June 29, 2016

Oh, What a Beautiful Morning!


That song from the musical Oklahoma! popped into my mind today​​ as I was having breakfast on my back porch. Believe it or not, I immediately came up with the name of the singer who sang this song in the 1955 film version of this Rogers​ and Hammerstein musical -- Gordon MacRae. Just don't ask me for the name of that woman I met at the farmers market a ​few days ago.​

What I was looking at this morning was not "corn as high as an elephant's eye," but this:


​And I wasn't sitting on a saddle,​ but on this old rocking chair that got me long ago:


Originally a huge hackberry tree had dominated (and shaded) the backyard. I loved that tree. To console myself when it died, I hired the wonderful Janet Gaskin of Landscape Design to completely redo the backyard. We did away with the grass lawn, planted three big river birches, installed a pond with a ​waterfall and stepping stones, and created the lovely oasis I've enjoyed ever since. Readers of this blog ​have seen frequent pictures taken from the screened back porch, where I can be found whenever the weather permits.
And here I am with "the wonderful Janet Gaskin" today:


June 28, 2016

"Are the Oldest Patients Getting Too Many Drugs?"

Seeing that headline on one of my  MEDPAGE TODAY emails, I immediately clicked on the link to get the full story. I've been getting flack from family members, friends, and doctors about my decision to stop taking statins for cholesterol, and antihypertensives for my blood pressure.

The lead sentence of the story sparked even more interest:
​T​oo many healthy people in their 80s and older are being treated with statins and hypertensives for stroke prevention, according to British commentary in​ Evidence-Based Medicine.

​Evidence-Based Medicine is a British​ medical journal. The article was authored by Kit Byatt, a geriatric medicine physician at Hereford County Hospital in England.

For old and frail people, Byatt wrote, the statins and hypertensives are "largely irrelevant" for preventing strokes. He explained:
The epidemiology suggests that, by this stage, hypertension is not an attributable risk factor for stroke, and hypercholesterolemia has little effect on stroke risk overall. The largest trials of antihypertensive therapy and statins in this age group show at best a marginal clinical reduction in stroke and very modest clinical reductions in other cardiovascular endpoints.

June 18, 2016

You are Reading a Prize-Winning Blog!


Healthline, which describes itself as the "fastest-growing consumer health information site with 65 million monthly visitors," recently issued its list of "The 15 Best Parkinson's Disease Blogs." Not only did Aging and Parkinson's and Me make the cut, it tops the list!

Well, all right, I'll admit -- had I named the blog "Parkinson's and Aging and Me," the blog would be in sixth place. Yep, the winners are listed alphabetically.

Here's what Healthline had to say about the blog:
John Schappi was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2009, at age 80. We love John’s blog because it’s about living life to the fullest — whether that means traveling, going to the ballet, or celebrating the friendships he’s made through Alcoholics Anonymous. He also talks about what products he uses to deal with the side effects of Parkinson’s, such as insomnia, and shares and discusses helpful blog posts and information.
Nice summary.

June 16, 2016

Yousef's Father and the Owner of Orlando Nightclub Agree: "It's Important To Never Let Hate Win."

Tuesday morning I was watching The Today Show, which spent most of its first hour on the Gay Pride Sunday massacre at Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando. I was lying in bed, half dozing and half listening, throwing in a few stretching exercises.

Matt Lauer was having a good interview with the woman who owns Pulse when I heard her say "It's important to never let hate win." That got me fully awake. Her warning presumably was against letting the Orlando massacre by one Muslim nut case turn into hatred against Muslims generally.

I remembered my pal Yousef telling me that his own father had spoken similar words many years ago, when Yousef was a young boy and Israeli soldiers had occupied their family home in the Gaza Strip. Yousef's father didn't want his children to begin hating all Israelis because of these soldiers' actions.

Yousef's father tells the story:


Then I thought about how I'd spent the day of the Orlando massacre.

June 13, 2016

Gay Pride 2016: Some Photos and Reflections

I hadn't planned to write anything about Gay Pride this year. Then I woke up Sunday morning to the news of the shootings at the gay nightclub in Orlando.

In my last post, I described the sad experience at my Parkinson's support group meeting on Friday. The group meets at the Iona Senior Center in the Tenleytown section of Washington, a ten-minute drive from my house.

I was feeling down when I walked out of our meeting room. But then Susan Messina, an Iona staffer and friend, happened by and asked me to pose for this picture:


Iona staffed a booth at Sunday's Gay Pride celebration on Pennsylvania Avenue. I thought Iona's presence there was an excellent example of the rapidly growing acceptance of GLBT people and their issues. Iona supports all people who experience the challenges (and opportunities) of aging,

Washington's Gay Pride Parade -- 2014
I didn't attend the Gay Pride parade last year. But in 2014, I saw something remarkable. For the first time in any American city, a U.S. Military Color Guard participated:



This military presence felt particularly ironic to me. About 65 years ago, I confided -- for the first time in my life -- that I was gay... to the U.S. Army's draft recruiter. It worked.
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