Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Blizzard Heading Mary's Way

This second storm will be nothing short of a monster. Even in light of the blizzards earlier this winter that targeted the southern mid-Atlantic, this may be the one that people remember the most this winter in parts of New England and the northern mid-Atlantic.

At its peak, the storm will deliver near hurricane-force wind gusts (74 mph) blinding snow falling at the rate of over an inch per hour. For some people in upstate New York and eastern and northern Pennsylvania, this may seem more like a "snow hurricane" rather than a blizzard.

Cities likely to be impacted by heavy snow for all or at least part of the storm include: New York City, Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, Binghamton, Scranton, Allentown, Reading, Williamsport and Burlington.

So much for the weekend plans. (Better stock up.)


Monday, February 22, 2010

Weekend in Rochester

Carol and I worked on President's Day last week, so we could take a three-day weekend to Rochester, beginning just this past Saturday, to see Mary. This was a rare interval in her grueling medical school program, the most recent academic unit's exam having been last Monday and the next unit's exam several weeks from now. So she could spare us a Sunday, so off we went Saturday morning, headed to Philadelphia on USAir to change planes to Rochester and get there mid-afternoon. Walter was coming from Austin too, a super bonus, and we planned to do some cross-country skiing at a resort about 30 miles south of Rochester and near the town of Bristol.

The plane flights up were troublesome. I got bumped in Philly because USAir had overbooked the flight, but Carol went on. There were no other flights to Rochester that day. However, a USAir flight to Buffalo was boarding about two gates down the concourse, and USAir put another bumped passenger, a younger lady, and me on it. She told me that she was calling her husband to drive from Rochester to pick her up, and they would be happy to take me with them. So I arrived only a little more than 2 hours after Carol's plane arrived. (The drive from Buffalo to Rochester was a pleasure. The husband was a researcher at UR, and the young lady was a PhD who was staying at home taking care of their 4 year old, who came over with his dad. This young couple had met in college and were active in IV both at college and grad school. They are active in a Christian Reformed Church in Rochester.)

Walter had much more difficulty than I had with his connections, and finally arrived not in Rochester but in also Buffalo. So, after Mary gave us a tour of the hospital and med school (I'll post more on that later), back we went to Buffalo and picked Walter up about 6:30PM. But as long as we were all finally together, it didn't much matter, although I wish Walter had been spared the difficult time he had getting from Austin to Rochester that day. It was a consolation to have a fine supper in Rochester at a cozy table at Mediterranean restaurant on Monroe Street called Aladdin's. The food was very reasonably priced and very, very good.

Finally at Mary's house together, we settled down, Carol and I on the air mattress and Walter curled up in a sleeping bag, and had a good night's sleep.

Where Saturday was overcast and gray, Sunday morning was bright, clear, full of sunshine, with a beautiful winter blue sky. The day just begged us to come out and play. So down to the Bristol Mountain Ski resort we drove. Carol and I had a few trepidations about putting on skis again, but this time we would not do downhill ("Alpine") skiing but instead "Nordic" or Cross-Country. Friends of ours here who are from up north warned us about how strenuous it was, but we decided we would try it anyway, and, of course, Mary and Walter were more than game.

We had a wonderful time, and it was well within our physical capabilities. The resort had a terrific teacher who held a one-hour class for Nordic beginners, and he led us through the basics. The cross-country trails had been "groomed," so that made it much easier for us too.

We skied until about mid-afternoon, and by that time Carol and I were pretty tired, although we simply rejoiced at the beauty of the day, the woods covered with snow, and the time with Mary and Walter. And we did pretty well with the skis, and would be ready to do it again.

We came back to Rochester simply famished. Mary called her great friend Liz and we all went out to a Thai restaurant for dinner. The food was delicious there too, and just what we needed to fill us back up.

This morning, however, came all to soon. We had a good oatmeal breakfast, but Mary was soon ready to go school. She put on her white coat for a picture with Carol, and then it was good-bye. I took a photo of her out the window of her upstairs apartment, as she was crossing the street in front of her house to go up to the entrance to the hospital. Walter took us right to the airport, but would spend a little more time with Mary today before beginning his air journey home. We made our connections and arrived in Miami on time, already missing our loved ones, the one in Rochester, the eight in Austin. But so happy to have seen Mary and Walter this weekend.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Not So Enthralled by Pawlenty

Myself, at least. Not after reading this. Come on, Republicans. Is this all you have?

Not Enthralled with Palin

Rabinowitz of the WSJ
. George Will, too. It's not just the Left.

Glenn Reynolds also writes

"Okay, she’s a lot more qualified [to be President] than Obama was. But that’s setting the bar way too low."

If we are dealing with a charismatic woman with mainstream economic views and traditional values from out West who didn't go to Harvard Law, then of course there must be a much higher standard.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dick Francis: 1920-2010

I really enjoyed his books (as did my mother), mysteries built against the background of horse racing, reflecting his career as a jockey before he turned to writing. The WSJ yesterday described his genre as "horse-themed thrillers." Here is the article from the NYT, which doesn't (yet) require a subscription. One thing fascinating about the WSJ article is the account of his wife's involvement in his writing. What a happy and productive marriage that must have been.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

UPDATE: Evan Bayh as [NOT A] Wuss

On further reflection, I disagree with those who think he's not much. (Thanks, Ann Althouse.)

To be in Congress?! To be a US Senator?! Give that up when you are in your mid-fifties?! Only if your eyes are on the Presidency. If Palin can give up the Alaska governor's office to run, why can't Bayh step out of that train-wreck known as Congress?

Obama is toast. Let the games begin.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Dr. McDougall's Recent Letter to President Clinton

Dear 42nd President William Jefferson Clinton:

With all their good intentions, and the use of sophisticated, expensive technologies, your doctors are allowing your heart disease to progress as if it were a runaway train destined for a wreck. Your cardiologist, Dr. Allan Schwartz, at New York Presbyterian Hospital is telling you further blockage is the normal course of your disease, and your diet and lifestyle are not involved. Medical experts expressing their opinion in the news since your surgery are misleading the public into believing that the proper management of this disease is through constant surveillance and repeated surgical interventions. This is big business talking, and in addition to mismanagement of your personal care, one result will be an increase in the already more than one million angioplasties and 500 thousand bypass surgeries performed annually in the US.

Recall your first painful encounter with the heart surgery business on September 3, 2004 when you were hospitalized following an episode of chest pain. You had quadruple bypass surgery three days later. A couple of days ago, on Thursday, February 11, 2010, you needed the heart surgeons again. You had two bare metal stents placed in your heart following a few of days of mild chest discomfort. This history will continue to repeat itself until you seriously change your eating habits and get these meddling doctors out of your life. You are missing another “teaching moment” and bypassing another chance to change health and healthcare in America.

In a letter I sent to you the day following your hospitalization in 2004, I pleaded with you to refuse bypass surgery. I told you that bypass surgery does not save lives in most cases, and I warned you of the brain damage you would suffer from being on the heart-lung bypass machine. Likely you did not read that letter. Following your quadruple bypass you were a noticeably different man. Your sometimes-irrational behavior during Hillary Clinton’s campaign was in part due to your surgically-induced mental decline. I sent another letter in the spring of 2008 apologizing for the harm my colleagues caused you and their failure to offer you intensive medical therapy founded on a healthy diet. I believe you received that letter or read the Wall Street Journal article that followed about your brain damage. Since you became aware of your functional loss you have seemed to me to be in much better control when before the public.

I am taking the opportunity in this letter to try to help you again. By helping one of our country’s greatest statesmen, I may be able to help other heart patients (which happens to include most adults following the Western diet). This is my third attempt, but likely not my last, because, after all, your heart doctors (Dean Ornish, MD being an outstanding exception) believe your disease is unstoppable. Remember what they said: they are going to manage your future health by constant surveillance and repeated surgical interventions. These well-educated professionals are dead wrong on how to care for a patient such as you.

In order for you to stop having false hope you need to be told that heart surgery, including bypass surgery and angioplasty with or without stents, does not save lives in the vast majority of cases. You have not been fixed by either procedure. The reason for this is that the bypass surgeons and cardiologists are operating on the stable hard fibrous plaques that do not kill people. Why do they operate on nonlethal lesions? Because they can. These large fibrous stable plaques, which have been present for years, if not decades, are visible by technologies like angiograms and heart scans. Once visualized, they become targets for knives, grafts, sutures, and catheters.

The disease that really kills is largely invisible to your doctors. Tiny festering sores that rupture cause heart attacks, and the deaths that follow these heart attacks in nearly half the cases. In order to understand the underlying problem, think about pustules or pimples rupturing on a teenager’s face, but in this case the deadly activity is inside your arteries. In medical terminology, these tiny sores are called “volatile plaques.” When they pop, substances generally referred to as “products of injury” are released. The body’s response is to form a blood clot to cover up the wound (similar to the blood clot that forms when you cut your hand with a knife). If the blood clot (called a thrombus) is large enough, then the flow in the entire heart artery can be blocked off. The heart muscle that lies distal to this sudden blockage usually dies—and that is how a heart attack occurs.

Why do heart surgeons not operate on the killing part of this disease? Because they can’t. They cannot see these tiny festering sores with current technology. Even if they could see these “silent killers,” they have no surgical techniques to stop them from exploding. The only solution is to allow the body to heal your steadily-progressing disease by making serious dietary changes. (Medications, such as aspirin and statins, when judiciously used, can be of benefit as well.)

I realize you were frightened by the chest discomfort on both occasions (2004 and 2010). Fortunately, changing to a healthy low-fat diet (like the Pritikin, McDougall, Ornish, or Esselstyn Diets) reduces the intensity and/or stops the chest pains very quickly. Improvement in blood flow begins with the first good meal. In a matter of hours the blood naturally thins and a blood clot is less likely to form if a volatile plaque does rupture (aspirin helps too). Spontaneous healing is a powerful force — within the first week the risk of pustule rupture is greatly reduced. In a matter of months, reversal of artery disease can be seen by current technologies (angiograms and PET scans).

The truths I have given you are indisputable and most of your doctors are well aware of the solid research behind what I have told you. Your problem now is the same as everyone else’s: making the change. This is not easy, especially when you have almost no conservative medical support. If you do not change you can expect your future to be more like the past, but probably worse, because you are getting older. So for your sake, and all those who benefit from your work, I invite you to attend the next 10-day, live-in, McDougall Program in Santa Rosa, California, March 19 to 28, 2010. You can call me at (800) 941-7111. In this short time together, I promise we will change your life dramatically for the better. When that happens I will stop writing you these cautionary letters, which so far have accurately predicted your future.


John McDougall, MD

© 2010 John McDougall All Rights Reserved

(Used with Dr. McDougall's permission.)

For the MSM point of view, see this.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Slog Post

Slough Slogging, that is.

Contact the Dove Avenue Outfitters to make arrangements before skeeter season starts.

Valentine's Day in Afghanistan

A photo from Michael Yon, via Instapundit, to make you both weep and be thankful.

Prostate Cancer and Diet

Two of my friends, both men in their sixties, were recently diagnosed with prostate cancer. One of my former partners at Smathers & Thompson, a man I had known 40 years, a fine amateur athlete all of his life, died of the disease last year at age 77. I continue to represent a widow of another partner, a man who died of prostate cancer in the early 1990s when in his sixties. "In men aged forty to fifty-nine, the risk of developing prostate cancer is one in fifty. In men aged sixty to seventy-nine, it's one in seven. And over the course of his lifetime, an American man's risk of developing prostate cancer is one in six." (Walsh at p. 45, see full cite below.) The disease has my attention.

I happened to be meeting with a client last Monday who is a physician. Although he is not a urologist, so many of his friends have been diagnosed with prostate cancer that he has made a study of it. Because some of those friends were/are also doctors, he has been able to discuss the matter with them at a high level. The subject came up between the two of us because one of the two friends of mine recently diagnosed is a friend of his.

He recommended Dr. Patrick Walsh's Guide to Surviving Prostate Cancer (Second Edition), which I am now reading. It is well written and very informative. (Patrick Walsh is a world renowned urologist and the physician at Johns Hopkins who developed the modern surgical approach to the treatment of prostate disease.)

As to the influence of diet, Dr. Walsh writes:

Animal fat is bad for you, especially the fat found in red meat and dairy products. Men who eat a lot of those foods are more likely to develop advanced prostate cancer and die from it. Why? There is an enzyme in prostate cancer cells that craves the fatty acids in dairy products and red meat. Consequently, when a man with prostate cancer consumes a diet high in those foods, his cancer cells get nine times more energy than normal cells. Further, these cells produce hydrogen peroxide, which causes still more oxidative damage to DNA and more mutations, leading to further progression of the disease.

Dr. Campbell addresses the diet-prostate disease connection in his The China Study. He quotes on page 178 from a 2001 Harvard review of the research as follows:

. . . twelve of . . . fourteen case-control studies and seven of . . . nine cohort studies [have] observed a positive association for some measure of dairy products and prostate cancer; this is one of the most consistent dietary predictors for prostate cancer in the published literature [my (Dr. Campbell's) emphasis]. In these studies, men with the highest dairy intakes had approximately double the risk of total prostate cancer, and up to a fourfold increase in risk of metastatic or fatal prostate cancer relative to low consumers.