Health Care

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Liver Transplant Journey for Boise Man Reaches the Operating Room

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 9:31 AM

Patrick Casey (left) and Roni Ziemba (right) in the 1980s, when the two dated for a brief time. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Patrick Casey (left) and Roni Ziemba (right) in the 1980s, when the two dated for a brief time.

Boise Weekly
readers were the first to meet Patrick Casey, a Boise man suffering from a rare liver disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis. Trying—and failing—for years to find a live organ donor, Casey's choices were getting narrower: ask friends and family for a portion of their liver, their financial support or their eulogy.  

That's where Roni Ziemba came in. Casey dated Ziemba, who lives in Arizona, for a brief time in the 1980s. The two hadn't spoken in more than 25 years, but reconnected over social media. At first Casey didn't want to talk about his PSC, but the subject eventually came up. When Ziemba heard, she wanted to help. As it turned out, with a compatible blood type, she could do a lot more than help: She could give him half her liver.

"I want Clare [Casey's daughter] to have more time with her father. As much time as she can have," Ziemba told Boise Weekly in December 2013.

Patrick Casey (left) and Roni Ziemba (right), reconnected after 25 years. Asked about a rekindled romance, Ziemba told Boise Weekly, "Ain't gonna happen." - COURTESY
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  • Patrick Casey (left) and Roni Ziemba (right), reconnected after 25 years. Asked about a rekindled romance, Ziemba told Boise Weekly, "Ain't gonna happen."

After a months-long process of testing and paperwork, Ziemba was finally cleared by doctors to give a portion of her liver to Casey—and just in time. This summer, Casey took a turn for the worse, needing open heart surgery before he could undergo the transplant operation. The heart surgery was a success, and now Casey and Ziemba are—finally—going under the knife at a Chicago hospital today
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Mr. Cope’s Cave: Today’s Helpful Tip For Old People

Posted By on Mon, Jun 2, 2014 at 10:37 AM

I am herein setting forth on a new continuing series, “Today’s Helpful Tip For Old People,” with future installments contingent on: 1) how often I think of something else to put in it, and 2) how long I remember that I started a new continuing series. The subject matter is, loosely, things aging folks might do to counter-act what I see as the incessant medical/pharmaceutical/advertising complex’s attempts to bleed as much out of us as they can before we die.

The idea came to me yesterday in a drug store as I searched for the cheapest package of low-dose aspirin I could find. Which drug store I was in isn’t important, as they all do the same thing, and anyone who is, 1) over 50, and 2) been to a doctor lately, will undoubtedly know why I was shopping for low-dose aspirin. Because a doctor told me to, that’s why. And if you’re going to cough up the dough it takes to see a doctor, you might as well make some attempt to do what the doctor tells you to do.

Within limits, of course.

So my doctor has told me I should be taking a low-dose aspirin every day. As I understand it, an aspirin a day helps keep Misters Heart Attack and Stroke away. You probably already know that, because if you have watched even an hour of television—particularly an hour before 7:30 in the evening when all of us old people go to bed—you will have sat through an average of five commercials telling you to have aspirin around in case Misters Heart Attack and Stroke come visiting, and that your best bet is to take some every day. I’m guessing that by now, every man and woman in America over 50 with, 1) an aspirin-tolerant stomach, and 2) a television set, has a bottle of 81-milligram aspirin sitting somewhere where they can’t miss it and forget they’re supposed to take it. I keep mine next to the eating utensils in the kitchen, knowing that there will never be a day when I don’t have need for a fork or spoon.

Of course, faithfully taking your aspirin every day means that sooner or later, you will run out of aspirin. Which I did. Which is why I was standing in that drug store yesterday looking for the cheapest bottle of 81-milligram aspirin I could find. As I see it, there is no need to buy name-brand aspirin, not unless you are trying to impress people. And even if you are, the impression you can make with aspirin is only so deep, as there is no such thing as “BMW Aspirin,” or “ Louis Vuitton Aspirin.” As an aspirin snob, you will have to settle for “Bayer.”

Anyway, I was having trouble finding the cheapest bottle of 81-mg aspirin, mostly because it didn’t exist. From the days not so long ago when I could get a hundred pills for under two bucks, the price on low-dosage aspirin has inflated like German reichsmarks during the Weimar Republic. The best price I could find on the lose-dose stuff was more than $11 for 90 tablets. That’s almost 13 cents for something you give babies to suck on for teething pain.

I was pissed. I was beginning to think I would take my chances with Misters Heart Attack and Stroke. All those television commercials scaring the pee-wadding out of aging people, all those doctors’ orders, it was paying off—big time. For the aspirin kings, if no one else. I realized I had smacked face-first into another one of those, as I call them, “screw a senior moments,” defined loosely as a tactic used by that medical/pharmaceutical/advertising complex I mentioned earlier to get the Golden Years crowd to cough up whatever it takes to stay alive a few more days.

Ah, but I found a happy ending, if not to life, then at least to my low-dose aspirin irritant. A few feet down the aisle from all the low-dose aspirin was the other stuff. Let’s call it the high-dose aspirin shelf. Instead of 81-milligrams, it was 325-milligrams, and instead of 90 tablets, it was 500.

And best of all, instead of costing more than 11 bucks, it was less than $7!

I considered the risks. What if, by taking 325 milligrams a day, I was turning my blood to water and eventually, it would start leaking out of my pores like catsup-colored sweat? Or what if I took one 325-er every four days instead of every day? In numerical terms, it comes out almost exactly the same number of milligrams averaged out over four days. But did I risk not having enough aspirin in my system on the third and fourth days to ward off the dreaded cardiovascular ninjas? Would I be peeing away the benefits of taking aspirin, even while elevating the risks?

Maybe you are faster than I am. Maybe you have already figured out what I—and perhaps you—should be doing. As for me, it took somewhere between five and 10 minutes to see the obvious answer. I think. Standing there in the drug store, stewing over the outrageous rise in the cost of low-dosage aspirin, I lost track of time. Who knows? I might have been there 30 minutes… 40 minutes… all the while muttering, “You bastards!”

But of course, the answer lies in those little pill cutter-uppers. We all have one, don’t we, old people? At least one. Young people probably wonder what they are, those pill slicers, but assume they have something to do with dentures or ear wax. Things they don’t want to think about, so they don’t ask.

So one 325-milligram aspirin tablet, halved and quartered, comes out to four little pie slice-shaped tablets, each coming in at 81.25-milligrams. Hah! I beat you, medical/pharmaceutical/advertising complex! I kicked your ass! I am now getting 2,000 81-mg (give or take) tablets—pie slice-shaped as they are—for less that seven bucks! I won’t have to go buy your damn aspirin again for almost six years!

You know… if I last that long.
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Mr. Cope's Cave: O Joy

Posted By on Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 10:00 AM

I’ve struggled to find a way to say how significant this day is without being an I Told You So dick.

I mean, it was so tempting... Affordable Health Care website fixed! Up and running! In spite of terrible rollout, it only took six weeks to turn catastrophe into triumph! Good! Job! Government! I told you so!

And... More than 6 million Americans, previously at risk, now covered. And just wait until you see how it does during the next enrollment period! I told you so!

And... What are the asshole Republicans going to do now? Who’s going to be the one to tell those 6 million already enrolled that Congress is going to repeal the law and strip away their security? Who's going to tell Americans we’re going back to the old ways? I told you so!

And... A solid majority of Americans now want the law kept, with or without further tinkering, as opposed to a dwindling minority which has repeatedly demonstrated that they don’t give a damn whether people are effectively insured or not—e.g. “asshole Republicans.” I told you so!

And... All the lies and distortions and dark money amassed to defeat this blessing were no match for the cool, intelligent doggedness of the man it was all meant to humiliate and the determination of the people it was meant to benefit. I told you so!

See? See?

See how easy it would have been for this to turn into that? A gloat fest of rubbing the asshole Republicans’ collective face in the success of Mr. Obama’s accomplishment? It could have been no more than a strident nyah-nyah-nyah, which, in English, translates to, This thing, this grand legacy, this Obamacare will still be a part of America long after you are gone and forgotten, John Boehner. And you, Ted Cruz. And you, Rand Paul. And you, Mitt Romney. And you. Michele Bachmann. And you... oh my, there are so many asshole faces to rub it in, aren’t there?

But as you can tell. I’ve decided to take the high road. I’ve decided this isn’t the proper time for I Told You So! dickishness. This is a time for gratitude. For celebration. For delight.

And it is time for music. I believe the piece I’ve chosen reflects the mood of this day. And this particular performance reflects the accomplishment itself—the slow and inauspicious beginning, the build up of undeniable forces, the ultimate release of... of...

Well, I’ll let you pick the word.

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Mr. Cope's Cave: Dear God

Posted By on Fri, Jan 24, 2014 at 10:00 AM

We have a situation down here which maybe You can help us out with... maybe. But before I tell You about that, let me say I hope You weren’t upset over anything I said in my last two blogging episodes. I mean the ones in reference to Your policy on gun ownership. Or maybe You’ve been too busy with such things as the flu outbreak and keeping the planets from bashing into one another to notice much of what’s going on here in little old Idaho. Which would be just as well. I’d hate to see the planets all bash into one another because you got distracted by anything happening here.

Anyway, I wanted You to know I meant no disrespect. However, if it is true the Second Amendment came from You, maybe You ought to rethink that particular gift... maybe. It’s not working nearly as well as You might have imagined it would, and from every indication, it’s just going to get worse.

But that’s not why I’m writing You today, Sir... Ma'am... whatever. There’s this guy in our Legislature—which is what we call our state Congress, in case You didn’t know, and I guess I’ll just have to assume You know what a “Congress” is—who is trying to get a stupid, stupid law changed. His name is John Gannon, and the law concerns You. Or rather, the people who want to keep the law as it is claim it concerns You. Which is why I’m writing. This may take some of that Divine Intervention of Yours before it’s settled, know what I mean?

The law was written originally so that any clutch of deluded religious clucks who decide it is un-Godly to use modern medicine to treat whatever ails them, can force the same backwards delusion on their poor kids. Following me?

Well of course You are. You’re God. What am I thinking?


So the deal is, there’s this one batch of those kind of people over in Marsing—the Followers of Christ, they call themselves—who have been really, really strict about not letting their kids have any medical treatment when they get sick. They believe in something called “faith healing,” or some such gobbledygook.

It all reminds me of the old joke about the guy who drowned in a flood... (stop me if You’ve heard this)... see, he was waiting for You to come get him off his roof, and when he got to Heaven, he complained that You never showed up in spite of all the praying he did. And You said, “Well for Christ’s Sake, buddy”... (or something to that effect)... “I sent two rescue boats and a helicopter. What more did you want?”

So as far as I’m concerned, when Your believers are huddled around some poor kid’s sick bed, praying for healing, maybe they should pay more attention when a doctor walks by with a bag full of antibiotics and fever remedies.

But of course, that’s not the way the religious clucks see it. And as a result, they have kids dying from stuff that could have been easily cured with a dab of modern medical miracles.

Personally, I think any parents who let their kid die just to prove to You they’re more devout than those heretics who go to doctors should have their ignorant asses thrown in prison. Really. I mean, we save some of our harshest punishment for people who harm children, and rightly so. But here these self-righteous yokels are getting away with negligent manslaughter, at the very least, and they’re doing it in the name of, uh... You.

Think about it, God. If a bunch of pedophiles got together and called themselves the Disciples of Childrenly Love, or something like that, and insisted that it was a matter of religious freedom that they be allowed to fu... er, molest  kids... would that be OK?

Well, of course not. But who knows for sure? This world of Yours has some crazy assholes on it. But I imagine You knew that.

To me, it seems like a no-brainer that John Gannon should be successful in getting this stupid law changed. But guess what!... not all of our legislators see it that way. One of them, Rep. Christy Perry (from Canyon County, wouldn’t You know) is quoted as saying, “This is about religious beliefs, the belief that God is in charge of whether they [the kids] live and God is in charge of whether they die. This is about where they go for eternity.”

Can You believe it? Like... You would keep a little kid out of Heaven just because her parents slipped her an aspirin? Is that stupid, or what?

Uh, You wouldn’t do that... would You?

Nah, of course you wouldn’t. You wouldn’t be God if you were that damn crazy.


So that’s what we’re dealing with down here. And it’s not all just a matter of church/state crap either. There is this insane attitude, particularly among the some of the least competent human beings in the country, that any swinging sperm donor has a right to raise his offspring in whatever screwed-up tradition he sees fit.

I should tell You, this “right” is not universally applied, thank God. I mean, alcoholics and drug addicts are still not allowed to feed booze and/or meth to their toddlers—not legally, anyway—and the prepubescent children of even the most degenerate swamp dwellers are not allowed to get married. Not in most states, anyway, and especially not to their uncles.

But generally speaking, many parents stand by their “right” to mold their children in their own image, which accounts for why we still have—even here in the 21st century—things like home schooling, beauty pageants for little girls, organized football for little boys, Seventh-day Adventists and the Ku Klux Klan.

And God, since these are so often the same people who insist that all civil rights come from You—that centuries of enlightenment and the triumph of the human spirit and mind have nothing to do with it—I can’t help but think You might do something helpful. Maybe drop a few more Commandments on us, if you would. Something like... Thou shalt not sit on your ass while your child is dying when there’s something you can give her for it.

And maybe... Thou shalt not intentionally turn your children into paranoid misfits just because you’re one.

And, Thou shalt use your brain for more than a place to park your baseball cap.

And this time, don’t give them all to just one man, OK? Spread them around so that a lot of people see the same commandments. Seriously, You wouldn’t believe what a handful of megalomaniacs have done to this world by claiming they found some secret tablets or something up on a mountain top.

So OK, God. I know You’re busy, so I’ll close for now. Thanks for listening.

Oh, and by the way, I was raised Methodist. I hope that doesn’t kill my chances of getting some kind of response.


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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Need Something To Do Wednesday?

Posted By on Wed, May 8, 2013 at 6:00 AM


When a trip to the hospital seems like using a furnace to burn a flea, knowing how to brew up a home remedy is elementary to getting your day back on track.

Today from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Library at Collister, herbalist Vicki Vosburg of The Herb Pantry will discuss medicinal herbs and home remedies. She'll cover everything from how to use tinctures and teas to body awareness. Attendance is free.

For more info, visit the library's website or call 208-562-4995.

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Need Something To Do Friday?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 6:00 AM


What are the merits of a single-payer health care system? And why should we care?

Those were the questions we naively asked prior to the advent of the Affordable Health Care Act, aka Obamacare. Since then, the language of health care reform has become part of the vernacular.

Tonight, Dr. Steffie Woolhandler will make the case for what she calls Healthcare 2.0, which is also the title of an article she co-wrote for the publication Social Research at The New School in New York.

Woolhandler currently serves as a professor of urban public health at City University of New York. Prior to that, she was a professor of medicine at Harvard, and serves as an honorary fellow at the University of Edinburgh.

She'll discuss her article and elaborate on her vision for a single-payer health care system in the United States. You can check out her presentation at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, 2201 Woodlawn Ave., at 7:30 p.m. The event is FREE to the public.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Quiz: Test Your Obamacare Knowledge

Posted By on Wed, Jul 4, 2012 at 3:01 PM

A much-talked-about article called "The Real Computer Virus" was published in the American Journalism Review in 2001. It forwarded the idea of the threat posed by the rapid spread of misinformation online, essentially that the water-cooler rumor mill has now gone global. Ten years on, the point still stands.

And there is perhaps no better example than in the army of untruths that has marched on America regarding the Affordable Care Act, colloquially known as Obamacare.

As evidence of how much misinformation about the bill still stands, here is a Washington Post poll showing that four out of 10 Americans are not even aware of whether or how the Supreme Court announced its ruling on the bill, surely the biggest news event of last week.

Because of the level of misinformation out there, The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has put together a 10-question quiz on the basics of the bill and the biggest myths about it to test your knowledge.

The quiz takes about two minutes and can be found here.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Need Something To Do Tuesday?

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2012 at 7:28 AM

It seems like almost everything is a hazard to your health. Ever eat something out of a plastic container while talking on your cellphone and drinking a diet soda? Congratulations: According to certain people, you're riddling yourself with diseases.

If you'd like to get answers to your questions concerning artificial sweeteners, food additives, cellphones, personal care products or the millions of other things you've heard can make you sick, check out the Boise School's Community Education Q and A About Natural Medicine today at 6:30 p.m. at Hillside Junior High School.

For $16, you can investigate answers to your health concerns sans Wikipedia. Visit for more info and to register.

And while you're there, check out all the other neat-o classes you can take for not much dough.

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Slideshow: The Idaho HOPE Hemp Festival Rolls into Julia Davis Park

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2011 at 2:55 PM

Julia Davis Park looked pretty green on Sunday, Sept. 25, during a festival held to educate folks about marijuana. Hundreds turned out for Idaho H.O.P.E. Fest (Hemp Offers People Everything), Boise's first hemp festival. It featured live bands, DJs, guest speakers and educational exhibitions.

"The purpose is to educate people that hemp does offer people everything," said Sarah Caldwell, event coordinator. "The turnout is better than I expected."

Continue reading »

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Genesis World Mission Holds Burger Contest to Raise Money for Garden City Community Clinic

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 3:36 PM

On Sept. 21, Genesis World Mission held a fancy burger competition in Lady Bird Park to raise money for the Garden City Community Clinic.

For the second year in a row, the Saint Al's Toastmaster team took home the People's Choice Award—despite not serving their burgers on toast—and the Chef's Award went to Fisher's Document Systems.

[ Video is no longer available. ]

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