We are afraid of Heart Disease, but what about the “Unknown Killer”?

May 1, 2008

*Note: This post is at least partially intended to infuriate doctors and those studying medicine… hehehehe : ).

Recently, my uncle was hospitalized after having a shortness of breath… they soon found that he was very, very sick. Upon seeing what goes on at hospitals, it got me to thinking. This post is the result of my (very brief and not at all scientific) studies…

We are all very aware that heart disease is published as the leading cause of death in the U.S. (652,486 deaths in 2004 according to the CDC). Cancer comes in at a close second at 553,888 deaths. Strokes are third at 150,074. This is all very eye-opening, maybe even scary (those numbers are pretty intimidating), but what kills even more people (as best anyone can tell) than heart disease? The answer is a little-known condition called Iatrogenesis… what is Iatrogenesis, you ask? It is officially defined as “a state of ill health as a result of medical treatment”. Almost unbelievably, doctors are one of the leading causes of death in the modern U.S.!!!

Estimates range from 220,000 a year to 750,000 deaths a year, depending on your source. This fact (that various sources do not agree on the exact number) is disturbing in itself. Is it really possible that 500,000 people are dieing per year as a result of seeing a medical professional?

A quick search on the internet will yield a plethora of well documented cases regarding Iatrogenesis.
I can almost hear doctors rushing to there own defense now… “Medicine is a field in which an inherent amount of danger is present as a result of the limited amount of knowledge that we have of the human body/immune system!”.

At first, I could sympathize… after all, they are doing their best, right?

This is where the story gets interesting… again, estimates vary, but a common number among a variety of sources seems to indicate that almost 100,000 people a year are hospitalized unnecessarily. On top of that, 12,000 people a year die as a result of unnecessary surgery. UNNECESSARY SURGERY?! What the heck is that? Is it possible that doctors recommend surgery as a result of economic motivations?

I used to support the concept of tort reform… I used to think that doctors had it rough due to their own insurance costs… but 500,000 people die a year after seeking their services?

This may sound harsh, but I cannot fathom any other profession in which 500,000 “errors” that result in deaths a year would be acceptable…

Before we scream for tort reform in the area of medical practice liability, maybe it is time for the doctors of the U.S. to get it together!

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SAD, CISD, RLS, and other wonders of the world of modern medicine.

March 28, 2008

I think I have SAD, RLS, and CISD… it looks like my medical costs could get pretty expensive…

WARNING! This is a rant! Doctors, people studying to be doctors, and people who are easily offended should RELAX before reading this post (it is, after all, intended to be humorous)!

Has anyone noticed that anything and everything that goes wrong is now a medical condition? I was struck the other day when I stumbled upon some information about “caffeine induced sleep disorder”… it turns out that doctors have decided that this is a real medical condition affecting a huge number of people… the cause? You guessed it! Drinking too much caffeine before you try to go to sleep! Heck, if you’ve got a bad enough case of CISD, you can even be medicated for it! And here I thought that the easy fix for this one was the advice mom gave me when I was 3 (“If you drink all that sugar and caffeine before bed, you won’t be able to sleep, and when you finally get to sleep you’ll piss the bed!”).

Next up: SAD. This gem stands for “Seasonal Affective Disorder”… If you have SAD, then you feel normal for the whole year but get depressed in the winter… they even have “reverse SAD”, where you feel normal the whole year but get depressed in the summer. I definitely have this. As a matter of fact, anyone who lives anywhere that has a winter has this. If you live in Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, or any other northern state and you don’t have this, you are either a total weirdo or a real jackass (sorry, I refer to people who like Ohio’s winter as jackasses). I thought that the explanation was that winter sucks. I’ve usually dealt with SAD by going out with my friends, getting drunk, having a conversation going something like “Man, winter sucks… I can’t wait for summer”, getting up the next day and going about my business. It turns out that this approach is all wrong… evidently I need medicine. Let’s face it: Winter is no fun, and you better damn believe that medicine designed to make you feel better will make you feel better, so why deal with a shitty winter ever again?

Finally, we have reached my favorite… RLS. “Restless Leg Syndrome”, or perhaps better known by its common name of “The Jimmy Legs”. This is another one that I have had since I was about 3. I thought it was from consuming too many “Monster” energy drinks, 3000 calorie burritos, and “nuclear” squirms (sour gummy worms, my favorite) and not being able to keep my hyped-up legs still. Sometimes I lay in bed at night and continuously move my feet, and I seem to be unable to stop… a sure sign of the dreaded Jimmy Legs. I used to treat this by running, jogging, or lifting weights, a sure fire way to burn off the excess energy that I have always thought caused the Jimmy Legs… but it turns out that I need medicated for this one too! They even treat this one with opioids, such as oxycodone and methodone (what the hell?!!)! Ironically, CISD can be a cause of RLS!

Another interesting fact: the occurrence of autism has increased drastically since 1980. Has the prevalence of autism actually increased? Doctors are divided on this one. But they can all agree that the medical community has broadened the definition of autism, which by default will raise the prevalence of the condition.

Here is my point: If we try hard enough, we can probably qualify anything as a medical condition. I wonder what made-up conditions will be affecting us next… I can see the headline now…

Have trouble getting to work on time? You may have CLTW, or “Chronically Late To Work” syndrome, caused by depression associated with having to show up at the same place at the same time everyday.

It may not exist yet, but I can GUARANTEE that some sort of chemical reaction takes place in my brain at just the thought of work, and it ain’t too different from depression, and it is only a matter of time until a doctor or drug company capitalizes on this.

Do we really need all of these “conditions”? I’d be more comfortable to know that my kids will grow up knowing that winter sucks, just like I did, rather than thinking that they have been “afflicted” with SAD. And that is not to mention the rising cost of health care… could it be partly a result of insurance companies having to “pay up” for people affected with the Jimmy Legs?

What is the world coming to?!?