Summer is here!

We had a great summer…until last week when it hit 100 degrees!  It cooled down to 95 for the next couple of days.  Thank god my air conditioner is working!

Last year, my wife Jill invited her brother over to do a little handywork.  If you have seen
me attempt to work, you will understand where I am coming from.  Anyway, the air  conditioner went out the day before he was supposed to come.  I recommended she notify him in case he want to wait until it was fixed.  He said no problem; how hot can it get?

We hit the 100 degree mark AGAIN last year when he was here. We sat in the back yard, in the shade (it was 85 degrees in the shade)  while everybody else stayed inside in the cool 82 degree house. I told Jill, if he didn’t come, I would have checked into a hotel.   Jill told me to “suck it up and stop complaining.”

That is the kind of relationship Jill and I have!

Stress at Work May Shorten Men’s Lives!

by Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter

If you’re a man and you suffer from heart disease or diabetes, stress at work may shorten your life, a new study finds.

The researchers said a demanding job in which you have little or no control over your work environment is a formula that can increase the risk of dying early whether you suffer from heart disease or not. But that risk jumps 68 percent for men with heart disease or diabetes, the investigators found.

“These findings suggest that working very hard might not be a good idea for people with a serious cardiometabolic disease, such as those with diabetes, coronary heart disease or a history of stroke,” said lead researcher Mika Kivimaki, chair of social epidemiology at University College London.

Physiological stress response is a normal reaction to a challenge in work and private life, but can involve a number of changes that might affect heart function, clotting and plaque in blood vessels, he explained.

“These changes, in turn, can trigger a fatal heart attack or stroke,” Kivimaki added. And work-related stress may be particularly harmful for men with diabetes or a history of heart attack or stroke, he said.

“We found the stress-mortality link in men but not in women, which is consistent with the fact that atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] is more common in working-aged men than women,” Kivimaki noted.

Dr. Satjit Bhusri, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said the mind has a direct link to the heart. “There is a mind-heart loop, which can affect your heart,” he said.

Bhusri believes that reducing work stress can reduce the risk to the heart. But reducing work stress might mean quitting a stressful job, he noted.

“I’ve had patients who have retired or quit their job,” Bhusri said. “What you have to realize is that your job is a slice of the whole pie of your life. And without a life, there are no slices,” he said.

To reduce stress, Bhusri promotes mediation, yoga and exercise. “More importantly, if it’s the job that’s toxic, get rid of the job,” he advised.

For the study, Kivimaki and his colleagues collected data on more than 100,000 men and women from Finland, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom, including more than 3,400 who had heart disease and diabetes. At the start of the study (between 1985 and 2002), participants completed a questionnaire on their lifestyle and health.
Over an average of nearly 14 years, the researchers tracked participants’ medical records. During that time, more than 3,800 individuals died.

The investigators looked at two types of work stress: job strain — having high work demands and little control over them; and effort-reward imbalance — putting in lots of effort, but getting little reward.

After Kivimaki’s team took into account socioeconomic status and some lifestyle factors — including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, physical inactivity and high alcohol consumption — it found that men with heart disease or diabetes who had job strain had a 68 percent greater risk of premature death than men who had no job strain.

This increased risk was seen in men who were being treated and had achieved their blood pressure and cholesterol targets. The risk was also seen in men with a healthy lifestyle, including being of normal weight, being physically active, not smoking and not drinking heavily.

No association was seen, however, between a risk for premature death and effort-reward imbalance in men with heart disease or diabetes. The study did not prove a cause-and-effect link between the two.

Neither type of work stress was linked with an increased risk of dying among healthy or unhealthy women, the findings showed.

Stress may affect the body in several ways, including changing natural responses to stress through higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases glucose production and limits the effect of insulin, thereby worsening diabetes, the study authors said.

In addition, stress can increase inflammation that can raise blood pressure and affect clotting, thus increasing the risk of heart problems in people who already have hardening of the arteries.

Because the researchers measured stress only at the start of the study, they could not take into account changes in the severity of diseases over time. They also did not take into account blood pressure or cholesterol levels in all the participants, which might lead to an overestimation of the effect of job strain.

In addition, people with more severe disease tended to work fewer hours, which might explain why no association between effort-reward imbalance and risk of premature death in men with heart disease or diabetes was seen, the researchers said.
The report was published online June 5 in the journal The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Copyright © 2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

Another moving response from Jill…

A response to a person new to caregiving, trying to figure out what to do while at the same time, grieving what has been lost.


I have been the caregiver to my husband for 10 years.In those early years, I regularly reminded myself who he had been before the stroke–vibrant, sharp, fun, funny, successful–all things that the stroke took away from him.It was important for me to remember those things and treat him like that person, not as a victim or an invalid.Even though he was terribly disabled, our interaction was always about working toward a new normal that valued a good man.

One thing that really helped us was setting goals together.Setting goals allowed us to look forward and move forward.Yes, I took care of his needs, but working together on recovery and a useful life was essential. We got excited each day to see what he could do.We did not focus on what we lost.We focused on the new life we were creating.It wasn’t easy.We also had kids at home who needed mom and dad.I like to think one day they will reflect on those years and know what love and commitment really look like.

My husband deserved the best I had to give.In return, he gives his best.I hope you, the team, and your friend can rally and help him create a meaningful life.It isn’t easy but it is worth doing.Good luck.

Jill offers her insight for another stroke family…

This is response to a daughter and her family learning how to care for her father.  So much struggle with a father early on in his recovery and a family struggling to hold together and deal with all the challenges.

I am sorry you and your family are experiencing such difficult times .I am guessing many caregivers who read your post will nod their heads in understanding .I can respond from my own experience:

– Life, as I and my family knew it, ended when my 51year old husband suffered a massive stroke. It took awhile to come to that realization, and it was a terrible realization.  However, over time it helped me to accept that fact.  I always say my husband’s is a story of recovery, mine is a story of surrender.  I am a Christian, and once I put my faith into practice, gave my fears and struggles to God, everything was better.  I learned to live one day at a time with the knowledge that I am not in control.  My job was to do my best.  That’s it.

– We learned to not listen to the naysayers. There is ALWAYS hope for recovery. We worked relentlessly on recovery and my husband has far surpassed all predictions. The key was the relentless persistence. He had lost his right side, his ability to speak, his memory, and his cognition was severely damaged. We are now 10 years post-stroke. He walks 5 miles a day, he mostly talks, his memory is much better, and though his cognition is still messed up, it is better than it was.  I count that as a huge win.

– My husband’s behavior was wildly out of control for about a year. He was mildly out of control for another year. He still has moments when he behaves erratically but nothing like it used to be.  Here is one tip I eventually figured out: with the stroke, he lost his sense of thirst. He would get severely dehydrated which impacted his behavior and ability. Watch his fluid intake.

– I cried for about 2 years. I just couldn’t let my kids see me cry so I cried in my closet.  It is normal.

– Sounds like your family needs some help dealing with the stress of it all. Turning on each other helps no one. Do you have access to counseling? A mediator? Even a life coach? You may not want to hear this but you are very early in the recovery process. Having a family plan that can grow and adjust with your dad’s improvement will help you all.

– I want to assure you that, although our life changed dramatically, it is good.  Different, but good. Your family’s life can be good too. It takes time and determination, but it is possible. Good luck!
















A few weeks ago, I went to Portland Saving Strokes…at the golf course. Clever title, right?  Once again, I had my phone, and didn’t think of taking pictures.  Will I ever learn?  When I told the people I could draw people hitting the ball, they quickly rushed me this picture of ME trying to hit the ball.

They invited stroke victims and their care givers out for a morning of golf lessons followed up with lunch.  I really had a nice time and I plan to do it again next year.

You had to be there.  We all look normal, but it ends there.  There were  people who couldn’t stand, those who couldn’t see, couldn’t talk (that’s me) and those who couldn’t swing a club (and that was me too.) But we all tried…and it was fabulous.  When we went to the chipping green, I has to sit down…and they had a chair!  It is the little things that make an event fun… having a chair was one of them.

Fortunately, my wife wasn’t there to experience the event. But I did draw her this picture:

Another reference letter…

Another standing ovation…followed up with this letter:

Certified Financial Services

One of my colleagues on the west coast suggested I listen to Gordon and Jill Viggiano’s story. He heard them speak before more than 100 insurance advisors and guests. I watched their video and at that moment knew I had to have them speak to my company as well.

Ten years ago, Gordon suffered a massive stroke and he worked tireless hours to rehabilitate himself. Jill’s story is every bit as engaging. Being there every step of the way speaks volumes of her dedication and love for her husband.

As my company’s DIS (Disability Income Specialist) it was perfect timing for a meeting in May which was Disability Insurance Awareness Month. Their story was inspirational and entertaining at the same time. When Gordon would mention something on the lighter side, Jill was always laughing as if she heard it for the first time!

It was quite moving to hear firsthand why we do what we do. Thank you, Gordon and Jill for your moving story.

Melvyn N. Feinbloom, CLTC


Our Son Tom, gets commissioned…

When Tommy asked me to send a few pictures to be used in this ceremony, I immediately pulled out pictures of Tommy as a little boy—preschool, kindergarten—when he came home every day and put on his latest crimefighter outfit.  He took on many personas.  He was the red power ranger, he was buzz lightyear, he was a ninja, he was a knight, and of course superman and batman.







But the one that will always stand out in my mind is when he would come home, put on his batman costume, strap his knight sword onto his utility belt, tape down the ears on batman’s cowl, Velcro on his cape, put on his cowboy hat, and became Zorro.

Every day for months and months and months, Tommy stood in front of the television and watched Antonio Banderas fight for the people.  He studied every sword move and eventually matched the whole choreography.

Little did I know this was all a foreshadowing of what was to come.  Of course he would choose Military Police for his Army career!  (He was a chemical entering student). Those seeds were planted a long time ago.

Even though he did not use the pictures I sent, I think they would have fit nicely with this moment.

Look at you now—a different outfit but still our little boy.

Address given by Jill Viggiano

Can an Opioid Overdose Drug HELP Stroke Patients Recover??

The same medication used to save lives by reversing opioid overdoses may also benefit nonopioid users. In a new study done in rats, the medicine, called naloxone, was shown to help the brain to recover from a stroke.

Researchers found that when male rats were treated for one week with naloxone after having an ischemic stroke, they had an improved recovery, compared with rats who did not receive naloxone. (An ischemic strokeoccurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, usually because of a blood clot, which deprives the brain of oxygen and damages nerve cells in the area.) [Strange Stroke Stories: Ebola, Hickeys and Other Weird Causes]

Because the study was done in rats, more research is needed to confirm the findings in people. However, naloxone might play a role in stroke recovery because the drug has anti-inflammatory properties and can reduce the activity of the microglia, which are the primary immune cells of the brain, according to the study findings, published today (April 16) in the journal eNeuro

Previous research has shown that naloxone affects the microglia, which are very active contributors to the inflammation that occurs in the brain following a stroke, said study co-author Brandon Harvey, a researcher at the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore. So, in this study, the researchers wanted to see whether giving naloxone after a stroke could decrease the activity of the brain’s immune cells and reduce the associated inflammation, leading to improved recovery from the stroke, he said.

In the new study, the researchers gave 65 male rats naloxone twice a day through the nose at a dose considered to be safe in humans. (Naloxone is often given as a nasal spray to reverse an overdose, according to the study.) The study showed that the drug was most effective when treatment was started within 16 to 36 hours after a stroke and lasted for seven days.

The findings showed that when naloxone was given after a stroke, during a period when immune-cell activity in the brain was peaking, it had beneficial effects on recovery, said study co-author Mikko Airavaara, principal investigator at the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Helsinki in Finland. (Immune cells in the rats’ brains were active as early as two days after a stroke and reached their peak activity seven days after a stroke, according to the findings.)

Airavaara said that naloxone works reducing inflammation in the brainand reducing the loss of nerve cells, which can improve the brain’s ability to recover after a stroke.

These findings are important because there is no drug treatment now that helps the brain recover after a stroke, Airavaara told Live Science. So, developing a drug therapy that could promote recovery for the 10 million people worldwide who have strokes each year would be groundbreaking, he said.

Indeed, because naloxone has been used to treat opioid overdoses for nearly 50 years, the idea of repurposing the drug for stroke is intriguing, Harvey said.

Still, more research is needed in animals before naloxone is studied in people who have had a stroke. [7 Things That May Raise Your Risk of Stroke]

It would be important to establish that the drug’s beneficial effects would work not only in male rats but in female rats as well, Harvey told Live Science.

The current study was able to establish an effective delivery method for the drug — through the nose, which is one of the methods already used to reverse opioid overdose — and a suggested dosing pattern (when to give the drug) to possibly translate these findings into clinical practice in the future, Harvey said.

Daniel Lackland, a professor of epidemiology in the neurology department at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, who was not involved in the new research, said that there is a need to identify other treatments for stroke recovery. Currently, rehabilitation includes physical-, occupational- and speech-therapy programs; however, treatments that target physiological changes in the brain are lacking, he said.

In addition, recovering from a stroke has not had the same success rates as recovering from heart disease, said Lackland, who is a spokesperson for the American Stroke Association.

This study explored the possibility that a new drug may contribute to stroke recovery, and this drug appears to have some benefits in animals, Lackland told Live Science. Though the findings need to be replicated in additional animal studies, these results give hope for the future of possible trials in humans, he said.

Originally published on Live Science.

Heart and Stroke Walk 2018

Remember the interview last week? This past weekend, we volunteered at the Heart and Stroke Walk in Portland. As the 7000+  people were walking the Stroke Walk, I got this picture taken of me.  Kind of nice, isn’t it?

I had my camera/phone with me but it didn’t occur to me to take some pictures!  I just got off the phone with the American Heart and Stroke Association…and they told me they were waiting for the photographers to upload their pictures.  Who new it would be so challenging to post a bunch of pictures!  Maybe I could draw some for you?  That wouldn’t be pretty…considering I would be drawing with my LEFT hand.  Let me attempt it:

I could add a few more pictures.  I think I did a good job drawing me.  If you look at the above picture, you will see they are almost identical, but I know the other images need a bit more work.  When the photographers pictures are posted, I will give you an update.