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

Latest Posts

Glen Campbell “I’ll Be Me” Movie Documents His Final Years With Alzheimer’s Disease

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.

Star Trek Movie Review at the Nurses Station

My husband and I did something amazing last weekend. We went out to see the new Star Trek movie before it came out on DVD. You may not find this to be mind-blowing, but we are frugal people. We don’t part with our money easily.

At first I hadn’t planned on seeing the movie. I was afraid that the new movie was going to be a crappy sequel, so I wasn’t going to waste my money on it. Like I said, I’m cheap. Then I heard some of the younger nurses on my unit talking about the movie at work. These kids couldn’t stop talking about the movie. I was amused by their verbiage as they described the movie. One nurse said that the movie was “new, different, and completely groundbreaking.” I just rolled my eyes. I guess they forgot that old nurses like me were watching Star Trek back in the 1960s on our black and white television sets. I just smiled and flashed them the Vulcan peace sign and said, “Live long and prosper.”

My husband and I bit the bullet. We bought our movie tickets, along with a $20 bucket of popcorn, and we walked into the theater just in time to catch the 11 AM matinee. There weren’t too many other people in the place, and the ones who were there were all AARP eligible just like us. I guess my husband and I weren’t the only two old timers who wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I’m not going to give away the plot, but the storyline delves into how the characters first meet up. Unfortunately, Nurse Chapel was nowhere to be seen in this movie. Maybe she’ll show up in their next movie as a student nurse. I’d love to see her in her student nurse pinafore and wearing her nurses cap. They just better not make her into some sort of sex kitten. See my previous rant about Nurse Jackie.

I give the new Star Trek Movie an arthritic thumbs up. Geezers, impress your younger coworkers at the nurses station and go see the movie. They will find it quaint you know about Captain Kirk. You don’t have to tell them that you knew who he was before they were born.

*This blog post was originally published at Nurse Ratched's Place*

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 »