The Medical Insider

Abortion talk for pro-life and pro-choice

It doesn’t matter where you sit on the spectrum of abortion. You do you, but we all need facts.

Last month, Texas began banning abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy. Planned Parenthood estimates they turned away 85-90% of women mostly because they were too far along in their pregnancies. With abortion a 'hot topic' in the news lately, I thought I'd use this column to add a medical perspective to the discussion.

First, what does “you’re six weeks pregnant” mean?

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 19, Posted 9:59 AM, 10.05.2021

Ivermectin: From dirt to Nobel Prize

Is it me or is the medical world upside down and sideways these days?

I can live with the “It’s a hard no on the vaccine.”

What bothers me: Muddy information from doctors. Recently, an Arkansas doctor headlined for giving jail prisoners (and himself and his family, apparently) a multi-drug cocktail including ivermectin, a deworming pill, to treat – and prevent – COVID-19.

He’s the tip of the iceberg. The CDC reports ivermectin prescriptions went from 3,600 per week pre-pandemic to “88,000 prescriptions in the week ending Aug. 13, 2021.”

I’m not here to trash talk ivermectin. Quite the opposite, ivermectin colors my world sky blue.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 17, Posted 10:43 AM, 09.08.2021

The buzz around a new weight-loss pill

I am (or should be) studying for my medical board recertification exam.

Instead of immersing myself in acid-base disorders, again, I’m learning:

  1. A mosquito’s mouthpiece has six needles.
  2. Cauliflower are actually flowers.
  3. Dr. Joseph Mercola, who's heavy on vitamins and light on facts and who's been warned multiple times by the FDA for his "unapproved and misbranded" products including COVID-19 treatment, makes a lot more money than any doctors I know.

But one newly FDA-approved, weight-loss drug – semaglutide (brand name Wegovy) – caught my attention.

I’ve read the studies and believe it has potential.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 16, Posted 10:13 AM, 08.17.2021

Part 3: It takes a village

This is the third article in a three-part series on harm reduction in drug overdoses.

The first time we saw Omi in the free clinic, she was in the throes of a heroin withdrawal. Her face was pale and sweaty; hands swollen and quivering. She was rocking gently – pampering waves of pain and nausea.

Her sister-in-law, who found her in Chicago the day before, was crying. “She’s family. She deserves another chance.”

Omi refused to go to the ER. I understood: There’s only so much the ER could do. Our clinic manager started calling drug rehab programs. On a Friday afternoon, everything was about to close.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 15, Posted 9:58 AM, 08.03.2021

Part Two: Meet the 'truck lady'

This is the second article in a three-part series on harm reduction in drug overdoses.

Omi, a 47-year-old heroin and cocaine addict, lived on the streets in Chicago for years. To survive, she had help.

Meet the “truck lady”

Melissa Hernandez, 39, born and raised in Chicago, describes her abusive childhood as “horrible, painful, and confusing.”

At age 12, she started using drugs, “just about everything.” Addled by drugs, abuse, and a bleak future, she couldn’t care whether she lived or died.

At 19, she had her son. She was shocked: “I can’t believe I can love somebody this much.” She quit drugs and never looked back.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 14, Posted 10:25 AM, 07.20.2021

Meet Omi

This is the first installment in a series of articles on harm reduction in drug overdoses.

Omi, as her family calls her, is a 47-year-old cocaine and heroin addict. She shares her story so you and I can understand and, hopefully, help her and others like her.

Her candor can be brutal: She stole, she robbed, she sold her body. “People whisper,” she said, and she wanted to tell her story her way.

An anything-but-routine gynecology visit

Weeks ago, at the clinic, my midwife colleague saw a new patient scheduled for a routine gynecology exam.

Alarmed, she called me in.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 13, Posted 10:28 AM, 07.06.2021

Worried about the new COVID-19 vaccines?

Two weeks ago, I got my first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. I felt bad, but for a different reason than you might think.

Today, we have effective vaccines targeting over 20 infections. Some infections can lead to cancer. Vaccines for HPV and Hepatitis B have significantly reduced the incidence of cervical cancer and liver cancer, respectively. So, yeah, I believe in vaccines.

But I’d be lying if I said I’m not worried about these new COVID-19 vaccines which seemed to have popped out overnight.  

Are they safe?

To alarm our immune system, older vaccines use weakened/dead viruses or part of the virus. The first two FDA-approved vaccines use a new technology. They deliver a sliver of genetic material that codes for just one protein – the spikes on the COVID-19 virus.

Read Full Story
Volume 13, Issue 2, Posted 10:01 AM, 01.19.2021

Bearers of the great pandemics

I once heard: Pandemics produce one thing reliably – amnesia.

Unless, of course, you are the bearer of the disease.

Bob, 67, was born in London, England. When he was 2½ years old, he contracted polio. The ordeal lasted a few weeks; back then all doctors could do was “wait and see … what muscles come back.” He survived, but his legs were partially paralyzed.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 24, Posted 9:54 AM, 12.15.2020

Going to a Christmas party? Calculate your own COVID-19 risk

Should you go to a Christmas party, meet friends for a drink, continue your yoga or kickboxing classes? There are online calculators, free and easy, that can estimate your COVID-19 risk.

For example, I swim at Lakewood High School with the O*H*I*O Masters Club. I’m trying to determine if it’s safe to continue swimming given the recent acceleration in COVID-19 cases.

Question #1: What’s my chance of encountering a COVID-19- infected person during my practice?

To determine that, I used an event risk assessment tool, designed by the Georgia Institute of Technology, at covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu.

I answered two questions: crowd size and location. Voilà, in seconds, I found that in a group of 15 people, the probability that at least one person is infected with COVID-19 is 39% (data obtained 11/26/2020). The risk is not trivial.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 23, Posted 10:03 AM, 12.01.2020

A simple game plan to survive COVID-19

A recent headline: Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective.

Well, maybe. It’s too early to tell based on a number released in the middle of a trial. The real news: Pfizer CEO profited by unloading $5.6 million of his own stock near its peak value – on the day of the announcement.

The real and better news: Not one, but several vaccines are close to being ready. Today over 100 vaccines are in the development pipeline.

However, “A vaccine is only a vaccine. It’s nothing until it’s a vaccination,” said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a renowned U.S. epidemiologist. Getting people vaccinated takes time.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 22, Posted 9:26 AM, 11.17.2020

COVID-19 virus does not want to kill me

Note to COVID-19 virus: It does you no good to kill your host – me. I die: you die.

So encountering the same virus, why do some people experience minimal symptoms while others end up on ventilators? The toll of an infection depends not only on the type of virus but also our immune response to it.  

Let’s watch a movie: "Alien 5: Invasion of SARS-CoV-2."

An innocent breath: Viruses land on airway cells via moist microscopic droplets. They enter the cells. Hypnotized by viral gene coding, the host cells mass-produce more viruses. Straight out of "Alien."

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 20, Posted 10:25 AM, 10.20.2020

Talking to Kevin

Three years ago, Kevin, 58, was diagnosed with lymphoma. During a swim practice, he was suddenly out of breath. Tests showed blood clots in his lungs and pre-cancerous changes in his blood. Later that year, he woke up with banana-sized lymph nodes on his neck. The pre-cancerous blood had transformed to lymphoma. He underwent chemo; for two recurrences, a bone marrow transplant, then immunotherapy. The last treatment ended two months ago.

Through the ups and downs, he’s handled himself – and us (family, friends and acquaintances) with equanimity. I’m humbled by what I’ve learned from him.

On living with lymphoma:

Kevin: Maintaining normalcy is paramount.

He continued to work. Took his laptop to chemo. Distraction helps. The treatments tire him out, during and for weeks afterwards, but he shows up for swim practices. 

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 19, Posted 9:54 AM, 10.06.2020

What Fauci can't tell you

Dr. Anthony Fauci, veteran director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is one recommendation (we need to shut down—) away from POTUS’ dog house.

But I have no dog in the fight; I’ll tell you straight what Fauci can’t say.

1. How long will COVID-19 last?

Fauci: “Unclear.”

Me: Some experts predict another year or two. Others think it can become endemic like HIV and TB. The pandemic impacts each community differently. Our state has acted responsibly. I expect to wear a mask next year, but easier days are ahead.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 17, Posted 9:35 AM, 09.01.2020

Hepatitis C: A virus with a cure

In a Covid-19 world, many important health issues are carpeted.

One decidedly deserves more attention: Earlier this year, multiple expert groups including the CDC recommended screening all U.S. adults for – Hepatitis C virus (HCV).

HCV is a chronic, blood-borne liver disease and a leading cause of end-stage liver disease, liver transplant and liver cancer. About 1% of Americans have it; most have no symptoms and don’t know they have it. For example, in 2018, 3,621 new cases of HCV were reported to the CDC. But experts estimate the actual number was closer to 50,300.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 15, Posted 9:49 AM, 08.04.2020

And a tick visited my house

Last week I found a tick on the dog. Finally, a non-COVID-19 topic to discuss.

In Ohio, tickborne infections happen year-round; the first peak starts in June. We have a dozen different types. Three – the deer tick, the American dog tick, and the lone star tick – transmit human infections.

I’ll focus on the infamous deer tick, which causes Lyme disease among other infections. You’re doing great if you know the basics about the tick and the rash.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 13, Posted 10:08 AM, 07.07.2020

So you need the COVID-19 test?

Marc, age 22, developed a sore throat and dry cough. The next day, upon a friend’s suggestion, he did a drive-thru COVID-19 test at a local pharmacy. “Really easy,” he said.

He filled out a short online screening form, got an appointment within an hour. Before he left, he watched a video on do-it-yourself nose-swab. At the drive-thru, he was given a kit, swabbed himself and was done in minutes. The line was shorter than Popeye’s at dinner time.

Sponsored by the Family First Coronavirus Response Act, COVID-19 testing is free to Americans with or without insurance. Unlike hospitals and clinics, many drive-thru sites do not require a doctor’s referral.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 12, Posted 9:49 AM, 06.16.2020

What happened to non-COVID-19 emergencies?

In our medical teleconference, Gus, 46, said his glucose ran high. He was up several times at night to urinate. He needed insulin adjustment. Easy-peasy, we formulated a plan and were mighty pleased with ourselves.

Then he related an episode, by prefacing: “My wife said I must tell you this.” She, apparently, had been sitting quietly by the phone. Weeks ago, Gus experienced a sudden severe right arm pain that knocked him to the ground. The arm stayed numb for hours, and he’s been short of breath since.

I resisted an urge to shout, “Put your wife on the phone, Gus!” This could be anything from muscle spasm to heart attack. The first opportunity to do something had passed. Now we play catch up.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 9, Posted 9:43 AM, 05.05.2020

Confession of a COVID-19 virus

Call me SARS-CoV-2.

Short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. I’m responsible for the current pandemic: COVID-19 (Corona Virus Disease 2019). I plan to stay.

My animal hosts are bats and/or pangolins; my country of origin, China. Please don’t call me batty or Chinese. It’s neither funny nor productive.

I have hundreds of relatives, mostly in animal reservoirs. I’m the 7th one to infect humans. But it’s likely you’ve been infected by any of my four pesky, but mild-mannered cousins, who are major causes of common colds (5% to 30%).

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 8, Posted 9:04 AM, 04.21.2020

No-panic approach to being coronavirus ready

People, take a deep breath, please.

Yes, there are confirmed cases of COVID-19, the coronavirus, in Cuyahoga County.

First, the most important message about respiratory infections: If you’re sick, stay home. Call your doctor if needed.

Currently, we have no treatment or vaccines for it.

I want to bring you up to speed on three important preventative measures.

Hand wash or sanitizer?

Hand washing, done properly and regularly, removes germs and chemicals very well.

If soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) works for most microbes, including corona and flu viruses. Because alcohol kills by contact, make sure your hands are not too dirty or oily.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 6, Posted 11:49 AM, 03.10.2020

Sphynx versus sinuses

Rex, Sam’s hairless cat – excuse me, Sphynx – has a thing for coffee. His motto: I came, I saw, I spilled it. He soaks keyboards, knocks over furniture – not thought possible given his weight.

I saw him leap from the kitchen counter, bounce off an unsuspecting guest’s shoulder and land atop the cabinets.

Worshipped, he’s the official family screen saver, dinner conversation – “You won’t believe what the cat did today…” – and snuggler.

All’s well in Catsville, except one minor inconvenience: Sam’s cat allergy.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 5, Posted 10:05 AM, 03.03.2020

Beyond the keto diet

At 18, I did a diet that worked splendidly. I’ll share, but you’ll roll your eyes.

Dieting is our culture. One in two teenage girls tries dieting, including one-third with normal weight. Boys: one in four.

Dieting is also a necessity. Experts predict one in five teens today will be obese by age 35. Obesity affects 40 percent of adults.

The good news is structured diet and exercise can mitigate most complications associated with obesity.

The first question most people ask: Which diet works best?

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 10:02 AM, 02.18.2020

Longevity as a choice

Walk in my shoes for a moment, please.

I’m a mother and a primary care physician. I aim to give my kids and my patients the best advice for living a long and healthy life.

When it comes to this job, I’m a winged unicorn of optimism. I believe an important fact: Experts estimate genetics contributes to 30% of our risk of early death.

That means longevity is a whopping 70%, you-can-make-it-happen modifiable. And the responsibility for making it happen falls on my right shoulder blade (yup, that’s where I feel the burn when things don’t work out).

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 3, Posted 9:55 AM, 02.04.2020

A vaccine that stops cancers: The story of HPV

In 2006, a miracle vaccine became a reality. Targeting human papillomavirus (HPV), this vaccine only not prevents infections but also prevents cancers.

HPV is ubiquitous, it lives on our skin. About 170 strains have been identified, 40 can make us sick.

The vaccine protects against the most malign strains, the culprits of most cervical cancer, genital warts, genital and throat cancers. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted disease.

Read Full Story
Volume 12, Issue 2, Posted 9:55 AM, 01.21.2020

Ketamine: Can a party drug be the next Prozac?

In 1962, Calvin Stevens, a chemistry professor at Wayne State University, was looking for a sedative that could also relieve pain. He discovered ketamine.

It delivered.

First tested in the Vietnam War, ketamine, fast-acting and relatively safe, became the battlefield anesthetic of choice. Widely used in humans and animals, ketamine’s on the World Health Organization's Model List of Essential Medicines.

But in the 1970s, ketamine took a left turn and hit the club scene. Its “out of body” and “hearing angels” rep, and vile use as a rape drug, prompted the DEA to slap on a Schedule III controlled substance label.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 24, Posted 10:21 AM, 12.17.2019

Corrections on fish oil and rabies, but not vaccines

In three years of writing this health column, I’ve made mistakes.

In my Oct. 15, 2019, column “Bacon and red meat: A hard 'no'?” I said, quoting from a 2018 JAMA article, that fish oil supplements were not helpful. But I failed to note a later study which showed that high-dose fish oil (4g daily) reduces cardiovascular events and death among a unique group of people – those with high triglycerides (a type of cholesterol) and at risk for heart diseases. The result of a similar study is about to come out. A correction is in order.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 22, Posted 9:31 AM, 11.19.2019

Chasing better odds: BP meds at night?

Recently I came across a study, the result so fantastic that my first reaction was – it’s too good to be true.

But curiosity got the better of me. I tracked down the article and read it. (It was either that or rake leaves.)

Published in the October issue of the European Heart Journal, the study has a pretty name: Hygia (the Greek goddess of health) Chronotherapy Trial. And a simple goal: Compare health outcomes between taking blood pressure (BP) medications at bedtime and in the morning. Drugs are once-daily.

The researchers followed tens of thousands of people for about six years. Astoundingly, when compared to morning-pill-poppers, bedtime-pill-poppers had half the rate of heart attacks, strokes and deaths.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 21, Posted 9:29 AM, 11.05.2019

Bacon and red meat: A hard 'no'?

On Oct. 1, the Annals of Internal Medicine published several studies on the health consequences of consuming red and processed meat. Their conclusion: Cutting down on red meat did nothing to smaller-ish nothing to improve our health.

The scientific and public health sectors are incensed.

The World Health Organization lists processed meat as a carcinogen, red meat as a potential carcinogen. The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting red meat to one, 3 ounce serving per week (steak the size of a deck of cards). The Harvard School of Public Health pitched a fit. Their 2012 study showed each extra daily serving of processed meat could increase the risk of death by 20 percent.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 20, Posted 9:25 AM, 10.15.2019

Vaping casualties skyrocket

Sept. 26, 2019: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just updated vaping-related lung injury to 805 cases, 12 confirmed deaths. When I started this article a few days ago, the count was 503, 7 confirmed deaths.

By the time you’re reading this article, I’m guessing it’ll be past a thousand.

On Sept. 20, a 59-year-old Beachwood man became the first confirmed case in Cuyahoga County.

What’s gone wrong? Vaping – the harmless steam smokers use to quit smoking – has been around for over a decade.

The FDA is hunting for culprits.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 19, Posted 9:16 AM, 10.01.2019

Drugs 101: Reduce out-of-pocket costs

I'd like to share three simple steps which can significantly reduce your drug costs. No, they don’t work all the time (I don’t know what to do with drugs like Lantus, a long-acting insulin, either). But when they do work – oh, you’re gonna love me.

First, let’s debunk some myths.

  1. Only one drug works.
  2. Insurance offers the cheapest option.
  3. Doctors know drug prices.

All false.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 18, Posted 9:12 AM, 09.17.2019

No time for shingles

Why bother with shingles?

Because 1 in 3 people will get shingles. I did.

It’s caused by the chicken pox virus. The first time you’re infected, you get a diffuse rash – that’s chicken pox (varicella). The virus then sleeps in nerve endings (no, it never leaves). With age, weakening immunity or idiopathy (medical term for "worst-luck-ever"), the virus wakes up and causes a localized rash – that’s shingles (herpes zoster).

Thus its fancy-pants name – varicella-zoster virus (VZV).

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 17, Posted 9:47 AM, 09.04.2019

Fatty liver: what you need to know

We have an emerging liver problem. Better you hear from me first.

Fatty liver, or non-alcohol fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is the main reason I encounter mildly abnormal liver blood tests these days. Obesity is the most common risk factor.

Worldwide, 25% of people have fatty liver; in the overweight population, it's three in four. Another scary thing: It doesn’t spare children. In the general pediatric population, 3% to 10% of children have fatty liver; the incidence increases to 80% in overweight children.

What’s fatty liver?

Our liver filters blood – detoxifies bad stuff and synthesizes good stuff – and does everything under the sun to keep us out of trouble. Plus, it stores fat.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 15, Posted 10:17 AM, 08.06.2019

Stem cells and knee arthritis: ready for prime time?

Piper, 54, plays piano, walks for exercise. Doesn’t own a TV!

You can’t tell by looking at her how knee osteoarthritis (the wear-and-tear kind) dictates even minor movements. In her 20s, Piper played wallyball (it’s volleyball on steroids), diving and bouncing off the walls. Today, rising from a chair, her knees hurt. After a long plane ride, they feel like they’d “explode.”

She takes sulindac (an NSAID, like ibuprofen) daily. This spring, she got a hyaluronic-acid knee injection. Like a miracle, she could walk up and down stairs pain-free. But in two to three weeks, the pain returned.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 14, Posted 10:10 AM, 07.16.2019

Sleep: a fountain of youth

In a New York Times interview last year, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla/SpaceX/whatever, said he works 120 hours a week and pulls all-nighters. As a very, very minor stockholder, I’m struck by his sacrifice, discipline, super-human productivity. But as a doctor, none of this is OK.

Why sleep?

Our body is a machine, programmed to shut down daily for maintenance. The younger you are, the more physical you are, the more sleep you need. Sleep is more than a La La Land where your dreams build a human colony on Mars. During sleep, your body and brain work tirelessly to connect, reconnect, grow, learn, repair, regenerate, remove toxins, ready to reboot for a new dawn. Sleep is your built-in fountain of youth.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 10:28 AM, 06.04.2019

The irony of diabetic treatment: weight gain

BB, 47, is a long-term diabetic who needs pills and insulin injections. She’s been off insulin for a year – just can’t afford it. Her eyes are blurred; she feels irritable. I refill her meds, switch her insulin, add metformin (more about that later), and send her out with my fingers crossed.

Two weeks later I see her. ”How’s the glucose?”

Better. Her numbers make me smile.

But she’s not smiling. “I gained eight pounds in two weeks,” BB said. “I can’t fit into my size 4 pants.”

The irony of weight gain in diabetic management is not lost on me. Excess weight exacerbates insulin resistance – the last thing a diabetic needs.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 10, Posted 10:29 AM, 05.21.2019

Is this test necessary, doc?

Ever wonder if you needed a test or procedure?

“Should I start another pill for my diabetes?” “Do I need an MRI for my joint pain?”

You’d be right questioning the decision 20% of the time. Here’s why.

In a national survey, doctors estimated 20% of overall medical care was unnecessary, including one in five prescription drugs, one in four tests, one in 10 procedures. The two major reasons they give: fear of malpractice and patient pressure/request.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 9, Posted 2:17 PM, 05.06.2019

CBD oil: Truth and hope about a cannabis product

Years ago, Jim, age 50, had back surgery. Two lumbar vertebrae fused, screws placed. Two weeks ago, severe back pain shot down his left knee, knocked him to the floor, curled him into a fetal position.

He’s been to the ER five times. Doctors think it’s his hip, groin or back. He’s frustrated. Last night, for his pain, he bought a jar of CBD (cannabidiol) cream from his masseuse. “This stuff’s flying off the shelf,” she told him.

What’s CBD oil?

Marijuana plants contain hundreds of chemicals. The two big stars: CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). CBD does not produce a “high,” unlike THC.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 8, Posted 9:49 AM, 04.16.2019

The powerful emphysema treatment nobody knows

My father was a 3-pack-a-day smoker. Started in the military. During the Chinese Civil War, he was conscripted to an island outpost, fighting the communists. Daily the two sides exchanged fire. Nightly, frogmen – nicknamed “water ghosts” – ambushed and killed patrols, cutting their ears off for tally. “Brothers killing brothers,” Father said. “You smoke or go insane.”

My mother tells a different story. The active war ended. In 1964, the U.S. Surgeon General first warned: "Smoking causes cancer." His words reverberated, reaching remote corners of the world, except, apparently, my dad’s ears. “Everybody quit but him.” She was not sympathetic.

At 62, he had a heart attack. After a five-vessel bypass, a grim-faced surgeon informed Mother that while the heart surgery was a success, he feared the worst. Dad’s lungs?

For the first time, we learned that he had advanced emphysema.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 7, Posted 9:42 AM, 04.02.2019

Worrying about Alzheimerís? Donít.

Last week I gave a short talk on dementia.

The church was set back from boisterous Detroit Road. In a sunlit, spacious room, home-made dishes packed two tables. The air was casual, familiar, coffee-warm. In the snow-capped meditation garden, I spotted half a dozen wild turkeys.

In my Sunday best, I was smart, gracious, gregarious and blissfully forgot an important message.

Here’s my talk, again, turkeys and punchline included.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 5, Posted 9:55 AM, 03.05.2019

Surviving pet allergies

Years ago, Deb, my neighbor, found a litter of kittens. The mother, a ropey black-and-white feral, was a neighborhood darling. “A working girl,” Deb said proudly, as she kept garden mice in check.

We called the Cleveland Animal Protective League for help. “The kittens need to be socialized, neutered and adopted; the mother, spayed and released,” we were told.

I’m cat-allergy exhibit A-Z: rash, runny nose, itchy eyes, coughing, sneezing, wheezing. After visiting cat homes, it takes me days to breathe normally. Deb handed me a kitten, the silky hair, wicked pupils, electrifying purring. In seconds, I was kitten-hooked.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 4, Posted 9:56 AM, 02.19.2019

Ideal age to start mammograms

Bertie, 47, went for a regular checkup. Her gynecologist, who’d known her for 18 years and delivered her two kids, walked her to the mammography suite after the visit.

“No appointments. Took me in right away. Such personal care,” she said cheerfully.

I had questions for my good friend. But first, does Bertie get a say in this?

To most of us, breast cancer has a face – friends, family, colleagues, ourselves. An estimated 41,400 people (40,920 women and 480 men) will die from breast cancer this year. Every pink ribbon renders a wrenching story.

Read Full Story
Volume 11, Issue 3, Posted 9:54 AM, 02.05.2019