Category Archives: Health care

A little Sunday night television watching

I just knew that this week’s first episode of the 5th Season of Call the Midwives on PBS would have a backstory that someone would cover and I found it in Vanity Fair.

This is my obligatory spoiler alert. If you missed it and plan to see it don’t read any further. If you’ve never seen the show I recommend trying to catch it on PBS’s online page if they go back to the first season. This is one compelling series that brings me to tears so regularly I try to hide my tears because I use more tissues than Claudia getting through it and, Damn it, I’m a guy.

The series is set in London’s East End just after the war. Sunday night I was little short of astonished when the baby depicted being birthed, cord and all, had flippers for hands and mangled legs. It almost certainly couldn’t have been CGI. The producers had found a rare infant born with the cataclysmic deformity to use in the episode. I knew immediately what it was because I was reading about it in my Scholastic magazines back in junior high school. thalidomide. It was drug used to ease the pain of morning sickness and it Japan extremely hard and I saw beautiful photographs taken of the babies with shrunken and/or missing limbs. I vaguely recall that it was mentioned in the fourth season at a time when no one had any idea what the drug would unleash overseas. The United States escaped the tragedy because our FDA hadn’t approved the drug for use here.

This particular program didn’t make me all that weepy but that might have been because my youngest grandson, a kindergartner, sat down at the beginning of the episode and watched it through with us. We had a lot of questions to answer. He grew quiet as he saw an angry father reject the baby whose limbs were not hidden from the television audience. Then again we saw the child swaddled and sweet as can be much of the time. This was a tender moment of learning that I was happy to share. It bore scant comparison with the PG-13 movies of cartoon mayhem our kids see routinely. My daughter reminded her son of Duluth’s latest phenom, Gaelynn Lee, who’s stunning musicianship brought her to the attention of the National Public Radio audience. My daughter made sure to show him the tiny concert video when it came out. Gaelynn has Brittle Bone disease but the consequences are similar.

According to the Variety article thalidomide will circle back through the season as it did all through the 1960’s when no one had any idea what brought it about.

Today its the Zika virus that threatens our newborns. Our kids will be hearing about that on the news like I heard about thalidomide.

10th Day of Christmas B

This is my Christmas jigsaw puzzle.

I’m not sure how many years I’ve taken over Claudia’s sun room to work on them but its been quite a few. This year I didn’t buy any of them while on vacation because we didn’t go anywhere. We even skipped our 40th Anniversary cruise. So, my new son-in-law saved the day with some old jigsaws of his. I put one together already and this is the second.

The keys to putting jigsaws together are shape and patience. The pieces are very subtly different from each other but a good eye will sense when one shape matches another. With a 1000 piece puzzle like this it takes patience to match all the pieces together. As you can tell I organize pieces by color to reduce the number of shapes I have to match. I’m not a super fast putter together-er but I’m dogged and disciplined.

I’d given up putting the School Board together until a better angel showed up and tried his hand at it and was dashed against the hard rocks of No. I thought we were doomed but last night’s meeting inspired me to think of another route to peace. Like my jigsaws it will require patience and a good eye for what pieces can be fitted together.

I had been thinking Christmas Eve was my deadline for finding peace but now I’m thinking New Year’s Day. If you are tired of the Soap Opera please wish me luck. Everyone on the School Board is a good person. We should get a new year to prove it. Our children deserve to have grown ups on the school board.

Pulling our trousers down

Prepare yourself for a little TMI. Not up on your acronyms? TMI = “too much information.” And to start this post at 2AM here’s a little for you in preparation for the next post that can’t let me get back to sleep at 2AM this morning.

I vividly recall my visit to the Mankato State Health Center for a syphilis shot. The Doctor there was the mother of a friend of mine from high school. That would have been about 1971. I say syphilis but frankly I’m not sure what she treated me for. Maybe it was that other disease Gonorrhea. The later was no big deal then but it is today as an incurable strain seems to be busy infecting the careless.

I found out that I had been exposed to one or the other by my first lover, a much older woman. She was hugely embarrassed to tell me this but she did and I was nothing if not incredibly sympathetic with her and I took the information with aplomb assuring her that it was no big deal. I’ll still confessed to being chagrinned to realize that the Doctor about to give me a shot in my tush was the mother of a friend. There are a few things all of us really don’t want the mother’s of our friends to know about us.

Perhaps the reason I could be so chivilrous had to do with my attitude about secrecy and a movie I had seen back in junior high school. I say movie but I could be wrong. It might have been a television production but I rather think it was a 1950’s black and white movie. Just now I tried to google it but was unsuccessful. I found the startling (for 1940) movie Dr. Ehrlich’s Magic Bullet. I may have seen this but its not the movie I was looking for. Then there is 1997 made for TV movie I’d not heard of about the infamous study of black Mississippi men who were never told they had syphilis so that they could be studied until they died of the disease. There are also a couple movies about Gonorrhea.

Here’s what I recall about the movie I had watched back in about seventh grade, although I might have seen it in grade school. A doctor was trying to prevent the spread of the disease, S or G, but it wasn’t easy. To do this he had to get victims to tell him who they had had sex with. This was necessary to find them and treat them. Funny, but the folks in the movie didn’t want to cooperate even though the result of non cooperation was possibly fatal to unnamed sex partners. Not surprisingly I took the doctor’s point of view which is what the makers of the movie had in mind for their audience. Consequently I was inclined to take my lover’s revelation quite evenly.

What started me thinking about this was an NPR story on “information aversion” I heard a couple days ago. The story only referenced sex in passing:

VEDANTAM: That’s right. It’s the idea that information can sometimes be scary. And in those cases, people can sometimes avoid that kind of information. I did a story a couple of weeks ago that looked at college students who didn’t want to find out that they had sexually transmitted diseases for example.

The issue in the story was about the surprising finding that women who knew someone who got breast cancer were less likely to have mammograms than those who did not have such acquaintances. I think my biggest problem on the school board is Information Aversion. I have a majority of the school board who don’t want to know how we got from some truly great educational opportunities for our children to piss poor after spending half a billion (or six hundred million) on brand spanking new buildings. How great is this aversion? Cripes, they’d rather frame the most rigorous investigator on the Board of bullshit accusations in order to remove him than peek under the Chairman’s carpet.

We’ve got syphilis, folks, and we need to get a shot for it. We better be prepared to pull our trousers down to get it just like I had to forty-five years ago.

Bullying Awareness Prevention Month…

…is October.

I do not have all the facts of this next story. It is a sobering story both tragic and a bit of a mystery. Its a tragedy because one of our students in the Duluth Schools took his life this September. It is a mystery because, apparently the School District and the Duluth Police are investigating the details and one or the other have requested the grieving family to make no statements. It would be easy for me to criticize the District and it has apparently had the affect of angering the family.

I first heard about the death a month ago at our church’s worship service. A boy had taken his life and acquaintances asked for prayers for the family. It was a surprise to me as I’d heard no news of the death in the local press. This could have been for good reason. There are often copy cat suicides, in fact, a few years ago three Duluth students took their lives in quick succession in something of a domino effect.

I’m not sure how I divined that the death was a suicide but at the Health Forum I made some light of two weeks ago I did mention that a suicide had taken place in one of our schools. I couldn’t say that overcrowded classrooms were to blame but I did point out that under the crowded situation in our schools it would be much easier for a troubled child to be overlooked by teachers swimming in students.

Then the student’ Aunt wrote a letter published last week by the Reader Weekly. I read it at the time and wondered at the unusual venue for the letter. It wasn’t in the paper of record for Duluth, the Tribune. It was in the alternative publication. I don’t have a copy of the letter at hand but I received an email from a friend of the family who wrote that the powers that be were trying to hush up the story. This may not be an unreasonable request. An investigation is underway and it would be premature to draw conclusions. Evidently the boy wrote a suicide note pointing the blame at another student who was characterized as a bully. The police seized the letter and no more has been heard from anyone about the course of the investigation. This has left a sour taste with the boy’s family.

All I know is that a child has died and the general public is unaware of this. It is ironic that it should have happened days before Bullying Awareness Prevention Month.

I wasn’t kidding about being too clean

In my August 2nd Not Eudora column I joked that the real reason for our health maladies was not vaccinations but too much hygiene or cleanliness……..only I wasn’t really joking.

Take a listen to this NPR report on the microbes that make us more of an ecosystem than a stand alone critter. If you’ve heard people are suffering from more allergies and obesity this could be the explanation. And don’t even get me started on hookworms.

Demographics #1

I’d heard recently that American women’s longevity, which for so long exceeded men, was beginning to wane and men were catching up.

That is what this map suggests.

I found it on the Daily Dish with some interesting analysis.

What I noticed about the map is that the locals where women’s longevity is taking the greatest hit also seem to be the rural Red States that have been voting Republican. This raises lots of cause and affect questions for me.

Death in the modern world

I spent a long time looking at this graph. Its seems to suggest that war has become a less likely cause of death in today’s world. If so it might be the result of the world’s citizens getting more education or becoming more invested in a middle class way of life.

I found it on Sully.

I’d like to think so. I finished reading The Book Thief a week ago when I first started this post. Its a thoughtful and engrossing muse by Death on the state of humanity as he saw in Germany during World War II.

At the same time a story appeared in the news of bodies being found in a Syrian Drainage Canal dumped their by their murderers but exposed as the canal ran dry. Death’s work is not yet finished.

He was also busy in the early years of the settlement of the English settlement of the North American colonies according to the history in The Barbarous Years.

I’m sure that death will never get a break. Perhaps after war finally crawls back behind the ploughshare Death will start picking up our spirits following the outbreak of a some pandemic spawned by the stockyards of the world which seem to be engineering killer bacteria that are immune to our dwindling supply of new antibiotics.

Two workers on staff in my Mom’s wing

I went to sing to my Mother this morning. I took a bunch of new songs including one I just found that she used to sing to me.

Playmate. These are the words:

Say, say, oh playmate,
Come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three
Climb up my apple tree

Shout down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more more more more more

Say, say, oh playmate
I cannot play with you
My dolly’s got the flu
Boo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo

Ain’t got no rain barrel
Ain’t got no cellar door
But we’ll be jolly friends
Forever more

I had a jolly time too. But when I left the staffer who had to prepare Mother to go to lunch looked especially haggard. I asked her why and she explained that there were now only two people working on my Mother’s ward of broken down seniors. I asked her how many there had been and she said three and occasionally four. Budget cuts.

Republicans! Remember with all your life is sacred rhetoric that if its so sacred you ought to be prepared to treat it that way with higher taxes. Democrats! Remember soon we baby boomers will swell senior care facilities and drain every last dollar from the next generation if you are too giving.

Watching Minnesota’s odd but reasonalbe Governor Dayton I’m reassured that some Democrats are picking up on the value of balance. He just cut funding for the wildly superfluous extension of the Northstar Train to Duluth.

Sorry Ken B. but good luck on your competitive dancing.

“A government with the power to force us to buy health insurance can also force restaurants to serve black people.” From Bruce Bartlet’s Facebook Page (apparently)

I suspect the former Geo W Bush economic advisor turned critic is being ironic.

Bill Gates has one smart wife

From the Daily Beast:

Gates believes that by focusing on the lives of women and children, and by making it clear that the agenda is neither coercive population control nor abortion, the controversy over international family-planning programs can be defused. Right now, she points out, 100,000 women annually die in childbirth after unintended pregnancies. Six hundred thousand babies born to women who didn’t want to be pregnant die in the first month of life. “She is somebody who really sees this as a public-health necessity,” says Melanne Verveer, the United States ambassador at large for global women’s issues. “I think she believes, and I hope she is right, that people of different political persuasions can come together on this issue.”

This is one of the Reasons the RINOs were hounded out of the GOP

To prevent them, our Senator David Durenberger and a host of others included, from introducing a law like the one President Obama got passed.

They will pass laws forcing a woman to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound scan but they’ll let her child die without insurance after it is born. I guess that’s their idea of God’s will.

This Republican proposal sounds a little like gang rape

Virginia Republicans know a good cause deserving of becomeing law:

Virginia House has passed a bill that would require women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion. In many cases (most, in fact) that would mean having what’s called a “transvaginal ultrasound,” in which a probe is inserted into a pregnant woman’s vagina to get the necessary image. This may just seem like an attempt to punish women who choose to have an abortion and a way to make the procedure even less attractive than it already is—and there may be some element of that involved—but there is a medical reason for the transvaginal ultrasound, at least, if an ultrasound is required by law. Most abortions are conducted at a period during pregnancy when the fetus may be too small to be properly seen with the “jelly-on-the-belly” ultrasound.

The GOP’s business…

…is not a lady’s business. Apparently:

This morning, Democrats tore into House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) for preventing women from testifying before a hearing examining the Obama administration’s new regulation requiring employers and insurers to provide contraception coverage to their employees.

Some of these old misogynists ought to be paying more attention to their base in Mississippi.

Sweet Poison

My Buddy sends me this indictment of sugar

The background is well-known: In the United States, more than two-thirds of the population is overweight, and half of them are obese. About 80 percent of those who are obese will have diabetes or metabolic disorders and will have shortened lives, according to the UCSF authors of the commentary, led by Robert Lustig. And about 75 percent of U.S. health-care dollars are spent on diet-related diseases, the authors said.

perhaps in response to this post.

I will add that while I was on the School Board I discovered that all our our secondary principals were addicted to the money from the vending machines that provided lots of sugary goodies to our students.

Don’t read this post’s link unless you have a strong stomach and…

…a scientifically curious mind.

Here’s a hint on what’s at the other end of this link. A number of years ago I was grossed out by a chimpanzee at a zoo. This chimp casually stuck his/her finger into another Chimp’s nose and sucked the retrieved prize off his/her finger afterwards. Could there be a biological advantage for having done this? That’s what the link discusses.

In a related hint. When I was a kid I used to watch a sort of early reality program called Bold Journeys. It was comprised of expensive home movies taken by mostly American world travelers as they ventured into regions then far removed from the “civilized” world. In one movie a circle of Amazonian women were sitting around a large earthenware pot as they chewed leaves. Every so often they took turns spitting into the pot. The narrator explained that much like setting sour dough bread out in the air to catch wild yeast to enable it to rise these women were creating a juice which would use their saliva to ferment the jar’s contents thereby creating an alcoholic beverage which the entire village could enjoy.

Fifty years later I’m still recovering from that information.