Glioblastoma Warrior: Tahaira Tough

Guest Blog by Tahaira Sanders:

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I am Tahaira Sanders a 34 year mother of 2 in Indianapolis, 11 year old Terryn and 6 year old Mars.  In April of 2015 after having a really strange day at work, I picked up my daughter from school and went home to take a much needed nap.  I woke up to find my daughter Terryn crying at the foot of my bed.  She said “Mommy, there’s something happening to you.”  I tried to console her and let her know I was fine, I just didn’t feel well.  She insisted that I wasn’t fine and there was “stuff” coming out of my mouth.  The next thing I remember is my 6 foot 7 boyfriend waking me insisting that we go to the hospital after Terryn had face timed him.  I told him that I was fine as well, I was just really sleepy, had a headache and was very nauseous.  The details, from my side are a blur after this.  This occurred on a Friday evening.  I awoke on Sunday after afternoon to find out that I had, had a series of seizures and that my baby girl and honey had taken me to the emergency room.  A mass was found on my brain and I needed to choose whether to undergo radiation or surgery to remove it.  I remember saying to my Tall Man “surgery! Get it outta there!”  and falling back asleep.  I was told by my doctor’s not to worry about cancer, there’s no real risk of it being cancerous only to have the sucker removed and be diagnosed with Grade 4 GBM.  I remember thinking to myself “Well who better but me, God, we got this!”  Not to say that I wasn’t afraid, I was.  I am.  I did radiation.  Put on a creepy mask and listened to my favorite music for an hour everyday.  Lost half my hair and all of my energy put I pressed on to Chemo.  Chemo and I did not get along at all, but I kept fighting through 8 rounds only to find out 10 months later that another mass had formed in the same area as the first.  Right smack dab in the middle of another summer comes brain surgery #2!  Was I going to have brain surgery every year!?

I had another good resection, however the recovery from this surgery was terrible.  I lost all sense of who I was.  I couldn’t process information, people, noise, light.  The pain was so great that my meds were increased on the regular.  Bad idea.  Once my mind and heart was done with the pain killers, my body was not.  Recovery, withdrawals, vision and hearing loss, all became a cocktail for depression and anxiety.  I was miserable.  I asked the Lord to take me a few times, regrettably.  After so long I started to hear the sounds of my children, my mother, my aunts, uncles and cousins out side my door.  I felt an outpouring of love from my Tall Man and my whole family.  It was time to get up.  Rejoin the world, live again.  I am not dying, screw my diagnosis.  Screw these surgeries, I have babies and family and myself to live for.  Bring it on Cancer!  Cancer is messing with the wrong one!  I know that this is entirely too wordy but I just want to say one more thing.  Cancer has given me power that I plan to use.  I want to help people, babies, parents that deal with this same or like struggle as myself.  My cancer will not be in vain.  Regardless of if or when I go, there will be a mark left, a legacy for my children and anyone diagnosed with this horrid disease.

I thank you for letting me get this out of my system and wanting to post my story.  There are so many more stories and details that I plan to start another blog (my current blog link is myelectricgray.wordpress.com and I can be found on FB under Tahaira Tough), perhaps a video blog and more.  Whatever I can do to help anyone that needs it.

Guest Post: How Cancer is Like Night of the Lepus and Other Late Night Musings

ED (GBM warrior) after completion of 6 weeks of grueling radiation therapy.  They celebrated with brownies, confetti and a "Fudge Cancer," t-shirt (more politically correct than our tees!).
ED (GBM warrior) after completion of 6 weeks of grueling radiation therapy. They celebrated with brownies, confetti and a “Fudge Cancer,” t-shirt (more politically correct than our tees!).

I saw dad’s tumor today. Oh…yeah. I’ll back up. I’m not so good at this blog thing.

My dad has cancer. He called me a few weeks ago to tell me he had a brain tumor…on the Friday my husband loaded our entire house into a 16 foot Penske truck (mostly by himself) because he got laid off. The arts (and other essentials) were dumped in favor of a new, woefully inadequate athletics program. Pure Michigan, eh? So dad drops a bomb, my hubby hopped into the now loaded truck, and made it to Florida in two days. “The tumors is inoperable because of its location.” So ,we unloaded the truck and flew to Texas to be with dad before his biopsy. Biopsy happened. We waited 6 days. The biopsy came back. Cancer. Fast forward another 3 days or so and…

I saw dad’s tumor today. It felt like I was in an underwater cage, staring into the dead, black eyes of a great white. I was terrified but curious. Your first instinct is to look away, to shield yourself from the dangerous and horrific nebulous mass. But  I couldn’t look away. I had to face the enemy. As the doctor took us through the MRI scans, I couldn’t believe how absolutely predatory it looked, as if it were stretching and reaching out to touch any part of the brain it could with its murderous misshapen edges.

My father has a grade four glioblastoma. Google it. It’s terrifying. Glioblastomas emerge from the glue like tissue in the brain. They are aggressive, a.k.a. “highly malignant,” because the cells “reproduce quickly.” Toxic, sticky rabbit monsters. Wait, rabbits don’t quite convey the terror of this particular brand of cancer. Though, let us not forget Night of the Lepusgiant, mutant rabbits murdering everything in sight. Nope. Still too soft. There is no work of fiction as frightening as my father’s current truth. Glioblastoma is one bad mother fucker.

His symptoms came about quickly. It all started, at least noticeably so, 6-8 weeks ago, maybe less. He couldn’t remember where to go in the middle of his daily commute. He would forget several times a day whether he took his morning medications or not. Weight loss. Fatigue. Weakness. His steps are now wobbly and labored. His short-term memory continues to erode and there have been blips of long-term memory loss, too.  Sunday, we celebrate Father’s Day. I can’t remember the last Father’s Day I was able to celebrate with him in person. Bittersweet for sure.

We were walked through what to expect for the next six weeks. A rigorous schedule of radiation and chemotherapy. A poison pill every day and radiation five days a week. Hair loss. Exhaustion. Nausea. More memory loss. Headaches. Possible seizures. And this is the “treatment.” Then, a short three week break before at least 12 more months of chemotherapy begins. Five days a week. For one year. “Or until he can’t take it anymore.” I’m not sure what that means and I was too afraid to ask but, then again, maybe I was afraid because I DO know what that means. Jesus.

I am still adjusting to this new normal but then I think, “What the fuck do I have to adjust to?” I’m healthy. Ish. I don’t have to endure a year or more of poison just to keep living on this planet. And that’s just this round. Glioblastomas don’t go away. You can slow their growth, maybe even send them in to remission but they will come back. My adjustment period is nothing compared to my father’s. He keeps apologizing for what he is “putting us through.” My father is a saint. I don’t deserve him. He certainly deserves better than me.

There is this the constant battle for balance: where is the line between optimism and delusion? I WANT my father to be delusional. I want him to believe that this will be a piece of cake. I want him to believe that he WILL defy the statistics. I want to believe that too but the realist in me has become the ugly little voice in my head that I cannot turn off. It keeps me up at night whispering, “12 to 18 months.” Sometimes it just repeats the word “glioblastoma” over and over again. There are so many things to be considered, plans to have in place, just in case…but to consider the worst case scenario seems defeatist. He is ready to fight. So am I. Still, it has to be acknowledged that this will be a hell of a fight, right? Where is the line?

I can’t imagine what dad’s little voice is saying. And they say demons aren’t real…

Fuck cancer.

 

Thank you Brook for this amazing account of your experiences that will help so many!

Designer Feature: Pam & Gela

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Pam Skaist-Levy (left) and Gela Nash-Taylor (right). Dressed in the same Pam & Gela sweater. Dressing alike has always been their signature and one of their key marketing strategies. Although this is an older picture, it is one of my favorite pictures of them together – the contrast of beer bottles and chandeliers, candid versus posed.

I first discovered Pam & Gela on a Nordstroms’ website, while in the hospital battling my autoimmune disease.  I would be discharged in a few days and was feeling pretty good, so I needed a few fresh tags to tear with my fresh bill of health.  Annoyed at how tiny the thumbnails were on my iPhone, I stopped scrolling as a shirt caught my eye by a designer I had not heard of (Pam & Gela).  It was so clever, with an edge – it spelled out “SHIRT” in bold letters, but the R was dropped = “SHIT,” hilariously cute.  The price was great and I added it to my cart without hesitation.

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Me wearing the above described Pam and Gela graphic tee, my first doctors appointment after being discharged (lululemon sweater worn over). This sophie tee is one of their classic t-shirt designs (one of my favorite) and although you can’t see it from far away, the letters are beaded! One of my favorite things about P&G – the little surprises you find on their clothing – fine details that make their graphic tee collection unlike any others. This was the first debut of me without PJs in a long time!

I was just getting into instagram, so I searched, and over the next 18 months a tightly packed rolling rack of Pam & Gela graphic tees, furs, leather, sweats and sweaters has collected in my room (aka closet).  In the beginning I came to an awesome revelation – Pam and Gela were the founders of Juicy Couture. These two adorable but fierce blondes were responsible for me walking to most of my college courses wearing a track suit with the word “juicy,” written on my ass!

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P&G Style head to toe. Wearing my favorite sophie tee with black vinyl lips, a light-medium weight military style bomber jacket and distressed flair denim look pants (that feel like your favorite jegging mixed with your favorite pair of sweats). Total look only approximately $450 (excluding prada boots, wildfox sunglasses and alexis bittar necklace

My husband with who I share everything with (including my latest fashion obsessions) whether he likes it or not, bought me “The Glitter Plan.”  This book by Pam and Gela is part memoir, part story of the Juicy Couture brand, and what interested me the most – part an entrepreneurial guide.  So for me this book was a chance to mix business with pleasure.

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My copy of the Glitter Plan signed by Pam and Gela! I was such an avid instafan, and finally (I cringe with embarrassment now) messaged them that I was going to be in LA with my husband, and asked if they would let me buy them a drink – their favorite tequila (Casa Degrones). They couldn’t, but through my husband they sent me a few gifts to our hotel. It was like a fashion dream come true! Also shows what amazing, down to earth, accessible people they are! In return I sent them a fuckglioblastoma shirt (in their signature colors). Not quite the perfect tee, but what I had in fashion currency!

 

“The Glitter Plan,” is a must read for fashionista’s and anyone dreaming of building their own brand.  No spoilers, but it provides a unique look into the fashion industry, the values and inspiration that led two California girls to build the Juicy fashion empire – start up style.  Their personal brand is casual cool, and so was their work environment.  They held no titles, and employee #1 happened to be a cousin of Gela’s babysitter.  She started off cleaning the office and ended up in charge of all shipping and inventory at a multimillion dollar company.  Pajama dressing encouraged, Pam and Gela often even sang over the loud speaker.

Humor is part of who we are, so of course, it became part of the culture of our brand.” – excerpt from “The Glitter Plan.”

After Pam and Gela sold Juicy Couture to Liz Claiborne for $250 million in 2003,they had a non-compete clause which ended in 2011.  When 2011 came they celebrated and by 2013 were back in the game, but this time as Pam & Gela (remember the love P&G on your old Juicy?) Humor and wit are definitely still central to the Pam and Gela brand with their unapologetic catch phrase “I’m not sorry,” that was a huge hit and part of their 2015 line with sweaters and tees brazen with the logo.  Their “Im not sorry,” hat is perpetually sold out.  A variety of styles of graphic tees contain bold and humorous phrases such as “Do what you want,” “Kiss off (with a pair of blue lips),” and “Awkward.”  Not to mention a lip tee with a blinged out grill (bling included on the tee – little surprises, details that set them apart). Their instagram account is just as clever with their trademark quotes, highlighted in yellow that to my delight use my favorite F word.

A wise woman once said, “Fuck this Shit” and she lived happily ever after,” – x Pam & Gela

Although Pam & Gela still holds true to the designers – “fit, fabric, comfort,” mentality, Pam & Gela is a more sophisticated, edgy and about much more than t-shirts or track suits (although the track suit just seems to be the hottest thing in town these days). Its casual staple pieces from sweatshirts with comfortable thumb holes zippers or ties in the back, updated track suits, cargo pants (in leather, tencel and camo prints), fur, soft cotton dresses with perfectly paced ruching, moto jackets and more.  Mix and match couture with these “comfort food” pieces of fashion and create one hell of an outfit.

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One of my favorite graphic tees, styled for a dinner date under an Alexander Wang Blazer and Chanel Bag. Looks just as good with my Pam and Gela sweats or blue cargo pants.
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Another look at how I styled one of my favorite pieces – the Lips sophie tee with Gucci leather leggings and Louboutin heels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of my all time favorite Pam and Gela pieces currently in my collection – This gorgeous color-blocked mongolian fur is a show stopper. Because of the color selection you can wear it over almost any color! I extra love it because it matches my hair :)
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Me at an AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) meeting in another Pam and Gela fur (striped rabbit) and an Alexander Wang 2 piece suit and Prada boots. I wore this a I perused the Immuno-Oncology posters. Remember beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive 🙂 I love this fur – I have worn it over tees, with jeans or even over sweatsuits.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Street Style – Downtown SF wearing a Pam & Gela “partners in crime” tee under my P&G military bomber jacket and Paige Denim jeans paired with Louboutin boots and bag.
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Another casual look. Love this Pam & Gela sweatshirt; again comes with a surprise – the letters in “California” are embellished with black crystals. This was an early P&G piece but I scored it from Bloomingdales on sale.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A small taste of my Pam & Gela wardrobe – if you check my instagram you will see a plethora of posts of me in their sweatshirts, sweaters, leather moto pants and more. Why blog now – because Fall 2016 has got to be one of the most exciting seasons for the brand yet!  Being the queens of athleisure is quite the advantage when velvet, track suits, camo, sweats and fun fur dominated the runway at both NY and Paris Fashion Week.  Some of my favorite new pieces from the fall collection as seen on Vogue.com and provided courtesy of Pam & Gela on pamandgela.com (used with permission).

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Model wearing Pam & Gela embroidered velour track jacket and velour flared track pants. Comfort from head to toe. Love it with a pair of sneakers or add that fur and some booties.
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FUR ENVY! Model wearing fall 16′ striped knitted Mongolian fur. Yes @brainsurgerydropout I have last seasons which is similar, BUT THAT BLUE!
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I have wanted this Pam & Gela leather Moto Cape since day one. Its edgy with track pants or could be worn chicly draped over a dress (no more struggles trying to wear your old moto jacket as a cape and it falling off your shoulders – meanwhile you look like you are adjusting your own straight jacket).
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Speaking of Dresses – Check out this Cold Shoulder Sweater Dress (also made in gray). Love the details – turtleneck top, asymmetric hemline, and of course comfy thumbholes. Also check out the jersey stretch version of this dress – which is a great wear now item or for layering later, and comes in black, military green and olive.

These are just a few or my favorite things for fall which is upon us (I feel the anxiety of my fashion FOMO as I am typing)!  The good news is its not impossible to collect them all!  Pam and Gela is approachable California cool high fashion with prices ranging from $95 – $1100 full price.  Comparing their fall 2016 collection to fall 2015 – I would say they have stayed true to brand, but the collection feels a little edgier and more polished, without the price point changing (a shock in this industry).  But what sets them apart from other somewhat similar brands who will likely try and capitalize off of this year’s trends (i.e Wildfox – LA based with a collection of whimsical graphic tees, sweats and sweatsuits; Hood By Air (HBA) which is now creating a women’s line and seen on Rihanna at the VMAs; or even the new Fenty Puma line)?  For me it is quality, attention to detail (like the vinyl eye lashes on my tee shown above, carefully placed embellishments that add to a piece but do not overwhelm), and the “it factor.”  Remember the phrase “smells like couture,” which I believe was a part of their first Juicy fragrance campaign – well it also feels like couture (the “it factor”).  

And of course the fashion gods love to make us crazy by releasing SS17 before we even have our fall wardrobes.  But I can’t help being excited about Pam & Gela’s SS17 line already (pictures from vogue.com also made available on pamandgela.com) as it feels a little different, and definitely in some aspects gives me a Gucci vibe (Gucci has been killing it).

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Obsessed with this track suit. Love the stripes (I think i notice a little shimmer to the fabric), and what I interpret as wolves “huffing and puffing,” – so clever! Note the distressed bottoms with frayed edge.
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I love anything animal print (one of my favorite neutrals) and the new crewneck t-shirt design, which is new for Pam & Gela.
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Butterfly’s and Camo never looked so good. Notice the classic side slit on the sweater!

In summary, I am obviously a huge fan.  I travel in style and comfort in their sweats, or dress up their pieces with heels and statement jewelry.  I wore my lucky Mongolian fur (pictured above) in LA and met Lisa Vanderpump (p.s. Kourtney Kardashian also was photographed in that fur). The line is unique in that it could be both hanging in Bloomingdales and Bergdorf in one collection.(n.b It is not carried at Bergdorf’s to my knowledge).  Their is no need for “T for Pam & Gela” and Pam & Gela,” (Alexander Wang analogy).  Depending on your fashion value system (i.e. how much you give a fuck about clothes), you can spend $95 (sometimes considerably less during sale season) on a t-shirt, or if you are like me, aspire to own the leather and fur (and tees :)).  Before I leave you with a few tips on shopping the brand, this quote from “The Glitter Plan,” sums things up nicely:

Because the truth is, there isn’t a girl in the world who doesn’t get dressed to go to the office everyday and say, I just want to get home rip off my clothes, and put on my sweats.  We want everyone to have that feeling in their-day-to day wardrobe.  Because when you are comfortable, you are happy.”

AMEN.

Where to Shop Pam & Gela:

http://www.pamandgela.com

http://shop.nordstrom.com/sr?origin=keywordsearch&contextualcategoryid=0&keyword=pam+and+gela

http://www1.bloomingdales.com/shop/search?keyword=pam+and+gela

http://www.shopstyle.com/browse/women/pam-gela

Sizing: I always strive as a blogger to give some kind of constructive criticism. If I had Pam and Gela in front of me sipping on casa degrones tequila, and they asked me what I thought they could improve on, I would discuss their sizing.  Because they have many different styles of tees and sweaters, each fit slightly different.  Therefore, I wear a small in some and a medium in other. Because, like many of us busy fashionistas, I shop primarily online – I have made a few mistakes.  The bottoms I find are more consistent – but purchase your “couture size.” Meaning I find the bottoms to run a little smaller.  Especially keep that in mind for fabrics that won’t stretch.  Obviously this is first world problems and you can always make a return (within 14 days) if purchased at pamandgela.com. Although the sizing chart is there and somewhat helpful –  I think the best solution would be to beef up the website a bit and have a model with at least each category of tee (Sophie versus Frankie for example) and list which size the model is wearing.  I notice on final sale items this will be listed – so a good tip on where to get sizing info!

Either way it won’t be a problem once you purchase your first few items…make sure to follow them on instagram and twitter (@pamandgela) for surprise sales! And sign up on their website for 15% off your first purchase! 

FASHIONSURGEON GRADE: A+

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Disclosures:  I was not paid or compensated in any way for this post.  The content in this post reflects my opinion and mine only.  I am neither an affiliate or brand ambassador for Pam & Gela.  

For inquiries email me at fashionsurgeon13@gmail.com and follow me on instagram @fashionsurgeon.

“Gone In a Heart Beat,” – A Book Review so Close to my own Heart

Dr. Neil Spector, MD has dedicated his life to treating cancer patients and to cancer research now at Duke University. He is also an avid patient advocate.
Dr. Neil Spector, MD has dedicated his life to treating cancer patients and to cancer research now at Duke University. He is also an avid patient advocate.

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Last week my husband came home from work and told me there was a book I needed to read. I love to read so as he unpacked his backpack, I stopped writing an email and listened. He had heard an interview about a doctor who went through a life threatening illness and wrote a book about his medical journey to inspire others.  He told me “It’s your story.”  With which I replied “I need to get this book.”  “Already on the way,” he said.  Although grateful, I internally laughed and rolled my eyes and thought “amazonaholic.”

Me battling a “mystery” autoimmune disease March 2014 after being undiagnosed despite a 34 day hospitalization and battery of tests. Lovely prednisone chin included

I have wrote at length about my battle with an autoimmune disease in previous blogs but a brief recap is prudent for those that don’t know my story.  I was living my dream, in the midst of my neurosurgical residency when I began to notice irregular heart beats which I described to my doctor as a “fish flopping around in my chest.”  It was likely “too much caffeine and too much stress,” as I was working 100 hour weeks.  When it didn’t subside, my doctor agreed to order a holter monitor which showed multiple arrhythmias and after almost six months of being bed bound and wearing a pink helmet (courtesy of my program director), one doctor was finally convinced I wasn’t having panic attacks or a other psychiatric disturbances and placed a pacemaker.  Despite the pacemaker, I continued to have multiple syncopal events and was unable to continue my career as a Neurosurgeon due to the obvious ethical and medicolegal issues of a brain surgeon who passes out.  The doctor had become the patient and it was time for me to move on.

Flash forward a few years – I am happily married and working with my husband (also a doctor) on the clinical development of a new therapeutic for glioblastoma (the most malignant primary brain cancer) at our startup. My heart health had improved due to anti-arrhythmic drugs and we were on our regular 3 mile run when I had to stop because my legs felt like they were on fire.  By the next evening Dec 30, 2013, I was admitted to the ICU with painful blisters covering my lips, gums, tongue and oral mucosa.  This horrendously painful rash spread covering my arms, chest, part of my abdomen and other unpleasant places.  Despite the fact that my skin was literally falling off, my team of doctors disregarded my pain because of a skin biopsy that revealed “pustular psoriasis.”  In their mind psoriasis = itch, not pain; and they treated me with mega doses of prednisone which actually made my symptoms worse.  After multiple hospitalizations, and new symptoms emerging such as severe joint pain and stiffness, and platelet dysfunction I finally found a compassionate team who helped manage my pain and placed me on an immunosuppressive regimen that worked.  Coincidentally with these new therapeutics I no longer needed medication to control my heart rate.  I am now in remission and back to living a normal life, other than the injections and obsessive use of hand sanitizer.  But still I have no diagnosis, primarily because none of the blood tests point to a specific disease.

I received Dr. Spector’s book 2 days later and after finishing my work started reading. After reading a few chapters,  I began to cry, it was strikingly similar to my story – emotions flooded back, but I also felt an overwhelming sense of peace and validation.  I finished the book in two days. Without giving too much away, I want to explain why this book is so important.  It should be mandatory for every medical student to read and is a must read for anyone who suffers from a chronic or severe illness.

Dr.Spector was a well respected medical oncologist and hematologist when he began to note abnormal heart beats in 1993.

“With each evaluation came the usual reassurance that my heart was fine. Stress was most likely the culprit.”

Despite insight into his disease and a gut feeling that he knew his diagnosis, he was dismissed by several doctors including his closest colleagues who suggested it was all in his head.

I was confused. Should I believe a team of doctors assuring me that nothing was wrong? Or follow my gut instinct…I was beginning to question my own sanity.”

His doctors continued to dismiss his concerns and increasingly severe symptoms because diagnostic tests were not conclusive.  Because of this he ended up with a prognosis of 72 hours to live.  Fortunately he lived to tell this story which has several powerful messages:

  1. Physicians rely too much on diagnostics and technology and spend too little time listening to patients.

I fear physicians are rapidly becoming high priced technicians rather than true clinicians… Heaven help the patient whose diagnostic tests do not point to a specific disease.’

2. Patients need to trust their gut and advocate for themselves.

The worst mistake a patient can make is to concede the power over his or her body to a stranger. That is essentially what physicians are – strangers to your body.”

3. Never feel bad for getting a second opinion.

If you ever describe your symptoms to a physician and he or she tells you “this never happens,” do yourself a favor and find another physician.”

4. The physical illness is not necessarily the worst part of an illness.

I discovered the worse part of dealing with a serious illness. It is not necessarily the disease itself but losing control over my life.

5. Physicians need to not only worry about physical healing but emotional healing.

I needed physical and emotional healing…I began to work on healing something the medical profession often neglects: my mind.”

In summary this book is an excellent testament to the current state of medicine, what physicians can do better, and what patients can do to obtain better health care.  I wish I had read this book years ago.  There is so much more to glean from this book.  What strikes me the most is if two physicians (myself and Dr. Specter) had this much trouble navigating the medical system with our knowledge and insight, what happens to the accountant, the teacher, the engineer?  I hope all aspiring and current physicians will read this book and be inspired to hone their clinical skills, listen to patients and provide compassionate care.

FASHIONSURGEON GRADE: A+

You can get Gone in A Heartbeat by Dr. Neil Spector on Amazon

 

Beauty Instrument of the Week: Estee Lauder Metallishadow

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When I think of Estee Lauder I think department store, perfume samples (allergies) and very traditional, conservative makeup.  With the exception of a few brands (MAC, Louboutin Beaute, Tom Ford, Chanel and some high end skin care lines), department stores no longer carry the most sought after beauty brands.  So when Estee Lauder had a new product featured in the Sephora “Rebel Eye’s” animation – I knew I had to try it.  The Metallishadow Creme + Powder (featured in the picture above) is part of the Estee Edit collection which has launched exclusively at Sephora.

The Estee Edit Metallishadow Creme + Powder in "Wild Cosmos" a highly pigmented blue cream shadow with blue silver loose pearl glitter finish.
The Estee Edit Metallishadow Creme + Powder in “Wild Cosmos” a highly pigmented blue cream shadow with blue silver loose pearl glitter finish.

The Estee Edit Collection includes other products such as “The Blackest Eyeliner” – a felt tip eyeliner with the look of an actual marker (reminds me of the Milk product line also at Sephora stores).  The “Edgiest Mascara” and a highligher/contour pencil called “HI LO STYLO.” (These products I have not tried).  With Kendall Jenner as their new ambassador this is not a huge surprise as she draws a younger demographic that craves the newest trends. If you visit the Estee Lauder site – Estee Edit has its own section where you can go “behind the edgiest brand.”  It is full of instagram pics of top beauty bloggers, videos of Kendall Jenner, and definitely represents a marketing makeover for the brand.

We used "wild cosmos" with the Kat Von D Serpentina palette (colors -venom and nile).  In addition going with the electric blue trend we used the new Urban Decay "Razor Sharp Water-Resistant Long Wear Liquid Eyeliner," in "chaos," (cobalt blue).  For the finishing touch we used Velour Lashes.
Along with Metallishadow in “wild cosmos,” we used the Kat Von D Serpentina palette (colors -venom and nile). In addition going with the electric blue trend we used the new Urban Decay “Razor Sharp Water-Resistant Long Wear Liquid Eyeliner,” in “chaos,” (cobalt blue). For the finishing touch we used Velour Lashes.

The Estee Edit metallishadows come in glitter or metallic finishes (the powders are different) and 6 different colors from the vivid blue I wore to gold and black. Each creme + powder set is $25. I chose a glitter finish (“wild cosmos) as I wanted to compare it to the other top glitter products currently on the market (Touch In Sol’s mettalist liquid foil and glitter eyeshadow duo’s, makeupforever’s diamond powders and Urban Decay’s Moondust palette).

I was very impressed with the creme – it was highly pigmented and vivid as advertised.  Unfortunately I was less impressed with the “powder” which was supposed to have a blue silver glitter finish.  Honestly I did not notice the glitter, and the powder didn’t seem to stick well to the cream in contrast to Touch in Sol’s liquid foil which makes a great base. In retrospect I would have used the pigment in combination with another glitter product, either diamond powder or the moondust palette which has a blue glitter eyeshadow that would compliment the cream and has little fall out if used with a proper primer. Reading the product reviews, I am not the only one who feels this way – “glitter is subtle,” “powder doesn’t stick to base,” “can’t notice the glitter.”

Took this picture in natural sunlight to show the degree of shine.
Took this picture in natural sunlight to show the degree of shine.

 

In summary, I was impressed with the pigment, however if you are looking for an intense glitter product I would try the other products I mentioned.  I would like to try the other metallishadow cremes + powders (especially the green shown on Kendall!), however $25 is relatively expensive for one color when you consider eye shadow palettes run you approximately $50.  Despite that I am glad to have this product in my collection and I look forward to creating more looks with the pigment and trying the powder perhaps alone and in combo with other products.

FASHIONSURGEON GRADE: B

Check out this link to see all of the Estee Edit Metallist Creme + Powders

A special thanks to Casey Riddle my makeup artist (@mrmakeupman) and Janeen Silvestri (janeensilvestri@yahoo.com) for the amazing Braid!

Disclosures:  I was not compensated in any way for this post, these are my opinions and my opinions only.

Designer Feature: Shenova Fashion, Designing for women in STEM

Posing at the Lab bench, pipette in hand, wearing Shenova Fashion's Retina Pencil skit - now available on etsy (other colors available).
Posing at the Lab bench, pipette in hand, wearing Shenova Fashion’s Retina Pencil skit – now available on etsy (other colors available).

Throughout my career in medicine and biotech I have observed women in the male dominated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) industries feel compelled to reject their femininity. Personally, I have a great passion for science and medicine – I graduated first in my medical school class and went on to be accepted at a top ranked neurosurgical training program. Currently I am a top executive at a biotech startup in San Francisco. But, people always have a hard time reconciling my appearance with my resume, because of the vivid stereotype of what a “doctor” should look like. Turns out, I am as fluent in haute couture as I am in the latest drugs being studied for the treatment of glioblastoma (a malignant brain tumor). I love fashion and have never suppressed that for my career. I was known throughout the hospital as “the doctor with the pink lipstick,” and when I presented our therapeutic for the first time to a governmental agency (Department of Health and Human Services) I was complimented on my heels (classic Louboutin Bianca’s of course). So when I got a text from a friend who met someone who apparently designed high fashion clothing for women in STEM, I immediately found this designer on instagram – enter Shenova fashion.

I have not been this excited about a fashion label since Karl Lagerfield began designing for FENDI (and I went bat shit crazy for the bug bag). Shenova fashion is not simply cute “I love neuroscience,” shirts, but a high quality, high fashion, quickly expanding clothing line that designer Holly Renee calls “industry chic.” Holly’s design aesthetic was heavily influenced by her mother, a molecular biologist, and her brother a computer programming prodigy. Inside her mother’s lab she found inspiration in the scientific instruments, hazard signs, and how the sterile world of fashion was such a stark contrast to the seemingly “whimsical” world of fashion.

Don't forget to wear your safety goggles in the Lab. Shenova Fashion's retinal pencil skirt paired with a Theory shell, Alexis Bittar Charm necklace and Louboutin Bianca's.
Don’t forget to wear your safety goggles in the Lab. Shenova Fashion’s retinal pencil skirt paired with a Theory shell, Alexis Bittar Charm necklace and Louboutin Bianca’s.

Holly attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco for fashion design. She free-lanced in graphic design until she found her niche in digital fabric printing – the “ahah moment,” where she realized she could print her art onto wearable fabric. She gained momentum through commissioned pieces, launched on Etsy and now has an incredible website (more on this – later) with a great selection of her signature prints on dresses in flattering and fashion forward designs. Her mission is to “make scientists the new rock stars,” and empower women worldwide with her designs.

Take this look from the Lab to the Boardroom by replacing the lab coat with this stylish short Burberry Trench with stud details.
Take this look from the Lab to the Boardroom by replacing the lab coat with this stylish short Burberry Trench with stud details.

In these photos I am wearing one of Shenova’s signature prints of the retina, which was a custom order as I wanted a pencil skirt. As I perused the designs on her website I was so impressed with the range of designs and quality of the website. Designs include Code printed dresses (one for “hello world” and another the code for the video game “doom.”). You can even get your own code printed for a custom design fee. Then there are gravitational waves, the Jupiter print (an actual NASA image of Jupiter’s wild gaseous atmosphere), the Fibonacci Sequence (a best seller and coincidentally what we use in Phase I clinical trials to determine dose escalation), a circuitry print, Saturn rings, a DNA double helix, a periodic table print (which I recently sported on a pair of leggings!), red blood cells and more. When you select a dress on the website there are multiple pictures from different angles (sometimes even video), a sizing chart, a how to guide on how to measure yourself, and details of the fabric and fit. No joke this website is close to net-a-porter.com quality. But it has something net-a-porter does not have – the science and or technology behind the dress. For instance the retina print dress actually has an illustration of the retina describing the layers –rods and cones and bipolar cells

The dress designs themselves range from fit and flare, skater style, body conscious and curve hugging dresses such as the periodic table dress inspired by YSL’s famous “Mondrian” piece. Some have flattering side paneling, some are sleeveless while others have three quarter length or smaller sleeves (look carefully some items say sleeves may be added, or dress may be shortened with advanced notice).

So you have a few options to get your hands on Shenova Fashion:

  • Order from the website (very easy with the sizing chart)
  • Order from the etsy store where many of her latest designs are posted that she has not yet formally shot with a model for her webpage ( ie the periodic table leggings, neuron skirt I am wearing).
  • Place a Custom Order (more on this soon),
Speak up in the board room, maybe don't stand on the table ( I was channeling my inner Beyonce).
Speak up in the board room, maybe don’t stand on the table ( I was channeling my inner Beyonce).

Now we can’t forget about the fabric. The quality of the fabric is one of the most important things I evaluate when buying clothing. It is also the thing I am most hesitant about when buying clothing from emerging designers. But Holly did her homework. It’s a “long story,” as she puts it. She tried over 20 different fabrics before deciding on the one – “It combines high stretch, ease of wearing, hand feel, comfort, low wrinkle and a smooth surface that is great for high resolution printing.” I have to agree – she found the perfect fabrics for her wearable art. The skirt I have has just the right amount of stretch, hugs the body but doesn’t cling to those undesirable areas, is breathable and DOES NOT WRINKLE. This is a huge plus for me as I travel often. I have become a decent packer, even buying packing folders for my blouses and skirts. But have you seen how airlines handle your luggage? I end up with horribly wrinkled silk shirts and creased skirts and I will admit ironing is not my forte. I gave this skirt the test. I shot in it for 2 hours, wore it home and then put it back in its original packaging. When I got it out to pack my next trip (last night) – not a wrinkle in sight.

These high quality dresses list for between $139 and $199. The leggings and skirt (featured in this blog) are now on etsy listed at $95 and $98 respectively. Each item is made to order in the United States (California). Given this fact, it takes approximately 2 weeks to ship your order. Holly does try to accommodate more urgent requests, so communicate this from the start! In my personal experience I received my dress approximately 1 week after my order. Shipments inside the US are free, shipping costs may be incurred on international orders (customs fees) depending on the countries specific regulations. Full returns are granted within 30 days of receipt of your order. Obviously custom orders are not returnable.

Change in the office for happy hour or a night out on the town. Shenova's pencil skirt paired with an off the shoulder stretch knit top from Splendid. Choker from local bay area store - Therapy.
Change in the office for happy hour or a night out on the town. Shenova’s pencil skirt paired with an off the shoulder stretch knit top from Splendid. Choker from local bay area store – Therapy.

Speaking of custom orders….the brilliant talent of this designer is revealed through some of her custom work. She has made custom dresses, even wedding dresses! Women have worn her dresses to give TED talks, at their PhD graduations, and at gallery openings. I will be wearing my skirt to present my clinical development plan to my companies’ Scientific Advisory Board next week!

Perhaps the most impressive was a commission to design a couture Particle – Physics dress for a UX designer who’s father was being honored a Breakthrough Prize Award in Physics. The UX designer (Chung Hay Luk) was a wearable tech designer – so an amazing collaboration ensued. After picking the perfect print, the designers got to creating an amazing corseted back and sewed in heartbeat reactive LED lights. If this wasn’t fabulous enough, Shenova’s designer was invited to show the dress at the IBM 360 Fashion and Tech Show. Using IBM blue-mix an App was built for the dress – and now the dress was as interactive piece of technology. You could vote from the app what color should light the dress! I would have consistently voted pink of course.

Dress it down - Shown here with a Pam and Gela top and Alexander Wang leather jacket.
Dress it down – Shown here with a Pam and Gela top and Alexander Wang leather jacket.
The amazing particle - physics Dress worn by Hu Young Luk.
The amazing particle – physics Dress worn by Chung Hey Luk.

I think given the length of this blog and detail you may have an inkling of how I might grade Shenova Fashion. I have to say I have been lucky to wear very high quality fashion – Lanvin, Saint Laurent, Elie Saab, Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and more. So when I say that Shenova Fashion is high quality fashion – I hope you trust me. Not only is it high quality, but it is fashion with a purpose. Encouraging women in the STEM industry and offering a great alternative to the boring business clothing made for women. Although many of you may think my fiscal view of fashion may be slightly skewed to the right of the bell curve, I whole heartedly believe that Shenova Fashion is priced fairly (consider which of the other designers I mentioned above manufacture their product in the US – none). My staple pencil skirt I used to wear from Theory (which has much of the women’s suiting market) was $215, and was plain navy.

And the leggings….The leggings I could live in (I have worn them 3x this week alone) – and are lululemon quality but with THE PERIODIC TABLE. Someday I will have brain leggings and I might not take them off.

Shenova fashion makes an incredible gift to your friends in the STEM industry. From the math teacher, to the techy, to the physician.

Wear your passion, and do it fashionably!  Use the code FASHIONSURGEON to get 10% off your first order!

 

FASHIONSURGEON GRADE: A+

If you have not clicked on the links above, here is where you can find Shenova Fashion!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Shenova

http://shenovafashion.com

http://shenovafashion.com/blogs/blog/54675329-interactive-particle-physics-dress-with-leds-and-ibm-bluemix

 

A Special thanks to Casey Riddle for the amazing makeup (contact him via instagram – @mrmakeupman for bookings), and to Janeen Silvestri for hair styling (contact her at janeen.silvestri@yahoo.com for bookings)

Discosures: I was sent a sample for free to review the product, however I was not compensated in any way for this blog post.  The contents of this blog reflect my opinion and my opinion only.

Beauty Instrument of the Week: Urban Decay’s Moondust Palette

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Urban decay’s moondust palette is one of the brands most popular eye palettes featuring 8 glittery new shades of the brands moon dust eyeshadow (sold individually).  This palette takes glittery eye looks to a new level with intergalactic shades.

As usual the branding is amazing.  I particularly love the sparkly gun metal case featuring a mirrored cut out of the moondust logo.  The case is heavy duty compared to their other palettes, which is a plus considering the mega mess and disappointment that would be created by the shattering of the glitter shadows!

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Casey Riddle (@mrmakeupman) used lithium (brown with iridescent sparkle) and element (peach with pink sparkle) to create this look. Hair styled by Janeen Silvestri (janeensilvestri@yahoo.com).

I love the color selection – light year (a vivid highly pigmented green), or galaxy (a blue-gray that could be used to create the perfect shimmering smokey-eye).   And the names don’t disappoint either!  Tip: slightly wet your brush for a more pigmented look, and for a light dusting use a dry brush.  Compared to other glitter products, the moondust shadows have no chunky glittery feel and can enhance any shadow or be used alone for a high impact out of this world sparkle. Furthermore for someone who has autoimmune problems, these shadows are formulated without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates, a huge plus!

 Featured clothing by Pam and Gela, jewelry by Alexis Bittar and Choker from local therapy boutique.
Featured clothing by Pam and Gela, jewelry by Alexis Bittar and Choker from local therapy boutique.

My only criticism would be that there is a significant amount of fall out, which is typical of glitter products. The only problem with this palette is its intense colors which can give you the not so great raccoon look. To get around this I use Too Faced glitter bonding eye shadow primer which is an excellent product and solves the fall out issue!

This picture was taken 5 hours after application. Note the lack of fall out with the use of Too Faced Glitter Primer!
This picture was taken 5 hours after application. Note the lack of fall out with the use of Too Faced Glitter Primer!

In summary, I think these shadows are amazing! Great vibrant colors, easy application and wonderful branding.  The only negative is the fall out issue which can be solved with the proper primer!

FASHIONSURGEON SCORE: A

You can buy the Urban Decay moon dust palette at:

http://www.urbandecay.com/moondust-palette-by-urban-decay/3605971169779.html

And the Too Faced Glitter primer at Sephora stores

Special thanks to Casey Riddle, my Makeup Artist (for info about bookings contact him via instagram @mrmakeupman).  And my hair stylist Janeen Silvestri (for bookings contact her via email at janeensilvestri@yahoo.com).

Can we Change the Culture of Neurosurgery?

Borrowed from the instagram of Dr. Julio Pereira, MD and Neurosurgeon
Borrowed from the instagram of Dr. Julio Pereira, MD, Neurosurgeon in Brazil, follow him @neurocirurgiabr on instagram and check out www.weneuro.com

Many people discuss the “Malignancy” of Neurosurgery Residency Programs.  There are the stories and legends passed down through generations of residents.  The  Neurosurgeon who wielded a gun in the OR,  or who threw surgical instruments at their assistant. Many of my followers DM me on instagram – “Is it true?.”  But it was this Instagram post (that was sent to me by a follower) that inspired me to write about this issue.  The following was posted by anonymous @humansofny:

“There’s a strange culture in medicine. People are less friendly to each other than I imagined. I got an MD and PhD in neuroscience.  Im finishing my residency right now.  I guess I thought that everyone would be compassionate, and would help each other, and would be nice to each other.  And don’t get me wrong – I work with with a lot of compassionate people. But the stress just erodes people. There’s a lot of tension and anger.  We’re taught that 80 hours per week is normal and shouldn’t be questioned.  But at the same time, a huge amount of work that medical interns do is administrative.  It could be outsourced without affecting the quality of education or care.  And the culture does real harm.  I’ve had two friends commit suicide. One of them was studying anesthesiology at Yale and overdosed in a parking lot.  The other jumped off the dorm building at NYU.  There’s got to be a better way.  I don’t know, maybe I’m just saying this because I’m stressed. I’m heading to the ER now.  I’m almost at the end of my residency.  I can see the end of the tunnel.  But the tunnel is very damaging.”

This quote, struck a cord with me, and quickly brought back disturbing memories of my own neurosurgical residency and the dysfunctional, malignant organization of my peers and educators.  Now out of residency, I would never tolerate that type of work environment or abuse,  but for some reason there are different standards inside the microcosm that is the hospital. But why?

I guess you can track it back to the days of Harvey Cushing, when the term “resident” meant you lived at the hospital.  So began the cycle of hierarchal “hazing” that has become the culture of many neurosurgery programs in the United States.  And this “culture does real harm,” as quoted above.  Not only to the residents, but to the patients. And many Neurosurgeons hold their being a total ass on a power trip in the utmost esteem.  Like they should be given a medal for keeping it “like the old days.”  Congratulations you taught me nothing, humiliated me and made me envious of those who worked at the hospital McDonald’s, because I doubted those workers went to bed anxious everynight and fearful of what the next day could bring.

Don’t get me wrong their are so many good experiences.  The bonds I made with patients and families.  The occasional resident who took me under his/her wing and actually took time to teach me.  The exhilaration of mastering an operative technique.  But the balance needs to tip more this way.

For those of you reading this who are not in medicine or not yet, you may be wondering what the culture was like, and now thinking I was flogged if I didn’t get my attending (fully trained staff neurosurgeon) his coffee on time and the way he liked it.  Let me describe some examples.

In my experience, and that of many others, being in neurosurgery residency is very similar to being in a fraternity.  In essence you are a slave your PGY-1 and 2 years (like being a pledge) and your life gets easier as you climb the ladder. By your Chief year, you are sitting in the call room watching sports between cases (unfortunately my PGY-2 year was the World Cup), and you do not participate in any other patient care unless an emergency occurs and you usually simply dictate orders.  I went to a program which matriculated 3 residents per year.  Because of this we had 3 Chief Residents who led each team of approximately 5 other residents (remember some residents are on their research year etc) and approximately cared for 30 patients. The PGY-1 and 2 typically stayed on the floor, wrote all the notes, worked with case management, put out fires and discharged patients (refer to my last blog on “the day in the life of a neurosurgery resident.”).  On most every day the PGY-3,4 and Chief had time to help with the floor work, but they did not, because hey they already were the low man on the totem pole and it was their time to relax.  This extreme lack of team work ending up putting such a strain on the junior residents that not all of the work was finished at 7pm “hand off time,” to the night float.  This would lead to yelling, cussing and eventually the senior residents leaving, letting the junior residents clean up the rest of the work and get home by 9:30pm on a good day.

Lack of team work was one thing but the attitude and poor bedside manner of many neurosurgery residents’ was appalling.  There is never a need to wake a floor patient POD #1 from a hemilaminectomy by sternal rub at 5:15 am.  Furthermore, the “sink or swim” attitude of many programs is ridiculous when patients’ lives are at stake.  Many times I was put into positions, doing procedures with other unqualified junior residents that made me very uncomfortable.  I always thought – if this was my family member, shit!  But education was often put no the back burner for the Chief to watch a soccer match, and the Attendings whose ultimate responsibility it was to teach us wanted to be called during the critical parts of the operation and then leave, letting the Senior Resident open and close.  If you were lucky and second assist you might get to close – but then “you are to slow,” and you take over knot tying and cutting.  The worst quality I saw in some of my co-residents was their lack of empathy toward patients.  I will never forget when a PGY-3 avulsed a nerve root during a spine procedure and the team thought it was hysterical that he would likely never be able to take a normal piss again.  Add in a little sexual harassment (the field being 7% female during my residency) like “hey I hear your fucking Dr. XX,” – all because I took good care of his patients, he noticed and would let me assist in some of his cases as a PGY-1, leaving a PGY-3 out on the floor.

I realize that this is an n =1, and many other programs may be different, but from having colleagues who went to other programs and word of mouth this is way too common of a phenomenon.  I lived in fear that first year.  I was consistently sleep deprived, and depressed.  After a 46 hour call shift, I fell asleep at the wheel and thank god only got in a minor fender bender.  And the nights that I could sleep, I was so anxious about my patients, knowing we were not caring for them as well as we should that I tossed and turned.

Recently on one of my instagram posts someone asked me, “Do we have to accept this culture, or do you think it will change?”  There are three ways I think the neurosurgical community could dramatically change the culture.

#1: It starts with you, with each individual.  Stop the cycle. Just because you “paid your dues,” doesn’t mean you get to check out from your responsibilities of hands on patient care,  and educating your junior residents.  If one class of residents did this at your program, the next senior residents would…and neurosurgery departments could work as a well oiled machine. Like Yoda up there says, “you must unlearn what you have learned.”

#2 With advances in technology and more operative cases, medicare, Obama care, the patient load is too great. I would suggest PGY-1 year be a general neurosurgical year where you learn not only how to take care of patients on the floor, but you are exposed to the basic neurosurgical procedures (burr holes, decompressive crani’s for trauma cases, etc). And throughout the year you rotate through the neurosurgical subspecialties – spine, functional, cerebrovascular…. By your PGY-2 year I think they should separate cranial and spine surgery into 2 different programs.  The techniques are very different as well as the anatomy and pathologies.  I think this would improve the resident:patient ratio, and most residents come into their PGY-1 year with some preference.

#3 Neurosurgery departments should hire and utilize PA’s to unburden the junior residents.  Even the passionate resident can quickly become jaded after monotonous paperwork and 100 discharge summaries to catch up on your one day off.  Barrow’s Neurological Institute (BNI) is an excellent example of utilization of physician assistants. Most days the PGY-1’s operate.

I know some how things can change.  I met Dr. Julio Pereira, MD through instagram (of course).  His residents and colleagues seem to work extremely well together.  And this is in Brazil, where they do not have the technology we have or portable CT scanners in every Neuro ICU.   He takes great pride in educating his students and others.  So perhaps in the US neurosurgery selects for certain personalities and individuals who are more power and financially driven?

Sorry medical students and premeds with your heart set on neurosurgery – this is not to scare you. It is to be honest and to let you know that 1) program selection is important (sometimes its hard to tell, in my case they were good actors) and 2) Remember you don’t have to assimilate to the culture, you can be the one to help make the change!

 

 

Accessory of the Week: Hettie Hair Accessories

This picture features the gunmetal swarovski crystal spiked pyramid hair comb and the rose gold metal leaves hair comb.
This picture features the gunmetal swarovski crystal spiked pyramid hair comb and the rose gold metal leaves hair comb.

My love affair with fashion began in my early childhood when I laid on the bathroom floor watching my mom do her hair and makeup. Always her shadow, I followed her to the closet and to her jewelry drawer where she picked out a pair of beautiful huge earrings (it was the 80s) which I did not understand why I couldn’t wear to preschool.  Now I am a curator of all things fashion – clothing, shoes, jewelry, makeup.  But I was missing out until my LA hairstylist Joseph Henry (@josephhenryhair) introduced me to HAIR ACCESSORIES!  I was amazed at how beautiful they were, and pissed that I had been missing out.  So I perused Joseph’s instagram and found the rose gold leaf combs he used were made by Hettie Hair Accessories.

Joseph Henry (@josephhenryhair) placing multiple Hettie Hair rose gold metal leaf combs.
Joseph Henry (@josephhenryhair) placing multiple Hettie Hair rose gold metal leaf combs.
A view of the final look created by the incredible hair artist Joseph Henry (HIGHLY recommend him if you are in the LA are or visit ing like I often do!
A view of the final look created by the incredible hair artist Joseph Henry (HIGHLY recommend him if you are in the LA are or visiting like I often do!)

Hettie Silovitz has been a seller on etsy since 2011.  She has a 5 star rating produced by over 130 reviewers (legit!).  Compared to other etsy sellers, Hettie Hair Accessories boasts over 1,000 items for sale including hair combs, barrettes, hair pins, head bands and hats on fascinators or bands. Her selection is amazing and rivals that of many large accessory retailers.  What is really exciting for me is that her halo head bands made with a satin tie or elasticated finish can double as a choker! This is amazing since this 90s style accessory is all the rage.  Simply add in the comments you “would like to use this piece as a chocker,” and pick a black or ivory satin ribbon tie (Mine is here and I cannot wait to wear it both ways!).

Her designs are also diverse in style and materials – there is something for everyone.  Designs include edgy spiked combs and barrettes, whimsical cherries, lightening bolts, music notes and stars; ethereal roses, wings, lace and pearl headbands (great for weddings); boho beaded looks; and playful hat fascinators with feathers.  In addition she works with almost any material: velvet, lace, suede, cotton, silk, chiffon, organza, chain link, glass, mirrors, lucite, swarovski crystals, sequins, beads, shells, pearls, gemstones, metal coins, druzzy and probably more.  Even with all this selection you can still place custom orders.  I personally can’t imagine shopping anywhere else for hair accessories.

Using the gunmetal swarovski pyramid comb pictured above, and with the help of my San Francisco hair stylist Janeen Silvestri (janeensilvestri@yahoo.com) we used the hair comb to create a "crown-like" look. This comb also looks great placed in front of a simple bun or on one side holding the hair back. Note: this look required no bobby pins or anything to keep it in place. Even the most hair challenged (me) can use these combs!
Using the gunmetal swarovski pyramid comb pictured above, and with the help of my San Francisco hair stylist Janeen Silvestri (janeensilvestri@yahoo.com) we used the hair comb to create a “crown-like” look. This comb also looks great placed in front of a simple bun or on the side holding the hair back. Note: this look required no bobby pins or anything to keep it in place. Even the most hair challenged (me) can use these combs!  Makeup by Casey Riddle (@mrmakeupman).
The smaller hair combs are great for braids!!! Used here the rose gold leaf comb. Styled again with the help of Janeen Silvestri. The comb hides the rubber bands! Again this required no bobby pins ect to insert the comb and it stayed in place all night!!! I Got creative with the temporary B WILD colored hairspray by Jerome Willis. Makeup again by the amazing Casey Riddle.
The smaller hair combs are great for braids!!! Used here the rose gold leaf comb. Styled again with the help of Janeen Silvestri. The comb hides the rubber bands! Again this required no bobby pins ect to insert the comb and it stayed in place all night!!! I Got creative with the temporary B WILD colored hairspray by Jerome Willis. Makeup again by the amazing Casey Riddle.

I think it is obvious that I love these hair accessories.  The fact that I can use them by myself is a huge plus.  The selection is amazing and the quality is exceptional. Unlike other etsy sellers I have encountered, Hettie Hair Accessories is a well run business and exceptionally professional.  She ships M-F using USPS priority mail (typically takes 2 days to ship, unless the order is custom).  I immediately got an email receipt and order number which if you click on, links you to tracking information.  What seals the deal for me is the fair price point which ranges from $18 – $125.  Price is dependent on materials used (swarovski pieces more expensive), size and intricacy of design.  The exceptional quality and the ability to wear these designs in many ways (i.e. doubling as a choker) makes them worth every dollar.  I am not the only one who agrees.  Hettie’s accessories have been used by top celebrity hair stylists and can be seen on HBO’s Girls, NBC’s The Voice and on Diane Kruger at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party (image below).

Diane Kruger (actress and fashionista) wore Hettie Hair Accessories swarovsi gold studded hair comb at the 2016 Vanity fair Party
Diane Kruger (actress and fashionista) wore Hettie Hair Accessories’ swarovsi gold studded hair comb at the 2016 Vanity fair Party

In summary, I am so excited to have found another accessory to collect.  Hettie Hair Accessories will be my first choice given the large inventory, diversity of styles and materials used, exceptional quality, competitive pricing and reliability.  For a big event or wedding you can count on your piece being made to perfection and shipped timely and safely.

FASHIONSURGEON GRADE: A+

How to get your own Hettie Hair Accessory:  

site: www.hettiesilovitz.etsy.com

gmail: hettiesilovitz@gmail.com for inquiries

Follow her on instagram @hettiehairaccesories, on twitter @hettiesilovitz and like her Facebook page Hettie Hair Accessories 

(all font in blue are links! to specific items I have discussed.)

 

Disclaimer:  This is not a sponsored post, I received no monetary compensation from Hettie Silovitz and this post reflects facts and my opinion only.

 

Beauty Instrument of the Week: Urban Decay Vice Lip Sticks

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There has been sufficient hype around the launch of Urban Decay’s new lipstick line – “Vice” lipsticks, which has beauty bloggers around the world popularizing the hashtag #lipstickismyvice.  The line boasts 100 shades in 6 finishes from matte to metallic.  Vice lipstick comes in a modernized version of urban decay’s original packaging (resembling bullets).  As usual this cult brand doesn’t disappoint with its creative and edgy branding with lipstick shades such as “vanity kills” and “perversion.”  I tried three of the shades this week.

Vice Lipstick in "Oblivion" in mega matte finish. Full makeup description on instagram @fashionsurgeon. Makeup by @mrmakeupman ( Casey Riddle) and Hair by Janeen Silvestri (janeensilvestri@yahoo.com)
Vice Lipstick in “Oblivion” in mega matte finish. Full makeup description on instagram @fashionsurgeon. Makeup by @mrmakeupman ( Casey Riddle) and Hair by Janeen Silvestri (janeensilvestri@yahoo.com)

I chose to try their matte finishes because I have very dry lips and often find matte finished difficult without me first exfoliating my lips to death!  The mega matte Vice finish goes on creamy and was surprisingly hydrating.  One application is sufficient, and I didn’t experience any drying or cracking which I often get with the liquid matte lipsticks.  This is not surprising when you see that the formula includes avocado and vitamin E oils.  Add up the facts that these lipsticks are creamy, hydrating and long lasting, with the fact that you can choose from 100 shades with 6 different finishes (mega matte, comfort matte, cream, metallized, sheer and sheer shimmer) – its a no brainer for me.  But the deal maker is the $17 price point!  Affordable and excellent quality – sounds to good to be true, but this time it’s not.  Check out a few other colors I tried:

Vice lipstick in shade - "Checkmate" and in the Comfort Matte Finish.
Vice lipstick in shade – “Checkmate” and in the Comfort Matte Finish.
Vice lipstick in shade - "Vanity Kills" and in the mega matte finish
Vice lipstick in shade – “Vanity Kills” and in the mega matte finish

FINAL FASHIONSURGEON SCORE: A+

I highly recommend the Vice lipsticks by Urban Decay and look forward to expanding my collection! Check out the entire Vice Lipstick collection at: http://www.urbandecay.com/vicelp

Special thanks to Casey my makeup artist – contact him via instagram (@mrmakeupman) for bookings. And to Janeen Silvestri for hair styling – contact Janeen @ janeensilvestri@yahoo.com for bookings; both Bay Area Artists