by Dr. Iain Corness
Update Saturday, Oct. 21 - Oct. 27, 2017
In case you think
Death and taxes are touted as the only
sureties in this life, but there are some people around who are not quite
ready for the pipe, slippers and Labrador, and the record for longevity is
held by a French lady, who saw more than the Moulin Rouge in her lifetime.
She was Jeanne Louise Calment who had the longest
confirmed human Lifespan on record: 122 years and 164 days. That is some
It seems that fate strongly approved of the way Madame
Calment lived her life. Jeanne was born in Arles, France, on 21st February
When the Eiffel Tower was built, she was 14 year old.
It was at this time that she met Vincent van Gogh. Her description of the
famous painter was, “He was dirty, badly dressed and disagreeable,” she
recalled in an interview given in 1988.
When she was 85, she took up fencing, and she was still
riding on her bike when she reached 100.
When Jeanne was 114, she starred in a film about her
life; at 115 she had an operation on her hip, and at 117 she gave up smoking
(having started at the age of 21 in 1896). So much for fears of lung cancer
in her life, after smoking for 96 years. It is said, she didn’t give it up
for health reasons, but because she didn’t like having to ask someone to
help her light a cigarette once she was becoming almost blind.
In 1965, Jeanne was 90 years old and had no heirs.
However, she had a very sharp business mind. She signed a deal to sell her
apartment to a 47 year old lawyer called André-François Raffray. He agreed
to pay her a monthly sum of 2,500 francs on the condition that he would
inherit her apartment after she died. However, Raffray not only ended up
paying Jeanne for 30 years, but died before she did at the age of 77.
Under French law, his widow was legally obliged to
continue paying Madam Calment until the end of her days.
When she was asked on her 120th birthday what kind of
future she expected to have, she replied, “A very short one.”
She gave us some rules of life, from her 122 years of
Being young is a state of mind, it doesn’t depend on
one’s body, I’m actually still a young girl; it’s just that I haven’t looked
so good for the past 70 years.
I’ve only got one wrinkle, and I’m sitting on it.
All babies are beautiful.
I’ve been forgotten by our good lord. (My dear old Mum,
who died aged 94 used to say the same thing, adding I’ve gone past my use-by
I’m in love with wine.
Always keep your smile. That’s how I explain my long
life. (Thai people who use the famous Thai smile might just be onto
If you can’t change something, don’t worry about it.
I have a huge desire to live and a big appetite,
especially for sweets.
I never wear mascara; I laugh until I cry too often.
I see badly, I hear badly, and I feel bad, but
everything’s fine. (Now there’s a positive attitude!)
I think I will die of laughter.
I have legs of iron, but to tell you the truth, they’re
starting to rust and buckle a bit.
I took pleasure when I could. I acted clearly and
morally and without regret. I’m very lucky.
(At the end of one interview, in response to a
journalist who said he hoped they would meet again the following year, she
replied “Why not? You’re not that old; you’ll still be here.)
Now, do remember that this was one French lady, not a
group of French ladies, so you can’t use her personal history to justify
smoking, for example.
Update Saturday October 14 - October 20, 2017
Give the Labrador away to a good home
A Great Aunt of
mine is remembered for her distrust of technology. With this new fangled
“electricity” being piped into the homes in the UK, in her house, she
would put plasters over the power points as she was sure the electricity
would leak out of the holes and discolor the wall paper. I wonder what
she would have done about SuperSight?
is a revolutionary procedure that has changed the lives of many in
Pattaya. In fact, two of my doctor friends here have had this done, and
both are very happy with the end result.
So, are you over 50
and using spectacles to read this article? Do you hate your reading
glasses? If so, help is at hand!
is in the forefront of ophthalmic procedures. The world leader is Dr.
Somchai Trakoolshokesatian and he consults out of the Bangkok Hospital
Pattaya. He has been carrying out this procedure for ten years on over
3000 patients and has perfected the technique to ensure good results for
each individual patient, with success and satisfaction rates of almost
need for reading glasses is a natural progression of aging. The first
signs are the fact that you have to hold this newspaper further away to
be able to read it, and you also find that you need a good light to be
able to see the words clearly. Eventually you succumb and buy reading
glasses, to which you become a slave. Eventually you keep one pair at
home, another in the car and another in the office. And your nose gets
funny indentations either side of the bridge, where the spectacles
As you get older,
all the ‘elastic’ tissues in your body become less pliable. Knees, lower
back, fingers, neck, the list is endless. However, you have to add to
that list, the lens in your eye. The fiddly little lens, supplied at
birth as a standard feature, does not have a fixed focus, but under your
control you can make it focus close up (to read) and then also focus at
a distance. The way you do this is by ‘bending’ the lens to be able to
focus on near objects. Unfortunately, as the lens becomes less pliable,
the muscles in your eye become unable to bend the stiffening lens enough
to produce the near point focus. The near point moves further away,
until you have run out of arms, as described previously. We call this
is yet another result of aging that occurs in the lens of the eye. This
is a gradual cloudiness which lowers the visual acuity, and eventually
brings on blindness. This is called a cataract. So not only can you not
see well enough to read the magazines, but you also begin to lose your
distance vision. Welcome to the wonderful world of white sticks and
Labrador dogs. Even the World Health Organization says there are
currently between 12 and 15 million people blind from cataracts.
The initial method
of treating this was by removal of the now optically inefficient natural
lens, and attempting to return some usable vision through the
introduction of very thick and heavy spectacles placed before the eye.
These glasses looked as if the lenses were made from the bottom of
Coca-Cola bottles (registered trade mark and all), and were just as
heavy. The patient could see again, but reading required even thicker
lenses, or hand-held magnifying glasses. Not all that comfortable, but
beats the alternative.
So we come to the
development in intra-ocular lenses (IOLs), where the hardened lenses are
replaced by other, very special lenses. These are multi-focal lenses,
with the brain picking the necessary focus as required. This is
SuperSight Surgery and with these lenses you can read your golf
scorecard with your near vision, focus on the ball on the tee with your
intermediate vision and then using your distance vision watch it gently
arcing into the water hazard. (These new IOLs can improve your sight,
but not your golf.)
If you want to know
more, consult Dr Somchai at Bangkok Hospital Pattaya and reduce your
dependence on contact lenses or glasses. You will be amazed.
Update Saturday October 7 - October 13, 2017
The world is running
out of antibiotics
The World Health
Organization (WHO) released a damning report last month. Their report
covered antibacterial agents in clinical development – an analysis of the
antibacterial clinical development pipeline, including tuberculosis, was
launched by WHO showing a serious lack of new antibiotics under development
to combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance.
To be frank, I have not
always agreed with the WHO, over-reacting with Bird Flu, for example, but
this latest report does foretell future clinical problems.
Most of the drugs
currently in the clinical pipeline are modifications of existing classes of
antibiotics and are only short-term solutions. The report found very few
potential treatment options for those antibiotic-resistant infections
identified by WHO as posing the greatest threat to health, including
drug-resistant tuberculosis which kills around 250 000 people each year.
resistance is a global health emergency that will seriously jeopardize
progress in modern medicine,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Director-General of WHO. “There is an urgent need for more investment in
research and development for antibiotic-resistant infections including TB,
otherwise we will be forced back to a time when people feared common
infections and risked their lives from minor surgery.”
In addition to
multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, WHO has identified 12 classes of priority
pathogens – some of them causing common infections such as pneumonia or
urinary tract infections – that are increasingly resistant to existing
antibiotics and urgently in need of new treatments.
The report identifies
51 new antibiotics and biologicals in clinical development to treat priority
antibiotic-resistant pathogens, as well as tuberculosis and the sometimes
deadly diarrhoeal infection Clostridium difficile.
Among all these
candidate medicines, however, only 8 are classed by WHO as innovative
treatments that will add value to the current antibiotic treatment arsenal.
There is a serious lack
of treatment options for multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant M.
tuberculosis and gram-negative pathogens, including Acinetobacter and
Enterobacteriaceae (such as Klebsiella and E.coli) which can cause severe
and often deadly infections that pose a particular threat in hospitals and
There are also very few
oral antibiotics in the pipeline, yet these are essential formulations for
treating infections outside hospitals or in resource-limited settings.
companies and researchers must urgently focus on new antibiotics against
certain types of extremely serious infections that can kill patients in a
matter of days because we have no line of defense,” says Dr Suzanne Hill,
Director of the Department of Essential Medicines at WHO.
To counter this threat,
WHO and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) set up the Global
Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (known as GARDP). On 4
September 2017, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Africa,
Switzerland and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and
the Wellcome Trust pledged more than €56 million for this work. (But that is
only 10 million euro each.)
tuberculosis is seriously underfunded, with only two new antibiotics for
treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis having reached the market in over
70 years,” says Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the WHO Global Tuberculosis
Programme. “If we are to end tuberculosis, more than US$ 800 million per
year is urgently needed to fund research for new antituberculosis
New treatments alone,
however, will not be sufficient to combat the threat of antimicrobial
resistance. WHO works with countries and partners to improve infection
prevention and control and to foster appropriate use of existing and future
antibiotics. WHO is also developing guidance for the responsible use of
antibiotics in the human, animal and agricultural sectors.
So how did the
antibiotic group begin to lose its power over simple infections? What you
have to understand is that antibiotics are not ‘new’. Penicillin was
discovered in 1928, the first true antibiotic, by Sir Alexander Fleming,
Professor of Bacteriology at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. But at that time
its future relevance was not known. The first Sulfa drugs (M&B 693) was one
of the early generation of sulphonamide antibiotics developed in 1938.
Once it was seen that
these compounds killed bugs they became overused, and the bugs began to
develop an immunity. Public demand increased so even more antibiotics were
used, including now over the counter in many countries. WHO is just showing
the problem, but not the answer, I’m afraid.