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 seriously studied by researchers? Probably… but at this point in time, Ivermectin is NOT currently recommended 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.

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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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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ethics, healthcare, law, modern problems, poor judgment

Medical freedom… or medical freedumb?

Today I reposted a 2017 era article from my original Blogspot version of The Overeducated Housewife blog. That post was written in a time of blissful ignorance of what awaited the world just three years later. In 2017, I was inspired by reading about young people who were critically ill and forced to accept medical care decisions thrust upon them by older people. Most of the cases of the youngsters in that post suffered from cancers of some kind, but a couple of them had other medical problems.

In several cases, the young patients’ parents were religious or wanted to try a more “natural” approach to healthcare. The parents were taken to task by medical professionals who wanted to override their decisions. In one case, the patient was a 17 year old young man who was deemed mature. He didn’t like the chemotherapy that was prescribed to treat his Hodgkin’s Disease, so he tried to refuse it. Doctors sought to force submission by legal means. In the end, the young man’s case was the inspiration for “Abraham’s Law” in Virginia, which allows older teenagers and their parents to refuse medical care or choose alternative therapies.

It amazes me now to read about these controversial cases involving young people, especially given that COVID-19 wasn’t on the radar at the time. Nowadays, the term “medical freedom” is a hot topic, as people fight over whether or not vaccinations against the coronavirus should be mandatory for all who can safely take it. On one hand, there’s a group of people who want to be able to make all medical and healthcare choices for themselves, although a lot of the people in the anti-vaccine group curiously draw the line at abortions for other people. On the other hand, there’s a large group of people who fear the rapidly spreading COVID virus that has, so far, killed over 650,000 Americans and well over four million people worldwide. That group believes that people should be required to get vaccinated.

Although I am all for vaccination and I do believe that the vaccines are saving lives, there is a part of me that empathizes with those who don’t want to be forced to take it. I don’t think it’s smart to skip the vaccines. Many of the arguments I’ve heard against the vaccines seem to be mostly based on misinformation and conspiracy theories. A lot of people worry that there will be terrible side effects to the vaccines. Or they know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy whose balls shriveled up and fell off after the first shot. Personally, I think those arguments are pretty lame. But I also genuinely don’t like the idea of forcing people to do things. I wish those kinds of rules weren’t necessary, and more people would cooperate simply because it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve read many stories of people who took a “wait and see” approach to COVID-19 and are now dead. Some of the saddest stories involve people who had young children or newborn babies. I’ve read at least three tragic stories about parents who have left large broods orphaned because of COVID. I’ve also read a lot of sad stories about people who are sorry they didn’t get vaccinated.

And I’ve also read about many conservative radio talk show hosts who have either gotten very sick from COVID or have actually died. There was a news story just this morning about a conservative talk show host named Bob Enyart, who had spread false information about COVID-19. He got sick and died. Enyart was vehemently against vaccine and mask mandates, and last year, he successfully sued the state of Colorado over mask mandates and capacity limits in churches. Enyart was all about making choices for his own health, but as a very vocal opponent of abortion, he apparently didn’t mind making healthcare choices for other people.

Curiously enough, Enyart was a Christian pastor, and he once gleefully read the names and obituaries of people who had died of AIDS while he played “Another One Bites the Dust” by Queen. What a charming man… huh? As Mr. Enyart was the 5th conservative radio talk show host to die of COVID in the past six weeks, perhaps the Queen song is appropriate theme for him and his ilk.

This morning, I ran across an interesting thread in the Duggar Family News Group. Someone, yet again, compared the COVID vaccine and mask mandates to seatbelt laws.

I disagree with this comparison. I also am old enough to remember when the seatbelt laws went into effect. At the time, I was pissed off about them. Don’t be too hard on me, though. I was a teenager.

I have mentioned before that I don’t think the COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates are the same as seatbelt laws. I mean, yes, I can see how people would make the comparison, but I don’t think it’s a very accurate one. When I was a child, I hated seatbelts and would only wear them if I was forced to… and generally that only happened when my dad was feeling controlling. In those days, a lot of people didn’t wear seatbelts. They weren’t as comfortable as they are today. Thankfully, as time has passed, the technology behind them has improved. I doubt we will ever be rid of the damned things. In any case, seatbelts are kind of different from masks and vaccines, as they don’t involve being injected into someone’s body, nor do they impact normal living and communicating as much as face masks do. You only wear them in the car. They don’t interfere with speaking, hearing, seeing, eating, or breathing.

And before anyone tries to tell me that masks don’t impede breathing, let me just stop you right there. I know they don’t. But some people do find wearing them oppressive, and the anxiety that comes from that might impede breathing. There are some people who can’t wear them for whatever reason… not too many, I will admit, but there are some. Likewise, some people can’t wear seatbelts for whatever reason. A lot of times, the reason has to do with being very obese, but sometimes it’s because of an injury or an occupation.

The point is, I don’t think seatbelts will ever go away. However, many of us hope the masks will go away, if and when the pandemic ends. Personally, I don’t see the pandemic ending happening unless a lot more people get vaccinated. But even though I think vaccines are an excellent idea and I would strongly encourage people to get the shot(s), I also feel uncomfortable with government mandates on things like medical care. Because, there are people who can’t or shouldn’t get vaccinations, for whatever reason. I also understand that some people are genuinely concerned about government overreach. Their concern isn’t entirely unfounded, although some of the arguments I’ve read are pretty ridiculous.

One thing I don’t think is helpful, though, is being rude and insulting to those who disagree. I don’t like the dogpile approach to trying to changes minds, either. The above photo was shared in the Duggar Family News group, and it did invite contention. One woman posted this:

I remember when this page was about snarking on fundamentalist Christian families on television rather than promoting the divide of human kind based on personal choices they make for what they put in their own bodies.

That comment led to this response…

Even though I understand the frustration behind this response, I don’t think it was helpful.

The original poster was offended by the image. She expressed her dismay that a total stranger would wish death on her. Then, a big, long thread of comments ensued, with the vast majority of people name-calling, hurling insults, being sarcastic, and typing “all knowing” responses at the original poster. Her response, rather than being convinced, was to dig in her heels and respond in kind. Then, she either got booted from the group, or left on her own accord.

The last comment ends with the person telling the OP not to go to the hospital because she doesn’t believe in science. I disagree with that attitude, too. If someone gets sick with COVID, I don’t want them out on the street, infecting others. I’d rather see them getting treatment.

So… what exactly was accomplished by this contentious exchange? Not much, that I can see. I think a more respectful and friendly dialogue might have done more to foster group harmony. Maybe no one’s mind would have changed, but at least there would be listening and constructive communication going on, rather than flaming and hair flip rage exits. No matter what, I don’t think it’s appropriate to wish death on people simply because they disagree with you. On the other hand, I do understand the sentiment and the frustration behind such responses. I will also admit to occasionally being a hypocrite when I get pushed too far. I’m human, after all. I do try not to start out with abuse and insults, though.

I have never liked “nannyism”, especially in laws. However, I understand why “nanny” laws are often necessary. Many people, when left to their own devices, will not do things that are in their own or the public’s best interests. I have always hated wearing seatbelts myself, but I do understand why they’re necessary. I also have a husband who will turn into Pat Boone if I don’t wear one. So I do comply with that rule.

Even though I fucking hate face masks, I comply with that rule, too. However, I hope someday it will no longer be necessary. And I had no issues whatsoever with getting vaccinated against COVID, because as a student of public health, I know the theories behind vaccines and have seen concrete evidence that most of them work. That doesn’t mean I’m not open to learning new information, nor does it mean I’m not aware of potential risks from certain vaccines.

Below is advice given to people during the Spanish Flu pandemic. I agree with most of it, although I don’t think it matters whether or not someone “obeys cheerfully”, as long as they are compliant.

From 2018, when the Spanish Flu was killing people. They used masks then, and the masks eventually went away. I hope the same for COVID-19.

My late beagle, Zane, was a prime example of a dog who didn’t do well with vaccines. He had mast cell cancer (immune system cancer) that eventually progressed to lymphoma. He was allergic to at least one vaccination, and would get tumors when he had others. I actually think some people over-vaccinate their pets, and some of the encouragement to vaccinate is due to the revenue vaccines generate. Dogs with mast cell tumors should not get any unnecessary vaccines. I’m a little concerned about Arran, because he is due for a rabies shot next month, and the rabies shots can stimulate mast cell tumors. Arran has also had mast cell tumors, though not to the same severity Zane had. Because of Zane, I have some sympathy for people who are against vaccines, even though I think their reasoning is wrong in most instances. We don’t vaccinate people like we do pets, anyway. We certainly don’t get as many shots as they do.

Although I do believe in vaccine efficacy, I am not one to run out and demand the latest and greatest shots, nor do I get every vaccine available. For instance, I’ve never in my life had a flu shot. I would get them if I spent more time around other people, though. COVID-19 is different, at least right now. There’s hope that the virus will eventually weaken and become less dangerous, as flu mostly did. But at this point, it’s not getting better. Many people are getting sick and dying, and from what I’ve read, COVID-19 is a pretty nasty way to go.

I do think sometimes we need laws to protect ourselves and each other from those who lack insight, perspective, and wisdom. On the other hand, I agree that people should be free to make choices, whenever possible. Either way, medical freedom doesn’t do a damned bit of good to anyone who is dead. So I do hope that those who are against vaccines will wise up and get with the program. I understand wanting to wait and see how other people do with the shots, but time is running out… I have read too many sad stories about people who waited too long and got sick. There are too many stories about orphaned children, and bereaved spouses, siblings, and parents. And too many people are becoming downright mean and NASTY toward total strangers. I wish we’d all remember that when it comes down to it, we’re in a community. And being in a healthy community requires compassion, responsibility, and solidarity.

That being said… sometimes people DO need protection from crazy beliefs. Case in point, an old Mr. Atheist video I came across yesterday. Religion and politics make people do stupid things, even to their children. So while I am mindful of the so-called slippery slope when it comes to government overreach, I also think some people need to be saved from “freedumb” ideas.

JWs are just one group that have beliefs that can harm others… especially their own followers.
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Germany, history, lessons learned, politicians, politics

Twenty years after 9/11, basic decency is disappearing…

A couple of years ago, I wrote my 9/11 story and posted it on this blog. Almost everybody who was alive on 9/11/01 has a 9/11 story. I guess the only ones who don’t are those who were somehow unconscious that day. Or maybe people who live in remote places they have never left, where the world’s news can’t reach them.

Suffice to say, those of us who live in the modern world, where there’s television and Internet, have a 9/11 story. Or, at the very least, they’ve heard other people’s memories of that day, if they weren’t around at that time. Like… I wasn’t here for John F. Kennedy’s assassination, but I’ve read and heard plenty of stories of that day. I think 9/11 was much bigger than Kennedy’s assassination. 9/11 permanently changed the world.

I remember 9/11 very well. It was the week after Bill and I, then just “friends”, had a magical Labor Day weekend. No one in our families knew we were dating. So, when Bill went to work at the Pentagon on 9/11, no one knew that he had a special friend who would worry all day, wondering if he had survived. After 9/11, we decided that we needed to make our relationship official. A few months later, we were engaged. We married in 2002.

I remember what it was like for Bill in the days that followed September 11, 2001. At that time, people had come together in solidarity. There were people who offered their support to any and all emergency workers. Police officers, nurses, doctors, military service members, firefighters, were all being heralded as heroes. I remember how people would stop Bill when he was in uniform and thank him for his service.

I read a story this morning about a couple who happened to be on a flight from England bound for Houston, Texas that got diverted to Gander, a small town in Newfoundland, Canada. They fell in love while they were stranded in Canada. Aside from falling in love, the couple, along with all of the other 7000 people who were suddenly diverted to Gander because of terrorism, enjoyed the most extraordinary hospitality from the locals in Gander.

Americans were Americans, before they were Democrats or Republicans. People came together to help each other through a crisis. It wasn’t just Americans, either. I wasn’t in Germany at that time, but this morning, I read an article about what it was like in Stuttgart on 9/11. Germans and Americans stood side by side in solidarity as people made sense of what happened.

Above is a post that reminded me about how Germans and Americans came together after 9/11. That photo brought tears to my eyes yesterday, partly because I was moved, and partly because it probably wouldn’t happen in 2021.

Twenty years later, it seems like most of the goodwill and civility that was so prevalent after 9/11 is gone. Now, on 9/11/21, we have people laughing at teenagers who share personal stories about losing family members to COVID-19. Grady Knox, a high school student in Tennessee, bravely tried to explain why he thinks mask mandates are a good thing to have in his school. People told him to shut up. It could not have been easy for Grady to stand up and talk about losing his grandmother. Public speaking is not easy for a lot of people. But for him to stand up and speak and then have his neighbors laugh at him and tell him to shut up… well, that’s just shameful. And it makes me think that those people are not good people. They have learned nothing, and have no empathy for others.

What the hell is WRONG with people?

Today, we have governors who are more interested in money and power than they are in saving human lives (except for the unborn, of course). Joe Biden– recently reviled for the way the U.S. military FINALLY left Afghanistan after twenty long years– delivered a tough speech, expressing how disappointed he is in the complete lack of concern Republican leaders have for their constituents. Biden has been threatened with lawsuits, as he signs legislation mandating that people in certain workplaces get vaccinated against COVID-19. Biden is not looking so wimpy now, as he tells the governors to “have at it” in their plans to sue him.

President Joe Biden on Thursday issued two executive orders mandating vaccines for federal workers and contractors and announced new requirements for large employers and health care providers that he said would affect around 100 million workers, more than two-thirds of the U.S. workforce.

From MSNBC: https://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/why-republicans-hope-derail-biden-s-bold-new-vaccine-policy-n1278900?cid=sm_fb_maddow&fbclid=IwAR07wYh1NCrCl2lTB2R_sMkiCVLML7tycCXzr-Srn8oyNeQuZhq0JtZjvOY

I read one comment from a Republican who said if Donald Trump had ever tried to enforce vaccinations, people would be “horrified” and calling for Trump’s head on a platter. However, I think it’s highly unlikely that Trump would have ever done what Joe Biden is doing. Trump does not care about anyone but himself, and he would not have done something that would alienate his conservative base the way the vaccine and mask mandates would have. There is a huge difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Joe Biden has basic decency and respect for others. Donald Trump, simply put, does not.

Donald Trump’s encouragement to get the vaccine was lukewarm… he got boos and laughter. I think he’s created monsters.
Southerners who are getting sick aren’t thinking of anyone but themselves… until they get sick and realize just how fucking horrible COVID is.

Today, we have governors who are gleefully signing legislation that pits neighbors against each other, and puts bounties on the heads of women who seek abortions. Meanwhile, Greg Abbott is fine with people walking around, spreading COVID-19 as they tote their guns openly and run their mouths about their freedoms. Freedom means nothing if you’re dead… but try to explain that to some of these folks. They insist that COVID-19 is not a risk for them or or their families… or anyone else. Somehow, they’ve managed to ignore the news stories and documentaries about people who have had COVID-19. They’ve even managed to ignore Howard Stern, who has berated the willfully ignorant.

I can’t wait to vote for whomever runs against this man.
I empathize with his frustration.

This antipathy especially happens on the Internet. Even on the most benign of posts, there’s a chance someone will lash out with nastiness or unnecessary snark. Yesterday, I was answering a question on Toytown Germany from an American who is trying to get her US Moderna shots recognized by a local pharmacist, so she can enjoy a more normal life. I expressed empathy for her situation, commenting that it would be nice if we had a more global solution that would make it easier for people from all countries to get their shots recognized. It’s in everyone’s best interests to encourage the vaccines and reward people for doing the right thing. You’d think that would be a pretty innocuous comment, right? I certainly didn’t think it would go south.

Sure enough, some guy from up north responded snarkily, by sharing a picture of the yellow World Health Organization booklet, and writing that is the global standard that works fine. Yes, it’s true, that yellow booklet is used around the world. But, for some reason, the CDC isn’t using it, so that comment isn’t helpful. There are a lot of Americans who live in Germany. Some of them got shots when they went to the USA, where they were easier to get. Then they came back to Germany and, if they live in an area where there aren’t a lot of Americans, are not able to get their vaccines made official in Germany. This is a problem. I was trying to help someone solve the problem for themselves. For my efforts, I got a shitty comment from some smartass who thought that was the right time to act like a jerk.

I could have ignored it entirely. Or I could have responded with a snarky comment of my own. Instead, I agreed that the yellow booklet is useful around the world, but it’s not helpful to Americans in Germany right now. Americans aren’t issued the yellow booklets, even though that would make things easier. Being rude to me doesn’t change that fact. And then I added that I was trying to be nice, and being snarky and negative isn’t helpful to the community. Those kinds of crappy responses just discourage people from posting, which defeats the purpose of having an online community… or any community, really. Why try to help someone if you’re going to be mocked for your efforts?

I realize that even as I preach about this, I’m as guilty as anyone is. I do try not to respond to people with rudeness. Sometimes, I will admit, I fail. Because, like so many other people, I’m fed up. I’m tired of people who can’t simply cooperate and have basic respect for other people. But still, I think being kind is the better way to go, most of the time. I truly do believe that being understanding and decent is, overall, better than being angry, mean, malicious, and rude. There really is enough of that in the world today.

I think it’s sad that we haven’t learned much from 9/11. On September 11, 2001, people around the world came together in solidarity. On September 11, 2021, a lot of people are acting like selfish jerks. It’s depressing… although, I guess if I look for it, I can find some positive things about today. Like, for instance, the fact that Bill was not killed on 9/11, and despite everything, we’re still together and basically healthy and happy with each other’s company. But it’s hard to ignore all of the divisiveness and evil that is being perpetuated right now.

When things were good…
Twenty years later, when things had really gone to shit.

I do hope that people will find a way to come together. Right now, I’m reminded of the opening of the film, Lean on Me… as we see how things can change for the worse in 20 years. Maybe a new version of Mr. Clark is in order to straighten us all out… Maybe Joe Biden is turning into him now. One can always hope, right?

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Duggars, family, healthcare, law, marriage

Another day, another tacky Duggar pregnancy announcement…

Happy Labor Day, y’all. We had a really lovely weekend, as the weather was absolutely glorious! I love this time of year, especially in Germany, where the seasons still change. It would have been nice if we could have taken another short trip somewhere, since it was a holiday weekend. But, as I noted in yesterday’s travel post, there’s something to be said for staying home and enjoying what’s local. Yesterday, our sweet Noyzi and Arran got to hang out at one of the many awesome Freibads here in Germany! And then they came home and crashed!

So… let’s get down to business. Once again, I’m struggling not to focus on the grimmest news of the day, which includes the scary resemblance Texas is showing toward Gilead, and people on the left seem to want to cram COVID-19 awareness down our throats. Seriously… I get how serious COVID is. I’ve even been watching some heartbreaking videos on YouTube, showing seriously ill people who have died. It’s important to note that COVID is serious, but we can’t let fear take over our lives. I’m for taking precautions, of course, but some people seem to be pretty obsessed.

On the other hand, some people truly don’t give a shit. Take, for instance, the pregnancy announcement shared by Jed Duggar, and his new bride, Katey Nakatsu Duggar. These two got married in early April, just before big bro Josh got busted by the feds for downloading nefarious photos and videos of underaged children being abused. It’s now early September and Jed and Katey have some big news to share…

Aww… what a special surprise! They’ve been fruitfully fucking!

Now… I don’t usually watch videos by the Duggar family. I’m watching this one, though, because I wanted a screenshot of the sign they held up. It’s a sign that makes light of COVID-19. Can you read it? It says, “She tested positive, but not for COVID.”

Um… this is the very same kind of pregnancy announcement that was made by Nurie Keller, wife of Josh Duggar’s brother-in-law, Nathan Keller, and daughter of the always tacky Jill Rodrigues. Seriously… why are fundies making light of such a serious issue? What will happen if one, or both of them, or another close family member, gets sick with COVID and winds up dying? Will their future offspring think that sign is cute? I tend to think not…

One hopes they survive this pandemic era, so they can explain this reference to the little bean.

But at least Nurie and Nathan didn’t include a blow by blow video about how Nurie peed on a stick at Walmart. Or, if they did, I blessedly managed to miss it. Jed and Katey, by contrast, explain in great detail about how both of them needed to take a piss on their way home from Wednesday night church. They stopped by Walmart, bought a pregnancy test, and blessings! Katey got the news while at a discount store, that she’s on the mommy train, as Josh Duggar would put it.

Jed goes… “Whoo hoo!” as Katey tells him of her condition… and they talk about how Jed teared up at Walmart. My father once teared up too, when he went to Walmart. But it was because he was suffering from dementia and got lost. I can’t blame him for that. I haven’t been in a Walmart in probably twenty years, but when I have gone in one, I’ve always had sensory overload.

Anyway, next, the twosome go hunting for a generic wall for them to take pictures of themselves announcing their positive test result, as they hold up their sign assuring everyone that their positive test result is a good thing. How exciting. It amazes me how much importance people in the Duggar family put on announcing their weddings and pregnancies. Especially when most people are working hard to stay afloat. I mean, seriously… they get all dressed up, make a sign, and go looking for a place with an appropriate backdrop, just so they can tell strangers on the Internet that they’ve managed to conceive.

Next, Jed and Katey go to a baseball game with their church, where they’re going to announce their special news to everyone as they eat hot dogs. More “whoo hooing” from Jed. Yippee! You can barely hear the announcement, and Jed and Katey seem slightly disappointed that not everyone heard their news over the loudspeaker.

I will grant that pregnancy is exciting for many people… the ones who actually want to be pregnant, that is, or for whom pregnancy is not physically dangerous. I can tell that Jed and Katey are excited about their new addition, and I hope the pregnancy goes well for them. I also hope they never feel embarrassed about their lighthearted COVID sign, because they’ve lost a friend or family member to the disease. Because I would be very surprised if they and their ilk have been vaccinated, you know… and the Duggars and the rest of the fundies of the world, aren’t exactly known for social distancing or wearing masks.

It’s barely 8:00am today, and I’ve already read two heartbreaking posts by women who had medically necessary abortions. They are bravely sharing their stories with the masses, just as this Duggar couple have. Unlike the tacky signs that allude to “testing positive”, but not for COVID, these women have written eloquent, searing posts about why it’s so important to keep abortion safe and legal for all women. Both of the women whose stories I read were women who wanted their babies, but tragic circumstances intervened.

She was too unhealthy to carry a baby. Pregnancy would have killed her.

Her baby girl had serious birth defects and would not have lived.

Both of these brave women had to endure going to abortion clinics, where they were, by law, forced to listen to information about abortion that was supposed to get them to change their minds. They had to do this, even though both of these women had medical reasons for having abortions. Both had to tolerate being yelled at by protesters, who had absolutely ZERO information about their personal circumstances.

Christy Ransom, author of the first post, wrote that the protesters screamed at her that they could help her keep her baby. But they had no idea, did they? And they had no right to harass her for a very private and personal decision she made to preserve her own life over that of her six week old fetus.

Susanna Roesel was planning a baby shower and celebrating being pregnant when she got the news that something terrible might be wrong with the pregnancy. When she had her abortion, at just under twenty weeks, she had to go in twice, once to be dilated, and once to deliver. Her milk came in. And then, when she got pregnant again, she suffered an early miscarriage.

I shudder to think what is going to happen to women in Texas who encounter situations like what Christy’s and Susanna’s. But, at the same time, I get that Jed and Katey are excited to be expecting their new family member. I sincerely do hope it all goes well for them. And I also hope that in the course of the pregnancy, they both grow up a little bit and reconsider joking about COVID as they share their news. I’m sure that if COVID ever hits home for them personally, they’ll have the chance to see why their announcement is in such poor taste.

On the other hand, fundie Christians aren’t known for being insightful, sensitive, or thoughtful towards people who aren’t like them. It often takes something personal to get them to have an understanding… and even then, they say it was God’s will, or something like that. It’s a very convenient way to get out of shouldering responsibility, isn’t it? Just leave it up to God… and do whatever the pastor tells you. No thinking required.

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