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?!?


Have Our Leaders Failed Us?

January 23, 2008

We have all heard the question repeated a thousand times over the past 6 months… Are we in a recession? If not, are we facing one in the near future?

If you have been following the news for the past week, the answer is apparent – not only are we in a recession, we are facing possibly the largest such event in the past 30 years. The question is no longer whether we are in a recession or not, but how we should respond moving forward.

I feel that it is important to understand the root causes that have led up to the extremely serious problems facing the U.S.’s financial markets. Sure, it is easy to blame the previously ignored, terribly underestimated problems caused by the sub-prime lending meltdown over the past five years. Anytime someone borrows more than they can pay back (whether they knew they were doing so or whether they were intentionally mis-lead), you are going to have a potentially serious problem. But we cannot blame the failure of one of the world’s largest economies on bad mortgages alone.

The real problem is 20+ years of ineffective, inefficient leadership from people more concerned with re-election than with setting effective domestic and foreign policy goals to ensure the nation’s future.

It is clear that the world’s financial markets have become extremely integrated and that the market for goods and services is now almost completely flat. To put things into perspective, close to 90% of everything you buy was produced overseas. Free trade agreements have nearly eliminated trade barriers and restrictions on foreign and multi-national corporations selling products within the U.S. At the same time, organizations such as the European Union have set up numerous barriers to restrict or prohibit U.S. companies from gaining market share in their countries in an attempt to protect manufacturers and producers within their home countries. The blame should not be placed on the European Union, however. The blame lies solely on the U.S. politicians who have allowed the EU to set up such restrictions unchecked. The fact of the matter is that our trade deficit is at an all time high (nearly $6 trillion). The value of the U.S. dollar is rapidly falling, which is may be good news for U.S. business – but it is terrible news for the U.S. consumer, who will have to pay increasingly high costs for the foreign goods that we have become increasingly dependent on.

The government has proposed an economic stimulus package to try to prevent further recession. An important question to ask yourself: How will a one time, $400 tax rebate effect you? I’m not sure if our politicians are really that out-of-touch, but this is 2008. $400 won’t change much of anything for the modern American college student, not to mention a 4 person family. As far as stimulating the economy goes, the $400 rebate may work if it is spent SOLELY on U.S. produced goods and services… but let me direct you back to the fact that 90% of everything we purchase is produced overseas. It seems obvious that $360 of the $400 rebate will be sent overseas and have no effect other than to stimulate the economy in OTHER countries.

A country that does not produce anything, be it goods or services, will have a hard time sustaining economic growth. It seems that our politicians have completely missed this fact. While Hillary and Barack are engaging in heated debates about whether or not Mr. Obama inhaled, the country that our founding fathers fought so hard for is failing. As the election nears, I have not yet heard mention of any of the real issues facing the U.S.

How will we deal with the increasing power of the European Union? How will the emergence of China and India as a global economic force effect the domestic economy as we move forward? How will we deal with real domestic issues, such as the failing social security system? Is it fair to ask the next generation of the American workforce to pay into a system that will not exist when they retire?

One fact is clear and indisputable. Our leaders have failed us. The economy is in shambles. While Bill Clinton was passing free trade agreements and receiving ‘favors’ from White House interns, leaders in other countries were calculating how they could improve the situation for their citizens. While Ms. Clinton and Mr. Obama (both ACTIVE U.S. senators) are debating how to provide health care for everyone in the country and focusing on getting elected, our economy is falling apart.

It is time to hold are leaders accountable. It is time to be informed and to know what issues are actually important as we move into the new century. Hopefully our next generation of leaders will take notice.