Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 23 Aug 00 18:19
flash gordon, md, starts his sixteenth year on the well this month. He's hosted and/or founded these conferences: Health Men on the Well Aliens on the Well Motorcycling Flying Boating Jokes Other flash is a physician, practicing in San Rafael, CA. He ran the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic's Medical Section and was Chief of the Medical Staff of the HAFC, also. He spent a number of years doing Rock Medicine, delivering care at rock concerts, and founded H.E.A.R., Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers. He was also Director of the Emergency Residency Program at San Francisco General Hospital. He has been a wannabee musician, and was a member of Wetware, which also had David Gans <tnf>, John Coate <tex>, Rik Elswit <rik>, Bob Ulius <rebop>, and Alan Chamberlain <axon> The crowning moment of flash's unlamented musical career was when he got to perform at Last Day Saloon with the *real* musicians who made up the rest of the band. flash has been riding motorcycles since 1961, and uses a BMW R1100RSL to commute to his Marin office from San Francisco daily. He averages about 20,000 miles of riding per year. He's had a medical column in San Francisco's CityBike magazine for many years, and a collection of these columns has been published as "Blood, Sweat, and Gears: Ramblings on Motorcycling and Medicine." Leading the conversation is Michelle Terman. Michelle has been on the Well for nearly 6 years. She's a motorcycle enthusiast and rider since 1990 and co-host of the motorcycle conference (AKA <ride>) on The WELL. She currently rides a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6 and thinks <flash> is one of the coolest guys on the Well! Please join me in welcoming these two to inkwell.vue!
lameness is celestial (chel) Wed 23 Aug 00 22:32
Wow - after reading all of the above about him, you'd think "there's nothing left to say! <flash> has done it all and lived to tell!" But you'd be wrong to think it! I told flash on the phone last night that he was just the neatest guy - if only everyone on the Well knew about it (though I know there are lots of folks who do!) I know flash mainly from being a member of the <ride> conference. When I think of motorcycles I think of flash! There is nothing that he doesn't have a bit of advice to offer about when it comes to riding. I guess we could start by talking a bit about the book - certainly a classic already - and the only book of its kind written more specifically for motorcyclists - though it's an excellent all-around first-aid book - I even used it to diagnose my strained knee the other day! In "Blood, Sweat, and Gears: Ramblings on Motorcycling and Medicine", flash covers basic first aid and treatment for everything from your skull to your toes - and everything in between! Including those pesky hemorroids - who knew they were such a problem for motorcyclists as a group? flash, what made you want to write for CityBike, and how did those columns end up becoming a book?
flash gordon md (flash) Thu 24 Aug 00 14:06
well, i've always loved reading - i started when i was 18 months old, i'm told - and have always revered writers. it occured to me that maybe san francisco's citybike magazine (there's a link to it on my home page, at www.docflash.com) could use a medical column. i called 'em up and asked if they wanted one, explaining i was an emergency doc and had been riding since 1961. they said "sure!" so, i wrote a column for 'em every month, on topics ranging from road rash (a.k.a. "pavement dermatitis) to carpal tunnel. about a year later, they called me up and said "flash, we still don't have a statement from you for your columns." "statement? what do you mean?" i asked. "so you can get *paid*," they explained. "oh." i hadn't realized: not only did i get the glory of seeing my words in print, i'd get paid for it, too! %^)
flash gordon md (flash) Thu 24 Aug 00 14:13
oh, and your second question; how did the columns become _blood, sweat, and gears_? well, after i'd been writing for citybike for a number of years, doing a monthly column and occasional road tests and press intros for new bikes - sweet - i got a call from dan kennedy, who's the publisher (along with judy) at whitehorse press. they're the best known motorcycle-only publishing house in the u.s. there's a link to them at www.docflash.com, too. anyhow, dan said he'd like to publish a collection of my columns in book form. he said he'd do all the work, and would then send me royalty checks as they sold. this is what's called "no-brainer." i qualify for those. so, we put together some columns; brian at citybike arranged for illustrations; and now i'm an Author. real writers sometimes get a kind of pained expression on their face when they hear this story. "the publisher called *you*?!?" they ask. . . "sure!" i say. "isn't that how things are supposed to work?" %^)
lameness is celestial (chel) Fri 25 Aug 00 00:15
poor flash... always a bride and never a bridesmaid! you know, did they ever check your credentials to be writing a medical column? How/when did you decide to be a doctor in the first place? (btw, don't try turning in any statements for THIS gig ;-) )
flash gordon md (flash) Fri 25 Aug 00 08:17
well, i didn't really plan to be a doctor. i was hoping to be an astronaut. back in high school in the mid sixties, down in pompano beach, florida, the school had a "college night" when representatives from different schools came to the high school and kids and parents walked around and talked to the ones they were interested in. my dad and i had talked with the reps from duke and emory (my two top choices) and my dad wanted to sit down and rest. (he'd had a heart attack not long before). we went into my chemistry classroom, and the u. of miami representative was there. it hadn't been on my radar, but he told me about a new honors physics program that allowed a student to get an M.D. and a Ph.D. in 7 years (which included undergrad). my dad told him about my high school scores on the SAT and other tests, and i ended up getting a physics honors scholarship to U of M. unfortunately, tho' somewhat smart, i wasn't that great at good study habits. my usual technique was to read the book a couple of days before a test, which was usually enough. this didn't work in college, especially with other honor students. after my freshman year, it became obvious i wasn't going to do the 7 year Ph.D. / M.D. program, so i said "what the hell -- i'll just do premed." this was at the time when many of my classmates were going to vietnam and getting shot at (and sometimes hit) and the idea of staying in school for a while had an added attraction. so, i kind of became a doctor by default. if i had it to do over again, i'd probably have stuck with science. or maybe advertising. %^|
Christina Lawson (chrislawson) Fri 25 Aug 00 14:23
"if i had it to do over again, i'd probably have stuck with science. or maybe advertising." Why do you say that? Do you dislike being a doctor?
A Democracy Without Citizens (natedog) Fri 25 Aug 00 15:03
flash, I just got your book a couple days ago, and even though I've never been on a motorcycle in my life, I'm still finding the book really entertaining. I'm recommending it to all my motorcycling friends.
flash gordon md (flash) Fri 25 Aug 00 15:50
cool! personally, i think it's appropriate for anybody with a human body. are you a mototcyclist, natedog? there's a lot of interesting country in arizona . . .
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 25 Aug 00 18:15
From the internet, Magwa writes: From email@example.com Fri Aug 25 18:13:19 2000 Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 17:05:52 -0700 From: Magwa <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: email@example.com Subject: tinitis Hey, Flash. I know I may not be spelling it correctly, but I sure do have tinitis. Many years of over indulging...In rock and roll and in motorcycles. Primarily Triumphs then HD's and, when I finally got some sense, into the BMW marque. As I read the info on the H.E.A.R. website, the malady can only get worse if the ears are not protected from further damage. Two questions: If that assumption is true, are there any steps being taken in research to help alleviate these sirens in my head? Secondly, *my* RSL is pretty quiet. Does the subtle wind noise (subtle as compared to those straight pipes I embraced during the 70's) that gets through my helmet act as as much a villain as some would have us believe? Bill "Magwa" Keener, Fairfax Expatriot Coarsegold, California
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 25 Aug 00 18:53
And Eric writes: From firstname.lastname@example.org Fri Aug 25 18:53:13 2000 Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 21:31:27 -0400 From: Eric Nelson <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Cc: BMWMC <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Motorcycling and DVT Dear Dr. Gordon, Do you know of or suspect any connection between motorcycle riding and the occurrence of deep vein thrombosis? I am a young man (37), but have a recent history of DVTs, one in the left calf and one in the right calf. My doctor cannot find a cause for the clotting. The left leg incident occurred during the month of August, during a summer of frequent riding. My right leg clogged up in August of the next year. I ride a lot, and I wonder if there is a connection. Both DVT diagnoses were delayed for lame reasons that I won't bore you with here. My doctor did run a battery of blood tests to find out why I am prone to coagulation, but all tests results come up normal. Since the DVT episodes I bought one of those Roho Airhawk seat pads, made by a company that developed the rubber bubble construction for bedridden patients. The Roho is very comfortable, and I hope to make it through this August without a blood clot. Do you have any clues, doctor? Thanks and best regards, Eric Nelson Charlotte, NC
stupid historical TITS! ON TV!! (fsquared) Fri 25 Aug 00 20:35
I just want to chime in here to say that at the time Whitehorse Press got the manuscript for Blood, Sweat & Gears, I was their contract editor (as in, I edited on a contract basis, I didn't edit their contracts) and I had the delightful pleasure of editing flash's book. And then I found out I knew him online. And then I got to meet him in real life. And he's even funnier in person than he is on the page, which is saying a hell of a lot!
A Democracy Without Citizens (natedog) Fri 25 Aug 00 23:59
re: #8 > personally, i think it's appropriate for anybody with a human body. I'd agree. > are you a mototcyclist, natedog? there's a lot of interesting country > in arizona . . . No, I'm not. I've always wanted to motorcycle, though. Just never have. And yes, there is some interesting country here, but right now it's too damn hot to enjoy it. :)
flash gordon md (flash) Sat 26 Aug 00 08:48
right. i much prefer cool weather to hot weather, but still make it a point to wear all the appropriate protective stuff: jacket, armored pants, boots, gloves, helmet, etc. as i often say, "i'd rather sweat than bleed."
flash gordon md (flash) Sat 26 Aug 00 08:59
regarding tinnitus: tho' some medications, especially aspirin, are known to cause it, in most cases it's due to hearing damage from high sound levels over time, or occasionally *really* high sound levels very briefly (i.e., an explosion). there have been lots of attempts at trying to treat tinnitus, with variable results. here's a page with some interesting info: http://www.bixby.org/faq/tinnitus/treatmnt.html as you can see, many things have been tried. one thing that seems to be pretty much accepted is the need to protect your ears against further damage. i'd *strongly* encourage you to wear good earplugs when you ride. just having a relatively quiet bike (i happen to ride the same make and model that bill does) and a good helmet is not enough.
flash gordon md (flash) Sat 26 Aug 00 09:03
regarding deep vein thrombosis, or DVT: my first question, eric, would be "what bike do you ride?" the veins in your legs are going to be squeezed a lot more with your knees up close to your armpits in a racing position (think suzuki gsx) than they'd be if you were riding, say, a harley with highway pegs, with your legs in what i call the "pap-smear" position. another thing your doc might want to do is an MRI scan of your abdomen. occasionally, problems in the pancreas (which often don't show up on blood tests) can lead to DVT. i'd assume that you were taking some kind of blood thinning agent, like aspirin or others, after the first episode. is this the case?
lameness is celestial (chel) Sat 26 Aug 00 19:50
dr. flash is in! up there <christinalawson> asked: 6 of 15: Christina Lawson (chrislawson) Fri Aug 25 '00 (14:23) 6 lines "if i had it to do over again, i'd probably have stuck with science. or maybe advertising." Why do you say that? Do you dislike being a doctor? Interesting question?
Vadim Zaliva (krok) Sun 27 Aug 00 00:44
I just finished "Blood, Sweat and Gears". I've enjoyed it a lot. I like <flash> simple and clear writing style, his jokes and amount of useful information included in this thin book. Being motorcycle enthusiast I found it very useful and already promised to borrow my copy to co-worker (also motorcyclist). I found this book not much specific to motorcycling (except few chapters). In fact anybody interested in first aid and some very practical basic health tips will find it interesting. My question to <flash>: What is R0 you mention in the book? I gather it is modified BMW R bike. There is one statement which I disagree with in the book: about disc brakes in the rain. Maybe author ought to have his front brake checked. I do not think rain water can cause serious malfunction in disc brake. In fact, everyone who ever locked his front wheel under the rain knows that problem usually that they do brake too well.
flash gordon md (flash) Sun 27 Aug 00 10:23
re: would i become a doctor? that *is* a good question. times are tougher for docs now. we definitely have much less autonomy than we did in the past, and that makes our jobs difficult. whether or not managed care is necessary or good or bad or whatever isn't something that i think we can decide here; but it does seem to be making some insurance companies richer, and i know it's causing physicians to stop practicing. my guess is that as medical practice enters the information age, things will naturally evolve. now, when i see a patient, all the information is recorded on paper (with a fountain pen, no less) and the only part that's ever digitized (besides certain parts of the patient, that is) is billing info. i can visualize a system using something like a small, lightweight computer (the HP jornada 690 comes to mind) that'll assist in history taking and recording; prompt docs as info is entered (i.e., "pt complains of wheezing; ask re: reflux symptoms"); present info on treatment strategies based on outcomes; generate bookkeeping info; transmit prescriptions; allow the doc to make the followup appointment then and there; allow the doc to decide how important the followup is, and if there should be a reminder; all kinds of stuff. but i'm still using a fountain pen. i do enjoy the diagnostic process, especially the pattern recognition part. most of the time, i'll know what's going on in the first minute or so of the history, and confirming the suspicion on my physical is fun. i also like explaining stuff in a way that the patient can really understand at a basic level what's going on; what to watch out for; what to expect, and so on. i dunno. i do often enjoy my job, but it's frustrating at times. i'd probably like it more if i had something to say about how things are run at the office where i work (i don't, now).
flash gordon md (flash) Sun 27 Aug 00 10:35
hey vadim, thanks for the kind words on the book. glad you liked it. the "R 0" mentioned was one of my older airheads i used to ride. it had once had a decal with "R80" on it, but after putting on new cylinders, suspension, brakes, carbs, etc., i didn't feel it was still accurate. so i just peeled off the numeral "8" and left it as an "R 0." if anyone asked, i just said "there R zero bikes like this one . . ." regarding disc brakes in the wet; when disc brakes are really wet, they don't stop as well at first. i recall one trip at night down highway 299 from redding, ca to the coast in a major downpour. the front disc didn't do well at helping modulate speed going downhill: it was either nothing or too grabby. but the old drum brake in the rear didn't lose any of its touch. i noticed on your excellent web page (www.crocodile.org/lord/bike.html) that you switched from a bmw r-90 (great bike - i once had one) to a honda magna, and then back to the new bmw r-1200 cruiser. why'd you switch away from beemers and then back?
Vadim Zaliva (krok) Sun 27 Aug 00 10:58
<flash>, thanks for answering my questions. Main reason for switching back to BMWs was lack of character in Magna. It rides well, but too smooth, too boring. Maybe it is not BMW specific, maybe I just like twins (magna is V4). Unfortunately, I am not able to spend much time on bike maintenance, and repair and with older R bikes it does not make much sense to go to mechanic to do it. I enjoy working on bikes: I've rebuilt my R90/6 after one pretty serious accident myself (some of advice from your book might have helped me, but it was not yet published then), when insurance totaled it. It was just matter how many weekends I can spend in garage, not with my family. Thus reluctantly I decided not to go back to airheads but to buy newer bike, requiring less maintenance which could be serviced at the dealership. I went with R1200C and pretty happy with it. It sure have some of BMW "character". Though it looks trendy, it is very comfortable for long trips (I went from San Francisco to Las Vegas in one day, (thorugh Mojave desert at summertime!), and very reliable. I see that you also riding K-bikes now. Do you still have your R0?
lameness is celestial (chel) Sun 27 Aug 00 13:05
BMW freaks! g ride! ;-) Thanks, flash, for answering that question. Interesting to hear from a physicians point of view. Can you tell us a little more about H.E.A.R. and why you started it?
flash gordon md (flash) Sun 27 Aug 00 14:00
back in '89 or so i was at a show at the kennel klub in san francisco. an exceptionally loud band was playing, and i saw a musician from another band (who was one of my patients at the free clinic) walking in front of the speaker stack, holding his fingers in his ears. it occured to me that as a rock musician, he'd be exposed to high sound levels a lot. and i knew that noise induced hearing loss was pretty common. i didn't know of anybody or any organization who was looking after the needs of folks involved in the music "industry" and thought some consciousness raising in that area would be A Good Thing. i noticed that kathy peck, another patient, was at the same show. i knew kathy had been the bass player with the contractions, a well known rock band, and that she had some hearing loss. i thought "nobody's going to listen to another doctor saying 'take care of your ears' but the media would sure sit up and pay attention when a rock and roll artiste (especially when she was phemale and photogenic) did so. i went over and explained my idea to kathy, who, as i supposed, was quite enthusiastic. kathy had years of experience promoting her bands and was also just as enthusiastic and energetic about promoting Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.), the name we came up with. H.E.A.R. is still struggling along, mostly by kathy's efforts and some occasional donations by organizations and random angels. you can see what it's up to at www.hearnet.com.
lexiconiamphibianilluminate (ssabrina) Sun 27 Aug 00 14:00
Not to overwhelm you with questions, Dr. <flash>, but here's something I've been wondering about: if I come upon the scene of a motorcycle accident, what can I do to aid an injured motorcyclist (after calling 911, obviously)?
flash gordon md (flash) Sun 27 Aug 00 17:41
primum non nocere (if there's a latin scholar in the house, please correct me). that's supposed to mean "first, do no harm." it is, in theory, the prime rule of medicine. actually, i can see how it could apply to a lot of areas. but i digress. you'd treat an injured motorcyclist just like any other injured person: use basic first aid principles. in _blood, sweat, and gears_ there's a chapter on what to do, and how to do what i call "the one minute physical." best thing is to do a regular first aid course, such as that provided by the american red cross. and remember, *don't* try to remove a helmet unless absolutely necessary.
Smouldering Lust and Motorcycle Maintenance (ssabrina) Sun 27 Aug 00 17:46
That last sentence is x-tremely useful! I was wondering about full face helmets, because it seems as though it could make breathing difficult - but when I reflect upon your answer, it occurs to me that the helmet could be holding the person's haid together, or some such, gulp!
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