family, healthcare, musings

COVID-19 has made some people MEAN… but one tragic story has given me the gift of perspective today.

I have been trying to make an effort to rant less about COVID-19, even though cases are rising in Germany again. I haven’t been in Germany since October 26th. We’re headed back there tomorrow. I look forward to going home and starting my travel series. I also look forward to seeing our dogs, whom I’ve really been missing… I think dogs are much better companions than most people are. At least they don’t judge people for getting sick, or parents for losing their children.

A few days ago, I read a post on the Recovery from Mormonism message board. It was posted by a popular board participant named Dave the Atheist. I’ve noticed that he’s been posting many articles about COVID-19, even though they’re technically off-topic. I don’t engage with Dave the Atheist much, although I’ve noticed he has a tendency to be kind of “salty”.

In any case, the story Dave posted was about a Texas mother named Amber McDaniel, who had to make the heartbreaking choice between having her 10 year old son, Zyrin Foots’s, arms and legs amputated, and an eye removed, or letting him pass away. Amber’s sister, Ashley Engmann, explained on a GoFundMe page that Zyrin contracted COVID, which weakened his immune system and made him vulnerable to other illnesses. Zyrin then contracted another virus, respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, and experienced a rare and devastating COVID related complication called MIS-C, or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, that caused inflammation in his heart.

Due to all of these medical complications, Zyrin’s heart was unable to pump blood adequately to the rest of his body. He developed gangrene in his legs. Doctors eventually told Zyrin’s mother that the only thing they could do for her child was amputate his legs, one of his arms, and remove an eye. Even if they did that, Zyrin only had a 25 percent chance of living. But if they didn’t amputate, Zyrin would surely die.

After considering what it would be like for Zyrin’s recovery, if she decided to allow the surgeries, Amber decided to let her son die. Zyrin Foots passed on October 13, 2021, having been on life support since September 30th.

I don’t know a thing about this family, other than what I’ve read in the news and the GoFundMe campaign. I know a lot of people are jaded about fundraisers. I guess I can’t blame them for that. However, I was shocked and dismayed when I read a comment from someone on RfM that was something along the lines of “the mom will be fine” and “she still won’t get vaccinated.”

I don’t usually respond to those kinds of comments, especially on RfM. But, for some reason, I couldn’t help myself. I wrote a comment pointing out that based only on the article linked in the post, there’s no way to know how Zyrin got the virus. He lived in Huntsville, Texas, where mask and vaccine mandates aren’t popular. I did find another article that went more in depth into Zyrin’s story, written by journalist, Peter Holley. Actually, after reading the more in depth story in Texas Monthly magazine, I feel even more compassion for Amber McDaniel and her family, no matter what her stance is on COVID-19 and vaccines.

Making this situation even more heartbreaking is the fact that Zyrin was not Amber McDaniel’s first loss. Eight years ago, when she was 26 years old and six months pregnant with her third son, Zekiah, Amber was hit by a truck. Amber lost Zekiah, and she was left permanently disabled and unable to work. In that accident, Amber lost the use of her right hand and was left with one leg shorter than the other. For months, she was fed through a tube. She can’t drive, although she walks everywhere she can. She now only has one living son, nine year old Zaiden, and no insurance coverage to help pay for the massive medical and funeral bills.

I know people are tired of COVID-19, and they’re fed up with entitled attitudes from people who refuse to get vaccinated and deny the existence of the pandemic. I understand that it’s frustrating when people won’t cooperate to arrest this sickness so we can all go back to a more normal life. I just don’t understand why someone would respond to this story with so much anger and vitriol toward someone they presumably don’t even know… someone who had already suffered tremendous loss and tragedy even before COVID-19 existed.

Pastor Philip A. Hagans, a father of four, has been supporting McDaniels and her family as they cope with losing Zyrin in such a horrifying way. He’s mentioned in the Texas Monthly article I linked. From Peter Holley’s article:

A few days after Zyrin’s passing, Hagans, a father of four boys who range from seven to seventeen years old, told me he was struggling with the child’s death, not just because he was sad, but also because he was frustrated. Huntsville had always been the kind of place, he said, where people looked out for one another. But that same thoughtfulness didn’t seem to extend to concerns about COVID-19, even though Walker County has experienced nearly 12,000 cases and lost 181 residents to the virus. Some Huntsville residents were still not masking around vulnerable neighbors and family members. Others, he said, were sending kids to school with COVID-19 symptoms because it was more convenient than keeping them at home. That selfish behavior, he said, may have gotten Zyrin killed, and Hagans couldn’t understand it. “I chose to keep my kids home when they tested positive for COVID, and yes, it interrupted my schedule and my wife’s schedule,” Hagans said. “But I’d rather do that than allow them to get someone else sick whose body can’t bounce back and they end up losing their life like Zyrin—all because I didn’t want to miss work? That’s a disgrace.” 

It’s not just in Huntsville, Texas where people have become mean-spirited, disrespectful, and selfish. This attitude has been spreading for the past several years, but it seems to have gotten worse in the Trump era. Perfect strangers assume the worst about someone based on things like their political beliefs or tragedies that affect them. Social media makes it worse, of course. It’s so much easier now to read a story about someone and make assumptions about their choices or their characters. Everybody does it, including me.

Reading about Zyrin Foots has made me wish for a time when it was much harder to get bad news. On the other hand, his story has also made me stop and ponder my own attitudes about things. In fact, just now, Bill came back from picking up croissants at the grocery store. He discovered that there aren’t any napkins or paper towels in the kitchen of our guest house, and was grumbling about using toilet paper instead. It struck me as ridiculous that he was complaining about that, even though Bill is generally a much kinder and more considerate person than I am. So I just explained to him that, right now, having read this story about Amber McDaniel and the horrifying choice she had to make, I wasn’t in a place in which I could really complain about a lack of paper towels. The fact is, we’ve been on a marvelous vacation together, and we are so lucky on so many levels.

In any case, it’s hard for me to imagine that so much tragedy was in the cards for someone… but I have known other people who have dealt with similarly tragic and horrible events in their lives. I often forget their stories when I’m faced with inconveniences or annoyances, or when I am feeling depressed or anxious. But even as I write this, I realize that it’s probably fleeting insight. Because I know that I might soon forget this story and complain about traffic, or a lack of paper towels, or the fact that I hate to vacuum. When it comes down to it, petty annoyances are just that.

As for Amber McDaniel and the choice she made, I think ultimately, she did the kindest and most humane thing should could do in this situation. In the unlikely event that her son had lived, he would have spent the rest of his life battling horrific health problems. And those problems, I’m sad to say, would have been a tremendous burden to his already highly burdened family, as well as to Zyrin himself.

Imagine being ten years old, having been perfectly healthy and brimming with promise, with dreams of one day being a great chef. Then, thanks to a novel virus, you’re left unable to walk, use your arms, see clearly, or go to the restroom without help. Think about the effect that would have had on every aspect of that child’s life, and his future. I know not everyone would see it the way I do… plenty of people have these lofty ideas that people with such severe and devastating disabilities can somehow overcome them and be an inspiration to others. I know that sometimes, that does happen. But the chances of it happening were definitely not in this child’s favor. Either way, death was in Zyrin’s future, just as it is in every person’s future.

Add in the fact that Amber McDaniel is herself significantly disabled and lacks resources… and she lives in a state where people aren’t all that interested in helping the poor and unlucky. Texas is also a grotesquely pro life state, to the point at which it has even forced a pregnant woman in a coma to be kept on life support, though the developing fetus was significantly deformed and would not have survived, even if he had been delivered.

It must have seemed like a heart-wrenching decision for Amber McDaniel to let her beloved son go. And yet, practically speaking, it probably was the best decision she could make. Because if Zyrin had lived, life would have been significantly more difficult for him, and everyone in his sphere, including his nine year old brother. Sometimes, death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person.

Anyway… I decided to write about this story because I had read that nasty comment on RfM. As someone who has a tendency toward depression, it really disheartens me to read flippant comments from people who make the worst assumptions about those who have suffered loss or misfortune. It seems like so many people want to assume that anyone who is unlucky somehow deserves it. I even saw that attitude last year, when Jonny, our would-be new dog, escaped his pet taxi and got hit by a car. I never even had a chance to pet him before he was gone. People judged me personally for making that comment, and for the fact that he escaped. They didn’t know the facts, nor did they know me. They just judged… although, to the credit of the German people, once I explained things more fully to the ones who were blaming Bill and me, they came around.

I would like to hope that people might come around in this case and not judge Amber McDaniel for anything. Whatever her opinions were about COVID-19 before this happened, I’m sure they are forever changed now. And regardless, she has suffered profound losses that the vast majority of us will never have to try to fathom. I think she deserves all of the grace in the world, especially right now. I wish her nothing but peace and comfort.

Standard
ethics, healthcare, politics

A most unproductive attitude…

Last night, a Facebook friend shared the following meme.

Hmmm… I’m not sure this works.

I understand people not wanting to see medical care being “wasted” on the non-compliant. It’s heartbreaking to read stories about people with cancer being turned away from hospitals because of unvaccinated people taking up beds as they die of COVID-19. I get that, in spite of overwhelming evidence that the vaccines help prevent severe illness and hospitalization, some people just aren’t on the bandwagon yet. They have this idea that there’s a conspiracy going on and that Democrats are trying to grab power and quash individual liberties.

I’m also not so naive that I don’t understand the concerns of people who are against mask and vaccine mandates. Personally, I don’t like the idea of being forced to wear a mask or be vaccinated against my will. But I also don’t like the idea of being hospitalized, helplessly gasping for air while my husband wrings his hands in anguish. I may not mind exiting the world as soon as possible, but COVID-19 is not the way I would like to go. So I was all for getting vaccinated as soon as I could, which in my case, was in May and June. I will also willingly get a booster. And while I still hate masks and find them depressing to look at and wear, I do cooperate.

Every day, I read another story about someone who was preaching against the vaccines getting COVID-19 and dying. Last week, it was conservative radio talk show host, Phil Valentine. Like several others before him, Phil Valentine had the false idea that COVID-19 is a hoax. He wrote on his blog that if he caught it, he’d have “way less than one percent” chance of dying. Sure enough, on July 11, 2021, Mr. Valentine announced that he had COVID-19. But he was upbeat, and vowed to be back on his show within a day or two.

“Unfortunately for the haters out there, it looks like I’m going to make it,” [Valentine] wrote. “Interesting experience. I’ll have to fill you in when I come back on the air. I’m hoping that will be tomorrow, but I may take a day off just as a precaution.”

Within two weeks, Valentine was hospitalized and in serious condition. His radio station, Nashville based 99.7 WTN, announced that Valentine had changed his mind about the vaccine and was urging people to get the shot(s). Unfortunately, it was too late for the late radio talk show host. He died this past Saturday. Interestingly enough, I see that Valentine was born in Nashville, North Carolina, and died in Nashville, Tennessee. He had been ventilated since July 28th, all to no avail.

So anyway… after reading yet another tragic story about a dead vaccine skeptic, I had a look at the comments. A woman named Nicole wrote this:

Comments here just show how fine the line is between dems and reps…as in there in no line at all. Hateful people hate, no party affiliation necessary.

At this writing, Nicole’s comment has over 1100 reactions, some of which are “laughing”. I honestly don’t see what’s so funny about someone else dying of a virus. Many people also responded to Nicole in a rude and disparaging way. I noticed that she kindly and patiently answered some of the people who “laughed” and “raged” at her, preaching about how they no longer had any “sympathy” for people like Phil Valentine. My heart went out to her, so I wrote this:

I get it. I feel the same way. Whether or not people want to acknowledge it, he had loved ones who are grieving. I have a hard time accepting people on a moral high horse when they are literally laughing and cheering about a man’s death. I am vaccinated and believe in science over foolishness, and I get tired of the craziness spewed by the ignorant. But I also hate seeing how mean people have become, especially as they preach to others about compassion and forbearance.

Thanks for being brave enough to speak up. I am with you.

The truth is, Phil Valentine is not going to read or care about the hateful comments. But he’s got loved ones and friends who are seeing all of this stuff. I don’t think reading hateful, derisive, mean spirited comments are going to convince them to change their views. Moreover, I also don’t think the idea of denying medical care to people with communicable diseases is the best way to convince cooperation. All being “mean” does is shut down communication and make people feel angry… and hopeless.

Also… by denying medical care to people with COVID-19, we would simply be prolonging the pandemic. COVID-19 is contagious. Even if a person is totally recalcitrant and belligerent about COVID-19, they can still spread the disease to others if they get it. Not helping that person is only going to put other people at risk. Some of those at risk will include children, elderly people, those who can’t be vaccinated for medical reasons, and those who are vaccinated, but immunocompromised. So, I would never be onboard with denying medical care to people with COVID. I think that attitude only puts other people at risk. I do, however, understand the sentiment. It’s frustrating to see so many people not understanding the very serious risk COVID poses to everyone and not wanting to do their part to end the pandemic.

What I think could eventually happen if things don’t get better soon, is that non-compliant people will be arrested and either forced into isolation, or compelled to accept care and vaccination. I know that’s a chilling thought for people, but it has happened before with other pandemics and it still happens with certain communicable diseases. I have seen that it’s starting to happen in certain countries, like Singapore, where personal liberty is not as important as the welfare of the whole community.

For example, when I was getting my MPH/MSW at the University of South Carolina, I was classmates with a woman whose field placement was working with people who were being detained because they had tuberculosis and refused to get treatment. These folks were not being held by law enforcement, per se. They were “locked up” because they had a communicable disease and would not cooperate with public health authorities by either isolating, or getting treatment.

I remember my classmate talking about what it was like to deal with these folks who, for one reason or another, decided that they would not voluntarily take the very powerful antibiotics used to treat TB. I distinctly recall her telling our class that the people were “pissed off”. And yet, there they still were, locked up, not necessarily because they had committed a crime, but because they put other people at risk.

Here’s a more recent example. About seven years ago, Ebola was the communicable disease that was in the news. A nurse named Kaci Hickox had returned to the United States from Sierra Leone, where she had been caring for people with Ebola. She supposedly had a fever upon arrival to the United States, so she was forced to quarantine in New Jersey for three days. She then returned to her then home state of Maine, where she was requested to self-isolate at home, which she also refused to do, as she had tested negative for Ebola.

A year later, Hickox sued then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former state Health Commissioner Mary O’Dowd and other Health Department employees for false imprisonment, violation of due process and invasion of privacy. She claimed that there were no medical or epidemiological grounds to hold her. Interestingly enough, Chris Christie is a Republican. At the time she was in the news, Hickox was “loathed by Republicans.” The late Rush Limbaugh had harsh words for her after Hickox returned to Maine, where she very publicly flouted voluntary quarantine. Meanwhile, she got praise from more liberal outlets.

“Is this not a little bit sanctimonious?” Limbaugh said at the time. “I mean, here you volunteer and you let everybody know, by the way. … ‘I am a good person. I have volunteered to go to Africa, and I am helping Ebola patients. Look at me. See me? I am a good person.’ You come back, ‘I have just returned from Africa helping Ebola patients, and you are not going to quarantine me so that I can’t be noticed.’”

Hickox eventually settled the lawsuit, and new protections for quarantined travelers were introduced. I’m sitting here shaking my head, though. In 2014, Republicans were screaming for Ebola quarantines and Democrats were lamenting the potential loss of civil liberties. And now, in the COVID era, the opposite is happening. It really shouldn’t be controversial or political, though. It’s a matter of basic decency and consideration for other people, isn’t it? I guess some people are fine with denying other people their civil rights, as long as it doesn’t affect them personally. And some people are fine with flouting public health rules, if it’s they who are being asked to quarantine.

I wrote about Kaci Hickox on my old blog. At the time, I was of a mixed mind about her situation. I was definitely understanding her points about civil liberties. However, at the same time, my background in public health made me concerned about her risk of spreading a deadly disease to Americans. I looked up Kaci Hickox last night. I see that she, too, has a master’s degree in Public Health. I wonder how she feels about COVID-19. In this article from March 2, 2021, a reporter states that Ebola is deadlier than COVID-19 is. That was before the virus had mutated to what it is today. Moreover, according to the article, unlike like COVID-19, asymptomatic people don’t spread Ebola. But Ebola is still a very nasty disease, just as COVID has proven to be.

Anyway… I just think that we should all try to be as compassionate as possible. I don’t think it’s ethical to deny medical care to people, even if they behave in a foolish or offensive manner. I get being offended or annoyed by the willfully ignorant. God knows, I post all the time about my irritation with people who have unhelpful attitudes. But when it comes to getting people to cooperate, I don’t think it’s helpful to laugh at them as they die or express hatred for them. All that does is divide people. It’s in everyone’s best interests to be cooperative. At least for now, people still have the right to choose whether or not they will be vaccinated. It would be good if some of those who hesitate figure it out for themselves that not getting the shot could really mess up, or even end their lives.

As for Phil Valentine… it is a shame that he didn’t comply sooner. But at least at the end of his life, he tried to change hearts and minds. For that reason, I think people should be kinder regarding his memory. When it comes down to it, this issue is really NOT about politics. It’s about health, and potentially life and death.

Standard
condescending twatbags, healthcare, lessons learned

“You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that…” George Carlin

Yesterday’s post garnered more interest than I expected it would. I enjoyed writing it, but as I was writing, it occurred to me that dealing with stupid insults from clueless people– especially men– is a common theme in my life. The Internet has always been a place of less civilized behavior, but it’s gotten a lot worse lately. There are many reasons for that.

I think it started getting worse when Donald Trump became president. He did not win by a landslide in 2016, so there were many people who were angry about the election. They took to social media to vent. Meanwhile, Trump supporters gloated that “their guy” won, and a lot of them became kind of rude and nasty. Both groups had even less regard for others than they used to, say, ten years ago.

This morning, I read a post I wrote back in April 2020. A Trump supporter had posted a picture of Donald Trump flipping people off with both fingers with the caption “Still your president.” In response to that photo, I posted a picture of Trump with a frog superimposed on his chin. Yes, it was kind of saucy, but at least it wasn’t profane. After a couple more increasingly intense comments, the Trump supporter ended up calling me a “cunt”. Then, when I responded in kind, he blocked me. 😀

I know I should have ignored him. For the most part, I do try to ignore people who say and do provocative things. It never ends well, although I don’t mind being blocked by someone who called me a “cunt”. That’s kind of a low blow, even if I don’t know the person, so I didn’t take the insult personally. I did notice, however, that my less than offended response to being called a “cunt” seemed to really offend the guy. I mean, he was offended by a photo of Trump with a frog on his face after he posted a picture of Trump, as still president, flipping everybody off! Then, after trading insults with and finally going to “fightin’ words”, he blocks me when I give him what he was dishing out! It’s hilarious!

For some reason, a lot of men feel like calling women “cunts” is the ultimate power move. In my view, when someone resorts to calling a total stranger a word like that, that means they’ve lost the argument and need to hurl the worst insults they can think of. But I think that if the word “cunt” is the best word you can come up with to verbally slay someone, your shit’s pretty weak.

Likewise, yesterday’s encounter with “Rick” was pretty disappointing and uncivilized. Rick decided to go “ad hominem” in his argument with others. Anyone who disagreed with his comments was fair game for an ad hominem attack. In my case, he wrongly implied that men don’t want to have sex with me. He’s wrong, because as a happily married woman, there is at least one man in my life who loves having sex with me. There may even be others out there, too. In my experience, there are a lot of men who don’t even care too much about what a woman looks like if there’s a chance that they can have sex. They might not ever speak to the woman again, but by God, if she’s willing to put out, they’re showing up for it. 😀 So Rick’s comment was especially stupid… but it was also kind of mean, and unnecessary.

Lately, I think being “mean” is the order of the day. Because along with Donald Trump, and his campaign of being rude and insulting to people, COVID-19 also came along. COVID-19 is some very scary shit, and people who are taking it seriously are pretty fed up with the so-called deniers and rule flouters. And so, some of these folks have lost their basic sense of decency and civility and they’re posting things that are just nasty and, frankly, uncalled for, as well as occasionally just wrong.

For example, yesterday I read an article about vaccine refusers and a proudly vaccinated woman named Karen wrote that if she and an unvaccinated person both showed up at a hospital at the same time, she should be the one who gets medical care. Why? Because she did as she was told, and got vaccinated. Forget the fact that traditionally, when it comes to medical care, providers triage all comers. That means that if you’re not as sick as the other person because you got the vaccine, you will be waiting. That’s called following medical ethics.

It may not seem right or fair, but in the grand scheme of things, not providing the sicker person with medical care is still putting innocent people at risk. That unvaccinated person is going to spread the virus more than a vaccinated person will, and he or she will need more help. We can bitch and moan as much as we want about people who don’t want to get with the program, but when it comes down to it, it’s not ethically right to deny them care. Still, Karen, was insisting that we should just tell non-vaccinated people to go die in the street or something. I couldn’t help but think that Karen was aptly named. 😉 Although, as I have repeatedly stated, I hate the trend of using people’s first names as pejoratives.

I haven’t been in the United States since 2014, so I have missed all of Trump’s presidency, as well as the US version of the pandemic. Here in Germany, the face mask mandates for shops and public transportation never went away. Around here, people do hate the fucking things, but they mostly stoically cooperate with the rules. And, when the pandemic is tamed somewhat, local leaders have shown that they will amend the rules. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t people rebelling or complaining, but we’re not seeing some of the sheer selfishness and rudeness here that I have seen described online in the United States. I will forever be grateful to Germany for letting me live here during these very strange times.

But… I do realize that while Trump and his supporters are pretty insufferable, some people on the other side are just as bad. People who laugh at those who get really sick and die, for instance, are just shitty. Because even if the person might have “asked” for it by not taking precautions, it’s still a pretty horrible way to die, and there are innocent people who will be impacted by it. You may feel better for a few minutes laughing at the father of a newborn who mocked vaccines and died, but he still has an innocent infant son who will forevermore be affected by the loss of his dad. Are you also laughing at that baby’s loss and eventual pain? If you are, shame on you.

Moreover, sometimes people don’t get vaccinated for legitimate reasons. I read an article in The Atlantic yesterday about how Americans are “getting it wrong” about the unvaccinated. Many people were commenting on it, but I don’t think most of them bothered to read the article. I think that’s a shame, because the article did have some good information. Like, for instance, there’s a reminder that some people haven’t gotten vaccinated because vaccines are not accessible to them, for whatever reason. Say you live in a rural area, but you don’t have a car. The nearest vaccination center is a stout walk. Maybe you won’t get a shot because of that. Or, say you’re a single parent who lacks access to affordable child care. You can’t leave your child alone so you can get the shot. Or, say you work at a job that does not offer paid time off. You can’t afford to take the time to get the shot or deal with the potential side effects.

Rhea Boyd, who is a public health advocate and pediatrician, was interviewed for the article in The Atlantic. She said:

Availability and access aren’t the same thing. If you have to walk the five miles, you’re going to rethink getting vaccinated, especially if you’re elderly, or you have chronic disease, or the round trip is interfering with other things like work. [Much of] our paid workforce doesn’t have flexibility about hours, or couldn’t take a day off if they wanted to. And if you don’t have paid sick leave to deal with the vaccine or the potential side effects of the second dose, you’ll skip it because feeding your family is more important right now.

Child care is also an enormous issue. If you don’t have someone to watch your children, then what do you do? Many of these things the Biden administration has tried to address. They have programs involving Uber and LyftChild-care organizations have signed on to help with vaccine appointments. There are tax breaks for companies that offer paid sick leave. These are incredible, but they may not filter down to your area. We need to think about local interventions to help stretch them.

See… I think this is good information and something that privileged people forget to think about when they criticize so-called “anti-vaxxers”. But we’re all so eager to run our figurative mouths about the “type” of person who stubbornly won’t get the vaccine. Boyd continues by stating that we’re shooting ourselves in the foot by demonizing people who aren’t vaccinated. Because now, we can’t even have a civilized conversation about this. As I’ve repeatedly stated since this mess started last year, there’s a tremendous pressure to say and do the “right” things. And if you don’t, you can be assured of being browbeaten by patronizing people who can’t find it within themselves to listen and respond with empathy and understanding. Boyd continues:

The language we use around unvaccinated people comes with a judgment—a condescension that “you’re unvaccinated and it’s your choice at this point.” That attitude is papering Twitter. It’s repeated by our top public-health officials. They’re railing on the unvaccinated as if they’re holding the rest of us back from normalcy. But unvaccinated people aren’t a random group of defectors who are trying to be deviant. They’re not all anti-vaxxers. They’re our kids! Any child under 12 is in that group.

Just now, I looked at the comment I left on The Atlantic’s Facebook page about this article. I got a few laughing reactions, as well as a dismissive comment about how “bad” unvaccinated people are. I also got a self-righteous lecture from an ER nurse about how she didn’t “need” to read the article, because she’s on the front lines. I resisted the urge to offer her a cookie and reiterated that, yes, she DID need to read the article.

Frankly, everyone should read before they comment, rather than just react to headlines and featured photos. As Rhea Boyd pointed out in her comments in The Atlantic’s article, sometimes people really do have legitimate reasons why they haven’t been vaccinated. Yes, it’s true that some folks are being stubborn and willfully ignorant, but there really can be an issue with access for some people, as well as a lack of information and trust. These are REAL issues. Calling people names and not hearing what they have to say is not going to make them cooperate. But, in fairness, I do have an inkling of the frustration and burnout a lot of healthcare providers must be feeling right now. In fact, thanks to the below video, I got more of an inkling of it this morning.

This is a very powerful video by Dr. Catherine O’Neal. It makes a lot of good sense. But I also think there are people who simply need practical and logistical help in getting the vaccine.

I think things would get better if more people simply cooperated and, as hard as it can be, simply tried to give people the benefit of the doubt instead of just lashing out at them. If we stopped politicizing everything and focused on being decent to each other, I think it’s likely that the situation would improve. But people are frustrated, angry, and under pressure from their peer groups and families to pick a side.

I still have a number of Republican friends and loved ones. I don’t disassociate with people simply because of their politics. I do find Trump supporters puzzling, because most of my friends who like Trump truly are decent people, deep down. I don’t understand how decent people can support Trump. Conservatism, I get, but why not demand someone with basic ethics? Is it simply because people think Trump is the only person who can win an election? If so, that’s really sad, and it’s a bleak sign that our future is going to really suck.

Malignant narcissists do not make good leaders. They can’t be good leaders, because in order to be a good leader, one has to care about other people. And malignant narcissists, by definition, only care about themselves. That’s what makes them abusive, petty, childish, and damaging to others. That type of person cannot lead effectively. And Trump has shown us, time and again, that he’s a malignant narcissist. However, so many people have been blinded by his charisma and showmanship, and the fact that he has diarrhea of the mouth and they find it entertaining, that they forget their basic decency.

I can’t say that Joe Biden is the ideal person to lead the country, but I like him much, much more than Trump. The basic fact that he has regard for someone– ANYONE– but himself and his interests, makes him a better leader. I feel safer with him in charge than the unhinged orange turd who brags about molesting women. Trump is focused on making money, satisfying his pleasure center, and being glorified and admired by others. Those are not the traits of a good leader.

Anyway… I guess I’ve prattled on long enough… Comment sections are going to be the death of me. George Carlin was right when he said, “You don’t want to have anything to do with an asshole like that.” Sometimes, it’s really best to keep scrolling and not respond. I do hope this situation improves soon. Because people are definitely getting meaner and less civilized. It makes me envy people like my friend Matt, who has already checked out of this world and moved on to a place where problems don’t exist.

Standard
condescending twatbags, healthcare, poor judgment

Thanks to COVID-19, basic humanity is going extinct…

A couple of nights ago, when Bill and I were in Switzerland, I happened to read a sad story in The Washington Post about a woman from Alabama who used to think COVID-19 was a liberal hoax. Christy Carpenter and her family soon found out COVID-19 is not a joke. She and her 28 year old son, Curt, both got the virus. Christy survived, but Curt didn’t. He was ventilated, suffered a collapsed lung (pneumothorax), and died on May 2.

Now, Christy Carpenter and her daughter, Cayla, are spreading the word that COVID-19 is real. I applaud Carpenter for doing that. I think she’s got guts, and she deserves some empathy. I wish she’d wised up sooner than she did, but she’s going to have to live with the loss of her son, along with any residual COVID-19 aftereffects. I feel sorry for her. I really do.

I think Christy Carpenter is a victim of the pervasive group think that exists in extremely conservative places like Alabama. I know how that is. I grew up in such a place, and for the first 30 years or so of my life, I was a big believer in the conservative mindset on a lot of issues. I think if I’d never left Gloucester County in Virginia, I might still be voting red. After all, that’s what so many people in that county do, and a lot of them were my friends. I also come from a family full of Republicans. Many (but not all) of my loved ones are Trumpers. It’s caused a big divide and, if I’m honest, a real loss in family unity. My own uncle– a man I have always loved and respected– accused me of being a “liberal nut case”. We haven’t spoken since.

When I first read about Christy Carpenter’s ordeal, my heart went out to her. She made a huge mistake in believing the conspiracy theories and outright lies about the COVID vaccines and the virus itself. That mistake led to her “beautiful baby boy” Curt, who reportedly had autism, fighting for his life for weeks before he finally succumbed.

Carpenter explained, “It took years to create other vaccines, and the coronavirus vaccine was created very quickly… That made us very nervous.”

“If Curt were here today, he would make it his mission to encourage everyone to get vaccinated,” Carpenter said. “Cayla, his sister, and I are carrying out that mission in his memory.”

Curt’s haunting final words to his mom, Carpenter told the WaPo, were: “This is not a hoax, this is real.” 

Carpenter said, “It took watching my son die and me suffering the effects of covid for us to realize we need the vaccine. We did not get vaccinated when we had the opportunity and regret that so much now.”

Admirable… and again, I think it’s very brave for her to speak out, particularly in a place like Alabama, where doctors who have tried to spread truth are getting death threats! Sadly, liberals, who often preach about being compassionate and considerate, are leaving really mean and nasty comments for Carpenter on articles like the one I read on The Washington Post. This story has been picked up and disseminated via several different outlets. On so many of them, people put the blame squarely on Carpenter and show her no mercy. Below are a few examples from the WaPo.

Christy Carpenter watches her son die and she finds herself asking, “why” ? What do you mean? You could have and should have saved your son by getting him vaccinated. You thought the coronavirus was a hoax ! You caused his death. Live with it and stop making excuses

Sorry, not sorry. I am sick and tired of anti-vaxxers saying after someone in their family dies after getting COVID that they should have been vaccinated. You’re too stupid to be vaccinated, die already. That way you’ll be bleaching out the gene pool.

Why does it take more than 600K+ people dying, including one’s own son, to convince them that covid 19 is real?  Were the other 600K+ deaths not enough?  Tragic for the family, yes, but sorry, my heart is stone cold.

So Covid wasn’t a problem until it became HER problem. Very sad for her son who was likely unable to advocate for himself.

It turns out that Republicans would rather die than think.  It’s really hard to feel pity for that.

The blame for these outcomes lies squarely on those who lack the capacity to rationally digest the ample evidence that surrounds the existence and progression of a pathogen with the potential to eliminate millions, if not billions of our species.   Time for all who remain to stop blaming those  who are purported to mislead, take responsibility for their own bad decisions, and express regrets for dragging the innocents who do not share their deplorably stupid delusions into their  intentionally negligent camp.   There is nothing confusing or mysterious about the existence of the Covid 19 pathogen which merits credible acceptance of  the hoax/conspiracy/denial rationales that are the basis upon which these “victims” seek the sympathy of others.   

I did like that one other commenter clapped back at the person who wrote the above drivel…

“The blame for these outcomes lies squarely on those who lack the capacity to rationally digest . . .”

That makes no sense.

And you should practice writing short, readable, declarative sentences. (Bwahahahahaa! Too funny!)

There were many other comments like the above on Facebook and the article itself. I see that this story also ran in The Daily Mail. I shudder to read what people have to say on that site. It’s usually pretty lowbrow. I’ve also read several comments about Curt’s weight. He was a large man, which would make COVID-19 especially risky for him.

People have always been mean and unsympathetic, but I’ve noticed it’s especially bad nowadays, in the age of COVID-19. It’s like basic humanity has gone extinct. While I don’t applaud that Christy Carpenter and her family didn’t heed warnings about COVID-19, I do feel sorrow for her. Moreover, I don’t cheer when anyone gets this virus. I don’t think those of us who have never had it have any idea what it’s like. We only have the experiences of others to go on… and, as I have pointed out MANY times in this blog, people are still getting the virus even if they’ve been vaccinated. Some people who get COVID-19 never even know they’ve had it. Others get deathly ill. It’s easy for people to assume they’ll be one of the lucky ones who barely feel the infection, but that’s a very risky idea, especially as the virus mutates.

It’s true that the vaccine seems to substantially cut the risk of severe illness, hospitalization, and death, but the vaccine does not stop COVID-19 cold. And so, there will be people who do everything “right” and still wind up battling the coronavirus. I expect there will eventually be some who will die, despite being vaccinated. Granted, in this case, we have a woman and her son who refused to believe in science. But I look at where they live and the mindset in that area. It can be hard to go against the grain when you’re surrounded by so many people who pressure you to think as they do.

I don’t think anyone “deserves” to get COVID-19. I don’t celebrate when I read that someone gets it. I didn’t even laugh when Trump got sick last fall, and most of you know how much I despise Donald Trump. I think anyone who gets sick is entitled to treatment, because I believe that healthcare is a human right and those who don’t get treatment will put innocent people at risk. And I am legitimately SAD for Carpenter, because she has suffered a huge, irreplaceable, and tragic loss, and now has COVID-19 long hauler symptoms.

Christy Carpenter lives in a state where many people mistrust anyone who isn’t Christian and politically conservative. I get that. Even though Virginia turned blue last year, it’s still a deeply conservative red state in many areas. I think the only reason it went blue is because of northern Virginia and the very different demographics in that area. Northern Virginia is like a different state– it’s more Mid Atlantic-Northeast than it is Southern. You go below Fredericksburg or west of Loudon County, and you will find many people who think and believe like Carpenter did.

So I posted a comment on the WaPo article, encouraging people not to be so cruel. I myself have only been fully vaccinated for a few weeks. It’s not because I am a non-believer in vaccine efficacy, but because I am in Germany and couldn’t access the vaccine sooner than I did. And I was able to get it on an Army post, which put me at an advantage. There are Germans who are still waiting to get their turn at the shot. Bill’s American therapist actually went back to the States to get his shots. Should we blame and laugh at Germans and other Europeans if they get sick while they wait?

Sure enough, someone left me a nasty comment about how they have no pity for Carpenter and her family. My response to her? “Good for you. You must be very proud of yourself.”

I know I shouldn’t read comments on news stories. I read them, though, because they give me food for thought. I think a lot of liberals are massive hypocrites. We are all exhausted by COVID-19. It’s tiresome, frustrating, and infuriating to see all of this death, destruction, divisiveness, and tragedy, especially when it seems like some of it could have been prevented. I think people should remember, though, that COVID is still a very new thing, even if it seems like the pandemic has been going on forever. Sadly, some people will not have a concept of how bad it is until they are personally affected. If those people then want to spread the word, I say “good on them”. Spill the tea! Maybe some people will change their minds and do the right thing.

Sometimes, it takes personal loss and tragedy for people to change their views. Other times, it takes exposure to new people and places. I think my views started changing when I left the country. The longer I spend outside of my native land– particularly southeastern Virginia– the more “liberal” and “godless” I seem to become. 😉 Oddly enough, I think I have a more “Christlike” view of many issues than some of the God fearing conservatives I know. I think Christ would be advocating for peace, kindness, and forbearance, rather than finger pointing and derision.

Anyway, Christy Carpenter can count on me not to cast shade on her now. I think it’s hugely commendable that she’s sharing her story, especially since so many people are unkindly reacting with rudeness, hostility, and downright meanness. I know her heart is broken, and I am truly sorry for her loss– both of her son, and her health. I do hope her story serves as a lesson for others. She may even save some lives by bravely sharing it with the masses, even though so many of them are hateful assholes.

I really don’t think this is going to get better until many more people get vaccinated. I don’t think masking and social distancing are much better than Band-Aids for this problem. The sooner people get with the program and do their part, the better off we will all be. And I hope that anyone who still doubts the efficacy and effectiveness of the vaccines will think of Carpenter, her son, Curt, and all of the others like her who have lost so much at this time. May God bless them, despite their foolish choices and ignorance.

By the way… I notice that a number of Republicans seem to be trying to change the narrative. I read another story this morning about Sarah Huckabee Sanders advocating for getting vaccinated. She wrongly referred to the shots as the “Trump vaccine”, but then rightly pointed out that the orange turd got the shots, so it was good for her to get them, too. I think Republicans are figuring out that if they don’t convince more of their followers to get vaccinated, they’re going to run out of voters.

And no, Trump does NOT get credit for the vaccines. ALL of the credit goes to scientists, healthcare workers, and public health officials– some of whom are not American. The Pfizer shots were developed right here in Mainz, Germany, about twenty minutes from where I currently live, but German scientists of Turkish descent. The orange fuckwad had NOTHING to do with it, and is not doing enough NOW to get his minions to agree to get vaccinated.

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complaints, healthcare, mental health, transportation, travel

Mental health crises are health crises, too…

A few days ago, I read an article about a green haired woman who disrupted an American Airlines flight, trying to open the doors while the plane was en route from Texas to North Carolina. She wound up being duct taped to her seat after she attacked the flight attendants trying to calm her down. Someone uploaded a TikTok video of the woman, still bound to her seat, hands behind her back and chest and mouth taped, as people got off the plane. The woman was rocking back and forth, screaming “You! You! You!” on the July 6th trip from Dallas to Charlotte.

I don’t fault the flight attendants for restraining the woman. She was obviously putting people in danger, and something drastic needed to be done. What I do take issue with is the unkind comments people made about this woman, who is clearly having some kind of a mental health breakdown. I read so many comments from unsympathetic people assuming the woman was in control of her behavior. They were calling for her to be jailed, fined, or banned from flying for the rest of her life.

A video about this situation. Apparently, this person was on the plane when this happened.

I watched the video and it’s clear to me that that the woman on the American Airlines flight was having a mental health crisis. We don’t fault people who have seizures, heart attacks, miscarriages, or strokes while flying on airplanes. Those people tend to get compassion and support, rather than derision and cruelty. Why would a crisis involving someone’s mental health be any different? This lady is clearly not rational. She needs medical help from a licensed physician. It’s the same as anyone having a medical emergency on a plane. Her situation just involves her mind, rather than her heart, lungs, or brain.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

These freaks need to be fined, spend time in a cell, and be blacklisted from public transportation for all eternity.
They’re nut jobs without a clue or a prayer. You know they’re all Republicans, too, I should add.
(I don’t know too many Republicans with green hair, but I suppose it’s possible.)

I don’t understand why this continues to be tolerated. A minimum 20-year sentence, six figure fine and lifetime inclusion on the no fly/no bus/no train/no cruise list should put the brakes on it. (Seriously? Does this person really think the woman in that video has a clue about a threatened ban?)

Is this a problem? Would have voted to duct tape her & toss her off the airliner….mid- flight. (And that would probably result in your being sucked out along with her…)

Act like a lunatic on a plane –> join the No Fly List, permanently. (Could she help it? Can you help it when you have medical emergencies?)

Agree these people should Never be allowed to fly any airline Ever !Create a No Fly List . Simple (Is that what you would like to happen to you, should you ever have the misfortune of having a mental breakdown in public?)

Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. I’m sure the entire plane was tired of her verbal vitriol. (What kind of stupid games?)

I keep thinking of that Airplane scene of the nun slapping the hysterical woman… (Ha ha, very funny, motherfucker.)

A couple of anti-mask types were on my last flight. Their anti-vax T shirts and their refusal to wear masks at the gate, as well as their arrogant, spoiling for a fight, defiant and entitled attitudes worried the rest of us. Luckily they behaved in the air, but why should anyone have to worry about this stuff? (But this lady wasn’t an “anti-mask type”. She has a mental illness and needs medical help.)

To be clear, I did not read that this woman had been belligerent, high, or drunk. I didn’t hear that she was refusing to cooperate with pandemic rules by wearing a face mask. Instead, I read that she was nervous and panicky from the beginning of the flight. She said she was claustrophobic and that, in an of itself, would indicate that she suffers from anxiety. I don’t know why she was flying, or if, for some reason, she didn’t take any meds she might have been on. The point is, she is clearly not mentally well.

Instead of realizing that she’s not well and needs medical assistance, apparently many people think she should go to jail. Some of them claim the woman “deserves” to be taped to her seat. I would submit that it was necessary to duct tape her for the safety of everyone on board. She didn’t “deserve” it, though. Saying she “deserves it” implies that she had control over herself and the situation. She obviously did not.

Over the past sixteen months of the COVID-19 nightmare, I have read a lot of lamenting from people about how “entitled”, “babyish”, “rude”, “inconsiderate”, “defiant”, and “stupid” people are for not wearing face masks or getting vaccinated. I’ve read many lectures about how wearing a mask and getting vaccinated is the “compassionate” thing to do for one’s fellow man. And yet, many of the same people who are lecturing others about being “kind” and “compassionate” by cooperatively wearing face masks and getting vaccinated are also calling for zero tolerance policies in situations like the one on the American Airlines flight. It seems to me that “zero tolerance” and “compassion and cooperation” are concepts that don’t blend well.

Instead of stopping to think about the reality of this situation and the fact that this woman was not in control of herself, some of these folks think she should just be tossed out of society. Many of them seem to think that no amount of jail time is enough. They have a “lock ’em up and throw away the key” mentality. Or, they make these kinds of statements and then forget about what they would actually mean.

I have no doubt in my mind that if the green-haired lady gets appropriate medical care for her mental illness, she’ll be alright. I’m sure she didn’t get on that plane with a solid plan to freak out and panic. It’s true that she was biting, spitting, and being violent. Some people say that counts as being “belligerent”. But all you have to do to explain that behavior is think about what happens to animals when they are scared or in pain. Instinct takes over. Even the nicest and most loving pet dog will lash out if he or she is in severe pain or terrified. The same thing happens with human beings who are in a fight or flight mode. Adrenaline kicks in, vision tunnels, and people will kick, scratch, bite, and spit in order to escape. We’re not talking about being “rational” in that state of being. That situation defies rationality.

I wish that people– especially the ones bitching about how unkind and lacking in compassion the “rule breakers” are– would stop and consider that sometimes people who break the rules are in an emergency situation. They aren’t being “rude and inconsiderate” to you when they’re having a mental health breakdown or any other medical crisis. They need competent help, kindness, and understanding. I’m sure that most people would hope and expect for the same, should they ever need medical assistance. Respect, decency, empathy, and compassion go both ways. If you expect it from other people, you should also be willing to give it to others yourself.

I hope the woman from the flight is alright now. I also hope the flight attendants who had to deal with her are alright. I’m grateful that the flight attendants were able to subdue the woman and everyone made it to Charlotte safely. They are to be commended. This story, along with the terrible responses to it, is just one more reason why I’m going to hold off on unnecessary flights for the time being. People are awful.

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