Biden, disasters, healthcare, lessons learned, politicians, politics, poor judgment

Incognito immunization idiocy equals misery in Missouri and elsewhere…

This morning, I woke up to a private message from my Facebook friend, Marguerite. She sent me a link to an article that appeared in The Atlantic. It was about people in Missouri who are choosing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but wish to do it incognito. Why? Because they’re afraid if their family and friends find out they’ve gotten immunized, they’ll be disowned or unfriended or whatever.

There are so many people coming to Ozarks Healthcare who don’t want to be recognized for getting the shot(s) that they’ve actually had to make a private setting. People are showing up in disguises and begging healthcare workers not to tell anyone they’ve gotten vaccinated. Healthcare workers aren’t supposed to be telling people about people’s private healthcare business, anyway. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, though.

I guess I’ve been away from my family and American friends for a really long time now… Maybe watching Bill being “disowned” by his children has also made me realize that being cast out of the family isn’t necessarily a death sentence. One can survive being ostracized by friends and family. But contracting the Delta variant of COVID-19 certainly could be a death sentence for a lot of people. I just can’t wrap my head around the sheer lunacy of people who are still denying that this is a REAL illness that is KILLING people.

Shared by the ex wife of one of my Trump loving relatives… It’s sheer stupidity on an epic level.

Missouri, in particular, is dealing with surging COVID-19 infections. Yesterday, I saw a video about Daryl Barker, a 31 year old married man and father who was vehemently against getting vaccinated against COVID-19. He contracted COVID-19, and it got bad enough that he had to go to the hospital. The video below, which was made last month, shows Barker in his bed wearing oxygen and hooked up to wires while his wife, Billie, and son, Brody, “camp outside” at Barker’s hospital room window. Unbelievably, Daryl Barker’s wife says she’s still against the vaccine, but concedes that she’d rather deal with side effects from the immunization than get the illness. Billie knows of what she speaks, because the virus has run through Barker’s extended family, and she has had it herself. Once Daryl gets well– if it actually happens– they plan to get the shot(s).

So why are people denying the efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines? Daryl Barker says he was against getting the shot(s) because “we’re a strong conservative family.” What exactly does Barker mean by “strong”? Is he saying he “strongly believes” in conservative values, and that somehow means not getting vaccinated? Or does he mean being he’s “strong” in that being conservative somehow makes him impervious to the virus? Clearly, he was wrong on that count. When he arrived at the hospital, which was almost completely full, Barker was critically ill. He was given just a 20 percent chance of survival!

When did Republicans become so anti-vaccine in the first place? I always thought anti-vaxxer types were “crunchy” people who believed in avoiding putting “unnatural” things in their bodies? How did avoiding vaccines become affiliated with being Republican? Hell, even Donald Trump got the vaccine after he and Melania got sick last year. If he hadn’t been POTUS and gotten amazing medical care, he might have died from COVID-19. Yet somehow, Trump supporters are not getting the vaccines themselves. It makes no sense to me. COVID-19 has NOTHING to do with U.S. politics. It’s a global public health crisis that is affecting and killing people worldwide.

My friend Marguerite lives in California and we “met” through the Recovery from Mormonism messageboard. I have never met her offline, but we seem to have some things in common, like our mutual love for musical theater and other music. We also shake our heads at the sheer lunacy of what’s going on in the United States right now. I wonder if I will recognize the United States when I go back there. It seems like a very different place to me now.

I didn’t used to think of Republicans as any less intelligent than Democrats or any other political group. In fact, when I was growing up, it seemed like Democrats were less likely to be “smart” about things. Maybe it’s because of the environment I lived in; southeastern Virginia is chock full of conservative types. It wasn’t until I joined the Peace Corps that I started meeting a lot of “liberals”, and it took some time after that experience that my political leanings started shifting. I think I’ve always been somewhat socially liberal. I used to be much more fiscally conservative than I am now.

It’s shocking to me to read comments from so-called conservatives about vaccines on social media. Some people are incredibly misinformed. I totally get being worried about vaccine injury and side effects. There are potential risks to anything a person does, and some people have legitimately suffered ill effects and even died from the vaccines. But I can’t imagine how a person, looking rationally at the risks of being vaccinated versus getting the virus, would assume catching COVID-19 would be safer. Many people have gotten immunized and they’re really fine afterwards. The vaccinated people who get COVID aren’t getting nearly as sick, either.

In all seriousness, though… if this incognito immunization idiocy keeps up, we won’t have to worry too much about Trumpers. A lot of them will either be debilitated by COVID long hauler syndrome or they’ll be fucking dead! I read another sad story yesterday in The Washington Post about how COVID is devastating families, not just because of the loss of loved ones, but also because of the financial consequences of being so sick.

33 year old Lisa Grim, an Ozark, Missouri based mother of two, lost her 37 year old husband, Alan, to COVID-19 last October. When her husband died, Lisa lost her ability to pay mortgage on their home. She and her sons, 10 year old Ralphie, and 4 year old Walker, were forced to move into a crappy apartment. It took over a month for her to find the apartment, which is 35 miles from her house. She rented it sight unseen, because the landlord was the first one in twenty she called who actually responded.

Lisa Grim is drowning in medical debt– outstanding bills from her husband’s illness, as well as an emergency room bill of her own, when the stress of her crumbling life got to be so bad that she had a full on panic attack and a severe case of gastroenteritis. She has legal bills, and both she and her older son are in therapy. Her husband died without a will, and left her just $42,000 in life insurance. She has credit card bills, too.

I have a lot of empathy for Lisa Grim. I remember how it was for Bill and me as he recovered from his disastrous first marriage and subsequent divorce. But in our case, we could work together and there weren’t children of our own to consider. Lisa Grim is dating now, but she still has two young children, and somehow she’s got to support them as she climbs out of the huge financial hole COVID-19 has wrought in her life.

I get that people don’t want to cooperate with Joe Biden, because some people wrongly believe that he “stole” the election from Donald Trump. Somehow, these folks can’t understand how a normal person wouldn’t want Trump to be president anymore. I really don’t get why that is… I mean, I can understand wanting to vote for the candidate who represents one’s political preferences. But Donald Trump is a just a walking humanitarian nightmare. He’s literally a criminal. Why not insist on someone basically ethical, yet still conservative? And Trump got the vaccine. I see a lot of conservatives holding Trump and his ilk up as people to emulate. Why don’t they emulate one of Trump’s better decisions and get vaccinated?

We have people clamoring to go back to school and work, but they don’t want to have to get vaccinated. And they don’t want masks to be required. I completely understand not liking the masks. I hate them, too, and I hope someone comes up with something that works better in controlling the spread of the virus. I still mostly stay at home because I don’t like wearing masks. I do wear the masks when they’re required, though, because this isn’t a political hill for me to literally die upon. COVID-19 is not the way I want to go out of this life. There is no doubt whatsoever that COVID-19 is real, and it’s killing people in heartbreaking ways. Those who are left behind are bereaved and broke… it’s senseless, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

I truly don’t understand why some people are afraid to tell their friends and families that they’re being vaccinated. I don’t see why the “freedom loving” crowd is concerned about the personal decisions their friends, family members, and associates make. I get not liking to be lectured or condescended to, and I don’t like the insulting and all knowing attitudes people on both sides have regarding COVID and vaccinations. But really… watch the videos and read about some of the people who have perished because of this virus.

Even conservatives who have fallen ill are changing their tunes… A lot of them want to be vaccinated when it’s too late. Some have admitted that they made the wrong decision. A few, who have ended up dying, have said that if they recovered, they would get the shot(s) and be a voice of reason for the holdouts. Dick Farrel, a now deceased radio host and coronavirus vaccine skeptic, was one of those people who claimed he would have made amends, given the chance. But sadly, the vocal Trump supporter is now pushing up daisies. I’m sure Mr. Farrel would advocate for being an example to his conservative friends who still think this is a hoax or a joke of some sort.

It’s long past time for people to wake up and do the right thing. If a person’s family and friends have a problem with his or her choice to get vaccinated, they quite simply need to get over it. Time is running out.

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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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musings

What’s on the “vagenda” today?

Last night, I watched a video by Mr. Atheist. I had seen his channel before, but I’m not sure I ever stopped to listen to any of his commentary. I couldn’t resist last night, though, because he did a video about The Transformed Wife, aka Lori Alexander. I have written about Ms. Alexander myself on more than one occasion. She’s a blogger and book author who vehemently condemns feminism.

Last year, Lori Alexander wrote an explosive blog post about how men prefer debt free virgins without tattoos. Her comments about debt free virgins spawned lots of rebuttal blog posts and videos, including one by yours truly. I would link to my comments about Lori’s assertion that American men prefer debt free virgins without tattoos, but my old blog is currently on lockdown (ETA: I have since reposted those posts and you can find them through the tags for Lori Alexander). She’s written similarly ridiculous articles that people pay too much attention to, like the time she opined that women doctors are “ruining the medical profession” for taking med school spots from men and not staying home to spawn children. I’m sure many people follow her simply to ridicule her, but she also has her supporters.

I don’t pay a lot of mind to Lori Alexander myself. I only read her most ludicrous posts, and generally only when someone else links them. I find her writing style annoying and her ideas insulting and embarrassing, so I don’t give her much quarter. However, some of the things she says and writes are just so stupid that I can’t help but laugh. And since today is a rainy Friday morning, I figured I’d share Mr. Atheist’s hilarious take on The Transformed Wife’s commentary on shows like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. Are you ready for this, y’all? Lori Alexander condemns these two classic, family friendly shows from the 70s and 80s as promoting feminism!

WHAT?!

I enjoyed Mr. Atheist’s enthusiastic and entertaining comments on Lori Alexander’s comments about those nasty G rated TV shows of yore. I decided to subscribe to his channel. This morning, I’m listening to Mr. Atheist’s August video about Lori Alexander’s thoughts on birth control. She HATES it. She thinks everyone should be having huge families, even if they are not prepared to take care of children. She says children are “blessings from God”, and that before birth control, women knew that their purpose in life was to have children. Well jeez, I guess my life has been wasted.

So get down on your back, spread your legs, and get to babymaking, you childless JEZEBELS! (for the clueless, this is NOT what I actually believe)

Lori is also an anti-vaxxer, claiming that vaccines are FULL of toxic chemicals. It doesn’t surprise me that she says these things, since she is anti-education, especially for women. She seems to believe that a woman’s main purpose is to pump out babies and keep house. However, the science behind vaccinations is solid and has been around for centuries. Don’t want to take the newest ones that don’t have many decades of proven success in preventing communicable diseases? Alright. But children in 2019 should not be getting the measles and dying of encephalitis. Children of 2019 should not have to worry about deadly or crippling diseases like polio, rabies, whooping cough, or rubella. Children who cannot be vaccinated due to their age or health concerns should not have to worry about getting sick because they are exposed to unvaccinated children who have been exposed to communicable diseases that could have been prevented through immunization.

Anyway… although I didn’t take the time to listen to Lori Alexander’s videos, I like Mr. Atheist’s thoughts on her nonsense. I especially like him because he is an ex Mormon and ex Mormons are some of my favorite people. They’re usually brave, smart, and have good taste in books and music. On another note, Mr. Atheist apparently had some technical difficulties on the “birth control” video and Lori sounds kind of like Foamy the Squirrel of the “Neurotically Yours” cartoons. Check him out.

This is still a classic. I think Foamy’s thoughts on life are more valuable than Lori Alexander’s.

I also like that Mr. Atheist came up with the word, “vagenda”. I think I’m going to incorporate that into my daily language. I’ll take a minute to think about the parts of my body that make me female and create a “vagenda”… but my vagenda will not include vaginal steaming, because according to Dr. Jen Gunter OB-GYN, and author of The Vagina Bible, vaginal steaming is a waste of time and potentially dangerous. Yes… I will listen to Jen Gunter over Gwyneth Paltrow any day. And I will listen to voices of reason like Mr. Atheist over religious quacks like Lori Alexander any day. Check out Mr. Atheist’s YouTube channel if you have a chance. He’s pretty good, even if he does have a habit of over pronouncing words like “button” and “important”.

MOVING ON…

I’ve been on another one of my 7th Heaven kicks lately. I don’t know why, but I really get a charge out of watching that show, even though it also makes me want to throw things at the screen. 7th Heaven was supposed to be a Christian values family friendly kind of show. However, look at the cast and you’ll find that some of the actors have kind of headed in the direction of the Diff’rent Strokes cast. Stephen Collins, who played the annoyingly sanctimonious and irritating Revered Eric Camden, was outed as a pervert back in 2014.

Eeew.

I am now at the part of the series in which Revered Chandler Hampton, played by Jeremy London, shows up. His character is wholesome, wise, and handsome. And yet, he and his twin brother, Jason London, are also no strangers to law enforcement. Jeremy London was arrested for domestic violence and did some time in rehab. Jason London, who guest starred in an episode about the evils of smoking, got busted at a club, was arrested, and crapped his pants in the back of a police car.

But these incidents are not what is prompting commentary about 7th Heaven today. Back in 2000, Stephen Collins was still a very bankable actor, as well as a hack author (seriously, I read his horrible novels– definitely not RevCam material, but truly awful), and wannabe musician (Pat Boone’s record label released his warbling). Collins also did some acting for video games, notably for a game called Code Blue, which was developed by a company called Legacy Interactive. I happened to be a big fan of Legacy’s interactive video games pertaining to health care, and they had quite a few of them 20 years ago. At the time, I was in graduate school earning my master’s degrees in public health and social work. I found healthcare interesting, and since I had no social life, I would sometimes kill my free time by playing games on the computer.

Yesterday, I went searching for the game, Code Blue, which had so helpfully killed my limited free time in the year 2000. Lo and behold, I found someone’s uploaded video of Stephen Collins playing Dr. Matt Clark on Code Blue. You know who else was on that game? Ann Dowd! That’s right, Aunt Lydia of The Handmaid’s Tale was the nurse in that game! At first, I thought she was Felicity Huffman, mainly due to the hair. The late Kathryn Joosten, who was on Desperate Housewives, was also a player. I am impressed by the level of star power Legacy Interactive invited to this classic game.

Aunt Lydia and RevCam in a hospital setting!

I miss these kinds of games. I waste too much time and money on pay to play games these days. Even The Sims 4 isn’t doing it for me lately. And yes… although Collins wasn’t outed as a pervert back in 2000, I found him just as irritating and wooden on this video game as I did on 7th Heaven. But some people are so annoying they’re entertaining.

Here’s a link to Dr. Jen Gunter’s book, which I will probably purchase myself at some point.

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stupid people

The Brady Bunch isn’t a benchmark for real life…

I could be writing about Donald Trump’s unfortunate and blatant lies about how doctors and mothers “execute” healthy babies after birth. Obviously, he’s feeling the heat as the next election comes up, trying to rally the stupid and gullible to vote for him. I certainly could come up with a few minutes worth of ranting about his latest outrageous untruths, which, in my view, really should knock him out of contention for a second presidential term, in and of themselves. But I’m not going to go there right now. I’d rather write about The Brady Bunch.

I happen to be a super fan of The Brady Bunch. I was born in 1972, midway through its run. By the time I was a small child, the show was in syndication. I used to love to watch it, because the Bradys seemed like such a perfect family. One memorable episode that has recently come into news was one from 1969, in which all of the Brady kids come down with the measles at the same time. Apparently, anti-vaxers have been using that quaint sitcom episode as an example of what it’s like to have measles. They’re saying that the Brady kids didn’t suffer when they had the measles. They weren’t very sick, and were able to eat and play Monopoly to their hearts’ content while their parents slaved to make them well again. They got a few days off from school and lived happily ever after… at least until The Bradys aired in 1990. Yes, it’s an idyllic episode and one of my favorites. But it’s not reality.

As I got older, I realized that The Brady Bunch didn’t represent reality, even though I still liked watching the show. Unfortunately, it seems that some people are using this old sitcom as “proof” that all of the hullabaloo about vaccinations is just a bunch of hooey. It surprises me that people are really that dumb, but just like the ones who believe doctors and mothers are “executing” newborn babies, there are people out there who think it’s alright to spread the measles and skip the vaccines.

Lots of people have had measles and survived the experience just fine, but there have also been folks who have suffered dire consequences of having come down with the viral illness. Some people have even died. A couple of weeks ago, an Israeli flight attendant who was vaccinated as a child but lost her immunity, came down with measles and wound up in a coma. One potential complication of measles is encephalitis, which is a potentially deadly brain inflammation. That’s what happened to the flight attendant, who was presumably in good health before she got sick with this “harmless” childhood disease. Her doctors have said they’re now hoping for the best.

In New York City, where there’s a measles outbreak going on, twenty-nine people have had to be hospitalized due to the disease. Six of those people have had to be in intensive care. If they survive, there will be quite a huge hospital bill waiting for each of them. If they don’t survive, their nexts of kin will be dealing with the bills.

Another major potential complication of measles is pneumonia, which is sometimes fatal, particularly for those who are already immunocompromised. Even if pneumonia doesn’t kill you, it’s not a very pleasant illness and it often requires medical help to overcome. That means a loss of time, money, and productivity.

Even the person who uploaded this seems to think the measles are “harmless”…

I realize that people don’t like to be told what they should or shouldn’t do. No one wants to be “forced” to have unwanted shots. Some people still resent seatbelt and helmet laws. But, speaking as someone with an advanced degree in public health, I’m here to tell you that vaccines are scientifically proven to reduce the risks related to these childhood illnesses. The vaccinations are proven to be an effective way to cut down on measles infections. Sure, it’s a mild illness for many people, but why take the chance of getting it when all you have to do is get a little shot? Why take the chance that you might spread it to someone who will get very sick and possibly even die?

Same thing goes for the mumps. People think of it as no big thing, but one of the potential complications is meningitis, which is a deadly spinal infection. Encephalitis, which is a brain infection, is another potentially serious complication of the mumps. It can also lead to swollen testicles, swollen ovaries and breast tissue, and hearing loss. Most people won’t experience these serious complications, but why risk getting the mumps if you don’t have to? Are you that eager to see your genitals swell?

The science behind vaccinations has been around for hundreds of years. Some of the vaccines that people are avoiding have existed for decades and have proven to lower the risk of contracting these diseases. But really, I just want to know… why in the hell would anyone get their information about measles from a 50 year old episode of a show like The Brady Bunch? Do people go to Spongebob Squarepants to learn about marine biology? Even Sherwood Schwartz, the man behind The Brady Bunch and its measles episode, had his children vaccinated against the disease. I’m sure he had no way of knowing his cute little measles episode would turn into an excuse for people to be foolish and risk their health, or that of their children’s.

If you’re going to look to The Brady Bunch for an idea of how measles might affect the average person, I think you should also look to the old show, ER, for another view. The 2001 episode, “A Walk in the Woods” shows just what can happen when those “rare” complications strike in a childhood illness. The link will take you to the full episode and, hopefully, some food for thought… especially if you have young children. And, unlike The Brady Bunch, it’s a relatively modern look at a so-called harmless disease.

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