Country music legend Glen Campbell is dying of Alzheimer’s disease. In an effort to raise awareness of the illness he and his family made the brave decision to bare their lives by creating a documentary of Glen’s farewell tour. I highly recommend that you watch this film with your loved ones… and a box of Kleenex.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Glen’s disease was the preservation of his musical abilities despite severe cognitive impairment. Although he rarely knew where he was or even how to tie his shoes, he was able to perform songs in front of live audiences. With redirection and prompting, he managed to participate in 151 concerts across the United States within the span of ~18 months. Accompanied by his gifted guitarist son and daughter, and his doting fourth wife Kim, Campbell was able to maintain his musical self for longer than his physicians ever anticipated.
The documentary held nothing back – from violent outbursts brought on by paranoid delusions of golf club theft, to inappropriate table manners, to hypersexuality triggered by too high a dose of Aricept – the trials and tribulations of being a caregiver for someone with dementia were painfully acute. In brief moments of insight, Glen himself would manage to stammer a “Thank you. For being so nice to me. I have been an ass.”
One of the saddest moments of the movie was a brief clip of his daughter testifying before congress. She explains that memories are what lives are made of – and that although she is holding fast to the memories made with her dad, she knows that soon he will not even know who she is, and that their time together will be meaningless to him. Campbell listens silently next to her with a pained expression and misty eyes.
The movie’s final song, artfully strung together from clips of Glen singing repeat phrases into a studio mic, is haunting:
“I’m Not Going To Miss You”
I’m still here, but yet I’m gone
I don’t play guitar or sing my songs
They never defined who I am
The man that loves you ’til the end
You’re the last person I will love
You’re the last face I will recall
And best of all, I’m not gonna miss you.
Not gonna miss you.
I’m never gonna hold you like I did
Or say I love you to the kids
You’re never gonna see it in my eyes
It’s not gonna hurt me when you cry
I’m never gonna know what you go through
All the things I say or do
All the hurt and all the pain
One thing selfishly remains
I’m not gonna miss you
I’m not gonna miss you
Alzheimer’s is a terrible, cruel disease. I share the frustration of the Mayo Clinic neurologists who treated Glen Campbell – unable to do much more than simply document his decline and mentally prepare his family for the next stages of the disease. To all those who are taking care of people with Alzheimer’s I offer my sincere admiration and respect. To those who face a genetically higher-than-average chance of contracting the illness (such as myself), I tremble and hope for a cure.
My fingers hate diabetes. Several times a day they get poked with a sharp, needle-like lancet. The drops of blood they give up tell me how my blood sugar roller coaster is doing. That’s really important information I need to determine whether to eat, exercise, or give myself some insulin.
It would be such a treat to check my blood sugar (glucose) without pricking a finger, squeezing out a drop of blood, and placing it on a small test strip attached to a meter. Help may be on the way—though I’m not expecting any big breakthroughs for another few years—as researchers across the country explore prick-free ways to measure blood sugar.
Here are three interesting approaches. Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at Harvard Health Blog*
Update: this happened 2 years ago. So, I wrote this thinking it was a new development, but it isn’t. Anyone know how this experiment has played out?
I’ve wondered for years if hospital organizations (and big organized clinics) had done the math on whether they could do without Medicare, and apparently Mayo has. More after the quote
President Obama last year praised the Mayo Clinic as a “classic example” of how a health-care provider can offer “better outcomes” at lower cost. Then what should Americans think about the famous Minnesota medical center’s decision to take fewer Medicare patients?
Specifically, Mayo said last week it will no longer accept Medicare patients at one of its primary care clinics in Arizona. Mayo said the decision is part of a two-year pilot program to determine if it should also drop Medicare patients at other facilities in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota, which serve more than 500,000 seniors.
Mayo says it lost Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at GruntDoc*
“Yeah, who knew?”
I overheard this conversation in the ladies’ room immediately after a session speaker advised treating agitation and aggression in dementia with citalopram. Indeed, there was a bit of a murmur in the audience when Dr. Aleta Borrud made the suggestion during her talk at the Mayo Update in Hospital Medicine 2011 course.
Part of the reason for the reaction may be– as a physician I spoke with noted– that Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at ACP Hospitalist*
I’m back from my pilgrimage to Rochester, MN for the Third Annual Health Care Social Media Summit at the Mayo Clinic, presented by Ragan Communications. I had a great time, and want to share the experience with you. So please take a look at the archived #mayoragan tweets, my presentation on health care social media and the law, and my blog posts about the pre-conference and the summit itself posted at HealthWorks Collective. Here are some excerpts:
Mayo Ragan Social Media Summit Pre-Conference:
A recurring theme in my hallway conversations [today] was that it is impossible to transplant a successful program from one location to another without taking into account myriad local conditions (social media program, heart transplant program – same problem). As I always say to folks Read more »
*This blog post was originally published at HealthBlawg :: David Harlow's Health Care Law Blog*