Category Archives: Medical Issues

One Big Kid: World’s Tallest Teenager


There are “giants” in this world. The NBA is living proof. But most non-NBA members have Pituitary Gigantism, which occurs when the pituitary gland secretes too much Growth Hormone (somatotropin or HGH). This makes the person’s growth increase exponentially. If this occurs before the growth plates close in the late teens to early twenties, gigantism occurs; if later in life the person suffers from acromegaly.

The wrestler Andre’ the Giant is famous example. He eventually reached 7’4” and 550 pounds.


But a less common form of giantism is Sotos-Dodge Syndrome. This is not related to a pituitary problem or any other glandular dysfunction. It is a genetic disorder where the victim grows, and grows, and grows. It’s also often associated the a form of autism, muscle weakness, poor coordination, cognitive dysfunction, and the many orthopedic problems that all giants suffer.

Such is the case with 19-year-old Broc Brown, the world’s tallest teenager. He currently stands 7’8” and is still growing. But he lost his Guinness crown when he turned 19 as the tallest teen category is for those 18 and below. He seems to be a pleasant young man dealing with an uncomfortable situation with grace and style. Watch the video and I think you’ll agree.

Good luck, Broc.


The Telegraph News:

Wikipedia: Gigantism:

Wikipedia: Sotos Syndrome:


Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Medical Issues


Guest Blogger: Forensic Psychologist Stefanie Stolinsky, PhD: Problem Gambling


Problem gambling is actually an obsessive-compulsive mental disorder. And although many people gamble without its becoming a problem, addicted gamblers find an excitement in gambling that they find nowhere else in their lives.  It is often referred to as a “high” or a “rush,” akin to taking a drug.  The partial reinforcement inherent in obsessive gambling is the fault of sometimes winning big, sometimes losing big and never knowing what’s going to happen next.  An animal will continue to press a lever if food comes down the pipe sometimes.

Getting help for someone who has a destructive gambling habit can be difficult.  Gamblers rarely want therapy on their own, though they may agree to it under family pressure.  Sometimes when a chronic gambler is sentenced for illegalities stemming from gambling debts, a judge makes therapy a condition of probation.  In a structured environment such as a rehab center, there is the advantage of starting therapy in a setting that removes the gambler from temptation.

But the best approach to therapy is a combination of behavioral techniques, focused on stopping gambling, and supportive therapy to help the gambler deal with the chaos gambling has brought to their life.  Therapy may be long-term and there are usually some relapses, but that does not mean that therapy is a failure if the gambler uses the slip as an opportunity to learn how to resist temptation.

S. A. Stolinsky
FierySeas Publishers


Stefanie Stolinsky is a licensed clinical and forensic psychologist.  She is the author of the acclaimed non-fiction book, ACT IT OUT: 25 Expressive Ways to Heal from Childhood Abuse, published by New Harbinger Publications, Inc. in 2002 and currently in its second edition with Praeclarus Press.  Dr. Stolinsky has written for over twenty years, having finished five mystery novels, numerous short stories (published in Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine) and two well-received plays.  She has worked extensively with abuse and trauma survivors privately and from the military.  She also works with those suffering from gambling addiction.  She has a private psychology practice in Beverly Hills and lives with her husband in Los Angeles.


Leave a comment

Posted by on October 13, 2016 in Guest Blogger, Medical Issues


Lewy Bodies and Robin Williams


Older folks suffer from dementia. That’s a fact of life. Just like the heart, lungs, and joints get old and rickety, so does the brain. Often this dementia is classified as senile dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. But not rarely the loss of brain function is due to something you’ve probably never heard of – –Lewy Body Disease, or LBD. This form of dementia results from the accumulation of abnormal structures within the brain that are called Lewy Bodies. This accumulation interferes with brain function and lead to a host of symptoms including: problems with movement and balance, confusion, loss of memory, abnormal alertness, an alteration of attention span, and even hallucinations that at times are paranoid in nature. The disease is usually not diagnosed until after death when the brain can be examined but it is often suspected by the symptoms the person displays. It is often confused with the Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.


Lewy Bodies in the Brain

It turns out that Robin Williams suffered from LBD. In a wonderfully written article “The Terrorist Inside My Husband’s Brain” on, Susan Schneider Williams tells of her husband’s ordeal. It is a look inside this terrible disease and what happened to one of the greatest comedians that ever lived.

The Terrorist Inside My Husband’s Head:

Medline Plus:

Lewy Body Disease Association:


Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Medical Issues


Father’s Unborn Twin Is the Genetic “Father” of His Son

A couple of years ago a happy couple in Washington welcomed a new baby boy. All was good until a paternity test showed that the father was not the father. Uh-oh. Well, it’s not really that bad. Turns out that genetic testing revealed the father was a chimera and the genetic testing was confused by his unborn twin’s DNA, which the father had absorbed in utero. Chimerism is an odd and interesting medical entity.


Greek Chimera

In Greek Mythology, the Chimera was a fire-breathing female that was part lion, part goat, and part dragon. Fortunately, human chimeras, which result from the combining of two or more human embryos in utero, are typically normal in every way—-except for that DNA stuff.

I’ve blogged and had Guest Bloggers comment on chimeras before:

Q&A: How Could My Sleuth Recognize a Chimera?

Guest Blogger: EE Giorgi: I Am My Mother’s Chimera. Chances Are, So Are You

Guest Blogger: Human Chimerism: Mindboggling DNA Tests Gone Wrong


Laughter Is Good Medicine

Originally posted on Mystery Fanfare:

Laughter Is Good Medicine

I love to laugh. Bet you do too.

It’s good for you. It relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, and might even boost your immune system and make you healthier, definitely happier. I use it every day in my practice. With virtually every patient I see, after going through all the medical stuff, the last thing I say to them as they leave the office is: “Laugh a lot.” It’s that important.

I grew up with humor. My mom could turn anything into a party and always seemed to find the funny in everything. Dad had a drier sense of humor, but a sense of humor none the less. My sisters, cousins, and friends each had great wit.

In my early teens, as I began reading novels, I was captured by the usual suspects—Hemingway, Steinbeck, Verne—but also by the great humorists Mark Twain and Will Rogers. Later I dug into more modern humor writers like Carl Hiaasen and Tim Maleeny. I admired how each employed humor and downright knee-slapping funny in their essays and works of fiction.

Most of my early work is harsher—darker stuff with very bad guys—but I always included splashes of humor. I couldn’t help myself. Besides, humor is a great way to diffuse tension and humanize characters. But I had long wanted to write a more comedic thriller. And finally, I did.

DS 300X458-72

DEEP SIX is a humorous thriller starring Jake Longly, ex professional baseball player, Gulf Coast bar/restaurant owner, and someone who’d rather run his dive and chase bikinis than do “honest work.” At least that was his father Ray’s take. Ray has a gray past, being involved in government secret ops of some kind—Jake never knew and Ray never shared—but is now a P.I. He wants Jake to work for him. Not a chance.

But, Ray does talk Jake into doing a bit of surveillance work—watching the house of a suspected adulteress. Of course, the woman gets murdered practically under Jake’s nose. And the story is off and running.

Jake, and his latest girlfriend Nicole Jemison. turn out to be fairly effective P.I.s—though Jake is reluctant to wear that mantel. But they can’t seem to stay out of trouble, and out of the crosshairs of the ruthless Victor Bookoff and his minions. Throw in Jake’s ex Tammy and her new husband and attorney Walter, who it turns out was having an affair with the deceased woman and naturally becomes the primary suspect, along with a couple of thugs and cartel hitmen, and well—-the pot boils.

After I finished DEEP SIX, I loved it. But would others? I mean, humor is hard to judge. One person’s funny is another’s ho hum. Very tricky stuff. Turned out my agent Kimberley Cameron and publishers Bob and Pat Gussin at Oceanview did indeed love it.

Now that makes me laugh.

As Lee Child said: “We all know Lyle’s erudition and expertise—-but who knew he was this funny?”

Certainly not my cat, who sees all this as annoying and not about him—the prerequisite for him to find anything interesting. Well, you can’t make everyone laugh.

DEEP SIX is available July 5, 2016.

More Information and to Pre-order a copy:


Posted by on June 30, 2016 in Medical Issues, Writing


The Kiss of Death: Beware a PBJ Sandwich

Anaphylaxis can kill you. And do so very quickly and unexpectedly.

Our immune system protects us every minute of every day by attacking microscopic creatures that could do us harm. Things such as viruses, bacteria, and other invaders. When a foreign organism enters our body, the immune system recognizes it and immediately goes to work building antibodies against it. These antibodies attach to the foreign organism and attract various blood cells to it. Mostly the various types of White Blood Cells (WBCs) we all have. The cells then damage and devour the invader. That’s a good thing.


But sometimes this protective system goes haywire. It over-reacts. It creates substances that lead to an acute asthmatic attack, a diffuse rash, a swelling of the face and hands and feet and other body parts, and a dramatic, and often deadly, drop in blood pressure. We call such an overwhelming reaction  anaphylactic shock.

The treatment for anaphylaxis is the immediate injection of epinephrine, antihistamines, and steroids. These either block the allergic reaction itself or mitigate the body’s reaction to it. But time is critical. These measures must be taken very quickly. This is why many people who have serious allergies carry small epinephrine injectors such as EpiPen.

Someone who is allergic to things such as bee stings, peanuts, certain foods or plants, or some medications can suffer such a reaction even if exposed to very small quantities of the allergen. A little dab can set off a major reaction.

Case in point: Myriam Ducre-Lemay.

Myriam was allergic to peanuts. She avoided them like the plague. But one evening, her boyfriend kissed her after he had eaten peanut butter and this set off an anaphylactic reaction that took her life.


Mayo Clinic Article:

Wikipedia Article:


Q&A: What Injuries Can Occur With a Car Bomb?

Q&A: What Injuries Can Occur With a Car Bomb?

Q: How far away would you have to be from a car bomb (the kind that is detonated by starting the car) to survive with injuries and what sorts of injuries might you sustain in the blast?

car bomb


A: This is a question that is virtually impossible to answer with any degree of accuracy. There are entirely too many variables involved. How big is the bomb? How big is the car? How close is close? What direction does the shrapnel fly and in which direction is the concussive force of the bomb directed? Are there any intervening walls or structures that might dampen the concussive force or block or redirect the shrapnel? Each of these variables, and many others, must be taken into account before any prediction of possible injuries can be entertained.

Lets look at a few general principles however. Big bombs cause big problems and little bombs cause less. A large bomb can produce a massive concussive force that will spread out for many yards in every direction. It can also produce shrapnel that can fly many hundreds of feet. A small bomb, needless to say, would release a smaller concussive force and any shrapnel would move at a slower rate and therefore do less damage.

Let’s assume that this is a moderate sized bomb and the victim is standing close enough to receive injuries from the explosion. There are several types of injuries that can occur with a bomb.

If the person is close enough and the bomb is of the type that produces a great deal of heat, then burns over the skin and face can occur and even the victim’s clothing might catch fire. This could produce severe injury to the flesh and the lungs.

The concussive force of the bomb is simply a wave of air molecules that are accelerated to very high speed. When the wave strikes an object or a person, damage and bodily trauma will result. This is why a bomb will destroy a building, knock down a wall, or kill a person within the concussive umbrella. If the force is strong enough it can burst eardrums, cause sinuses within the nose and face to bleed, rupture the lungs, rupture the abdomen and internal organs, and many other nasty injuries. If the person is slightly further away, or if the concussive force is dampened somewhat, then injuries to the eardrums and sinuses may occur but the other more severe injuries to the lungs and internal organs might not occur.

Shrapnel presents a very difficult and dangerous situation. With a car exploding all types of shrapnel can be fired in every direction. Chunks of metal and glass, complete doors or windows, beams of metal and even the engine can be launched in any direction. The types of injuries that someone would suffer depends upon exactly what strikes them, where they are struck, and with what speed and force they are hit. I think it would be obvious that if a car door or engine or some large piece of metal struck someone at very high velocity it would most likely kill them instantly and if not their injuries would be so severe that without very aggressive medical treatment and luck they would die from these in short order. But what about smaller pieces of glass and metal? These can penetrate the head, the chest, or the abdomen and damage vital organs and lead to death very quickly. Or they can enter the same areas and lead to massive injury and bleeding, which can then lead to death in minutes to an hour or so. Or they could simply be flesh wounds and the person could survive but would likely require surgical repair of the wounds and treatment with antibiotics to prevent secondary infections.

You can see almost anything can happen in this explosive situation.  A large explosion at a great distance could easily do the same damage as a smaller one where the person was standing close by. Any bomb where the concussive force and shrapnel were directed away from the person might produce no injuries while if the victim were standing in the path of the concussive wave and the shrapnel he could be killed instantly. And anywhere in between. This great degree of variation in what actually happens is good for storytelling since it means that you can craft your story almost any way you want.

%d bloggers like this: