Archive for Ease and Disease

Fark blurb of the week


Also, the clappers were clean

This I hadn’t heard of, but it seems to make sense:

Something Sentara Hospital has done is switch over as much as possible to copper-infused materials. Copper is naturally anti-bacterial, so this is just another weapon in the fight against in-house infections. There are fliers and signs and notices everywhere about it, explaining why the linens, towels and rags are all the color of chocolate milk. Even the tabletop of my bedside table was copper infused.

I noticed though (and it took me until the second night there to nail it down) that when I was laying in bed with my CPAP machine on, that there was a very faint odor. I finally realized that because of the copper, I constantly smelled just a whiff of blood. After three days I hadn’t gotten used to it.

A TV news report from that area:

Results published within The Journal of Hospital Infection shows results that Cupron infused copper in patient gowns, pillowcases, fitted and flat sheets, washcloths, bath towels, bath blankets and thermal blankets has helped drop infection rates at six Sentara hospitals in the Hampton Roads and North Carolina area.

The study published in November 2018 says that using the products by Cupron — a copper-based antimicrobial technology company — has significantly reduced occurrences of Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections and infections caused by multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs), including MRSA and VRE.

Impressive. And in the long run, I’d guess, possibly less expensive than the usual topical treatments.


Don’t ever get sick

To misappropriate a line from J. B. S. Haldane, it’s not only more expensive than we imagine, it’s more expensive than we can imagine.

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A late arrival, one might say

A few days back, I wasted some time and space on the delusion held by some men to the effect that they think their junk is about to disappear. But weirder things than this actually happen:

Some children with a rare genetic condition appear female at birth but later develop a penis and testes around the time puberty begins. But what causes this to happen?

An article in BBC Magazine tells the story of some children in the Dominican Republic with this condition, who are known in the country as Guevedoces, which roughly translates to “penis at 12.” One child named Johnny was raised as a girl, but when he matured and neared puberty, he grew a penis and his testicles descended, according to the BBC.

Felicita apparently looked like any other girl until puberty kicked in. Enter Johnny.

Are these, then, trans men? After all, they were identified as female at birth. And I wonder if any of them decided, even after Mr. Johnson arrived, to continue to live as the girls they thought they were.

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This is not for you

There are wrong prescriptions, and there are really wrong prescriptions:

I’ve been prescribed a medication that isn’t covered (at all) by my medical insurance. Since it costs close to $1,500 per month at normal retail prices, there’s no way I can afford it; so the doctor who prescribed it signed me up with a specialty pharmacy, to see whether I qualified for a reduced price.

A few minutes ago I received a phone call from the pharmacy to confirm the information the doctor’s office had provided to them. All went well until, at the end of the call, the nice lady on the other end of the phone said, “You’ll be receiving your first prescription of (Drug X) next week.”

I hesitated, then said, “What medication was that, please?”

“(Drug X).”

“Er … I don’t recognize that name. Don’t you mean (Drug Y)?”

A brief pause, some background noises, and:

“You’re quite right; it should be (Drug Y). I’m afraid I mixed up your file with someone else’s. I’m sorry. I’ll correct it.”

I said, “Thank you – but what was the drug you were going to send me?”

With a quiver in her voice, she said, “It was hormone replacement therapy, to treat the menopause.”


And now I feel sorry for those who actually need this drug and get to peel off eighteen grand a year for it.


Excessive whiteness

It’s a tough life for an albino in Africa:

Albinism is a rare, hereditary condition that leads to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes. Without melanin in their skin, those with albinism are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun.

In Africa, albinism is associated with many negative misconceptions and superstitions. As a result, many albinos suffer stigma, alienation and even physical abuse.

There’s no known cure, but at least the misconceptions and superstitions are being addressed:

The Albinism Society of Kenya have held a Mr and Miss Albinism beauty pageant in Nairobi to support those with the hereditary condition.

The pageant, called “Accept me, include me, I can,” included participants from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and aimed to boost the confidence of young people with albinism.

And the winners are:

Emmanuel Silas Shedrack, 20, from Tanzania and Maryanne Muigai, 19, from Kenya were crowned the winners.

There were thirty contestants in all.

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This seems stressful

Rather a lot of us suffer from high blood pressure, and stories like this don’t make us feel any better:

For the third time in recent weeks, a blood pressure medication has been recalled because it may have been contaminated with an agent linked to cancer.

Sandoz, a generic pharmaceutical company that’s a division of the Novartis Group, said it’s voluntarily recalled losartan potassium hydrochlorothiazide tablets because the pills could contain the impurity N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA).

Sandoz said the tablets are manufactured by Lek Pharmaceuticals in Slovenia and the impurity found is a probable carcinogen. However, it said, no issues have been reported concerning the affected tablets.

How times have changed. If you’re around my age, you may remember Sandoz as the developer of LSD, which was first marketed as a treatment for various mental ailments in 1947 under the name “Delysid.” Timothy Leary, at Harvard in the 1960s, began promoting the stuff for, um, nonprescription use. (Eric Burdon’s New Animals dropped a tune called “A Girl Named Sandoz” on the B-side of “When I Was Young”; it fooled no one.)

As it happens, this is the antihypertensive I take, though the stock I have on the shelf did not originate with Sandoz or its suppliers.

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Steps must be taken

The electorate wants things that look like solutions, even when they aren’t:

You might laugh but I remember the 1982 Tylenol thing and that is now why we’re all condemned, when we need a painkiller or OTC antihistamine out of a new box, to have to:

1. Pry the heavily-glued-shut box open

2. Remove the silly plastic “sleeve” that has been heat-shrunk onto the cap and neck of the bottle, and fewer of them have convenient tear-strips than they should. (“A pair of scissors, my kingdom for a pair of scissors” she cries, while searching the house mid-headache)

3. Punch through a “sealed for your protection” (the fig-leaf they put on foods is “sealed for freshness”) foil or foam capper

4. Dig out the cotton that’s stuffed in there, I presume to either keep the pills from breaking or to serve as a bit of a desiccant

All of this because an employee in the company poisoned some capsules … in which case all those things would not have prevented it.

Add several more steps if your remedy of choice has even the slightest resemblance to methamphetamine.

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What could be crueler?

Selma Blair, picture of youth. I first saw her as Cecile in Cruel Intentions, circa 1999; I realize that this was 19 years ago, and she was already 27 then, but the numbers inside my head don’t add up.

Selma Blair, sitting in the back seat

Selma Blair, taking a swim

Selma Blair, modeling something or other

But then there’s this:

The BBC reminds us:

There is no cure for MS, but treatment can help manage symptoms. This may include painkillers or drugs to reduce nerve inflammation, physical therapy to ease muscle stiffness, or medication to slow the condition’s progression.

Then again, life itself might well be an incurable disease of sorts.

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Hey, hey, we’re the munchies

There is, of course, a solution:

In case of emergency

The North Texas Poison Center is at 800-222-1222. As the sign says, The Pizza Guy is at 972-733-1222. Try not to mix them up.

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)


Paws to consider

Seeing yourself deteriorating — and retaining your sense of humor about it — to me seems only slightly short of miraculous:

The Internet is chock-full of cat videos. Among them there is one that gave us a chuckle a few years ago: a sullen cat pushing various objects off a table. And then came a day few weeks ago when I reached for a remote control sitting on the table right next to me. Rather than grabbing it, I pushed it off the table. It was impossible for me to pick it up with my right hand, which is now in a more-or-less permanently clenched fist.

Dee’s observation: You have now officially become a kitty.

We won’t ask him for a video. But:

Alas, she is right. But at least I don’t have to lick myself all over.

And he doesn’t quite sound sullen. (Yet.)


The lowest form of cuisine

Circle K might not be your first choice for dinner:

No, not even QuikTrip.

Still, the person who’s never had so much as a 7-Elevem Slim Jim has had no opportunity to build up the kind of immunity our well-traveled road warriors count on.

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Miseries past

“Well, it sounds like you’ve been unhappy for a long time.”

“Honey, you have no idea.”

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Everything from here down

“Tell me where it hurts,” says the doctor.

“I think I just did.”

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This shouldn’t be about me

Arlo Guthrie:

“During these hard days and hard weeks, everybody always has it bad once in a while. You know, you have a bad time of it, and you always have a friend who says “Hey man, you ain’t got it that bad. Look at that guy.” And you at that guy, and he’s got it worse than you. And it makes you feel better that there’s somebody that’s got it worse than you.

“But think of the last guy. For one minute, think of the last guy. Nobody’s got it worse than that guy. Nobody in the whole world. That guy… he’s so alone in the world that he doesn’t even have a street to lay in for a truck to run him over. He’s out there with nothin’. Nothin’s happenin’ for that cat.”

There are times when I have to remind myself that I’m not the last guy.

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Trojan horsing around

I mean, it’s not like they’re expensive or anything:

We have entered a sad, sad world of stupidity when the CDC has to issue a warning that one should not wash out a condom and reuse it. I only hope these losers are recycling their own rubbers and not random old ones they found tossed out at the park down by the river.

Maybe this will work:

No, we don’t.

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At least they’re consistent

The story is always the same. Only the locations change:

A Chipotle restaurant in Ohio has reopened as officials investigate reports of illnesses linked to the location.

The Delaware General Health District says it can’t confirm anything until lab tests are back. But Traci Whittaker, a spokeswoman for the health district says it has received dozens of calls from people reporting illnesses since Sunday, with many mentioning they ate at the Chipotle in Powell, Ohio.

I’m betting Jack Baruth is not one of them.

In a statement, Chipotle says it closed the store Monday “out of an abundance of caution” and that it’s cooperating with local health authorities. It said it implemented its food-safety-response protocols, which include replacing the food and a cleaning of the restaurant.

The closure comes as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. works to recover from a series of food scares that sent sales plunging.

This quip landed in one of my social-media timelines: “You can’t spell ‘Chipotle’ without E. coli.”

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I could have told you that

You didn’t ask me, of course. Still, it’s good to have corroboration:

Dr. Paul Kelley, a researcher at Oxford University, has scientifically corroborated the claim that nearly every worker to ever live has made: that it sucks to work before 10 AM. In an interview, Kelley said:

“Before the age of 55, the circadian rhythms of adults are completely out of sync with normal nine-to-five working hours, posing a “serious threat’ to performance, mood and mental health.”

I got news for you, Doc: said rhythms don’t necessarily realign themselves at 55.

“Staff are usually sleep deprived.” Kelley asserts. “We’ve got a sleep-deprived society. It is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical emotional and performance systems in the body. Your liver and your heart have different patterns and you’re asking them to shift two or three hours. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to.”

I did fairly well on swing shift (3:30-midnight) in my thirties. Physically, anyway. (Socially, I was douchey.)

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Textile analysis

Anything that begins “What is it with society?” automatically earns the side-eye:

What is it with society? I have a form of vestiphobia according to my psychologist and so many people are not compassionate at all!?

I hate wearing clothing due to my body thermostat being out of wack and I’m allergic to certain kinds of fabric, but people are so uncomfortable being around someone that prefers not to wear anything and this greatly reduces my social life! Obviously in public there are laws that force me to be dressed, but why are people so uncomfortable with letting me be undressed in social situations where the public can’t see? It’s just crazy and not fair.

“Oh, you poor thing. Go ahead and take your clothes off.” — nobody ever.

Those of us who do without clothing when we can learned a long time ago that this was going to reduce our social lives; it’s unreasonable for us to expect that our naked bodies will always be welcomed with open arms. Yes, it would be nice if there was more social acceptance to be had; but it’s an issue we can’t force, and even if we could, we shouldn’t. I’m interpreting “social situations where the public can’t see” as “I answered the door nude, and they threatened to call the police.” And what he might read as “compassion,” I’m thinking might be closer to “Humor him, honey. He might do something drastic.”

There are friends I’ve had for two decades and more who, if they’re coming over, will call first so I have time to throw on something more than a robe. The deal is: they’re still friends. Our alleged vestiphobe would never comprehend such a thing.

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A definite C word

The Local Malcontent minces no words:

I got some sobering news from my various Cancer doctors this morning:

My PSA number has more than doubled since my last Lab work in March, 2018, from 3.61 on March 21, to 7.33 on July 6th.

I had been trying to get the recent results for 4 days, to compare and to chart my PSA’s rate of change. And this news is indeed very disturbing.

It’s not the number itself that’s high, apparently; it’s the rate of increase.

Rather a lot of people on the old blogroll have slid into the Next Life, some of them without much warning. I hate that. Nothing much I can do about it, except appeal to the Almighty, but I’m pretty emphatic about hating it.

(Seen first by McG.)

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Another dose of karma

And the co-pay will make your hair stand on end:

Vyera Pharmaceuticals, formerly called Turing Pharmaceuticals, lost more than $1 million in the first quarter of 2018, according to financial documents obtained by STAT. Sales, driven by the $750-a-pill Daraprim, have been on the wane over the past two years, falling more than 14 percent in 2017 and on pace to drop another 7 percent in 2018.

The company gained notoriety in 2015 after [Martin] Shkreli, then CEO, acquired Daraprim, which treats a rare infection called toxoplasmosis, and raised the price more than 5,000 percent. Despite a public outcry, Shkreli claimed the move would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in profits for the company’s shareholders and fund the development of new, better treatments for toxoplasmosis and other rare diseases.

But audited financial statements obtained by STAT show Vyera is nowhere near meeting either goal. The documents suggest Shkreli’s move was a short-term success: The Daraprim price hike helped Vyera achieve stellar gross margins, but the company’s expenses cut deeply into its net income. After turning small profits in 2016 and 2017, Vyera is now losing money. Daraprim sales are falling, and Vyera has laid off at least a handful of salespeople; expenses remain high.

Sales are falling? After a 5000-percent price hike? Who could have imagined such a thing?

U.S. prescriptions for Daraprim have consistently fallen over the past two years, from 427 in the first quarter of 2017 to just 107 in the first quarter of 2018, according to IQVIA, a pharma consultancy that tracks drug sales.

But it’s apparently not just the price:

A former employee said the company’s problems in part reflect a shrinking patient population.

Toxoplasmosis is a rare infection that largely affects patients with HIV. As HIV therapies gain wider use across the country, there are fewer and fewer patients who need Daraprim. That, coupled with the drug’s famously high price, has put a damper on sales, the former employee said.

“It’s a dying disease — which is a good thing — but it’s bad for the company,” said the former employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to violate an agreement with Vyera.

So not only does PharmaBro’s company languish in the market while he himself languishes in jail, but fewer people are getting sick. Karma scores the trifecta.

(Via Fark.)

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And just a hint of snake oil

Of course, you’re buying it for the fish:

Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements is often touted as a way simple way to protect your heart — but experts say the evidence that it does any good is flimsy at best. Cochrane researchers looked at trials in over 100,000 people and found little proof that it prevented heart disease.

They say the chance of getting any meaningful benefit from taking omega-3 is one in 1,000.

Eating oily fish, however, can still be recommended as part of a healthy diet.

The review mainly looked at supplements rather than omega-3 from eating fish. Experts still believe the latter is good for the heart as well as general health.

And something that smells like last month’s tuna had damned well better be good for the heart, right?

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Gravity never fails

It was 6:10 this morning. I know this because the digits on the old Timex alarm clock are entirely too bright, but the sun rose around 6:24, which meant that keeping the washcloth in front of the clock face was no longer necessary. I rolled over to get within reach of it.

And kept rolling.

And kept rolling.

And finally, I found myself on the floor: as the old broad said in that infamous commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Scraping along the floor, I managed to get to the phone and summon 911. (Lucky me, the fire department is only three blocks away.) One of them remembered me from the last time I’d hit the floor this hard.

At least now I know how I die: I pitch forward (or backwards, it hardly matters) out of reach of anything, and can’t propel myself at all. It will be a day or two, or more, before anyone even notices.

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Well, isn’t that specialist

The local VA Medical Center took care of brother James during his last couple of years; he’d rather come up here, he said, than take his chances with whatever Texas had to offer. He did mention, once or twice, that they seemed to be short of doctors, and it turns out he was right:

Under federal employment laws, no federal employee can have a higher salary than the president of the United States, who earns $400,000 per year. That poses challenges for VA hospitals seeking specialists.

Take, for example, cardiothoracic surgeons. The Oklahoma City VA hospital needs four but recently lost one, so they’re recruiting to fill the slot. The problem is that cardiothoracic surgeons can earn far more than $400,000 at private hospitals.

President Trump, so far, has not been actually collecting his salary from the Treasury — he’s been donating it — but that doesn’t make any difference as far as the law is concerned.

One workaround is federal contracts, which can exceed the $400,000 limit. For ophthalmologists, the VA contracts with the Dean McGee Eye Institute at a cost of $600,000. That includes overhead expenses it wouldn’t have to pay if it could hire its own ophthalmologists.

Director Wade Vlosich says it is what it is:

“It is just the way it goes at a VA hospital, because we’ll never reach that salary level for those doctors. So, no, it doesn’t worry me,” Vlosich said. “Areas that worry me are filling inpatient hospital positions, primary care positions and then some of the hard-to-recruit nursing positions, and engineers. Those are really the ones that keep me up at night.”

For what it’s worth, the first psychotherapist I saw this decade moved out of a group practice and into a VA slot. I have no idea how much she was making at either place.

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Manage this, pal

This will last, I suspect, for about five years after it’s proven worthless, after which the Next Big Thing will be proclaimed:

It’s been maybe 20 years since I first read that “pain management” was the most important aspect of health care that the medical profession was overlooking. That quickly became a fad, and now it’s an unhealthy obsession, as the opioid crisis demonstrates. The fact is, these fads cause all manner of damage not just in medicine but in pretty much every human endeavor — education, politics, economics — and it needs to stop.

Everyone hates opioids except for the people who use them. Most of the pills are off-patent and are therefore dirt cheap, which means no windfalls for Big Pharma. And your “pain-management” regimens seem to be based on the dubious premise that physical pain is somehow good for your immortal soul, a proposition I would hate to try to defend before the Almighty. I’m not at all enthusiastic about the therapeutic properties of marijuana, but I suspect that thousands of Oklahomans, myself included, voted for its legalization simply to spit in the eye of the Drug Warriors.

Oh, and if you want to see political fads in action, watch the so-called “Resistance,” which has an attention span of about 96 hours. Families split up at the Mexican border? That was last week. This week, Mr. Justice Kennedy retires, and it’s just a matter of days before women are turned into brood mares at the behest of the New Gilead. Expect something marginally less stale to take over the media by Tuesday.

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Destined to end badly

Although it’s clear who dropped the ball:

An Arizona woman has said she was left “in tears and humiliated” after a staff member at US pharmacy chain Walgreens refused to give her prescription medication to end her pregnancy — even though her doctor had said she would ultimately have a miscarriage.

Nicole Mone had discovered at a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday that her baby was not developing normally.

Knowing her two-month pregnancy would not run to term, she was given a choice to end it through a surgical procedure or prescription medication, and chose the latter.

When she went to a Walgreens in the city of Peoria to get her prescription, she says a pharmacist refused to serve her on moral grounds — a stance which is within the company’s rules.

She told the BBC the staff member was “very short, not compassionate at all.”

This is not a reference to the guy’s height.

“I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7-year-old and five customers standing behind, only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs,” she wrote on Facebook and Instagram.

“I get it, we all have our beliefs. But what he failed to understand is, this isn’t the situation I had hoped for — this isn’t something I wanted. This is something I have zero control over. He has no idea what it’s like to want nothing more than to carry a child to full term and be unable to do so.”

And apparently this wasn’t handled according to Walgreens policy, which the company describes as follows:

Which, it appears, is not what happened:

Ms Mone said that did not reflect her experience, however, as the pharmacist “could have just passed me on to the lady that was standing next to him” — which she says did not happen.

Instead, the prescription was transferred to another Walgreens store. Ms Mone picked it up there after seeking her doctor’s help to ensure the second pharmacy would give it to her.

My idea of “in a timely manner” does not include having to go several miles to another store.

Ms Mone, after talking to Walgreens corporate, has filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy.

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When I’m sixty-five

I have received something like three dozen Medicare-related mailings in the last month or so, and nowhere did I read anything quite so sensible as this:

If you are an older senior citizen and can no longer take care of yourself and need Long-Term Care, but the government says there is no nursing home care available for you, what do you do?

You may opt for Medicare Part G.

The plan gives anyone 70 or older, a gun (Part G) and one bullet.

You may then shoot one worthless politician.

This means you will be sent to prison for the rest of your life where you will receive three meals a day, a roof over your head, central heating and air conditioning, cable TV, a library, and all the healthcare you need.

Then again, I’m still a few years away from seventy.

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Yet another soap opera

At least this person is, or has been, on meds: Cut a dvla car clamp off my car because I panicked that they where going to sieze it?

Basically I’m usually on antipsychotic medication due to anger problems & the past 3 months have been nothing but cursed, the doctor stopped my medication without warning and would not put them back on without trying to ‘bargain’ with me so I walked out and haven’t been taking medication which I need now, however I hadn’t realized my car wasn’t taxed and woke up to it being clamped about 3 weeks ago, I didn’t have enough money to pay the release fees and they said they will come back and take the car if it’s not payed so I panicked and someone from the street offered to cut it off and I let him and hid the car while I sorted the money out to pay, they then found the car last year and its impounded so I’ve decided I want to give the car up to them now because I need to sort out my medication but I’m scared to go to their office because I don’t want to get in trouble with the police? What do I do

The DVLA is to Britain what the DMV is to most US states. Which makes me wonder if the National Health decided they were spending too much money keeping this silly sod tranquilized.

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Thank you for your support

Provided, of course, you don’t have tusks:

I blame Lindsey Buckingham.

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Where things stand

And I don’t see them improving any time in the near future, either:

Lots of contributing factors — idiot customers, horrible summer heat, and ongoing bodily-function failures — and at best, only one of those is going away any time soon, if “soon” can be stretched to 90 days or so.

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