The Dawn of a New Morning

I took the first step of my new life today. It was only kind of a baby shuffle, but, by God, to me it was the dawn of a new morning. It had freedom written all over it. I was at last feeling able to dump the walker that had helped me amble around the house and I was ready to walk, really walk, as any reasonably mature Homo sapiens should. That first step was accomplished just a few mornings …

An Old Dog Scratching at the Door

I feel like an old dog who has been wandering aimlessly through the streets of Los Angeles, and finally, worn and hungry, has decided to come home again, scratching at the door to get in. Well, I may be that weary old hound in some ways, but it has not been a joyful, or even relaxing, drift down the avenues and up the alleys. For almost three months I have been hospitalized with pneumonia, internal bleeding, a severe diabetic attack, …

Walking and Working with the Extenders

The first time I ever heard the term “extenders applied to human effort and not necessarily to equipment utilized by the handicapped was in the office of a doctor who actually had disabilities. He redefined the word to mean that you never give up. Burdened by the ever-increasing impact of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) on my body, I had requested a wheelchair from Medicare and was told to make an appointment in Los Angeles with one Dr. Thomas Hedge, …

The Marlboro Man Who Became an Anti-Smoking Activist

Eric Lawson portrayed one of the most iconic characters in the history of advertising: the Marlboro Man, devised in the mid-1950s as a talisman of vigorous, healthy masculinity, even at a time of growing evidence that cigarette smoking was injurious. In real life, Lawson, who played the Marlboro Man in print ads from 1978 to 1981, ultimately paid a heavy toll for his own years of smoking. He died on Jan. 10 at age 72 in San Luis Obispo, Calif., …

COPD at 50+: Are You at Risk?

My mother, now 77, has suffered with asthma since birth. She tells stories about how her working class parents struggled with the idea of moving the entire family from Brooklyn, N.Y. to Arizona, which was a premiere destination in the 1940s for those with asthma, tuberculosis, chronic bronchitis, and other lung issues. Hot mustard plaster and frequent trips to the emergency room were all part of my mother’s early life. The fourth of five children my adoring (and adorable) grandparents …

COPD Trouble Along the Way

So we’re rolling back from Oregon over a Siskiyou Mountain pass into California on a day as bright as heaven, with only small wisps of fog and a few stringy clouds to intrude on a scene that is otherwise right out of a Magritte painting. The pass rises to over 4,000 feet and as we come down toward Yreka, heading home to L.A. after a two-week road trip. I notice a funny feeling in my chest. My breathing has become …