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The Larry King Interview (Page 3 of 3)

"King of Hearts"
An Interview with Larry King

LK: The one thing you canít do anything about is your genes. Everything else you can do something about. My father died of a heart attack when he was 47. I inherited that gene. My brother did not have a heart attack but needed heart surgery six months after I did. My children have to be regularly checked. Odds are my children have the gene as well. Now, they have to do what I do. You canít defeat the gene but you can stop smoking and exercise. I smoked three packs a day. I always thought it would never happen to me. I did some stupid things. I would buy the pack of cigarettes and read the warnings on the pack and that bothered me. Take Yul Brenner. He made a tape before he died. You can see him saying, ďIím dead now. Donít smoke.Ē Whenever that commercial came on, I ran to the TV to change the channel because it wasnít going to happen to me. But it did happen to me. So eat the right foods, watch what you eat, and keep your cholesterol down. There are amazing medicines out there. There are drugs that my father did not have like Lipitor. If you can keep you weight down, keep your cholesterol down, exercise regularly, watch yourself and make sure to react to pain. Donít treat pain lightly. Pain is a wonderful thing. The reason it is wonderful is that it is an indicator. Someone once asked me, ď If you had one wish, what would it be?Ē And I said I wish to have no pain. And that, of course, would be terrible. Iíd die of appendicitis or a heart attack because I wouldnít know something was wrong. I react to pain. If I get a pain, I take it seriously. Donít be afraid to bug your doctor. Ask your doctor, ďWhat is this?Ē

GB: You believe that people need to partner with their doctor.

LK: Yes, partner with your doctor. There are some people who say they donít want to bother him or her. But thatís what they are there for.

GB: People are afraid of being a bother because they think itíll affect their loved oneís care.

LK: Youíre not a bother. You should be there. You donít want to tell doctors what to do, but you have every right to be kept up to date. Ask ďWhatís happening?Ē ďWhy is it happening?Ē Second opinions are very important. Doctors can be wrong, too. You have to be proactive, and you have to be loving. And, itís very good to have a doctor who knows the emotional side, too. A hand holder is very good as well as an upbeat doctor rather than a low-key doctor. And thatís important because we are all terminal. So no doctor should ever say, ďYouíve got a week to live.Ē This should not be said because no one knows.

GB: Donít be afraid of firing your doctor.

LK: Absolutely, donít be afraid. You are the client. People are so afraid of their doctors. They donít want to tell them if they donít feel well.

GB: Do you have one piece of advice you can give to family caregivers?

LK: To be proactiveóto be there. Donít treat your loved one with pain lightly. Take them seriously. If you have a wife who is depressed and says something like, ďI could kill myself,Ē take that seriously. In other words, be there. Those are the two best words.

GB: Those are terrific two words. I appreciate your time.

LK: My pleasure.


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