Whether you’re an Olympic athlete or a stay-at-home mom, your body is an incredible machine, made up of over 639 muscles, 206 bones, and 100 billion neurons. Go inside the human body, and see what happens when it’s pushed beyond all extremes.
The Fat Gene
Redbook magazine recently came out with an article discussing the fat gene. Two years ago, doctors in the United Kingdom discovered the FTO gene, which increases your propensity to be obese. “What the Redbook magazine article is saying is, ‘Look, research shows that as long as you live an active life, it doesn’t mean you’re going to be obese if you have this gene,’” Dr. Travis says.
“I have a feeling I have this gene,” Dr. Jim says, explaining that as soon as he lowers his activity level, he gains weight.
“I really see it as an excuse,” Dr. Lisa says, “because they found that if you still exercise, and you still eat right, then it doesn’t matter if you have the fat gene or not.”
“Sixteen percent of European-descent people, like me, have this gene,” Dr. Jim notes. “Maybe those people need more than just average exercise, maybe you need to step it up a little more.” He adds that he’s inspired to beat the gene.
Nadya Suleaman shocked the world recently when she gave birth to octuplets. Elizabeth from Brooklyn e-mailed The Doctors asking, “What happens inside the body during a pregnancy with so many babies? How can one woman possibly carry eight children at once?”
“Whether it’s three, or it’s eight, basically what’s happening is the uterus is growing a lot larger,” Dr. Lisa says, as an animation demonstrates the process. “You still have your bony pelvis, so even though the pregnant uterus, whether it has three or eight, is getting larger, it compresses those abdominal organs. That is why having eight is so, so dangerous for a woman. She put her life at risk, and she put the babies’ lives at risk.”
“Her fertility doctor put her life at risk,” Dr. Travis interjects.
“She also put her life at risk,” Lisa maintains. “It was most of his judgment, but it was also hers, because it was her body, and we do not try and pass judgments on patients in fertility.”
Dr. Ordon points out that Nadya opted out of having a selective-reduction procedure.
“In that instance, he had even more responsibility, knowing that she wasn’t going to do selective reduction, not to implant that many babies,” Dr. Lisa says. “She could have a heart attack. Her blood volume, afterward, she had an increased risk of postpartum hemorrhage, which is what most women die of from pregnancy, so she put her life and risk, and she put the babies’ lives at risk, because you know that they’re going to deliver preterm.”
Dr. Jim adds that when a woman is pregnant with twins or triplets, oftentimes one baby takes nutrients from another, and one baby will be born smaller than the other.
Pain in the Neck
Mindi has been in three car accidents over the last three years. She still suffers neck and back pain. “Do you think the zing in my neck could be from whiplash?” she asks.
Dr. Travis shows an animation of what happens to the body during whiplash. “In some cases, that whiplash can be so severe, you break a bone.”
“That’s why you have to go to the doctor right away after an accident, if you’re feeling pain,” Dr. Lisa says.
“If you have pain in the middle of the back or your neck, on the bone, that could be something more serious,” Dr. Travis advises.
Dr. Jim adds that sometimes the pain arrives a few days after an accident.
Dr. Ordon offers that Mindi may have a pinched nerve.
The Doctors advise Mindi to see her physician for a further diagnosis.
Car Safety Tip
To help prevent whiplash, make sure your headrest is level with the top of your ears.
Dave suffered a tragedy during a shooting expedition with his friends. “The moment my weapon misfired, I thought I was going to die,” he recalls.
“When I walked inside the hospital room, his hand was missing. There was nothing there to be saved at all,” says his wife, Regina.
“When I heard about hand transplants, I was all for it,” he says. “Basically you wait, and wait and wait until they find a donor.” Within hours of a hand becoming available, Dave was in surgery. He was told the procedure may or may not be successful. “I wanted to do it just for the chance it might work.”
After a 15-hour surgery, Dave owned a new hand. “It’s been a life-changing experience,” he shares. “What I wanted out of the operation was just to be normal, to function in society, not have the stares.” He is now active and enjoying life. “Playing catch with my son means the world to me. It’s one of the things that I prayed and hoped for that I would be able to do, and it came true,” he says.
Dave shows off his new hand. “Are you comfortable with the hand?” Dr. Lisa asks. “Do you feel pain and touch?”
“There’s about a two-second delay in it, but I feel hot and cold. I feel pressure,” he says. “Every day is a new adventure.” He can also make a fist.
“Do you have to do special things to keep this functioning well, any medications?” Dr. Lisa inquires.
“Lots of different medications,” he says, adding that he also participates in hand therapy five days a week.
Referencing an animation, Dr. Ordon describes how the transplant was completed.
“What makes it so difficult is the microsurgery involved to reattach those nerves,” Dr. Travis says.
“This is one of the most difficult and demanding operations that is done on the face of the earth,” Dr. Ordon agrees. It can take up to 16 hours.
Dr. Warren Breidenbach from the Kleinert Kutz Hand Care Center performed the surgery at Jewish Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the only surgeon who has performed a hand transplant in the United States. He joins the show via phone.
“You need to transplant a heart to live, but when you have a hand transplant, you do go on anti-rejection drugs for the rest of your life, which puts you at risk for infections you otherwise may not be at risk for,” Dr. Travis says. “Some people will say, ‘It’s not a life-prolonging operation, but it may shorten someone’s life.’”
“Dave will tell you that we’ve gone through this extensively with him and with other people,” Dr. Breidenbach says. “The critics are correct. People need to understand, if you’re going to enter into a hand transplant that on average, you’re going to shorten your life, the same way you might shorten your life if you drive as opposed to walk … We make these decisions in life. We can’t give the exact number of years, but we know these drugs can have bad long-term effects on you. So you have to kind of accept that and make an individual decision if this is worthwhile. Dave and the others who have done this are doing it in part with the hope that we’ll be able to reduce immunosuppression as we go forward, so that one day, this will not be an ethical debate.”
Is Stress Good For You?
It’s 80 percent water, holds five times the facts in a set of encyclopedias and processes millions of bits of information at over 180 miles per hour, but when you’re stressed out, your brain is capable of even more than you imagined.
You always hear that stress is bad for the body, but did you know that there are different types with different results? “Chronic stress does cause health problems. Acute stress makes us sometimes perform at our peak,” Dr. Travis says. “I know in the E.R., if there’s a big-time trauma, let’s say a gunshot victim comes in, I go to another place in my mind,” he explains. “Adrenaline allowed me to focus to such a degree that I block everything out except what I absolutely have to do. It’s almost an out-of-body experience.”
"That's the difference between stress at times and chronic stress," Dr. Ordon adds. "If you have it all the time, it's not good for you."
Spicy Foods: Good or Bad for You?
Amanda says she enjoys spicing up her life, but she wonders how much is too much. She often eats jalapeño peppers and puts hot sauce on all her food. She says, “I’m wondering why some people are more tolerant of spicy food than other people.”
“Capsaicin is one of the chemicals in chili that makes it so hot,” Dr. Travis says. “Hot peppers cause pain, but they’re full of nutrients, so our bodies grow accustomed to it by releasing endorphins, so we eventually not only tolerate it, but it gives us a rush.”
Chewing on a jalapeño, Dr. Odon says, “That’s four times the amount of vitamin C that you would get in an orange.”
“The only caveat to this is pregnant women,” Dr. Lisa warns. “If you eat too much spicy food in your third trimester, you’re going to have a lot of indigestion.”
“As you get older, you tend to lose those taste buds,” Dr. Jim says. “You get less sensitive and can kind of tolerate some of this more spicy stuff.” Although when he bites a pepper onstage, the heat overpowers him, and he’s forced to spit it out.
Dr. Lisa adds that women have more spice taste buds than men.
Dr. Travis concludes, “If you eat too many spices — which are good for your health — you can desensitize your taste buds.”
Beth in Nashville developed a wound over her eye after spending time outside in the yard. She says it started out looking like a pimple but quickly grew into a larger sore.
“A lot of times, you’re never certain what the bite is from,” Dr. Travis says. “Looking at your wound, there’s a decent chance it could have been a brown recluse spider.” He adds that these pests have a distinct violin-shape marking on their bodies.
If you’re at home and you’ve been bitten by a spider, try and catch the spider, so you can take it to the doctor with you, so he or she can identify it. Dr. Travis notes that because these spiders are reclusive, they often hide under rocks and in attics, sleeping bags and shoes.
“What happens, which is scary with these brown recluse bites, is it basically causes tissue necrosis, because the venom has enzymes in it that break up your tissue,” Dr. Travis explains. “There’s, quite frankly, not a whole lot you can do about it. The wound will progress.” Sometimes, reconstructive surgery is the only option for healing the tissue.
“The brown recluse isn’t going to cause death. It’s just going to potentially cause tissue loss,” Dr. Travis says.
Eucerin: What You Need to Know
"Serious problems from makeup are rare, but if you're not careful, they can cause some health issues," Dr. Lisa warns.
• Scratching your eye with a mascara brush is the most common injury. If this happens, and it's left untreated, you can develop serious infections in your eye, and you could potentially go blind. •Sharing makeup can cause bacterial infections on the skin and in the eye. Use your own cosmetic brush and sponges.
• Before you go to bed, be sure to wash off all makeup.
• If you wake-up with itchy, bloodshot eyes or infections, consult your doctor.