I was flipping through a magazine today, and a commentary reminded me of a huge health issue that we rarely discuss: Most of us do not take our prescription medicines as prescribed. Sometimes we don’t take them at all. The price is that we are not giving the medicine a chance to do its job of helping us feel better and, ideally, get us well or control our conditions. Studies show that 70 percent of prescriptions go unconsumed (obviously this varies by severity and type of conditions), and 30-85 percent of patients disregard refills. Another fact jumped out at me:...

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Almost 10 years ago when I was diagnosed through a routine blood test with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, I felt very scared and very alone. I had never heard of CLL and the word “leukemia” to me meant death, since about that time our Seattle school superintendent and powerful former Army general, John Stanford, had just died of an acute leukemia. A friend helped me connect with other patients on the Internet. This was 1996, which meant a search of “newsgroups” which turned up “Grannybarb’s” listserv (also known as a mailing list) for people with blood cancers (see acor.org). Many of...

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An article in the New York Times recently said the federal government has been getting complaints that some insurance agents were operating too loose with the facts about Medicare prescription drug coverage offered by the plans they were touting to seniors. Of course, insurance industry spokespeople said it must only be some unscrupulous, rogue agents and that most sales people for the many plans now out there are in compliance with government rules. Maybe so, but the complaints continue to roll in. Seniors are often vulnerable, and the new Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage benefit is not very easy...

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I recently hosted a radio program with an eye specialist. We were talking about Lasik eye surgery and similar approaches to help you get rid of your glasses. Millions have these procedures. But if you have a chronic condition like multiple sclerosis or diabetes, there are more basic eye health questions to address. With MS, some people get optic neuritis. That’s why regular eye exams are so important. In my case, it was years before I started seeing an ophthalmologist regularly, and it’s easy to “blow off.” But if I started going blind or having real discomfort, it would be...

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When I was on vacation recently, I had time to watch a heavy dose of CNN, CNN International, and other round-the-clock news sources. There were plenty of political discussions and programs on showbiz, fashion, technology and business - but very, very little on health and medical topics. Just some quick "blurbs" here and there. Every weekend we’re inundated with political roundtables and talking heads about the latest inside-the-Beltway scandal or screw-up, but rarely do they turn their attention to matters of health and real medical concerns. HOW COME? I cannot for the life of me understand how a subject that...

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A close friend of mine died last night. It was not unexpected. He had head and neck cancer that couldn’t be beat despite months and months of trying everything with the best doctors and a wide variety of alternative and nutritional approaches. I am so sad. My friend was someone you may have known, at least by his fine work. Michael Piller, 57, was my Hollywood success story, a good friend and a mentor to me. Mike was my classmate at the University of North Carolina some 38 years ago, a fellow news reporter in Charlotte in the ’70s, and...

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Page last updated on April 25, 2019