Mandela and George H.W. Bush – The forgotten story

December 12, 2013

In 1990, only days after his release from a South African prison, Nelson Mandela was a hero to blacks worldwide but a question mark for many statesmen and world leaders.  Would he use his newfound popularity to take power and revenge?

One American president broke the ice and made his opinion clear.  In 1990, Mandela was invited to the White House where the president of the United States  stood by Mandela’s side on a stage on the South Lawn.  Who was that president?

George H. W. Bush.

Only Bush, a Republican could give such a meaningful endorsement and so quickly.   He had served as the vice president to Ronald Reagan who had visited the apartheid nation of South Africa as a private citizen and had many friends there.  Indeed, Bush spent his life championing Black causes from the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to major contributions to the Negro College Fund.

“We don’t do it for political reasons,” Barbara Bush once told me, we were sitting next to each other at a charity event, “the media will never give us credit.  We do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Likewise, George H. W. Bush was the first president to invite in openly gay activists to White House events.  The national news narrative would have us all believe that these things happened on Bill Clinton’s watch.  But hey, let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good narrative.  Such is the state of journalism these days.

One would get the impression from watching the news coverage of the past week, including the funeral and memorial services for Nelson Mandela, that the American president who first championed the South African leader was Bill Clinton.

All networks were alive with interviews with Clinton.  They were good friends, Clinton and Mandela.  Or so we were told.  Clinton warmly revealed that Mandela had told him that he had forgiven his accusers and that, he, Bill Clinton had to do the same.  Of course, the implication could not be missed.  The accusers were equally evil and Mandela and Clinton were equally victims.

This narrative was so strong and so deliberately force fed to the American public that one of the major news networks virtually copied the interview with Clinton that their rival network had shown the previous night.  It must have gagged veteran journalists to see their national news show reduced to copying a story but most of us have long ago resigned ourselves to the fact that television news has become the personal plaything of TV executives and it is increasingly obvious that they have decided Hillary Clinton should be the next president.

Of course, there are differences between Mandela’s accusers and Clinton’s.  Mandela had to forgive racists who were wrong about him and who told lies.  Bill Clinton had to forgive young ladies who were victims of his misogynist advances, who were right about him, and who told the truth.

It was one thing for Clinton, a Democrat who courted and depended on Black votes, to reach out to Nelson Mandela in 1994, when the controversy had passed and Mandela was the president of South Africa.  And at a time when Clinton  needed the association.  It was something else for a Republican, who knew he would never get credit for it or even be remembered for it, to do it because it was right to do.

As a newborn follower of the Liberty Movement I have become a fierce critic of our monetary system and its exploitation of the masses, especially the poor.  All, it seems, for the sake of an oligarchy who needs to see its net worth – Wall Street portfolio rise with inflation.   It remains to be seen when and how the Bush administration had a role to play in all of that.  And yet, I can’t help but feel that in time, when the full story of George H. W. Bush and his record will be known, he will be seen as the leader I knew and for whom I worked.

George H. W. Bush ended  the Cold War, brought China into the world marketplace and briefly united the world for a single cause, a feat that Metternich would envy.  And so too, his improbable record on Civil Rights will be seen accurately for what it is without the bias lens of myopic journalists who cannot be bothered by facts.  And when it is seen, Bush Senior will emerge from the fog of history as a leader who acted with courage and with wisdom when it was risky to do so.


Did the Mafia Kill Kennedy?

November 16, 2013

 

Probably not.  But we will have to wait another generation to know for certain because political forces even to this day prevent any objective discussion.

As we approach the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, controversy still surrounds the work of the Warren Commission, the official government investigation into the tragedy.   I have interviewed some of the members of the Commission, including former President Gerald Ford, whom my wife and I have hosted in our own home on two occasions.

While there is still debate about whether or not there was a conspiracy behind the assassination, there can now be little doubt that there was indeed a “conspiracy” behind the Warren Commission’s inadequate report.  Upon his assassination, Kennedy, as in the case of Abraham Lincoln before him, was instantly declared a saint and no politician, investigator, judge or media mogul would risk revealing anything that might appear otherwise. 

The result was that any loose ends that brought out into the open the Kennedy family’s ties to the Mafia or the President’s dalliances with other women or the government’s repeated attempts to assassinate Cuban Premier, Fidel Castro, could not be pursued.  It may be that Kennedy was indeed  killed by an emotionally disturbed, lone gunman, with a “lucky” shot but unfortunately, thanks to an impotent media and compromised investigators, we may never know.

In the next few columns I will offer my best arguments for the most popular theories about this tragic event, including the lone gunman theory.  I start with the so called Mafia Conspiracy.

During the presidential primary season, JFK’s father, Joe Kennedy, had called on old Mafia connections that had helped him in earlier, nefarious business dealings.  He asked for their influence in the West Virginia presidential primary.  Mafia violence, through the Miner’s unions, helped  his son beat Minnesota Senator, Hubert Humphrey, and go on to win the Democratic nomination.  

During the general election of 1960 the Mafia went to work again, this time in Illinois where ballot boxes from Republican precincts were “lost” and ballot boxes from Democratic precincts were stuffed.  It helped Kennedy narrowly beat Nixon in this key state and thus win the White House by a razor margin.

When the President’s brother and newly appointed Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, began to aggressively prosecute those same Mafia leaders there was outrage and  feelings of betrayal.  Led by Chicago boss Sam Giancana, leaders of the underworld began discussing how to kill the president and his brother.

At the time of the assassination the public was not told of the ties between the Kennedy family and leaders of the American mafia. Nor were they shown FBI transcripts of top mafia leaders threatening to kill the president and his brother. Today, all of this is accepted history and the narrative appears in Pulitzer Prize winning books. The FBI transcripts are public.

According to CBS News, “The House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded in 1979 that it was likely Kennedy was killed by a conspiracy.”

 The gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald, who had lived in Russia and had a Russian wife, also had an uncle with ties to the Mafia.  Oswald stayed with him in New Orleans shortly before the assassination.

Finally, there is much support for the once dismissed story of Judith Campbell Exner who claimed to have had an affair with the president, even as she was the girlfriend to Chicago mobster Sam Giancana.  Ms. Exner claimed that she relayed messages and even money from the government to the Mafia for purposes of funding an assassination attempt of communist, Cuban dictator, Fidel Castro.

Her story, at first dismissed by critics has been buttressed by extensive corroborating evidence, including FBI wiretap transcripts, diaries, travel logs, and released government documents  showing her regular visits to the White House.

Finally, only days after the Kennedy assassination, Lee Harvey Oswald was gunned down on live television by nightclub owner, Jack Ruby.  Taking out the hit man before he can talk is a classic Mafia tactic.

David Belin, counsel to the Warren Commission, scoffed at this notion.  “Of course, common sense would dictate otherwise; as a practical matter, so-called Mafia ‘hit men’ do not chose an area where they are surrounded by the police and immediately apprehended.”

Actually, the most famous Mafia hits do indeed happen in public.  Ask Carmine Galante, Albert Anastasia, Crazy Joe Gallo, “Big Paul” Castelllano, John Gotti and many others.  They were all killed in restaurants, barbershops or on the streets of Manhattan.

In 1971, Joe Colombo was shot at the podium of an Italian Unity Day rally.  He survived.  His assailant was wrestled to the ground whereupon another man stepped forward and shot him dead.  Police were all over the event but could not stop it.

Contrary to the “common sense” of the Warren Commission, the purpose of a Mafia public hit is to scare everyone else into silence.

Start reading about Joe Kennedy and his president son and the Mafia in The Raising of a President on Kindle now.


A Government Shutdown but Aid to Egypt Must Go On!

October 6, 2013

The national television media has made it pretty clear where they stand on the government shutdown.  By reviewing the stories they choose to cover and the stories they repress one can get a feel for the atmosphere inside the executive boardrooms.  We are told that the shutdown penalizes the Center for Disease Control, which has lost critical funding and then we meet an attractive, tearful young cancer patient who may die as a result.  What we are not told is that the ongoing, corrupt relationship with big American corporations and the national news media continues. One can understand this best by reviewing our ongoing, uninterrupted foreign aid to Egypt, which as we all now know, does not go to Egypt at all but rather, to corporate America.

In 2011, breathless television correspondents stood among the thousands in Tahrir Square in Cairo reporting that the Arab Spring had finally come to Egypt.  Freedom was in the air.  At last there would be democracy here.  After all, we had driven our own country into its second worst depression in history and killed thousands of people to bring “freedom” to Iraq.  (Hopefully, the freedom in Egypt would be a tad better, since the freedom in Iraq resulted in the massacre of Christians and the end to a 2,000 year old Christian community which traced its heritage to the apostle Thomas.)

One thing the experts all agreed upon.  The billions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt, which had been ongoing since 1979, must surely continue now.  The terrible dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak, which had begun in 1961 was finally coming to an end.  With real democracy in the wind, this was not the time to withdraw.

Wait a minute.  If Mubarak was a terrible dictator and freedom was only then coming to Egypt why had we been giving him billions and billions of dollars to stay in power?

Well, he made peace with Israel and the aid was his pay off.   And we’ve got to stay on the right side of history!

Huh?  Okay.  That seems contradictory.  I may have some more questions about that one, continue.

So with the freedom to vote the Egyptians elected Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood as their new president.

Once again, the experts all agreed.  The billions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt must surely continue.  This was democracy.  It was why our sons died in the war in Iraq.  American journalism nodded and yawned.

But soon under Morsi the people of Egypt began to burn churches and kill the worshipers of the ancient Coptic Christian community.  Christians were tortured in a Cairo mosque.  These Christians traced their heritage back to the apostle Mark.

In 2013, tens of thousands of Egyptians descended on Tahrir Square once again, this time to protest their own duly elected president.  The breathless American television correspondents were back excitedly reporting on yet another rebirth of freedom.  Isn’t it thrilling?  And the military people now serving as caretakers of the government were promising new elections.  This time they won’t let Morsi participate.  He was bad for Christians.  Bad for gays.

And yet again, the one thing the experts all agreed upon.  The billions of dollars in foreign aid to Egypt must surely continue.  Egypt had ousted Mohammed Morsi and had promised new elections.

This ridiculous narrative had finally reached the limits of credulity.  Last week the Obama administration said it might suspend the remaining aide, which is a pittance of the total.

What’s going on?

The answer is that most of the money passes to Egypt and then back to American where corporations who get the money use some of it to make contributions to senators and congressmen though their respective lobbies and through related companies who advertise on national television.  The money doesn’t really go to Egypt.  It goes to your neighbor.  It is the old game of redistribution of wealth.

Who gains?

American companies who manufacture tanks and other weapons that Egypt has not used in our lifetime.  Some goes to “security” consultants in our country but even much of the humanitarian and economic aid comes back to us.  For example, one program brings Egyptian teachers and hospital administrators to the USA where they are housed, fed, trained and work on American soil.  The universities, hospitals and institutions which get the money and free labor, lobby the congress and White House to keep this valuable “aid to Egypt” going.

The Egyptians masses could rape an American television correspondent, in public, in Tahrir Square and American foreign aid to Egypt would still continue.  And they did.  And it does.

So now we are facing a government shutdown.  They will surely stop this nonsense right?

Wrong?

The Obama administration, like Bush before him, determines that foreign aid is “security related” and thus exempted from the shutdown.  So close the parks, let the cancer victims die, but please, oh please, do not touch our “foreign aid to Egypt.”

Postscript:  Three days after this blog post, the Obama administration announced it is considering ending some parts of aid to Egypt and would have an announcement in the coming days.  Here is a link to the story.  Administration considers partial stop of some Egyptian aid.  Is this an extraordinary coincidence?  Or is this “the little blog who could?”  Anyway, one could apply the same logic to aid to Pakistan or any number of places.  The point is we are only being shown the stories that support the direction that the benefiting corporations want us to go.  “Screw the truth, screw journalism, and screw the people.  All power to the corporate hogs who eat at the public trough.”  American corruption has become as endemic as the Soviet Union at its height or India at its worst.


Syria – What would Reagan do?

September 2, 2013

“The president does not have the authority, under the Constitution, to unilaterally authorize a military attack, unless there is a direct threat against this nation.”

- Senator Barack Obama, 2007

 

The word is that the regime of Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against its own people.  Reportedly 1,500 have died, including 400 children.   It is a heinous crime.  Some are calling for America to invade Syria and put down this regime.  So I pose this question.  What would Ronald Reagan do?

The answer?

Absolutely nothing.  At least for now.  For eight years Ronald Reagan tolerated a tyrant far more malevolent than Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

If we prove that Assad did indeed use chemical weapons then the whole world should condemn this act and such condemnation will likely, eventually, lead to action.   Syria’s wealthy Arab neighbors, such as Saudi Arabia, who arm themselves with our latest jets and weapons may have a moral obligation to respond.  But don’t hold your breath.  Americans like to do these things.  And the rest of the world is smart enough to let us shed our blood to keep things in order.

The fact is that the atrocities of the Assad regime cannot compare to the reign of Cambodian leader, Pol Pot, who may have killed as many as 3 million of his own people during the Carter-Reagan years and he was never brought to justice, nor was it seen as America’s responsibility to do so.

The Pol Pot regime practiced true genocide against helpless civilians.  Marked for execution were Cambodian doctors, nurses, teachers, journalists, college graduates and people who could read, including children.  Even people who wore eye glasses were marked for execution.  It was rationalized that if they wore eye glasses they could probably read.  Pol Pot wanted his regime to start over again without any taint of the past.

I personally appealed to both presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan for help.   Carter, who had made human rights a major part of his foreign policy agenda, told me that Pol Pot had driven all of the fork lifts into the sea.  There was no means of unloading aid at the ports.  Hundreds of thousands of Cambodians were starving to death.  At a dinner with the Reagan’s in their home in Pacific Palisades I described images from a recent trip I had taken to the  Cambodia border and Ronald Reagan appeared heart broken.  Meanwhile, in Cambodia, the bleached bones of the dead piled up.   It was called “the killing fields.”

Pol Pot led the Kymer Rouge from 1963 to 1998.  They took over in Cambodia in 1979.   I met some of the survivors who fled the country and entertained the Cambodian Prince, son of Norodom Sihanouk, in my home during this ongoing massacre.  Pol Pot was eventually placed under house arrest by his own people.   He died in 1998.  At no time throughout the Carter-Reagan years was there any substantial political movement calling for military action against Pol Pot nor were any public figures calling for the capture and trial of the worse tyrant since Hitler.

Why?

Because our founding fathers never envisioned that we would rule the world.  Nor does the  U.S. Constitution make provision for that futile and arrogant exercise.

Because there were and still are many evil regimes doing evil things to its people and America could not rid itself of evil within its own borders, let alone throughout the whole world.  What kind of justice would now take out Syria but leave North Korea standing?

Because the U.S. president did not have the authority to go to war without the  nation’s duly elected representatives debating and then making such a declaration.  Even Franklin D. Roosevelt, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, needed the U. S. Congress to make a declaration of war.

Because corporations did not yet have the powerful lobbies in place to make sure their companies got the contracts and profited from such wars and in return gave part of the money back to the politicians who supported it.

Because the corporations who owned the national media were not yet subsidiaries of other corporations who profited from such wars and were financed by banks that gave them preferential interest rates on loans, nor were they yet fully compromised by corporate advertisers who were beneficiaries of the same system.  In other words, some measure of journalism, real journalism, still existed in the Carter-Reagan years.

So why is it likely that America will now take action against Syria?  Cruise missile attack perhaps?  Drones?  What has changed?  Why should America be installing governments all over the Middle East with unintended blowback such as governments that kill their own Christian citizens?

Since 9-11 some parts of the American form of constitutional government have been weakened or abandoned altogether.  This in the name of security.  Some departments and agencies of the Federal Government operate without laws, with only a self imposed sense of ethics limited by their interpretation of popular will which is in turn influenced by a compliant, uncritical media.

The presidency is now a virtual dictatorship limited only by fifty unelected men and women who run the television industry.   This is not the creation of Barack Obama, the process has been ongoing for years and took a great leap forward with George W. Bush and 9-11.  It is the price we paid for security.  It is a process dictated by events as well as the unquenchable thirst for power.

The president’s personal reputation is on the line since he warned Syria not to use chemical weapons.  He said that this represented a line they could not cross.  Now, given his personality, and the need to uphold his personal honor, he will likely use the newly won dictatorial powers of the American presidency to take action.

We have come a long way from the ideal of Thomas Jefferson who dealt with the Barbary Pirates, the Islamic terrorists of his day. Thomas Jefferson once said, “The more you use your power, the less you have.”  American may wake up soon to find itself very weak indeed.  Strong with weaponry but abandoned by a world who has grown tired of our arrogant rule.


Barbara Bush wants Hillary Clinton to run for president.

August 27, 2013

Barbara Bush, not the former First Lady, but the daughter of former president, George W. Bush, has said that Hillary Clinton is “unbelievably accomplished” and hopes she will run for president in 2016.  It’s about as close to an endorsement as a Bush could give a Clinton and surely qualifies as news.  Former First Lady and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is a member of the Democrat Party.  Barbara’s father and grandfather were former presidents and both are Republican.  Her uncle, former Florida governor, Jeb Bush, is also a Republican and a possible candidate for president in 2016.

If Ms. Bush eventually endorses Secretary Clinton, it would not be the first time that a son or daughter of a president supported a candidate of the opposing political party.  Ron Reagan, Jr. and his sister Patti Davis, both offspring of Republican president Ronald Reagan, are openly Democrats.  Mr. Reagan addressed the Democrat National Convention in 2004

Democrat president, Franklin Roosevelt, had sons, who supported candidates and causes other than his own.   John Aspinwall Roosevelt, the youngest in the family, complained openly about the New Deal and became a high profile Republican.  He endorsed Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan for president.  In 1954, when FDR, Jr. ran for governor of New York, his brother, John endorsed his Republican opponent.  Meanwhile,  Jimmy Roosevelt, the eldest of FDR’s sons, led “Democrats for Nixon in 1972.”  FDR’s son, Elliott,  worked for FDR’s lifelong enemy, William Randolph Hearst.  When his father announced he would run for an unprecedented third term as president, Elliott told friends it should be unconstitutional.

Political and cultural differences between the generations is nothing new in political dynasties nor should it be surprising to the rest of us.  Each member of a family seeks a separate identity and that is often found in differing political views.  Helen Taft Manning, daughter of conservative, Republican president, William Howard Taft, was one of the most effective leaders of the Women’s Suffrage Movement and openly Democrat on many issues.   Barbara Bush is an advocate of Marriage Equality and other gay issues and has “partnered” with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and Michelle Obama’s “let’s Move” campaign.

Children of presidents have often played a role in helping a candidate get elected and govern.  Robert Tyler, son of the tenth president, John Tyler, helped promote the career of Pennsylvania congressman, James Buchanan, who became the fifteenth president.  James Garfield, son and namesake of the twentieth president helped Theodore Roosevelt win the presidency.  His younger brother, Harry Garfield, helped elect Woodrow Wilson.  Both of the Garfield sons became cabinet officers with distinguished careers.  In all three cases the Presidents’ children not only offered a powerful endorsement, they had inside knowledge and experience that was crucial to the success of the candidates.

Help from  a presidents’ son or daughter is not always rewarded.  After he won the White House, James Buchanan shunted aside Robert Tyler whose presence was a reminder of his early political struggles in Pennsylvania.  Tyler moved to Alabama, became a newspaper publisher and passed from the public eye with dignity never complaining about the thankless role he had played and the president’s shabby treatment.

Caroline Kennedy nearly suffered the same fate.  Her endorsement of Illinois Senator Barack Obama came at a crucial time in his race with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.  Kennedy, a political and social icon, gave Obama cache when he needed it most.  But the Obama White House staff chaffed at the idea they owed their election to Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain president, and derailed attempts to reward her.  If Barack Obama had not been re-elected in 2012, the Kennedy endorsement would have gone down in history as one of the greatest unpaid political debts in modern campaign history.  But Obama won re-election, some measure of sanity returned to the Obama White House and Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the 35th president was nominated Ambassador to Japan.

It remains to be seen if Barbara Bush will formally endorse Hillary Clinton for president.  Most Bush watchers doubt it will happen until her uncle Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, officially declares his non candidacy.  If not, this statement is probably even better for Clinton, at least from a political standpoint.  It adds to the idea of Clinton’s broadening support without tying her to a president who is unpopular with her base.  It is the ultimate irony.  Having been sunk by one presidential daughter, a Kennedy, she now finds herself buoyed  by another, a Bush.


Jean-Luc Perrois “Talent finds a way”

August 22, 2013

Jean-Luc Perrois celebrates his birthday today and I wanted to get a little of his remarkable story on the record.  Perrois, my French brother in law, is a successful husband, father and businessman who lives in a beautiful chalet, high in the Alps overlooking Geneva, Switzerland.   The house is actually on the French side of the border but from its vantage point one can see Mount Blanc on one side and Lake Geneva with its Jet d’Eau on the other.  At night the sight of Geneva, lit up along the black lake, snaking its way through the Swiss mountains, is truly spectacular.  The Perrois also have apartments in Romania, where they visit the family of Jean-Luc’s wife, Delia.

As a youth, not many would have predicted such success for Jean-Luc.  He opted out of high school, working as a carpenter’s apprentice, specializing in door frames, working with wood and then aluminum and glass which would end up being one of the small factors that would direct his later career.  At some point, early in this process, Jean-Luc started classes with the Compagnons du Tour de France, an organization of craftsmen that dates back to the Middle Ages.  Even this work didn’t last.  The recession hit,  Jean-Luc had no employment and so went back to school, this time finishing his high school education and getting a vocational degree in construction.  It was here that his natural gift for mathematics and accounting came together and his work product caught the attention of professors and colleagues.

When the 1992 Olympics was announced for Albertville, France, Jean-Luc, and many others of his profession, were swept up into the process.  Perrois’ quick calculations allowed builders to anticipate the costs of construction.  He soon emerged as a top appraiser.  Others bids came in low or high, Jean-Luc’s numbers, no matter how far off they seemed at the time, always turned out to be uncannily accurate.  The proof was in the numbers.

In the post Olympic construction world of Geneva, Switzerland, Jean-Luc emerged as a nascent phenomenon in his profession.  Architects brought him their dreams of glass, aluminum, steel and marble and Jean-Luc could spit back reliable numbers for what it would all cost.  All around him men and women rose and fell in the corporate hierarchy.  Companies opened and closed and merged.  Boards of directors were elected and dismissed.   Jean-Luc remained.  He was too valuable.   Art could be debated, style could change, but who could argue with the numbers?

In 1993, Jean-Luc married Delia Sechel, a Romanian artist whose tapestries, oils and crafts appear in books and exhibitions across Europe.  They have one son, Luca Perrois.  Jean-Luc is currently working as an Associate and as the director of constructions metalliques for Revaz SA.

In the end, Jean-Luc Perrois’ gift made a place for him.  The artists could dream and create their visions on paper.  They needed him to tell them what it would cost and how it could be done.


Surviving a Turp

August 21, 2013

A TURP is the acronym for a Trans-Urethral Resection of the Prostate.  The prostate is a small, walnut sized organ that plays a key role in the reproductive process.  The problem is that the prostate, like the human ear and human nose keeps growing with age.   Half of all American men over age fifty and 80% of those over age 80, experience enlarged prostate.

Here’s what it means.  An enlarged prostate constricts the urethra, the narrow passageway that allows urine to be emptied from the bladder.  It means more “potty breaks” which in itself is only an inconvenience if there is a lavatory nearby.  But it can eventually impair health.  That’s why we see all of those Joe Theisman commercials on television.  For one thing it can mess with your sleep which in turn can affect other things.  And secondly, while the prostate grows very slowly and there is no need to rush into a procedure, the urethra can eventually become totally blocked and one would be forced to have an operation to open it up anyway.

I travel a lot internationally and can report that waking up in the middle of the night in Singapore, when it is only the afternoon back home, can make it harder to get back to sleep and sleep deprivation translates into a lower immune system and increased odds of a virus, flu and infection.

My struggle with BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or enlarged prostate, has been ongoing since my late thirties.  The question was, do I gamble that I will die before I need such an operation?  Or should I take care of it now rather than risk such an operation in my 80′s when it might be necessary anyway and could result in a heart attack on the operating table?

I lost a brother at 46 of a brain aneurysm and another at age 47 of a heart attack.  I am now 67 and am being treated for heart disease.  Taking the stairs can be a chore.  I was agnostic about nutritional solutions for BPH until desperation forced me to try saw palmetto.  It worked.  Nocturnal bathroom breaks were reduced from five to two but only when i could guarantee a regular routine of meals and sleep and a double the recommended dosage of saw palmetto.

Having just lost 20 pounds on an Isagenix diet and deciding that my heart disease and my BPH would only become more chronic with time, I decided to do the TURP now.  Yes, it is uncomfortable, yes there was some risk but there was also some risk in delay.  The advantage could be my first uninterrupted 8 hour sleep in 40 years.  That had to be worth something for my health.

Here is my list for surviving a TURP.

1.) Get ready.  I Googled everything and learned what I could.  There are even videos of the operation itself.  I made repeated visits to my cardiologist to make sure I was  as fit as possible.  This involved walking the dog 3 miles a day and a diet of Isagenix, vegan, non dairy shakes .  I visited Merdod Ghaffouri,  my cardiologist, and had a stress test EKG.  My last bloodwork showed my cholesterol had bottomed out at 120.  It was the lowest ever measured in my life and a far cry from the 324 registered at age 35.

2.) Get the best doctor for the procedure.  I chose Dr. Ali Sajadi.  He came with great recommendations from other doctors.  Ghaffouri said, “I know him, he will not recommend a procedure unless it is absolutely necessary.”  Those words are golden among doctors.  Sajadi was young but experienced.  You can’t beat that combination.   You want someone who knows the latest and if you are going to get a TURP you want someone who has done so many he can do it in his sleep.  This is key.   The surgery itself involves carving out a larger channel for the urethra, making it easier for the bladder to empty.  But the process of cutting away at prostate tissue and enlarging that channel involves inflammation, possible infection, bleeding and other complications. Don’t be shy, don’t be afraid to back out.  Your choice of doctor is crucial to what happens next.

3.) I had full anesthetic and was knocked out last Thursday at noon.   By 1 PM the operation was done.

4.) The purge.  Groggy and drugged, I was wheeled into a waiting hospital room where for me, the real work began.  With a tube inserted all the way up into my bladder, a saline solution was pumped through my system for 24 hours.  The nurse had to empty a bucket of my blood and urine every 90 minutes.  This was incredibly uncomfortable and I watched the clock on the wall as it slowly crawled its way into the evening and throughout the night.  There was no turning back now.  My father had experienced his first heart attack at age 48 after a long weekend without sleep.  So I tried to get get some rest but it was way too uncomfortable for sleep, not painful, but uncomfortable.  I managed only 30 minutes of shut eye.

5.) By morning the color of the urine in my bucket had turned from a deep red wine to a pink lemonade and the doctor pronounced himself satisfied.  The tube was withdrawn and I was sent home.  This was my goal from the beginning, to get that tube out before leaving the hospital.  I stated as much to Sajadi at the beginning.  I had read about patients lugging that tube and a bladder bag home for days.  My wife’s nurse friends had tales to tell.  But Sajadi understood what I wanted and while it could not be guaranteed he knew how it could likely be achieved and sought to make it work.

At home there was no pain, no bladder spasms, no irritation.  Not even Tylenol was needed.  The next morning my wife and I walked the dog for a mile and a half.  I had to force myself to take it easy.  It will be one week tomorrow and my sleep is already deep and restful.  My urinary stream is back.  From what I read it will take my body several weeks to adjust to this procedure and for me to fully heal and get back to normal.  No, I take that back.  I will not be getting back to normal, I will be turning back the clock 30 years to something long missed, something that was normal at age 35 but will now be empowering.

Bottom line?  Much time and pain can be saved by having a good plan.  Make sure you need it.  Make sure you get a good doctor.  Make sure you take time to rest.


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