Month: September 2021

Ivermectin Killed The Dinosaurs

The virus which shall not be named for fear of offending someone presented the United States with a unique inflection point. We were thrust into a position in which we could have fundamentally altered the health of this country. And rather than doing the right thing, the combined government and public health officials collectively shit the bed. Let me explain.

The US population is not generally healthy. We’re fat. We don’t exercise. We eat like crap and massively overconsume the crap that we do eat. Here’s a fun statistic – the United States ranks 46th in life expectancy. 46. Cuba ranks higher than the US. The number one cause of death in the US is heart disease – an almost completely self-induced problem that can be somewhat reversed with diet and exercise when discovered. 700,000 people died of heart disease in 2020. More than any other cause, including covid and cancer.

And what puts you at risk for dying of covid? Age, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and smoking. Way back at the beginnings of this pandemic it seems that the thing to do would be to scream from the rooftops that if you’re fat, out of shape, smoke, or have diabetes this disease is going to kill you. As Dean Vernon Wormer said, “Fat, drunk, and stupid┬áis no way to go through life, son”. Wage an all out campaign to inform the population that changing your lifestyle is no longer optional if you want to survive long term. But we didn’t.

Oh sure, there were a few passing mentions of comorbidities putting you at higher risk but we certainly didn’t make a huge deal of it. Instead we opted for punishing everyone. What we should have done was quickly isolate the elderly, keep schools open and keep the economy running. We should have made the central message, broadcast daily, that if you are fat, have the diabetes, hypertension, or smoke you should isolate as much as possible if you want to survive this. Hammer home that folks who are overweight and hypertensive, should they wish to mingle with the public, need to be wearing a properly fitted N95 mask. Not the useless paper ones or that nasty bandana you’ve been wearing for a month without washing. No N95, no vaccination and you will get covid and will probably die. Why are we afraid to tell the truth?

But that’s not what we did. We cratered the economy. We isolated everyone including the young and healthy, prolonging herd immunity. Rather than keeping gyms open and telling people that you need to get outside, exercise, and improve your health if you want to survive… we kept everyone isolated inside. The result? 42% of adults reported gaining weight. How much? An average of 29 pounds.

We gambled on the holy grail of vaccination to magically protect everyone, including those most at risk. There’s no doubt its made a huge difference in moving us more quickly towards herd immunity (since we never let the young and healthy develop natural immunity). But mayors and governors had to start opening up to have any chance of saving their economies. And the vaccine has given those who have risk factors a false sense of security. And sure enough, a more virulent version of covid appeared and now even those who’ve been vaccinated are getting sick. The vaccine isn’t a magic shield. It’s doing what it’s supposed to do. It will dramatically lessen the chances of the infection turning worse. This is why everyone should get the shot, even if you’re “healthy”. It gives you a fighting chance of keeping any symptoms mild and not ending up hospitalized. But if you’re overweight and in poor health… it may not be enough. And that’s exactly what the data shows. The overwhelming majority of people hospitalized and/or dying of covid right now have the classic comorbidities, vaccinated or unvaccinated.

So why are our public health officials not screaming at the top of their lungs about this? Are we afraid of offending people? Are we more worried about “fat shaming” than we are of people dying? For those of us who have the risk factors (and I count myself as one of them), we know what we look like the mirror. I’d rather my self esteem take a hit if it’ll force me to go for a run, than die because someone was afraid of telling me I need to drop a few pounds.

It’s time for health care providers and public health officials to be brutally honest. Stop with the silly mask charade. Form a modern equivalent of the old Presidents Council on Physical Fitness. Since we’re already printing money, how about a tax write-off for gym memberships and exercise equipment? Government subsidies to insurance companies that offer deep discounts on health insurance premiums if you can keep your BMI, blood pressure, and A1C at or below healthy limits?

Crazy talk, I know. But sadly we’d rather pit citizens against each other and ostracize folks from participating in society if you don’t take the jab. We’re scolded like little children, being told that “patience is wearing thin” and “this isn’t about freedom”. Officials are afraid to talk about natural immunity from covid because it might detract from their only message – 100% of citizens must have the vaccine, no exceptions.

Covid is going to turn endemic at some point. I think you’re foolish not to get the vaccine, but that’s your personal choice to make. We are all going to get Covid eventually, that’s a certainty. The only question will be how many factors do you have going in your favor when you do get it? Personally, I want to have had the vaccine and I want my weight, blood pressure, and A1C to be the best I can get ’em given my age. I’m just as guilty as the next person of being lazy about that. Not anymore. I’m enjoying life too much right now to lose it because I couldn’t put down the nachos.

Clearly the government isn’t going to do the right thing for its citizens. It’s up to you. So as Inspector Harry Callahan famously said, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do you, punk?”

P.S. The title has nothing to do with anything. I saw it on the internet and loved it, but couldn’t think of anything to relate it to.

The Secret Is To Be Still

I’ve made a decision to play more golf. As I’ve mentioned before, golf has been the one sport I simply can’t seem to get comfortable with. So, I’m going to make the commitment and put in the effort to become average. While becoming “average” doesn’t seem like much of a goal, it is when you’re struggling to get past awful. I’m not looking to shoot par, or join the senior tour. My desire is to be able to be paired up with any group and feel comfortable that I’m not going to embarrass myself.

So with this new plan to get better at golf, I made a little resolution to challenge myself and play golf three days in a row. What’s the big deal with that? Well, it meant going out as a single and probably being placed with a group of strangers. No only does that challenge my awkward social skills, it means embarrassing myself in front of strangers with my lack of golf skills. For you extroverts maybe that doesn’t seem like a big deal. For us introverts, trust me it is.

Day one and I forced myself to go to the course. I thought about just going to the driving range, but made myself go into the pro shop and say the dreaded words… “do you have any slots open for a single?” Oh, happy days – not only did they have room, the course wasn’t busy and I was able to go out by myself! It worked out perfectly. I forced myself to overcome social anxiety and got to relax and play without anyone watching. It was a very enjoyable experience and I actually played ok. Probably because I wasn’t in my head and simply enjoyed the course.

Day two and I was much less anxious. I drove to the course and… the parking lot was packed. I nearly turned around and left. But to my credit, I forced myself to head to the pro shop and say the magic words. There wasn’t going to be any solo golf this time. I was paired with a couple of young guys. They were laughing and joking around. The pro clearly knew them. He said, “I know these two look like knuckleheads, but they’re good guys”.

As we went out to the first tee, they certainly didn’t look like golfers. Late twenties, early thirties maybe. Both looked like ratty skater dudes. Flat billed ball caps. T-shirts. Baggy shorts. Lots of tattoos. I thought to myself that they couldn’t be very serious about golf, so at least I won’t be too embarrassed. As we were waiting to tee off I noticed they were both wearing flip-flops. How committed a player could you be in flip-flops? The group in front of us moved on to the green so I stepped up to tee off. I actually managed to hit a decent shot. Not terribly far but dead center in the fairway. One of the guys yells “Steady Eddy, that what I want to see all day!” I was quite pleased with myself.

Now this first hole was a par 4, slight dog leg to the right, 300 some odd yards. I’m waiting for my two partners to tee off, but they’re just chatting away. I’m waiting. And waiting. Finally the group ahead clears the green. Skater guy number one steps up in his flip-flops and crushes a massive drive that lands on the green. Skater guy number two steps up in his flip-flops and also crushes his drive, landing just a few feet short of the green. I was speechless. Whatever stereotype I had of what a golfer looks like was blown away. I’ve never seen, in person, someone hit a golf ball like that. It’s one thing to see a massive drive from the pros on TV. But you have no appreciation for how far 300+ yards is until you see it in person. And these freaking guys did it in flip-flops. Why am I so obsessed over the footwear? Because I just bought a pair of fancy new golf shoes. Nothing like feeling foolish standing there in my shiny, brand new, fancy shoes while these guys crush it looking like they’re on their way to a beach party.

I did ok on the second hole, and then the nerves of playing with these guys got to me and the wheels came off. They were super nice and very supportive. I realized they would normally play back on the pro tees, but were playing up on the closer tees for me. They gave plenty of encouragement, but it was clear I was holding them back from their normal pace of play. Eventually they asked if I would mind if they jumped ahead a hole to play a bit faster. Of course I didn’t mind as it worked out well for me and them.

Before they left we shook hands and said the standard pleasantries. But one of the skater dudes did leave me with a bit of advice. He was quiet for a bit and then said, “You know, I think most problems with the golf swing can be fixed by just being more still”. And off they went.

I don’t know if that’s good golf advice or not… but it certainly felt right. It was an interesting experience. A wise, tatted up skater dude who crushes 300 yard drives in flip-flops. The next day I got rained out, so we’ll have to wait to see what the next round brings and if stillness is the secret. One thing is certain. I’m clearly trying too hard. Maybe I’ll put the new shoes on eBay.

No Vax, No Treatment?

Social media is an interesting place. There is no doubt its driven a giant wedge in society. Everyone has been forced into one camp or another. There is no longer respectful debate or differing opinions… on anything. People are constantly outraged at something. Outraged and extreme. There are no shades of gray, just black and white. The latest outrage seems to be a massive amount of self-righteous indignation over people choosing not to get the vaccination for the virus we shall not name.

Post after post on Twitter and Facebook of people calling folks who haven’t been vaccinated uncaring monsters, selfish, and worse. What I’m seeing a lot of lately are people saying that if an unvax’d person gets Covid they should be denied a hospital bed, relegated to tents in the parking lot, or “go to the back of the line”.

Not only does that opinion lack any compassion, it also shows a complete lack of understanding of our healthcare system. I’ll estimate that at least 50% of my hospital (probably more) is full of people being treated for something self-induced. Obese, smoker, throws a clot and has a stroke. Uncontrolled diabetic who has non-healing necrotic foot ulcers. Alcohol detoxing. Drug overdoses. Alcohol induced cirrhosis. Suicide attempts. Intravenous drug users with massive septic abscesses. The list goes on and on.

All these folks get treated. We don’t withhold care because they are responsible for their illness. We don’t judge your poor life choices. Oh, and by the way – the vast majority of these folks are unfunded. They do not have insurance. They still get the same care as everyone else. The hospital has to eat that cost, and so it gets passed on to you.

Are hospitals starting to see a lack of beds? Yep. But it’s for a variety of reasons. Prior to Covid we were starting to see a decline in the number of rehab, skilled nursing, and assisted living facilities. We have patients in the hospital that are medically cleared, but have been there for weeks (months sometimes) because we can’t find a facility that will accept them. Covid made that problem 10x worse. I’d guess that at any given time close to a quarter of the beds on my floor are occupied by patients who have been cleared to go but we can’t find placement for them.

The other issue is one of staffing. Many, many hospitals were starting to see staffing shortages pre-covid. With the pandemic, the bottom simply fell out from a staffing perspective. We often have physical beds available… just no staff to be able to accept more patients. I receive text messages from management nearly daily, begging for folks to come in and work additional shifts. Overtime pay, premium pay, covid bonuses, and we still can’t cover all the staff shortages.

So now we have a new variant that’s hitting the world pretty hard and that’s making everything worse again. Is this new wave impacting care for non-covid things? Absolutely. We’re now limiting elective surgeries again and postponing non-urgent procedures. That sucks. The trickle down effect of people postponing care will hit us hard later. All in all, this is a mess. Covid will be with us forever and the impact on our nation’s overall health will be a generational one. The point is that hospitals being “overwhelmed” is a multi-factorial problem, not just due to Covid. Surges in Covid cases simply exacerbate what was already an issue in healthcare.

So back to my original point. If you think that we should start rationing care based upon a personal choice about a vaccine… be careful what you wish for. We go down that road and you better not show up to the hospital slightly overweight with hypertension and a smoker, and complaining of chest pain. You may get put to the back of the line so we can treat someone with cancer first. So sorry you’re having a heart attack, I guess you should have taken better care of yourself. Bottom line, this pandemic sucks for everyone. Stop with the indignant, self righteous outrage. We’re divided enough already as it is. No need to add to it so you can feel morally superior over someone who makes different choices than you.

A Timeline

  • September 2021 California and New York roll out their vaccine passport. Proof of vaccination required to visit restaurants, bars, and many stores. The original paper vaccine card, CA’s digital vault or IBM’s digital health pass app (Excelsior in NY) are accepted.

  • February 2022 As the Lambda variant begins spreading widely, 39 of 50 states now require vaccine proof to enter most public and commercial buildings. Markets and grocery stores are exempt in most states that require proof.

  • June 2022 Due to rampant fraud, paper versions of vaccine history are no longer accepted. Where required, an approved digital version must be shown.

  • August 2022 One of President Harris’s first actions is to sign the American Health and Safety Act (AHSA), mandating proof of vaccination status for all public venues in all states. Federal funding will be withheld for states that opt out.

  • October 2023 The President signs the emergency funding bill for the newly formed Digital Health Consortium, a joint effort between IBM, Apple, and Alphabet to nationalize the Digital Health Wallet app. The consortium will also develop Digital Health Scanners which will be distributed to all retail, commercial, and office buildings that fall under the AHSA vaccine requirements.

  • July 2024 The annual influenza vaccine is added to the list of required vaccines registered in the National Digital Health database. The CDC continues to advocate for adding Hepatitis, Pneumonia, TB, and the newly developed RSV vaccine. A trial program enabling people to opt in with their sexual health status is added to the Digital Health Wallet, enabling people to share their history of any sexually transmitted diseases with potential partners.

  • January 2026 President Sanders signs the Climate Accountability Act into law, enabling power companies to link all household and commercial real estate SmartMeter data to the National Climate database. Electricity usage will be charged for and throttled based upon your calculated carbon profile.

  • May 2027 Congress approves linking an individuals carbon profile to their Digital Health Wallet, claiming the climate crisis is also a health crisis. Retail establishments are encouraged to charge an additional carbon tax to customers who’s Health Wallet scan shows a negative carbon profile. Retail stores who choose to add the tax earn a “Environment Friendly” blue check symbol on the three approved social media platforms and are eligible for special federal subsidies.

  • January 2028 The retail Carbon Tax is now a mandatory federal tax. The tax is a sliding scale based upon the individuals carbon profile and federal tax bracket.

  • March 2028 In a narrow decision the 12 member Supreme Court overturns the final federal privacy appeals, enabling employers, insurance companies, and a wide variety of “Shared Usage” companies (hotels, rental cars, airlines, etc…) to access the National Digital Health database. Based upon vaccine and carbon profile data, approved companies can restrict or utilize a sliding scale to charge for services. Employers can pre-screen potential candidates.

  • April 2031 The Person Place and Footprint biometrics database goes live. Citizens are given a score, calculated from six integrated systems; Criminal Justice, Experian Credit, Climate, Digital Health, IRS, and the Universal Social Media Ranking System. The PPF score will be available to authorized users prior to citizen engagement, or real-time via facial recognition or iris scan.

  • February 2034 Facing extreme food and electricity shortages, the free states of Florida, South Dakota, Idaho, and Texas begin coordinating violent, cross-border raids and targeted cyber attacks against neighboring states.