Health

Fort McMurray

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Scott Olson/Getty Images

If this is any indication of how devastating it is going to be for people in Fort McMurray, Alberta to return to their homes, I can only imagine how hard life is going to be in the months ahead. 

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley warns "dramatic images" emerging from Fort McMurray, Alta., may upset evacuees as she and Wood Buffalo Mayor Melissa Blake get their first look at wildfire damage during their tour today.

Fire Chief Darby Allen, as well as a limited number of media personnel, will accompany Notley and Blake on the tour.

The group will be escorted by RCMP and emergency vehicles. A news conference at the regional operations centre will come afterwards.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley became emotional Sunday when talking about the two young people who were killed in a vehicle crash while trying to leave Fort McMurray. (CBC )

Notley warned the stories that result from that tour could upset some evacuees.

"There will be some dramatic images coming from media over the next couple of days," Notley said at a news conference Sunday. "I want to reiterate mental health supports are available for anyone who needs help."

Trigger warnng!

The offer of providing mental health professionals sounds uniquely Canadian to me, and makes total sense. Here in America, we give you a blanket, a cup of water, maybe a trailer, and we move on. How many people were offered mental health counseling after Hurricane Sandy or whichever disaster? I don't remember reading about that, but here is an academic paper about the aftermath:

OBJECTIVE:

To evaluate mental health outcomes among New Jersey shore residents with health impairments and disabilities after Hurricane Sandy.

DESIGN AND SETTING:

Six months following Hurricane Sandy, a cross-sectional survey of 200 adults residing in beach communities directly exposed to the storm located in Monmouth County, NJ, was conducted.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, mental health service use, and medication use.

RESULTS:

The average age of residents surveyed was 59 years (SD = 13.7) and 52.5 percent (95% CI = 45.5-59.4) reported recent hospitalizations, physical limitations, fair to poor health status, multiple chronic health conditions, or physical disabilities. A total of 14.5 percent (95% CI = 10.2-20.1) of residents screened positive for PTSD and 6.0 percent (95% CI = 3.1-10.2) met criteria for depression 6 months after Sandy. In addition, 20.5 percent (95% CI = 15.4-26.7) sought some type of professional counseling after Sandy and 30.5 percent (95% CI = 24.5-37.3) experienced PTSD symptoms, depression, sought professional mental health support, or used psychotropic medications. In multivariate analyses, the best predictors of mental health and service use were having sleep problems, suicidal thoughts, moderate or severe pain, and having high exposure hurricane-related events. Analyses also suggested that noncollege graduates were more likely to receive mental health services (OR = 3.10, p = 0.009), while women were less likely to have depression (OR = 0.12, p = 0.038).

CONCLUSION:

Having physical impairments and health conditions were not directly related to adverse mental health outcomes following Sandy, but having sleep problems, pain, or suicidal thoughts were. Further research is needed to assess the health status of community residents with serious health impairments over time following disasters.

It should be more prominently featured in the coverage of these disasters that receiving mental health assistance is normal and natural. Not everyone has to project the face of resiliency and act all stoic. Many people need help and there's no shame in asking.

They Are Full of Crap in Utah

Utah has declared war on pornography at just the right time for Ted Cruz to speak up and say something that will make everyone sick to their stomach. Just how much of a "public health crisis" is pornography? Not so damned much.

Biological examinations of so-called “porn addiction” have generally been fruitless. A2015 neuroscience study published in Biological Psychology found that electrical activity in the brains of people who felt their porn usage was problematic looked nothing like the patterns found in the brains of actual addicts. That didn’t stop the Utah state legislature from declaring that “recent research indicates that pornography is potentially biologically addictive.”

Why might someone believe in “porn addiction” without supporting evidence? Recentresearch in the Archives of Sexual Behavior has shown that “religiosity is robustly predictive of perceived [pornography] addiction.” This perception of addiction is unrelated to actual use. In other words, a religious person who watches pornography once a week is probably more likely to consider himself “addicted” than an atheist who indulges every night.

Relevant here is the fact that most Utah state legislators are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that one of the most frequently cited figures in anti-porn pseudoscience is Donald Hilton, a Mormon neurosurgeon. The Mormon Church itself has endorsed the concepts of “sexual addiction” and “porn addiction,” treating them under a 12-step model in its Addiction Recovery Program.

It does take a great deal of faith to believe many of the other unscientific claims in SCR9.

For instance, the resolution contends that pornography “can impact brain development.” This claim might appear credible based on a 2014 study that found an association between porn use and gray matter volume in one region of the brain but even the authors of the study note that the relationship may not be causal. The decreased gray matter volume, the authors acknowledge, could simply be “a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding,” rather than a result of frequent viewing over time.

This is about codifying values and not so much about actually taking care of people. This is about modifying behavior through the imposition of values that not everyone shares. 

We have a mental health crisis in this country, that's a given. But there are two contributing factors to how this crisis threatens us as a nation. One, we don't spend enough money to take care of the mentally ill--that's a value judgement made by inept politicians who don't want to see their budgets go haywire and force them to tax the wealthy. Second, we allow too many mentally ill people access to guns because we don't have the courage to change those laws.

And porn is supposed to be an issue here? The puns write themselves--come on.

Supplements Made From Nothing


Health supplements are made out of nothing?

And they don't benefit the health and well being of anyone?

What the hell?

You would think that, in a just society, the outright quackery and for-profit bullshit of supplement companies--Herbalife, I am staring right at you, you sons of bitches--would lead to regulation and common sense rules protecting consumers.

Guess again.

We need real reform for consumer protection in this country, and as long as we're stuck in the politics of stupid, we'll never get it. We have grown men leading state governments and men who hold elected office who are unafraid to tell us their expert opinions on how vaccines are dangerous, but we can't get anything done about snake oil salesmen who prey on consumers and sell them garbage.

Seeing a Dentist in the Army


I found this old piece on the New Yorker website:
Hale predicts that combat gum could save the military a hundred million dollars annually. Dental emergencies account for ten per cent of all injuries that cause soldiers to be evacuated from the battlefield (not counting battle itself, of course). There are forty-seven types of dental emergencies, ranging from the mildly uncomfortable (gingivitis, say), moderately painful (pericoronitis), and severe (totally avulsed tooth). When it gets that bad, a soldier might need to be helicoptered into a dental theatre on another continent. The cost of transportation, plus that of the treatment itself, on top of the unit’s lost manpower, adds up to tens of millions of dollars each year. According to Hale, forty per cent of recruits have at least three cavities. “They have developed a decay pattern,” he said. “We diagnose, pull their teeth, and fill them. This is a constant thing for us, because we have tremendous turnover.”
This is the sort of thing that would have automatically prompted me to write a post, had I seen it back in March of 2014. I had occasion to see dentists in the Army, and I can't remember any bad experiences. I even had my wisdom teeth taken out while stationed in San Antonio, Texas. I was regular Army, and I was referred to the Air Force hospital for removal.

It took a week for me to feel normal after that because I had waited until I was about 30 to do the wisdom tooth extractions. I had all four of them out at once. No fun.

What is referenced in the article gets to the heart of a problem for deploying soldiers. We had categories for everyone, and I seem to recall that they ran from Cat I to Cat IV. If you were a one or a two, you could be deployed. That meant that you had seen a dentist and didn't have any issues. If you were a Cat III or IV, you couldn't deploy. Typically that meant that you hadn't been to the dentist in a while or that you had outstanding issues, like root canal work that needed to be done.

I always went to the dentist. It was free and it wasn't that bad. If they can give you a gum that will keep your teeth in your head, sell it to the civilian world and make money. Precious few innovations come to soldiers nowadays. The last big innovation was the Camelback drinking system. Gum that kills bacteria and prevents tooth loss? We should give that to everyone.

America is Fat


America is fatty fat fat. Why should Wal-Mart apologize or saying that this is what's happening? If anything, it should come as a wake-up call. Stop buying cheap food from Wal-Mart that makes people fat.

I would give Wal-Mart another tax credit for speaking the truth to the millions of Americans too dumb to stop eating themselves into oblivion. If you can afford a Halloween Costume, you can afford stomach stapling. It's your fault that your ass won't get through the door.

And on and on and on...

Way to Go, Dumbasses


There's a company in Toronto you don't want to work for.

It's something called askfortask.com and it recently experimented with using a nap room to help their overworked employees cope with being exhausted at work. When they discovered that their exhausted employees were actually, um, exhausted, they call the idea a failure.

News flash--tired people are tired because they're either overworked or don't have any life skills. Which one would you choose if you knew that this company was working people 70 hours a week? And why are we still having a debate over the wisdom of treating people like human beings and respecting their work-life balance? If you treat the people who work for you like cattle, they're going to sabotage your company and leave. Fast.

Run, don't walk away from these Canadians.

No Respite For Hucksters


Kevin Trudeau is an American success story. He lied, he stole, he cheated and he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for the fact that our reckless government is out of control and harbors an intense hatred of success and entrepreneurship. Or, you could look at it realistically and note that a proven liar and fraud should be subjected to an international auditing of all of his bank accounts so that everyone he stole from can have a chance to get their money back.

I guess it depends on whether or not you think a fraudster should be allowed to walk away with the money he has stolen. I do not.

Hazmat is Cleaning Your Filthy Locker Room

How bad does it have to get before you admit that your team is full of superstitious players?

The Tampa Bay organization could be faulted for a lot of things, but they don't deserve this. The team has disclosed all it can about what happened with MRSA infections, it has not avoided responsibility, and they have thoroughly cleaned their facilities. What else are they supposed to do?

So much for being tough.

The Good Doctor is Being a Ridiculous Fool

“Obamacare is really, I think, the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is, in a way, it is slavery,” Carson said.
Carson spoke at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. on Friday. He offers this explanation of why he thinks Obamacare is the worst thing in the U.S. since slavery.
“It is making all of us subservient to the government,” he said. “And it was never about health care, it was about control.”
Really? Is that what the Affordable Care Act was about?

It was about controlling costs, and it was actually a Republican idea, passed by Congress, signed into law, and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Dr. Ben Carson is one of those individuals who had a very distinguished career doing something really difficult and ended up not knowing anything about history or the humanities. He is proof that people without context often make statements that are bullshit, through and through, because of their inherent ignorance.

John Kruk is Still a Terrible Analyst


They are claiming that baseball analyst John Kruk was taken out of Dodger Stadium on a stretcher because of "dehydration." Is this code speak for falling down drunk? Or did he have a few beers and end up on his ass because he wasn't drinking water or Gatorade?

It doesn't matter. I have watched several games with Kruk in the booth and he's terrible. He offers little, if any, insight and is there to be "naughty" and earthy without actually bringing anything to the discussion that would make the game clearer or easier to follow.

The game had to have been smoother and more pleasant to follow with him gone. If ESPN keeps him after this year in such a prominent role, I would be surprised. There must be a dearth of capable commentators out there.

Stupidity Has a Favorite Beverage


I couldn't make this up if I wanted to:
Many people who end their Friday or Saturday nights in a hospital emergency room have been drinking alcohol. In fact, public health experts estimate that about one-third of all injury-related ER visits involved alcohol consumption. 
But what, exactly, are people drinking? What types of alcohol and even what brands? Is there a direct link between advertising and marketing and later injury? 
Until now, those questions have been unanswerable, frustrating alcohol epidemiology researchers. But if results of a pilot study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health hold up, there may soon be a way to connect the dots.
When the Hopkins researchers surveyed ER patients who’d been drinking, they found that Budweiser was the number one brand consumed, followed Steel Reserve Malt Liquor, Colt 45 malt liquor, Bud Ice (another malt liquor), Bud Light, and a discount-priced vodka called Barton’s.
They say that 15% of the "Emergency Room" market consists of people who drink Budweiser. How that breaks down regionally is another guess. Budweiser's advertising campaign looks a little too highbrow to be the sole source of blame.

Alcohol and stupid things seem to always go together. You don't have to be drunk to set off a pipe bomb made out of things bought right there on the state line but it sure helps when you end up driving forty minutes to the nearest emergency room where they ain't all "judgmental" and whatever.

Here Comes the Wave of Hate


The end result of something like this should be considered positive; an effort to improve public health is actually working.

What we can expect is a wave of hate and indignation--outrage and viciousness--directed at Michelle Obama. You can hear the desperate wingnuts getting ready to stomp their way through elementary schools, lifting up chubby kids and scientifically recording the things that reinforce their opinions.

One Million Moms Can't Get Their Heads Around the Appeal of Schweddy Balls

At least these panicked, reactionary prudes are organized. It takes a great deal of effort to get a successful boycott off the ground, what with all of the apathy and economic desperation out there. I'm glad these people have found something serious and substantive to do with their time. What's worse? A high-end ice cream product or the typical swill of violence and sexism force-fed to our kids every day?

Are the One Million Moms boycotting things like MTV, Fox News and edible underwear? If not, then they should be.