Jan 29, 2020

Kobe Bryant and Me: Thoughts on Life and Death

I never knew Kobe Bryant even though we each lived in Pennsylvania at some point in our lives, less than 30 minutes and years apart --me for 60 years and Kobe for 18 years when, upon graduation, he went to his only team, the Los Angeles Lakers where he had a 20-year career. He was scouted as #1 in the country and played in the National Basketball Association (NBA). Among his many accomplishments, as a shooting guard, he won five NBA championships, was an 18-time All-Star, and got to be the best shooter ever after Wilt Chamberlain.

Unless you've been sequestered with jury duty or living under a rock, Kobe died Sunday along with his daughter and 7 others in a foggy and then fiery helicopter crash which killed them all. 

I watched the news reports Sunday and, after a while, stopped watching because the reporters occasionally brought up that incident where in 2003, Bryant was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old hotel employee. Shortly after, Bryant issued a public apology, with his wife by his side, but that action resulted in several endorsements which were cut off immediately including McDonalds and Nutella.

Then the devil sat on one shoulder and said, "Was that really necessary to bring that up considering all the good things he did, like the Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation whose goals were helping young people in need of support, encouraging the development of physical, emotional, and social skills through sports, and assisting the homeless? Didn't the good things eventually overpower the bad? Can't we just move on?" 

But the angel who sat on the opposite shoulder said, "Can you really get over sexual assault?" The angel won.

It was 1 in the morning now on Monday. But I was really into it--the thinking, I mean. I sat on my comfortable sofa, for 3 hours, just hammering out what had happened. The Grammys were on Sunday as well in the Staples Center where the Lakers played. I started feeling overwhelmed.

I said to myself, if Kobe was so famous, and people tend to forget even the famous over time, little by little, what chance do I, a regular person, have to be remembered? I fell asleep somewhere in the middle but didn't lose direction one bit, returning to the internal discussion at hand.

Then around 2 on Monday, I thought of my father who was killed in his North Philadelphia store in 1971, and I didn't even think of him every day after awhile, except right around the holidays which were important to him because, other than working seven days a week to support his family, he liked fun. 

It was about 3:30 on Monday. The only thing was the country by Randy Travis called Three Wooden Crosses that pulled me out of whatever had taken over my mind. The song is  about four people--a farmer, a teacher, a preacher, and a hooker--going down to Mexico in search of various things. He was awarded the Academy of Country Music Award for Song of the Year. Listen to it for a moment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT1sNrgnJZc


It's the refrain. 

I guess it’s not what you take when the you leave this world behind you.

It’s what you leave behind you when you go. 

And then I also knew. My father left his incredible work ethic, Kobe left his iconic basketball fame, and I guess people will remember me, too, albeit I don't know for what. 

I asked one of my sons the next day, "Will you miss me when I'm gone?"

He took a long time to answer and then he said, "You have your moments."

That's good enough for me, wiseass.

Jan 14, 2020

Knock, knock! I Was At Death's Door. And Then I Wasn't, aka The Issue of Turning Off the Life Support Machine Too Early

When I had my hemorrhagic stroke in 2009, my boys knew I had a zest for life from the way I lived it up to that point. I didn't have it written anywhere, but they just knew that I wouldn't want to die then at 60. Having put me in a medically-induced coma with a feeding tube and more wires that seemed to me, at the time, of going nowhere, the doctors held little hope that I'd survive at all, and they thought surgery would finish me off completely, and only blood thinners would sustain me, if at all, in the life I now have.  

Reported
 by The Daily Telegraph, a London newspaper, in 2013, an American study suggested that one third of patients who suffer a specific form of stroke are having their life support machines switched off when they might recover.

The study 
from the University of Washington Stroke Centre in Seattle looked at two groups of patients who had suffered brain bleeds. They matched 78 patients whose life support was turned off to 78 patients that still had the machines on.

The researchers found that 38% of those who life support machines were utilized after some reasonable time period made a reasonable recovery, and kept progressing. (
About 10% of strokes annually are intracerebral hemorrhages (ICH), that is, brain bleeds). But only 4% of those whose life support machines were turned off made this comparable and early level of recovery, despite the fact that the two groups were compared evenly on stroke severity.


Dr. David Tirschwell, the main author of the study and co-director of the Stroke Centre, said, "Greater patience and less pessimism may be called for in making these life-and-death decisions. These results are yet another piece of evidence suggesting healthcare providers may be overly pessimistic in their assessments of these patients' prognoses, leading families to choose withdrawal of life support before the patient has had a chance to recover from their stroke."

Professor Steven Greenberg, chairman of the International Stroke Conference, and professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School, said, "The finding that fully a third of ICH patients in whom life support is withdrawn might otherwise survive is staggering."


A more recent study in 2019 entitled A Fate Worse Than Death: Prognostication of Devastating Brain Injury, by Pratt et al says, "[Doctors] should consider the modern literature describing prognosis for devastating brain injury and provide appropriate time for patient recovery and for discussions with the patient's surrogates. Surrogates wish to have a prognosis enumerated even when uncertainty exists. Respect for patient autonomy remains paramount."

Also in 2019, reported by Dr. Robert Truog, is w
hen someone encounters a traumatic brain injury [and stroke is one of them] and is unresponsive, how soon can doctors say if the person has a reasonable chance of recovery? New and stricter guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology prompts making the choice more difficult.

Truog writes that the practice now in most ICUs is to help families make a decision about whether to stop life support within the first 3 to 5 days after the injury. After 72 hours of observation, the physicians are likely confident in predicting a poor outcome as “extensively supported in the literature.” But is that enough time? 

Take me, for example. On life support, my medically-induced coma lasted over a week. And the doctor still wasn't confident of any projected outcomes close to a month later in the ICU. My sons would have been devastated if the doctor recommended stopping life support. I owe my thanks to my sons to counter any thoughts of stopping the machine. And to the doctor, of course, for listening to them.

Brain injury survivors or not, do it now! If you have any future brain injury, write down that you want to live, to enjoy all life has to offer you, for as long as you can. Write it down now to not rush the termination process, and put it on the refrigerator with a magnet. Or place it somewhere else that even a terrible searcher can find it. 

Three to five days is nowhere enough to predict outcomes. I am living proof. 

As Marcus Tullius Cicero, a contemporary of Caesar, said, "While there's life, there's hope." 

Amen to that, brother. 

Jan 6, 2020

Brain Fog: We All Get It Sooner or Later, But With Brain Injury, It's REALLY Noticeable

Some of my best friends call it a "senior moment" when they forget, let's say, the name of an actor or a specific date. Some others say it's a "brain fart" when we lose the thread of a conversation. But more commonly, you zone out more often when you have a brain injury. And a stroke is one type of a brain injury in addition to other kinds of brain injuries, like a concussion or auto accidents or assault. 

So welcome to the world of brain fog.

Let me say fatigue is different from brain fog. With fatigue, you "need," rather than "want," a nap. You lie down in the afternoon for a couple of hours and wake up feeling sort of refreshed. Until you're standing, you might wake up and feel that something interrupted your nap--the alarm, in my case. (I set the alarm if I feel fatigued just so I don't sleep too much that will interfere with sleeping at night. I've discovered that two hours before 1pm won't disrupt nighttime sleep. It's trial and error for you until you get it right). 

But brain fog differs. Though it may have overlapping symptoms with fatigue, it's more than just feeling tired. It’s when fuzzy thinking or the inability to feel sharp are present. You feel that you're not yourself in that moment, and slow thinking, confusion, difficulty focusing, forgetfulness, or a haziness are also part of brain fog.

The top five things to do, if you have ruled out medications or other conditions that bring on brain fog, is to examine the following in your life:

SLEEP


The Center Disease Control (and recently added Prevention) says more than 35 percent of US adults are getting insufficient sleep which the CDC defines as less than 7 hours. The sad part is almost 12 percent of Americans are getting less than five hours a night. If you lie down and take a short nap, even a 15-minute power nap, you probably won't compromise your sleeping at night. That's what I do. Here's what the rest of the country's doing, sleep-wise.  

Map displaying model-based prevalence of short sleep duration (<7 hours), by county in the United States, 2014. Data sources for development of model included CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (2014), the U.S. Census (2010), and the American Community Survey (2010-2014). County short sleep prevalence estimates ranged from 24.3% to 48.5%.

And here's something else that will guide you, coming from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Newborns (0 – 3 months):  14 – 17 hours (with naps)
  • Infants (4 – 11 months):  12 – 15 hours (with naps)
  • Toddlers (1 – 2 years):  11 – 14 hours (with naps)
  • Preschoolers (3 – 5 years):  10 – 13 hours (with naps)
  • School-age (6 – 13 years):  9 – 11 hours
  • Teenagers (14 – 18 years):  8 – 10 hours
  • Young adults (18 – 25 years):  7 – 9 hours
  • Adults (26 – 64 years):  7 – 9 hours
  • Older adults (65+ years):  7 – 8 hour

CHANGE YOUR DIET TO INCLUDE BRAIN-BOOSTING FOODS

I'm almost vegan now although my son tells me you're either vegan or you're not. He says this because I eat fish, too. Pescatarian works, too, meaning vegetarians who eat fish as well.

Anyway, I've gone plant-based, meaning nothing that has a pulse--plus fish which does. (I can see my son rolling his eyes as he reads this post). My standard diet consists of broccoli, any kind of fruit, quinoa, nuts, and fish. For more information, write to me--hcwriter@gmail.com and I'll give you my complete diet. I feel better now, with brain fog occurring very rarely, twice a year at most!

DE-STRESS YOUR LIFE 

Harvard Medical School says, "Simple things, like a warm bath, listening to music, or spending time on a favorite hobby, can give you a much-needed break from the stressors in your life."

The Chopra Center says, "Recognizing the triggers to your stressful reactions is an important first step in managing your stress. True, it might be impossible to remove life’s stresses, but understanding the things that stress you out—and in what ways—is particularly helpful in solving the underlying problems." 

With brain injury, it's not too difficult to assess. It comes with the territory. So what do I do? Listen to country videos really loud via a headset. Or take a hot shower. Aah.

TUNE OUT WITH A MINDLESS ACTIVITY


If you don't know what qualifies for a mindless activity, you can spend $6 and buy this book on Amazon. Mazes and coloring books and gardening are included. But you have to be a Prime member. If not, the book will cost you more.
The other option is free. Putting away dishes from the dishwashers, folding the laundry, playing a video game, practicing tying my shoelaces one-handed, or reorganizing all the overflowing stuff on my desk that I do is all mindless. No charge for borrowing from my list!

As Odelya Gertel Kraybill, Ph.D., says in Psychology Today, "Survivors need to reconnect to spontaneity since it’s essential to the experience of  joy.  A powerful strategy for this is what I call intentional mindlessness. When we engage in mindless action, whether playing sport or other games, dancing, drawing, hiking, singing or playing music, or any other activity that absorbs us in a fun and playful way, our spontaneity increases."

EXERCISE

The Mayo Clinic offers this list and sums up all the good elements about exercise:
  • It pumps up your endorphins, the brain's feel-good neurotransmitters.
  • It's meditation in motion. You'll often find that you've forgotten the day's irritations and concentrated only on your body's movements.
  • It improves your mood. Regular exercise can increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety [leading to brain fog]. Exercise can also improve your sleep.
The Mayo Clinic also reminds us that :
  • Do what you love. Virtually any form of exercise or movement can increase your fitness level while decreasing your stress. The most important thing is to pick an activity that you enjoy. Examples include walking, stair climbing, bicycling [I have a recumbant bike, thanks to my kids], yoga [there is armchair yoga, too, where you sit down while performing yoga], gardening, and swimming.
  • Pencil it in. Carving out some time to move every day helps you make your exercise program an ongoing priority.
So there you have it--five way to lessen brain fog, or eradicate it altogether. But you can't pick and choose. Try all five for a month. What do you have to lose? Yeah. Nothing.

Dec 24, 2019

My List of Bitchin' Resolutions for 2020: Oh, Yeah, Oh, Yeah!

Among the mayhem of impeachment and blame and Medicare for all and abolishing student debt and climate change and the Green New Deal, and lots more including my life as a stroke survivor which has lots of mayhem, there is one constant: New Year resolutions, the promises you make to yourself that by the end of 2020, you will do all on the list. Promises made to yourself, at least in my point of view, shouldn't be broken. 

So here is my list, and I will try to accomplish them all.

1.  I vow to do something now in 2020--a favor, for example--without expecting something in return. The opposite is, I'll do this in exchange for you doing that. That's called quid pro quo. You might have seen it on the recent news shows in regard to President Trump where he said he'll give Ukraine the money in exchange for digging up some juicy dirt on his opponent. I'd venture to take a guess that all presidents are guilty of quid pro quo at least once in their tenure. But I digress.


2.  I see a notable difference with how I was post stroke 10 years ago and now. If I wait in the doctor's office too long, I'm ok with it. If I wait in the bank line too long, I'm ok with it. If the restaurant takes a table for two ahead of me, I'm ok with it. So I want to continue being patient until, well, you know.


3.  It took me 6 months to join a band, and then I did as a keyboard player. I'm the only one who plays keyboard so it turned out that I was a welcome addition. But I promise myself to join other things, like political groups and meet-ups!

 

4.  I'm going to make a concerted effort to save more money this year. I went over the budget for entertainment and food, areas that I can control, and there's definitely room to cut corners. It's a question of wants and needs. I'm going to the latter increasingly more often.


5.  As a stroke survivor, there are limitations on exactly what I can do. I can't do any floor exercises for the simple fact that I can't stand up after I do them. But I can do my stationary recumbent bicycle and take walks, albeit slowly. Anything that gets the muscles moving, according to Katie, my Physical Therapist. So as a result, I am losing weight. Recently in the last 6 months, I am a vegetarian now (in fact, practically vegan but I eat fish every other day to keep up my protein level which took a dive) so I plan to lose more weight instead of extra baggage.


6.  My iPhone 6 needs a portable charger now to operate. Even though I won't get an upgrade until it dies, I use it too much. I vow to use it less and wait until I'm home to not research things like what does Matthew McConaughey's wife look like or how many calories are in kale when I don't have any intention of eating it or when did Princess Diana die. These are all "I can wait" questions.



 7.  I'm writing my third book, a fiction, which is out of my comfort zone. But that's the reason I'm doing it. I like a challenge. I get to it less than I'd like, busying myself with a movie or another book in my growing collection, but in 2020, I'm going to finish it.


8.  Once in a while, while I'm in the wheelchair, and go to the store or a doctor's office, if I ask a question, the person talks to my assistant rather than cast her eyes lower and talk to me. Call it a pet peeve, but when anybody does that, I'll interrupt and say, "Talk to me. I'm sitting right here." At first, they're startled, and look at me as if I have two heads, but when I explain the perils of being lower than everybody else, they get it. I'm still doing it, 10 years post stroke because I do it for me and all the other wheelchair-bound people, to educate them, one person at a time. I've written about the invisibility of it all several times in my blog, The Tales of a Stroke Patient and More. I vow it won't stop.


9.  I promise I won't "sleep in" anymore. My schedule Monday to Friday is I have an assistant who is fabulous, and helps with the chores and acts as a driver if need to go to the store, for example, and comes at 10. I move slower now and prepare myself for the day at 7:30. But my Circadian Rhythms get disrupted on the weekends from "sleeping in." So my goal in 2020 is that I'll get ready for the day no matter which day it is. 


10. Before you can love others, you have to love yourself. And I made it. Finally, I'm there! I'm not perfect--nobody is--but I know I'll keep working on the flaws I have. Digression, poor-timed spontaneity, and bad decisions are inching closer behind me.  

So Merry Christmas or a joyous Hanukah and Happy New Year. That's all for 2019, and may you find peace and happiness in the year ahead. And keep reading! Plans to stop writing the blog? Heh, heh. Not even on a bad day. My first blog in the new year is all about brain fog. Stay tuned!

Dec 7, 2019

Stroke and Gut: There's a Connection, aka I Had a Stroke Before They Really Knew



I have a sensitive stomach, and ever since my stroke, more sensitive, which I didn't think was possible. With the holiday season upon us, I wanted to know WHY! In other words, is there a connection between stroke and gut?

Harvard researchers found stomach problems could be linked to after-stroke stress. In fact, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is sensitive to anxiety, anger, depression, and sadness, too (all of which I've had post-stroke), and it can trigger symptoms in the gut. Therefore, the brain reflects what the GI system feels. Stress is the worst, the researchers concluded. (Fun fact: I used to consider giving a stressful TED talk about stroke; I'm not anymore). 


In an article called "A Hidden Factor in Stroke Severity: The Microbes in Your Gut" by Jordana Cepelewicz, she talks about a new study in mice which demonstrates that manipulating the microbiome [the genetic material of all the microbes - bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses - that live on and inside the human body] can influence the extent of brain damage caused by a stroke. 

study involving mice, published this week in Nature Medicine, argues that striking the correct microbial balance could prompt changes in the immune system that would be likely to reduce brain damage after a stroke.

Researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center wanted to find out whether they could shift the balance of these cells to favor beneficial cells by meddling with the mouse bacteria. 


So one group’s intestinal makeup was resistant to antibiotics and the other group bacteria was susceptible to treatment. When the latter group was given a combination of antibiotics over the course of two weeks, the microbes underwent change. Then the researchers obstructed the cerebral arteries, inducing an ischemic stroke [the most common type of stroke]. They discovered that the resultant brain damage was 60 percent smaller in the drug-susceptible mice.

Finally and painstakingly, the researchers took the colons of mice that had ischemic stroke and transplanted to new mice with no antibiotics, thus establishing a group with finagled gut bacteria but no drug exposure, and discovering that these mice had also acquired protection against stroke. 

“These cells determine what kind of inflammatory immune response the brain is going to experience after stroke,” says neurologist Constantino Iadecola, director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at Weill Cornell and one of the study’s authors. “Immune cells end up helping out instead of contributing to the damage that occurs."

A mouse’s genetic material is quite different from that of a human, and researchers will need clinical data, but at least they're trying.

"This is just the beginning,” says Ulrich Dirnagl, a neurologist at the Center for Stroke Research Berlin who read the results. “The study links the microbiota and the immune system and the brain in stroke—an acute brain disorder—in one story. That’s really novel." 

That it is, Dr. Dirnagl. That it is.

From the Journal of Digestive Diseases Foundation, a study was done to emphasize the GI problems that happen with stroke survivors which is directly associated with their quality of life. 

Stroke patients were evaluated for common gastrointestinal symptoms including type and site of stroke admitted over an 18-month period with symptoms of vomiting, dysphagia (difficulty swallowing), constipation, masticatory difficulties (including the muscles of the lips and tongue and the vascular and nervous systems supplying these tissues), and sialorrhea (drooling or excessive salivation), among others. 

There was no significant difference in GI symptoms in either sex, site or type of stroke, except that constipation and incomplete evacuation were commoner in ischemic stroke. 

The American Academy of Neurology says that people who have GI bleeding after stroke are more likely to die or become severely disabled than stroke survivors with no GI bleeding.

“This is an important finding since there are effective medications to reduce gastric acid that can lead to upper gastrointestinal bleeding,” said study author Martin O’Donnell, MB, of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. “More research will be needed to determine whether this is a viable strategy to improve outcomes after stroke in high-risk patients.”

The study focused on 6,853 people who had ischemic strokes, and of those, 829 people died during their hospital stay and 1,374 died within six months after the stroke.

A total of 100 people had gastrointestinal bleeding while they were in the hospital. In more than half of the cases, the GI bleeding occurred in people who had less severe strokes. Of those with GI bleeding, 46 percent had died within six months, compared to 20 percent of those without GI bleeding. 

The study was supported by the Canadian Stroke Network, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, and the University Health Network Women’s Health Program in Toronto.


Patients with ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke are at risk for systemic complications, says the National Institutes of Health. No study to date has addressed causes of gastrointestinal hemorrhage in stroke, but the researchers intuitively assign the bleeding to stress ulcers. The study focused on 17 patients with gastrointestinal bleeding after stroke which is rarely severe and may not contribute significantly to mortality. 

Hmm. So the two latter studies contradict each other on mortality, but studies are like that: if you want to prove a point, do a study. But one thing is for sure: GI bleeding, or any other bleeding, for that matter, is not good. And when you have a stroke, it's really not good. 

In my mind, I wonder whether for the ones that died abused their bodies through excessive alcohol use or they ate cholesterol-rich fast food pre-stroke or it was a case of hospital errors. Who knows. Neither of the studies addressed that issue. Whatever the case, if you're a sufferer of GI bleeding, depending on the origin of the bleed, and if there's no other option, surgical intervention may be appropriate.

I'm reminded of the famous quote:
Into each life some rain must fall. 
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

And this is my quote:
Sometimes, life is a torrential downpour. With a stroke, life becomes a never-ending tsunami. 

Nov 29, 2019

Stroke Survivors: Stay Away--Mayhem, Mishaps, and Murder on Black Friday

I usually write a post about Black Friday this time of year, the marked up and then seemingly discounted products that everyone goes searching for in the malls and stand-alone stores. People are trampled to death, with their bodies stepped on repeatedly that happens in the prodigious crowd. The workers lose any semblance of their "thanksgiving" and the shopping frenzy makes the greedy buyers do what they wouldn't do at any other time of year--mayhem, mishaps, and murder. 

Look at this chart from The Hustle dating from 2006 to 2018:


We don't have this year's numbers, but I bet it follows the same trend, with Walmart having the most notorious amounts of injuries and deaths. 

Cyber Monday doesn't have those problems. This year, more holiday shopping will be done online than in the store. The injury and death count for Cyber Monday? Zero. Fuck Jeff Bezos who doesn't pay a decent living wage to his workers, but as a handicapped person, I'm a hypocritical fan of Amazon Prime.  

Black Friday is no place for the disabled. If you've already gone to stand in those inordinate lines and came out alive and are disabled, good for you. You got lucky. 

Hey! I've got an idea. If you like confrontation which Black Friday already is, why don't you go to a protest instead. Stand up for the Green New Deal, climate change, free college, Medicare for all, healthy drinking water, and there's always somebody who thinks the opposite. At least, if you obey the cops and stay on your side of the "line," everybody wins. 

Nov 17, 2019

Warfarin: A Blood Thinner and Rat Poison Shouldn't Be in the Same Sentence

I got a brain bleed 10 years ago and I wasn't supposed to live. I had Protein S Deficiency that gave me blood clots and didn't know it for over half my lifetime until I was diagnosed with a hemorrhagic stroke. The neurosurgeon didn't operate because the chance that I would have survived the operation was zero, having thick and plentiful clots in every extremity. Instead, I was put on Warfarin, another name for Coumadin, and here I am, a decade later.  

A little background first. The only restrictions with Warfarin are too much Vitamin K intake, like lots of cranberries, broccoli, or leafy green vegetables. The most important thing with Warfarin is to stay consistent. By staying consistent, the doctor knows how much Warfarin to give me through a prothrombin time (PT), a test used to detect a bleeding or clotting disorder and the international normalized ratio (INR) used to monitor how well the blood-thinning medication called anticoagulant is working. I take blood tests frequently and I am stable. 

So how could Warfarin, the wonder drug, and Warfarin, the rodent poison, be related? 

A long time ago, in the late 1920s, the cattle and sheep in North America and Canada were dying from fatal bleeding, blamed on mouldy silage, (a method used to maintain the pasture for cows and sheep to eat later and stored in the silos when natural pasture isn't beneficial, like in the dry season).

The cattle and sheep had grazed on sweet clover, a kind of hay. Hemorrhaging occurred usually when the climate was damp and the hay had become moldy. Tough times in the 1920s meant that farmers could not afford a replacement, so the hemorrhagic disease became known as "sweet clover disease."

There were only 2 solutions, according to veterinary surgeons: destroying the moldy hay and having a replacement or transfusing fresh blood into the bleeding animals which was called "plasma prothrombin defect."  

But everything comes down to money, and even though the farmers were told not to feed the moldy hay, they did not follow the recommendation, and sweet clover disease remained, even a decade later. 

By 1940, Karl Link, a biochemist, and his colleagues came upon a natural substance called coumarin, better known as dicoumarol from the sweet clover and was used as an anticoagulant, albeit an iffy one. The work was fully financed by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), who were given the patent for dicoumarol in 1941. 

But in 1945, knowing that dicoumarol was a lengthy process in thinning the blood, Link considered using the coumarin derivative Warfarin as a rodenticide which had the reverse effect--slow bleeding until the little suckers bit the dust. Bleeding in who-cares-about-rodents fit the bill, and the compound was named Warfarin after the funding agency. It was marketed in 1948 as a rodenticide, and warfarin still exists today as both a rodent killer and a blood thinner. 

In 1954, Warfarin became known as the go-to anticoagulant under the trade name Coumadin, and was approved for use in humans and, of course, rodents. But in humans, when there was still too much bleeding, Vitamin K foods reversed the effect. And too much Vitamin K led to clots. That is why I have to stay in the INR range of 2 to 3 when I get tested--above 3 could lead to bleeding and I have to take more Vitamin K; under 2 could lead to blood clots so I have to decrease my Vitamin  K. Thus, I get tested every other week.
The mechanism of Warfarin was not discovered until 1978, when John W. Suttie and colleagues, in an "Aha moment," proved that Warfarin alters Vitamin K by slowing down the enzyme epoxide reductase, known as VKOR, which is highly sensitive to Warfarin, the most commonly prescribed anticoagulant. 


There it is, folks, as easily as I could say it. My trademark is, Know a little bit about a lot of stuff and you'll get by fine. And here I am, writing another blog. Who figured!

Oct 25, 2019

A Christian Inspires a Jew to Believe in God Once Again

I wrote this short piece for the newsletter that’s coming. But I  decided to share it with all of you, my loyal readers worldwide. For a little more than 8 years after I had my stroke, I lost faith in God. Why, dear God, did you let that happen to me? I asked repeatedly, begging, imploring.

But then I heard Clem Suder talk about his faith in my online support group and especially his Live at 5 on Facebook, and something clicked as if God was speaking to him. Clem is a Christian and a veteran who has a brain injury; I am a Jew who has never served and had a stroke. But we share the brain injury and God. You are witnessing the outcome here in my writing this statement:

Fact: Having a stroke is not a good thing. I got mine from Protein S Deficiency. Others got theirs from too much fatty foods or too high blood pressure or smoking or diabetes or something else completely unknown to them. Whatever the reason, it turns your life around, and your family's life, too, because you're a different person now. Depressed? Frustrated? Low self esteem? I get it because I know as a stroke survivor, and depending on the severity, you may have many more reasons to give up. Or die.


But here's something, after 10 years, I learned about myself. As the years went on, I am more compassionate, wanting to donate to causes when I don't have much money left at all. I am more easy going now, letting things go with the flow, which is new to  me, having worked many jobs where the pressure was too much to bear. And the most important thing now in the after effects of the stroke (and trust me, there are after effects) is when I do good for other people, I don't expect anything in return. No quid pro quo, as the expression goes. 

So I am a better person now as I approach the end of the tunnel. And yes, for all the mistakes I made in the past--like cursing, hissy fits, and gossiping--I am turning my life around for the better. I hope when the Judgement Day comes, He'll see it that way.

And while I have your attention, please contribute, even a dollar makes a difference, to the campaign I started in GoFundMe.com for Clem as me, the editor. Clem produced a video book and now, he wants to take those same words and publish it in book form. He has seen Heaven, and Hell in both a metaphoric and real sense. You can search for Clem by typing “Clem veteran” on GoFundMe and you will see his image,  asking for support in publishing his book. Thanks for whatever you can do.