Posts Tagged ‘health’

Anti Smoking Campaign

Posted: 02/05/2010 by Toby in Other
Tags: ,

Last week in Australia, the Prime Minister announced a few changes to cigarettes, including increasing taxes, requiring that the paquets be generic (with lots of warning statements), and increased funding for a slew of additional “hard hitting” ads. There are already some “hard hitting” ads showing the disgusting results of smoking, and people who are horribly disfigured by it. One of the ads has a pretty catchy tune, which has stuck in my head – and I’m not even a smoker.

But I have to wonder, in a land where they were willing to outlaw guns for just about everyone (since there’s no 2nd amendment to the Constitution of Australia), and where carrying a pocket knife is a criminal offense (or so I’ve heard, I’m not sure what the law exactly is), and in a time where the health care burden from smokers is widely recognised, why not simply make the fags illegal?

Of course, the irony is that not 20 years ago in Australia the national pasttime was the ‘smoko’ where everyone simply gathered around and blew smoke (so to speak); a relaxing way to spend the work day. Now there’s this massive effort on the part of the government to get people to quit. Does that mean everyone should switch from smokos to gummos, simply sit around chewing till the flavour is run out?

But how to get rid of cigarettes? The days of prohibition in the U.S. where so much time was spent chasing bootleggers (and being bootleggers) is a good example of how difficult to enforce these laws become. But maybe there are other laws…

What about a law that cigs not be imported? Those badasses at customs are used to rejecting all kinds of dangerous goods, adding this to the list would probably only get them more excited. Or, say that cigs simply cannot be sold by a registered business. Then any major business would have to comply to not be shut down. OHS is another big organisation here in Oz, one that is also used to enforcing laws that people don’t always like to follow. Government could simply make it illegal to hire a smoker.

Now all these suggestions by themselves seem rather harsh, but I’m comparing them to the alternative, which is to allow cigarettes to be sold, and allow smokers to continue about their lives with minor inconveniences. One might say this route promotes more freedom for people to choose to smoke if they want – and I would agree, it does allow more freedom than simply making it illegal. It also keeps more doctors and nurses employed, and an entire section of healthcare that wouldn’t be necessary without the various mouth, throat, lung cancer, stroke, and so forth people coming through. Smoking also reduces people’s stress levels, if they choose to smoke.. and there’s the coolness factor – just look how cool those people look in the movies with smoke pouring from their mouths and noses.

Let’s take for example a product that was pulled after being shown to kill people prematurely: Vioxx. In fact there are many more, a list is on wikipedia. Vioxx was a drug that used by approx 80 million, was suddenly pulled from the shelves and consigned to the bin because a few people developed adverse effects after heavy use. Apply that logic to cigarettes and you actually have a higher incidence of directly related death, and yet it’s still not off the shelves. An older example, cocaine, has been illegal since roughly the turn of the century, on account of its addictive properties and perceived association with lowlifes.

No government, not even Australia, will take the bold step of simply putting a stop to (legal) cigarettes. I’m not really sure why.

After thinking for a moment, I’m guessing it’s simply public opinion and the daunting task of enforcing the new law. But as I’ve pointed out, there are other ways of effectively putting a tighter squeeze on the ready supply of cigs with the aim of eventually getting rid of them altogether.

In Which My Eardrum Bursts

Posted: 16/04/2010 by Toby in News
Tags: , ,

This last couple weeks our family has been struggling with germs of the lungs, throat, and nose, and possibly head.  Well, early this week, Sharole took it up another level when she got an ear infection. The kind she gets are not necessarily limited to the ear, hers extend outwards flowing down the shoulder and up the side of her head. Maybe that’s why she has such good hearing (on days) because her ear isn’t actually contained in that small area bounded by the helix to the north and the lobe to the south.

Then, two nights ago, I wake up and realise that I forgot to perform the hex against the demons of the ear, and sprinkle magic powder around me, and wear garlic because suddnely the side of my head feels like it has a spike being driven through it, right about where my ear canal used to be. For those of you who haven’t had a spike driven through the side of your head at the location of your ear canal, I think it would be about as painful as having caught an ear infection from your wife.  I took a small silo’s worth of pain pills and tried to get back to sleep. I also got one of those hot pads and put it on my pillow, with my head/ear on it, which seemed to make it feel a little better.  In the morning it wasn’t as bad, it had reduced to approximately a dull ache. And I went to work.

I was pretty good about keeping myself dosed up so the ear didn’t slow me down. I took some before bed as well.

Then that guy with the hammer and spike is back, and this time, he’s starting to do damage. I wake up, and my ear is all wet inside. i keep reaching in with my finger, and the finger keeps coming out with ear juice on it. It didn’t really cross my mind at the time to taste it, so I’m not really able to tell you what it tasted like.  I’m pretty sure what happened was that the sore throat, plus swollen eustachian tube caused the infection to overwhelm the barrier that is the ear drum.

The most worrisome part of the experience is the anxiety I feel about the low level of hearing I’m at now. I’d hate for it to go any lower than it is. I might have to quit work, or something.. I’m pretty sure that would be tragic.


Posted: 03/02/2010 by Toby in Informative

Since my family have discussed this, and some are firmly on the side of vaccines are bad why do we need them why can’t my kids just build antibodies like they used to in the 1800’s??!?!?!?

This was interesting.

Alternative Medicine

Posted: 18/01/2009 by Toby in Other
Tags: ,

For discussion.

I was reading an article (here) that was on MetaFilter, which is a website that contains short blurbs about almost every subject, posted by MetaFilter members, aka MeFites, and serves as a shortcut to reading the web without actually having to search around. Natch, if you have a real interest in something, you can always google it, but Metafilter is for person who doesn’t know what their interest is.

For those of you who are used to reading my entries, you’ll know I ramble before getting to the point. Worse, I lead up to the point, take a tangent and then continue as though nothing had happened. For the rest of you, the occasional readers, the less patient among you, and the borderline normal, perhaps I should designate my tangents with a different color, so you can skip through the meat first before going back and trying to figure out what all the garbage was.

The article, really blog entry, was somewhat interesting, but the comments to it were more interesting. It made me think a little about homeopathic medicine, alternative medicine, and placebo-type treatments. There are some who are of the opinion that much of homeopathy is somewhat placebo (not sure what the adjective form of the noun placebo is.. but placebic looked funny), in the sense that a human being will cure himself simply by believing what he has done will work. Somehow there is that capacity that is not always scientifically measurable.

I think there are two forces at work here: 1) Expense and 2) Effectiveness.

First, expense. If one could use bleach and vinegar to do the same work that Drano does, one might choose bleach and vinegar because at $1 per gallon or less, the savings is clear. By the way that example had nothing to do with medical treatments, please don’t drink Drano. Or vinegar, or bleach.

The cost of a prescription, depending on your insurance provider could be up to $25 or $40 for a drug that has no generic equivalent.

The cost of a visit to the doctor in our case is $20, not counting what the insurance company has to pay. This can get extremely expensive when we are showing up just to have the dude with 12 years schooling and several years residency and maybe a lot of years practicing (a rather worrysome word..) say hmm you’ll need to see a specialist for that one. The specialist visit isn’t much better. $40 just to get in the room with him (a hooker is cheaper, and you’ll probably feel much better afterwards, not that I would know) and have him say, hmm you’ll need to get a scan, and oh by the way I can only look at the left knee this referral says absolutely nothing about your right knee, so I have no idea if you even own a right knee (true story!!). 2 visits to the specialist ($120 plus the $20 at the first doctor’s = $140) later: Ah yes, you should try these exercises and it will eventually work itself out.

I don’t even want to think about if a serious, life-changing injury were to happen.

There’s also the ‘cost’ of navigating the ins and outs of managed health care, with referrals, co-payments, appointments, procedures, and long delay times. For the simple procedure of jabbing my daughter’s tear duct, we have seen the pediatrician 3 times, and the specialist once. With that out of the way her appointment was made for almost 60 days out.

That was the science side.

On the alternative medicine side, I’m not as familiar with the expense, but I will try to address it to some level. For one thing, there are ways to get certain homeopathic treatments covered by insurance, but it is not automatic, not readily available, and not always covered, and probably not covered to the extent that regular medical doctors are, not to mention the cost of the coverage would be in addition to the cost of your regular health insurance, because even if I believe in snake bones and spider juice, I still wouldn’t want to pay the hospital bill were I to contract cancer or get into a serious accident.

As for the treatments or advice themselves, I’m not even sure what the cost of those are, but I would say up to $100 per visit. I also don’t know if one could schedule a visit within a few days of calling or if there’s a long wait. There might be a series of treatments or there might be just one, depending on the practitioner and the ailment you have. There’s also the issue of availability. If the person wants to get away from conventional doctoring, they have to search out (sikh out?) the kind they’d most likely believe, assuming that kind is near enough by. If not near, then travel time and costs must be included in this equation. I wouldn’t presume to say that not all homeopathic remedies are the same to the homeopathic alternative medicine enthusiast/patient, but that’s what I tentatively think, because that’s the way I think. For example, I’d take accupressure over shamanism any day.

The other force at work is probably the more important of the two: effectiveness.

There is something about modern medicine that makes its physicians unable to see the forest for the trees. In specific applications, this is good and right, such as reattaching a hand, or removing a melanoma.

The focus is also on the outlying causes, such as the off chance that persistent headaches could be the result of ovarian cancer, as was the case recently- one of Sharole’s friends went in for migraines and was diagnosed with cancer. This is also not bad, because if health conditions are not caught early, the condition progresses, becomes more serious, more difficult to treat, and more difficult to recover from. So if it were the case that the patient were experiencing symptoms of something she knows not what, and was diagnosed with something less than what it was, the doctor must be liable, right? I think it’s this issue of liability that has made doctors afraid to diagnose without tests and scans first. The problem is, however, that the illness progresses while waiting to get into the test and while waiting for the results. For serious illnesses, this may be a fair trade off because it made the doctor aware. For lesser illnesses this is unnecessary.

I think it is in the realm of lesser illnesses, and illnesses caused by emotional stress that modern medicine has lost ground, or given up ground to alternative medicine, or alternative healing, or homeopathic remedies. It is in this realm that practitioners have the ability to diagnose not just the physical symptom, but the emotional and psychological symptom, and remedy all aspects together. That there is a little bit more mystery about the path to the cure I think appeals to those who believe in it, as though the non-understanding of it allows for it to be more powerful, and thus, more effective in the mind of the patient.

Now that you’ve come to the end of this long ramble, you might realize I don’t completely know what I’m talking about, I’m certainly not a specialist in any of these areas. But those are my thoughts. Maybe I’ve sparked some thoughts in you on the topic. I’d love to hear what you think.