Magnan,  Samuel and Sandra Hekemian Medical Library, Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ 


Naam, Ramez. More than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement. Broadway Books, 2005. 288p. ISBN 0-7679-1843-6. $24.95.

The science of human enhancement, is it something to fear or to embrace? Ramez Naam, a computer engineer formerly of MS Internet Explorer fame, guides our exploration of the world of biotechnology. Maintaining the latter, Naam persuades the reader that "human nature" is actually relative and that in essence we have been reengineering ourselves all along. By purposefully stacking the deck with certain physical and intellectual characteristics through our mating and IVF choices; and by simply providing better nutrition and vaccinations to our offspring; Naam argues we are already enhancing the next generation. Taking this to the next level is not really altering "human nature" but simply reaching beyond health maintenance and the prolonging of life to augmenting our "natural" capabilities. You will be amazed to discover where the research is at, what the experts are already capable of doing and the array of possibilities for the not so distant future. The deaf will indeed be hearing, the blind seeing and the lame walking! The accomplishments in gene therapy, brain-computer interfaces, and stem cell research are truly marvelous and frankly the stuff of science fiction! Yet who can argue with people's desire to live forever in a healthy twenty-something body, of course. Naam confronts with balance and fairness, the fine line between healing the sick and augmenting the healthy; correcting disabilities and redesigning nature, as well as assisting reproduction and cloning. The cloning of humans, Naam claims is widely misunderstood, pointing out that if one thinks of a clone as simply the identical twin one never had, it is easier to make the mental leap. Naam believes that "never to say enough, always to want more" that is what it means to be human.

 Whether one personally agrees or not with either the science or the ethics of biologically enhancement, the author's premise is that it is already impacting the lives of thousands, soon to be millions, of people. For those who rest their hope in science to guarantee mankind's future well-being and survival, and dare to hope of  transcending  current limitations of the human existence, you won't want to miss this bold addition to the literature.

Ann Celestine, HealthLink – Kitchener Public Library, Kitchener ON Canada


Publication Information


Consumer Connections (ISSN 1535-7821) is the newsletter of the Consumer and Patient Information Section of the Medical LibraryAssociation and is published quarterly.

Content for each issue is cumulated online at, primarily during the first two months of the quarter; the issue is considered complete at the end of the quarter. Notification of publication is sent quarterly via the CAPHIS listserv. Newsletter articles and book reviews are copyrighted; please contact the editor for reprint permission.


Please submit items for Consumer Connections during the third quarter for publication in the following quarter.

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 Vol. 21 No. 1 2005   
ISSN 1535-7821

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