Who Dies from Flu? – CDC Does Not Really Know

Flu is everywhere this year, and nasty.  Infection rates and hospitalizations are skyrocketing.  To make things worse, short-sighted employers are bullying employees to come to work when they are still sick and infectious. This is especially dangerous in under-staffed medical facilities.  Nurses are already over their limits in patients.  The other nurses are working double shifts to cover patients of sick nurses.  For example, when a rehabilitation center forces a sick nurse to come to work, it exposes the staff, recovering patients, and their visitors.  That leads to more shortages of staff; it also infects patients, and families.  Fragile patients are very vulnerable to respiratory infections as it is.  Pile infectious staff on top of their weak immune systems and you have a recipe for death.

It does not help that individual states and the CDC do not report the actual deaths from influenza.  That is right; CDC “estimates” the number of people who die from influenza.  My question is how can they verify their estimates if they never do an actual count? (This smacks of the way the Census Bureau pads their numbers statistically, when the demographics do not suit politicians.)

Eighty to ninety percent of flu deaths are adults over age 65, yet states do not report them.  The CDC uses statistical models that extrapolate flu deaths from death certificates, because states are lax in recording the causes of death.

Death certificates usually list the last illness as the cause of death.  When a person dies from complications and infections caused or aggravated by flu, the death certificate does not show or list influenza as a cause.  Pneumonia is the most common flu-related cause of death.  That is why CDC lumps deaths from flu and pneumonia together in their cause-of-death reporting.

What would happen if states did report the over age 65 deaths involving flu?  Much larger, scarier numbers.  As it is, recent CDC estimates of flu deaths have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000 per year.  What if the real numbers were double that?

It is not like flu only happens once a decade, it happens every year, and it affects millions of people.  How much more effort would it be to put multiple causes of death on death certificates?  The doctor that “calls it” knows the causes, why not record them?

The CDC has the time and resources to track opioids and suicides, why not death from flu; and why not age 65+?  Would the more complete information on flu-related deaths improve our choices of strains included in the yearly vaccine?  So far, I cannot find any discussion on the CDC website that offers an answer.

Instead of why they cannot do better, how about why not do better?

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Transgender Quandary – Trading Stereotypes

How does a person define and demonstrate their gender identity?  What does a “man” or “woman” think and feel?  Aside from media precepts and sexual preferences, what defines man and woman in our society?

The more I read about 50 kinds of Gender Dysphoria, the less I see how people are so sure they are a specific type of person.  What does it mean to “feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body?”  Sounds dissatisfied to me.  What about a woman’s body and lifestyle do they miss and want?  What about a man’s body and way of life are in the way and undesirable?  How do they want other people to treat or not treat them?

The latest descriptions of transgender include completely internal “identification.”  That means, no physical change to the body one is born with, but just feeling and acting like the gender you are/want.  Images of what is a man and what is a woman are stereotypes.  Trading and asserting stereotypes is a mental, emotional exercise that some people feel driven to do to prove who they are.  If a male wants to love another male, we have come to accept that; likewise, if a woman wants to love another woman.  Why not see this “trans” mindset for what it is: changing costumes and characters.  Hormones and surgery are the costume change; name changes and voice training are the new role.  Why are they so important?

paper hat

When I was a child, I loved to pretend I was a pirate, a cowboy, a soldier, a fireman by changing hats and voices.  I used to make an admiral’s hat by folding a newspaper.  When I put on this hat, and picked up the stick that was my sword, I was that admiral; ordering my men to fight off the pirates.  I did not insist on a real costume or a real sword; I was what I wanted to be.  After I grew up, I dubbed this the “paper hat syndrome.”  People believe they are what they portray, even when the obvious says otherwise. I still see people using this same mental trick to “be” what they want to be at work or with friends.

“Transitioning” is expensive; tens of thousands of dollars and physical trauma for surgery, lawyers, hormones, and therapy.  After all that, some men do not make attractive women; and some women do not become convincing men.  But as long they are satisfied, I am glad for them.  I hope they are not disappointed when they do not feel as different as they expected; that could be very depressing.  It might be worth some therapy to support living the way you want with the body you already have; leave the paper hat at home.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Dementia Comes Home

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A friend for 30 years (I will use the name” Jason”) goes ballistic; Jason verbally attacks me, ranting and raving with scary yelling and gestures.  The trigger:  I have no opinions about the significance of the day after Halloween (All Saints’ Day).  The next day Jason calls like nothing happened; I remind him, he swears he does not remember; we have a normal, friendly talk, so,  I write the outburst off as several  “senior moments.”

The next week a group of mutual friends and I are at a weekly lunch meeting.  We are chatting about faux pas and embarrassing mistakes we have made.  One friend (let’s call him “Chad”) tells a humorous story about when he sent an email to his boss that was a passionate message to his wife.  We laugh and tease him, like guy friends always do.

Suddenly, Jason raises his voice and wags a finger at this “stupid screw-up.”  He rails and berates Chad until Chad gets up and walks out of the restaurant.  Then Jason follows Chad into the parking lot and beats on his window, still yelling.  Five minutes later, he comes back, smiles at everyone, and asks me if I can stay after lunch to talk about an idea he has for a photography business.  He was clear and pleasant the whole time; he was the friend I know again.

Jason’s problem becomes traumatically real to me.  Alzheimer’s, or bipolar, schizophrenia, mad cow disease, I am at a complete loss.  Does he have a brain tumor?  Has he taken some mood-altering drugs?  Is he still going to be the friend I have known all these years?  Is he some kind of hybrid being, who “identifies” differently some days, or hours?  Has old age stolen his mind?  I am confused, sad, and worried.  What should I do?

My nature is to research problems before I act.  I discover that his condition is probably medical.  Advancing age is fraught with declines, distortions, amplifications of who we are.  What people dread most, is not death; it is the loss of independence and identity.

My research yielded interesting, enlightening, conflicting, and vague ideas.  The mysteries of Alzheimer’s and Grumpy Old Man syndrome are beyond us now.  I am going to make the best suggestions I can to give Jason a chance to live independently, to retain his self-respect, and to let his friends know when he needs them.

Phase 1.  Find out what he can about what is happening to him.  Whatever it takes to know what he is dealing with.  Doctors, tests, interviews, and the lot of modern medicine.  Most likely, they will be semi-inconclusive.  Mood shifts, forgetting, risk taking, those are the symptoms.  Jason will have to choose a path, a theory, a diagnosis he can pursue.  He cannot do everything, but he can do some things.

Phase 2.  Implement the universal common denominators of healthy lifestyle.  All bids for health share wellness and mindfulness as crucial, non-pharmaceutical elements (although medication might be needed for some things).

  • Complete examination
  • Enough good:
    • Sleep
    • Hydration
    • Exercise
    • Nutrition
  • Stable daily routines
  • Thinking/learning/puzzles
  • Stress management/mindfulness
  • Social/spiritual support

Phase 3.  Comply with doctors’ orders.  Try everything long enough to be a fair trial.

  • Take all prescribed medications when and how the prescriptions direct.
  • Show up for appointments and tests
  • Give regular feedback on efficacy of treatments

Phase 4.  Accept your mortality.

  • We all exit this world, unexpectedly. Be gracious until then
  • We all get to choose our friends, revere who we love, and forgive our families
  • Acknowledge your family, friends, doctors
  • Add to that acknowledgement list
  • Do not hold back because you feel vulnerable or embarrassed

I do not think we can guess who will be our Jason, or to whom we will be a Jason.  Maybe these thoughts could help.

 

Hillary’s “Health Issues” Might Have Been Better Managed

At the time of Hillary Clinton’s departure from the 9/11 ceremony, the temperature in Manhattan was 79 degrees with 54% humidity, & wind 6-8mph.  The Government Heat Index for those conditions is 80 degrees.  90 minutes would not cause dehydration, though it might aggravate existing dehydration.

Mrs. Clinton’s complaints of overheating, and the subsequent difficulties with walking could be from a combination of medicines and dehydration.

Mr. Clinton takes medicine such as Synthroid for hypothyroidism, takes Coumadin as a blood thinner, is under great emotional stress, and has pneumonia.  She may also be dehydrated.

According to Barbara S Lougheed, author of Tired Thyroid book and website, “When someone is VERY hypothyroid, noradrenaline will kick in to compensate for the lack of thyroid hormone, which makes the person feel hot and sweaty with an elevated heart rate.“ Medicine to treat hypothyroidism such as Synthroid may have similar symptoms.

Sources of feeling overheated are discussed at http://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/hot-flash-causes#Overview1

They include:

  • Side effects of Coumadin, which Hillary takes to combat deep vein thrombosis
  • Side effects of Synthroid or similar drugs, which Hillary takes for hypothyroidism
  • Alcohol, which can also aggravate dehydration
  • Emotional Stress
  • Infections, such as flu or pneumonia

Dehydration symptoms include:

So the question is, why is Hillary suffering from these symptoms and side effects while under constant care of her physician?  The testing and regulation of Hillary’s drugs and dosages, as well as the monitoring of her hydration is her doctor’s responsibility.  The treatment of infections, including pneumonia is also her responsibility.  Vaccinations are available for the most common causes of pneumonia, including the flu; has Mrs. Clinton had those vaccinations?  There are news reports of several campaign staffers going to the emergency room for illnesses like pneumonia or flu last week.  http://www.people.com/article/hillary-clinton-staff-sick-pneumonia

I guess what I am getting at is, could these problems have been avoided by proper medical attention?  The management of the disclosures is a separate matter.

Who Examines Presidents? – Whoever They Choose

 

Americans deserve and need to know the health of our President, and our Vice-President; but we do not.

That is right:  There is no impartial national medical team for our country’s top executives, or those who seek those positions.  Each president and vice-president picks their own doctors, and decides what medical information they disclose.  In fact, several presidents have withheld and even falsified their health conditions to the public.  Kind of scary to not know the health of the most powerful politician in the world.  And, a heartbeat away, it also makes knowing the health of the Vice-President more than a casual concern.

The 25th amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides emergency options, should the president be incapacitated.  It lays out protocols for the vice president to take over, temporarily, when the president is stricken.  Why rely on such extraordinary measures when we can anticipate, and avoid problems by knowing the health of our president?  We have the technology.

In a 1993 edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association, former President Jimmy Carter advocated “the creation of a ‘nonpartisan group’ of physicians to help decide when a president’s illness affects his judgment.”   Apparently, doctors of previous presidents said presidential disability was a terrible problem.

Examples of hidden conditions:

Ronald Reagan

Reagan fought hard to dispel any rumors about his ill health, even after surviving an assassination attempt and colon cancer.  Some historians speculate the 40th president suffered from dementia  while he was in office.  He was publicly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease before his death in 2004.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy presented the image of youthful vigor, but was in chronic pain due to back troubles from a World War II injury and constantly fatigued from Addison’s Disease (a chronic insufficiency of the adrenal glands).

Franklin D. Roosevelt

FDR hid the severity of his polio until after his death in 1945. Roosevelt was barely able to stand as he governed through World War II.

Woodrow Wilson

Wilson concealed the fact that he had three minor strokes leading up to his run for the presidency.  During his second term, Wilson suffered a massive stroke that left him paralyzed and blinded on the left side of his body.  He couldn’t have a cabinet meeting for nine months.

His vice president, Thomas Marshall, refused to take over; Wilson could only manage his presidential duties with the help of his wife, Edith, who decided which issues deserved the president’s attention.

In this case voters were denied knowledge of conditions that seriously limited Wilson’s ability to govern.

William Henry Harrison

The 9th president of the United States died in his first month in office of “bilious pleurisy” which appeared as “inflamed lungs,” an “engorged liver,” and a “delirious mental state.”

We want to know that our top leaders are healthy enough to perform their vital roles.  As we approach the 2016 election, Americans are concerned that we have no reliable way to learn about the physical and mental health of the presidential candidates, and their running mates.  Right now, with no other mechanism in place, only the candidates can relieve our concerns.