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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 can’t 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 can’t 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, “I’m dead now. Don’t smoke.” Whenever that commercial came on, I ran to the TV to change the channel because it wasn’t 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. Don’t treat pain lightly. Pain is a wonderful thing. The reason it is wonderful is that it is an indicator. Someone once asked me, “ If you had one wish, what would it be?” And I said I wish to have no pain. And that, of course, would be terrible. I’d die of appendicitis or a heart attack because I wouldn’t know something was wrong. I react to pain. If I get a pain, I take it seriously. Don’t be afraid to bug your doctor. Ask your doctor, “What is this?”

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

LK: Yes, partner with your doctor. There are some people who say they don’t want to bother him or her. But that’s what they are there for.

GB: People are afraid of being a bother because they think it’ll affect their loved one’s care.

LK: You’re not a bother. You should be there. You don’t want to tell doctors what to do, but you have every right to be kept up to date. Ask “What’s happening?” “Why is it happening?” Second opinions are very important. Doctors can be wrong, too. You have to be proactive, and you have to be loving. And, it’s 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 that’s important because we are all terminal. So no doctor should ever say, “You’ve got a week to live.” This should not be said because no one knows.

GB: Don’t be afraid of firing your doctor.

LK: Absolutely, don’t be afraid. You are the client. People are so afraid of their doctors. They don’t want to tell them if they don’t feel well.

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

LK: To be proactive—to be there. Don’t treat your loved one with pain lightly. Take them seriously. If you have a wife who is depressed and says something like, “I could kill myself,” 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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