Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Latest Posts

Davis Phinney And Parkinson’s Disease

No Comments »

Photo of Davis Phinny

Davis Phinny

Davis Phinney has won more cycling races than any other American. He is charming, articulate, handsome, and requires a deep brain stimulator to keep him from experiencing incapacitating tremors. Davis was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at age 40.

I attended the Parkinson’s Action Network 15th Annual Morris K. Udall Awards Dinner in Washington DC last week. Davis was interviewed by Diane Rehm and I recorded the conversation for my blog readers. It was an exceptional interview.

Davis explained how he was initially diagnosed – he felt tired, slow, experienced foot cramps and began tripping more frequently. As a young, seemingly invincible athlete who worked long hours, he assumed that he was just tired and in need of a massage. Eventually his symptoms became so persistent that he went to see a physician. After many tests and many different doctors examined him, a retired neurologist made the diagnosis. Davis says that it was a tough blow to his family. He felt as if he were Superman, now saddled with a permanent kryptonite necklace. Read more »

NBA All-Star Grant Hill On His MRSA Infection

4 Comments »

Methacillin resistant staphlococcus aureus (MRSA) is a deadly bacterium that is becoming more and more common inside and outside the hospital setting. No one is immune, not even babies like this one who died from an unknown exposure. Seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill has also experienced the ravages of MRSA. I interviewed him about his near-death experience.

Dr. Val: Tell me about your recent experience with a severe staph infection.

Grant: I got my MRSA infection in 2003, afterI had a surgery on my ankle in the hospital. I had never heard of MRSA before and it was a very scary ordeal(at certain points, I didn’t think I was going to make it)and it took me a long time to recover. Dealing with my own infection made me realize just how severe MRSA could be. I want to make sure others do not have to go through what I went through. I got lucky with my infection because the doctors recognized it and we were able to treat it. I will always have scars on my ankle from the infection, so I never really forget what I went through and how lucky I was to survive.

Dr. Val: How common are staph infections among basketball players?

Grant: I don’t know exact statistics regarding basketball players, but the scary thing is, now it’s not just in hospitals. Now you’re finding MRSA infections in community settings like gyms, schools, homes and locker rooms. So there is definitely a need for conversation about this, and also about ways to prevent it.

Dr. Val: As an insider, what kind of behaviors have you observed that might put players at higher risk for contracting MRSA?

Grant: One thing I have learned through all of my injuries is that tomorrow is never really promised. As athletes there are so many ways that we can get injured, we can’t underestimate something like MRSA, especially because there are easy ways to prevent it. It’s important for players to know that MRSA can be spread by sharing athletic equipment, towels and razors. To help stop the spread of MRSA in locker rooms and on sports teams, players need to wash their hands frequently and stick to using their own personal items. They also need to know that when working out, they should keep a towel down between them and shared equipment. When it comes to locker room surfaces, those should be disinfected with a bleach solution. I am very conscious of all these prevention methods in my life, because I realize how important the prevention side of it is.

Dr. Val: Now that you’ve had a staph infection, what precautions do you take to prevent re-infection?

Grant: All those little things my mom used to tell me to do still ring true. I make sure to wash my hands frequently and cover any of my cuts -I keep a whole stash of bandages in my locker. I also keep my towels to myself and disinfect with a bleach solution, that’s really easy to make. It only takes a few minutes out of my day to take these steps, but I know first-hand that it can make a world of difference. You know, I often find myself telling my daughters the same things because as a father, it is important that I keep my family safe and healthy.

Dr. Val: What should athletes know about MRSA and what advice do you have for them?

Grant: Athletes of all ages should be encouraged to hit the court or the field and have a good time while remembering the easy prevention steps. Because I have spent so much time not playing, due to injury, I am having so much fun just playing. Everyone should remember that theycan help prevent the spread of MRSA easily, so no one has to waste time on the sidelines.

Dr. Val: What’s the most important thing that you’d like to tell Americans about MRSA?

Grant: Wow, how much time do you have? I really want people to realize that MRSA is a serious infection. As I’ve mentioned, before I got it and I hadn’t even hear about it. My ordeal really opened my eyes to this and that it can affect anyone! The scary truth is that more deaths each year are caused by MRSA than AIDS. But, there are easy things people can do to help reduce the spread of MRSA. This includes: washing your hands frequently, not sharing your personal items like towels and disinfecting with a bleach solution. There is more information and tips about how to prevent getting MRSA, including a playbook of prevention, at stopmrsanow.org.

*This post was originally published at my other blog site – URL pending*

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at RevolutionHealth.com.

NBA All-Star, Grant Hill, Talks About His Experience With An MRSA Bacterial Infection

No Comments »

Methacillin resistant staphlococcus aureus (MRSA) is a deadly bacterium that is becoming more and more common inside and outside the hospital setting. No one is immune, not even babies like this one who died from an unknown exposure.

Seven-time NBA All-Star Grant Hill has also experienced the ravages of MRSA. I interviewed him about his near-death experience.

Dr. Val: Tell me about your recent experience with a severe staph infection.

Read more »

Phylicia Rashad Discusses Peripheral Artery Disease

No Comments »

Many members of Phylicia Rashad’s* family have had peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.), strokes, and heart attacks. In a candid interview with me, she describes how her healthy lifestyle (regular exercise, no smoking, and a Mediterranean diet) has helped her to beat the odds and avoid the disease.

Dr. Val: I’m so sorry to hear that 8 of your relatives have suffered stokes or heart attacks. What was that like for you?

Ms. Rashad: All of these relatives of mine had diabetes. At the time of their deaths, P.A.D. was not a recognized condition. It wasn’t regularly diagnosed until the 1990s. I remember my father complaining of his legs cramping a lot. At the time we chalked it up to him being on his feet all day as a dentist, but I wish we had known that it was a sign of something much more serious. Things were different back then – people just accepted that if you had diabetes, you were going to lose toes or limbs. They accepted that as we age, we’d likely have a stroke or a heart attack. No one thought about preventing that from occurring.

Dr. Val: What do you do differently to help insure that you don’t follow in their footsteps?

Ms. Rashad: I eat differently, and have done so for decades. I also get regular exercise. Unfortunately, my hard working family was in the habit of coming home, having dinner and relaxing on the couch after work. This contributed to their diabetes and P.A.D. issues. Interestingly, my relatives who worked on a farm lived into a ripe old age with no chronic disease. Read more »

Peripheral Artery Disease: Phylicia Rashad’s Story

No Comments »

Many members of Phylicia Rashad’s family have had peripheral artery disease (P.A.D.), strokes, and heart attacks. In a candid interview with me, she describes how her healthy lifestyle (regular exercise, no smoking, and a Mediterranean diet) has helped her to beat the odds and avoid the disease. To listen to our conversation, please click here. Ms. Rashad begins speaking at about minute 10:30 of the podcast.

Dr. Val: I’m so sorry to hear that 8 of your relatives have suffered stokes or heart attacks. What was that like for you?

Read more »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »