Avoiding Vaccines? They're Not the Problem

As folks understandably search for answers to the growing levels of ADD, Autism, learning disabilities, and less devastating but equally serious issues of asthma/allergies and cancers in us and our children, vaccines as the culprit are a red herring.

What is irreparably harming our children (and us), from their time in utero to their daily lives once living among us, is something so insidious that we remain oblivious to it: toxic chemicals in our household products at levels that would be banned in the workplace by OSHA if they were being regulated (which home chemicals are not), chemicals spewed into our air and waterways by industry, and the ever increasing amount of chemicals added to our foods to improve shelf life, enhance flavor/color artificially, etc.  Add them together and we have a health issue so large it can account for many if not most of the illnesses we’ve seen mushroom, from cancers to brain damage.

Just a few research examples of this phenonema:

  • Starting as far back as 1997:
    Stemming from a 1997 University of South Florida graduate research project study investigating environmental and chemical causes of learning disabilities, a growing number of scientists continue to provide strong evidence for the leading cause of the increase in learning and behavior disorders in children over the past 30 years – on-going exposure of the developing child to common everyday chemicals used in the home can result in learning or behavior problems evident throughout life
  • US EPA:
     Collected and analyzed fish samples from 500 US lakes & reservoires over a 3 year period (200-2003); they found that 49% of the fish contained mercury concentrations exceeding levels that they (the EPA) consider safe for consumption (this is the most common way Americans are ingesting mercury that causes brain damage)
  • Associated Press, November 3, 2009:
    A study appearing in November’s Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found a surprising link between common drugs used to treat urinary infections, and birth defects.  This is the first large analysis of antibiotic use in pregnancy…
  • The National Resources Defense Council:
    effects of these chemicals used or found in your home;
    Lead: More than a quarter century after the 1978 ban on lead in paint, nearly half a million American prekindergarten children have elevated levels of lead in their blood. That’s largely because old lead paint remains on the walls in many homes, workplaces and schoolsOld, corroded lead pipes are another common culprit. Elevated blood-lead levels in kids increase risk of learning disabilities, behavioral problems, anemia and, in extreme cases, serious brain damage
    Formaldehyde: used in fertilizers, glues, plywood, fiberboard, particleboard and certain types of insulation, as well as in some disinfectants, antibacterial soaps and even beauty products. Regular exposure to formaldehyde can cause brain damage to fetuses, and asthma/other respiratory damage to children
  • CDC’s New Report:
    http://www.cdc.gov/exposurereport Centers for Disease Control’s Second National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility’s Bearing the Burden:
    Health Implications of Environmental Pollutants in Our Bodies: http://www.envirohealthaction.org/bearingtheburden  The known and potential health effects of human exposure to the chemicals studied in the CDC report

Over the past 30 years, we Boomers have happily accepted “better living though chemicals” – and now so do our children.  Who knew that as ever more products have been introduced containing increasing levels of toxic ingredients (from Acetyl methoxycinnamate to Zinc pyrithione found in personal and home cleaning products), designed to be ever more powerful, we have been breathing, eating (on dishes from the dishwasher; chemical additives in our foods), and topically ingesting (through our bath/body products) dangerous chemicals day after day, year after year.

These chemicals stay and build in our homes & bodies as we use ever more of them to clean, bathe, freshen, eat; they enter our water systems as run-off (from both our household and outdoor pesticide use), and when we spray them they immediately enter our respiratory system.

If we were to eliminate many or most of the chemicals in our lives, we would see a parallel and significant decline in the disorders we seek to prevent by avoiding vaccines.

Do your own research.  But do the research.  Because by avoiding what isn’t causing these devastating health disorders, we are only allowing what is causing them to perpetuate.  And that is not the legacy we/our children, want to leave for their children.

How Boomers Can Change the Healthcare System

Wow…..that’s quite grandiose, eh?  That we as a generation could CHANGE the healthcare system as we know it?

It isn’t, and we can.  Here’s how.

I’ll start with the problem in the system that is within our control.  A big chunk of what’s wrong with healthcare is not being discussed: that too many doctors have long since abandoned quality care for quantity billable hours.  Here’s the result and how each one harms the system:

  • When we feel that our doctor cares less about us than his/her bottom line, we are more apt to sue when things go wrong – we believe they do not have our best interest/care at the core of their work, as a result it is much easier to believe malpractice, malicious or otherwise;
    Harms the healthcare system through higher levels of frivolous lawsuits
  • When doctors are not taking the time to truly listen, learn about us, automatically get our records from our other doctors and collaborate with them on our care, the result is the need to order tests and lots of them – when you work in a vacuum, you need to gather information to fill that void, information that often can be gleaned from other sources rather than more tests;
    Harms the system through needlessly perpetuating tests, not based on our tendency to sue, but their tendency to do too little discovery on their own, using their medical arts training
  • Speaking of working in a vacuum, doctors today take a full-blown silo approach, attending to only their tiny specialty piece of our personal health-needs puzzle, as though their part of the body is completely disconnected from the other parts (not to mention the emotional/psychological aspects of our physical health) – it isn’t – all of the body’s parts work in concert, and specialists need to consider other systems/parts that impact their specialty’s – but too few do;
    Harms the system by again creating the need to order batteries of tests; also lends to more misdiagnoses, the need to see more doctors until you find someone who might put the pieces together for you, and mistrust that fuels lawsuits
  • Overbooking is the medical mantra – thus doctors expect us to wait for sometimes an hour, before being seen for a pre-scheduled appointment; beyond the facts that if we ran our businesses like that we wouldn’t have one and the practice is clearly disrespectful to us (treat our time as far less valuable than theirs), the most important problem here is that the person making decisions about our healthcare issues is in such a rush, there is simply no way s/he can do a quality job;
    Harm to the system is increased misdiagnoses or no diagnoses (once the most obvious cause for your symptoms has been ruled out, the medical shoulders shrug and you’re left still not knowing what’s wrong with you…or you’re sent to yet another specialist) both of which increase our costs (more doctor visits/tests), and once again, increase the lawsuit tendency.

Now here’s what we can do to fix it because, as I mentioned above, this is within our control:

  • Insist on better care – do not accept poor quality medical practice, as the more we accept it, the more of it we’ll get; let any doctor you see know upfront what you expect from him/her, and be prepared to seek other practitioners if you don’t get it – do not settle for mediocrity as though you have no choice
  • Insist that your doctors talk to each other, that your records be shared, and that your doctor listen to all of your concerns and existing medical needs/issues, regardless of the body part you’re there to address – neither they nor you know what’s impacting what until you discuss it
  • Do not wait more than 15 minutes to be seen – unless the doctor has an emergency or they’re fitting you in on an emergency basis – let the scheduling person know this intention when you make your appointment, and make checking on the doctor’s timeliness a part of your doctor-choosing decision; then follow through if they do make you wait longer than the time you’ve agreed to wait – let them know you’re leaving, and give them one more chance to do it right by making another appointment (if you wish); usually your return visit will be handled much better…
  • Become a well informed consumer/partner in your care – go to your appointments prepared, understand as much about what’s happening to your body as you can rather than fully depending on the doctor whose only half-listening anyway, insist on explanations for their recommendations, benefits/down-sides, etc. rather than blindly accepting what they decide – I have provided my doctors with alternatives they’d not considered as a result of my due diligence
  • Do not agree to tests with which you don’t feel comfortable or, after some research you believe to be unnecessary – you’d be quite surprised by how many tests you’ll find are more about CYA for the doctor vs. your well-being, once you’re more fully informed

We Boomers have no problem asking for what we want, we are the best educated generation so our research skills are excellent, and we are unwilling to accept the “status quo” (these are just 3 of our generational characteristics that come in handy, here) – much more so than any other generation, including our childrens’.  We can use these abilities to change the expectations we have of the medical professionals in our lives, thus changing the way our own doctors work with us.  By using only those doctors who meet all the above criteria, we are putting our dollars to work supporting best medical practice, not worst.  

And with 78 million of us, that will have a huge impact.  Over time, those with the best practice approaches will thrive, the rest will not. 

The resulting reductions in lawsuits, unneeded tests, and additional doctor visits as one specialist no longer automatically sends you to another before doing all s/he can to diagnose your problem him/herself, will make a nice dent in our healthcare costs.

Make cents?

What Are Boomers Worried About the Most?

This question was posed on centerarticles.com, asked of Boomers and all generations, for the purpose of researching our greatest worries in our lives right now.  Here’s mine.

As a Boomer, I have no worries in my own life, other than keeping my 89 y.o. mother as healthy as possible so she can have quality of life until she moves onto that big golf complex in the sky!

Where my greatest worry lies, is with my fellow Boomers, more specifically the “middle Boomers” as I have labeled those, like me, born in the middle of the procreation craze (so, born betw. approx. 1951 & 1958 – I’m 1954) – which is the greatest majority of us.

We are the ones most responsible for being irresponsible.  It was us, much moreso than the “leading edge” Boomers (1946-1950) or the “junior Boomers (1959-1964), who became “the man” we so reviled as youth (e.g. becoming the corporate boogy men we knew were running/ruining our world back then), became so materialistic and wasteful as to undo all the great changes we fought for (environmental primarily), parented by creating “latch-key kids” (yea, us), and made going into deep debt a normal way of living; forget saving, we’ve instead spent so far beyond our means that we as a generation encouraged- and lead corporately – much of the economic shenanigans that caused the melt-down.

Now, we can add to that our on-going status as the “silent majority” – allowing a minority of our vocal but misinformed generational counterparts to get away with mindlessly repeating what they hear on Fox News whether on health care reform or fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan – rather than using that great education for which we are known (yes, we are also the best educated generation ever in the history of this land…) to read, learn the facts for ourselves, and make an INFORMED decision based on real information, not spin (whether that’s from Fox News or CNN…they all spin).

We Boomers are still in charge….and that worries me.  We haven’t done a boffo job thus far, and don’t seem to be willing…or perhaps able, to see the error of our ways so we can fix what we’ve broken.

What worries me even more is that we have the power, the influence, and the sheer numbers to make a huge, positive difference in our country and world, and instead we use it to the detriment of both.

May my worries be short-lived.

What Are You Willing to Sacrifice?

‘Tis the season for health care reform overreacting, from Democrat Pelosi’s very silly & counterproductive “unAmerican” remark, to the unbeknownst-to-anyone-including-those-creating-the-bill “death panels” – aka having access to good & factual information from your doctor on handling end-of-life preparations – charged by Republicans and on which Republicans are now backpedaling as, yes, another overreaction.  This made more interesting by the fact that it was a Republican, Senator Johnny Isakson of GA, who introduced the bill’s end of life counseling option for Medicare… Oh, and by the way, my fellow Boomers, according to Medical News Today, one of the top 10 most common medical challenges for us as we age: Death & Dying, e.g. deciding how we want to live out the end of our lives and how we want to die….

What is not being discussed, and must be if we hope to reform anything, whether it’s our evermore dysfunctional health care system or a shaky marriage, is the “give” part of “give and take”…

And I’m not referring to Congress; I’m talking about…us.

It is an accepted fact that at times we must sacrifice for the greater good.  We Boomers’ parents did that big time to ensure a world free of fascist domination; foster parents make many sacrifices so they can care for others’ abused/neglected children; and, of course, our military men and women make huge sacrifices, as do their families, to keep us safe.  Americans often are willing to sacrifice a little – and sometimes a lot – to help others.

So I asked myself, “what am I willing to sacrifice when it comes to health care reform, so that others (many) who are suffering because their insurance dropped them for having a disease that is too costly, or are uninsured and as a result are not getting the healthcare some of them desperately need, will no longer have to live that way?”  Because that, to me, is what underpins much of the debate, fuels much of the fear, and ultimately decides the outcome: “you’re asking me to give up something for this, and I don’t wanna…”

It’s natural to think only of ourselves, what we have, and that we don’t want to chance losing something of our own so that others we don’t know can gain.  But, in retrospect:

  • it’s a good thing the Continental Congress ultimately fought that desire (for 2 years the vast majority of representatives wouldn’t even discuss the option of independence, in part because they knew it would be considered treason, but in greater part because they were afraid of losing their property and standing);
  • I’m very glad those who stormed the beach at Normandy didn’t feel that way, and;
  • I’m deeply grateful that those who ultimately lost their lives to gain basic civil rights for all, didn’t place their own self-interests above that of millions of fellow Americans subjugated to egregious forms of discrmination.

Now that I know that 10’s of millions of my fellow Americans, a number that keeps growing, have, over many years, experienced serious health ramifications because they have no coverage to get then well, this is a big enough problem to warrant serious consideration of my part in fixing it. 

I am thrilled that my 89 year old mother, and all of America’s elderly (and not so elderly…) have Medicare so at least here in America we don’t let our elderly go without all the care they need to have a quality life.  But that has only been since the 1960’s, prior to that, we did treat our elderly as we do our younger citizens now, and that’s nothing in which to take pride.

So, am I willing to pay a little more so that others can be healthy?  Am I willing to get a little less so someone with cancer will be covered after all?  Doctors, are you willing to make $3K instead of $4K a year* and perhaps drive a smaller BMW?  And, of course, we already know that the insurance companies are not willing to sacrifice anything but those who cost them too much, unless forced to do so…

A major objection from the most vocal of opponents, is based in this concern: “I like my insurance (whether private of Medicare) and don’t want it impacted at all!”  Is that reasonable or completely selfish?  Is it unreasonable to ask those who feel they are not impacted by the health care issue, to make some potential sacrifice so others may have even some of what they have (the operative word being potential, as for many it may never happen)?

My answer is, I am willing to pay a little more for the same coverage if that will help others – I am not willing to continue to pay more for less to benefit the insurance companies as \is happening right now.   I say that not completely selflessly (of course…): I know full well that I do already pay for the uninsured through the 33% hike I’ve seen in my premiums over just the last year.  If you think that’s not happening to you as an insured, just call your insurer and ask why premiums keep rising – they will readily admit that it is in part because they must try to recoup the rising costs of hospital medical care, for instance, associated with the mandate to care for the uninsured regardless of their ability to pay. 

Even those with good coverage know that at any time they can be denied care for a needed procedure, canceled, or as has happened regularly over the last many years even w/employer underwritten group health plans, pay ever more for less coverage.  This while insurance executives fly to their next stockholder meeting in their private planes with gold-rimmed dinnerware and hand & foot service (I’m not fabricating this – an ex-insurance exec told all recently to the St. Pete Times, and this was part of his story).

So, now I ask you: What are you willing to sacrifice for the greater good on this issue?  A little something can really go a long way.

*According to a 2008 survey of MD’s by Modern Physician, Physician’s salaries range from a low of $175K/yr (Internist), to a high of $600K (Radiologist): averaging $387K/yr.