Sicky McSickster

Ughhhhhh.

I feel like crap. Man, this is the season for me to be sick. I just got over a nasty bug a couple of weeks ago.

Ughhhhhh. Send chocolate. No wait, chocolate will feel like sandpaper on my raw throat. I coughed so much last night that I couldn’t sleep. Laying down increased the severity and duration of the coughing. I dozed propped up – almost sitting – until the next series of racking coughs took over. I coughed so much that my abdominal muscles hurt.

One of the thoughts I had last night was “this better not be whooping cough. Damned antivax…” But then I remembered that I participated in a Hug Me I’m Vaccinated pertussis booster clinic at DragonCon a couple of years ago and I felt better (well, 70% better as the current estimate is that Tdap protects 7 out of 10 who receive it. Don’t get me wrong, that’s decent, and I’ll take it, especially as we’re experiencing an increase in outbreaks this year.).

Fuck it. Send chocolate anyway. I’ll save it for later.

What are your favorite remedies for sore throats/coughing? And remember, a lot of you are skeptics, so I don’t want to see any colloidal silver, or echinacea down there in the comments, kay? And I don’t have to mention homeopathy, right? RIGHT? Anything that involves whiskey gets extra notice.

Ice cubes. Ice cubes sound good right now.

Those are some bad nuts.

I love NCBI ROFL. It’s one of the Discovery Blogs and every day they publish a humorous or absurd study. It’s like a mini-Ig Noble award to my Google Reader every day.

Yesterday there was a case of a woman who had an allergic reaction after having sexual intercourse with her boyfriend:

“Brazil nuts are the second most frequent cause of nut allergy in the United Kingdom. We report the case of a 20-year-old woman with documented Brazil nut allergy who developed widespread urticaria and mild dyspnea after intercourse with her boyfriend who had earlier consumed Brazil nuts. Skin prick testing with the boyfriend’s semen after Brazil nut consumption confirmed significant reactivity whereas a sample before nut consumption was negative. We believe this to be the first case of a sexually transmitted allergic reaction.”

Bad nuts, indeed.

Creepy Purity Bear is Creepy

Wait – first read the YouTube description of this video:

This is a student made video saying that the best way to stay sexually pure is to wait until marriage. Having one partner is the God-approved way to enjoy sex.

God must have forgotten to tell that to Newt. Bah dah dum! Okay, heeeeeere’s Purity Bear:

Did anyone else pick up on the fact that Eve tempted Adam, and not the other way around? And that good, chaste Adam turned away the seductress Eve (gently, kindly, but with manly firmness and moral conviction that she’s lacking. Heh…”manly firmness”).

The video’s description contains a promotion for the Liberty Counsel’s Day of Purity. DOP’s website “offers those who strive for sexual purity an opportunity to stand together in opposition to a culture of moral decline.” The website urges young people to “be a part of the ‘counter-coulture’ – - be politically incorrect.” Do it! Or, wait…don’t do it! Or purity bear will come and judge you while sadly watching you have immoral, out-of-wedlock sex.

This (the video, purity bear and the DOP)  is hilarious, infuriating and sad. Yes, waiting to have sex (however you define that) until you are in a committed marriage (whatever that means to you and your partner) is a great way to to stay “sexually pure” (whatever that means). It’s also not very realistic. This video is an example of how religious indoctrination makes teens feel guilty about their normal, biological, sexual urges. And it’s an example of how religion seems to have trouble speaking frankly about sex to children and teens. I mean, who takes sex advice from a teddy bear? What do they know about sex? Well, unless they’re zoo-bound grizzly bears; they have promiscuous sex all year round to fend off the boredom. Hey! Nice role model you chose there, Liberty Counsel!

But, whatever. All I know is I want Purity Bear. He does look cuddly. Plus, I could put him on my bedside table so he can watch when I have sex. Poor bear could probably use some good ol’ voyeurism after this stint.

Seen over at Joe.My.God

Delta Airs Anti-Vax Advertisement

I haz a sad.

I like flying Delta. There’s a huge hub here in Minneapolis. I have the Delta SkyMiles card so I can rack up points and fly places for free (well, freeish, but that’s another post), and I’ve generally had very good experiences on Delta flights.

So, I was sad when I saw this in my Twitter stream yesterday:

It turns out that Delta and In-Flight Media are presenting a nearly three-minute ad that trivializes the flu and tells the audience that:

  1. You don’t have to worry about preventing the flu – FALSE.
  2. Most illnesses that present with flu-like symptoms are not the flu – TRUE.
  3. Washing your hands is a good way to help you stay healthy. – TRUE.
  4. Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze is a good way to minimize spreading germs – TRUE.
  5. Drink water to keep your body hydrated – TRUE.
  6. Get the right amount of sleep and reduce stress levels to decrease your chances of getting sick – PROBABLY TRUE.
  7. Vitamin C and D – found in nutritious food  – are effective, natural preventatives – FALSE.
  8. Regular exercise helps keep your immune system strong. – TRUE.
  9. The flu shot is an option. Research the different types of flu vaccines your doctor may recommend. SURE, WHY NOT?

Who would advocate against being an informed consumer? I applaud people who are willing to research their health care options. But, when considering the source (psst – it’s one of the country’s biggest anti-vaccine organizations), and considering the place that they direct you to research flu vaccines (psst – It’s their hugely anti-vaccine propogranda-laden website filled with misinformation about all sorts of vaccines), the little alarm bells in your head should start to ring, buzz, sing, or talk – whichever you’ve got your alarm set to.

Elyse Anders – the president of the  Women Thinking Free Foundation and driver behind the Hug Me I’m Vaccinated Campaign brought this story to my attention via her article on Skepchick.org. Elyse has a list of things that you can do to help protest to Delta and the associated organizations that are allowing this ad to run.

  1. Sign the CHANGE.ORG petition. Add your name to those of us who would like Delta to remove the advertisement. Change.org works, and it’s an easy way to make your voice heard.
  2. Tweet: “#fludelta @DeltaAssist @Delta If you’re so concerned about safety, stop running potentially deadly anti-vaccine ads http://wp.me/pbblq-6qu
  3. Facebook/YouTube: Add your comments about the video here. The content has been removed from Facebook, but you can still see it on YouTube. The owner, In-Flight Media, has disabled commenting, but you can still downrate it.
  4. Share Elyse’s post on Facebook and Twitter.
  5. Tell your friends and family about the campaign and get them involved!

The last time Elyse was involved in a campaign against vaccine misinformation advertisements by this group placed in Times Square, the ads were pulled. With all of our help, hopefully we can make it happen again!

Lyme Disease – Always Learning.

If you’ve ever been camping or hiking or hunting or had an outdoor pet or gone anywhere near a tree or have a TV or know anyone who fits any of these situations, you’ve probably heard of Lyme Disease. I live in Minnesota, land of forests and lakes, big-ass mosquitos and lots and lots of ticks. I think it’s only natural and healthy for me to have an interest in the subject.

Disclaimers: I am not a doctor, nor an infectious disease researcher, nor a specialist on Lyme Disease or post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PLDS). I do have experience with serological testing, immunoassays and laboratory science. This blog post was inspired by a press release about antibodies linked to long-term Lyme symptoms. I welcome and appreciate any comments, corrections or conversation that are expressed with respect, and in the case of claims, with references. Also, I hold up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the gold standard for dissemination of accurate and reliable public information on infectious disease. If you think that the CDC or “western medicine” is misguided or intentionally evil, or that all American physicians are controlled by the mob (hat tip to an earlier commenter), you should probably stop reading here.

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Time for your flu shot!

I got my flu shot yesterday. Have you gotten yours yet?

This time of the year is becoming a bit of an annual tradition for the Biodork blog: The posting of Dr. Mark Crislip’s A Budget of Dumb Asses. Dr. Crislip wrote A Budget of Dumb Asses to answer some of the most popular excuses that people often give for not getting the annual flu vaccine.

In 2010, Dr. Crislip added a bit of a caveat – he says that this list is specifically directed to health care providers, and not at patients. Perhaps it wasn’t P.C. for Dr. Crislip to be calling patients dumb asses; I don’t think he’s had qualms about that in the past. But listen up: I don’t care if you work in health care or not – the reasoning below is sound. If you glance through the list and see a phrase that you’ve uttered as an excuse for not getting vaccinated then you need to keep reading.

So, off you go to to the 2011 edition of A Budget of Dumb Asses

I wonder if you are one of those Dumb Asses who do not get the flu shot each year? Yes. Dumb Ass. Big D, big A. You may be allergic to the vaccine (most are not when tested), you may have had Guillain-Barre, in which case I will cut you some slack. But if you don’t have those conditions and you work in healthcare and you don’t get a vaccine for one of the following reasons, you are a Dumb Ass.

1. The vaccine gives me the flu. Dumb Ass. It is a killed vaccine. It cannot give you the influenza. It is impossible to get flu from the influenza vaccine.

2. I never get the flu, so I don’t need the vaccine. Irresponsible Dumb Ass. I have never had a head on collision, but I wear my seat belt. And you probably don’t use a condom either. So far you have been lucky, and you are a potential winner of a Darwin Award, although since you don’t use a condom, you are unfortunately still in the gene pool.

3. Only old people get the flu. Selfish Dumb Ass. Influenza can infect anyone, and the groups who are more likely to die of influenza are the very young, the pregnant, and the elderly. Often those most at risk for dying from influenza are those least able, due to age or underlying diseases, to respond to the vaccine. You can help prevent your old, sickly Grandmother or your newborn daughter from getting influenza by getting the vaccine, so you do not get flu and pass it one to her. Flu, by the way, is highly contagious, with 20% to 50% of contacts with an index case getting the flu.  However, Granny may be sitting on a fortune that will come to you, and killing her off with the flu is a great way to get her out of the way and never be caught.  That would make a good episode of CSI.

4. I can prevent influenza or treat it by taking echinacea, vitamin C, oscillococcinum or Airborne. Gullible Dumb Ass cubed then squared. None of these concoctions has any efficacy what so ever against influenza. And if you think oscillococcinum has any efficacy, I would like you to invest in a perpetual motion machine I have invented.  None of the above either prevent or treat influenza. And you can’t “boost” your immune system either. Anyone who suggests otherwise wants you money, not to improve your health.

5. Flu isn’t all that bad of a disease. Underestimating Dumb Ass. Part of the problem with the term flu is that it is used both as a generic term for damn near any viral illness with a fever and is also used for a severe viral pneumonia. Medical people are just as inaccurate about using the term as the general public. The influenza virus directly and indirectly kills 20,000 people  (depending on the circulating strain and year) and leads to the hospitalization of 200,000 in the US each year. Influenza is a nasty lung illness. And what is stomach ‘flu’? No such thing.

6. I am not at risk for flu. Denying Dumb Ass. If you breathe, you are risk for influenza. Here are the groups of people who should not get the flu vaccine (outside of people with severe adverse reactions to the vaccine): Former President Clinton, who evidently doesn’t inhale. Michele Bachmann. Wait, that’s the HPV vaccine.  And people who want to be safe from zombies. If you don’t get the vaccine you do not have to worry about the zombie apocalypse, because zombies eat brains.

7. The vaccine is worse than the disease. Dumb Ass AND a wimp. What a combination. Your mother must be proud. Unless you think a sore deltoid for a day is too high a price to pay to prevent two weeks of high fevers, severe muscles aches, and intractable cough.

8. I had the vaccine last year, so I do not need it this year. Uneducated Dumb Ass. Each year new strains of influenza circulate across the world. Last year’s vaccine at best provides only partial protection. Every year you need a new shot.

9. The vaccine costs too much. Cheap Dumb Ass. The vaccine costs less than a funeral, less than Tamiflu, and less than a week in the hospital.

10.  I received the vaccine and I got the flu anyway. Inexact Dumb AssThe vaccine is not perfect and you may have indeed had the flu.  More likely you called one of the many respiratory viruses (viri?) people get each year the flu.  Remember there are hundreds of potential causes of a respiratory infection circulating, the vaccine only covers influenza, the virus most likely to kill you and yours.

11. I don’t believe in the flu vaccine. Superstitious, premodern, magical thinking Dumb Ass. What is there to believe in?  Belief is what you do when there is no data. Probably don’t believe in gravity or germ theory either. Everyone, I suppose, has to believe in something, and I believe I will have a beer.

12. I will wait until I have symptoms and stay homeDangerous Dumb Ass.  Despite often coming to work ill, especially second year residents, about 1 in 5 cases of influenza are subclinical, hospitalized patients are more susceptible to acquiring influenza from HCW’s than the general population,  and 27% of nosocomial acquired H1N1 died. And you wil never realize that you were the one responsible for killing that patient by passing on the flu.

13. The flu vaccine is not safe and has not been evaluated for safety.  Computer illiterate Dumb Ass.  There are 1342 references on the PubMeds on safety of the flu vaccine, and the vaccine causes only short term, mild reactions.  All health care requires weighing the risks of an intervention against the benefits. For the flu vaccine all the data suggests huge benefit for negligible risk. And as a HCW, it could be argued that we have a moral responsibility to maximize the safety of our patients.

14. The government puts tracking nanobots in the vaccine as well as RFID chips as part of the mark of the beast, and the vaccine doesn’t work since it is part of a big government sponsored conspiracy to keep Americans ill, fill hospital beds, line the pockets of big pharma and inject the American sheeple with exotic new infections in an attempt to control population growth and help usher in a New World Order. Well, that excuse is at least reasonable. Paranoid Dumb Ass.

So get the vaccine.  And pass this essay on to someone else.  The life you may save may be your own. Or be a Dumb Ass.

And if you and yours are admitted to the hospital or visit a HCW during the flu season, ask if your provider has had the vaccine. If not, ask for a new provider.  Who wants their health care provided by a Dumb Ass?

30DaysofBiking: Day 30

Where: South and Downtown Minneapolis (~15 miles)
Why: Recreation, Volunteer for The Dirty 30, a race to celebrate the end of #30daysofbiking
When: Saturday April 30th – Noon to 5pm
Weather: All over the board – we started out rainy and ended in a beautiful, sunny spring day
Who: Me

Notes: The Dirty 30 was a 30-mile bike race that started at noon from the Midtown FreeWheel Bicycle. One of the stops that racers had to make was at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, where they did a time trial around the lake. I rode from my house to the bandshell in a pretty steady rain and was cold and waterlogged when I arrived at 12:45. Happily, I had thought ahead and brought a thermos full of steaming hot coffee, a towel and a pair of warm pants to put on over my bike shorts.  After all of the racers went through our station me and the guy who was recording the cyclists’s times rode downtown to Grumpy’s for the awards ceremonies, aka the handing out of the cash prizes and swag. I rode back home from Grumpys along the the central corridor trail and then up the Greenway, where I was up against a very strong headwind.

I’m exhausted.

Start of the day – cold, wet, gray and cloudy. ~12:45pm

Blue skies at the end of the race. ~3pm

The ride home from Grumpys. View of the city from the Martin Olav Sabo Bridge over Hiawatha Ave.

30DaysofBiking: Day 29

We did two rides today!

First Ride

Where: Lyndale to Loring Park (~4.5 miles)
Why: Recreation
When: Friday April 29th
Weather: Night just fell, storm clouds rolling in. 55F (12.7C)
Who: Me and the Hubby

*click for greater detail*

The Hubby took this picture of me in front of our bike lights. We’re on the bridge over the Loring Park lake, and the basilica and Loring shops are visible in the background.

Second Ride

Where: Lynlake neighborhood (1.0 mile)
Why: Transportation to Bryant Lake Bowl for the Vilification Tennis show “My God Can Beat Up Your God”
When: Friday April 29th
Weather: Night, light sprinkles. 55F (12.7C)
Who: Me and the Hubby

Total Miles: 5.5 today! Not bad for a work night.

30DaysofBiking: Day 28

Where: Lyndale (1.5 miles)
Why: Recreation – night ride around the neighborhood
When: Thursday April 28th
Weather: Dark, cool, quiet 44F (6.7C)
Who: Me and the Hubby

Notes: We were digging through the coat closet, trying to figure out which coat was best suited for our crazy Minnesota spring weather and decided to have a leather motorcycle jacket ride.