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Long Covid, Gabby Giffords, Deadline Cafe

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley
The Truth Network Radio
July 17, 2022 2:09 pm

Long Covid, Gabby Giffords, Deadline Cafe

Sunday Morning / Jane Pauley

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July 17, 2022 2:09 pm

On this edition of CBS “Sunday Morning” hosted by Jane Pauley. In our cover story, Ben Tracy talks with former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, subject of a new documentary. Plus: Serena Altschul profiles celebrated abstract artist Sean Scully; Dr. Jon LaPook looks at the effects of "long COVID"; David Martin sits down with Medal of Honor recipient and poet Major John Duffy; Jane Pauley interviews bestselling author of books for young people Jason Reynolds; and Liz Palmer visits a café in Tokyo where customers are on deadline.

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Let's partner for all of it. Learn more at Good morning. I'm Jane Pauley, and this is Sunday Morning. If you're planning to join the crowd today at the beach, maybe take in a movie, it's our unfortunate duty to remind you COVID is still very much with us. In fact, infections are on the rise. Now, of the millions of Americans who will contract the virus, many will fully recover in a matter of weeks.

Many, but not all. The risks of the medical mystery that's come to be known as long COVID are very real, which is why the doctor is in this morning. Our Dr. John Lapook is taking a closer look at long COVID. As America enters its third summer of COVID, one lesson is becoming more and more clear. Some who contract the illness do not bounce back to their pre-COVID health. Everybody wants the pandemic to be over. The pandemic is far from over for me. Researchers are urgently searching for ways to help. I want to be very clear about this. The symptoms and the disease are absolutely real.

We are failing right now as physicians in figuring out how to identify that and how to characterize it. The search for answers about long COVID later on Sunday morning. Ben Tracy catches up with gun control advocate Gabby Giffords, along with her husband, astronaut and Senator Mark Kelly.

Elizabeth Palmer checks out the Deadline Cafe, where writer's block is never on the menu. David Martin has the poetic tale of one of the Vietnam vets just awarded the Medal of Honor. Plus my conversation with young adult author Jason Reynolds, a story from Steve Hartman, and more this Sunday morning for the 17th of July 2022.

We'll be right back. She was a respected member of Congress, then tragedy turned her into the face of a movement. Ben Tracy is talking with Gabby Giffords and her husband, Senator Mark Kelly, as they look back and press ahead. If you spend some time with Gabby Giffords, you'll likely be treated to a tune or two. But in her speech therapy sessions, finding her words can still be a challenge.

But the crew, but the whole crew was fantastic. Because of a brain disorder known as aphasia. Aphasia really sucks. The words are there in my brain.

I just can't get them out. And yet she has never lost her voice. Stopping gun violence takes courage.

Or her unyielding optimism. My spirit's strong as ever. I'm still fighting to make the world a better place and you can too. Giffords has been fighting every day since January 8th, 2011, when a gunman opened fire at her Congress on Your Corner event in Tucson, Arizona. 19 people were shot. Six died.

Gabby Giffords was shot in the head. In terms of your recovery, how do you feel about where you're at? I'm optimistic.

It will be a long hard haul, but I'm optimistic. That spirit is what made the former House Democrat a rising political star. The immediate need for a comprehensive immigration reform package. And now powers her push to end gun violence. Too many children are dying. We must do something. Look at you.

Her improbable journey is at the center of a new documentary now in theaters, aptly titled, Gabby Giffords Won't Back Down. I love to talk. I'm Gabby. And sometimes I think the word inspired is overused. It's certainly appropriate to Gabby. It makes you feel like, wow, she can do that.

Look at what challenges I might take on. Right. But filmmakers, Betsy West and Julie Cohen, admit they were worried whether this project would even work. Was there any concern about her limited ability to communicate and being the subject who has to carry a documentary?

Yeah, absolutely. Is Gabby's story going to be too depressing? But then we met Gabby. This is the most extraordinarily resilient, ebullient, adorable, hilarious musical human being you could ever get to know.

How about two fingers? The film shows each often agonizing step of Giffords recovery. Gabby, are you frustrated? Much of it taped by her husband, former astronaut and now Arizona Senator Mark Kelly.

What in you said we should document this? The reason I did it is when you have an injury like that, you're not going to remember the, you know, the early days of rehab and recovery. And I wanted her to be able to, you know, see what that was like. Gabby, America, thank you. After the shooting, she gave up her seat in Congress. Hello, my fellow Arizonans. And then in 2020, Mark Kelly took up her mantle, running for Senate to complete the term of the late John McCain. He's tough, he's smart, he worked just as hard as I do. Well, almost.

His entry into politics has led to a surprising role reversal for the couple. I was there for her, you know, through the recovery month after month, you know, year after year. And now with me running for the United States Senate, you know, I've got an expert, you know, that with a lot of great advice. It's a long to-do list, but I'm used to those. Slow down. The checklist for flying the space shuttle stands about six feet tall.

The Senate, though, is not NASA. Arizonans sent me here. Slow down. But Arizonans sent me here to talk really slowly, because that's what Gabby Giffords wants. When I was on the floor of the Senate giving that speech. It's a long to-do list, but hey, I'm used to those.

I could hear Gabby in my head. Saying, slow down. Slow down. How do you think he's doing? Fantastic.

Thank you. Dangerous people with guns... For Giffords, gun reform remains her priority, through her organization that advocates for universal background checks on gun buyers. Be bold, be courageous, the nation's counting on you. Last month, when President Biden signed the first significant gun reform legislation in nearly three decades, that measure was not included. Do you think that was the best you could get? And if so, is that all we should expect? Well, I think there's something to be said for compromise. I think our country is a better place when Republicans and Democrats can work together to solve problems. This is an issue that makes our country stand out in... The worst of worlds. Yeah, in the worst of ways. Yeah, in the worst of ways, and it's something the American people want addressed. And we did this with this legislation.

Since what happened here in Tucson, there have been so many countless mass shootings in this country. Does it feel in some way as a country we've just kind of accepted that this is going to happen? No. We shouldn't.

No. Yeah, we shouldn't. Sometimes it might take us a little while to get to it, but no other country on this planet is as good at solving problems as the United States of America. No turning back. Fight, fight, fight every day. Gabby is one of the most courageous people I have ever known. Just a few days ago at the White House, Giffords received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her advocacy. Because of her, lives will be saved and America will be safer.

And while it's tempting to dismiss her optimism that we will end our country's plague of gun violence as either naive or just stubborn, you then remember the long odds Gabby Giffords has already beaten. For me, it has been really important to move ahead, to not look back. I hope others are inspired to keep moving forward, no matter what. No matter what. No matter what. No matter what. No matter what. For most, recovering from COVID-19 takes patients and the right medication.

But for those diagnosed with long COVID, it's a very different story. And as our Dr. John Lapook explains, for those patients, life is a constant search for treatment, for relief, and for answers. In everyday conversation, people say, hey, how are you? Or in emails, hi, hope all is well. And those conversations and those questions are really hard for me to answer. What do you answer? I say, well, I'm doing all right.

For Ken Todd, all right is very much a relative term. Since contracting COVID-19 back in January 2021, Todd has never made a full recovery, making him one of the millions who suffer from long COVID. The CDC defines long COVID as health problems that persist more than a month after a COVID infection. And for this 53-year-old media executive, long COVID is very much a fact of life. It's very discouraging.

I was doing everything I was told to do. The doctors told me, however, that I would not see improvement over the course of weeks. It would be more like over the course of months. You know, it's very isolating. You feel like you're disconnected to the world. The world is moving on without you, and you kind of feel invisible. That's a terrible feeling.

It is. Ken Todd works for CBS's parent company, Paramount Global. But we met him through Survivor Corps, a long COVID patient support organization.

Todd used to be a CrossFit fanatic. But a month after contracting COVID, he found even a stroll in the park would exhaust him. Were you short of breath at all? I was not short of breath. No chest pains?

Nope. Just a weird feeling. I went home and I slept for probably a couple of hours and then felt better. But that was really the beginning of realizing that something different is going on here. Good morning.

How are you? What's been going on are the unresolved and two outside appearances largely invisible consequences of COVID-19. For Ken Todd, that means fatigue, dizziness, inability to regulate his body temperature, and difficulty concentrating.

Those are among the most typical symptoms, though chest pain, palpitations, and shortness of breath are also commonly reported. Can you diagnose long COVID on a blood test? No. X-ray? No. CAT scan? No. MRI? No. Brain scan? No. Physical exam? No. So you can imagine how that would be disconcerting to somebody who has some symptoms?

Yes, indeed. The scientific community needs to quickly understand what's going on. It needs to quickly make some criteria, some diagnostic rules. Here at NYU Langone Health, where I'm a professor of medicine, Dr. Leora Horwitz has gone from treating patients during the worst of the pandemic to searching for a way to diagnose and treat long COVID. Dr. Horwitz is helping to guide a $1 billion study run by the National Institutes of Health. It's called Recover, and its goal is to learn why so many people who contract COVID-19 are reporting long-term symptoms.

I've been in research for 25 years. I have never seen a study of this scale and this scope start in such a short amount of time. Why do you think this is taking off quicker than usual? Because COVID is an emergency. Consider this. The Centers for Disease Control reports more than half of all Americans have been infected with COVID-19, and as many as one in five infected adults have experienced a symptom suggestive of long COVID.

That's tens of millions. Here are a few things we do know. The more severe and prolonged the initial experience with COVID, the greater the risk of long COVID. Being vaccinated lowers the risk of severe illness and the risk of long-term effects. But more than two years into the pandemic, researchers still have very few solid answers. The big surprise in COVID has been people who were never even that sick in the acute phase that are still having persistent problems. The NIH's Dr. Walter Koroshetz is at the helm of the Recover study. For Dr. Koroshetz, who specializes in diseases of the nervous system, the mysteries of long COVID present a familiar dilemma. I'm a neurologist. A lot of the illnesses that we treat, we don't have a treatment. Our job is to kind of help people get, you know, as best they can get through their illness.

That skill is necessary now more than ever. Researchers are honing in on some possible causes of long COVID, including long-term damage from the initial illness, such as inflammation in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, disruption of the microbiome, the trillions of bacteria in our gut that have wide-ranging effects on our health, the immune system mistakenly attacking healthy tissue after the virus is gone, and an immune reaction to remnants of the COVID virus that can remain in the body months after an initial infection. These last two theories point to similarities with other infections, such as Lyme and Epstein Barr, which NYU Langone's Dr. Leora Horwitz says can be difficult to diagnose, just like long COVID. I want to be very clear about this. The symptoms and the disease are absolutely real. We are failing right now as physicians in figuring out how to identify that and how to characterize it. I can imagine that the millions of people out there who for years have been told, oh, your chronic fatigue syndrome, your fibromyalgia, your chronic Lyme, it's in your head. They've been told that incorrectly. Yes. They're watching us and thinking, see? That's right.

When I interviewed Camille Halavka of Queens, New York in April 2021, she was struggling to breathe four months after contracting COVID, though doctors said her lungs appeared to function normally. I remember a year ago, your son Reed was two then? Yes. You couldn't really read to him. Yeah. I feel some people might say, oh, that's so small and it doesn't matter. But that's heartbreaking.

You know, you never want to deprive your child of something that they love. Since then, the 39 year old Halavka has made remarkable progress. Medication and breathing exercises helped her run a 10K race last year, and she's in training for this fall's New York City Marathon. Some patients feel better with physical therapy and with medications that relieve symptoms.

But there are no drugs yet that specifically treat long COVID. From a scale of one to 100, if 100 percent is where you were before you got COVID, where do you think you are now? I'd say about 80 to 85 percent. To everybody, I look, I feel like I seem normal. But the internal struggle that I feel, you know, a little bit of loss or fear of getting older and the potential that this could get worse again. And that's, you know, worrying about a what if.

I think all those little things could tribute to the 15 percent. What would you like to say to people out there who are struggling with long COVID right now? I would like to say that life carries forward and, you know, as hard as it is that it happened to you, we are alive. Hope is my message.

Hope. That sense of optimism is what propels Ken Todd as well. Though he reports feeling only about 50 percent back to his pre-COVID health, he has improved his stamina by following a physical therapy program developed by New York's Mount Sinai Hospital. And he recently volunteered for the NIH's recover study. Giving help to others, it seems, gives Ken Todd hope for the future, even when the present remains a struggle. Whatever I can do to help the medical community figure this out, I want to be able to do that.

It gives me purpose to talk about my experience. Everybody wants the pandemic to be over. The pandemic is far from over for me. We're going to get into things that you just kind of won't believe and we're not able to do in daytime television. So watch out. Listen to Drew's News wherever you get your podcasts.

It's your good news on the go. For more from this week's conversation, follow the Takeout with Major Garrett on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. Earlier this month, retired Major John Duffy was awarded our nation's highest military honor, the Medal of Honor. But as David Martin explains, part of his story is pure poetry. It was a brutal battle.

No quarter asked, none given. You killed the enemy or the enemy killed you. It's not often, if ever, a recipient of the Medal of Honor is also a published poet. But retired Green Beret John Duffy turned his trial by fire into an epic poem of the Vietnam War. Lots of soldiers have written memoirs about their time in combat. You chose to write poetry.

Why? I wanted to paint the picture of the action and the panorama of the combat there. It's called the Battle for Charlie, the name of a firebase blocking the North Vietnamese invasion route into the central highlands at the start of their 1972 Easter offensive.

This is a CBS News special report. Three North Vietnamese divisions threatened to cut South Vietnam in half. Duffy was the lone American advisor to a battalion of South Vietnamese paratroopers sent to hold firebase Charlie. Be brave, my comrades. What else can we do? There is no escape. Kill or die is all fate. Sounds like going in, you knew this was a battle to the death. We were given orders to fight to the death.

In his poem, Duffy imagines the orders the North Vietnamese commander gave his troops. The big American with the radio on his back. I want him killed. He is controlling the aircraft. Target him. He must be destroyed.

That antenna was like a kill me sign. Plus I was six foot two and the Vietnamese are typically about five, six. The airstrikes he called in were the only thing keeping badly outnumbered South Vietnamese troops from being overrun. The battle raged back and forth. The dying, wounded, moaning softly, despair, and hurt are common. Is this glory?

So that's a good question. Is this glory? Is this glory? No, it was a combat. Throughout this poem, you don't seem to have any hatred of the enemy.

No, no. They were fighting for what they believed in. We were fighting for what we believed in. And that's the essence of war. Calling in everything from B-52 bombers to helicopter gunships. Duffy and his troops held out for as long as they could.

No one could have expected more from them. We are a team. We have fought together. And if need be, we will die together. Death's moment is near. I can feel its flame. Soon it will be here. It seems strange no more.

Strange no more. So basically you had accepted the fact that you were going to die? It was getting a little dicey. It seems like going in, your position was not survivable. Probably so, but I was never fearful in the whole battle.

My situation is I got 37 personnel. So every time we leave here, we've got the planet on. That's a recording of Duffy on the radio talking to the aircraft coming to his rescue.

One of them is low on fuel and tells Duffy he has to leave. This is what it's made of. You did a good job. Next time I'll see you, I owe you a big bottle of scotch.

Roger that. Of the 471 men committed, I came out after two weeks of intense battle with 36 survivors. Most of them had been wounded. Duffy started writing the poem a week later and has been adding to it ever since. No one won on Charlie.

Each side managed to lose. Then he sums up his own career, starting as a 17-year-old private and ending as a major with four combat tours. I guess I did well, not having gone to hell.

Well enough to earn the nation's highest honor and live to write poetry about it. If you're among those of us who have to work this Sunday, we know just the place for you. You'll have to make your way to Tokyo, but once you get there, there's a spot that's the perfect mix of business and pleasure. Elizabeth Palmer takes us to what's come to be called the Deadline Cafe. Tokyo's famous themed cafes usually feature animals.

Cats, pigs, hedgehogs. The vibe is pleasure and play. Quite unlike the newest edition that's all about work. On this busy intersection sits Tokyo's latest pop-up cafe. It's called the Manuscript Cafe and it's for people who not only have a writing project, but crucially have a deadline.

Let's go see. The mood is serious. A handful of customers sit at workstations glued to their computers, watched over by Takuya Kawai, owner and, well, chief enforcement officer.

A fee of about two and a half dollars an hour gets you fast wi-fi, air-cooled computer stands and Mr. Kawai himself. I try not to hover, he says, not to pressure them too much, but I check their progress every 30 minutes. Hiro Sekiguchi has come to write a lecture due tomorrow. On his registration slip, he's asking to be checked or you might say, gently harassed every half hour till he's done. Writers are procrastinators. Faced with a blank page or more likely a screen these days, they'll find a million ways to avoid getting down to work.

Well, not here. Kawai is making sure of that with Mr. Takahara who's racing to finish a manga cartoon. Your aim was 24 pages, he says. How are you doing? Don't worry, he answers, I'm right on track.

With the constant roar of traffic and a nondescript suburb, this place isn't what you'd call charming, except for the movie memorabilia and a wall of old technology in the bathroom. But what really counts here is getting it done. Part of the secret, says Hiro Sekiguchi, is the lack of distraction. I'm comfortable working here. And focused. Yeah, focused. Greater Tokyo is the most populous metropolitan area in the world.

So a quiet place away from this hustle to concentrate and create is precious. It's 20 to 4 in the afternoon and Mr. Ooguchi behind me has finished. Mr. Ooguchi, congratulations. Thank you very much. How many hours did it take? One and a half, he tells me. Why did you write better and concentrate better here?

I had a tight deadline and, of course, I was paying for it. Congratulations again. Thank you. Steve Hartman has a story about kind hearts, good neighbors and open doors. Days don't come much worse than this. In January of 2021, Jean Levar's husband of 58 years died in their home. And when the Glendale, Arizona, police entered the building, they found such terrible living conditions, they had to condemn her house.

So all in one day, you lose your husband and you're homeless. Did you expect what would happen next? No, that was a surprise.

Carmen Silva happened next. She lives across the street. And although she barely knew those neighbors, when she learned that Jean had no kids or family to turn to.

I told her, don't worry, Jean, we're going to fix it. It's one thing to be neighborly, but you've taken it to the extreme. I don't see that.

You don't see that? I've always taught my kids to take care of their elders. So even though the Silvas live in a small three bedroom house with eight children, they made room for one more. The boys gave up their bed to sleep on the couch, eagerly welcoming their new adopted grandmother. She looks very happy. And I believe it's because she has a whole family now. Do you feel like you found a family? Finally. It means everything.

Just thinking about it. There's nothing better than a loving home. Except maybe two loving homes. A nonprofit called Operation Enduring Gratitude, which helps Arizona veterans and their families, heard about Jean's plight. And since Jean's husband was a Navy vet, volunteers went full speed ahead, renovating her old house. We're all joining together to do one thing, and that's to make somebody's life whole. The house is condemned no more, and it's all hers and hers alone.

But Jean plans to share it with the Silvas, because that's what families do. Author Jason Reynolds' award-winning verse and prose speaks mainly to young adults and kids, and a lot of them. A poet walks into a middle school. When you talk to kids, I'll bet you have them way before hello.

I hope so. When I walk out, the 16-year-olds or 12-year-olds are happy that I look like someone who might be able to connect. Jason Reynolds is not only a prolific and best-selling author, he's also the national ambassador for young people's literature. How does one properly address an ambassador? By my first name.

He visits mostly out-of-the-way towns, like Ronan, Montana, on the Flathead Indian Reservation. You're not there to sell your books. No. You're there to sell them on books? Yes. They're listening.

They're all listening. I don't sell them on books by selling them on books. The fastest way to lose a child is to tell a child to read. Instead, he encourages them to embrace their stories. To me, reading becomes a lot more palatable if young people realize that the stories, the books that exist within them, are as valuable as the books that exist on the outside of them.

And we have to be able to imagine stories that don't exist. His story began in 1983. His parents divorced when he was 10.

He grew up with his mom in Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C. There were places that were safe. There were places that were not. And everyone was doing the best they could to coexist.

Don't nobody believe nothing these days, which is why I haven't told nobody the story I'm about to tell you. Reynolds evokes his own childhood experiences. In his 17 books, many published by Simon & Schuster, a division of CBS's parent company. I'm thinking about young Jason, the kids in my neighborhood. Are your readers primarily black?

I think that they run the gamut. You have to remember these books are all over America and all over the world. But, unfailingly, you are writing about a black child. Absolutely. My belief is that I get an opportunity to write them into the world.

That they are matter and that they do matter. Did you feel invisible, like you didn't matter? I did not have to rely on schooling to give me my visibility, because I had a mother who had more than enough. So much of my stories are about friends. The reason why is because I actually think that friendship is the most valuable relationship we'll ever have.

Friendship. Before he was a prolific poet, he was a precocious 16-year-old college freshman. At the University of Maryland in 2000, he met classmate Jason Griffin. Kind of a man teenager. He was like 6'3", 220 pounds, just a towering figure.

I didn't have any friends. One day, seeing Reynolds sitting alone in the dining hall, Griffin was intrigued. And he has this cool crocheted hat, and so there's my entry. I really like your hat. He was like, yeah, I made it. And I was like, okay. You crocheted? I would make my own hats and bags and everything. It was cool to him, but I'm sure there were some people who were like that strange. People were definitely surprised when they came into our room and Monday Night Football was on, and there's a bunch of big dudes sitting around crocheting because they're learning how to do it.

Once I figured out that it was cool for my friends, I could teach all of y'all how to do this. And they left college with a book. A poet. An artist. Black.

White. We were college roommates. Now close friends. Reynolds poems. Griffin's artwork.

It went nowhere, and Reynolds sold clothes for the next five years. This is stunt boy. This guy right here.

Him. He's the greatest superhero you've never, ever heard of. But today, Jason Reynolds might be the best-selling author you've never heard of. A phenomenon in young adult literature, he's sold more than seven million books.

And for only the second time in 20 years, he and his longtime friend have collaborated on another book. I can't help but note the obvious. You have red hair and blue eyes. You are the whitest man in this room.

Oh, yeah. I win that award often. So you're a collaboration with the most successful author of young adult books who's writing two black children for all children.

Where do you come off doing it? You don't think we look alike? Jason and I have had every uncomfortable conversation you can have and figured it out together. I think if anything, perhaps that can be modeled. A friendship, an honest friendship. As much as I love my culture, love being black, I also love my friend.

Both of those things can coexist. And it feels like I'm the only person who can tell we're all suffocating. Their latest project, Ain't Burned All the Bright, is about a kid who's home at the height of the pandemic and the protests over the killing of George Floyd. The narrator goes hunting for an oxygen mask. Family's in quarantine and by the end realizes something important. That all the air you'll ever need is in the boredom of your life.

That the magic is in the minuscule and the mundane. You're controversial. Yeah. I was barely 20 feet away. The guy on the ground was black and he looked like he was around my age. A few of his books have been banned in some places, like All American Boys about two students. One who is white witnesses a police officer beating up a classmate.

Smashing his face into the sidewalk, the blood kept coming. If it's a story about race, some white parents are saying that I don't want my child reading this because I don't want them to feel bad about being a white child. Which is never my intention, by the way. But it's being spun as a controversy as a way to sort of put the kibosh on complicated conversations that kids are desperately trying to have.

Jason Reynolds is still happily, comfortably having those complicated conversations. During one of his many school and library visits, a 12-year-old raised his hand. He says, why is it I almost never see white people in your books? Now, you could feel the air suck out of the room. And my response is, it's because I grew up in an all-black neighborhood.

It's all right for those neighborhoods and experiences to be lifted up. Does it bother you? Now, at this point, everyone's holding their breath, as you can imagine.

I'm leaning forward now. All the adults, everyone's like, oh, God. And he says, why would it bother me?

No, I'm just asking. And that is a child. Thank you for listening. Please join us when our trumpet sounds again next Sunday morning. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-29 20:20:21 / 2023-01-29 20:34:06 / 14

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