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I know it's been a while. I could hardly let Valentine's Day pass without a heart post, though, could I?

My father-in-law passed away January 3. He was 93, and had inoperable lung cancer. We had expected it sometime this year - but June or July, not January! Anyway, we spent most of January down in Austin - my spouse is an only child, so all the estate stuff falls to him. We have to go back there again at the end of February, and then for a couple of weeks in April, and then maybe one more trip after that, to take care of selling everything. I am not looking forward to Texas in April again - it's usually already near 90 degrees by April 15. For that matter, I am not looking forward to still more flying. I've never liked flying - but flying with a device just adds another level of annoyance to things, since it necessitates hand-screening. Which always seems to be in a nice public spot where everyone who is on line can watch one being patted down. Bleah.

Speaking of device, next scheduled device check is March 7.

The February issue of Natural History magazine has an article about foxglove and about the eighteenth-century doctor who popularized digitalis as a heart remedy. The article mentions the old term "dropsy" that was used to refer to the edema that characterizes heart failure - if you've ever seen dropsy mentioned in some old novel, now you know. There are some great illustrations, too, including a copy of a cartoon from 1810, captioned "Dropsy Courting Consumption" (Heart Failure Courting Tuberculosis). The gist of the article is, is it necessarily a good thing that digitalis started being used to treat heart problems? And here's the last few paragraphs of the four-page article:
...Withering correctly observed that digitalis made people feel better, yet could it have been killing them just the same?

In 1997, nearly two centuries after Withering's death, a medical trial came back with the answer. Almost 7,000 people were randomly allocated to digitalis or a placebo for more than three years. The results: for every thirty-nine people taking digitalis for a year, one avoided a hospital admission. The effect on mortality? Zero. ...
The final paragraph sums up by saying that at best, digitalis is modestly effective at improving quality of life. And that benefit may not be worth the harm that digitalis can do.


On that note, I am going to promise to post more often - though not during the weeks I'm in Texas.

Date: 2008-02-15 04:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ainetl.livejournal.com
sigh, i'm sure we've discussed before because of the heat factor and chf, but yeah i have dropsy and can't stand it. how odd, i wonder where that term even came from?

hmmm just had to google it, makes sense i guess: "The Middle English dropesie came through the Old French hydropsie from the Greek hydrops which in turn came from the Greek hydor meaning water."

i wasn't crazy about the use of digitalis being questions immediately *after* i went off it. oh well.

bunrab i'm so sorry to hear about your father-in-law.


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