condescending twatbags, healthcare, poor judgment

Thanks to COVID-19, basic humanity is going extinct…

A couple of nights ago, when Bill and I were in Switzerland, I happened to read a sad story in The Washington Post about a woman from Alabama who used to think COVID-19 was a liberal hoax. Christy Carpenter and her family soon found out COVID-19 is not a joke. She and her 28 year old son, Curt, both got the virus. Christy survived, but Curt didn’t. He was ventilated, suffered a collapsed lung (pneumothorax), and died on May 2.

Now, Christy Carpenter and her daughter, Cayla, are spreading the word that COVID-19 is real. I applaud Carpenter for doing that. I think she’s got guts, and she deserves some empathy. I wish she’d wised up sooner than she did, but she’s going to have to live with the loss of her son, along with any residual COVID-19 aftereffects. I feel sorry for her. I really do.

I think Christy Carpenter is a victim of the pervasive group think that exists in extremely conservative places like Alabama. I know how that is. I grew up in such a place, and for the first 30 years or so of my life, I was a big believer in the conservative mindset on a lot of issues. I think if I’d never left Gloucester County in Virginia, I might still be voting red. After all, that’s what so many people in that county do, and a lot of them were my friends. I also come from a family full of Republicans. Many (but not all) of my loved ones are Trumpers. It’s caused a big divide and, if I’m honest, a real loss in family unity. My own uncle– a man I have always loved and respected– accused me of being a “liberal nut case”. We haven’t spoken since.

When I first read about Christy Carpenter’s ordeal, my heart went out to her. She made a huge mistake in believing the conspiracy theories and outright lies about the COVID vaccines and the virus itself. That mistake led to her “beautiful baby boy” Curt, who reportedly had autism, fighting for his life for weeks before he finally succumbed.

Carpenter explained, “It took years to create other vaccines, and the coronavirus vaccine was created very quickly… That made us very nervous.”

“If Curt were here today, he would make it his mission to encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” Carpenter said. “Cayla, his sister, and I are carrying out that mission in his memory.”

Curt’s haunting final words to his mom, Carpenter told the WaPo, were: “This is not a hoax, this is real.” 

Carpenter said, “It took watching my son die and me suffering the effects of covid for us to realize we need the vaccine. We did not get vaccinated when we had the opportunity and regret that so much now.”

Admirable… and again, I think it’s very brave for her to speak out, particularly in a place like Alabama, where doctors who have tried to spread truth are getting death threats! Sadly, liberals, who often preach about being compassionate and considerate, are leaving really mean and nasty comments for Carpenter on articles like the one I read on The Washington Post. This story has been picked up and disseminated via several different outlets. On so many of them, people put the blame squarely on Carpenter and show her no mercy. Below are a few examples from the WaPo.

Christy Carpenter watches her son die and she finds herself asking, “why” ? What do you mean? You could have and should have saved your son by getting him vaccinated. You thought the coronavirus was a hoax ! You caused his death. Live with it and stop making excuses

Sorry, not sorry. I am sick and tired of anti-vaxxers saying after someone in their family dies after getting COVID that they should have been vaccinated. You’re too stupid to be vaccinated, die already. That way you’ll be bleaching out the gene pool.

Why does it take more than 600K+ people dying, including one’s own son, to convince them that covid 19 is real?  Were the other 600K+ deaths not enough?  Tragic for the family, yes, but sorry, my heart is stone cold.

So Covid wasn’t a problem until it became HER problem. Very sad for her son who was likely unable to advocate for himself.

It turns out that Republicans would rather die than think.  It’s really hard to feel pity for that.

The blame for these outcomes lies squarely on those who lack the capacity to rationally digest the ample evidence that surrounds the existence and progression of a pathogen with the potential to eliminate millions, if not billions of our species.   Time for all who remain to stop blaming those  who are purported to mislead, take responsibility for their own bad decisions, and express regrets for dragging the innocents who do not share their deplorably stupid delusions into their  intentionally negligent camp.   There is nothing confusing or mysterious about the existence of the Covid 19 pathogen which merits credible acceptance of  the hoax/conspiracy/denial rationales that are the basis upon which these “victims” seek the sympathy of others.   

I did like that one other commenter clapped back at the person who wrote the above drivel…

“The blame for these outcomes lies squarely on those who lack the capacity to rationally digest . . .”

That makes no sense.

And you should practice writing short, readable, declarative sentences. (Bwahahahahaa! Too funny!)

There were many other comments like the above on Facebook and the article itself. I see that this story also ran in The Daily Mail. I shudder to read what people have to say on that site. It’s usually pretty lowbrow. I’ve also read several comments about Curt’s weight. He was a large man, which would make COVID-19 especially risky for him.

People have always been mean and unsympathetic, but I’ve noticed it’s especially bad nowadays, in the age of COVID-19. It’s like basic humanity has gone extinct. While I don’t applaud that Christy Carpenter and her family didn’t heed warnings about COVID-19, I do feel sorrow for her. Moreover, I don’t cheer when anyone gets this virus. I don’t think those of us who have never had it have any idea what it’s like. We only have the experiences of others to go on… and, as I have pointed out MANY times in this blog, people are still getting the virus even if they’ve been vaccinated. Some people who get COVID-19 never even know they’ve had it. Others get deathly ill. It’s easy for people to assume they’ll be one of the lucky ones who barely feel the infection, but that’s a very risky idea, especially as the virus mutates.

It’s true that the vaccine seems to substantially cut the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death, but the vaccine does not stop COVID-19 cold. And so, there will be people who do everything “right” and still wind up battling the coronavirus. I expect there will eventually be some who will die, despite being vaccinated. Granted, in this case, we have a woman and her son who refused to believe in science. But I look at where they live and the mindset in that area. It can be hard to go against the grain when you’re surrounded by so many people who pressure you to think as they do.

I don’t think anyone “deserves” to get COVID-19. I don’t celebrate when I read that someone gets it. I didn’t even laugh when Trump got sick last fall, and most of you know how much I despise Donald Trump. I think anyone who gets sick is entitled to treatment, because I believe that healthcare is a human right and those who don’t get treatment will put innocent people at risk. And I am legitimately SAD for Carpenter, because she has suffered a huge, irreplaceable, and tragic loss, and now has COVID-19 long hauler symptoms.

Christy Carpenter lives in a state where many people mistrust anyone who isn’t Christian and politically conservative. I get that. Even though Virginia turned blue last year, it’s still a deeply conservative red state in many areas. I think the only reason it went blue is because of northern Virginia and the very different demographics in that area. Northern Virginia is like a different state– it’s more Mid Atlantic-Northeast than it is Southern. You go below Fredericksburg or west of Loudon County, and you will find many people who think and believe like Carpenter did.

So I posted a comment on the WaPo article, encouraging people not to be so cruel. I myself have only been fully vaccinated for a few weeks. It’s not because I am a non-believer in vaccine efficacy, but because I am in Germany and couldn’t access the vaccine sooner than I did. And I was able to get it on an Army post, which put me at an advantage. There are Germans who are still waiting to get their turn at the shot. Bill’s American therapist actually went back to the States to get his shots. Should we blame and laugh at Germans and other Europeans if they get sick while they wait?

Sure enough, someone left me a nasty comment about how they have no pity for Carpenter and her family. My response to her? “Good for you. You must be very proud of yourself.”

I know I shouldn’t read comments on news stories. I read them, though, because they give me food for thought. I think a lot of liberals are massive hypocrites. We are all exhausted by COVID-19. It’s tiresome, frustrating, and infuriating to see all of this death, destruction, divisiveness, and tragedy, especially when it seems like some of it could have been prevented. I think people should remember, though, that COVID is still a very new thing, even if it seems like the pandemic has been going on forever. Sadly, some people will not have a concept of how bad it is until they are personally affected. If those people then want to spread the word, I say “good on them”. Spill the tea! Maybe some people will change their minds and do the right thing.

Sometimes, it takes personal loss and tragedy for people to change their views. Other times, it takes exposure to new people and places. I think my views started changing when I left the country. The longer I spend outside of my native land– particularly southeastern Virginia– the more “liberal” and “godless” I seem to become. 😉 Oddly enough, I think I have a more “Christlike” view of many issues than some of the God fearing conservatives I know. I think Christ would be advocating for peace, kindness, and forbearance, rather than finger pointing and derision.

Anyway, Christy Carpenter can count on me not to cast shade on her now. I think it’s hugely commendable that she’s sharing her story, especially since so many people are unkindly reacting with rudeness, hostility, and downright meanness. I know her heart is broken, and I am truly sorry for her loss– both of her son, and her health. I do hope her story serves as a lesson for others. She may even save some lives by bravely sharing it with the masses, even though so many of them are hateful assholes.

I really don’t think this is going to get better until many more people get vaccinated. I don’t think masking and social distancing are much better than Band-Aids for this problem. The sooner people get with the program and do their part, the better off we will all be. And I hope that anyone who still doubts the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccines will think of Carpenter, her son, Curt, and all of the others like her who have lost so much at this time. May God bless them, despite their foolish choices and ignorance.

By the way… I notice that a number of Republicans seem to be trying to change the narrative. I read another story this morning about Sarah Huckabee Sanders advocating for getting vaccinated. She wrongly referred to the shots as the “Trump vaccine”, but then rightly pointed out that the orange turd got the shots, so it was good for her to get them, too. I think Republicans are figuring out that if they don’t convince more of their followers to get vaccinated, they’re going to run out of voters.

And no, Trump does NOT get credit for the vaccines. ALL of the credit goes to scientists, healthcare workers, and public health officials– some of whom are not American. The Pfizer shots were developed right here in Mainz, Germany, about twenty minutes from where I currently live, but German scientists of Turkish descent. The orange fuckwad had NOTHING to do with it, and is not doing enough NOW to get his minions to agree to get vaccinated.

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condescending twatbags, healthcare

A letter to Dear Abby, just waiting to happen… shunning over vaccines!

I like to read advice columns. I’ve enjoyed them since I was a little kid. For years, I read Ann Landers, which was the only advice column run in our local paper. Then, they got Dear Abby, too. Along came the Internet, and we got other advice columnists like Dear Prudie and Dear Amy and Dear Annie… I love ’em all.

Today, I read a news article in the Washington Post about what to do with friends and relatives who refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The article itself was very good, and offered what I think to be very sensible advice about how to handle these situations. The article encourages people to be “good listeners” and hear out why friends and loved ones don’t want to get the shot(s). Although a lot of people haven’t seemed to have realized it, most adults do not like being told what to do, especially in a belligerent manner.

Of course, that common knowledge doesn’t register with some people. They recommend the “hard-nosed” snubbing approach. One woman posted in the article’s Facebook comments,

“Tell them they are not welcome in your house until they are vaccinated! Also that you will not be going to their house either. Even though I’m vaccinated I’m not willing to get a mild case of Covid and be one of those long haulers who have odd symptoms for years.”

I couldn’t help but remember my old axiom, which I frequently repeat– especially since Bill’s ex wife is a master at shunning and alienating people. And– big surprise– she’s also an asshole! And it’s really true. “It’s not a punishment to be shunned by an asshole.”

I totally get wanting to avoid mingling with the unvaccinated, but I think we should be careful not to alienate them completely… not unless they’re someone you truly don’t mind losing as a contact. Plus, the obnoxious, holier-than-thou tone of the comment pissed me off, even if I can understand and agree with the sentiment. So I responded:

“Careful with that. Sometimes not being welcome in someone’s presence is a bonus. Remember, it’s not a punishment to be shunned by a jerk.”

Being rude and belligerent to someone, even if it’s over something like vaccines, is potential jerk territory. And being hard-nosed about not spending time with someone over a personal matter like vaccines may lead to finding out that you’ve overvalued your own company. The unvaccinated person you’re trying to influence may just say, “See ya!” instead of getting the shot(s).

If it’s an acquaintance, you might not care about it, but what if it’s your mother or cousin or child? What if you try to take that hard-assed approach and the person tells you to go fuck yourself? Then you don’t hear anything from them for years?

Recently, the advice columns have been full of letters from people who have estranged relatives they want to reconnect with or their kids have “secret siblings” their children have never heard of. They write to Annie, Abby, or Prudie looking for advice on how to heal the rift or otherwise reconnect with estranged people from their pasts.

I’m not saying the hard-assed approach is never appropriate. Sometimes, it really is. In fact, it can be an excellent way to weed irritating people from your midst without flat out telling them to pound sand. But if your goal is to influence someone you actually care about, you might want to think twice about being really belligerent about the anti-vaccine stance.

I get that COVID-19 is scary and frustrating, but many of the people who aren’t vaccinated are just as scared and frustrated as you are. And a lot of them are simply trying to do what they think is right for themselves– even if it sounds irrational or irresponsible to other people. Telling them they’re being stupid, irresponsible, or irrational is probably not going to sway them, especially if you pair those thoughts with a threat. You might just piss them off enough that they’ll gladly walk away from you for good. If you care about them, that decision could really come back to haunt you and other loved ones.

So avoid having to write to an advice column, and tread carefully when you confront the anti-vaxxers among you… unless, of course, you don’t care if you never speak to them again. Many of those folks probably will survive the pandemic, after all… and you may really be sorry for being harsh if one dies while you’re still angry.

I do think you can refuse to interact with unvaccinated people, by the way. I simply advocate doing so in a kind, empathetic way, that emphasizes your concern for everyone’s overall health and well-being– theirs, your own, and those of any family members who can’t be vaccinated at this time.

Incidentally, one guy’s response to me was “Shun us all, then.”

To which I wrote, “Gladly…” because frankly, I find a lot of people extremely irritating, anyway. But, for the record, I wasn’t the one advocating shunning. I am fully vaccinated myself. Fortunately, the only person I care to see in person is Bill, and he’s fully vaccinated, too. So life is good for me… at least for now!

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healthcare, social media, stupid people

Alabama doctor gets “threats” after warning people on Facebook about COVID-19!

Hey guys… I know I’m on a short vacation, but I need to make a comment. And right now, Mr. Bill is about to take a shower, so I have a few minutes to vent about this.

A couple of days ago, I read a heartbreaking story about Dr. Brytney Cobia, a hospitalist in Alabama, who shared an emotional Facebook post about the realities some of the people who don’t get vaccinated against COVID-19 will face if they get sick. She wrote:

I’ve made a LOT of progress encouraging people to get vaccinated lately!!! Do you want to know how? I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late. A few days later when I call time of death, I hug their family members and I tell them the best way to honor their loved one is to go get vaccinated and encourage everyone they know to do the same. They cry. And they tell me they didn’t know. They thought it was a hoax. They thought it was political. They thought because they had a certain blood type or a certain skin color they wouldn’t get as sick. They thought it was ‘just the flu’. But they were wrong. And they wish they could go back. But they can’t. So they thank me and they go get the vaccine. And I go back to my office, write their death note, and say a small prayer that this loss will save more lives.

As always, I am an open book. Please bring me your questions and I will tell you everything I know and everything I don’t.

It’s not too late, but some day it might be.

It got picked up by multiple news outlets and shared in the article I found on MSNBC. I shared it on my page, and one of my friends, who is a nurse at the Mayo Clinic and has been taking care of COVID patients from the beginning, wrote about how she took care of a person who asked her if they were going to die that night. That person, who was unvaccinated and asked for the vaccine while hospitalized, didn’t die. However, another unvaccinated person who was being taken care of by my friend at the same time did die. Both were previously healthy people in their 40s. She still thinks about both of them, and countless others who have been under her care.

Then yesterday, a friend of mine and Bill’s– a Trump devotee from Alabama who was smart enough to get the vaccine– wrote that his daughter is currently in the hospital with COVID-19 and she is VERY sick. She was not vaccinated, so her life is now in danger. Our Trump loving friend– and he really is a friend we knew when we lived in northern Virginia– wrote a heartfelt post to his friends and family members about the vaccine, encouraging them to get it. Most of his friends were respectful and kind, although one referred to the vaccine as “poison” and felt free to opine about how things are in Europe. Bill needed to set her straight on that. I also added my two cents, which I rarely do on this guy’s Facebook, because his friends are even more conservative than some of my relatives are.

People– COVID is NOT a political thing. It’s a public health crisis. Vaccines have been around for hundreds of years, and they WORK. Is there a small chance of experiencing adverse effects? Yes, there are risks in everything we do. But your chances of getting very sick and dying decrease dramatically with the vaccine. I am a big believer in people making their own choices, but some folks are just plain being stupid about this and they are paying with their lives. And their choices are affecting so many other people.

Making matters worse is that some of the terrified people out there in Internet land, offended or angered by Dr. Cobia’s pleading on Facebook, have issued THREATS to her, and her mother! What the hell is wrong with people? It’s never okay to threaten people, especially when they’re being kind enough to tell you the TRUTH. Below is a quote from the Washington Post about Dr. Cobia’s Facebook crusade and the aftermath:


Cobia said that she initially “agreed to a few interviews to help spread the word because I think the message is so important,” but she and her mother have since received “a lot of harassing and threatening messages.”

“So I just need to take a step back from everything right now and let the post circulate and hope it does its job and changes some minds!”

Cobia, and her husband, who is a neurosurgeon, both got COVID last year. Cobia was 27 weeks pregnant with her second child at the time, and chose to deliver early out of precaution. So this is not just about a doctor treating people with the virus. It’s also about someone who got the virus and survived. She knows firsthand about it, although she was lucky enough to have a somewhat mild case. Cobia says she got the vaccine as soon as it was available and even breastfed afterwards.

Getting the vaccine doesn’t mean you won’t get COVID. However, it does make it a hell of a lot less likely that you’ll die from it or be hospitalized. And you are much less likely to be sitting in a hospital bed, holding hands with a doctor like Brytney Cobia, BEGGING for the vaccine, only to be told it’s too late and forced to die alone.

Please… for the love of Christ, get your information from healthcare professionals and, if you can, consider getting vaccinated. When you get seriously ill, it doesn’t just affect you. It affects everyone around you, including the people who have to take care of you. And no matter what, DO NOT THREATEN PEOPLE WITH DEATH BECAUSE THEY SPEAK THE TRUTH! That is just insanity!

I hope the people who issue threats are caught and dealt with appropriately. There is absolutely no excuse for that!

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Duggars, healthcare, law, stupid people

Jessa’s new plant baby, and my evident status as a “sheep”…

Even though Counting On has finally been cancelled, we can’t escape news about the Duggar family. Yesterday’s big news is that Jessa Duggar Seewald gave birth to her fourth baby on July 18th. Or really, maybe they consider it her fifth, since she reportedly suffered a miscarriage last year.

In any case, baby #4, a girl named Fern Elliana, was born on the same day as her grandfather, Jim Boob, was in 1965. Jessa wisely opted for a hospital birth this time, rather than giving birth on the couch in her tiny house– the very same house where Anna Duggar birthed the first of her babies. In fact, I believe Anna gave birth to one of her sons on the toilet in that house.

Sure enough, People Magazine is on it…

Baby Fern joins big brothers, Spurgeon and Henry, and big sister, Ivy. I’m not sure what is up with the plant based names for the girls. When I think of the name Fern, I’m reminded of Aunt Fern in Steel Magnolias.

Aunt Fern was played by the late Ann Wedgeworth, who also famously played sex crazed cougar “Lana” on Three’s Company.
Aunt Fern famously made the armadillo cake…

Jessa and her husband, Ben, make beautiful babies. I expect Fern will be as adorable as her sister, Ivy, is. I do wonder what the next girl baby will be called, though. Tumbleweed? Tiger Lily? Primrose? Marigold? The possibilities are endless.

In other news, I got called a “sheep” yesterday. Why? Because I told someone, in a Facebook comment section from my hometown newspaper, that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. The person who called me a sheep is evidently one of the proud anti-vaxxer types who live in the area where I grew up. I guess she agrees with Jill Rodrigues, who posted today’s featured photo to her Instagram account. Jill is the proud mom of thirteen allegedly malnourished kids who, evidently, aren’t going to be getting vaccinated.

Generally speaking, I’m big on personal freedoms. I do think that personal freedoms must be limited, though, when they can harm other people. It’s not a mystery that COVID-19 is deadly to a lot of people. Infections are going down and/or are not as severe in areas where people are getting vaccinated. I got fully vaccinated over a month ago, and all I suffered is a temporarily sore arm. So I am a big proponent of getting the shot(s), if you can. I think it’s crazy and stupid not to… even though I try to recognize your right to personal liberties.

Anyway… the person who called me a sheep was responding to a headline posted about how hospitals in the Peninsula region of Virginia are requiring staff members to get the vaccine. My only response to the headline was “Good.” Because, folks, people who are hospitalized have enough medical issues without having to worry about a novel virus that has killed a shitload of people over the past 18 months or so. Hospitals are FULL of germs, and they’re actually quite dangerous places for those who are immunocompromised. Why? Because hospitals are full of SICK people, and even though there’s supposed to be an emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness, the reality is, sometimes hospitals aren’t as clean as they should be.

My mom witnessed this firsthand when my dad was being hospitalized at Duke University Medical Center. She watched harried nurses and other staff members slipping up occasionally. I would expect that to happen, by the way. Nurses are human. But hospital staff members getting vaccinations is one important safeguard that can prevent illnesses from being spread by staff members to vulnerable patients. Seems to me it’s a no brainer.

So this chick, name of Mary, was bitching about her Constitutional rights being violated by this potential ruling by local hospitals. She wrote:

…an experimental vaccine? That’s insane and against Constitutional rights!

I pointed this out to Mary…

The government isn’t forcing you to get a vaccine. And hospitals aren’t forcing you to work for them. If you don’t want to get vaccinated, go work somewhere else, where there aren’t very sick people who are already at risk of picking up nosocomial infections due to hospital germs. P.S., the vaccines are safe and effective.  😉

Mary thinks I’m a sheep who’s been fed bullshit by the media. I really had a good laugh when she called me a sheep. This is what she wrote to me:

 “…you know nothing about how safe this vaccine is. You going by what you’re told! 🐑🐑

And this was my response:

I have a master’s degree in public health. I’ll bet I know a hell of a lot more about it than you do. I have also been fully vaccinated and have suffered zero ill effects, other than a temporarily sore arm over a month ago. Either way, you aren’t being FORCED to do anything. The Constitution protects your rights from the government, not private businesses.

Oddly enough, she had no more comments for me after that. Just for shits and giggles, I had a look at Mary’s Facebook page. I have a sneaking suspicion she’s a Trumper. She posted these things publicly on her page.

I don’t understand why so many people think that the Constitution, or laws like HIPAA, apply to every situation. They don’t. You have basic freedoms, but you’re expected to exercise those rights wisely. You may be free to do certain things, but you are not free from the consequences of those actions– especially if you violate someone else’s rights as you exercise yours. Your rights end where mine begin, understand?

Basically, the Constitution and HIPAA and similar federal laws, are about protecting the public from government overreach. They don’t necessarily apply to private businesses and companies. For instance, federal law prohibits healthcare professionals from talking to other people about your private medical situations. However, HIPAA coverage doesn’t apply to the everyday person on the street, nor does it necessarily apply to your boss. So yes, your doctor or nurse is required to zip it if they treat you for a potentially embarrassing medical condition. But if someone who isn’t in a healthcare profession gets wind of it and runs their mouth, they aren’t necessarily bound by HIPAA. In the United States, the Constitution does not explicitly guarantee a person’s “right to privacy”. However, most decent people recognize that a person has a right to privacy and will respect it on those grounds.

And HIPAA doesn’t protect a person’s privacy when it comes to things like getting required vaccinations and going to work. It’s not unusual, for instance, for people who work in certain occupations to be required to get a tuberculosis test before they can mingle with certain populations. They do that for public health reasons. Tuberculosis is a nasty, infectious disease that spreads easily, is hard to cure, and makes people very sick. It tends to spread in impoverished areas. So, if you’re doing work with poor people, it’s likely you’ll have to prove you aren’t a carrier of TB before you will be allowed to mingle with people who are living, for example, in a nursing home, or at a homeless shelter. This is not a violation of HIPAA, nor is it a violation to require employees to get a vaccination against tuberculosis or tetanus.

Ditto to the Constitution. We all know it protects certain rights, right? Like, you have the right to freedom of speech. Freedom of speech means that the government will not punish you for saying things that may be offensive or even false. However, there are limits to freedom of speech, and having that freedom doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer consequences for exercising it in ways that other people don’t appreciate. For instance, if you called your boss a “cock sucking motherfucker”, you could expect to be fired for that, even though you have the right to free speech.

My “friend” Mary, commenting on the Daily Press article about healthcare workers being required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, cited the Constitution as a reason why the workers shouldn’t be required to get shots. I wasn’t the only one who explained to her that no one was being “forced” to get shots. At this point, the government is forcing NO ONE to be vaccinated against their wills. Private businesses and universities and other non-government entities are requiring them. And they can do that because NO ONE is forcing Mary, or her clueless friends, to work for them or attend classes at them. If Mary doesn’t want to get a vaccine, she can choose to work or attend school somewhere else. It’s as simple as that.

Moreover, Constitutional rights aren’t absolute, and in general, are meant to protect the public good. The Supreme Court has long held that protecting public health is enough of a reason to enact laws that might otherwise violate the First Amendment or other provisions in the Bill of Rights.

Given that the vaccines have been proven to be effective in reducing the severity of COVID-19 infections, as well as the likelihood that a vaccinated person will spread it to others, it makes sense that hospitals and other places where immunocompromised people are found would require employees to be inoculated. Infections are going down in places where people are getting the shot(s). At this point, groups of people who are getting sick and dying of COVID-19 almost entirely consist of people who have NOT been vaccinated. And this isn’t just true in the United States. It’s been true worldwide.

So… I get that Mary doesn’t trust the government (unless, of course, Trump is running it). I don’t understand why someone would trust Trump when he has a long, proven, history of operating outside of the law. I guess Mary is more interested in charismatic people who say what she wants to hear than actual facts and reasoning. Moreover, Mary’s hero has been vaccinated against COVID-19. So why is it a problem for her? The orange turd trusted it. Why can’t she? And why can’t people who work in the healthcare profession? It’s the caring and responsible thing to do… and it might just ensure that she stays alive so she can vote for the turd or his successors in future elections. It’s also one way we can get rid of the fucking face mask mandates, which I am ALL FOR.

Ah well… ya can’t fix stupid.

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book reviews, healthcare

Repost: My review of Sickened, by Julie Gregory…

Here’s a repost of a book review I wrote for Epinions.com in 2005. It appears here “as/is”.

Over this past weekend, my husband Bill and I ventured out to the local Borders bookstore in search of a DVD of the fabulous film Baraka. After I got my hands on a copy of the movie, I started looking through the books, leaving Bill to continue mulling over the movies. I wandered into the psychology section, where I happened to run across a misplaced copy of Julie Gregory’s 2003 book, Sickened: A Memoir of a Munchausen by Proxy Childhood. Those of you who regularly read my book reviews may know by now that I’m a sucker for books about psychological disorders, especially personal accounts. Gregory’s book looked like it was right up my alley. Unlike a lot of folks, I had heard of Munchausen by Proxy (MbP). But I hadn’t ever read a personal account by someone who has actually suffered through it.

For those who don’t know about MbP, Gregory has included a foreword written by Marc Feldman, MD. The foreword explains in laymen’s terms what Munchausen by Proxy is. I’ll try to offer my own take on what I understand MbP to be. Simply put, MbP is a syndrome in which a person purposely and repeatedly makes another person ill. Victims of MbP are repeatedly submitted to medical care in which they endure endless tests, procedures, hospitalizations, and surgeries as doctors try to find the sources of their mysterious and debilitating symptoms. Most of the time, victims of MbP are children, and the perpetrators are their mothers, as was true in Julie Gregory’s case. Gregory was also abused by her maternal grandmother. Ironically, her parents moved her away from her grandmother in order to protect Julie from her grandmother’s abuse.

Julie Gregory was lucky enough to survive her ordeal and make it to adulthood relatively healthy… at least physically. Born to “crazy” parents, Dan and Sandy, Gregory spent most of her childhood in the backwoods of southern Ohio. Her mother, Sandy, had also endured a tough childhood and was, as a teenager, initially married off to a much older man named Smokey. Smokey taught Sandy how to trick ride horses and pose as he threw knives at her. When Smokey later died and Sandy became a widow while still in her twenties, she found herself taking up with Julie Gregory’s father, Dan. Dan had spent a very short time in Vietnam before he was exposed to Agent Orange and medically discharged. Julie literally describes her father as “crazy”, but after reading her book, I was left thinking that her mother is far crazier.

Trying to convince people that people in the medical community that her daughter suffered from heart problems, Sandy Gregory regularly shuttled Julie to doctors throughout her childhood. When a doctor found nothing wrong with Julie, Sandy simply carted her off to the next one. She gave Julie pills, the identity of which Julie never identifies by name. She tells Julie how she’s supposed to be feeling and admonishes her to “act sick” for the doctors so that they can help her “get well”. She starves Julie as she forces her to work very hard so that Julie is chronically tired and feeling weak. Julie also misses many days of school, almost failing a grade because of her chronic absenteeism.

Sandy Gregory, who simultaneously took in foster children and war veterans as a means of making money, pored over medical books and became well-versed in the jargon so common in a medical environment. She convinced a cardiac specialist that Julie needed to be catheterized. Gregory writes of this experience she endured as a skinny, fragile 13 year old child at the Ohio State University. The hospital made her feel safe. She was fed, cared for, but also left alone. She didn’t want to leave the safety of the hospital and go back home to her parents.

As I read this book, I really felt sorry for the child Julie Gregory was. It seemed like no one had a clue what she went through. And when Julie finally did speak up as a teenager, after years of enduring her mother’s sickness, she ended up being shuffled into the state’s child welfare system. She poignantly describes the plight of teenaged children who are in “the system”, making the point that even though she had done the right thing by talking to a caseworker about what her parents had been doing, she ended up being punished for her efforts. It almost made me want to become a foster mom myself.

Sickened is a fast and interesting read. Julie Gregory writes about her experience using vivid prose and humor. She includes pictures of her family as well as a sampling of medical notes and letters from the many doctors she saw over the course of her childhood. I got a good idea of what Julie’s family was like, particularly her mother, who really sounds like she wasn’t playing with a full deck. Julie Gregory does a fine job of capturing her mother’s voice so that I was able to get a real sense of who her mother was. And Julie Gregory has a knack for colorful similies and descriptions so that her story held my attention.

With that said, though, I did find a few weaknesses in Sickened. First of all, I think that this book could have used a good editor. I noticed that at times, Gregory wrote in past tense. At other times, she wrote in historical present tense. It wasn’t enough to be confusing, but it was noticeable and somewhat annoying. Secondly, I think this book is a little short on content. I would have liked to have read a little more about MbP from Gregory’s perspective. She does include, toward the end of her book, the story of how she came to figure out that she was a victim of MbP.

Today, Julie Gregory is supposedly an expert writer and speaker about MbP. Yet in Sickened, she provides very little analysis about MbP, instead forcing readers to rely on the foreword written by Dr. Marc Feldman. She doesn’t tell readers how she came to be an expert of MbP either, aside from just being a victim. According to the notes about her, Julie Gregory, who lives in Ohio, is a graduate student at the Sheffield University in England. She doesn’t reveal what she’s studying or what subject she earned her undergraduate degree in, so again, I was left wondering how she became an expert. Moreover, about two-thirds of this book consists of Julie Gregory’s experience as a child. The last third is the story of her progression into young adulthood. The last section feels rushed in comparison to the first. It seems to me that Gregory’s story is compelling enough that she could have taken a little more time with the ending and told her readers a little more about what her life as an adult has been like.

I also want to comment about this book’s cover art. It’s partly why I picked up this book in the first place. On the cover of the paperback edition of Sickened, a very young, skinny, Julie Gregory is pictured in a too short dress with a toy under her right arm and her left hand at her eye, as if the camera had caught her wiping a tear. She looks very vulnerable in the picture. Whoever decided to use it for this book’s cover obviously knew how to catch the consumer’s eye while pulling their heartstrings. The pictures in Sickened are also somewhat revealing of Julie Gregory’s plight. She’s shown in two snapshots posed as if she were a model. Gregory explains that her mother would periodically have her pose for Polaroids and then she would send the pictures to modeling agencies or keep on hand in case Sandy ran into “a nice older man” who wanted to see Julie’s pictures.

Although Sickened is a book about a fascinating and somewhat sensational topic, I haven’t run across any other personal accounts of people who have been affected by MbP. For that reason, I think this book is a worthwhile read for anyone who is interested in learning more about the MbP phenomenon. However, I also believe that anyone who really wants to learn a lot about MbP will need to do more research to supplement what they read in Sickened. This book is long on personal drama and short on facts and figures. The drama keeps the book entertaining, but the lack of facts and figures makes it less useful for those who want to learn something concrete about Munchausen by Proxy.

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