My nightmarish experience with objective tinnitus, and how my solution to it manifests one of the flaws of ObamaCare
Most of my books and websites were written during and after my ER career filled with night and rotating shifts that gave me a nightmarish problem with insomnia, compounded by a genetic (it runs in my family) susceptibility to nocturnal objective tinnitus. Unlike ordinary subjective tinnitus, in which a person perceives a buzzing sound in the absence of any stimuli, objective tinnitus results from repeated rapid spasmodic contraction of one of the middle ear muscles. It sounded—and felt—as if an enraged yellow jacket was deep in my ear canals, buzzing its wings with all its might. I'd rarely have this during the daytime; instead, it would awaken me as soon as I entered anything deeper than a light sleep, like a built-in alarm clock. Once the buzzing began, it would go on for hours. Bzzzz, bzzz, bzzzzzzzzzz, bzzzz, bzzzzzzzzz.
I could sometimes drown out the sound by cranking up the volume on my white noise machine, but nothing could mask the sensation that resulted from the rhythmic muscle twitching. Perhaps once every two or three years I'd have a restful night of sleep, but the other nights were horrible. I'd usually drag myself out of bed at 4 AM after realizing that more sleep wasn't in the cards, still painfully exhausted, drag myself through the day, go to bed at midnight, endure dozens of awakenings that left me with only a couple hours of light sleep, and repeat the same cycle night after night, month after month, year after year.
I scoured the medical literature and didn't find any helpful advice. I saw an ENT specialist, who gave me two options: surgically cut the tendons to the affected muscles, or put me on a drug that suppressed the spasms. I tried the latter, but the side effects were terrible.
I visited the American Tinnitus Association website and was underwhelmed by what I found. I just wanted the torture to stop, but the experts needed more expertise to help me.
I did my best to put up with this problem, but it continued, getting even louder and more forceful in terms of the buzzing sensations (probably due to muscle hypertrophy, like what results from hitting the gym every day).
I grew so weary of the profound chronic exhaustion that I considered something very desperate, but then I found natural ways to control the tinnitus without taking anything and without the barbaric “cut the tendon” surgery.
Excerpt from Crew Schedules, Sleep Deprivation, and Aviation Performance: “In one study, F-117 pilots were deprived of one night of sleep and then were tested on precision instruments. Not only did pilot errors on those instruments double after one night of sleep loss, pilots reported feeling depressed and confused.”
Comment: Imagine what years of sleep deprivation can do!
Incidentally, doctors were of no help in solving the other major difficulties I faced, such as a cardiac arrhythmia (secondary to a medicine) that almost killed me, and a decimation of my libido (secondary to another med, Accutane) so severe that I lost my desire to date and marry. I solved all of those problems, and others, on my own after doctors impressed me with their lack of knowledge and inability to help. Incidentally, note how modern medicine couldn't cure my problems, but it caused them.
Across the nation and around the world, many millions of people suffer because of what modern medicine is doing to them (causing problems) and cannot do for them (cannot solve their problems). While I appreciate the good it does, modern medicine isn't just a friend; it is also an enemy. It does more good than harm, but most people are too forgiving of the harm it causes. If terrorists produced comparable suffering and death, we would bomb them back into the Stone Age.
Most people are also too forgiving of the limitations of modern medicine. If auto mechanics struck out as often as doctors, people would scream about their incompetence. When doctors figuratively swing and miss, most of their errors are due to the limitations of medical science. If auto mechanics were similarly clueless, they'd see many parts they didn't really understand or know how to fix. They'd squirt Bondo into cylinders that needed more compression. They'd get more compression, alright, but they'd trigger many side effects, too.
The primary flaw of modern medicine is intellectual arrogance: smugly dripping with a conviction they're so darn smart, so incredibly knowledgeable, and so infallible that it is positively insane to dare question their superiority and whether their approach to health is the best one. Ironically, the humble doctor—one cognizant of his or her limitations—is widely held in the field of medicine to be the epitome of professionalism that all doctors should emulate.
However, that is about as realistic as most Disney movies. The only humble doctors I recall are ones with good reason to be humble; even average doctors often have monumental egos and a belief they are God's right hand man or woman, if not God himself. Doctors usually try to hide their egos from patients, but some act like prima donnas to nurses. My girlfriend, formerly a nurse, says the doctors she worked with in a supposedly Top 100 hospital often screamed at her or her co-workers, without provocation or justification, especially if they were women. The screamers seemed to think having an MD after their names entitled them to turn nurses into virtual punching bags for venting their frustrations.
The pervasive intellectual arrogance of medicine and doctors who practice it is harming and even killing patients. That arrogance often blinds them to their limitations and how they could be overcome.
Does anyone believe that modern medicine has all the answers?
No one with a shred of common sense would think so.
Does anyone believe that allopathic or osteopathic medical schools and postgraduate residency programs teach all or even most of the information doctors should know to maximally benefit patients?
Most doctors would say YES, but that is just a manifestation of their intellectual arrogance and proof that they were successfully brainwashed in medical school into thinking that the path to health is paved with drugs, surgery, and medical devices. I am not opposed to drugs, surgery, or medical devices, but after years of learning about health, I am convinced that doctors overlook most information that could help people feel better, think better, look better, and perform better. With that information, they'd be happier, healthier, more successful, and live longer. Ironically, research substantiating those benefits is found in mainstream medical and scientific journals, but physicians often reflexively dismiss the value of anything that isn't a drug, operation, or medical device.
I scour the medical literature more than most doctors because in working on an invention or writing a book, I often need to know much more than what doctors learn in their training. In writing my sex book (which is also about health, given that health is vital to sex), I've spent up to a week reading over a hundred articles just to decide if there was enough evidence for me to include A SINGLE WORD in The Science of Sex. Contrary to the half-baked assertions of the smear merchants at Media Matters who do not thoroughly research topics before writing about them, I do, with painstaking attention to detail. Most of the information I obtain from scientific journals isn't known by average people or even physicians, and some of it sounds so incredible that it is natural to be skeptical of it, but it isn't snake oil, but solid information presented by reputable researchers from reputable and often prestigious universities. The tragedy is that 99.9% of that helpful information (some of which you'd give your right arm for) is overlooked by doctors.
Years ago, I was flying with my boss (my smart boss, not the quack boss I criticize in some articles) in his plane when out of the blue he mentioned how disappointed he was that sex with his wife wasn't nearly as pleasurable as it once was. Since sexual pleasure is a big part of the glue that binds men and women together, it isn't surprising that this created a strain in their marriage. His wife was very intelligent, also a physician, a nice person, and strikingly attractive, but he seemed as happy with her as I am with many made-in-China things I buy.
At that time, I could do nothing more than lend a sympathetic ear, because Accutane—a prescription acne drug I took many years before—did such an amazing job of erasing my libido and destroying my sexual pleasure that I had a difficult time recalling what sexual pleasure felt like. I saw a urologist and neurologist who lightened my wallet but didn't solve my problem.
Frustrated by what modern medicine couldn't do for me, I spent years researching sex, finding a mountain of scientific evidence that grew into The Science of Sex. Along with some interesting discoveries I made on my own, I learned to make sex better than it was before I took Accutane. Over two decades after most men are past their sexual prime, I went from being sexually crippled by Accutane to having pleasure that easily exceeded my best teenage day. When I heard various doctors claim there are no effective aphrodisiacs, I was stunned by their unfathomable ignorance and arrogance that blinded them.
Unfortunately for patients, many mainstream doctors neglect more than helpful sexual information that people would love to know; they also overlook tips that could help them lose weight easily and control or even prevent many diseases and deaths. For example, a distant friend of mine died after contracting what began as a cold in one of her children. The child recovered quickly and uneventfully, but the mother died when the infection spread to her heart. She was in her early 30s and still beautiful, but dead as a doornail.
Given that vitamin D can boost immunity and help prevent or minimize various infectious diseases, I wonder if she would be alive today had she taken supplemental vitamin D or had more sun exposure. There's a good chance of that.
Vitamin D may have also saved the life of John Francis Dodge, one of the richest men in America, who died at age 56 from pneumonia resulting from the Spanish flu. He went from living in a mansion that made Bill Gates's home look like a shack to spending eternity in a grave, dying decades too early. Scientists now know that inexpensive vitamin D, or free vitamin D from the sun, can help prevent influenza and other infections.
Another auto tycoon, Henry Ford II, died of pneumonia at age 70, ironically in Henry Ford Hospital that is filled with doctors who know plenty of medicine, but not nearly enough health.
One of my relatives, Ellen “Nell” Arthur, wife of Chester Alan Arthur, President of the United States from 1881 to 1885, died of pneumonia in January of 1880 at age 42.
Carly Glynn, a stunningly beautiful 19-year-old college student, died from meningitis (according to preliminary reports; later ones said she died of meningococcemia), which horribly injures or kills many young people every year.
Carly: the inspiration for a new medical specialty
Judging by her photo and text information available online, Carly did things that heightened her risk of acquiring meningitis or meningococcemia. Some of her friends and family do the same things. Should I tell them? No, according to what I learned in medical school. Unless someone is already a patient, we're taught to not offer advice.
I disagree. I've seen many people endangering themselves and their children. By not keeping silent, I've saved lives. In some cases, the people had already seen their family and other doctors, who misdiagnosed the problems. I made the correct diagnosis and suggested they see specialists, who agreed with me and ordered the correct treatment. I would do the same thing for people I spot online, but that is risky because some people are ticking time bombs ready to explode (for an example of this, read about Facebook Nut #2 in Was the next Jared Loughner on my Facebook friend list?).
Doctors rarely see patients outside of clinical settings. By observing people living their lives elsewhere, such as at home, work, or school, bright and perceptive physicians could quickly detect behavior that increases the risk of various diseases and injuries. Cautioning such people could not only save lives but many billions of dollars—enough to make healthcare much more affordable. However, medicine typically attracts inside-the-box people, many of whom lack the imagination needed to create novel ways to help people so they don't become patients. Staying safe and healthy is always preferable to even the best healthcare, yet doctors—who should be leaders committed to doing everything possible to combat health risks—sit on their hands.
I propose a new medical specialty in which doctors would spot people, online or in the real world, doing things that may potentially harm them or others. Such physicians would need to be courageous and thick-skinned to deal with histrionic people who negatively overreact to helpful advice, but as our nation struggles to pay for healthcare, I think it is high time we consider innovative ways to control costs without rationing or other cutbacks.
Would such a specialty be cost-effective? Yes. One such doctor could help hundreds of people per week, so the cost per intervention would be very low. Even if most people ignored the advice (and they likely would), such specialists per career could save hundreds or thousands of lives and help prevent countless diseases and injuries.
The value of these roaming doctors would be amplified if they were (as I was) trained in ACLS and ATLS, and skilled in emergency medicine. While working in a busy ER that handled codes (cardiopulmonary resuscitations) every day, I've gone over 18 months without losing one patient while other ER docs put patient after patient into the ground. The vast majority of codes are not successful, but my “batting average” (so to speak) in saving those patients was substantially better than average. We followed the same basic script (the ACLS algorithms for resuscitating patients in cardiac arrest), yet the outcomes were vastly different.
Why? ACLS is poorly taught and woefully incomplete. Passing the course is no guarantee of competency in treating real patients, who often can be saved only by knowing much more than what is taught in ACLS courses. Most people who pass the ACLS course and think they know what they are doing are wrong. I could teach other doctors what I know about codes, but American medicine is not focused on maximizing excellence; it is focused on silly badges and certifications: pieces of worthless paper when your heart stops and your doc just goes through the motions using the ACLS cookbook script that usually fails.
Could we achieve comparable benefits by putting more paramedics on the streets? No, because the content in my VACLS (Very Advanced Cardiac Life Support) course would include information that only doctors would understand. I'm not trying to be an intellectual snob about this, but there is a reason why we go to medical school. By the way, I'd impose a prerequisite limiting the class to docs who graduated in the top 10% of their med school classes. Guess why?
With the value of a human life in the United States typically judged to be millions of dollars, one doctor earning perhaps $6 million in his or her career could save the healthcare system much more than that and save lives worth billions of dollars. That's not just cost-effective, but no-brainer cost-effective, yet inside-the-box brains wouldn't see the merit in such a preventive strategy.
Despite all the lip service Americans give to valuing new ideas and those who generate them, we're often allergic to the former and eager to lambaste the latter; see my article on Ridiculing good new ideas.
Polymath Nathan Myhrvold remarked that a friend of his said that “you can’t do anything new in the world without being misunderstood.” True. History abounds with examples of how brilliant innovators were scorned and ridiculed. The best way to harmonize with the world and especially those who control it is to meekly accept its myriad imperfections. Spineless people do that, while courageous people pave the way to a brighter future.
A young woman's beautiful face was disfigured by meningococcal septicemia that triggered disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC).
Another beautiful college student, Krista Depew, died from meningococcal meningitis, evidently the same subtype that killed Carly Glynn. A Web search indicated that she sometimes engaged in the same behavioral characteristic that heightened Carly's risk of acquiring meningitis. The medical myth about meningitis is that vaccines and antibiotics are all people need to minimize their risk—wrong! A local elementary student, Allee Romeo, died from pneumococcal meningitis that reportedly “started as a strep infection in her ear.”
Yet another very pretty college student, Sara Stelzer, with a meningococcal infection died years later—plenty of time for colleges to change their hidebound ways so they encourage students to do what is best for their health and academic performance, not mindless tradition.
What's up with all these news reports of attractive people dying of meningitis?
The media are more likely to report deaths of young attractive people (explaining why almost everyone knows about Holly Bobo's murder but almost no one knows about the equally tragic murder of my father—one manifestation of the missing white woman syndrome), but is another factor at play?
Perhaps. During college, I did my inept best to get close to women and did so with a grand total of one. We're still friends, but just friends. Had I been attractive, others would have flocked to me as if I were a magnet, getting closer and closer so we could kiss or just nuzzle cheek-to-cheek for the now-popular selfies.
Close physical proximity helps spread meningococcal infections, so connect the dots: more beauty, more physical proximity more often, more infections, more deaths, more news reports.
The following video brought tears to my eyes:
Besides vaccines, researchers think that vitamin D may also help prevent meningitis (and likely meningococcemia, too); see this patient-friendly summary or The novel role of vitamin D in the fight against gram negative bacterial meningitis. If you want some outside-the-box but effective tips for preventing various infectious diseases, contact me.
Actress Nicole DeHuff died at age 30 from pneumonia. Before that, whenever friends asked how she was doing, she would smile and say she was “Living the dream. I'm living the dream.” Her dream ended in a nightmare: getting a casket before getting her first wrinkle.
|What do John Francis Dodge, Horace Elgin Dodge, Nicole DeHuff, Ellen Arthur, and Carly Glynn have in common?|
|They all died in the wintertime from infections that could have been prevented by vitamin D, the levels of which drop during that time of year.|
Pneumonia killed many other famous people, often even young ones, in addition to felling countless folks who were less well known. If you total the staggering number of other infections and diseases that vitamin D could have prevented, then add in the many billions of people who could have been helped by other nutritional and lifestyle factors given short shrift by doctors who dispense prescription pills like candy, you know why I loathe doctors who think they have better things to do than to learn about health—a topic glossed over in medical schools that are too busy indoctrinating students into thinking that all they need to know about health centers on drugs, vaccines, surgery, medical devices, and flip lip service about weight loss dispensed by doctors whose often bloated bodies attest they don't know enough about that subject to help themselves, let alone their patients.
Bill Hates is still living, but one look at him is all it takes to know he is aging prematurely. He surely has enough money to hire the best doctors, but given his inside-the-box myopia, his doctors are likely typical inside-the-box docs who aren't telling him even 10% of what they should. That may seem like a brash assertion, but I could easily prove it, and Hates and his family could live longer, happier, healthier lives, but Hates would rather that he and his kids die earlier than admit that his inside-the-box approach to health is wrong.
I used to bake under the sun for years mowing yards from early morning to evening without a hat or sunscreen, and when I'd go home, I wore out several ultraviolet lamps frying my skin in a desperate attempt to control my acne, but I look younger than he does even though I've had a much more stressful life. That began with my Dad breaking my Mom's body and continued with stress over their divorce (see Violence Puts Wear and Tear On Kids' DNA based on Exposure to violence during childhood is associated with telomere erosion from 5 to 10 years of age: a longitudinal study), then stress over poverty that resulted from him not paying child support, then stress over being called “nigger nose,” “nigger lips,” and “bucky” by kids who made fun of my appearance, then stress when they beat me up (evidently name-calling wasn't enough), then stress over lack of food so bad that I sometimes starved and developed two diseases resulting from inadequate nutrition and other disease from no medical care that damaged my heart. One of my knees became so painfully swollen that it was stiff as a board, and other joint pain was so agonizing that it interfered with sleep. A second-grade bicycle accident scraped the skin off my face, producing the largest scab I ever saw, but I got just a washcloth, not a doctor or anything to put on it. Another accident scraped the skin over a knee so deeply it took months to grow back, from the edges. The tacit message in our home was that people with money got medical care; we usually didn't have money, so we usually didn't have medical care.
My tormentors also called me “Mr. Magoo” because I was legally blind without Coke-bottle glasses that I was so ashamed of wearing (because of their taunts) that I didn't wear them. Result? I couldn't see what teachers wrote on the chalkboard unless I pushed on the lateral aspect of my right eye with a finger. This proved to be a problem because I am right-handed, so I'd push on my eye, look at the board, pick up my pencil to write, put it down to push on my eye more, all day long, every school day, until driver's ed in high school forced me to wear glasses in public.
I acquired the wrath of a racist at school who hated me after I revealed who my favorite sports star was. For years, I worried that he would follow through on his threats to beat me up—all because I admired a black baseball player!
All that stress gave me an ulcer in high school that created a dime-sized hole on the back wall of my duodenum that produced so much blood loss I'd sometimes break out in a cold sweat when my body pumped out adrenaline and noradrenaline in a desperate attempt to maintain my blood pressure.
After years of popping pimples and their precursors one to two hours per day, my face looked like it had been hit by a couple of blasts from a double-barreled shotgun. I was so horrified by my appearance—and still so poor—that I performed dermabrasion on myself, literally sanding off my facial skin, using dirty old sandpaper that had been sitting on a garage shelf for years.
I grew up in an area where there were more guns than people with common sense, one of whom shot me because he wanted to see what it was like to shoot a person. I think he enjoyed it more than I did.
Thanks to poverty, and professors who wouldn't teach me unless they were very well paid, I drove cars so rusty they were transparent in spots, with bald tires and brakes that
frightened me scared the shit out of me. After living for two weeks on a half-jar of peanut butter, I looked forward to going home for Thanksgiving, but my tires had so little traction I couldn't make it up snowy hills.
After I wore out a brake pad on the front passenger's side of that car, the pad's steel backing plate welded to the rotor, locking that wheel. I could drive that car on paved roads only by putting the passenger-side wheels on the shoulder so the tire could skid along the gravel shoulder.
Another car wouldn't move in cold weather until I warmed it up for 45 minutes, so I wasted plenty of time in medical school.
When I graduated, I found that being a perfectionist in overly busy, high-acuity emergency departments made the stress of my other jobs seem like a walk in the park. I had mothers rush in, hand me their blue babies as if they were hot potatoes, and I never lost one, though I always worried I would. I simultaneously treated dozens of ER patients (see what 15 minutes in the ER is like), many doing their best to die, and many screaming, acting out, or threatening to kill me and the nurses.
In other articles, I described more difficulties I faced, such as being abused by a welfare worker during my childhood, being ridiculed in class by my sixth-grade teacher who said I was “slow,” and being called a “retarded boy” while I delivered newspapers. While I am proud I overcame them, all that stress undoubtedly took a toll on my body. In contrast, when an interviewer asked Bill Hates if he ever worried about anything, he smugly smiled and said, “Mmm, not really” (or words to that effect) as if he were a man who had everything with not a care in the world. His wealthy father put a silver spoon in Bill's mouth at an early age, so Hates and people like him cannot imagine what it is like to ensure stress that lasts for decades, with one stress ending only to be replaced by another … or two … or three.
In spite of Hates's lack of stress and my off-the-scale perennial problems, he still looks like he's been through a meat grinder while I look like I've had an easy life—and usually act that way, too, with my psychologist girlfriend absolutely amazed at my almost perpetual good mood except when I am venting my spleen online.
Hates could always afford the best food, while I've gone years without a single vegetable (unless you consider ketchup to be a vegetable, not a condiment) and eaten food my Mom found on the side of the road. I sometimes survived by eating free packets of sugar and coffee creamer.
Hates could always live in the healthiest homes, while I lived in one with peeling lead paint that I scraped off (without a mask or gloves) while perched up to 2½ stories high on a rickety wooden ladder while I was in junior high school. Add in the other lead I was exposed to, and it is a wonder I could tie my shoes!
Appearing on CNBC's The Big Idea show, NBC's Ann Curry astutely noted, “Success is not what you have gained; success is how hard you had to work to get it.”
In other words, what you had to overcome to achieve success determines your level of it.
With that as a preface, you know why I cringe when Hates feels qualified to lecture the world when his foremost accomplishment was amassing a fortune for selling third-rate software—software so pathetic it exasperated even him!
With that as a preface, you also know why I loathe doctors, hospitals, and pharmacies who go on and on about the flu vaccine but say little or nothing about vitamin D and other things that could do far more for people.
Hates thinks he is an expert on everything he puts his mind to just because he has so much money no one has the courage to tell him otherwise, except for various people on the Internet who laugh at Hates when they aren't laughing at his software—or crying about it. In Proof that SOME rich have a larger slice of the pie than they deserve, I presented examples of how even brilliant people can go bonkers after using Microsoft software. Even Hates.
Most physicians think they are experts with unassailable knowledge just because they have a doctorate degree, but as someone who graduated in the top 1% of my medical school class, I can assure you that mastery of medicine is usually just a stamp of approval that one successfully completed years of training in a system subsidized by pharmaceutical manufacturers who use money and gorgeous drug reps to persuade professors and students that the best approach to preventing and controlling disease is with prescription drugs. The average doctor knows as little about optimizing health as I do about writing Twitter-length postings.
If you knew half of what I do about health, you would be astonished that doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and the government would have the gall to think that only mainstream allopathic or osteopathic medicine was worthy of reimbursement. If homebuilders were similarly misguided about building energy efficient homes, they would install triple-pane windows but not bother closing them, installing insulation, or even a furnace.
Modern medicine is part miracle and part hoax, with drug companies paying medical whores to fudge data to make their products seem more helpful and less harmful than they really are. Pharmaceutical manufacturers use their megabucks to influence politicians, the media, and others. The ultimate goal is to trick patients into believing that drugs are the answer to health. The federal government is so assured of this that they pay billions to quacks who prescribe antibiotics for viral infections and hepatotoxic acetaminophen to kids every time they sniffle, along with mind-altering drugs prescribed when many kids are just being kids. However, the government won't pay me $20—or even a dime—even if I hand you a book packed with information that could prevent, minimize, or postpone most diseases. This misguided approach to health is killing us, but almost everyone just wants to keep doing what they've been doing as their bodies expand like inflated balloons while they feel like crap while I, who had a hellacious life, feel like a million dollars compared to many people my age, some of whom look old enough to be my parents.
Politicians don't care about optimizing your health, appearance, or mood; they care about pleasing their big-business masters: drug companies and medical organizations filled with doctors with a vested interest in continuing to dupe the public into thinking that they have all the health answers we need. Far from it! For them to make that claim is as ludicrous as a bartender claiming he was the only friend you'll ever need. Just sit at my bar and drink my booze. Who could ask for anything more?
In the case of medicine, who could ask for more is anyone perceptive enough to realize that we need more than modern medicine if we want to be healthy and feel wonderful. Since doctors are too busy to give patients the health information they need, and patients are too busy to learn what they need to know, I invented a way to give it to them that's fun and easy, saving them time and money, and many trips to the doctor. Once released, my device will likely do more than anything in history to improve health and happiness, but outwardly it seems to have little to do with health. I predict that in the decades to come, doctors will have so much free time (with fewer patients) that they will finally have the time to learn about health, but by then, patients will have little need for getting their health info from doctors.
Across the nation and around the world, many millions of people suffer because of what modern medicine cannot do for them. This is one of the many flaws of ObamaCare. Obama and Congress want your money, and they want to tell you what type of care you can get. If you had objective tinnitus, they might pay for you to see an ENT doc who could offer you surgery that was expensive and debilitating (those middle ear muscles have an important function!), or you could take a drug the rest of your life that made you feel like crap. Obama and Congress would not give you the freedom to have your healthcare dollars pay me a small amount for a one-time consultation that would enable you to control the problem without surgery or drugs: a much better solution at much less cost.
Most surgery and many drugs do more good than harm, but every helpful medical therapy is not taught in medical school. There is definitely a need for medical innovation, but anything outside the mainstream medical box will come out of your pocket, if you can afford it. Or you can consider the desperate measure I contemplated after a quarter century of sleep deprivation that made life miserable. Obama won't care. His goal is not health care, but health control. We will pay for it in more ways than one.
Liberty and freedom are the opposite of coercion: being forced to do what you might not want to do. Isn't America supposed to be the land of the free, not the land of the controlled? Micromanagement of our lives is extreme and ever increasing, with us losing more freedom and the government and bureaucrats gaining more power.
Justifiably incensed by the loss of our freedoms, I've passionately written about these erosions of liberty and the politicians who like citizens best when they are shackled by byzantine laws and regulations, many of which are asinine and unconstitutional. This loss of freedom is no figment of my imagination. The 2011 Index of Economic Freedom lists the United States ninth, behind Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, and Denmark.
The World Press Freedom Index lists the United States as satisfactory, not good, and Reporters Without Borders currently lists the U.S. as number 20, behind Finland, Iceland, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Austria, New Zealand, Estonia, Ireland, Denmark, Japan, Lithuania, Belgium, Luxembourg, Malta, Germany, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
If I had to rely on mainstream medicine, I would either be dead or very miserable. Medicine did more to harm me than help me. Since people have limited money, taking more from them to pay for compulsory health insurance—the individual mandate in Obamacare that requires every adult citizen to buy insurance—lessens their ability to seek alternative solutions, buy healthy food (it's generally more costly), live in safer and healthier homes, drive safer cars, and so on. Since the United States is purportedly founded on the idea that freedom is paramount, Americans should have the right to choose how they maximize their health, safety, and happiness.
That brings up yet another flaw of modern medicine: considering that doctors prescribe many drugs to improve mood, and given that most of those drugs are costly or have nasty side effects that often trade one problem for another, then those doctors are little more than snake-oil quacks unless they first give patients ways to optimize mood without prescription drugs. I graduated at the top of my class in medical school, so I obviously stayed awake during it, yet I never heard any professor impart mood boosting tips that didn't rely on a prescription pad, often lots of money, and not infrequently drug side effects that ranged from annoying to devastating to deadly.
Decades after medical school, I stumbled upon ways to improve mood that had a miraculous effect (I began describing this in another article). I would have given my right arm to know that decades ago, and so would many others, yet ObamaCare won't pay for such nonprescription alternative therapies even when they are considerably safer, less expensive, and more effective. Instead, ObamaCare wants to shove mainstream medicine down our throats even though it is unquestionably not always the best solution for many problems.
When I met my current girlfriend, I often feared she would die from asthma. It seemed like every time I turned around, she was using her inhaler. She had a slew of regular doctors and even a pulmonologist, the super-specialists who supposedly know more than other docs about lungs. In spite of all that brainpower, the best those docs could do was to prescribe drugs that often left her gasping for breath. I had enough of their quackery, stepped in, and suggested a natural solution. I hate to term it a cure, but several years later, she hasn't had one asthma flare—not even a minor one—even though she no longer uses her inhaler! She doesn't even bother to get one!
ObamaCare won't pay me to teach people how they could essentially cure their asthma, inducing prolonged control without drugs, but they will repeatedly pay me or other doctors to prescribe mainstream asthma drugs that control asthma about as well as mainstream medicine's weight loss solutions control the national obesity epidemic.
In other articles, I described how I went from being a blimp too fat to see my feet when I stood up to having a 29-inch waist less than a year later without ever starving myself, taking drugs, or relying on willpower I just didn't have.
I controlled but not cured my severe and protracted acne problem not with prescription drugs, but with information that dermatologists don't give to patients. I am not opposed to all drugs, but many of them should be used as a last resort, not as first-line therapy prescribed before trying nutritional, lifestyle, and other alternative approaches.
Doctors give short shrift to nutrition, often treating it with contempt as if only ignorant children would think it has merit, but it is really just applied biochemistry and physiology. Most people, including doctors, eat junk they wouldn't feed their pets unless they had rocks in their heads. Folks give more care to the gas and oil they put in their vehicles than what they put in their bodies, which indisputably affects them in profound ways. Smart doctors of the future will view most of today's medical practitioners as quacks who reached for their prescription pads before trying therapies that made more physiological sense.
However, I understand one possible motivation for Obama's desire to implement ObamaCare, which many experts say would eventually decimate the power of health insurance companies or lead to their demise, with the federal government filling the vacuum left by their departure. The motivation? When Obama's mother was dying, an insurance company denied coverage to her, which he perceived to be unjust.
I don't know the contractual details of that case so I cannot say whether the denial was legal or not, but if the insurance company wasn't guilty in that case, they certainly are in many others like it. Despite doing their best to project a warm, fuzzy image that they care about you and your health, insurance companies don't care if you live or die, or if you feel great or miserable, as long as they can maximally profit from you. If they can concoct an excuse to not pay for something, they'll wiggle out of it. Snakes are masters at wiggling, and so are insurance companies (see How I was cheated by my health insurance company).
While I initially opposed ObamaCare and other legislation that paves the way for a government takeover of health insurance, I am so incensed by how a health insurance company screwed me that I thought of (and will later publish) a way to make government-run health insurance so appealing that even Tea Party folks would crave it.
In its current form, ObamaCare is an ethical abomination that endangers patients and tramples on the Constitution, yet with the missing link I will supply, government-run health insurance could be much better than the current system in which Goliath private companies use their power to cheat customers—figurative Davids. Had Obama thought of that missing link, he would win a second term in a landslide, but now it appears that he is in for the fight of his life even though most Republican candidates are disappointing and filled with the usual hot air, not great ideas.
- Losing Hope of a Good Night's Sleep Is Risk Factor for Suicide
- People Of Higher Socioeconomic Status Choose Better Diets, But Pay More Per Calorie based on Lower-Energy-Density Diets Are Associated with Higher Monetary Costs per Kilocalorie and Are Consumed by Women of Higher Socioeconomic Status
Comment: It obviously takes more money to eat well. Good nutrition is obviously conducive to health, as suggested by the above article and many thousands of others I could cite. Taking more money from people, as ObamaCare will obviously do through higher taxes and increased costs for regulatory compliance, will obviously have a negative impact on health by taking money from people they could have spent on better food, although (1) that must be balanced against the good ObamaCare will do by making coverage more universal and (2) when they have more money, most people do not spend it on optimal nutrition. If people knew everything I know about nutrition, their spending priorities would radically change.
- Vitamin D Deficiency in Pneumonia Patients Associated With Increased Mortality based on Vitamin D, innate immunity and outcomes in community acquired pneumonia.
- Low Vitamin D Levels a Risk Factor for Pneumonia
- College officials should share some of the blame for Carly Glynn's death. Carly attended Michigan State University, my undergrad alma mater. MSU packs students like sardines into residence halls that help spread disease, yet doesn't warn them of the risk and do everything possible to minimize it—at least, they didn't do that in my college days, and I doubt they do it now. Those geniuses wait until someone like Carly dies, then they tell students some of what they should know. Pathetic! Meningitis has been killing, crippling, and disfiguring college students since there were colleges. It's not new news, but college officials never give this and related problems the serious attention they deserve.
As a condition of enrollment, students should be required before they set foot on campus to learn ways to minimize their risk of various infections, from STDs to simple but debilitating colds and sore throats to meningitis. Optimal protection requires vaccines, vitamin D (and other superb nutrition, not the slop MSU serves), adequate space, fresh air, stress mitigation, plenty of rest, and an environment conducive to that for all students—not just the ones who enjoy sardine living with other boisterous party animals. In other words, what students need is to not live in residence halls, or since freedom and individual choice are so valued in America, at least informed consent and the chance to opt out of what college officials love to cram down the throats of their students.
College officials should also teach students how to thwart crime such as robbery and rape. Several local yokels tried getting money from me on the streets of Detroit during my years in medical school, but a combination of preparation, quick thinking, and some gizmos I made enabled me to escape with all my money and nothing worse than a racing heart. Some fellow students weren't so lucky.
I was studying at the medical school library with another fellow, who made the mistake of leaving 15 minutes before me. We both walked down the same street, but he had the misfortune of flushing out a miscreant who was lurking in an alley. The dirtbag stabbed the fellow to death, and took his keys and wallet. His address was listed on his driver's license, which prompted the wicked leech to pay a visit to the victim's apartment. There, he found the man's wife, who he then raped and murdered. And, to top it off, he found their 9-month-old baby, who was stabbed repeatedly and beaten into a lifeless pulp. Kill the baby? What's the kid going to do—finger the criminal in a lineup?
That medical school found enough money to pay its Dean as if he were a king, yet it had only one security guard, safely ensconced inside the building away from the thugs. Once students left that building, they were on their own. Fending for yourself in what is usually the Murder Capital of the United States (or close to it) can be dangerous.
College officials should also teach students how to spot mental illness. Many of the problems people face in life stem from folks with various forms of mental illness. As a physician, I have great empathy for mentally ill people, most of whom have less responsibility for their problems than many folks with physical diseases and conditions, which can often be traced to poor lifestyle choices.
However, as a practical matter, even experienced psychiatrists sometimes pull their hair out dealing with their patients, especially the CrazyMakers such as patients with borderline personality disorder or histrionic personality disorder. If you watch true-crime TV shows, you will see many people whose lives were shattered by borderlines, sociopaths, or other mentally ill people.
A beautiful California attorney wrote to me years ago and was so eager to meet me that she flew to Michigan. I should have listened to my gut instinct, which told me that a hot LA attorney shouldn't need to fly to northern Michigan to find a date; LA is packed with countless intelligent, successful men who are much more handsome than I am.
Something didn't add up, but I soon discovered why she repelled LA men like Off!® repels mosquitoes: she was the worst CrazyMaker I've ever encountered, with a body to die for, but a personality that made men run away. I ran, but before I broke up with lesser grades of CrazyMakers, I wasted plenty of time on them, as many people do; the prevalence of mental illness is so high that it affects almost everyone, directly or indirectly. Unfortunately, some people affected by it don't have a chance to walk away; they are killed. While working in the ER, I've seen countless lives ruined by mentally ill people. Most people give this matter little thought until someone like Jared Loughner shoots someone like Gabby Giffords, but by then, it's too late.
When a young person like Carly Glynn has their life cut short, more than one life is lost. Gone, too, are their children, grandchildren, and on and on, extending thousands of years into the future.
- Report: MSU sophomore Carly Glynn died of meningococcal disease (Thus confirming exactly what I suspected based on her clinical picture. Earlier reports said she died of something non-meningococcal, but the speculations of those doctors didn't fit the evidence. When those unscientific guesses surfaced, I gave the links immediately below to illustrate how false-negative tests can mislead docs. Carly's case screamed meningococcal disease; any third-year medical student should have been able to immediately diagnose her. Just as I suspected, she was infected with group B meningococci.
Now for the $64,000 question: Was everything possible done to save her life? I'm skeptical and would love to review her medical chart, not out of spite, but to possibly help the docs who treated her improve. After serving on a Quality Assurance Committee in a large teaching hospital, I know that errors are very common. I never lost any patient with meningitis, so I suspect I could have saved Carly's life. However, some of the things I sucked** at I later did very well, which is, unfortunately, how doctors learn. Sparrow—the hospital where Carly died—is a teaching hospital. I don't know if residents treated her, or if they did, the adequacy of their supervision on such a critical case, but from my experience, teaching hospitals could improve the quality of their teaching while doing more to save more lives [here's an example]. **I apologize for the shirtsleeve English, but that was the most effective way to communicate that point.)
A public information officer from the Ingham County Health Department reported that Carly's “immunizations were up to date, but she had the misfortune to come across the one that isn't protected by the vaccine.”
One of the hazards of vaccinations is that they can give people a false sense of security, lulling them into letting their guard down so they do things that heighten their infection risk, and deluding them into thinking they're “protected,” so there's no need to follow my outside-the-box infection control tips. Wrong. Everyone should follow them, all of the time. If you don't, you're essentially playing Russian roulette with your health. You might be OK if you don't follow those tips, or you might die 60 years too early. Had Carly followed them, she would be alive today.
I'm writing a book on infectious diseases. One of my take-home messages will correct a mistaken impression that many people (and even most doctors) harbor: that if you recover from the infection, you're OK—just a bit of down-time and then you're as good as new. Wrong! Many diseases trigger long-term (sometimes permanent) problems, so even if you “get over” the initial infection, you are worse off than others who weren't infected.
However, to keep your immune system in tune, it needs exposure to germs, analogous to how muscles need exercise to keep in shape. How do you give your immune system the stimulation it needs without risking dangerous diseases? Read my book. I'll offer it free for personal use. If you want to be notified when it is available, register with my free track-this.info site that enables you to track (that is, follow) topics that interest you, then click the "Notify me when that book is published" part of the orange button below:
- False-Negative PCR Result Due to Gene Polymorphism: the Example of Neisseria meningitidis
- Multiple Nucleotide Substitutions in the Neisseria meningitidis Serogroup C ctrA Gene Cause False-Negative Detection by Real-Time PCR
- Bacterial Genomic Detection Within Cerebrospinal Fluid of Patients With Meningococcal Disease Is Influenced by Microbial and Host Characteristics
- Excerpt from CDC publication on meningococcal disease: “Kits to detect polysaccharide antigen in cerebrospinal fluid are rapid and specific, but false-negative results are common, particularly in serogroup B disease. Antigen tests of urine or serum are unreliable.”
- Meningitis info from CDC
- New Discovery in Fight Against Deadly Meningococcal Disease: Understanding the Pathway of How the Bacterium Colonizes People
- Second-Hand Smoke Increases Risk of Invasive Meningococcal Disease in Children
- Tulsa Doctor: Some Kids May Be Carriers Of Bacterial Meningitis And Not Know It
- Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Uncovering How Deadly Bacteria Trick the Immune System
Excerpt: “The [tuberculosis] outbreak is occurring during winter, when homeless individuals are driven to crowded shelters, when influenza is peaking and when people's vitamin D levels, typically boosted by sunlight exposure, are low.”
- Researchers Call for Early Diagnosis of Flesh-Eating Infections based on Definitive early diagnosis of necrotizing soft tissue infections remains difficult
- Jeremiah Mitchell Adjusting To Life After Meningitis
- Oologah Meningitis Survivor Returns Home
- Oologah Meningitis Survivor Eating Solid Food, Playing Video Games
- Doctor Discusses Meningitis Misconceptions; Oologah Survivor Able To Speak Again
- Parents Say Bacterial Meningitis Caused Death Of Pawnee County Infant
- Union Schools, Tulsa County Health Department Urge Calm After Meningitis Scare
- Meningitis Angels and StompingOutMeningitis (educational websites); Meningitis Angels National Teen Leader Leslie recounts her story.
- Nasty 'Superbug' Emerging? Strikes Otherwise Healthy, Young Patients
- 12-Year-Old Boy Dies After Scraping His Arm In Gym Class (a website set up by his parents educates people on Strep A Toxic Shock Syndrome)
- Superbug kills 7th person at Md. NIH hospital
Excerpt: “A deadly germ untreatable by most antibiotics has killed a seventh person at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland.”
Comment: The National Institutes of Health!
- Lack of Consensus Among Health Care Providers in Identifying Sepsis Poses Threat to Treatment
- One of the many examples of how modern medicine, even when seemingly effective, does more harm than good: Higher Death Risk With Sleeping Pills based on Hypnotics' association with mortality or cancer: a matched cohort study (People who regularly use sleeping pills were found to have a risk of death 4.6 times higher with a significantly greater risk of cancer, heart disease, and other problems. Prediction: This will not dampen doctor's enthusiasm for prescribing those drugs.)
- Toothbrush contamination in communal [college] bathrooms
- Common Diabetes Drugs Associated With Increased Risk of Death
- Popular Diabetes Drugs Linked to Increased Risk of Heart Failure and Death, Study Suggests
- Half of Patients Affected by Drug-Related Morbidity, Study Suggests based on (1) Modelling drug-related morbidity in Sweden using an expert panel of pharmacists and (2) Modelling drug-related morbidity in Sweden using an expert panel of physicians.
- Obesity Raises Death Risk Tied to Sleeping Pills
- Death by Medicine presents evidence that modern medicine frequently causes more harm than good.
- Treatment for Vulvar Cancer in Elderly Women Often More Lethal Than the Disease Itself
- Some Diabetes Drugs May Increase Risk of Bladder Cancer based on Use of thiazolidinediones and the risk of bladder cancer among people with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis
- Premature Infants Do Feel Pain from Procedures: Physiological Markers for Neonate Pain Identified
- Newborns In ICUs Often Undergo Painful Procedures, Most Without Pain Medication based on Epidemiology and Treatment of Painful Procedures in Neonates in Intensive Care Units
Comment: This is another example of the quackery of modern medicine.
- Less Than One-Third of Painful Procedures for Children in Hospital Associated With Documented Pain Relief, Canadian Study Shows based on Epidemiology and management of painful procedures in children in Canadian hospitals
- Lungs Respond to Hospital Ventilator as If It Were an Infection based on miR-146a regulates mechanotransduction and pressure-induced inflammation in small airway epithelium
Comment: Think this might dampen the enthusiasm for CPAP? I doubt it.
- Sleep Problems Cost Billions
- Surprising Connections Between Our Well-Being and Giving, Getting, and Gratitude
Excerpt: “… new research is highlighting a … surprising benefit of good sleep: more feelings of gratitude for relationships.”
Comment: And gratitude in general, in my experience, now that I am sleeping better.