My Beautiful Broken Brain

Whoa. This is one of those things that you just can’t really fathom happening to you. What would it be like to have a stroke at age 34, and have to relearn words, how to identify things, read, write, and speak their names again? It’s like an Oliver Sacks book come to life in front of your eyes…

The Final Member

What a bunch of weirdos. The museum curator is the most normal of the bunch. The 90-something Icelandic playboy who wants to donate his penis when he dies is an odd one, but the American who wants to cut off his dick – which he calls Elmo – in order to be sure that his is the first human dick on display, is truly a whack job. I was wincing and protectively grabbing my groin at some of the scenes in which he described his plans.

If I ever find myself in Iceland…

Orgasm, Inc.

Big pharma, creating disease where there is none, in order to profit. Female Sexual Dysfunction is a thing, if they are to be believed. But they are not. The amazing thing is watching the PR representatives for some of these companies, laughing at themselves and their products as they basically apologize for promoting such snake oil. Even the P&G rep was not to be taken seriously… The documentary, however, is no joke.

The Waiting Room

I wanted to see this because it documents a day at Highland Hospital, in Oakland. I’ve been to Highland several times – always to visit friends, never, thankfully, as a patient. Each of those friends was involved in a bicycle accident, and as Highland is the default trauma ER for our fair city, that is where such victims are taken.

It’s a pretty safe bet, however, that gunshot victims outnumber bicycle accident victims at Highland. Not that that’s the focus of this film. We do see one gunshot victim being treated – he dies, and his family is denied access to see him, as the hospital staffer tells them that until he is examined by the coroner, his body is part of a crime scene…

The story this documentary wants to tell is primarily one of access to health care. Many, if not most, of the patients we see waiting in the ER are without adequate health insurance. We see how the staff deals with the challenges wrought by an extremely busy ER, in a hospital without enough beds, and a patient population that not only doesn’t understand how the system works, but can’t pay for it.

This could be a real downer, and in some senses it is. But we see real compassion in the doctors and other staffers working at Highland, as they interact with patients as well as behind the scenes, with each other. It’s clear that they want to do what is best for their patients, and that they are doing the best job that they can do.

Under Our Skin

Another documentary, this one scary as well as infuriating. The scary part is Lyme disease, and, if one is to believe those who insist that chronic Lyme disease is real, its pervasiveness and ease of transmission, followed by difficulty of diagnosis. The infuriating part is, as usual, the insurance companies and their collusion with the medical establishment in quashing any evidence that the disease is responsible for the numerous syndromes shown in the film. With the scariest being the neurological effects – one M.D. states that the huge majority of brains samples he tested which came from victims of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and similar neurological syndromes displayed infection by the spirochete that causes Lyme disease… In other words, the causes of those syndromes may in fact be, very simply, the spirochete at the root of Lyme disease. Interesting and well worth watching.