December 5, 2014

News Alert: Schappi Steps Down as CEO for His Medical Care, Becomes Chairman of the Board

Since I started this blog over five years ago, I’ve used the imagery of being the CEO of my healthcare to indicate my intent to be actively involved in researching  and managing my health. Recent developments have convinced me that it’s time to give up this active involvement.

In the corporate world, when the CEO steps down, s/he often remains involved as chairman of the board of directors, the team that sets the company's goals and directions. That's the job I want -- board chairman.

Many Factors Drove this Decision
  • I now have in place the two key healthcare professionals I need to manage my healthcare – the leader/internist (a geriatrician) and the neurologist who addresses the issues of an 85-year-old Parkinsonian. I have complete confidence in these two doctors, both of whom signed on just this month.
  • My earlier, more active role as CEO was doing more harm than good. After my PD diagnosis, I began regularly using the OTC supplement 5-HTP to address the three major non-motor symptoms of my disease: depression, insomnia, and constipation. I had used 5-HTP occasionally in the past with good results. This encouraged me to belive that at times I could, on my own, devise helpful treatments. But, as usual, I overdid this in a big way.
  • I was spending too much time on the computer, researching and writing for this blog. As with 5-HTP, I got carried away, spending huge chunks of each day at the keyboard in my office. In retrospect, I see I should have devoted much more time exercising and pursuing other activities I enjoy. My life fell out of balance.
  • I meddled in other aspects of my healthcare, changing and tweaking my medications. It backfired, especially as the aging process rolled along.
My Board of Directors at Work
Currently I’m dealing for the first time with a health care crisis. I enlisted the active advice of a newly-formed personal "board of directors" -- my son and his partner, my daughter, my blog collaborator, and a longtime friend familiar with my quirks. 

Before my recent crisis -- and before I found my two new doctors -- I’d made an appointment with a neurologist highly regarded for his expertise on Parkinson’s medications. My daughter and blog colleague accompanied me -- a good thing since I never could have recalled everything we learned and discussed during the two-hour session.  

For now, I'll share two opinions from this specialist:
  1.  I was suffering from levodopa overload. He was astonished I'd been taking 1600mg of the drug every day -- two 100mg pills every three hours. 
  2.  He recommended a gradual withdrawal from the powerful drug. His suggestion -- 900mg every day, one and a half pills every four hours.
My board agreed with both points. So did both of my new doctors, who urged me to remain on that reduced regimen until I saw them both later this month.

Major Disagreement Coming Up
The specialist also thought I was paying the consequences of discontinuing my blood pressure (BP) meds. He wasn't familiar with a new view among many healthcare pros that people 75+ without coronary issues don't need to take pressure pills.

However, my two  new doctors -- the internist/geriatrician and the neurologist -- agree with the new opinion about ditching the BP meds for seniors without heart problems. While I haven't had an opportunity to discuss this in full with them, I believe they see the BP spikes and the over-dosing on levadopa as a stand-alone issue that has nothing to do with the decision to eliminate the BP meds.

I sense my board members are split on this issue, some agreeing with the consultant that dropping the BP meds was a mistake that needs to be corrected while others side with my new doctors that this decision is unrelated to the current problem.

I suspect a few more weeks of reduced levodopa may resolve this debate. After only a few days on the new regimen, the weaning off the levodopa is reducing the BP spikes during the off periods and the readings at other times of the day almost always fall under the 150/90 guideline for people my age.

The Board Chairman's Prerogative 
The three of us who attended the meeting with the neurologist were very impressed with him. Some might even think he should be my key neurologist.

Here the chairman exercises his prerogative and says: NO WAY. I could never hire him based on one single exchange.

I mentioned I would soon begin working with a therapist who specializes in end-of-life issues. He looked startled. He asked "Why? Are you planning to do something?" He elaborated: I was only 85, in the early stages of Parkinson’s, with lots of good years ahead of me.

I could never begin a relationship with a doctor who peddles that “Yellow Brick Road” and “Good Ship Lollipop” crap!

Nuff for now.



Anna said...

"I could never have an ongoing relationship with a doctor who peddles that 'Yellow Brick Road' and 'Good Ship Lollypop' crap!"

Bravo! Good for you, John! I agree wholeheartedly! Thank you for saying this. You are truly an inspiration.


Anna said...


For a non-prescription means of treating depression, have you looked into niacin (Vitamin B3)? If not, see