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The letters we got in response to the last issue ranged from reminiscences to requests and from kudos to critiques. That's fine by us—we appreciate even critical feedback, because it means our readers are actually reading (as well as, it's obvious, scrutinizing the photos).
A hot topic
I read with great interest the article in your Summer issue about Dr. Harold Swartz's work in dosimetry.
It evoked memories of my own career beforemy retirement. Though my primary practice was in anatomic and clinical pathology, I was also certified in nuclear medicine. My associate and I covered three community hospitals—in Exeter, N.H., and Newburyport and Amesbury, Mass. The radiologists couldn't be bothered with measuring radiation exposure, so we filled the niche. Nuclear medicine was in its early stages then, and since we needed a license for some of our procedures, it was logical to get into measuring radioactive iodine uptakes, which led to doing thyroid scans and subsequently to treating hyperthyroidism with radioiodine.
The three hospitals were within a 10-mile radius of New Hampshire's Seabrook nuclear power plant, so we were also involved in setting up policies and procedures for managing potential accidents involving exposure to radiation and/or contamination with radionuclides. Since most physicians didn't (and still don't) know much about radiation or its various units of measure, we had to also develop a basic education program for the medical staffs, ER staffs, and EMTs in the area.
Most people's eyes would glaze over when I tried to explain the difference between curies, roentgens, and rads or rems. So I borrowed a page from Marshall Brucer's excellent books on nuclear medicine and adopted the analogy of the sun for quantities (curies and millicuries, etc.), sunshine for the intensity of radiation (roentgens and milliroentgens, etc.), and a sunburn for the absorbed dose (rads and rems). The model avoided medical jargon and provided a practical example.
Currently I live in Swanzey, N.H., part of which is within 10 miles of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Swanzey's emergency planning program calls for having a written, regularly exercised plan to deal with any Vermont Yankee problems. Though I have been retired from practice for a long time, I volunteered to be the radiological defense
officer for the town, which involves keeping track of survey meters, pocket dosimeters, and film badges for the police, firefighters, and public works personnel who may be exposed to radiation in the course of responding to an incident. This involves briefing individuals when dosimeters are distributed, so they know how to read them and what to do if the readings are above certain levels. The sun/sunshine/sunburn model has been quite useful in giving them some basic understanding of what the readings mean.
My experiences have been at the other end of the spectrum from Dr. Swartz's, but it's interesting how useful some expertise in this area has been throughout my career and beyond.
Dennis J. Carlson, M.D.
Rachael Labitt, the undergraduate pictured on your Summer cover [which is reproduced at right], says she wants to learn about science. But judging from her right hand—given the ancient superstition about fending off evil by placing the thumb between the index and middle fingers—it appears she doesn't want to take any chances.
However, she needn't worry. Magic is apparently still alive in the heart of her mentor, judging from the ancient charm that she is wearing around her neck. So much for scientific thinking. Did you do that on purpose, to lure readers into the inside pages? Anyway, nice job.
E. Wayne Martz, M.D., M.B.A.
DC '42, DMS '43
West Grove, Pa.
We do look very carefully at photos for unusual gestures or juxtapositions—both intended and inadvertent. But we must admit that this possible symbolism escaped us.
This must make us blow-hards
I found the Summer 2008 issue of Dartmouth Medicine to be another gem. However, I hope you receive enough negative feedback about the layout of page 29 to convince you to abandon the modern fad of locating the title of an article someplace other than at the beginning of the article. I am a retired engineer and therefore tend to think linearly. I expect each article to start immediately after its title and am slowed down by having to puzzle out such a non-linear situation. The title need not be at the top of a page, just at the top of the article.
Also, I believe there is a typo on page 54, in the ninth line from the bottom of the first column. I suspect the tiny balloons are made of silicone (silicone rubber), not silicon.
Cann is absolutely right about those balloons. We'll do our best to . . . um . . . bounce back from the slipup. The title placement he didn't care for (on the layout that's reproduced at the top of the next page) is a more subjective matter, but we do always welcome getting such feedback from readers.
The article "Help from on High" in your Summer issue offered an exciting look into "a day in the life" of the first responders at DHART [Dartmouth-
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