Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘health’ Category

So-called health care reform passed today.

  • Reform was supposed to cut costs for health care. Instead it increases them.
  • Reform was supposed to ease the burden of health care on businesses. Instead it imposes a fine on businesses for not providing health care, and tightens the relationship between employment and health insurance coverage.
  • Reform was supposed to increase choice in the health care marketplace. Instead it forces people to purchase health insurance from existing providers. It compels people to purchase health insurance no matter what their employment situation, whether they want it or not. It imposes a fine on people who do not comply.
  • Reform was supposed to make the delivery of health services more efficient. Instead it creates new rules and procedures, including fifty state-run health insurance exchanges, that add complexity to the health care system and make streamlining even more difficult than it was before.
  • Reform was supposed to be carried out consistent with government’s pledge to impose no new taxes. Instead it creates new taxes to cover the cost of covering the currently uninsured, in addition to the fines cited above.
  • Reform was supposed to take into account the interests of all parties involved in health care: patients and their families, doctors and other health care providers, insurance companies, hospitals and clinics, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, state and federal governments. Instead it satisfies a narrow group of determined people in the Democratic party, and shows no evidence of compromise among these group interests.
  • Reform was supposed to bring us, if not together, at least into a national conversation about how to improve the delivery and funding of health care services. Instead many are angry that health care reform should have taken such a wrong turn while so many interested parties were excluded from the legislative process.
  • Reform was supposed to secure Medicare’s fiscal health for at least the next generation, and contribute to the fiscal health of the federal government in general. Instead the main anxiety about health care reform is the impact it has on the government’s books. Few are confident we can pay for it.
  • Reform was supposed to be an opportunity for political parties to work out necessary compromises. Instead the process of reform began with the majority party telling the minority party to get out of the way: we don’t need you and we don’t need to listen to you.
  • Reform was supposed to give people peace of mind that when they have a failure of health, or when they need professional health services, quality services would be available. Instead we are anxious about what the future holds, and doubtful that quality services will actually be available when we need them.

Did you notice that as Nancy Pelosi crowed about passage of the legislation, she pointed approvingly to Medicare? Democrats proudly applauded their work as the biggest improvement to health care since the enactment of Medicare. But over decades Medicare gradually caused the federal government to go bankrupt! A key impetus toward reform in the first place was government’s inability to keep funding Medicare at such a high level. Opponents of Medicare predicted that would happen, and it did. What solution did the Democrats offer to deal with this budget crisis? You have it in front of you now. If you see effective cost containment in this bill, please tell me because I can’t find it.

Tell me again why, if health care is a right, the government forces me to buy it? That’s like saying you have freedom of worship, and we’ll force you to attend church every Sunday. You also have a right to vote, and we’ll fine you if you don’t go to the polls on election day. I have a right to bear arms, too, but who can tell me I have to carry a handgun?

Fact is, health care is not a right listed in our Constitution, nor have the courts written that people, as citizens, are entitled to it. Forcing people to buy it is clearly unconstitutional. A long time ago, however, the federal government turned the Tenth Amendment on its head: all rights and powers not expressly granted to the states are reserved for the national government. We’ve operated according to that counter-productive principle for more than a century now, and it will take a revolution that originates with the states to recover the powers that belong to them. Let the resistance start now. Who has the courage to stand against this corrupt Congress and its overreaching leaders?

Read Full Post »

Recently I ran across an article by Cynthia Tucker that quoted from Ronald Reagan’s 1961 speech against Medicare. In the speech, Reagan accurately predicted what would happen if Medicare were enacted. She also cited Nicholas Kristof’s article, where he mocks critics of Social Security and Medicare. Referring to the critics of the current health care bill before Congress, he suggests we’ve heard all of this before. All the predictions about socialization, higher costs, and loss of freedom were wrong then, Kristoff says, and they’re wrong now. These programs proved to be hugely popular, so much so that Reagan stopped criticizing them when he ran for president.

The popularity of Social Security and Medicare doesn’t mean their critics were wrong, though. Their predictions about cost, freedom of choice, and socialization came about. Their description of how our society would evolve with these programs in place was remarkably accurate. We expect and accept the high taxes, and constraints on individual freedom that these programs entail. The program’s popularity doesn’t mean the critics were mistaken. It means people have wanted to trade freedom for security in two key areas: retirement income and health care. Many accept the higher costs and loss of choice that public programs impose, if in return the government can ease their fears about poverty and ill-health during old age.

So defenders of the current efforts to improve our health care system can look back and say accurately that Medicare has more supporters than critics. What’s popular does matter in a democracy, but truth and popularity aren’t always on the same side. In this case, Reagan’s warnings about Medicare have proven altogether accurate. In fact, the need to change our health care system now would not be so urgent if Medicare did not place such a strain on our government’s resources. We could live with our system’s faults if the bill for Medicare weren’t so high. As it is, Medicare payments seem out of control, going up faster and faster as our population becomes older. Thus the urgent need, expressed so often by Washington’s budget analysts, to contain costs.

Interestingly, a key element of our current cost-cutting plan is to increase the government’s role in health care! If you aim to reduce costs without rationing, reduce government’s role. Don’t increase it. We have other goals, however: clearly universal participation in the nation’s health care system precedes cost cutting as the reformers’ primary goal. The outlay of public funds required to cover every person, under current proposals, won’t be small. We have only two ways to limit costs: individuals who make purchasing decisions in an unregulated market, and some form of public rationing. We are a long way from the free market option, and no one speaks favorably of the R word. Consequently we are headed toward an expansion of public funding for health care, with no support for rationing. Of course the government’s costs will go up. We’ve tried – not so successfully – to pretend they won’t.

Let’s return to Kristoff’s confident, dismissive remark: “We’ve heard all of this before.” The critics were wrong then, Kristoff implies, and they’re equally wrong now. Critics in the 1960s said we would look to governnent for our benefits and well-being, and we do. Critics said the costs of social health care in old age would become insupportable, and they have. Critics argued that each enhancement of the government’s authority would result in a diminution of our freedom. We have seen exactly that outcome. Reagan and all the wise people who joined him spoke truthfully. We enacted public funding for old age health care, and we  have seen the results. For the most part, the intended social bargain since 1964 has worked: in return for high taxes and a substantial degree of government involvement in old age health care, Medicare participants have received the care they want.

Whatever judgments we make about Medicare’s tradeoffs, though, we should recognize why Reagan and others objected to it. If we want to change the system in a way that forces everyone to participate, we certainly have to recognize what’s true in the critics’ warnings. The truth is that security of the type we’re talking about here does come at the price of freedom. As we move to carry out health care reform, we ought to heed Reagan’s warning: once we sacrifice our freedom to some other end, we’re not going to get it back. We can easily relinquish our freedoms incrementally, in return for benefits we’re eager to acquire. We’ll have the security we crave, but will we have the life we want?

Read Full Post »

Disturbing medical marijuana case involving an AIDS patient

Tom FaltynowiczTom Faltynowicz, a 43-year-old gay rancher in Meade County, South Dakota, was diagnosed with Aquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) in 1990, and is currently facing criminal charges for possessing and growing marijuana for medicinal usage.For those of you unaware of the specifics of that disease, a patient infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) may or may not develop AIDS. Once infected with HIV, the disease damages the CD4 cells (T-Cells), and in fact uses those cells to replicate within the body; CD4 cells can be replaced through normal process in the early stages of the disease, but eventually the counts start to fall as the cells are overcome by the virus. A CD4 count between 700 and 1000 is considered normal in a non-HIV infected person; while a CD4 count of about 500 is considered normal when the virus is present. A CD4 count below 200 is indicative of AIDS, since it is at that point that the body loses its ability to fight off opportunistic infection.

Opportunistic infection is any infection which, under normal circumstances, the body could easily fight off. However, due to the lack of CD4 immune cells, AIDS patients are at very high risk of contracting diseases which they would never contract were it not for the virus destroying their immune system. Some diseases are so common in AIDS patients, and so uncommon in non-AIDS patients, that they are considered to be AIDS-defining diseases. Examples of AIDS-defining diseases include Pneumocystis Pneumonia (a fungal infection of the lungs) and Kaposi’s Sarcoma (once believed to be a rare form of cancer, now believed to be caused by Herpes Virus HHV8); these diseases are normally not seen in patients with a normal immune system. While there is viable treatment for many opportunistic diseases, they must be treated swiftly in an AIDS patient due to the patient’s body being unable to fight infection on its own.

Another important way of measuring HIV is by measuring the viral load. The viral load is the amount of HIV in the body. So while a CD4 count measures the amount of damage HIV has done, a viral load count will measure how much of the virus is actually in the body. In this way, doctors are able to measure whether drugs are working to halt the spread of the virus.

AIDS is a pandemic first identified in 1981 by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), due to Pneumocystis Pneumonia being identified in five homosexual men in Los Angeles. The disease did not take over worldwide as quickly as it is generally believed, though. AIDS has been identified in tissue samples of patients who died of unknown causes as early as 1959; one postmortem case identified the virus in a tissue sample from a 15-year-old boy who died in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1969, though it is still unknown how the boy may have contracted the virus. Some scientists suggest the virus could have first infected humans sometime during the end of the 19th Century, while other scientists suggest it first infected humans during the early 20th century, between 1915 and 1930. Regardless of whether it started during the late 19th Century or early 20th Century, it took many decades for it to even become prevalent enough to be noticed. Since the virus is slow to overtake its host, the window for inadvertent infection of others is years, rather than days or weeks as with most viruses.

It is unclear exactly how the virus started, but it seems clear that it crossed species from primates (which can carry a disease known as the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus) into humans, likely when humans came into contact with the bodily fluids of monkeys, possibly during consumption, hunting or butchering the animals (monkey meat is a delicacy in some areas of the world, and is regularly eaten in some areas of Africa). The virus spread due to a number of factors, including vaccines given with unclean needles in developing countries. While AIDS is now generally viewed as a disease of gay men and intravenous drug users, the truth is far more chilling, since the virus is not contained only within a particular population. Many women and children are infected with the virus, and in some areas of the world, particularly Africa where infected patients do not have access to proper health care, the number of deaths has become catastrophic.

At this time, there is no cure for HIV, or for AIDS, nor is there a vaccine to prevent transmission. However, scientists have designed a number of drugs inhibit the virus’s replication. To understand how these drugs work, a short primer on the virus is necessary.

HIV takes over CD4 cells, changing their molecular structure by inserting its own ribonucleic acid (RNA). The virus itself, which is too small to be seen except with an electron microscope, consists of an outer envelope containing the virus and the proteins and enzymes necessary for replication; the envelope has about 72 spikes on its surface. When the virus bumps into a cell coated by the CD4 protein, the spikes stick into the cell and fuse, at which time the inner contents of the HIV envelope is released into the CD4 cell.

Once inside the cell, the HIV enzyme called reverse transciptase converts the viral RNA into DNA, which is compatible with human genetic material. This DNA is transported to the cell’s nucleus, where it is spliced into the human DNA by the HIV enzyme called integrase. Once it is spliced into the human DNA, the HIV DNA is known as provirus. The provirus may lie dormant within a cell for quite some time. However, when the cell becomes activated, it treats HIV genes in almost the same way as human genes. First it uses human enzymes to convert HIV genes into messenger RNA. The messenger RNA is transported outside the cell nucleus, and is used as a blueprint for producing new HIV proteins and enzymes, much in the same way as the human body normally produce replacement cells.

Complete copies of HIV genetic material is contained among the strands of messenger RNA produced by the cell. These copies combine with newly made HIV proteins and enzymes to form new viral particles, which are then released from the cell. The enzyme protease plays a vital role of the HIV life cycle, as it chops up long strands of protein into smaller pieces, which are then used to construct mature viral cores. At that point the newly matured HIV particles are ready to infect another cell, and begin the replication process all over again. In this way the virus quickly spreads through the human body, and causes its host to become infectious. HIV is passed to others through bodily fluids; some fluids contain more of the virus than others.

Contrary to popular belief, people do not die of HIV, or of AIDS. They die of the opportunistic infections which accompany the complete loss of their immune system. Patients therefore must take a strong cocktail of medications to stop the virus from replicating and destroying their immune system. Some common drugs prescribed for AIDS patients, to stop the virus from replicating, include reverse transcriptase inhibitors, which prevent the viral RNA from being converted into human DNA; protease inhibitors, which prevent the virus from creating new mature viral cores; and integrase inhibitors, which prevent the viral DNA from being spliced into the human DNA within the cells.

Unfortunately, with those life-saving treatments for the virus come life-threatening side effects, from lethal liver damage to an overwhelming nausea which results in starvation and dehydration; when this occurs, it only worsens those same symptoms which can be caused by the virus itself. Over the years many drugs have been discovered to combat the side effects (those same side effects are found in many other medical conditions as well), and to increase the quality of life for those who are infected with the virus; some of those drugs and treatments are pharmaceutical in nature, and some are natural.

One of the non-pharmaceutical drugs, which has proven very helpful in battling the anxiety, overwhelming nausea and physical wasting which comes with the virus and its treatment, is marijuana. So effective is marijuana that scientists have even made a pharmaceutical version of the drug, used in chemotherapy patients as well as AIDS patients, which contains synthetic THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). However, many patients believe that the natural THC in marijuana works better than the synthetic version in Marinol, and science supports this belief. In studies of marijuana usage for medicinal usage, it was found that other chemicals found in marijuana have additional medicinal effects which complement the effects of THC. Furthermore Marinol is extremely expensive (Tom’s Marinol costs about $2200 per month, so severe is his nausea and gastrointestinal symptoms), and thus the drug is far beyond the financial reach of most patients; and for that reason they cultivate and smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes. While the black market cost of marijuana can be high, the plant can be cultivated at home from seeds, at very little cost to the patient.

In some states, it is legal for patients with a valid medical prescription to possess certain amounts of dried and cultivated marijuana for personal medicinal use. However, even in those states, the US Government – which has declared that marijuana is an illicit and therefore illegal drug – refuses to permit patients to use the cultivated form of THC. Patients are regularly arrested for merely possessing the substance which allows them to live a more normal life, and which in cases of extreme wasting seen in AIDS, is actually life-saving. This occurs nationwide, including in the states where marijuana is legal for medicinal use.

I do not advocate the casual use of marijuana (or any other drug, prescription or otherwise) to get “high”. I do strongly advocate the right of physicians and patients to determine the best course of treatment, and I believe the government has no right to interfere in the doctor/patient relationship when the patient is not being placed in untoward danger.

Enter Tom Faltynowicz. When Tom was diagnosed with AIDS in 1990, he was given “maybe a few years” to live. Eighteen years later, he is in a fight for his life, but it’s a fight of a very different kind.

In September 2007, law enforcement officials in his native Meade County received an anonymous call, stating that Tom had between 75 and 100 marijuana plants growing behind a metal building on his property. It is believed that the anonymous call came from Tom’s daughter, who was angry with him because he had recently stated his disapproval of her relationship with a particular man.

When Meade County Investigator Michael Walker and South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation Agent John Griswold arrived at Tom’s home the next day, there were not 75 to 100 plants on the property, or even anywhere near that many; in fact, there were no plants out in the open at all. However, when asked by those officers about the accusation, Tom immediately admitted to growing marijuana to treat his medical condition. He even invited the officers into his home, so they can see where he was growing it, and he was completely cooperative at all times, even according to the police report regarding the incident. All told, the officers found five plants, and about four ounces of dried marijuana. There was never an allegation that the marijuana was being used for anything but his medical condition, and never an allegation that he was selling the marijuana. It remains undisputed that Tom was using the marijuana to treat AIDS, and the side effects of the many potent medications he takes to fight the virus.

Tom takes a total of four antiretroviral drugs to combat the HIV infection: Combivir (a combination of Retrovir and Epivir), Sustiva, and Viread. Each of these drugs, by themselves, come with potentially fatal side effects. All of these drugs can cause severe nausea, and can result in extreme anxiety as an additional side effect. In addition, Tom has been prescribed Marinol, the synthetic THC drug to combat nausea and vomiting, so there is no question that he suffers the side effects which are treated by marijuana, and there is no question that his side effects are severe based upon his dosage. However, Tom says that the marijuana is far more effective than the Marinol, since Marinol makes him so tired that he cannot function; and his physician is aware of and supports his use of marijuana to treat his symptoms.

Tom, though he has no prior criminal record with the exception of two prior misdemeanor convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana – both of which occurred after he was diagnosed with AIDS – pled guilty to felony possession of marijuana. He faces a maximum of two years in prison, and a maximum fine of $4000; he could also be given probation. His sentencing date has been set for April 21st, before the Honorable Jerome Eckrich, Circuit Judge. Tom’s Infectious Disease Specialist, Dr. Traub, will speak at the sentencing hearing. The State Attorney has already said that he will not object to anything Dr. Traub might say. It appears that no one is interested in punishing Tom Faltynowicz; at the same time, under the law, his possession of marijuana – regardless of the reason why he possessed it – is a felony in the state of South Dakota.

Tom, however, is an exception to the reason that law was written. It was written to stop people from abusing the drug to get high, and to stop them from selling or otherwise providing it to others for the same illicit purpose. It is extremely doubtful the legislature was aware of the medicinal effects of marijuana when that law was passed, and it’s extremely doubtful the legislature ever intended to punish patients with a deadly disease. It’s even possible that the medicinal effects of marijuana were unknown to them when that law was passed, since it is hardly a new law. Nevertheless, since the law exists, it will be enforced, even against people like Tom who are using marijuana strictly for medicinal purposes.

This raises a number of questions. Even if Tom is merely placed on probation, and even if he stopped smoking marijuana altogether, using Marinol to control his symptoms would result in violation of probation, since he would test positive for THC during required drug tests. If he fails a drug test while on probation, he will be incarcerated.

If he is incarcerated, he will not only not have access to the drug which he needs to survive without excessive suffering due to overwhelming nausea, vomiting, physical wasting, and extreme fatigue; but the South Dakota Department of Corrections will be forced to pay for the extremely expensive antiretroviral drugs which fight the virus as well as the Marinol, at a cost of thousands of dollars per month to the taxpayers, in addition to the increased cost of incarceration for a man with an infectious deadly disease. As you should understand after my explanation of how those drugs work, and how the virus works, missing even one dose of his antiretroviral drugs could be catastrophic for his health, since it would allow the virus to replicate until the drug was again built up to a therapeutic dosage. Yet in a prison environment there is no guarantee that he will receive his life-sustaining medications at all, much less receive them on the schedule those drugs demand.

Tom has said that he will not stop using marijuana, because it allows him to live a relatively normal life. Without it, his body is wracked with pain, nausea, and vomiting; he is unable to eat or drink, and thus his body becomes even more weakened, even more unable to fight the virus, and even more prone to the many opportunistic illnesses, any one of which could easily end his life. This is especially true if he is confined in a jail or prison facility, given that there are large numbers of inmates living in close approximation.

To incarcerate Tom Faltynowicz would therefore place his life at severe risk, and as such would clearly constitute cruel and unusual punishment, as prohibited by the Eighth Amendment of the US Constitution. Furthermore, it would serve no purpose to incarcerate him, since his crime is merely possession of a drug which allows him to live with his disease and to continue take the cruel medications which literally keep him alive. He poses no threat to anyone and he is not selling or otherwise distributing the marijuana, nor has it even been suggested that he is selling or distributing the marijuana. Rehabilitation is also not a valid cause for his incarceration, since he merely uses the drug for medicinal purposes, and thus he is not in need of rehabilitation.

Society would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz. The interests of justice would not be served by incarcerating Tom Faltynowicz.

As such, justice demands that the court show mercy by giving Tom Faltynowicz a suspended sentence, no probation, and whatever fine the court sees fit, as long as it is within Tom’s ability to pay said fine.

Read Full Post »

zzimages

Patients suffering from chronic pain, loss of appetite and other ailments that marijuana is said to alleviate can get their pot with a dose of convenience at the Herbal Nutrition Center, where a large machine will dole out the drug around the clock.”Convenient access, lower prices, safety, anonymity,” inventor and owner Vincent Mehdizadeh said, extolling the benefits of the machine.But federal drug agents say the invention may need unplugging.

“Somebody owns (it), it’s on a property and somebody fills it,” said DEA Special Agent Jose Martinez. “Once we find out where it’s at, we’ll look into it and see if they’re violating laws.”
However, the vending machines only allow purchase by those with a valid marijuana prescription, and there are multiple safeguards in place, including fingerprint identification.

Are the feds overreacting?

Read the entire article here.

Originally posted on Adventures In Frickintardistan 

Read Full Post »

Maria LauterbachI have been watching the news reports about the young, extremely pregnant female Marine, Lance Cpl. Maria Lauterbach, who disappeared almost a month ago.

What has been most prominent in this case is the systematic marginalization of a young woman who dared to accuse a man, a superior officer, of sexual assault. I expected that out of the Marine Corps. I did not expect that from her family and civilian authorities.When she disappeared in December, the military did not report her missing, although certainly they were aware of it. Her stepmother was the person who filed the missing persons report. It now seems that her stepmother had advised her in a telephone conversation, shortly before her disappearance, to put her baby up for adoption because she couldn’t care for it. However, I’ve yet to see a Marine who can’t handle diaper duty. I suspect her stepmother really suggested adoption because of the identity of the father.

Apparently she had filed a rape charge against a superior officer, and a hearing was upcoming. The minute she filed a rape charge against a fellow Marine, she placed herself in danger, and the Marine Corps wasn’t about to do a thing to protect her.

As every female in the military is well aware (I used to be in the Air Force, many years ago) “don’t ask, don’t tell” applies to far more than sexual orientation. It also applies to females speaking out against the good ol’ boy system which is our military. They don’t want women there, and they especially don’t want mothers there. The latter is understandable to an extent, for many reasons; the former is not.

If a female is sexually assaulted by a fellow solder, and she reports that assault, she is assumed to be lying. Most females in the military will not report a crime committed by a male counterpart, and especially a superior officer, because they know how it will be viewed. The female, by filing such a charge, has bought their ticket out of the military, and with that goes all the benefits of being in the military, as well as the income. They will be forced out as a disgraced soldier.

Sure enough, it has been announced that she was facing involuntary discharge.

It has been said that she is suicidal and a chronic liar by her own family, by military authorities, and by the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department. Just yesterday, the Onslow County Sheriff made a plea for the missing woman to come back and face her problems.

Today, the Onslow County Sheriff announced that she is dead. Not only is she dead, she’s buried. It’s kind of hard to bury yourself when you’re dead. Obviously, she did not commit suicide. She was murdered. Obviously, the number one suspect is the superior officer.

Yet the Sheriff just said he is not terming this murder, because there are “a lot of twists and turns”. However, when you’re dealing with the military and they are covering something up, there are always going to be twists and turns. Sheriff Brown needs to get smart, and realize that he was being sent in other directions intentionally, to divert attention away from the Marine Corps.

Now, authorities are saying that the superior officer she accused is also missing. Apparently he’s been missing for a week, and was supposed to appear for duty at Fort Carson, Nevada.

Given the rape allegation, one would think he would have been noticed missing long before now. Undoubtedly the Marine Corps was aware that he had disappeared, and one would think they’d have made that information available. Had they done that, it would have been clear very early in the investigation that she had most likely been a victim of foul play, and the case would have been investigated as a possible murder rather than as a missing person. There is a huge difference between those two types of investigation, after all, since every adult has the right to disappear if they so desire.

But no. All this time, everyone – the Marine Corps, the Onslow County Sheriff’s Department, and even her own family – have worked on the assumption that she was lying about being raped by a superior officer. All this time, they have been protecting a murderer, a man who killed not only a fellow soldier, but an expectant mother and, quite obviously, her unborn child which could have survived outside the womb since she was eight months pregnant when she disappeared. As far as I’m concerned, that’s murder number two.

Today officials are saying that she was murdered because her unborn child would have been proof of her accusation of rape, which is undoubtedly a very big motive for murder on the part of the superior officer. So why wasn’t the Marine Corps ensuring this young woman’s safety from her attacker? Why didn’t they share that information with civilian authorities who were investigating her disappearance?

There are a lot of questions in this case which will probably never be answered. After all, the military is a law unto itself, and they don’t have to cooperate with local authorities.

However, this wouldn’t be the first time a Marine committed cold-blooded murder. The most famous case is undoubtedly that of Captain Jeffrey McDonald, who in the 70s murdered his pregnant wife and his two very young daughters, then tried to claim that drug-crazed hippies had committed the crime. It took decades to convict him of that heinous crime, due to the incompetence of the Marine Corps.

It looks like the Marines haven’t learn a thing since then. It’s all about protecting the reputation of the Corps. Semper Fi and all that, you know.

Originally posted by ElfNinosMom on Adventures in Frickintardistan

Read Full Post »

Tiny Brain No Problem for French Tax Official

Something that many people secretly believed has been confirmed: You don’t actually need a brain to work in a tax office. A French civil servant has been found to have a huge cavity filled with fluid in his head — yet lives a completely normal life.

The commonly spouted wisdom that people only use 10 percent of their brain power may have been dismissed as a myth, but one French man seems to be managing fine with just a small fraction of his actual brain.

In fact the man, who works as a civil servant in southern France, has succeeded in living an entirely normal life despite a huge fluid-filled cavity taking up most of the space where his brain should be.

Neurologists at the University of Marseille described the incredible case in the latest edition of the medical journal Lancet published Friday.They describe how the 44-year-old man went to the hospital in 2003 because he felt a mild weakness in his left leg. When the doctors went to look at his brain to see if the problem lay there, they found, well, pretty much nothing but a great black hole.

Scans of the man's brain show the huge fluid-filled chamber and the thin sheet of actual brain tissue.

Scans of the man’s brain show the huge fluid-filled chamber and the thin sheet of actual brain tissue.

The man told the hospital that as a child he had suffered from hydrocephalus (also known as “water on the brain”), a condition in which an abnormal ammount of cerebrospinal fluid accumulates in the brain cavities, causing pressure inside the skull. To treat the condition, a valve known as a “shunt” had been inserted in his head to drain away the fluid when he was a six-month old baby. It was removed when he was 14.This information prompted the doctors to give him a computed tomography scan (CT) and a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI). They then saw that there was what they — somewhat euphemistically — called a “massive enlargement” of the lateral ventricles, chambers that hold the fluid which cushions and protects the brain and which are usually tiny.

Dr. Lionel Fuillet, who headed the team that treated the man, told the Agence France Presse agency that a huge cavity had built up filled with fluid, while a thin sheet of functioning brain tissue, the proverbial grey matter, “was completely pushed back to the inner walls of the cranium.”

Tests showed that the man’s IQ is 75 — the average is 100 — but he was not considered physically or mentally disabled. Fuillet said that his condition had not impared his development or his socialization. He is married with two children and works in the tax office — which is perhaps not the most “taxing” of jobs.

“The case is extreme, but there are other cases of patients with incredibly little brain matter,” Florian Heinen, a brain development expert at the Dr. von Hauner’s Children’s Hospital at Munich University, explained to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “Obviously these few nerve cells can achieve just as much as the millions more cells that other people have.”

I bet if they did an MRI on Dubya, they’d find a similar lack of brain matter. That sure would explain a lot, wouldn’t it? LOL

Read Full Post »

A class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Iraq War veterans against the US Department of Veterans Affairs. A copy of the lawsuit complaint may be seen at http://www.mofo.com/docs/pdf/PTSD070723.pdf

Along with a plethora of abuses alleged in that lawsuit, it is additionally alleged (as previously touched upon in this forum, when I noted that this is a longstanding action dating back to at least the early 1980s) that the VA has conspired with the Pentagon to falsely categorize veterans as suffering from preexisting personality disorders, as a way of denying them their veteran benefits.

According to the lawsuit, the Veterans Administration has a backlog of between 400,000 and 600,000 claims. It states that it takes 177 days to process an initial claim, and 657 days to process an appeal, and some benefit claims take up to ten years to decide while injured veterans suffer and, sometimes, die awaiting necessary care. The suit additionally compares this timeline to healthcare claims made in the private sector, which take on average less than 70 days to decide.

Additionally, according to the lawsuit, senior VA officials were given $3.8 million in bonuses during 2005, the same year in which the VA spent $1 billion over budget while timely and appropriate treatment of injured veterans continued to decline.

Most recently, there have been a rash of suicides by Iraq War veterans, which were attributed to the agency’s failure to provide sufficient and appropriate mental health care to war veterans.

The law firm representing the veterans, Morrison and Foerster, stated that the lawsuit does not seek to make a statement about the war, but instead is intended to force action on veterans’ benefit issues.

Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a sharply worded decision regarding the failure of the VA to pay retroactive benefits to Vietnam veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and suffered from a form of leukemia, “The performance of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has contributed substantially to our sense of national shame.”

According to the newest complaint, which seeks a court order directing the Veterans Administration to make drastic changes in order to properly and timely treat injured and ill veterans, “Unless systemic and drastic measures are instituted immediately, the costs to these veterans, their families and our nation will be incalculable, including broken families, a new generation of unemployed and homeless veterans, increases in drug abuse and alcoholism, and crushing burdens on the health care delivery system.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: