May 21, 2006

On the road to ATS - San Diego I

I am in San Diego for the annual meeting of the American Thoracic Society (ATS). This the third meeting of theirs I have attended (it being the first medical conference I attended after becoming the E.D. for the ASAA). At the right is a picture of street performers playing the didgeridoo. I was tempted to ask them whether they snore - but figured that it would end up costing a lot more than what it cost to take the picture.

The plane ride to San Diego was interested. Many of the people on the plane were on their way here. I could tell because they looked like medical students and they were all carrying the tubes with contains the "poster" for the research they are doing and will be presenting at the conference. In addition, my seat mates were in route to the meeting, but one was coming to present a talk on the future of scholarly publication in light of the changing laws about public access to published research funded with government money (yawn). This is actually important stuff. He is based in Bethesda and is the E.D. for a professional association there. He is someone I'd like to get to know.

The second was a young woman who represents a drug company. She is coming to the meeting to participate in the trade show. She was very talkative on the plane... something that took me and the other fellow a bit aback, but we got into with her. That is until she found out what I do and the conversation changed - as it usually does, especially when there is someone with sleep apnea. Well it turns out that she thinks her dad has sleep apnea - not diagnosed. He snores loudly and has had a number of serious problems with his heart. He is fortunate to still be alive. She reported that her grandfather died of a heart attack at a young age and that he was a snorer. Looking at this attractive slender young woman you would not think she is a candiate for the "fellowship of the mask" but in fact she complains of excessive daytime sleepiness and looking closely at her I noticed that she had something of an overbite - a recessed jaw being a physical condition that can contribute obstructive sleep apnea. I gave her my card and suggested she get a sleep study. She thanked me - another life saved....

The higlight of the day was my dinner meeting with Dr. Alberto Servin Diaz, a pulmonolgist and sleep doctor from Tijuana. Here is a link to his web site

We have corresponded for sometime and we took this opportunity to meet and discuss where we might work together. It turns out that one of his patients is very interested in the A.W.A.K.E. support group concept that we sponsor. I let Alberto know that I would happy to furnish the materials necessary for him to establish a group in Tijuana. He indicated that knows of other sleep docs in Mexico and Central America who would be intrested the support group model and working through the ASAA to provide educational resources to their patients. The discussion went as far as to talk about establishing a Mexican version of the ASAA, but we stopped ourselves and said first things first.

Another item discussed was making our resources available in Spanish. Albert indicated a willingness to help there. I suggested that we add a "topic" on the Apnea Support Forum for to ask and answer questions in Spanish. Now we have to get to the implementation.

I was pleased with my first day here - except for the delay in the booth material getting here. No matter, it is was a beautiful and very productive day (we are heading south of the border).

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