Sunday, October 23, 2011

Being An Expert Outside Your Field of Expertise

Everyone within arm’s reach of a keyboard has felt the need to pen a tribute to Steve Jobs. And I had no intention of joining the homage-fest to the Apple co-founder, though I’m fascinated by his creative mind and visionary success. Then a paragraph in Rolling Stone magazine’s tribute jumped off the page:

As his illness worsened, Jobs found his life narrow even further. He didn’t go out at night, never accepted awards, gave no speeches, attended no parties. Instead, he holed up in his home in Palo Alto, where he hung out with his family and learned everything he could about cancer- and how he might beat it. “He knew more about it than any oncologist,” says his old friend Larry Brilliant, who is an MD. His body grew thinner and thinner, and he took a six-month leave from Apple to have a liver transplant.
-Jeff Goodell, Rolling Stone, Oct. 27 2011

We all know how the story ends - dead at 56.

So the thing to honor about Steve Jobs is that he was one of us. He was a patient, desperate for knowledge. In the end, his condition put him on an even playing field with everyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of a diagnosis. The lesson is in how he spent his time – education, research, bringing his own facts into consultations, becoming an expert in his own disease. For every patient who does the same, it’s a life well lived.

Long live Steve Jobs.

(Photo: Rolling Stone)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Spunky Guy In Richmond I'd Like To Meet

As I write, the five-hour drive to Virginia would land me four hours too late to meet Bob Wendell. A shame, because he’s 92 and a classical bass player-turned harmonica recording artist. Plus he’s the compelling example on a panel discussion this evening about today’s fragmented healthcare system - a system that could debilitate or even kill a senior who isn't savvy enough to keep medications and doctor’s orders straight. In other words, a senior who's not Bob Wendell.

His story was originally told here in Richmond Magazine.

Wendell’s litany of health concerns includes five strokes, swallowing problems that mean he eats some food and gets the rest through a feeding tube in his stomach, and caring for his wife of 30 years who has advanced Alzheimer’s. Wendell’s search for second opinions and active participation in his own care mean he continues to lead a full and happy life. His ability and desire to take charge of his health is a great lesson that he teaches to neighbors in his senior building, where he’s president of the residents association.

Tonight’s event at WCVE public radio brings together experts to elaborate on the magazine story. It’s a public discussion which will be recorded and broadcast on October 16 here and over the air.

And it all rings so true with’s central purpose – to provide patients and caregivers the tools they need to navigate the medical maze. In the spirit of Bob Wendell and others like him, we hope our doctor’s memo is a start and inspires you to take charge of your own care.

Some day, it could save your life.

(Photo: Bob Wendell,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Newsy Tuesday

Welcome to Newsy Tuesday. Pour yourself a cuppa whatever you'd like and pick from amongst this collection of good reads. It's like a mini gym visit for your mind - refreshing!

Autistic and Seeking a Place in the Adult World
Here's an expertly written story from the New York Times, told from the perspective of a New Jersey boy. Tender without being maudlin.

The Creative Brain on Exercise
I just may do a full-blown post on this one, although at I'm preaching to the choir about the mental benefits and disease-fighting power of exercise.

New Drug-Free Treatment for Depressed Teens
If your life includes a teen with mental health issues, you know all about the medication high-wire balancing act. 3GenFamily blogs about a study on the effectiveness of non-pharmacy treatment. Hooray for research!

A Story about Finding Assisted Living - Part I
This is a British blog with a name similar to ours. Unlike PLC, however, author Linda Abbit focuses solely on eldercare issues. I'm eagerly awaiting part II of this series on moving Aunt Sally to assisted living.

Enjoy, and bottoms up!