Uncategorized

Webcast worth the watch

One of the nice things that happened for me in the past year was creation of a digital network of my fellow med students at Cornell in the early 1960s.

More than a few of those doctors went to Vietnam and bore witness to the devastation caused by the widespread use of the infamous herbicide Agent Orange.

My classmate Gus Kappler, a practicing general surgeon in Amsterdam, N.Y.,  wrote us recently in the third person about his experiences during the war and beyond.

“Dr. Gus Kappler served as a trauma surgeon at the 85th Evacuation Hospital during the Vietnam War. He not only witnessed war’s devastation on mind, body, and soul but also has observed, for over fifty years, the continuing tragedy of Agent Orange exposure on veterans, children, and grandchildren.

“The Veterans Administration recognizes that the Dioxin in the 2,4,5,T portion of Agent Orange causes Parkinson’s Disease. Two physicians he served with in Vietnam have died from the disease.”

I write this post on the eve of Tuesday’s webcast with the four doctors who wrote the book, Ending Parkinson’s Disease. It’s from 12:00 PM-1:00 PM. Find it at https://www.facebook.com/endingparkinsons.

Uncategorized

The Crucial Importance of Joy

Two of my favorite people “bumped” into one another recently.

One is Benzi Klugar. The other is Rich Harwood. Both use the word “joy” in ways that connect powerfully with my life and work. 

Dr. Kluger is a Parkinson’s expert in Rochester (NY) whom I have known since his days in Denver. He is acclaimed for re-envisioning the role of Palliative Care in Parkinson’s treatment.

Kluger introduces “joy” as an important goal in the evolution of Parkinson’s care. Writing in the JAMA Neurology Journal, he says:

“As medicine strives to provide person-centered care, it is essential that clinicians support the subjective well-being of people living with serious illness. Toward this end, addressing the subjective suffering of an individual is now recognized as complementary to medicine’s goals of treating disease. Joy, on the other hand, has generally fallen outside the purview of medicine, despite its central role in subjective well-being.”

Joy triggered my memory of Rich Harwood writing about my career in 2006. Rich is founder and president of the remarkably effective, civic-action group, The Harwood Institute.

Rich quoted from a note that I sent professional colleague and co-workers when I retired from leadership of The Tampa Tribune. 

“Thelen used the word ‘joy’ to describe his work, Harwood wrote. ‘There must be joy in making the paper if customers are going to find joy in reading it.’ He then called his colleagues joy makers.”

“Thelen is 67 years old,’ Rich said. “I don’t know very many people – of any age – who think of their work as making joy. Indeed, think about the words we usually ascribe to the topsy-turvy world of the news media; two that come immediately to mind are sensationalism and hype.

“These are the polite ones! But what if more news professionals were like Thelen? What if they thought of their profession in terms of their affection for the communities they serve?”

The warmth and understanding of Rich’s words remain with me 15 years later.

Thank you, my dear and good friend.

Uncategorized

Metaphors Fight Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s is an insane condition. No two cases are alike—each unique like snowflakes. Noted movement disorders specialist Dr. David Riley calls it a ginormous salad bar of 100 different non-motor signs and symptoms— to mix and match.

Since my Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2014, I have relied on metaphors to make sense of the mind-bending PD world now embedded in my consciousness. In turn, metaphors guide my journey through the mystifying maze. Here are some lessons that I have learned along the way.

For more, read my guest post on Dr. Michael Okun’s “Parkinson’s Secrets” blog. http://parkinsonsecrets.com/blog/2021/2/28/metaphors