book reviews, celebrities, mental health, psychology

My review of River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope, by Naomi Judd

It’s hard to believe that a month ago, country music legend Naomi Judd, the maternal half of country music mother-daughter act, The Judds, was still among the living. I was in Italy at the time, enjoying an eagerly anticipated vacation. I was shocked, like so many others were, when I heard of her sudden death on April 30, 2022. Although they weren’t saying it at the time, it was pretty clear that she took her own life. It came out that Naomi Judd had suffered for many years with terrible, untreatable depression and anxiety. And, although she and her daughter, Wynonna, were to be honored for their musical achievements the very next day, Naomi simply couldn’t face life anymore.

Megyn Kelly interviews Naomi Judd about her depression, and her book, River of Time.

I was not a huge fan of The Judds, during their heyday. I do enjoy their music very much now, and I have a few of their greatest hits compilations. I read Naomi’s first book, Love Can Build A Bridge, which was published in the 90s, when Naomi was forced to temporarily retire due to her diagnosis of Hepatitis C. I also saw the made for TV movie based on that book. I also once saw Wynonna perform at a U.S. Army Birthday Ball. But, I am not a super fan of The Judds’ music, and wasn’t following news about them when Naomi died. I didn’t know about Naomi’s struggles with mental illness, and until my friend and fellow blogger, Alex, mentioned it in a comment, I also didn’t know that in 2016, Naomi published a book about her experiences with severe depression and anxiety. Although Naomi’s story clearly turned out to be less victorious than the book’s title, River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope suggests, I decided to delve into it.

I read Naomi Judd’s book for several reasons. First off, I too, have suffered from clinical depression and anxiety myself, and I understand why it seemed so hard to beat it, because I remember how it made me feel. I was fortunate, in that my depression was treatable with talk therapy and Wellbutrin SR. It does, on occasion, rear its head again, but for the most part, I am much better than I once was. Secondly, I am a musician. No, I am not a “star”, and at this point in my life, I will probably never be a star… and frankly, I probably would not WANT to be a star, anyway. But I do make music, and I admire Naomi’s talents as a singer and songwriter. Thirdly, I come from similar, salt-of-the-earth, family stock. I didn’t know it when I started reading River of Time, but I could really relate to a lot of Naomi Judd’s comments about her family, and how people in her family made her feel. I’ll get more into that as this review progresses.

River of Time reads as if it comes straight from Naomi, but in fact, it was ghost written by author, Marcia Wilkie. I appreciated that this book really seemed to come from Naomi Judd’s heart, and I never noticed an intrusion by a professional writer. Some people felt that the book “jumped around a lot” and was “repetitive”. Personally, I didn’t find that an issue, but again, it did seem to me that this was a book coming from Naomi, rather than Marcia Wilkie. I see that at this writing, the book is offered on Kindle for $1.99, probably because ultimately, Naomi succumbed to her depression and committed suicide. I still think it’s well worth reading, for MANY reasons. So here goes…

Naomi Judd’s early years never suggested the great heights she would eventually reach…

Naomi Judd was born Diana Ellen Judd in Ashland, Kentucky on January 11, 1946. Naomi describes Ashland as a “grey”, ugly, industrial city. Her parents were poor, and not at all loving or demonstrative. Naomi made excellent grades in school and was a talented pianist, but her parents barely noticed. However, whenever she got any negative feedback from school officials, her father was quick to get out his belt and “whip” her. Naomi writes that she used to “borrow” her mother’s stiff rubber girdle when her father wanted to use the belt. She’d go to the bathroom, put on the girdle, and let him go to town, while she “hollered” like she was in pain. Apparently, he never caught on to Naomi’s ruse.

In this book, Naomi never refers to her original first name, or Wynonna’s. Wynonna was born Christina Claire Ciminella, although Naomi’s husband at the time of Wy’s birth was not her biological father. Wynonna was conceived when Naomi was seventeen years old, during Naomi’s very first sexual experience. She had a one night stand with a football player, she’d known in high school, a man named Charles Jordan. Naomi explains that she and Jordan got together for their tryst, because Naomi’s brother, Brian, was dying of leukemia. Naomi was very close to Brian, and she was feeling alone and vulnerable. As a lot of young girls do during their teen years, Naomi must have felt that connecting with a young man would make her feel loved and valued. Unfortunately, Charles Jordan abandoned Naomi, as soon as he found out about the pregnancy. Naomi quickly married Michael Ciminella, Ashley’s biological father, because Naomi’s mother, Polly, kicked her out of the family home.

Michael Ciminella’s family was sort of well off, and they lived a more comfortable lifestyle than Naomi’s family did. But Mrs. Ciminella was extremely obsessive about cleanliness and order. Naomi writes that when Wynonna was a baby, her mother-in-law had totally sanitized the whole house, and insisted that everyone wear masks and gloves before handling the baby. Even Naomi was expected to comply.

Naomi and Michael eventually moved to Los Angeles, California, where Ashley was born in April 1968. But the marriage didn’t last, and Naomi was soon raising her young girls by herself, with almost no help from Ciminella. After the divorce, Naomi reclaimed her maiden name and took the opportunity to change her first name, too. She enrolled in nursing school and eventually became a registered nurse. Unfortunately, when she was 22, Naomi was stalked by a violent, ex-con heroin addict, who beat and raped her. Still, somehow Naomi persevered and managed to launch her career in nursing. Meanwhile, she and Wynonna developed their musical chops, and eventually moved to Nashville, where they finally got their big break. Wynonna was eighteen years old when The Judds were on their way, but she and Ashley had still experienced a hardscrabble childhood, as their mother did everything she could to ensure their survival.

Naomi’s life heads south…

The Judds were wildly successful in the 1980s. They had fifteen #1 hit songs, and won dozens of music industry awards. Things seemed poised to continue in that direction, when Naomi started feeling ill. She went to a doctor, who told her that she had contracted Hepatitis C. She was told that her liver was “almost cirrhotic”, and that she had about three years to live. Fortunately, the medical establishment was wrong about her prognosis, but the diagnosis did force Naomi to retire in 1991. The Judds did a huge pay per view concert, which was a very successful event. Naomi eventually remarried in 1989, this time to Larry Strickland, a member of the Palmetto State Quartet, and former backup singer for Elvis Presley.

Although Naomi Judd had achieved great success in music, and also found the love of her life, she experienced extreme episodes of depression that left her feeling suicidal. So she did what wise people do when they feel sick. She saw a Nashville area psychiatrist. The psychiatrist did what a lot of psychiatrists do, when it comes to treating depression. He put her on antidepressants. She went through a huge list of them, and at times, she was never properly tapered off before the next drug was tried. Her doctor also prescribed the anti-anxiety medication, Klonopin. I took Klonopin myself at one time. Fortunately, it did nothing for me, and I quit taking it with ease. A lot of people get addicted to Klonopin, and other benzodiazepines. Naomi did, as did Stevie Nicks. Both women said that the drug destroys creativity and ambition.

The psychiatric drugs, and their lack of efficacy, along with the lack of talk therapy, made Naomi’s situation worse. She eventually landed in a psychiatric hospital at Vanderbilt University to be weaned off of the psychiatric drugs using IV phenobarbital. That was the first of several stays at mental health facilities, to include the psych ward at UCLA, as well as some posh rehab centers. She describes these experiences as if they were all horrifying– even the really plush, luxurious psych hospital was oppressive and terrifying. Eventually, she was able to get treatment from Dr. Jerrold Rosenbaum, a renowned psychiatrist at Mass General, in Boston. However, it was in Boston that she had electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which used shock waves to improve. A lasting side effect from that treatment was the destruction of her ability to enjoy the taste of food. While ruining her sense of taste helped her lose weight, it also made one of her passions, cooking, a lot less enjoyable. She couldn’t even eat the treats she would make for others, because it all tasted “putrid”.

Still, Naomi Judd did find help when she discovered dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which is a technique discovered by psychologist, Marsha Linehan. Naomi explains how the technique helped to center her and improved her mental health. DBT is a technique that is often suggested for people who aren’t helped by Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), a well-known method for treating depression. As of 2016, Naomi did seem to be very edified by DBT. Unfortunately, we now know that the help she received from DBT was temporary. She never lost her urge to end her life.

Naomi also writes a lot about her family of origin. There was a lot of tragedy in her personal history, some of which came before she was even born. Some of her blood relatives were legitimately severely mentally ill, and more than a couple of folks were real criminals. Indeed, Naomi’s granddaughter, Grace Pauline Kelley, has done time in prison for drug offenses. As I read about Naomi’s grandmother, Edie Mae, who allegedly killed her husband, Howard (who had almost been killed by his own dad, when he was a child), I could definitely see a pattern.

Other people’s reactions to this book…

I took a look at the reviews on Amazon, to see what others thought of Naomi’s story about her mental illness. A lot of people wrote that they found River of Time “depressing”, and they described Naomi as engaging in a “pity party”. Some people wrote that they felt this book was a plea for attention.

Having now read River of Time, I guess I can understand why some people didn’t like the book. The truth is, Naomi’s life was depressing. She came from a family where there was a lot of mental illness and abuse. Naomi was sexually abused when she was very young, and she was not treated with love, consideration, or kindness when she was growing up. And so, it stands to reason that her true story is sad, and it should not be surprising to anyone that there are many depressing elements to Naomi’s life story. She had severe DEPRESSION, for God’s sake. What were people expecting? I do think that anyone who reads this book should NOT be expecting a chirpy book about how beautiful life is. That would be very disingenuous.

I mentioned earlier in this review that I can relate to Naomi’s story. My early years weren’t nearly as traumatic as hers were, by any stretch. But I grew up with an alcoholic father, as she did, and my father’s method of discipline was usually the corporal punishment kind. While I think my mom was more loving that Naomi’s was, she was somewhat cold and uninterested in me, especially when my dad was still alive. Mom is very different now, but when I was a kid, she was rather neglectful. And so, I could relate to Naomi’s yearning to have some acknowledgement from her parents, and other people in her family. I think that “pity party”, “whiny”, and “attention seeking” aspect of her writing that some people don’t like, was actually a facet of her illness. Her parents were, in part, responsible for the condition was was in… and make no mistake about it, it WAS a very real, physical, and mental illness that she couldn’t help. But at least she did TRY to get better, which is more than a lot of people can say. And she was fortunate enough to be able to consult some of the biggest and most successful people in the business. She was even friends with Maya Angelou.

I think the negative comments she got in Amazon reviews came from people who, bless their hearts, just don’t have a clue! They have not experienced depression themselves, so they don’t understand why Naomi, with all she had going for her in life, simply couldn’t snap out of it and be happy. They see her as selfish and self-indulgent, and don’t understand that she experienced real torment. Obviously, that torment was what led her to kill herself at age 76, even as she and Wynonna were about to be honored again. And no, she wasn’t the better singer in The Judds, but she was clearly a big part of the duo’s success. Wynonna was probably destined to be a star, but there’s no denying that her mom helped her on her way. I can understand why Naomi felt that she was left behind, and why that would be one of the many causes of her depression. On the other hand, she also accomplished a lot on her own, and somehow, those accomplishments evidently didn’t raise her opinion of herself, or her life.

Overall…

I’m glad I read River of Time. It is a sad book, and it does have the capability of being depressing, but to me, Naomi’s story felt authentic. I could relate so much to a lot of what she wrote. My heart went out to her, on more than a couple of occasions, and I even felt a little verklempt at times when I read this. I really wish that she could have conquered her demons, and enjoyed her life until its natural end. As we all know, that wasn’t to be. Depression CAN be deadly, though, and her story is a stark reminder of that verifiable fact. It’s easy for people to look at someone else’s life and think they have no reason to be sad, or to complain about anything. I would urge people not to make those kinds of judgments. When it comes down to it, you never know what kind of hell someone might be experiencing privately. Life is tough for most people… even famous, beautiful, talented, and rich people, like Naomi Judd was. I hope wherever her soul is now, she’s finally at peace.

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communication, law, Police, travel

Damned if you do… damned if you don’t…

I still have a ton of travel blogging to do, and I’ll be getting to that in a little while. First, I want to write about a situation I read about this morning.

Last month, white mom, Mary MacCarthy, was traveling with her ten year old biracial daughter, Moira. They were on their way to a funeral in Denver, Colorado. Ms. MacCarthy’s brother died suddenly in October, so MacCarthy had to take a last minute flight from her home in California. MacCarthy is a single mom, and her brother was like a father to Moira. The girl was crying when she was boarding the flight, and the two were initially not able to sit together. MacCarthy asked other passengers if someone would be willing to move so that she and her daughter could be next to each other.

Another passenger was kind enough to oblige, and the pair arrived safely in Denver, where they were met on the jet bridge by a couple of Denver police officers. MacCarthy was shocked to be confronted by the cops. She worried that they were there to deliver more bad news. But, it turned out that they wanted to talk to her because someone had called them, suspicious about their behavior. Moira had been crying because her uncle died. Then, afterwards, she was confronted by the police, and terrified because of all of the news coverage about people of color being abused or even killed by the police.

After talking to MacCarthy and her daughter, Denver police cleared them of any wrongdoing, and they were free to go. MacCarthy recorded the incident on her phone. The initial police report indicated that a Southwest flight attendant had reported the duo for “suspicious behavior”.

Two weeks later, MacCarthy got a phone call from the Denver Police Human Trafficking unit. The caller said the unit was following up on MacCarthy’s case. It was only then that MacCarthy realized she had been suspected of human trafficking.

MacCarthy sent an email to Southwest Airlines about this incident and, she says, so far they have not apologized. Instead, she claims she has only received two brief automated responses. MacCarthy has retained an attorney and is accusing Southwest Airlines of “racial profiling”. She now wants “a written apology from the airline, immediate reimbursement of the full price of their tickets, and “additional compensation to account for the trauma imposed on an innocent family, and especially on a grieving ten year-old Black girl.”

Southwest Airlines has said it’s “disheartened” by MacCarthy’s story of the events and has “plans to reach out to her.” In a statement to CNN, Southwest Airlines spokesperson Dan Landson said:

“We are conducting a review of the situation internally, and we will be reaching out to the Customer to address her concerns and offer our apologies for her experience traveling with us. Our Employees undergo robust training on Human Trafficking. Above all, Southwest Airlines prides itself on providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for the millions of Customers who travel with us each year,”

I can’t blame Mary MacCarthy and her daughter for being very upset and traumatized by what happened to them last month. On the other hand, I also have some empathy for the flight attendant who called the police. It sounds like the flight attendant was following protocol based on training. And while it’s certainly possible that the call was based on the flight attendant’s racial biases, I can’t conclude for certain that it was, based on the information I’ve read about this case so far.

Just yesterday, I read another story about a sixteen year old girl who was abducted by a 61 year old man. The girl had seen a hand gesture on Tik Tok called the Signal for Help. She used it while riding in the car with her kidnapper, hoping someone in another car would notice her signal of distress. Fortunately, someone did notice, and called 911. The motorist who made the emergency call also stayed behind the car and updated the police to the kidnapper’s location. That’s how the Laurel County sheriff’s department in Kentucky managed to arrest James Herbert Brick and bring the teenager he’d abducted to safety.

Brick has been charged with two felonies: unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter portraying a sexual performance by a minor. He was locked up in the Laurel County Correctional Center in London, Ky., on a $10,000 bond.

In both of these scenarios, people saw something and said something, which is the advice often given to those who are concerned about something that is amiss. I’ve heard that advice given in situations involving potential crimes, as well as in situations that involve potential medical issues. Yes, it’s possible that a person is making much ado about nothing, but, as they say, “better safe than sorry”, especially when children are involved.

My heart goes out to Mary MacCarthy and Moira. They were already upset and anxious on that flight to Denver, given the terrible and sudden loss of MacCarthy’s brother, who was only 46 years old. Ms. MacCarthy also says that Moira is only ten, but she looks much older than ten. And it’s almost always scary to be confronted by the police, particularly in this era during which Black people have been injured or killed by American cops.

But… unfortunately, there are people out there who traffic children. Not all traffickers are scary looking men. Sometimes women are involved with trafficking children, and they get away with it, because they don’t fit the stereotypical profile of a trafficker. And flight attendants are trained to look for the signs of people who might be harming children. The flight attendant who called the police reported that Ms. MacCarthy and Moira were among the last to board the flight and the last to buy tickets. And they didn’t speak during the flight. Of course, the flight attendant had no way of knowing the circumstances of why the duo were behaving as they were, and she had many other passengers to look after on the flight. It might not have been possible for her to find out more about the situation before she made her judgment call.

It seems to me that Ms. MacCarthy is legitimately upset because she’s offended. I don’t blame her for being offended. But I would also hate to see people being discouraged from calling for help when they see something that doesn’t look right. I understand that calling the police on matters involving people of color can lead to tragic consequences. It shouldn’t be that way, though. People should feel free to call for help if they think help is needed. And I think in this case, the flight attendant was obviously concerned and felt that the situation merited calling the police. It turned out that she was wrong, but what if she hadn’t been wrong?

Over the past couple of days, I’ve noticed several people hitting a post I wrote earlier this year about how the “Karen” stigma can actually be deadly. That post was about a column I read in The Atlantic magazine, about a woman who was concerned that her pharmacy wasn’t requiring people to wear face masks at the drive in pickup station. But she didn’t want to be a “Karen”, so she didn’t say anything about it.

That post was written in late January of this year, before a lot of people had been vaccinated against COVID-19. The incident the article it was based on occurred even earlier than that. The point I made in that post is that being overly concerned about being labeled a “Karen” or a “BBQ Becky” or “Permit Patty” could actually cause harm to people. If there is a situation that is potentially dangerous, a person should feel okay about asking for help from people who have the ability to investigate. In a perfect world, making such a call would be perfectly safe, and would not result in someone being hurt, killed, or even humiliated.

Ms. MacCarthy assumes that she and her daughter were questioned because they don’t look alike. And it’s possible that racism played a part in the reason the flight attendant noticed them and called the cops. On the other hand, it’s also possible that the flight attendant was legitimately concerned and believed the duo were throwing up major red flags. The end result was that Mary MacCarthy and her daughter were cleared and allowed to go on their way. Yes, it was traumatic, embarrassing, and scary, but in the end, no one was hurt or killed, and no one actually was being trafficked. Those are good things, even if Southwest Airlines hasn’t apologized for the mistake.

For the record, yes, I do think the airline owes Ms. MacCarthy and her daughter a sincere apology. I’m sure that Southwest Airlines will eventually settle with Ms. MacCarthy. Hopefully, the settlement will be appropriate and make the situation less horrifying for MacCarthy and her daughter. According to NBC news:

“At this point they can speak with my attorneys,” MacCarthy said.

She says it’s about more than an apology.

“I travel with my daughter’s birth certificate because I’m ready to answer any questions if necessary,” she said. “The fact that we’re mother and daughter, the fact that I’m a single parent traveling with my daughter. It’s the right of TSA to ask those questions, I’m open to that. But the way this was handled was so unprofessional.

“I will do whatever it takes to speak out against the type of ignorant behavior and policies that lead to families being treated this way.”

I think people involved with serving and protecting the public have a tough and often thankless job. But I also think that these kinds of situations, where an offended person pursues legal remedies against those who act out of caution– especially when it involves children— could have a chilling effect that might lead to more children being harmed or killed. If someone sees something that raises a red flag, but they decide not to act because of the danger of being sued or even just being called a “Karen”, there could be even more tragedies. I’m sure the young lady who gave the Signal for Help while being driven through multiple states with her 61 year old captor is happy that someone acted and called the police.

But… in Mary MacCarthy’s defense, I also think that once the Denver Police cleared her and her daughter, that should have been the end of it. The human trafficking department should not have called her to “follow up”. I think if that hadn’t have happened, this story would have a different trajectory. And I do believe her when she says that Moira is traumatized by what happened.

I hope someday, the police situation in the United States will be overhauled, so that officers can actually be thought of as good people to call for help, rather than just threatening and potentially deadly. It probably won’t happen in my lifetime. And… on another note, flying has gotten to be pretty terrible these days. Stories like these make me want to avoid flying even more than ever.

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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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homosexuality

Taste the rainbow… get kicked out of school?

This morning, I read a story about a fifteen year old girl named Kayla Kenney who got photographed blowing out the candles on her birthday cake at Texas Roadhouse. She wore a rainbow sweater and smiled pretty over a rainbow themed cake with two candles, a one and a five, on top. The photo was posted to Facebook and, apparently, that meant the end of Kayla’s freshman year at Whitefield Academy in Louisville, Kentucky. Someone shared the photo with officials at her school, and next thing she knew, she was a girl with “no class”… (sorry, for the obvious joke).

Kayla’s mom, Kimberly Alford, alleges that her daughter was expelled from the private Baptist affiliated academy solely because school administrators felt the colorful cake promoted “gay pride” and by posing with it, Kayla was endorsing homosexuality. Ms. Alford received an email from the school’s headmaster, Dr. Bruce Jacobson, who wrote that Kayla,

demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy’s beliefs and follows two years of lifestyle violations.

Alford admits that her daughter did have a couple of disciplinary issues at school. Once, she got caught with an e-cigarette (Juul Pods in her backpack) and another time, she was disciplined for cutting class. Jacobson did not provide details about Kayla’s transgressions in an emailed response to the Washington Post, but he did issue the following statement about this case:

“Inaccurate media reports are circling stating that the student in question was expelled from our school solely for a social media post,” the school said in a statement. “In fact, she has unfortunately violated our student code of conduct numerous times over the past two years.”

Jacobson added that, “Whitefield Academy is accredited by ACSI/AdvancEd and a member of the Non Public School Commission of Kentucky, and therefore we meet all Kentucky regulations and laws.  Our code of conduct is on par with other private Christian schools in our area.  It is unfortunate that one of the student’s parents chose to post internal family matters on social media, and we hope our former student is not adversely affected by what her parents chose to make public about her situation.”

Furthermore, Jacobson writes that all of the families who enroll their children in the private Christian school, which takes students in grades K-12, are aware of the school’s rules and the expectations regarding the students’ conduct. Another article went into more detail about what Jacobson wrote than the Washington Post did.

However, although Ms. Alford acknowledges that Kayla has had some disciplinary problems in the past and was on probation, she states that since the e-cigarette incident, Kayla had not been in any trouble. Therefore, Ms. Alford concludes that Kayla’s rainbow themed birthday celebration was the reason she was kicked out of school, since rainbows and rainbow colored flags are often used to promote lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer pride and support for LGBTQ rights. Ms. Alford also emphatically assures everyone that her daughter isn’t gay, even though she likes rainbow themed decorations.

So what do I think about this? Well… it seems to me that anyone who attends a Baptist affiliated school in which it explicitly states in the student handbook that homosexuality won’t be tolerated probably should have realized school officials would not appreciate a student giving off the slightest appearance of promoting homosexuality. That means that publicly posing with anything that has rainbows on it probably does put students on the school’s radar. And if a student has already been in trouble with the administrators over cutting class and having vaping paraphernalia, this might be the last straw. It’s ridiculous, of course, but so is paying money to attend a school with homophobic policies, especially in this day and age. Right here on page 18 of the school’s handbook is the following statement:

Role of the Christian School

Whitefield Academy’s Biblical role is to work in conjunction with the home to mold students to be Christ- like. On occasion, the atmosphere or conduct within a particular home may be counter or in opposition to the Biblical lifestyle the school teaches. This includes, but is not limited to, sexual immorality, homosexual orientation, or the inability to support Biblical standards of right and wrong (Rom. 1:18-32, I Cor. 6:9). If the home environment is not in harmony with the school’s doctrinal belief in the centrality of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture and Biblical lifestyle, it will be difficult for the school to cooperate with the home and achieve the goal of a student becoming Christ-like. In such cases, the school reserves the right, within its sole discretion, to refuse admission of an applicant or to discontinue enrollment of a student.

So, while Dr. Jacobson claims that Kayla wasn’t kicked out over posing with the rainbow themed cake, I have a feeling that the rainbow themed cake, along with some of Kayla’s other “missteps” from the straight and narrow (ie; dressing like a “tomboy” and being “athletic”, as her mom puts it), made her appear to be less suitable for the strict Christian school, which claims to want to mold its students in the image of “Christ”, but in policy, seems rather un-Christlike to me. After all, Christ was all about being kind, forgiving, and inclusive, wasn’t He? But… as Whitefield Academy is a private school, I suppose they do have the right to make and enforce rules as they deem fit.

My comments about Kayla being “unsuitable”, by the way, isn’t a slam on her. I, myself, would be highly “unsuitable” as a student at that school. I like beer and I cuss like a sailor… and I support people loving whomever they choose to love, as long as the relationship is consensual and legal. I also highly object to this policy on page 17 in Whitefield’s handbook:

Fine Arts Works

All original student work, whether graphic, written or performed, is considered the property of Whitefield Academy. The school reserves the rights to print and reproduce copies of the student work for sale and display in an effort to continue to fund the training of students in a performing fine arts area. This policy also protects the amateur status of the serious fine arts student until such a time as he/she is ready to assume the responsibilities of a professional artist.

All original work produced by the student within the school and under the instruction of a Whitefield Academy instructor will be returned to the student at the end of the school year. The student is not permitted to sell any original work or copy of original work while holding the status of student at Whitefield Academy. The sale of original work or copies of an original work by a student may result in his removal from the Fine Arts Department or even dismissal from school.

Once a student has graduated, transferred or otherwise left Whitefield Academy, he will be granted by Whitefield Academy non-exclusive rights to any work done while at Whitefield Academy. These rights are non-exclusive: Whitefield Academy will maintain the right to reproduce from a copy any student work for resale or display while allowing the student to do the same from the original.

I think artists, performers, and writers get shafted enough as it is when it comes to ownership of their works. Whitefield Academy should not, in my view, lay claim to work done by a student. Just my opinion, though… and it would not top the list of reasons why I would never let my hypothetical child go there or to a similar school. However, I guess I do still support the all American right of freedom of choice.

Ms. Alford claims that her appeal to get Kayla back into her private Christian school was immediately denied. Kayla is now enrolled in a public school, which I think will be a better environment for her. Although Kayla’s older sister is a Whitefield Academy graduate, Kayla seems a bit too free-spirited and open-minded for such an intolerant environment. I hope that Ms. Alford gives some more thought about her decision to send her children to a school that espouses such “judgmental” policies. She apparently didn’t have a problem with those policies before her daughter was tripped up by one. I would encourage her to consider whether or not conservative Christians are really all that “Christlike” after all. Maybe public school is where God thinks Kayla should be… where she can be around people who are truly forgiven for their mistakes.

Lots of fine people would not fit in at Whitefield Academy. It seems to be a special kind of place for a special kind of people who happen to fit the conservative “Baptist” Christian norm. Plenty of wonderful people can’t do that even on their “best” day… and frankly, in my view, that’s often to their credit. Who wants to hang around a bunch of legalistic uniformed Bible thumpers, anyway? Why pay for that experience? I wish Kayla much success and happiness in her new school.

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true crime

You just never know…

A friend of mine just shared this Facebook post with me.

I don’t know this woman at all, but after I read her post about the terrible car accident she was in, I took a look at her Facebook page. It appears that she has a wonderful life with loving family members and many friends. Like me, she was recently in Scotland. It looks like she enjoyed a bucket list vacation last month, which also included a stop in Brussels, Belgium, another one of my favorite places. I can see that she has a lot of good people around her, and some of them were also having fun with Sharp in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. On September 29, 2019, Pat Sharp was riding in the third back seat of a car in Frankfort, Kentucky when she was in a horrific car accident.

Jerry Elder, of Flint, Michigan barreled down Interstate 64 at about 70 miles per hour in his fully loaded 18 wheeler semi. He had his cruise control set, but his attention was fixed on the cellphone mounted on his dashboard. He was watching a video on YouTube while driving through a construction zone. Consequently, Elder was distracted, and didn’t notice that traffic had slowed down. Instead of braking to avoid causing an accident, he collided with a Jeep Liberty, killing its driver, 61 year old Jeffrey Curtis. The truck then hit two more vehicles and a Ford Explorer. Elder and Trina Summers, the driver of the Explorer, were taken to a hospital with non life threatening injuries. I’m guessing Pat Sharp was also in the Explorer, along with four other people.

When Elder was released from the hospital, he was initially charged with manslaughter and taken to the Franklin County Regional Jail. Looking at Elder’s details on the jail’s Web site, I see that he’s now been charged with murder, assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, and two counts of wanton endangerment. His bond is set at $500,000, and he has already pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. I wonder what in the world was so important on YouTube that Elder had to endanger so many innocent people’s lives that day. Curiously, he was also not wearing corrective lenses required by his commercial drivers’ license and medical card. What the hell was he thinking?

Pat Sharp is now looking for the nurse who stayed in the back seat with her while she waited to be rescued. She says the nurse comforted her and helped her stay alert and breathing while the paramedics worked on freeing her and everyone else in the car. I can’t help Sharp with her quest, except to write this post about her accident. Maybe someone reading my blog knows the nurse who helped her on the day that changed her life, probably forever. She spent a week in the hospital in Frankfort after the wreck, and will no doubt now have big medical bills to pay, as well as legal issues to attend to, since I’m sure she will be a witness when Elder goes on trial.

Reading about this accident makes me realize that, once again, you just never know when something horrible is going to happen. I woke up a little while ago, thinking about how mundane my life is most days. I don’t really have to worry about much, which causes me to sweat the small stuff or things that I can’t control. But I think about people who find themselves in suddenly horrific situations like Pat Sharp was in last month. Things can change in the blink of an eye, and all it takes is someone who would rather watch YouTube while driving than pay attention to the road.

I have no idea what kind of a person Jerry Elder is. I see from his booking photo that he doesn’t appear to be a country club type. I’m sure he has friends and family, though. Most people have someone in their lives who care about them, and I’m sure that’s true for Jerry Elder, too. He probably didn’t even consider that he could wind up killing someone that day and land in jail on murder charges. Most of the people involved in the wreck didn’t know each other, and yet fate brought them together in the form of a tragic, deadly accident.

Jeffrey “Jeffro” Curtis was a man with a green thumb who inspired loving memories from friends, and a request for donations to the Kentuckiana Blues Society. I wonder if he was listening to the blues when Elder’s semi rammed into the back of his jeep. I see he had a fiancee, friends, and family members, and all of them are now left to mourn his death.

I’ve been on Interstate 64 myself many, many times. It runs through Virginia and is the Interstate closest to Gloucester, Virginia, which is where I grew up. I’ve never been in a bad car accident myself, but I know a lot of people who have. It just goes to show you that life is short and precious, and people have no business using cell phones while driving.

I’ve already said a prayer for everyone involved in this wreck, including Jerry Elder. It sounds like he was careless and negligent, which unfortunately led to someone losing his life. It goes to show that actions have consequences, and even the most minor choices can irreparably affect other people in devastating ways. God be with Pat Sharp, and everyone else who was involved in the deadly accident. I’m going to try to be more careful myself, having read about this. You just never know when your life will change… or end.

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