Song of the Day #1899

Song of the Day: New Year’s Day, words and lyrics by Scott Hoying, Mitch Grassi, Kevin Olusola, Martin Johnson, and Sam Hollander, is performed by Pentatonix. As the lyrics declare, when the Apple Falls in Time, we embrace the moments to come, our friends forever by our side … it’s time to celebrate like it’s New Year’s Day. Check out the studio version and a live performance [YouTube links]. A Very Happy and Healthy New Year to All!

Oh c’mon, that pic is so scary, it’s funny! 🙂

Betty White, RIP

Betty White was just about to celebrate her 100th birthday and was inviting everyone along for the ride. Sadly, she passed away today at the age of 99. She leaves behind a lot of warmth—and a ton of laughs!

Betty White (1922-2021)

OED: “Crappo”

Okay, okay, I count my blessings that I and my loved ones are here … but this was still funny. 🙂

Pearls Before Swine (Stephan Pastis, New York Daily News)

RIP, Dr. Hiromi Shinya

Today, I learned of the passing of Dr. Hiromi Shinya, who died in Tokyo, Japan on December 9, 2021. Dr. Shinya was a pioneer of colonoscopic techniques, the inventor of the electrosurgical polypectomy snare, which allowed for the removal of colon polyps without the need for invasive surgery. This is a deeply personal loss, as I will explain.

As Wikipedia tells us:

Hiromi Shinya was born [on March 6,] 1935 in the city of Yanagawa in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. … From a young age, his mother … encouraged him to earn a medical degree and pursue medicine in the United States. He graduated from Juntendo University School of Medicine in 1960. He then applied with nine hundred other candidates for one of fourteen openings for interns at the United States Naval Hospital in Yokosuka. Passage of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates examination was required for the program, necessitating a high degree of English fluency, so he “spent a lot of time going to American movies” to prepare. He married Miyoko Mogi on March 6, 1963. She was a nurse on the Yokosuka Naval base. She graduated from Tokyo University nursing school.

Following his internship, Dr. Shinya would go on to complete a surgical residency at Beth Israel Medical Center, becoming involved in a revolutionary new technique in gastrointestinal medicine: endoscopic and colonoscopic procedures. From Wikipedia:

Shinya began developing colonoscopic techniques with an esophagoscope from Olympus Optical Co., Ltd.. The instrument was a short fiberscope with a two-way maneuverable tip and was designed for use on the esophagus, but with it, Shinya was able to reach the splenic flexure—the first bend in the colon—about 50% of the time. While other doctors were concurrently developing colonoscopic techniques, most of them practiced a two-person technique, with one person controlling the direction of the tip while the other controlled insertion. Shinya was in the minority who rejected this procedure, preferring to develop methods which allowed one endoscopist to perform colonoscopy reliably. As a result, “many and probably most of the fundamental principles of the procedure were developed by Dr. Shinya”. By the beginning of 1969, Olympus had introduced several iterations of dedicated colonoscopes, and Shinya was able to reach the cecum—located at the end of the colon—in 90% of his patients. Shinya’s other major contribution to colonoscopy was the invention of the electrosurgical polypectomy snare, known as the “Shinya snare” with the support of Olympus employee Hiroshi Ichikawa. Even before the results of the National Polyp Study linked colon polyps to colon cancer, Shinya instinctively “thought the polyp was the forerunner of cancer and that removing these polyps could reduce the risk of cancer”. Since polyp removal accounted for 30% of the colon surgery of the day, Shinya’s primary focus from his first experiences with colonoscopy was a noninvasive method of performing polypectomy. On January 8, 1969, he and Hiroshi Ichikawa sketched out the first plans for a snare attached to the end of a colonoscope that would allow for easy removal of polyps during colonoscopy. … Shinya … performed the first colonoscopic electrosurgical snare polypectomy in September 1969. In 1970, he delivered the first report of the procedure to the New York Surgical Society, and in May 1971 presented his experiences to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.


This development made Shinya famous worldwide. There was immediate demand for his procedure, with his performing 20 colonoscopies a day. To date, he has performed approximately 370,000 colonoscopies and given nearly 300 live demonstrations of the technique. Polypectomy has gone on to surpass “all other endoscopic therapeutic procedures in terms of numbers performed” and “impacts the lives of millions of people throughout the world.” According to Michael Sivak Jr., it is the most important achievement in gastrointestinal endoscopy.

I can testify personally to the greatness of this man. I spent the bulk of my childhood deathly sick, and despite countless tests from scores of doctors, not a single doctor could come up with a diagnosis for the extreme intestinal symptoms I was experiencing—even as I was, essentially, withering away. By the time I was 13 years old, I was around 60 lbs.

Only my family doctor, Dr. Harry Karounos, was convinced—after performing a GI series in his own office (yes, they did that back then)—that it might be suppression of the duodenum caused by the Superior Mesenteric Artery. There was no way to get confirmation of this extremely rare condition known as Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome, a condition not clinically described until 1861, and not fully defined until 1927. There had only been a reported 400 congenital cases of SMAS in the literature (other acute cases related to body casts, have been diagnosed since, including one related to the spinal injury suffered by Christopher Reeve). The condition is so rare that it wasn’t until 2017 that a not-for-profit organization was founded to heighten awareness of it: Superior Mesenteric Artery Syndrome Research Awareness Support. In October of that same year, only “The Good Doctor”, in the second episode of its first season, featured a story in which a young girl nearly dies from it.

Back in 1973, we were extremely fortunate to have learned of the revolutionary new techniques in endoscopic medicine being performed by Dr. Shinya. We were able to schedule an esaphagogastroduodenoscopy, which Dr. Shinya performed on me, in his office, under sedation. In 20-30 minutes, Dr. Shinya provided a conclusive SMAS diagnosis. A few months later, on April 21, 1974, at Methodist Hospital, in Brooklyn—the hospital in which I was born in 1960—I was reborn, when Dr. Joseph Bochetto performed a major surgical duodenojejunostomy, by-passing the obstructed third and fourth portions of the duodenum. (There were no laproscopic surgical techniques available at the time.)

In the years since, I developed quite a few complications due to the by-pass surgery. I’ve had 60+ procedures since, all in some way related to the condition and its postoperative side effects. I discussed this condition in a Folks interview back in 2018, and in Notablog entries in January 2018 related to it.

But I am alive—and flourishing—to talk about. I have lived a happy, loving, and productive life, and I simply would not be here if it were not for Dr. Shinya. I mourn his passing, but I celebrate his life. He remains one of the greatest healers to have ever graced this planet. He was also a gentle man, a beautiful soul who was a source of enormous comfort—and hope—anytime you were in his caring presence.

There is an age-restricted video of Dr. Shinya performing a colonoscopy (not for the faint of heart) on YouTube; at his side in the video is his protégé, my current doctor: Dr. Mark Cwern. I thank Dr. Shinya not only for having saved my life, but for having provided me with the gift of Dr. Cwern, who has been by my side for many years, a man who has carried on the legacy of Dr. Shinya with enormous integrity and kindness.

Unfortunately, I have not found a single obituary to mark the passing of this giant in the field of gastrointestinal medicine. To his family, friends, and colleagues, I offer my deepest condolences. To the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives he personally saved, to the many millions of people whose lives have been saved due to the enormous contributions he has made, I dedicate this tribute. Thank you, dearest doctor, for all that you did for me. Rest in peace.

Dr. Hiromi Shinya (1935-2021)

A Cat’s Life

After putting up a hilarious graphic depicting “A Dog’s Life”, the cats are demanding equal time. Well, H/T to my friend, Kevin Carson.

A Cat at Christmas


Song of the Day #1898

Song of the Day: Ben-Hur / King of Kings (“A Christmas Sequence”) [YouTube link], composed by Miklos Rozsa, arranged by Christopher Palmer, is a lovely ‘mash-up’ of the music from two of Rozsa’s film score masterpieces: “Ben-Hur” (1959) and “King of Kings” (1961). It takes the cues related to the birth of Christ from both films and presents us with an inspirational thematic celebration of peace on earth, goodwill to all. The sequence is conducted by George Fenton, and performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra and the London Choral Society. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! (And it’s my Greek Name Day too! Yay!)

Santa Stops By The Big Apple …

… though if you ask me, it’s a little early for “the city that never sleeps,” but hey, we’re traditionalists. We don’t open up presents until Christmas morning! (Okay, maybe one after midnight! 😉 )

Peace and Goodwill … in the Midst of Carnage

This is still one of the most remarkable stories of spontaneous peace and goodwill … in the midst of the carnage of war. From today’s Los Angeles Times article by Kevin Baxter:

The first Christmas of World War I was a hellish time for Alfred Dougan Chater, a second lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders, who woke that morning in a freezing, muddy trench less than 100 yards from the German lines in West Flanders, Belgium. It was 1914 and the bloodiest fighting of the still-young conflict had ended in a stalemate. Corpses littered the deadly “No Man’s Land” separating the two sides along the Western Front, where hope had long since given way to despair and disillusionment. So what Chater saw next, he wrote his mother, was “one of the most extraordinary sights that anyone has ever seen.” All along a 20-mile stretch of the Western front, unarmed German troops began climbing over the parapets and walking toward the British side simply to shake hands and exchange greetings, the first tentative steps toward what is likely the largest spontaneous Christmas truce in modern history, one in which the warring armies shared cigars, good cheer, chocolate and, in more than one place, a game of soccer.

Check out “Peace for a day: How soccer brought a brief truce to World War I on Christmas Day 1914.”

Bring on Valentine’s Day?

LOL … ain’t it the truth!