healthcare, law

The latest from the COVID-19 wingnut files…

Regular readers may notice that I’ve recently reposted a bunch of old blog posts. I mostly try to keep the reposts to things like book reviews, because I know that book reviews can be useful long after they’re originally written. I’ve also been reposting other items that I think are worth reading from my original blog. Moving away from the Blogspot platform has been difficult in some ways, mainly because there’s a lot of material there that I genuinely think is good stuff. Of course, there’s also a lot of stuff that isn’t so good. So that’s part of the reason for the many reposts.

But there’s another reason why I’ve been reposting so much old material. It’s partly because nowadays, so much of what I could be writing about involves one of a few subjects dominating the news right now– rightwing politics (Trump, in particular), abortion (especially in Texas), and COVID-19. Let me just say, I am so TIRED of COVID-19. I’m tired of thinking about it, and I’m tired of writing about it. I’m sure that many people are tired of reading about it. It’s a depressing subject.

And yet, I continue to be amazed by some of the crazy news the pandemic has spawned. Last night, just before I went to sleep, I read an article about Angela Underwood, a registered nurse in Kentucky, whose husband is dying of COVID-19. Underwood’s husband Lonnie, is 58 years old, and is currently in the intensive care unit at Norton Brownsboro Hospital in Louisville.

For some reason, Ms. Underwood thinks she knows more than the actual physicians who are treating her husband. She sued the hospital because the healthcare providers in charge of her husband’s care have allegedly refused to administer ivermectin to her husband. Writes Nurse Underwood in her complaint, filed last week:

“As a Registered Nurse, I demand my husband be administered ivermectin whether by a Norton physician or another healthcare provider of my choosing including myself if necessary,”

Underwood also stated, “I am [Lonnie’s] healthcare advocate… The studies and research does show the effectiveness of the medication when given to those patients in the trial.”

Angela Underwood has asked the court to designate the unproven treatment as “medically indicated,” even though ivermectin is not actually recommended for treating or preventing COVID-19. I first heard of ivermectin when one of my dogs had heartworms, back in the late 1980s. Before COVID-19, I knew of ivermectin as primarily used for heartworm prevention and treatment in dogs, as well as a dewormer for horses and other animals. Yes, there are some medicinal uses for it in human beings, but not for treating COVID-19. In humans, it’s used for treating worm infestations, river blindness, rosacea, and head lice.

Unfortunately, just as some people were drinking bleach, taking hydrochloroquine, and ingesting fish tank cleaner last year, this year, there are many people who have bought into the erroneous idea that ivermectin is an effective treatment against COVID-19. But, it’s not. According to the Washington Post:

“[Ivermectin] hasn’t been proven to be effective [against COVID-19],” said Michael Saag, a professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “If I saw evidence that it worked, I would be one of the first to use it. But the truth is, there are no data that support its use.”

And Dr. Saag is not the only medical professional who says that ivermectin doesn’t work for COVID-19 and isn’t indicated. The idea that ivermectin might work against the virus caught on when Australian researchers noted that ivermectin killed the virus in laboratory settings. However, the amount of the drug needed to kill the virus was much higher than the safe dosage for humans. Moreover, lab settings aren’t the same as actual “real life” settings. If you click the link in this paragraph, you will be taken to a site that discusses the Australian research on ivermectin. But, you will notice that right there in black and white, it says:

  • Do NOT self-medicate with Ivermectin and do NOT use Ivermectin intended for animalsRead the FDA caution online.
  • Whilst shown to be effective in the lab environment, Ivermectin cannot be used in humans for COVID-19 until further testing and clinical trials have been completed to establish the effectiveness of the drug at levels safe for human dosing.
  • For any medical questions you have about your health, please consult your health care provider.
  • The potential use of Ivermectin to combat COVID-19 remains unproven, and depends on pre-clinical testing and clinical trials to progress the work.

Nevertheless, Angela Underwood and her ilk, in spite of having sought medical attention at hospitals for themselves and/or loved ones, apparently think they know better than physicians. And so, instead of following the care plan set up by the actual doctors treating her husband, Ms. Underwood wants to make medical decisions. Evidently, she thinks her nursing degree holds up to the medical school education her husband’s doctors have received. But even if Nurse Underwood actually had a degree in medicine, it wouldn’t be ethical or wise for her to treat her husband, anyway. She doesn’t have the appropriate professional detachment needed to treat her husband with objectivity.

Fortunately, Jefferson Circuit Judge Charles Cunningham has better sense than Nurse Underwood does. He’s issued a “scathing response” to Underwood’s lawsuit. According to the Washington Post:

“[the court] cannot require a hospital to literally take orders from someone who does not routinely issue such orders,” …[Cunningham] noted in his ruling how the Kentucky Supreme Court “only allows admission of scientific evidence based on sufficient facts or data.”

The judge continued:

“Unfortunately, the Internet has no such rule. It is rife with the ramblings of persons who spout ill-conceived conclusions if not out-right falsehoods… If Plaintiff wants to ask the Court to impose her definition of ‘medically indicated’ rather than the hospital’s, she needs to present the sworn testimony of solid witnesses, espousing solid opinions, based on solid data.”

In other words, Ms. Underwood is not a medical doctor. Neither is the judge. Trying to force Lonnie Underwood’s physicians to allow certain drugs to be administered is outside of Judge Cunningham’s area of expertise. And if, by chance, the off label use of ivermectin led to a bad outcome, isn’t it possible that Ms. Underwood might then sue for medical malpractice?

I congratulate the judge for rendering his wise decision. I wish all judges had that much sense as Judge Cunningham has. Sadly, some judges think they’re physicians, too.

Last month, in Ohio, a judge ordered a hospital to administer ivermectin to a patient with COVID-19, even though “the Food and Drug Administration has not approved ivermectin to treat or prevent covid-19 and has advised against that use amid spiking calls to poison centers after people took potent versions of the drug meant for livestock.”

Then, another Ohio judge reversed the first judge’s order. The second judge, like Judge Cunningham in Kentucky, realized that judges are not doctors. Moreover, human beings are not horses or dogs or cats… So, unless you have a parasitic infection or rosacea, it’s best to leave the ivermectin on the shelf. And don’t waste time and money on lawsuits, because again, judges and lawyers are experts in LAW, not medicine.

It’s become all too clear that not all legal professionals and lawmakers have the common sense and wisdom Judge Cunningham does. Yesterday’s fresh post was about the new abortion ban in Texas, and how it will probably lead to a lot of suffering and deaths. Why? BECAUSE THE MEN WHO MADE THE LAW ARE NOT MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS!!!!! Moreover, they lacked the foresight , wisdom, and care to seek advice and insight from people who practice medicine for a living and know about the scenarios that can arise in pregnancies that would necessitate abortion for medical reasons.

Lawmakers are the same people who tried to pass a law requiring that ectopic pregnancies be “re-implanted” in a woman’s uterus. They did this (as if a woman’s body is like a planter), even though it’s technologically IMPOSSIBLE to re-implant a tubal pregnancy, and ectopic pregnancies must always be terminated, at least at this point in time. Lawmakers and lawyers are not medical experts. But some of them simply don’t realize, or want to admit, that when it comes to medical matters, they need to stay in their lane!

Why go to a hospital for care if you’re not going to follow the advice of the medical experts there? I realize that there are situations in which it’s right for a patient to speak up. However, when it comes to treating and preventing COVID-19, I really don’t think that following wacky conspiracy theories spouted on Fox News or YouTube is the best course of action.

Angela Underwood did find a doctor in Indiana who was willing to prescribe ivermectin, but she claims the hospital would not allow him emergency privileges. But Cunningham, who was filling in for another judge who was more sympathetic to Underwood’s case, wrote “Frankly, even a doctor who was in the trenches in 2020 fighting hand-to-hand against the virus, is probably not up-to-date with what works and what fails in late 2021 because the virus has mutated and our responses and therapies have evolved with it.

Cunningham continued, regarding Underwood’s desire to find a hospital more willing to administer ivermectin, “This is impractical because it is likely that no such hospital in the United States, or certainly in this region, agrees with Plaintiff. Moreover, her husband’s medical circumstances may make such a transfer unjustifiably risky.

I truly do have a concept of wanting to try everything, especially when a loved one is sick and dying. I’m sure Ms. Underwood’s reasons for wanting to try ivermectin are borne out of concern and despair. But I also think it’s foolhardy to try to use horse dewormer to fight a deadly virus. I agree with Judge Cunningham’s wise decision wholeheartedly. I think it’s very astute.

According to the Washington Post, Angela Underwood’s husband, Lonnie, remains in the hospital and is fighting for his life. Thoughts and prayers for him… and hopefully, both of them will get vaccinated, if they haven’t been yet. So far, unlike ivermectin, the vaccines actually have been proven to work against preventing and lessening the severity of COVID-19.

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good tv, nostalgia, YouTube

The “Family” rabbit hole…

Thought I’d take a break from bitching about Donald Trump today… I made a discovery yesterday that I should have made about forty years ago. It was raining most of the day, so I decided to watch some YouTube on my TV. Someone uploaded a bunch of episodes of the 70s era drama, Family.

I had heard of Family before yesterday, but never watched it during its initial run from 1976 until 1980. For one thing, we lived in England when it premiered. For another, I was only four years old at the time, and the show usually aired in the 10pm time slot. No way would I have been allowed to stay up for that, even if we’d been in the United States.

I remember people said Family was a very well-written show with progressive story lines. Kristy McNichol played Letitia “Buddy” Lawrence. At the time, she was about eleven years old and very precocious. Actor/composer John Rubinstein composed the theme for Family, which is very serious and not all that catchy. He also played Jeff Maitland, ex husband of the older Lawrence daughter, Nancy (played by Elayne Heilveil for six episodes, then Meredith Baxter).

I ended up binge watching about a half dozen episodes, or so, before Bill was finished with his work day. One of the episodes I saw was the pilot, in which Nancy Maitland comes home to find her husband in bed with another woman. She goes running home to her parents. Her dad, played by the late James Broderick, babies her. Her mom, played by the late Sada Thompson rants about how sometimes women just want “out”.

Family pilot, circa 1976…

Buddy overhears her mother say that when she was pregnant with her, there were times when she wished she could have an abortion. Naturally, that upsets Buddy, who doesn’t stick around long enough to hear her mom say that she was glad to have her now.

Earlier in the episode, Buddy is shown learning to drive a car with her big brother, Willie. She has a close relationship with him, even though he’s several years older. The character is supposed to be 17 years old, but the actor who portrayed him was actually about 27 and looked it!

I got a kick out of the driving lesson scene, though, because the two changed places while they were in the car and neither wore a seatbelt (HORRORS!). Willie tells Buddy to sit on her books, then tells her to put on her “safety belt” (no one ever calls them that anymore). She slips the shoulder belt behind her the way I used to when I rode in the front seat as a kid… no air bags, and no laws requiring kids to sit in the back seat… and, in fact, no seatbelt laws!

As I was watching that scene, I imagined Bill’s reaction to it. He’s older than I am, but he’s definitely a safety geek. I’m sure he’d be horrified!

Anyway, Willie effectively teaches eleven year old Buddy how to drive, so after she hears her mother say that at times when she was pregnant with Buddy, she’d wished to have an abortion, she runs out and takes the car for a spin. Somehow, she ends up at a greenhouse, where she throws rocks from the inside and smashes a bunch of windows in a childish rage!

An old man catches her in the act and calls the police, describing her as an eleven year old child driving a 1974 Maverick. Back in the 70s, my sister used to drive a red Maverick she called Maybell. I’m sure it was a sporty car in those days!

Next thing you know, Buddy is marched into the police station and her dad picks her up and scolds her for driving. Then he takes her home and her mom has to explain her abortion comment.

Later in the series, Nancy gets pregnant and considers having an abortion… this was cutting edge stuff in the 70s. And, as we all know, abortion remains a hot topic 45 years hence!

I also related to Buddy’s angst about what her mom said about abortion. My own mom told me many times that she hadn’t wanted to have me. She never considered having an abortion. They weren’t legal in 1972, anyway. There were many times when I wished she had had one… it would have saved us both a lot of pain. But really, I just wish she had never told me that she was ever sorry to be pregnant with me. That is just not a cool thing to say to your kid, even if you’re happy they’re here now. But it’s especially uncool if your kid is depressed and anxious anyway, as I was when I was growing up. Maybe I could be understanding about that if she’d told me when I was an adult and could comprehend the context better. But, as a kid, it devastated me and fucked me up for years… and I really related to the character Buddy’s emotional outburst at overhearing her mom say that.

Kristy McNichol is an extraordinarily talented actress. She was especially gifted as a child actress. I know she’s retired now, but she really helped make Family an excellent show. As much as I liked Meredith Baxter when I was growing up watching Family Ties, I don’t think she can hold a candle to Kristy’s gift. She’s a natural on screen.

I noticed they used percolators on that show. No one percolates coffee anymore. My mom used to have a percolator like this one. She and my dad drank nasty ground coffee from a can… Maxwell House or Folger’s. And they sweetened it with Sweet-10 (liquid saccharine) and instead of using milk or half and half, they used non-dairy powdered creamer like Cremora. Yuck!

I’ll probably keep watching Family. I get a kick out of the many guest actors from my childhood who show up. A lot of them are now dead or senior citizens, which only serves to remind me of how old I am now. But the 1970s don’t seem like they were that long ago… and frankly, they’re a nice escape from 2020, which is definitely a crazy year. Aside from the nostalgia factor, I really think it’s a great show that has aged remarkably well. I’m grateful that someone posted them on YouTube.

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Trump

Be careful when you play “Follow the Leader”…

Maybe COVID-19 will be Trump’s downfall… If it is, I would consider that a silver lining to a real nightmare. I am blessed not to have to listen to Trump, since we don’t get local TV and I don’t click on videos in which Trump speaks. I do see the neverending news articles about him… the dumb things he says and asinine things he does… and people who listen to him and do things that make them sick or kill them.

Did you see the news article about that couple in Arizona who drank fish tank cleaner because Trump mentioned chloroquine phosphate as a potentially promising cure for the virus? The couple heard Trump touting this chemical– calling it a “game changer”– and decided they should use it. I’m not sure if they even had the virus, or if it was simply something they decided to do as a prophylactic measure. The fish tank cleaner poisoned them. Husband went into cardiac arrest and wife wound up in critical condition, but is expected to survive.

I posted about this on my Facebook page, and one of my friends who rarely misses a chance to be a Trump apologist, posted this:

Trump is probably right on the malaria drug. It’s irrelevant. He didn’t tell people to pre medicate. These are the same people that eat tide pods. 

I am glad there are promising treatments. Good news right now is a great thing.

To which I responded:

I don’t see anyone here blaming Trump for their stupidity, although I don’t think he should be talking about such things. He’s not an expert on anything healthcare related, especially treatments for the COVID-19 virus.

For better or worse, Trump is a role model to many people who aren’t very deep thinkers. If he were a decent person, he’d realize that. But he’s not, so he won’t… and apologists will talk about how it’s not his responsibility that people who make up his base listen to what he says and act accordingly… sometimes with disastrous results.

Like it or not, when someone becomes a world leader, there will be people out there who will listen to what he or she says. If the leader is a good one– someone who is compassionate, intelligent, decent, humane, and reasonable, it’s not a bad thing to follow the leader. If a leader is greedy, corrupt, dishonest, narcissistic, and irresponsible, following the leader can be fraught with danger. Donald Trump isn’t a good leader. From day one, he’s been making choices that only benefit a small segment of society– people who are filthy rich and politically powerful.

Meanwhile, his base, which consists of a lot of people who may be basically good, but terribly misguided, are listening to what he says and making bad decisions like drinking fish tank cleaner. I have already written about Trump supporters who have done really dumb things. Last year, someone got pissed off at me because I wrote about two guys who were sitting around drinking beer when they decided to don a bullet proof vest and shoot each other. I commented that I could tell they were Trump supporters. I found them on social media, and sure enough, I was right.

I just checked the Facebook page of one of those guys. He’s still posting praises for Donald Trump while lambasting “communism” and “socialism”. He still thinks Donald Trump is awesome, despite the fact that Trump has made some very embarrassing and improper decisions in his handling of the COVID-19 virus crisis. This guy and his buddy, who chose to shoot each other with a rifle while drinking, are exactly the type of people I’m writing about. Just like the couple in Arizona who listened to the president, much to their detriment, the gun wielding beer drinker thinks Trump is infallible. Can you see how taking that attitude can be dangerous to one’s health or even end one’s life? Edited to add: Charles Ferris got sentenced to 27 days in jail for his part in the bullet proof vest/gun stunt.

I don’t necessarily blame Donald Trump when people make bad decisions. It’s just that I notice that people who make really stupid decisions are overwhelmingly Trump supporters. They lack critical thinking skills and seem to have trouble making choices that are in their own best interests. Yesterday, someone posted this on Facebook. It made a lot of sense to me, so I decided to share it. I’m sharing it here, too.

Now, I’m not necessarily a Bernie Sanders fan. I like some of his ideas, but I don’t know that they’re practical. I also think that his election would be dangerous to my husband’s career. However, I do agree that a lot of Trump supporters are hypocrites. Right now, people are in real trouble. Many people can’t work, which means businesses are losing money. Stocks are down, and people are worried about getting sick and dying, or losing everything and being tossed into the street. So folks are calling on the government for help. And Trump is offering $1200 per person. It’s a one shot deal that will help a little bit. However, he’s also calling for everything to get back to normal next month. I don’t see it happening.

Other governments are doing a lot more to take care of their citizens, while Trump wastes time discounting the virus and dickering with New York State over ventilators. He seems to lack the critical insight that we must all work together to get past this pandemic. He’s only concerned about big business and keeping the economy rolling. Why? Because a lot of voters can look past his disgusting misanthropy if it means they have a little extra money in their paychecks and he says things that make them feel empowered and vindicated. People like Charles Ferris, who thinks Trump is “da fuckin’ man”, have no thought for anyone who isn’t him or his. But when shit starts to affect him personally, I think he could end up changing his tune. Sooner or later, most people do.

Just for shits and giggles, here’s what is publicly posted on that beer drinking, gun toting, Trump worshipper’s Facebook page:

Yeah… I know not all Trump supporters are this dense, but a lot of them are. Even as a businessman, Trump isn’t particularly successful. He inherited his money and played dirty to make more of it. He has no personal honor, and if not for that inherited money, probably would have been a failure. Although narcissists are very good at hitching themselves to successful people and riding coattails… so I don’t know. They’re sniveling ass kissers when they need to be– just long enough to get ahead. Beyond that, fuck everyone else. And people are attracted to them because they are charismatic. Spend some time around people like Trump and you can quickly spot the signs. Spending time with narcissists is kind of like getting a vaccine, especially when they are as grandiose about their narcissism as Trump is. The stupid fall for it repeatedly… although in fairness, many politicians are narcissistic. I think Trump is at the top of the heap, and that enthralls his base. Such a shame.

I just hope more people wise up and take an interest in their own well-being. Trump is not good for America… even those who have drunk the Kool-Aid and make up his base. But maybe COVID-19 could be a good thing in the long run. I often like to say that every cloud has its silver lining. Some good comes out of almost every situation… even if it’s just a cautionary tale. Many people will die because of this scourge, but a lot of people will also be born. Medical science will advance out of necessity, and there will probably be some progressive policy changes… and if a few hearts and minds are changed to be more humane, that’s also a good thing. So I’m hoping for the best. I hope you are, too.

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poor judgment

A fatal mistake…

22 year old Sydney Monfries was just a month from her graduation from Fordham University in New York, when she and some friends decided to make the forbidden climb up the bell tower that overlooks Fordham’s Rose Hill campus. It was a rite of passage for many students at Fordham University to ascend the steep, spiral stairs and look out over the Bronx, often while drinking alcohol, who reportedly would steal up the stairs in the wee hours of the morning. Sadly, that forbidden climb up the tower in Keating Hall would be Sydney’s last mistake. She fell through an opening in a landing and plummeted to the ground, where she was seriously injured. Police found her unconscious at about 3:00am. Monfries was rushed to St. Barnabas Hospital, where she died Sunday evening.

I read Sydney Monfries’ tragic story in The New York Times this morning while enjoying a bowl of ripe berries and fresh coffee prepared for me by my loving husband and safety geek, Bill. I was telling him about Monfries’ decision to trespass in the bell tower, which led to her death. Then, I read the comments. As usual, they were interesting.

The first one I read was something along the lines of “play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” After a few wholly sympathetic comments, someone left this one: “It’s hard to feel bad for someone who needed a better view of NYC for an Instagram photo.
Stupidity has its harsh rewards.”

Naturally, that comment, while technically correct, provoked a number of angry responses. The author of the “insensitive” comment was defensive. An interesting discussion ensued.

Apparently, the commenter who had no sympathy for Sydney Monfries, has “issues” of her own.

Sydney Monfries was a beautiful young woman, full of promise and clearly not lacking in loved ones. She had her whole life ahead of her, and it looked like it was slated to be a good one. Unfortunately, she made a grave mistake and it cost her her life. Does this mean that her grieving loved ones don’t deserve compassion? I don’t think so. I’m sure that Ms. Monfries has many friends and family members who are absolutely horrified and devastated by her sudden departure. Monfries and her friends made an error in judgment. People do that. Even the smartest people mess up sometimes. I’m sure they were all just looking for a wonderful time and a story they could pass to their grandchildren someday.

On the other hand, I can sort of see the point of those who are saying things like “play stupid games, win stupid prizes.” I wouldn’t put it that way myself, but the way I see it, climbing the tower, when it’s clear that the tower is off limits, was a foolish thing to do. It’s not unlike walking along railroad tracks or trying to do unauthorized photo shoots in dangerous places. Sometimes, you are rewarded with stunning pictures and memorable stories. Sometimes, you wind up seriously injured or killed. Sydney Monfries took a risk that cost her her life. I only hope people pay attention and learn from it… and perhaps Fordham University does more to make sure other students don’t try the same thing, even if it is a rite of passage. Obviously, it’s not safe. Sydney Monfries has proven it.

Sydney Monfries no longer cares about what people will say or think about her. She’s gone now. The people who need comfort are those who are left behind. I do hope they refrain from reading the comments on news articles or social media. I even hope they don’t read this blog post if it will cause them more pain.

A 2013 article in the Fordam Ram, Fordham University’s newspaper, explains the allure of the forbidden tower, which is usually locked. When the door to the tower is left slightly ajar, it tempts daring students who want to have this ultimate, epic experience afforded to few people. I think, even in the wake of this horrible accident, university officials are going to have to be vigilant. People are always tempted by forbidden fruit. Fordham also has “forbidden tunnels” that students have tried to access with varying degrees of success. The tunnels, no doubt like the tower, are off limits for insurance reasons. Supposedly, getting caught in either place leads to expulsion if you’re lucky, death if you’re not.

This was so much fun! I’d love to do it again, even though it could be dangerous for the stupid…

One thing I’ve noticed and appreciated in Europe is that most people are expected to have good sense. There are fewer barriers here. A few years ago, Bill and I visited the Starkenberger beer pool in Austria, where, for five hours, we were allowed to rent a former fermenting vat filled with hot beer wort. We were turned loose, with no one supervising us as we swam in the beery water, completely naked with access to all the beer we wanted. There was water and alcohol involved, but we had no minders or lifeguards on duty. It was awesome, and we had a blast! That would never happen in the United States because the liability would be too much. I’m sure anyplace in the USA that tried to offer an unsupervised “beer pool” would never get insurance coverage. But it’s doable here. People are pretty “sue happy” over here, but common sense is still expected.

I can understand why people want to get an “amazing view” of campus, but there’s a reason why the tower is locked. Still, even the morning after that horrible accident, a young man and his father who were touring the campus were spotted tugging on the locked door of the tower. They had no doubt heard about Sydney Monfries’ accident, but they were still tempted by that tower. Some people just never get it.

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