Sometimes I wish I had fallen in love with the flute. It would be easier than carrying the 40-pound sax up and downstairs. But it motivates me to keep doing my squats and increasing upper body strength as my lower body function diminishes. So, engaging with sax is perfect for me. Using different parts of my brain, learning every day, keeping me humble, and spiritually strong. Are you still playing the baritone sax? is a spot-on personal health outcome for me. So merry holidays everyone. I hope you have a musical season
I’m not a religious person, but I am spiritual. I’m at one in my relationship with a higher power, God, if you will, when I recognize and feel gratitude. Gratitude for living at peak capacity, for my loving family and friends, for an engaged health team, for the Forward Link community, for music, and for clean air and water.
On this first anniversary of my podcasting journey, with 52 episodes and 3,000 downloads under my belt, thanks for your continuing support. I’m grateful for you and all you do. Happy Thanksgiving! Best health, you and yours!
I want to be a better CEO of my health and health team. Better at learning, managing, leading, and deciding. Most of us are only fair at any of it. Few are good at all of it. And our lives depend on them all. Let’s explore this further together in future podcasts. I encourage you to share your questions and thoughts with me.
Teresa Wright-Johnson is a giant of advocacy. We stand on her shoulders; she stands on ours. “You matter” coming from Teresa is powerful and uplifting. Teresa is a Multiple Sclerosis Warrior and Congenital Heart Disease Survivor. A retired Parole Officer, Teresa uses her life experiences to inspire and inform others. She’s careful, conscious, and confident. She sets an example and speaks for the unspoken.
Mallory Smith lived and died with Cystic Fibrosis. Mallory wrote, “Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life.” In this fifteen episode of Young Adults with Complex Conditions, I speak with mother, Diane. Mallory was Captain of her own ship, lived HAPPY, and shares many lessons with us. Heart-warming affirmation! Tragic, tragic, tragic!
Best health is living at peak performance no matter our biology, abilities, or our circumstances. Reaching best physical, mental, and spiritual health is complex, frustrating, frightening, and oh so rewarding. I’ve worn many hats during my life in healthcare. I’m a person with Multiple Sclerosis, I’m a nurse who’s worked in the community, in hospitals, in managed care, and behavioral health. I’ve been care partner to several family member’s end-of-life journeys. I’m a musician, an Opa, a storyteller, and a patient/caregiver activist. Wearing all these hats, I know a little bit about a lot of healthcare and a lot about a little bit of healthcare. I interpret the Tower of Babel so You can drive your own train and achieve your personal and community health goals. In this podcast, I will invite passionate, skilled people to muse with me about life, death, advocacy, research, data, healthcare delivery, anything that piques my interest. Let’s make some sense of all this!
Please find me at https://www.health-hats.com/. or subscribe to my podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.
About the Show
Welcome to Health Hats, empowering people as they travel together toward best health. I am Danny van Leeuwen and I have worn many hats in my 40+ years in healthcare as a patient, caregiver, nurse, informaticist, and leader. Everyone wears many hats, but I wear them all at once. We will listen and learn about what it takes to adjust to life’s realities in healthcare’s Tower of Babel. Let’s make some sense of all this.
My guests and I reflect on what works for people, professionals, and communities in their journeys toward best health: learning, making choices, communicating, and adjusting to realities. We can range from personal, clinical, technical, entrepreneurial, organizational, to whatever interests me at the moment. Join the ride!
Readers of Health Hats, the Blog, we will publish a Podcast in at least two of each month’s weekly posts. To subscribe go to the blog https://www.health-hats.com/
Hey there, this is Danny. Best health is living at peak performance no matter our biology, abilities, or our circumstances. Reaching best physical, mental, and spiritual health is complex, frustrating, frightening, and oh so rewarding.
When my son, Mike, was dying I knew I needed help supporting Mike AND survive and thrive myself. I went shopping for a counselor. No surprise to you – I am not an easy patient. But I was willing to do the work. My shopping eventually led me to three counselors. The first, a friend highly recommended. This friend had survived leukemia with several years of chemo, stem cell transplant and heart surgery. His mental and spiritual health were shaken. I could see that this counselor had really helped him. I made an appointment. The guy popped Altoids Curiously Strong Peppermints the whole time. To keep himself awake? No go. Still shopping. The next counselor I knew from work. She was on my providers’ council. She asked questions. I answered. How did I feel…? I didn’t need talk therapy. I had family and friends. I needed a roadmap. How do I manage myself? The third counselor spent 5 minutes asking me about diet, sleep, exercise, pooping, my family, transportation. You have to take care of the basics to manage grief. Then he said, there’s stress you can manage and stress you can’t. Grief is stress that’s hard to manage. There it is. It’s not going away. Now tell me your top two stresses in your life right now. That was easy. On top – My mother. (That’s another story for another day). Tell me more. I told him more, another 10 minutes. Then he gave me three things to try to help manage the stress with Ma. I spent 45 minutes of the allotted hour with him! He was a keeper. I tried all three recommendations with Ma. I could pull off two. Rapidly less stress in that arena. Therapy from a master is worth shopping for! He’s still part of my team. I talk to him on the phone from time to time – like when I was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Read More
I received my medical marijuana card from the Massachusetts Department of Health a couple of months ago. I hoped that I could find some additional solutions for cramping, neuropathy, or insomnia. It’s a different world from my 20’s. Then I wanted a recreational high. I never bought pot, just smoked what other people offered. Now that I’m in my 60’s and part of the research industrial complex and the patient/caregiver activist scene, I find this exploration more than curious. The physician I saw for the card, didn’t give me a prescription. Told me about different modes of taking cannabis, a list of the dispensaries in the state, and left me with: People react with such variation. It’s an experiment. Let me know if you have any questions. Imagine that for high blood pressure? I go to a pharmacy and say, I think I’ll try this…
I see on social media that many people rave about the positive effects of medical marijuana. They almost never say what strain, what route, what dose, what effects (intended and unintended), for how long, in what circumstances. Just that they’ve died and gone to heaven using cannabis. I celebrate that they found something that worked for them, but feel no assurance that it might work for me, or what actually worked for them. I’ve reviewed two compilations of research, one from Canada and one from the US. I picked a relevant, seemingly well done, study. I went to four different dispensaries run by three different companies. I asked an earnest young person across each counter about a specific cannabinoid (CBG, CBC, CBD, THC, CBDL, CBN) or terpene that I saw in a study. They sounded very confident while answering my questions but their knowledge seems underwhelming. I did meet one young person (the last of four) who answered, I don’t know. My expectations had become so low, I was excited by the I don’t know.
I understand that marijuana is a drug and like any other drug or therapeutic, the relationship between rigorous scientific comparative effectiveness research and me as an N of one is tenuous. As my first neurologist said, I know what drugs might work for certain groups of people with MS under specific circumstances, but I don’t know crap about you. I need to get to know you and what’s important to you. We will figure that out together.
I bought two different proportions of CBD/THC oil to vape, THC/CBD in peanut butter to ingest, CBD oil to rub on my skin over cramps, and CBD tincture to take under my tongue. Some of the ingredients are in milligrams, some in percentages. I bought a scale that measures micrograms. How do you compare mgs. and percentages? How do you compare smoke, tincture, oil, and peanut butter? It’s baffling.
I’m intrigued about this experiment of me taking medical marijuana. I’m trying to figure out how to keep track of what I hope to accomplish, what I’m trying, and what effects it’s having. I’m daunted. My spreadsheet is insufficient and too much work. I’m searching for and testing diary/journal apps. I spoke with a scientist friend of mine and together we’re skeptical that I’ll find what I need to conduct the experiment of me in a manner that I can keep up with. It certainly won’t be useful to anyone else. I’d love to be able to keep track of myself (patient-generated data) and have it feed into a larger data set of other people keeping track of themselves with analysts examining the data and us all learning together. I’m certainly going to need some help.
What a hoot. Never would have predicted I’d be here, doing this, at my age. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted.
It’s been a strange week post-infusion. The infusion wore me down. My pathological optimism took a hit. Mood has its ups and downs in the best of circumstances. Although I mostly live up, the human condition is variable, jagged, up and down. I don’t dwell much on my Multiple Sclerosis. It’s seriously annoying, but I am not Multiple Sclerosis. This week I can’t shake having a progressive illness, especially during the witching hour from 1 am to 4 am. I saw my physical therapist. She told me I’m progressing very slowly. 2-3% a year over the past five years since she started recording the Boston University AM-PAC™ for me. Sheesh, that’s pretty specific. Slow, but still progressive. Walking’s my biggest challenge, as you know. I’ve gone from walking slowly unassisted to walking better and safer with a cane. Now it seems like I need two canes when I’m feeling less strong and on uneven surfaces. Plus I started using an electric wheelchair when I’ve exceeded my endurance limits. A month or so ago I graduated to a trike with 27 instead of eight gears when I noticed I was living at gear 2 on slight inclines. Ten years ago I set a minimum target of 3500 steps a day. I actually averaged 7500 steps a day five years ago but kept the minimum of 3500 because I so like to exceed expectations. Even my own. Now I average 4500 a day. I’ve only missed a handful of days at 3500 steps in the past 10 years – once when I had pneumonia, and several immediately post infusion.
I don’t share my demons for your sympathy. We all have demons, in different flavors. I share my demons to highlight my goal of operating at peak performance. I used to think of peak performance as something athletes did. Serena Williams, one of my athlete heroes, lives at peak performance. Peak performance is a moving target for everyone as circumstances change. For Serena, the moving target has been age and pregnancy. For someone with a progressive condition, like MS or aging, peak performance is also a moving target.
Peak performance depends on equal shares of genes/biology, circumstances, effort, and luck. I’m a white man born with pathological optimism. Those are genes. I did nothing to get them. They’re gifts. So is the MS. Circumstances are that I live in the US, I have access to many modes of transportation, our water is clean and clear, and electricity is plentiful. We can take advantage of circumstances. Effort is my routine of diet, exercise and stress management, loving my family, feeding my network, showing up. I choose to put in the work. Luck is that I met my wife and that both my sons settled in Boston. I’m thankful for luck. Effort is that my wife and I pulled up stakes and moved from upstate NY to Boston when our sons settled here. Circumstance is that Boston has many choices for healthcare delivery so I can pick and choose. Make sense?
It’s actually fun, curious, gratifying and hopeful to reveal and assemble the pieces of the peak performance puzzle. I never appreciated how much work it is nor how rewarding. It takes a team to live at peak performance. I have a great team. That’s circumstance, effort, and luck.
My mission expressed in my brand, Health Hats, has been to empower people as they travel toward best health. Lately, I feel like I’ve lost touch with the essence of empower. It’s been feeling arrogant. I’m not giving anyone anything. I’m not liberating anyone. I have no magic sauce, silver bullet, elixir, wand, pills or buds for empowerment. Maybe empower means that I’m participating in someone’s work to operate at peak performance. As a guest or a teammate, of course. OK, I can live with that.
Multiple Sclerosis opened my door to peak performance. Thanks for stepping through that door with me. Quite a ride.