HORSE’S MOUTH: Doctors and Medications

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA
(First published in The Rafu Shimpo on February 23, 2011.)

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Well, they may have to change the name of a Japanese restaurant in Studio City. Right now, it’s called the “A Ca-Shi” sushi restaurant. Its main attraction is “all you can eat sushi” for a set price.

Seems like recently, a customer named David Martin dropped in to partake in the “all you can eat” benefit provided by the restaurant.

Only problem was that Martin has Type 2 diabetes and he can’t eat rice. At least, “all you can eat.” So, he left the rice and just consumed the sashimi on top of each sushi. The owner offered him “just sashimi” for $25 for two servings.

Martin filed a lawsuit in L.A. Superior Court seeking $4,000 damages for humiliation, embarrassment and mental anguish.

The restaurant’s argument is that rice is part of the “all you can eat” sushi, which naturally cuts down the number of sushi a customer can devour against just eating the sashimi on top of the sushi.

The hearing on the lawsuit begins next week.

Will try to keep my eyes open to see how all this turns out.

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I know that Em Yamada is uncomfortable when I refer to her as an “old” friend because it may make her sound like an “old” person in age. Not so.

I call Em an “old” friend because I knew her before she ran for and became a Nisei Week Queen.

Em, who puts together the former Nisei Week Queens’ reunion every year, sent me an interesting e-mail the other day about former Nisei Week Queens. This is her e-mail:

“Hi, George. I read in yesterday’s paper that Shizuko Suyeishi passed away on Jan. 27, 2011, at the age of 91. She was the 1939 Nisei Week Queen. My records show that seven former queens have passed away. They are:

1935 – Alice Watanabe Iino.

1936 – Clara Suzuki Yoshimura, passed away 11/19/07, age 95.

1938 – Margaret Nishikawa Kawaichi, passed away 1/11/08, age 93

1939 – Shizuko Narahara Suyeishi, passed away 1/17/2011, age 93

1940 – Shizue Kobayashi Yamato, passed away 1953 (no age given)

1941 – Reiko Inouye (no date or age given)

“Nisei Week referred to the 1939 queen as Shizue but in the obituary she is listed as Shizuko. I have met or talked with every queen except the 1936 and 1941 queens. Don’t know how long I will be doing this. Take care. – Em”

Thanks a million for the information you sent to me.

I’m sure many of the old-time Nisei in our community weren’t aware of that information.

It sure makes me realize about the passing of time.

Hope we can get together for, maybe, a cup of coffee in Little Tokyo.

I know we see each other at the queens’ reunion during Nisei Week, but you’re so busy putting on the get-together, we really don’t have time to chat about the “good old days” when you reigned as the queen of the annual festival.

You know “old” friends should get together as often as they can.

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When we talk about aging, most of those who are seniors probably are taking prescription drugs. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, about half of all Americans are doing so and 21 percent take three or more prescribed drugs.

Jonathan Kurohara, medical director of the Free Clinic of Simi Valley, recently presented a “Medication Management” discussion. Among the main points was that while the medications may prolong or improve the person’s quality of life, drugs can have downsides, including side effects.

Many seniors take a wide variety of medications and since many interact with each other, or can cause side effects, it is important for them to understand what questions to ask when their doctors prescribe a new medication. This is important if they are seeing several different physicians.

Kurohara, a past chief of staff at Simi Valley Hospital, attended Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago and Harbor/UCLA Medical Center for family practice training.

At his discussion, he touched on how doctors choose medications for their patients and offered tips on how patients can work with their doctors to find the right medication.

Kurohara said, “This is my first time doing this type of subject. I am having difficult finding information from medical resources. It isn’t discussed much in the medical literature, but I believe the public is interested.”

His discussion was geared for those 60 and older and covered medication and chronic medical conditions and diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and hypercholesterol.

He emphasized that more medication doesn’t necessarily mean better health.

“Medications are a large part of health care these days,” he added. “I believe about $260 billion was spent on medication last year.”

Kurohara said, “It’s a new subject for me and probably most doctors. We doctors and patients want to work together. Our goal is to keep patients active, healthy and happy.”

I’m quite aware of what the doctor is telling us.

The medical practice has changed so much since we became a part of the Medicare program. We don’t choose our doctors any more.

In the old days, my doctors were Nisei and we had a more than patient/doctor relationship.

Today we are sent from one MD to another and it seems that each new doctor is uninformed about what the other physician is doing for us.

So today, I carry a typed-out sheet of all the medication I am taking because each time I go to a new doctor, the first question I am asked is, “What kind of medicine are you taking?”

Don’t the doctors communicate with each other about the patients referred to them?

Oh well, enuff said about this not-so-comfortable subject.

I’m not sure how he came to be named “Godzilla,” but former Angels player Hideki Matsui will now be playing for the Oakland A’s.

So how did the A’s welcome the Japanese star? They made a balloon resembling Godzilla and put it next to his locker in the A’s clubhouse.

The A’s are making a big deal out of their new acquisition.

They’re holding a “Welcome Hideki Matsui” Day on April 13 when the A’s play host to the Seattle Mariners.

I’m curious why the Dodgers, who have employed a number of Japanese players, have never held a “day” honoring at least one of them.

The A’s are presenting “Hideki Matsui” T-shirts to the first 10,000 fans entering the stadium. So probably 5,000 JAs will be wearing Matsui shirts around the Bay Area.

Of course, we all know that the Mariners’ star is Ichiro Suzuki.

That alone should stimulate the JA fans in the Bay Area.

And, oh yes, the featured entertainment will be a presentation of a taiko group. I’m kind of curious how taiko has become a symbol of Japanese culture, especially for me because I’m not a taiko fan.

Another feature of the “Matsui Day” will be the appearance of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen, Arisa Hiroi.

The Cherry Blossom Queen is the equivalent of our Nisei Week Queen.

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While touching on baseball, I’m curious if the refreshment stands at Dodger Stadium will one day add “Gourmet Dog Japon” to their menu.

It’s the fancy name for a hot dog. According to reports, it’s fast becoming  a popular fast food.

So, just what is a “Dog Japon”?

It’s a hotdog covered with Japanese condiments. Ingredients such as pickled ginger, pickled vegetables and furikake, a blend of nori and spices.

However, it’s not cheap. They go for 5 bucks.

Of course, at Dodger Stadium the hotdogs costs 5 bucks anyway and people feel that’s a bit expensive. So that may be a hold on “Dog Japon.”

Oh yeah, they also have what is called a “Samurai Dog.”

It’s a chicken-apple sausage loaded with onions, radish, shoyu and wasabi mayonnaise.

How would you like to eat something like that between the 4th and 5th innings?

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Okay, how can I complete a column without mentioning Las Vegas?

I thought next week I’d be writing a column from my favorite city since I had an invitation from Al Morita, who is having his annual basketball event on the weekend.

However, nowadays, it’s getting tough to squeeze in my usual Vegas visit, so I guess I’ll just have to write about the place rather than donating to the slot machines.

One interesting tidbit I picked up on Vegas is that one of the alcoholic beverages growing in popularity is sake. That’s right. The Japanese drink.

The New York Times carried a two-page story on the newest alcohol drink being served in Vegas.

They even listed 12 of the most popular sake bars in Vegas. Needless to say, 11 of the sites have “Japanese” names. The only exception is “Decibel,” located at 340 E. 9th St.

So, if you’re a sake fan, you have plenty of choices as to where you might want to go.

Of course, according to the story, “It ain’t cheap.”

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Today’s laugher dedicated to Nisei golfers:

Several Nisei golfers are in the locker room of a popular local golf club. A cell phone on a bench rings and Hiroshi engages the hands-free speaker function and begins to talk. Everyone else in the room stops to listen to the conversation:

Hiroshi: “Hello.”

Woman on the phone: “Hi, Honey, it’s me. Are you at the club?”

Hiroshi: “Yes.”

Woman: “I’m at the shop now and found this beautiful leather coat. It’s only $2,000. Is it okay if I buy it?”

Hiroshi: “Sure, go ahead if you like it that much.”

Woman: “I also stopped at the Lexus dealership and saw the new model. I saw one that I really like.”

Hiroshi: “How much?”

Woman: “$90,000.”

Hiroshi: “Okay, but for that price I want it with all the options.”

Woman: “Great! Oh, and one more thing. I was just talking to Masako and found that the house I wanted last year is back on the market. They’re asking $980,000 for it.”

Hiroshi: “Well, then go ahead and make an offer of $900,000. They’ll probably take it. If not, we can go the extra 80,000 if it’s what you really want.”

Woman: “Okay. I’ll see you later. I love you so much.”

Hiroshi: “Bye. I love you, too.”

Then Hiroshi hangs up. The other Nisei in the locker room are staring at him in astonishment, mouths wide open.

Hiroshi turns to his friends and asks, “Anyone know whose phone this is?”

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George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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