Category Archives: Health

‘How to live to be 102,’ according to Samuel

Samuel 102

Years ago — probably well over a decade ago — I was having lunch with my good friend Samuel Tenenbaum, and he pulled a Ziploc sandwich bag out his pocket. It contained maybe a dozen or so pills and capsules of different colors, sizes, shapes and textures.

As he proposed to take them all, I asked about it, and he explained that they were various kinds of vitamins and minerals. He explained what each was for. He had researched each pill in sufficient detail that I was impressed, and after pondering it for awhile, started doing the same myself.

For several years, I was spending a remarkable amount at the Vitamin Shoppe, for… let’s see… vitamin C, a B complex, fish oil, calcium and vitamin D, zinc, iron (in those days, my iron occasionally fell short of the minimum when I tried to give blood), COQ 10 (someone had told me it helped brain function, which I figured I could use), some others I forget, and a multivitamin (just to cover any bases I had missed). I’d put them in a little plastic snack bag each morning, put that in my pocket as I left the house, and take them all during breakfast after I got downtown. Because they all say to “take with food.”

Then, over the last few years, I sort of fell out of the habit. I still have several bottles of various sorts in a kitchen cabinet, but only occasionally do I think even to take a multivitamin.

But some folks are more consistent than I. Samuel, for one. And then some.

On Friday morning, I was sitting down to eat at the usual place just as Samuel was preparing to leave after his second breakfast. It’s not that he’s a hobbit; if I remember correctly, he’s told me in the past he usually eats a little something at home when he gets up at 4:30 a.m. each day, then has a more sociable breakfast downtown hours later).vitamins

He joined me — so we could chat about my new job — and asked the waiter for a glass of water. Then he pulled out the bag you see at right. He had greatly expanded his vitamin-taking, to a phenomenal extent. At least, I hadn’t remembered there being that many before. He’s really pushed the envelope.

I was reminded of the time Dick Cavett took his show backstage at a Rolling Stones concert. He was chatting with Mick Jagger just before he went on stage, and someone started passing around a tray covered with various kinds of pills, which band members took as they chose. Cavett asked what they were and Jagger said “vitamins.” And salt pills. I thought that was meant as a joke. After all, it was the ’70s. But after seeing Jagger continue to shake it onstage decades longer than Jimmy Fallon predicted in “Almost Famous,” I suspect maybe they were vitamins…

Perceiving my interest, Samuel proceeded to rattle off what they all were as he took them several at a time. I wasn’t taking notes, but most of them I’d never heard of. I thought that if I start getting seriously back into vitamins, I’m going to have to study up on the latest things.

I asked him to let me take a picture of him and the pills, to share here on the blog. He said sure, and that I should tell everybody, “This is how you live to be 102!”

He could be onto something. He’s 10 years older than I am, and still going strong. So’s Mick Jagger, last I saw…

Congratulations to Samuel Tenenbaum (on a milestone I’ll never achieve)!

Samuel

Last week, my good friend Samuel Tenenbaum shared the above photo with me.

I’m proud to share it with y’all. And proud to know Samuel. He’s been giving platelets at the Red Cross for more than a decade, and on the day this was taken (eight days ago) he had officially given 250 units! He gets up and does it sometimes at the crack of dawn, and has been known to bring donuts for the Red Cross workers. So they love the guy. On the day he passed his milestone, he brought pizza.

Of course, to Samuel the milestone is already a thing of the past. That day, he reached 251. This past weekend, he gave two more units to reach 253. (They generally take two units at a time, and sometimes three.)

He’s the one who inspired me to start giving platelets on a regular basis myself. I had hesitated. Although I’d been giving blood for years, overcoming a lifelong horror of such things in order to do so (something I bragged about a lot), I had balked at this.

Why? Because of the inconvenience factor. Once you get good at it, you can give whole blood in little over 5 minutes, from the moment the needle goes in. Giving red cells only, which I did for awhile, takes a little longer — maybe 40 minutes or so — since they have to separate the red cells from your blood and pump what’s left back into you.

Whereas giving a couple of units of platelets can take as much as three hours from the time you walk into the place until you walk out, stiff from lying there so long. Not only that, but while you have to wait 8 weeks to give whole blood again and 16 weeks to give red cells, you can give platelets weekly! And as soon as that week is up, you’ll start hearing from the Red Cross again. Not because they’re greedy, but because they’re desperate: There are few platelet donors, and many urgent needs for platelets.

But, inspired by Samuel, I gave in and started giving platelets. And I compromised on the weekly thing, setting up a standing appointment every two weeks (I found I felt really tired for a couple of days after each donation, and figured I needed the recovery time).

So I built that standing appointment into my gmail calendar… which tells me I’m supposed to be there right now, as I type this! But I’m not.

That’s because I’ve been banned from giving, for good. It happened several months back — at the end of last summer, in fact. I just haven’t had the heart to take it off my calendar. I miss giving. It was my thing, you know. I can’t afford to give money, and my stupid asthma and allergies kept me from military service, but at least I could do this for my community!

But no more.

Here’s what happened: I got a call from the Red Cross one day. Thinking it was someone reminding me of my appointment, I was about to say, “I know; I know!” when I was told something unexpected. Someone, somewhere, had had a problematic reaction to my platelets. They wanted me to come in for a special blood test, just in an abundance of caution.

So I went in, and had the test done, and figured I’d be going to my next appointment as usual, and then… I got another call. I was told that because I had some unusual antibody in my blood, they could no longer accept my donations, according to FDA guidelines.

I was told I was perfectly healthy — that this condition was no threat to me. But the existence of that factor in my blood could be harmful, under certain rare conditions, to someone else. Again, the abundance-of-caution thing.

I got a letter in the mail with a couple of charts from my test with mysterious notations about a1 cells and a2 cells and b cells, and it made no sense to me.

All I know is, I can’t give any more. Ever, apparently. I just made the list, buddy.

Which means some of y’all need to do so. Samuel can’t do it all. And the need is constant: Platelets are only good for five days.

Why does he do it? For a number of reasons, starting with the selfish: It tells him he’s healthy, and each time you give, you get a mini-physical — blood pressure, iron levels, pulse, and so forth. But ultimately, as usual with Samuel, it’s because somebody needs to do it. “Each time I walk out of there, I know that I have changed the world,” if only a little bit.

More briefly: “It’s called, ‘Love thy neighbor.'”

Help! Help! I’m backsliding!

Sometime last summer, I once again started working out on the elliptical trainer in my home office, initially doing about 20 minutes a day.

Then, at the end of August, I discovered that there was an app on my iPhone that had been counting my steps every day for the past two years. I looked, and decided that following Doug Ross’ example of walking 10,000 steps a day was entirely feasible. I started doing it immediately.

Over the months, I built up and up. My morning elliptical workouts went from 20 to 25 to 30 to 35 to 40 to 45 and most recently to 50 minutes (which means I get in more than 6,000 steps before even leaving the house), with an occasional full hour on the weekends. I started adding a walk around downtown in the middle of the afternoon, and another 3,000-5,000 around my neighborhood in the evenings.

My steps-per-day averages climbed:

  1. August (before I started counting) — 5,737 steps
  2. September — 10,510
  3. October — 11,308
  4. November — 11,892
  5. December — 12,988
  6. January — 12,476
  7. February — 15,536
  8. March — 15,294
  9. April — 16,346

For the first eight days of May, I was averaging easily over 17,000. And I was feeling great. In all these months, I had not once felt sick. Various viruses, sore throats, ear infections and the like swept through our family without touching me. I carried on, going from strength to strength.

I felt an abiding sense of achievement.

Then came last Monday.

It was the day I put out my signs for James and Micah. My wife said if I was going to call attention to our yard with political signs, I should mow the grass — or at least mow the weird assortment of green weeds that substitute for grass in our yard. I agreed. And such was my feeling of well-being that I mowed the front yard on a week night. You don’t know what a huge deal that is for me. Normally, mowing our hilly, just-under-an acre property is an ordeal that ruins my whole Saturday, after dreading it all week. But last Tuesday — after having done my allotment of walking for the day, I mowed all the parts of the yard that could be seen from the street like it was nothing.

There was one incident, of which I didn’t think much at the time….

I had had a horrible time starting the mower. This was the first time this year, and nothing would happen when I pulled the cord. I pulled again and again. Nothing. There’s no little bulb to push to prime the engine, so I tried detaching and reattaching the spark plug. Nothing.

Finally, I just started pulling again and again, getting a rhythm going, and on about the 16th pull, it coughed. So I accelerated the rhythm, and finally it started. It wasn’t running great, but it was running.

So, when it came time to empty the bag to dump onto the compost, I was reluctant to stop the engine. So I bent down to detach the bag, and… got a huge cloud of dust, clippings and other debris that hit me in the face just as I was inhaling, going up my nose, into my mouth, down my throat and into my bronchi.

But I continued the mission, and afterwards tried cleaning my breathing passages out with a saline rinse. No big deal, right? Take a shower and forget about it.

Yesterday's pitiful performance.

Yesterday’s pitiful performance.

But over the next few days, I started losing my voice, especially in the evening. I started coughing at bedtime, and had trouble sleeping, despite all the drugs I could think of. I kept up my routine — in fact, on Tuesday I achieved an all-time personal high of 22,158 steps — 8.9 miles!

But each night I felt worse, and Friday evening I was really dragging when I tried to walk the neighborhood. I just barely went 12,000 that day. On Saturday, I had to finish a big project on my deck in the hot sun, and only got in 11,277. Pitiful.

On Sunday, despite all my busy running around and cooking out for Mother’s Day, I only got in 8,479. Yeah. Below the minimum.

And this morning, I felt like total crud, Ferris. Puny, weak, achy. And when, at the start of my morning workout, I had that thought I often have in the morning, “Why not quit!,” I did. I hadn’t done that in I don’t know how many months.

And I still feel pretty cruddy, just kind of low-grade out of sorts. Achy, in all the muscles I used on that deck-reinforcement project Saturday. And I’m wondering if I’ll even get in 10,000 today, or tomorrow for that matter. At 11:38 a.m., I’ve only done 1,768 steps.

So… this is when all of y’all tell me to get off my dead ass and on my dyin’ feet, to drop certain appendages and grab my socks, to acknowledge that the going is tough but, being tough myself, this is the time to keep going…

Although I really don’t feel like it…

Ha! I don’t even HAVE TO walk today, unless I want to!

Just keeping y’all current on my exercise routine, so y’all can in turn keep me accountable.16k

In February and March, I averaged more than 15,000 steps a day. So my goal for April was 16,000.

Once I had done my morning workout on the elliptical today — I’m doing at least 50 minutes a day on that now, which starts me off with more than 6,000 before I even leave the house — I had achieved my goal for the month!

I don’t even have to walk another step today if I don’t want to. But I probably will anyway.

So… can I do 17k a day in May? I think maybe I can.

I’m just so danged virtuous…

Hey, alla you kids get offa my campus!

Horseshoe

The Horseshoe.

Part of my daily routine of getting in at least 10,000 steps (and preferably 15) is to take an afternoon walk around downtown, usually through the USC campus and around the State House before heading back to ADCO.

This has been particularly peaceful this week, with the kids gone for spring break — even though it’s not, you know, technically spring.

I suppose I’ll be tripping over them again next week. But it was nice to have it mostly to myself for awhile…

The Russell House -- a student center with no students.

The Russell House — a student center with no students.

Thomas Cooper Library.

Thomas Cooper Library.

Watch out, Shute! I’m coming for you…

Brian Shute. Don't you think he looks scared? I think he looks scared...

Brian Shute. Don’t you think he looks scared? I think he looks scared…

As y’all know, my usual standard for “getting in shape” involves getting my weight down so I can “wrestle Shute.” (For the uninitiated, that’s a reference to “Vision Quest,” which I love because I, too, was a high school wrestler.)IMG_3359

That means getting under 168.

Yeah, I know — I’ve set that goal before, and when it wasn’t that far away. This time, when I started working out on the elliptical and walking around town, I was up to 187, which is big for a guy with my frame. (Which is about where Louden Swain was when he started losing, since he was in the 190 class.)

But now, averaging more than 15,000 steps a day (in February, so far) and sorta kinda following a paleo diet, I’m as close as close can be.

Note my weight yesterday, at right. Remember when, in the movie, Louden strips off his shorts and blows out all the air in his lungs to pass the weigh-in (below)? Well, I’m right about at the point where a good exhalation would do it.

This morning, I was back up to 169.5. Probably that bucket of popcorn from going to see “Black Panther” yesterday. But give me a couple of days.

Then, Shute better watch out…

See, society HAS made progress, lest you despair

My wife’s cousin posted this on Facebook moments ago, and it cracked me up.

Dig these hepcats delivering the message, “It’s not how long you make it, it’s how you make it long!” And no, I’m not trying to switch the subject back to pornography. They really said that. On TV. And yeah, in a way, it kind of was pornography.

Yes, boys and girls, before 1972, there were cigarette ads on TV. And while all TV advertising tended to be pretty insipid, almost nothing else exceeded cigarette ads on that score.

Can’t you just see Don Draper thinking this one up between naps on the couch in his office?

What’s a TV commercial, you ask? You know, those irritating things that come on when you watch a sporting event on TV. Otherwise, you’re unlikely to see them. At least, that’s the only time I see them, which means I don’t see them much. (I’ve watched a little of the Winter Olympics, but I can’t bring myself to stick with it past maybe one commercial break. Then it’s back to “Britannia” or “Detectorists” or old episodes of “The West Wing” on Netflix or Prime.)

Worse, back in the day they were often a whole minute long, even though this one is closer to the modern length. Thank merciful heaven.

I look back at this, and take heart: Yes, some things about our society and culture have gotten better in my lifetime…

winston

Another special moment in the decline of America

blow-drying

Yeah, so this was on TV this morning.

There I was, minding my own business having breakfast, when I glanced up at one of the TVs on the wall there in the club’s lounge, and saw what you see above.

I got up, walked across the room and took a picture of it, not minding if people stared at me. I’m not proud. How could I be, living in a country in which this is deemed a subject worthy of conversation at all, much less on daytime national television? While I’m eating breakfast.

Going by the logo in the corner of the screen, apparently that was an episode of this show, where you can see gross stuff like this, and dumb stuff like this.

What is it Bryan’s always saying? Oh, yeah: What a stupid time to be alive…

My most intense workout yet

intense workout

Yesterday, wanting to get a jump on my steps for the day and knowing I’d be busy later, I set my elliptical trainer for a full hour’s workout, instead of my usual 45 minutes.

I also decided I’d try to push the speed, and see how many calories I could burn (the machine calculates that based on, I guess, my weight, time, speed and resistance level). Usually I stay around 60 rpm and tend to get about 10 Calories per minute. The one time I’d ever done 60 minutes at once before (the previous weekend), for instance, I’d burned 609.

But on Saturday, I’d done more than 500 in 45 minutes, and I was curious whether I could maintain that pace for an hour.

I did so without ever breathing hard — although there was a lot of sweat. I also did it with a relatively slow average heart rate — 119 bpm. (Which sort of surprised me. I had looked down in the last few minutes of the workout, and it was at 135.)

The result? 671 calories.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that I didn’t get to do a second workout, so my total for the day was only 11,460 steps. Before that, I’d done more than 15,000 each of the three days in February.

I’m going to try to top 15k again today. We’ll see…

Henry and Mac: ‘Who’s that?’

Henry Mac

I’m still doing the 10,000 steps-a-day thing — actually, averaging more like 12,500 the last couple of months. I do more than half in the morning before heading downtown, on my elliptical.

Then, most days, I take a walk downtown in the afternoon — usually around the USC campus and then a lap around the State House before heading back to ADCO. That puts me well over my goal, and whatever I do the rest of the day is lagniappe.steps

Inevitably, I run into people I know. Funny thing is, they usually don’t know me. I always wear a hat, plus my flip-up shades, to keep the sun out of my eyes (I hate glare, something that has kept me indoors most of my life). Then there’s the fact that I haven’t shaved since Christmas Eve. So everyone I run into says “Who’s that?” Earlier this week, for instance, that happened with Dwight Drake as he was walking back to Nelson Mullins from the State House.

I also run into people I don’t know, make new friends. Yesterday, I was crossing the Horseshoe when a USC cop was taking down the U.S. and state flags. He was struggling to handle the SC flag alone — holding it above his head while he tried to neatly fold it lengthwise — so I went over and helped him. As we folded, he asked whether I was a professor (the beard, I’m thinking), and I told him no, and we chatted and learned we had a mutual acquaintance.  I’m not sure the triangle we folded the U.S. flag into was quite regulation, but we got the job done,  more or less the way you see honor guards at military funerals do it in the movies.

Then today, I ran into our governor. His bulldog puppy had just run to the top of the State House steps — I overheard someone say “11 seconds” — and photos were being taken to mark the occasion.

As they were descending, I said “Hey, Henry,” and he squinted and said, like everyone, “Who’s that?” So I told him, and he came over and we talked about the dog. He’s about 11 months now. News reports have called him “Mac,” but I think Henry introduced him as “Mac II.” Anyway, neither of us brought up politics, and after a moment I continued the walk.

Exercise is making me more sociable…

Imagine the flip-up shades being deployed, and you can see why the incognito thing works.

Imagine the flip-up shades being deployed, and you can see why the incognito thing works.

White House shocker: Trump passes cognitive test!

crazy

Reading this, I couldn’t help think of a recurring joke from “The Big Bang Theory.” The character Sheldon Cooper defends himself by saying, “I’m not crazy. My mother had me tested.”

Here’s what I refer to:

President Trump’s official doctor, Navy Rear Adm. Ronny L. Jackson, told reporters Tuesday that the president’s “overall health is excellent.”

Jackson said Trump, 71, requested a cognitive test and did well on it. Jackson said he would not have administered a cognitive test if Trump had not asked for one, saying he interacts with the president daily and saw no reason for such an exam.

The test includes asking a patient to name several animals, draw a clock with the hands at a certain time, copy a cube and recall a short list of words, among others.

Jackson said Trump is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 239 pounds. The doctor said he recommended the president lose weight and commit to a regular exercise routine. A realistic goal for Trump, according to Jackson, is to lose 10 to 15 pounds over the next year…

Of course, that’s not quite the same as being a “very stable genius.” And the finding doesn’t seem entirely consistent with a patient who calls himself that

Only hours left to join the blog team, fight breast cancer!

No, you don't have to dress like this. But you WILL get a T shirt...

No, you don’t have to dress like this. But you WILL get a T shirt…

And when I say “hours,” I mean fewer than 24!

So save me from being a team of one. Come on out and help your community fight breast cancer.

If you don’t want to join my team, join another one. Or, if you can’t walk, just kick in a contribution. In any case, the deadline is noon Wednesday.

Click here to help.

Or, you can click on the button:

CLICK HERE

Don’t leave me hanging, here! Come on and Walk for Life

Last year, the Walk ended up at the Fireflies' ballpark.

The Walk starts and ends at the Fireflies’ ballpark.

Yes, it’s entirely my fault that I waited until the last minute to register the team for Walk for Life, which is happening Saturday.

So late that we’ve only got a day or two left before the cutoff to join the team — to be exact, the deadline is at noon on Wednesday. So that’s, um… just under 49 hours as I type this. (For you non-numbers people, that means it’s just past 11 a.m. on Monday.)

So if you want to help fight breast cancer in the Midlands, this would be an excellent time to step up and join the team. Or join some other team. Or, if you can’t walk, just kick in a contribution.

Click here to do either.

Do you prefer a button to click on? OK, here you go:

CLICK HERE

I realize that at this late date I can’t hope for much, but I still hope at least a couple of you can come out and walk. Or give.

Because the cause is a good one — none better…

Join the bradwarthen.com Walk for Life team!

The winningest team in the history of bradwarthen.com: me, Kathryn Fenner, Bryan Caskey and Doug Ross.

The winningest team in the glorious history of bradwarthen.com: me, Kathryn Fenner, Bryan Caskey and Doug Ross.

OK, so I waited until the last minute this year. But that should just help you focus on the fact that the Walk for Life to fight breast cancer is only a week away! As in, the morning of Oct. 14.

Come on and join the bradwarthen.com team, and help save some lives!

I’d love to have you come walk with us, but if you can only give money, well, we’ll accept it. We’re easy.

Click here to join/contribute.

My platelets went to Puerto Rico — BEFORE the hurricane

ontheway

Well, this is kind of cool to know. I received this via email over the weekend:

Thank you for being an American Red Cross platelet donor. Your platelets may be a lifesaving gift to patients in need, including cancer and trauma patients, individuals undergoing major surgeries, patients with blood disorders and premature babies.

After first ensuring local needs were met, your donation on 9/12/2017 was sent to Hospital Municipal De Cayey in Cayey, PR and Hospital Menonita de Caguas in Caguas, PR to help patients in need. Your donations are on their way to change lives!

Platelets have a very short life span – only 5 days! It’s critical for us to collect platelets continuously to ensure they’re available for patients when they need them. Your ongoing donations are greatly appreciated.

On behalf of the hospitals and patients we serve, thank you for being a Red Cross platelet donor!

That was actually several days before the hurricane. So, while I’m glad to have helped Puerto Rico, I guess my timing was a little off.

Here’s hoping that they sent my most recent donation, on Sept. 25, to Dominica. They really need help there…

I’m still staying in step — at least 10,000 a day

IMG_2698Sorry to bother y’all with this, but I just do it to keep pressure on myself so I don’t backslide.

At right you see the evidence, from my phone app, proving that I’m continuing to walk (or do the elliptical) at least 10,000 steps a day.

You may note that the record ends on Monday, but that’s because on Tuesday I took my fortnightly day off. I’ve decided to rest on the days after I give platelets, which I do every two weeks. I tend to drag for a day or so after doing that, and need the rest.

I’m still doing 35 minutes in the morning on the elliptical to get a head start (that gives me about 4,300 steps right there). Over the weekend, I think I’m going to move up to 40-minute workouts.

I’ll keep reporting in periodically….

McCain steps up to try to save us from Grahamcare

File photo from 2007

File photo from 2007

Last night, I saw a clip of John McCain just after he was captured in North Vietnam. I, and others watching the Vietnam series, saw him at one of the lowest moments in his life. (The narrator told us that after the interview, the North Vietnamese beat him for failing to sound sufficiently grateful to them for having treated his severe injuries.)

And now, in spite of once again being laid low, he ascends to the heights:

McCain says he will vote no on GOP health-care bill, dealing major blow to repeal effort

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Friday that he does not support the latest Republican effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, dealing a major and potentially decisive blow to the last-ditch attempt to fulfill a seven-year GOP promise.

McCain’s comments came on the same day that Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who like McCain, voted against a GOP repeal bill in July, said she was likely to oppose the proposal, leaving the legislation on the brink of failure….

In a lengthy written statement, McCain said he “cannot in good conscience” vote for the bill authored by Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), which GOP leaders have been aiming to bring to the Senate floor next week. As he has done all week, he railed against the hurried process Senate GOP leaders used to move ahead.

“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case,” McCain said. He blamed a looming Sept. 30 deadline that GOP leaders were racing to meet to take advantage of a procedural rule allowing them to pass their bill with just 51 votes….

I doubt this will shame Sen. Graham into backing off his abominable proposal. But if anyone could, it would be McCain.

And we’re not out of the woods yet. This could still, conceivably, be crammed down the country’s throat.

But it’s welcome news.

Thank you, Senator!

Sen. Graham, please stop pushing this awful plan

Graham pushing his proposal recently in Columbia.

Graham pushing his proposal recently in Columbia. FILE PHOTO

If Lindsey Graham succeeds in selling the Graham-Cassidy proposal for repealing Obamacare, it is what he will be remembered for.

At the moment, to watch him as bounces about on an apparent high because of the way Republicans are lining up behind his plan, that’s a thought that would please him.

But it ought to chill his heart.

Sen. Graham is a man who has courageously stood for wise policies at great political risk — immigration comes to mind, as does his efforts over the years to break partisan gridlock over judicial nominations. But with this, he is completely on the wrong track, poised to make health care less available — especially to the poor and vulnerable — than it was before the Affordable Care Act.

As The Los Angeles Times notes:

Not content just to roll back the expansion of Medicaid in the Affordable Care Act, it would cap funding in a way that would threaten services for Medicaid’s core beneficiaries, including impoverished disabled people and families….

Graham likes to talk about federalism — normally a word that pleases me, invoking the principle of subsidiarity — in selling his idea of taking federal money for healthcare coverage and handing it out to the states as block grants.

Since I (just like Lindsey) live in a state that has bullheadedly refused to expand healthcare coverage even when the feds were almost entirely paying for it, that idea is a nonstarter. Worse, it would take funding away from wiser states that have tried to cover more uninsured people.

Do you trust South Carolina’s current leadership to actually expand access to healthcare with such a block grant? I do not.

But perhaps the worst thing about the proposal is the way Graham — and other Republicans desperate to do something, anything to “repeal Obamacare” before the end of this month — are rushing pell-mell to push it through, absent careful consideration and without a CBO assessment.

Most of them, I gather, could not care less about the impact of this proposal on actual Americans, as long as they pass something they can toss as anti-Obama red meat to their base.

The American people do not want this bill:

The block-grant proposal at the center of Cassidy-Graham is astoundingly unpopular, with just 26 percent of all voters and 48 percent of Republicans telling pollsters that they favor it….

Frankly, I’m confident that it would be less popular if people knew more about it — which they don’t, because of the way this is being jammed through.

“Success” in passing this abomination could prove disastrous for Republicans — not only on the national level, but in the state legislatures they so overwhelmingly control, since blame for the mess it would create would be in the states’ laps.

Some speculate that in the long run it would make Bernie Sanders’ single-payer pipe dream viable, such would be the backlash it would cause. This is ironic, given the mean-spirited way Graham taunts Bernie in trying to sell his plan to the right: ““Bernie, this ends your dream.”

I’ve never been a Bernie Sanders fan, but that Trumpist applause line of Graham’s makes me more sympathetic to the cranky old socialist than I have ever been. After all, health care is the one issue on which Bernie is actually right.

Wiser Republicans, such as my man John Kasich, are trying their best to pull their party back from this precipice:

In a letter to Senate leaders, the group of 10 governors argued against the Graham-Cassidy bill and wrote that they prefer the bipartisan push to stabilize the insurance marketplaces that Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) had been negotiating before talks stalled Tuesday evening.

As I’ve said before, that’s what Graham and other more-or-less centrist Republicans should be doing — backing the far more sensible Alexander approach. Instead, our senior senator is rushing madly toward a disastrous policy.

Sen. Graham’s senses have deserted him on this matter, even to the point that he seems to exult that the Trump administration is backing his plan. That fact alone should sober him up and cause him to realize he’s on the wrong path, but it’s having the opposite effect.

And Lindsey Graham knows better. Or he used to…

Hey, Doug! I’m doing ten thousand steps a day, too!

The view from my elliptical trainer, in my home office (yeah, that's "The West Wing" on the tube).

The view from my elliptical trainer, in my home office (yeah, that’s “The West Wing” on the tube).

Like so many, this particular mania started with an iPhone app.

Or maybe I can blame Doug Ross. After all, he had been bragging to me about his 10,000 steps  a day — which sounded extreme to me — just a day before this happened.

Or maybe it was the app.

Anyway, I was having lunch with some folks from ADCO, and a couple of the women were wearing Fitbits, or something like that. To make conversation, I asked if they had apps on their phones that tracked their data. Then a little light went off in my head. I remembered that awhile back I had started to use this Health app that I think came with my phone — I went in and entered some basic stats and such — but then had lost interest and forgotten about it.

Curious, I called it up, and to my surprise saw that it had been counting every step I took, every day, for two years!

I also saw that, thanks in part to my morning workouts on the elliptical trainer, I was frequently doing six or seven thousand steps a day without knowing it. And I’d exceeded 10,000 a couple of days when I was at the beach earlier this summer.

So the next day (Aug. 31), I started actually trying — I added some time to the morning elliptical workout (I’m up to 35 minutes now), and started taking a walk around the neighborhood with my wife in the evening. And if that’s not enough (it usually is), a very few more minutes on the elliptical does the trick.stats

And bingo! I’m not just doing 10,000 a day, sometimes I go over 12,000 without meaning to.

(Oh, and I hope it won’t offend Doug and Bud too much, but I do take a day of rest once a week. Usually, it will probably be Sunday. But this week, as you can see from the stats at right, it was Wednesday. That’s because I gave two units of platelets Tuesday evening at the Red Cross — I went for a long walk downtown on Tuesday at lunchtime to get in my full 10,000 without the evening walk — and that always takes something out of me more than just platelets. I need the next day to recover my energy.)

Also, yesterday morning my weight was down to 172.2 — better than it’s been in… a while. (When I started the morning workouts a couple of months back, I was usually well over 180, sometimes more than 185.)

And I feel pretty good about it. And it’s weird how motivating it is to watch those steps mount up on the app. Silly, but it works. I let nothing stop me, so far. Last night, my wife didn’t feel like walking, so I did another 35 minutes on the elliptical — 70 minutes for the day — bringing my total to 11,730. I’m a machine!

Anyway, I’m telling you all this in order to put pressure on myself to keep going. Sorry to use you that way, but it’s for my health, you see…

My home office, where the elliptical magic happens.

My home office, where the elliptical magic happens.

Why doesn’t the political mainstream back the only commonsense approach to paying for healthcare?

single

The first time I wrote about single-payer, in a column at The State, my headline was “Can anyone (any viable candidate, that is) say ‘single-payer?’

That was 2007. As I said at the time:

CAN ANYONE among those with a chance of becoming president say “single-payer?” If not, forget about serious reform of the way we pay for health care.
It doesn’t even necessarily have to be “single-payer.” Any other words will do, as long as the plan they describe is equally bold, practical, understandable, and goes as far in uprooting our current impractical, wasteful and insanely complex “system.”
And the operative word is “bold.” Why? Because unless we start the conversation there, all we might hope for is that a few more of the one out of seven Americans who don’t have insurance will be in the “system” with the rest of us — if that, after the inevitable watering-down by Congress. And that’s not “reform.” Actual reform would rescue all of us from a “system” that neither American workers nor American employers can afford to keep propping up.
But the operative word to describe the health care plans put forward by the major, viable candidates is “timid.”…

Which is what led us to “Obamacare,” an overly complex, timid approach that still leaves millions of Americans uncovered.

But when I wrote that, I knew we weren’t likely to do any better than that, because the only “name” Democrat willing to say “single-payer” was Dennis “The Menace” Kucinich.

And today, the charge is led by… Bernie Sanders. And even he wants to call it something other than single-payer — namely, “Medicare for All.”

The somewhat better news is that he has 15 senators with him this time (all Democrats, of course) — only 45 votes short of what it would take to get the proposal through the Senate before it went down in flames in the House, as it surely would.

Never mind that EVERY alternative advanced looks insanely over-complex and inefficient next to a system that simply covers everybody. No more worrying about making too much money, or too little money, or getting laid off and losing your medical coverage. Or sticking to a lousy job for the benefits, rather than going out and doing something bold and courageous that might help build our economy. No more of doctors having to employ people who spend all their time trying to navigate the bewildering array of different kinds of coverage their patients have.

And I’ve never heard a reason not to do this that didn’t sound idiotic. The most devastating argument opponents come up with is that you might have to wait for certain kinds of procedures. Which certainly beats waiting until you die if you don’t have coverage under the current non-system.

Other countries, including those most like our own — Britain and Canada — adopted this approach long, long ago. But in this country, we have this completely irrational resistance that makes it impossible even to have a calm conversation about what makes sense.

It’s time we got over that. And we may be making progress in that direction. But we have such a long, long way to go…