healthcare, law

Do you go to bloggers for advice about life and death decisions? I don’t.

Many thanks to a reader who contacted me on Facebook this morning. This person probably spared you all another rant on a topic I’ve already covered. I was considering writing about Delta Airlines’ proposal for all U.S. based airlines to share their “no fly” lists. But then I got this message, and I must admit, it left me scratching my head.

The commenter evidently didn’t want to leave a response on the blog itself. They found my official OH Facebook page and decided to leave me a somewhat well-written and, at least on the surface, reasonable response to a post I recently wrote about COVID-19. They wrote I shouldn’t be writing such “strong opinions” against the use of Ivermectin in the treatment against COVID-19, reminding me that I have a “public” audience who might be negatively affected by my comments. They reminded me that no one should claim any “definitive knowledge as yet”– I’m assuming about COVID-19– and implied that my opinion lacks a “rational basis”.

I don’t know a thing about this commenter, nor does s/he know much about me. Based on what I could see on Statcounter, this person with a very bare Facebook profile, comes from Las Vegas and read two posts over the course of about three minutes. He or she probably doesn’t know that I have a master’s degree in public health. Perhaps he or she would not be “impressed” by that. In any case, earlier in the comment, the person “informed” me that sometimes physicians prescribe drugs off-label. That’s not news to me, and in fact, I even mentioned that in the post I’m assuming was referenced in the message. That post was mostly my positive opinion about Judge Charles Cunningham of Louisville, Kentucky, who recently ruled that the wife of a COVID-19 patient could not compel hospital doctors to prescribe Ivermectin off-label to treat COVID-19.

I write that “I’m assuming”, because the commenter didn’t specifically reference a blog post in their message. Regular readers might remember that I recently took down my generic “contact” page, because I kept getting comments from people who didn’t specify the posts to which they were referencing. Statcounter is a pretty good tool, but not everyone who visits my blog shows up on it. If there isn’t an IP trail on Statcounter, and the specific post isn’t mentioned, I’m sometimes left wondering which post to address. It wasn’t the first time I got a comment with no reference, so I determined that the contact page wasn’t helpful and removed it. And now, I’m thinking the Facebook page probably isn’t helpful, either, since I’ve run into the same issue this morning.

Anyway, this person who wrote to me evidently thinks that patients or their loved ones should be able to go to court to demand that legal experts force medical experts to prescribe medications for off-label use. And the person subtly chastised me for disagreeing with that idea by posting a strongly worded opinion piece on my blog. Then, at the end of their message, they wrote this:

NO ONE should claim any definitive knowledge as yet – which defaults to each of us knows what is in our own best interests. And in a life or death situation, anyone who interferes ought to be imprisoned, or worse. Think about how you would feel if the situation were reversed, and perhaps you will avoid making such strong opinion calls, without a rational basis – you have a public audience. Who knows how much harm you could cause…. thank you…”

On the surface, I guess the above portion of the comment sounds reasonable enough. Most people would like to make their own decisions about “life or death situations”. But there’s a reason why people go to medical school to become physicians. There are good reasons why physicians must be trained and licensed before they can practice medicine and make treatment decisions for others.

I don’t go to lawyers or judges for medical treatment decisions. I go to competent healthcare professionals who have specific training and experience in treating medical issues. If I, as a competent adult, choose not to go to a healthcare professional and seek alternative care from someone else, that might be my decision and it might only harm me. Some people would probably think it unwise, but I suppose it would be my “right”. And if I had a disease that wasn’t contagious, maybe that would be okay, if ill-advised.

When it comes to COVID-19, I think we have to consider the impact one person’s decisions might have on another’s. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious and potentially deadly virus, and it seems to be getting more contagious with each new variant. There aren’t enough hospital beds to take care of all of the people who need them, to include people who have other medical problems besides COVID. Ivermectin is currently not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment against COVID. Is it being studied by researchers? Probably… but at this point in time, Ivermectin is NOT currently supported by the medical community for use in treating COVID-19. That is a fact. I don’t know if Ivermectin ever will be named the key to conquering COVID-19, but at this point, it is still not recommended.

What I do know is that some people are taking it upon themselves to self-medicate with the drug. Most of them don’t know what they’re doing. Some of them are getting very sick and, no doubt, taking up hospital bed space needed by people who don’t routinely take drugs intended for veterinary use. So the fact that it’s being widely touted by certain groups as a “cure” or effective treatment is, in my view, irresponsible and potentially dangerous.

Moreover, even in the case of “off-label” use for drugs (and I once had a doctor who prescribed a drug for me for “off-label” reasons), there’s usually a consensus that the drug is useful for that purpose. At this point, I haven’t seen much support for Ivermectin to be used in that way by reputable medical professionals. I’ve only seen it touted by people who are pushing conspiracy theories.

Even if Ivermectin is a great drug for COVID-19, and I have not yet seen any compelling evidence that it is, it should certainly not be used by laypeople who have no experience with its use. People should not be going to their local feed and tack shop, buying up horse wormer to ward off COVID-19. That’s my opinion, of course. You can take that for whatever it’s worth.

As someone with a master’s degree in public health and actual work experience in epidemiology, I think I know how to research these things. However, I will admit that I don’t have all of the answers. I just know enough to find someone who knows more than I do and listen to what they have to say. I think that’s a pretty wise way to live life, but your mileage may vary. So far, it’s served me pretty well.

I do think it’s interesting that many people who wouldn’t get a COVID-19 vaccine because “it’s [wasn’t] FDA approved” (a situation that is changing) and “we don’t know the long-term effects of the vaccine”, are all into using Ivermectin off-label to treat COVID-19, which is definitely not FDA approved. We’ve seen some real and documented evidence by trusted entities that COVID vaccinated individuals are staying out of hospitals and not getting as sick as unvaccinated people are. Most of what I’ve read about Ivermectin treatment in COVID-19 cases is that people are overdosing on it and getting sick. I don’t know about you, but that makes me think that taking Ivermectin isn’t the smartest idea.

Moreover, an article by The Guardian from July 2021 reports that a “huge” study endorsing Ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment was withdrawn over ethics concerns. I will admit that I haven’t looked for anything from September that refutes this article, which basically states that a lot of medical providers were defrauded, but I do know that July wasn’t long ago. And as a run-of-the-mill blogger, I’m not going to take the time to go poring through medical journals for an opinion based blog post that gets maybe 25 hits in a day.

The person who wrote to me this morning reminded me that hospital doctors must “toe” the “party line (and it’s “toe”, not “tow”) or they’ll get fired. The person also wrote that the “ban” against Ivermectin is “politically motivated.” As I mentioned up post, this person appeared to be writing me from Las Vegas, which means he or she is residing in the United States.

They might be interested in knowing that I live in Germany, where Ivermectin is also not recommended for treatment against COVID-19, outside of a clinical trial. So, if banning Ivermectin for COVID-19 use is “politically motivated” in the United States, am I to believe that the ban is also “politically motivated” in Europe? Because Germany is not the only European country that does not recommend the use of Ivermectin for treating the coronavirus. Here’s a link from March from the European Medicines Agency, which is as official in Europe as the CDC and the FDA are in the United States. Likewise, the World Health Organization also recommends that Ivermectin only be used in clinical trial settings

In other words, Ivermectin should probably NOT be used by any old physician who is throwing everything against the wall to see if something sticks. Who knows what the motivation is behind those physicians who are touting off-label use of Ivermectin? Perhaps they are politically and financially motivated. As a matter of fact, how do I know what my commenter’s motivations are for taking the time to write to me after having spent about three minutes reading two posts on this blog? Why does it even matter to that person what my opinions about Judge Cunningham and Ivermectin use in COVID cases are?

In any case, what I really want to address in today’s post is this person’s parting shot to me.

Think about how you would feel if the situation were reversed, and perhaps you will avoid making such strong opinion calls, without a rational basis – you have a public audience. Who knows how much harm you could cause…. thank you…

So basically, the commenter seems to think that because some people might somehow construe my opinions as “medical advice”, I shouldn’t express myself on a blog because I might unintentionally cause them “harm”. Or, at least that’s what I think I’m reading. And people who read my blog are not smart enough to think for themselves and are coming to me for advice on life and death issues. Right. Does this person think the same thing about people who express opinions on social media platforms?

This is a blog. It’s not even a very popular blog. On a good day, I crack about 200 hits. The vast majority of people who read this blog are total strangers to me. Anyone who goes to a blogger for medical advice, particularly when the name of the blog is “The Overeducated HOUSEWIFE” and not “The Overeducated Physician”, is not long on common sense. Why would any sane person go to a self-proclaimed housewife for medical advice? But I guess, since this person seems to think I have so much power because of my “public audience”, I’ll put up a legal disclaimer.

If you are seriously unwell and need medical assistance, I think you should seek the advice of a competent and licensed healthcare provider in your area. You should not go to a personal blog written by a total stranger for medical advice. I would hope that notion would be common sense, but now I realize that some people need to be explicitly told. So thanks to this morning’s commenter for that. I’ll make a note of it.

As always, I wish everyone who reads my blog continued good health and success in life. And please, if you are going to send me a Facebook private message on my OH page, do me a favor and reference the post to which you are referring. Or, even better, simply comment on the post itself. I usually provide links on the official OH page for those who don’t want to make a WordPress account.

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communication, Police, true crime

Waiting for “contact”…

There are a couple of hot news items I could write about today. Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict, while not at all surprising, is a story that begs to be written about. I’m sure a lot of people will write about him, but I won’t be among them today, except to state that I’m glad he got convicted. It doesn’t bring me pleasure to see anyone get handcuffed and led to prison, but I do think it was entirely justified in Chauvin’s case.

I could also write about the infuriating story I read yesterday about Karen Garner, an 80 pound 73 year old woman with dementia who, last June, tried to walk out of a Walmart in Loveland, Colorado with about $14 worth of unpaid for merchandise. She was stopped by store employees, forced back into the store where the items were recovered, and not allowed to pay for them. Then, as she was picking purple wildflowers in a nearby field, walking to her nearby home, she was stopped by police. They arrested her, breaking her arm and dislocating her shoulder as they violently cuffed the confused, elderly woman. She sat cuffed in a cell for hours before she was taken to jail, crying and terrified. Thankfully, the district attorney immediately dropped the charges against Karen Garner. Her family has sued.

Absolutely INFURIATING! And neither of these cops were fired or disciplined.

Yes… I could definitely write about that case, as I watched the infuriating body cam coverage. I’m so tired of reading about violent cops who hurt and kill people instead of helping them. I know it can be done, too, because I’ve seen it in action here in Europe. I get that cops never know what they’re going to encounter when they go on patrol, particularly in the United States, where so many people are armed. But this poor lady is going to suffer for the rest of her life because of the incompetent and, frankly, cruel treatment she received from the police officers who manhandled her last summer. I may write about Karen Garner later today or even tomorrow… or maybe not. This case really upset me.

Or, I could write about how, as Derek Chauvin’s verdict was being read yesterday, a teenaged Black girl in Columbus, Ohio was fatally shot by the police. I don’t know too much about that story yet, as I was going to bed as Chauvin’s fate was delivered yesterday. Evidently, the 15 (or 16– I’ve seen both ages listed) year old who was killed by the police was brandishing a knife and threatening another girl in the community. She was living in foster care and had evidently gotten into a fight with someone at her foster home. Supposedly, she had dropped the knife before a police officer killed her. Someone in the video footage said that she’d been shot four times, which does seem excessive to me. Seems like one shot should have been enough to incapacitate her, if the weapon was needed at all.

Or, I could write about Kimberly Potter, the cop who, inexplicably, confused her Glock service revolver for a Taser and fatally shot 20 year old Daunte Wright. How Potter confused a Taser for a gun, I will never know. I don’t make it a habit of using either device. At least, in her case, she was unpleasantly shocked at what she did and exclaimed, “Holy shit! I just shot him!” From those words, I can at least surmise that she hadn’t intended to shoot the man, but was obviously caught up in the tension of the moment. It doesn’t change the fact that a man is dead because of her negligent actions, but I don’t see her as cold-blooded as I do Derek Chauvin, who showed no mercy toward George Floyd as he knelt on the man’s neck and killed him in front of bystanders.

But… what I really want to write about today has nothing to do with police brutality. Regular readers of my blog probably know that I pay close attention to who is reading and what people find interesting. I do this because I’m genuinely curious about my readership, but also to see what subjects people enjoy. Sometimes, I write posts that are more for me or people who know me offline than the strangers who come across my blog. I enjoy writing the personal stories more than I do rants about current events. If I’m honest, writing about current events often makes me nervous. Why? Because I notice many people hitting my “contact” page.

Sometimes people hit the contact page multiple times after reading and re-reading some of my posts. I can see that they go to the page, probably looking for information about the person who shares these opinions… and wonder what kind of person I am. Or maybe they actually do feel like contacting me. The thought of that makes me kind of nervous, since you never know what people are going to write.

So far, the few people who have contacted me for reasons other than spam have been very nice. One guy, a German, wrote to ask me to make available a post I wrote about Erin McCay George I wrote for my Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife. For some reason, her case has attracted many readers from around the world. I’m surprised I haven’t seen her case profiled on Snapped, although I don’t think she snapped as much as she became overcome by greed. So I reposted that article, as well as a lot of other articles I’ve written over the years.

I heard from Adam Barrows, author of the controversial New York Times love story involving his wife, who had anorexia nervosa. Barrows wrote about how he didn’t try to encourage his wife to seek treatment. I didn’t like all of the horrible negative appraisals of Barrows’ character, so I decided to write about his story. Barrows wrote to thank me. Even two months later, that post still gets a lot of hits. Barrows’ story really resonated with a lot of people, and obviously, people wanted to know how others felt about it. I’m not known for my conventional approaches to all matters. I often go against the grain of public opinion, which is why it makes me nervous when people haunt the contact page. I’m always afraid of getting a ton of hate mail. But, aside from one somewhat irate commenter who wanted to “correct” my opinions, the discussion on that post has been blessedly respectful, and I really appreciate that.

I also heard from a guy in Virginia who was interested in my post about weird murder stories in Farmville, which is the town where I went to college. Farmville is a town that, at least in the 1990s, felt kind of like it was about 30 years behind the rest of Virginia. And yet, there have been some really fascinating true crime cases in that place. Maybe, in another life, I would have been like Ann Rule or Kathryn Casey, and become a true crime writer. I really do find the stories fascinating… better than any novelist could dream up, in a lot of cases.

And finally, I got a note from a lawyer in New Zealand who read my review of Jocelyn Zichterman’s controversial book, I Fired God, and hoped I would also write about Gloriavale Christian Community in New Zealand. I did recently read and review a book about that community, and I am currently reading another book about it.

For the first year, since I moved my blog to WordPress, it took a long time to re-establish a following. Now that this version of my blog is two years old, I’m getting more readers. So far, because I moderate comments, I get fewer flames from drive by readers who don’t like my opinions. But I also have lots of lurkers who haunt my contact page. They go back to it repeatedly. I’m sure curiosity is what takes them there. Maybe some of them would like to rip me a new one because they think I’ve gotten something “wrong”. I always remind people, though, that this blog is just a collection of my opinions and observations. I realize that not everyone agrees with me. I don’t expect everyone to agree, although it’s not very often that my mind is changed by an irate comment. I won’t say it never happens, though.

I remember a few years ago, I read a story about a woman who was murdered by her ex boyfriend, who had also killed three of the woman’s four children. It was a horrific case out of Newport News, Virginia detailing how the police had completely failed to protect the woman, who had just gotten a restraining order that hadn’t been served to her killer. I wrote a post about the story based only on what I read in the news. A relative of the victim wrote to me and asked me to revisit the story with more context thrown in. She was initially upset by my observations, but when I pointed out to her that I was only reacting to the news story and not trying to judge her, she calmed down and told me more about what happened. I was outraged by her account and wrote another post about it. She ended up thanking me. I still look back on that and really feel good that I was able to get more of the story out. In fact, since that story is coming up today, I will repost it after I’m finished writing this entry.

For some reason, true crime posts are the ones that really capture people’s interest the most. I’m always willing to hear from people who want more of the story explained. I’m sure there are some people who read my posts and are actually involved in the cases. Maybe they want to say something to me… or maybe they’re just curious. I don’t know. But I will admit, the contact page lurkers who repeatedly hit that page are a curiosity of mine, too. What are they looking for? There’s nothing on that page but a form, powered by WordPress. I can only think that they’re deliberating sending me a comment. I can’t blame them for that. I’m famous for turning comments into content. 😉

Well… here’s hoping the news gets better today. I am glad Derek Chauvin, at least, has gotten some well-deserved justice delivered to him. It doesn’t bring me joy to see anyone locked up, but I do think he got exactly what he asked for when he made the decision to brutalize and kill George Floyd, who was helpless and crying for his mother as he was dying. I’m sorry for all of Chauvin’s friends and loved ones, as well as his other victims. I also feel much for Floyd’s family, but am specifically mentioning Chauvin’s family and friends because they probably won’t get much sympathy. People never think about the perpetrator’s loved ones when something like this happens. They are suffering, too, and deserve some regard… although Floyd’s family rightfully deserves more attention right now.

It’s time for Chauvin to pay the piper and do his time. And, I will go on record now to state that I fervently hope the two cops who hurt Karen Garner are also made to answer for their brutality toward that poor woman. Watching that video and listening to those cops, seeing how they manhandled a frail and obviously confused lady, was horrifying to me. But even so, I try to keep in mind that cops have a tough job these days. I wish more of them had common sense and more humanity, though.

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