Category Archives: Health

From a “green flash” to comments on a couple of S-A stories

Kahala, Sept 2015

We learned something this morning. It was very clear, with almost no visible clouds. Seconds before this photo was taken, as the sun just began to clear the edge of Koko Crater, there was a clearly visible sliver of a green flash. For a fraction of a second, it clung to the visual edge of the crater before being overtaken by the emerging sunrise.

So we can see the green flash at dawn from Kahala Beach, even though the sun isn’t rising out of the ocean. It’s different from the situation in Kaaawa, where the flash came as the sun rose over the ocean.

A small thing, but it did provide us a moment of excitement.

And then a media comment. Here’s a story headline from the Star-Advertiser that got caught up in my “bad headline” filter.

The article describes a proposal by U.S. Rep. Mark Takai’s to utilize unspent federal highway funds to rebuilt Farrington and Kamehameha highways in Pearl City after construction of the city’s rail project is completed in the area.

It just struck me that the headline’s attribution of the idea to a “politician” was unnecessarily disrespectful to Takai, who represents Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.


Yes, Takai is an elected official and, by definition, a politician. But he’s not any run of the mill politician. He’s our area’s elected representative in Congress.

Why not a headline that refers to his position, “Congressman,” or used his name, “Mark Takai,” or just last name, “Takai.”

Another story that caught my eye was Sophie Cocke’s investigative piece on overtime pay to several DOH accounting staff (“Several Department of Health workers have raked in overtime pay amid dubious circumstances“). It was a good piece of enterprise reporting, indicating that recruiting Cocke from Civil Beat will give the S-A a reporting boost.

It’s a solid story. Substantial overtime pay without adequate documentation of work done, hours spent, etc., etc.

But after reading the story, I did wonder whether this was one of those offices where budget and staffing was cut to the bone during the Lingle years and the rest of the 2008-2009 recession, leaving those remaining staff to somehow cover an increasing, and increasingly complex, workload, with millions of dollars at risk if the work didn’t somehow get done.

That would be a different story than the implied wrongdoing by DOH staff conveyed by Sunday’s piece.

Perhaps a follow-up is in order to fill in that piece of the puzzle.

UH administration pressed to improve responses to student deaths

Susan Schultz, a professor of English and editor at Tinfish Press, has created a petition pushing the University of Hawaii at Manoa administration to improve their handling of student deaths.

The petition will be closed on Monday and the signatures forwarded to the Board of Regents, so please review the petition and her background links, and add your signature if you’re so inclined.

This is taken from her email now being circulated.


I just created a new petition and I hope you can sign — it’s called: UHM administration: Develop student death protocol, mount suicide prevention activities

This issue is very important to me, and together we can do something about it!

Read more about it and sign it here.

Campaigns like this always start small, but they grow when people like us get involved — please take a second right now to help out by signing and passing it on.

Thanks so much,


PS For more of the backstory, please check out: (scroll down a bit)

A defense of Planned Parenthood by the respected New England Journal of Medicine

The New England Journal of Medicine published an editorial last week strongly supporting Planned Parenthood, which is again being attacked by the conservative Republican right wing (“Planned Parenthood at Risk“).

Here’s the lead paragraph:

Planned Parenthood is under attack — again. This time, a campaign of misinformation about the retrieval of fetal tissue used in research and therapy is the excuse. When women have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy, Planned Parenthood allows them the opportunity to have the fetal tissue that would otherwise be discarded be used by qualified researchers to help answer important medical questions. The organization does so carefully, following all applicable laws and ethical guidelines. In a Perspective article now published in the Journal, Charo presents compelling arguments defending these uses of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood, its physicians, and the researchers who do this work should be praised, not damned. The research is not easy to do, but as Charo explains, it has benefited millions of people worldwide. If the antichoice forces were allowed to rule the day, these advances would never have been made.

And there’s this:

It is shameful that a radical antichoice group whose goal is the destruction of Planned Parenthood continues to twist the facts to achieve its ends.

The full NEJM editorial, and the linked Perspective article, are worth reading. Please share with others.

Feline Friday: Duke’s recovery leads the week in cats

Mr. DukeI tried to talk to Duke about what kind of image this little bit of cat yoga projects, but he didn’t want to talk about it. He was probably thinking, “When he ties himself up like this, then we can talk.”

Anyway, it’s almost a week since Duke’s collapse, and he seems to be doing progressively better. And he’s tolerating all the poking and prodding that he’s been getting since coming home. He has defeated my pill attempts several times, but eventually I manage to get it down. This morning I tried a little butter on the pill, and it slipped right down, much to Duke’s surprise. Unfortunately, he seems to learn, and seems to develop counters to my new moves. Hopefully the pills will be gone before I’m finally defeated.

But, as I say, he’s doing okay. His glucose levels are stabilizing, although they spike up a bit after the evening meal, for some reason. The other cats just seem happy that they aren’t the ones getting the pills and other unwanted attention!

–> Now, without further ado, just click to see all of today’s Fine Friday Felines!

Answering questions about Mr. Duke

Several of you have asked questions or made suggestions about Mr. Duke’s medications.

I should say that we’re extremely lucky that Duke, who normally has a very easy going disposition, is the one being subjected to the pills, pokes, and shots. I would have no chance at all with Toby, who goes wild when I try to trim his claws. Pills? No way.

But after a few days, we’ve worked out a routine. I pick Duke up and put him on the counter in the kitchen, so I have a good angle on him and good light. Then I give him a couple of the cat treats that he really likes. After perhaps a few seconds of healthy hesitation, he eats the treats. Then I show him the pill, tilt his head back, open that big mouth, and get the pill back so that it’s ready to go down his throat. Then it’s time to close his mouth, hold his mouth closed for a couple of second, and give him a big kiss on the nose while stroking his throat. If I get the pill properly placed in the back and center of his mouth, it goes right down. Then he gets a couple of additional treats. He is figuring out that pill equals treats, and that seems to be making a difference.

As for the glucose testing, I use an AlphaTrak glucose meter, made for use with dogs and cats, along with the same brand “lancets” for getting a bit of blood, and test strips which are used with the meter. I’m able to get test results which are comparable to those taken by the vet, where they usually use the same AlphaTrak system.

I draw the blood from Duke’s ear. If you put a flashlight under his ear and look at it from the top, you’ll see that there’s a vein that runs just inside the edge of the ear. Here’s a photo from an online demonstration. I just rub his ear a bit to encourage blood flow, then give it a quick poke with a new lancet. Now I’m usually able to get that nice drop of blood to form on the first try. It’s miserable when I have to repeat the process. Duke flinches and fusses a little when he gets poked, but otherwise doesn’t react much. Once the drop of blood is visible, you just touch it to the side of the test strip, and you get a reading. It takes only a very small spot of blood. If I don’t have good light, I’ll sometimes have trouble seeing it, which is its own problem.

I’ve read about getting the blood from a cat’s paw, but that seems much harder to me.

In the past, I’ve only tested periodically, maybe once every couple of weeks, except when I’ve had to change the dose, up or down. Then I try to test daily.

Right now, though, after Duke’s “episode,” I’m testing at every meal, before each insulin shot and adjusting the dose according to the reading. After a couple of days of varying readings, yesterday and today have produced very stable results.

Hopefully he’s back on track.