Medical Topics

Is the final demise of the dreaded Polio Virus finally here?

My generation was born into an era where the most dreaded disease affecting our Nation was that of polio. It could affect anyone at any age but it was most prolific in the children and young adults. Not unlike earlier generations, we lived with a palatable underlying fear of the polio virus visiting us and leaving permanent physical destruction within our families if not death itself. And without the dreaded but life-saving iron lung, death would have been almost certain for those in the photograph below.

Children’s Polio Ward - Iron Lungs

A Children’s Polio Ward

Polio Vaccine HeadlinesIt was the grandest of news therefore when in 1955 news was splashed across the the front pages of our state and national newspapers that a vaccine had finally been developed under the guidance of Dr. Jonas Salk that would begin to wipe the scourge of this disease from our mist which gave us a moment of pause and thankfulness to reflect on the past but more importantly, a much more secure future from the dreaded disease.

But the even better news of the this day is that we are apparently nearing a point where the disease will be completely eradicated from this earth. The disease left our nation’s shores and subject of conversation years ago yet continued to wreak its havoc across other areas of our globe. But here in the United States, out of sight – out of mind.

A piece was written and published on the NPR (National Public Radio) today that details the demise of polio and declares that quite possibly by the end of next year, 2016, the disease will be completely eradicated from the entire globe. You may review and read the article “here” along with several interesting interactive charts.

This news is surely something well worth noting, acknowledging and celebrating but due to our fortunes here in this country and medical research in general, only those mostly from my generation and earlier will make any note whatsoever of today’s news on one of the greatest nemesis of our lifetime. One down but oh so many more to go…. 🙁

The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner….

As many of you know, Washington State has adopted a “Death with Dignity” law which was approved by voters in 2008 by a 58%-42% margin. Washington’s sister state of Oregon passed a similar law back in 1994 by a 51%-49% margin. A repeal of the Oregon law was put forth in 1997 and rejected by voters to the tune of 60%. Now it goes without saying that we all surely have opinions on this matter but it is much more acute to our senses as we age. As I approach 70 years old I cannot deny that given the opportunity here in my state, I would certainly vote for such a law. I would personally take a lot of personal comfort knowing I had an option if I saw the writing on the wall for a dismal end to my life.

Gov Booth Gardner - 02

Governor Booth Gardner

I recently received an email from a PR company asking me if I would consider showcasing an upcoming documentary scheduled to premier on HBO titled “The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner” on my blog. Although the subject matter which revolves around the “Death with Dignity” law is very much of interest to me, I felt that without actually seeing the documentary, recommending something I hadn’t seen in its entirety would be a bit of stretch for me to be comfortable with that. A few nights later however the documentary premiered on HBO and I did indeed watch it that evening.

In short, the documentary deals with Governor Booth’s personal campaign and efforts to get a “Death with Dignity” law passed in the state of Washington. His efforts to get such a law passed began after he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and was no longer governor. If you have any interest at all in the subject some refer to as ‘doctor assisted suicide’ I recommend you take time to watch the documentary. It is actually quite short, about 40 minutes long as I recall. Regardless of what side of this issue you fall on, it is an interesting story airing the issues of both sides.

Click on the title below to watch an informative preview of the documentary. It may take several seconds to load so be patient….

The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
(A Video Clip from Just Media on Vimeo.)

With regard to HBO, this documentary was airing on HBO2 and is also currently available anytime on HBO’s “On-Demand” if you happen to subscribe.

Maybe it’s just me but….

A few weeks ago a young girl, probably junior high school age, rang my doorbell and wanted to know if I would be interested in buying an item from a catalog to help her school buy some new band uniforms. I’m sure you all have had a similar knock at your door at one time or another in the past.

I looked through the catalog which contained items such a cookies, candies, etc and I finally settled on a box of large cinnamon coated pretzels. Not something I would personally like but thought it might be a good gift for one of my sisters to use in their annual Christmas gatherings. Now the damn things cost $15 which was a bit high I thought but nevertheless, it was for a reasonable cause.

Anyway, night before last around 6:00pm the doorbell rang and it was the young lady delivering my order. I thanked her, closed my door and proceeded into the kitchen with the goodies. As I sat the box down on the kitchen bar I noticed very large letters on the box reading “KEEP FROZEN”. I picked up the box and looked closer and the warning was written on every side of the box to include top and bottom.

Pretzel 2(Click to Enlarge)

Pretzel 3(Click to Enlarge)

The box wasn’t the least bit chilly to the touch so I opened it up and there were these six very large pretzels in a sealed cellophane bag. I pushed down on the pretzels inside the bag and they were as soft as a pillow to the touch. The inside of the cellophane bag was covered in hundreds of droplets of water.

Pretzel 1(Click to Enlarge)

I then noted on the box that to prepare the pretzels, you put the “frozen” pretzels in the oven at 400 degrees and bake for 6-8 minutes. Yesterday morning I then visited the company’s website which makes the product, found the product listed along with this warning: “This product must be kept frozen at all times”. I’m still not quite sure why, in the case of these pretzels, that is so important but nevertheless I have to assume the warning has a basis.

Now to the “Maybe it’s just me…..” part! What in the hell is that school thinking having junior high kids selling products that have to remain frozen until they are ready to be served or they will ruin? Just how in the world does the school think they can first of all, distribute the product to the kids in school and then depend on the kids to deliver the products within an hour or so to the purchaser before they begin to defrost? Is it just me or was there an idiot in charge of this school’s fund raising activities? What do the kids do if the people aren’t home? I would venture to say few, if any, have available storage space in their home refrigerators to store these kinds of items packaged in boxes. I would also venture to say that a majority of the people purchasing items from these kids work and won’t even be home until 5:30pm or later.

I certainly don’t blame the little girl for this fiasco and it’s not the money. In fact, almost all the kids around where I live for the most part ride buses to and from school and some don’t get home from school for an hour or more.

Please….feel free to enlighten me if I have over-reacted here but it seems to me there was a lack of common sense used in the case of this school fundraising project!

Attention Walmart Shoppers….

Attention Walmart Shoppers
See Today’s Special On Aisle 13

Walmart Casket 2Walmart Caskets Available On-Line (Click to enlarge)

Well, are you sitting down? I was completely shocked three days ago when I ran across information that led me to believe that Walmart was selling ‘caskets’. Yep….you heard me right! CASKETS!

I immediately proceeded to the Walmart website, typed in “caskets” in the sites ’search’ window block and walla, there they were! All fourteen of them. And not only that but they also sell cremation urns for both pets and people, not to mention a few necklaces for keeping sample remains of your loved one to boot. Below is a typical sampling….

Walmart Casket 1(Click on image to enlarge)

Now do you believe me? Still don’t huh? Okay, then go to the Walmart website by clicking “here“, locate the ’search’ window near the top of the website page, type in either ‘casket’ or ‘funeral’ and see what comes up. Then you’ll have to believe me unless you think I have put a ‘Walmart Casket Virus’ into your computer somehow!

Walmart Pet UrnsPet Urn – Adult Urn (Click to enlarge)

At first I thought maybe this was all a hoax. You know, someone in Walmart upper management taking this Halloween thing just a little too serious but I’m slowly but surely beginning to think otherwise. I couldn’t resist doing a search for tombstones but all I got with that search for returns was movie titles. But I no longer put it out of the realm of possibility!

In closing I have to say in all seriousness…. “Did you see the prices on those caskets? Those are some seriously good prices if you’ve ever done any serious planning for one’s final internment, including the prices on those cremation urns!”

Although I have visited a couple of funeral homes in the past year or so getting some ideas on funeral costs, I have yet to commit to anything. I just may go ahead and order one of those Walmart caskets and just use it as an extra guest bed in my spare bedroom until I need it! 😕

Happy Thanksgiving…. and don’t forget that flu shot!

Thanksgiving - 007

First and foremost, let me wish everyone a very safe and Happy Thanksgiving. I usually go over to my sister’s for the occasion. I have two sisters by the way. One lives about a mile from me here in North Little Rock while the other lives in Cabot, a town some twenty miles or so from me. The sister in Cabot is usually the one that hosts the Thanksgiving get together.

The above animation reminded me of the fact that the needle always looks BIGGER when it’s coming toward you. Finally got my flu shot this past Thursday. Every year lately getting flu shots have become more and more of a challenge to get. This year every time I would call my doctor’s office, they would be out of vaccine and waiting for more. Last year the only place I could find one was at the local healthSorted - 417 department. That is where I went again this year. While I was doing my grocery shopping at Kroger’s, only moments after getting my flu shot at the health department, I walk buy the pharmacy pushing my cart and I find out they have been giving shots since around the first of October and still have vaccine and are still giving shots. Hmmmm….the grocery store can maintain a supply of vaccine but my doctor’s office can’t get the flu vaccine….yep, sounds about right!

And getting back to Thanksgiving…..Betty from over at “Old Dog New Trick” was wondering if I still played with “Mr. Potato Head” after seeing the photo of him which I posted here a couple of weeks ago. I have always been a huge fan of Woody and a few years back some friends gave me dear old Woody as a gift. Below is a picture of Woody and the gang who hang out at my place which I took just a few day ago, unbeknownst to them at the time.

Woody and the Gang(click on image to enlarge)

This photo captures a particularly serious moment as Woody was having one of his more serious meetings, warning Mr. Turkey that he should probably stay indoors this month since it was a month where humans ran around the country side killing and maiming turkeys – then eating them. I also heard Woody telling Mr. Turkey that he had heard rumors that in Cincinnati they threw turkeys out of a helicopter where the turkeys would free-fall, eventually crashing into a shopping center parking lot!

Happy Thanksgiving folks from me, Woody and the rest of the gang!

Here I come… and there they go!

Well, only a little over two months till I join the Medicare ranks and here we go….

Sorted - 424

Today we are told that the Bush Administration projects an 11.2% increase in Medicare to $98.40 a month and perhaps a little more. Don’t you just love that “perhaps a little more” add-on? Yesterday Bush announced the budget deficit is projected to fall some 296 billion dollars this fiscal year which is below the original estimate of some 423 billion dollars. Guess we know now where they must be trying to make up that short coming huh? And in addition, as the increase in Medicare article so eloquently points out, that Medicare increase is three times the amount of increase we will get in Social Security for inflation. That sounds about right!

Now, I really should not bitch about this increase in Medicare costs from my standpoint because I have been paying for my health insurance out-of-pocket since I retired almost three years ago. I currently pay $590 a month and I don’t even have any health problems. In fact, over a period of nine months recently they raised my monthly payment $200. That’ll teach me not to go to the doctor for a $65 check-up! So when I go on Medicare it is obvious that I will start saving some $490 a month. Of course there will be about another $150 or so for MediGap and the beloved Part D coverage. It’s just another one of those “principal” things with me. It is much, much more serious for a lot of other folks who have fixed incomes.

And here in my hometown, we have just been informed that our electric rates will be increasing 57% between now and April of 2007.

And I personally won’t complain about gasoline prices. That is probably one we had coming given gas prices in the rest of the world. I think that had more to do with the delivery! You know…..bend over – we have a surprise for you!

Bitch….Bitch…..Bitch…..