Science helps a depressed teenager

“This Teen Was Prescribed 10 Psychiatric Drugs. She’s Not Alone.” (New York Times, yesterday):

One morning in the fall of 2017, Renae Smith, a high school freshman on Long Island, N.Y., could not get out of bed, overwhelmed at the prospect of going to school. In the following days, her anxiety mounted into despair.

Given the constant doomsaying of the NYT, wouldn’t the above be a sign of mental health, rather than of mental illness? Ms. Smith was informed that the Earth was melting and that her home in Long Island would be reclaimed by the ocean. Ms. Smith was informed that U.S. democracy was at an end and that Donald Trump would be ruling as a dictator indefinitely. Only a fool wouldn’t be anxious and desperate after reading these truths.

Intervention for her depression and anxiety came not from the divine but from the pharmaceutical industry. The following spring, a psychiatrist prescribed Prozac. The medication offered a reprieve from her suffering, but the effect dissipated, so she was prescribed an additional antidepressant, Effexor.

A medication cascade had begun. During 2021, the year she graduated, she was prescribed seven drugs. These included one for seizures and migraines — she experienced neither, but the drug can be also used to stabilize mood — and another to dull the side effects of the other medications, although it is used mainly for schizophrenia. She felt better some days but deeply sad on others.

Her senior yearbook photo shows her smiling broadly, “but I felt terrible that day,” said Ms. Smith, who is now 19 and attends a local community college. “I’ve gotten good at wearing a mask.”

Here’s her list of meds:

Let’s keep in mind that these are the same folks who say that they can tell when it is time for a teenager to transition, via drugs and irreversible surgery, to a different gender ID (from among the 74 recognized by medicine). And their brothers, sisters, and binary-resisters in other branches of medicine claim to know when it is time to shut down schools, forbid those who aren’t employed in marijuana stores from going to work, order the general public to wear masks, force people to take experimental drugs, etc.

This story, at least, seems likely to have a happy ending:

Her definition of success has changed. too. Whereas she had once thought about “being a doctor or a lawyer or things like that,” she said, now she works in a plant nursery and is applying to a four-year college with a focus on environmental and wildlife sciences.

“I like working with my hands,” Ms. Smith said. “I don’t want to work at a desk, and that’s what I thought I should be doing.” She added, “I’m not the same person that I was a year ago.”

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A gathering of 20 kindergartners was a Scientifically unacceptable public health risk…

…. but Science doesn’t have a problem with an upcoming gathering of more than 275,000 mostly shirtless adults at Southern Decadence (September 1-5, 2022). Neither the CDC nor Louisiana’s public health officials, who eagerly shut down the New Orleans Public Schools, have made any attempt to shut down this event due to the potential for spreading SARS-CoV-2, monkeypox, and any other viruses that can spread from one shirtless human to another.

Science closed the Atlanta kindergartens as recently as January 2022 (NYT), but Science will soon welcome 100,000+ adults for all-day/all-night parties during Atlanta Black Pride.

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Is the CDC running a bathhouse?

Everything that the CDC says or does is, by definition, scientific. Science requires that hypotheses be tested and data gathered. The CDC is now offering scientific advice on how to have sex in group settings without contracting monkeypox. Ergo, the CDC must either be running its own bathhouse or gathering data in a bathhouse run by others. Let’s look at “Safer Sex, Social Gatherings, and Monkeypox” (CDC, August 5):

Spaces like back rooms, saunas, sex clubs, or private and public sex parties where intimate, often anonymous sexual contact with multiple partners occurs—are more likely to spread monkeypox.

Unless the CDC is running a bathhouse, how has it determined, scientifically, that the bathhouse lifestyle is more likely to spread monkeypox than some other lifestyle?

Condoms (latex or polyurethane) may protect your anus (butthole), mouth, penis, or vagina from exposure to monkeypox. However, condoms alone may not prevent all exposures to monkeypox, since the rash can occur on other parts of the body.

Where is the CDC doing its scientific testing with condoms?

Consider having sex with your clothes on or covering areas where rash is present, reducing as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. Leather or latex gear also provides a barrier to skin-to-skin contact; just be sure to change or clean clothes/gear between partners and after use.

Has the CDC tested washed versus unwashed leather and latex gear to determine, scientifically, if the suggested cleaning makes a difference? Where has the CDC done the experiments of a leather party versus a non-leather party and a clothes-on versus a clothes-off party in order to have a scientific basis for the above statements?

A rave, party, or club where there is minimal clothing and where there is direct, personal, often skin-to-skin contact has some risk. Avoid any rash you see on others and consider minimizing skin-to-skin contact.

The CDC has done experiments with laypeople and discovered that they are able to recognize rashes in dimly lit clubs? If it doesn’t run its own bathhouse, how can the CDC know that “see and avoid” is an effective means of avoiding monkeypox?

Separately, what would the CDC’s bathhouse be called? All of the people on the “Meet the Staff” page appear to identify as “women”. Would it make sense to have a bathhouse for the 2SLGBTQQIA+ named after a woman?

I already suggested that “Karen’s” be the name of a restaurant chain in which masks and vaccine papers are required. So the CDC bathhouse can’t be named after those who would seek to keep others on the path of righteousness. The CDC is headquartered in Atlanta and is run by the Feds. Combining that fact fact with the above text, how about “Sherman‘s House of Latex”?

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Should we not pay rent due to the COVID-19 public health emergency…

… or should we instead not pay rent due to “Biden administration declares the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency” (CNN):

The declaration follows the World Health Organization announcement last month that monkeypox is a public health emergency of international concern. WHO defines a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC, as “an extraordinary event” that constitutes a “public health risk to other States through the international spread of disease” and “to potentially require a coordinated international response.”

Some cities and states, including New York City, San Francisco, California, Illinois and New York, have already declared monkeypox an emergency, allowing them to free up funding and resources for their responses to the outbreak.

On Tuesday, President Joe Biden named Robert Fenton as the White House’s national monkeypox response coordinator. Fenton — a regional Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator who oversees Arizona, California, Hawaii and Nevada — will coordinate the federal government’s response to the outbreak.

Monkeypox can infect anyone, but the majority of cases in the US outbreak have been among men who have sex with men, including gay and bisexual men and people who identify as transgender. Close contact with an infected individual is required for the spread of the monkeypox virus, experts say.

Concentrating on that last paragraph, now that Science has declared an emergency, should we start wearing protective cloth masks on visits to the local bathhouse?

Separately, one of my most COVID-concerned Facebook friends has been posting images of himself and his wife, fully masked, at a 70,000-person indoor board game convention. Apparently, there was a one-hour process for scrutinizing vaccine papers (Science says that there is no way to transmit a SARS-CoV-2 infection if a person has been injected with proven-by-Science COVID-19 “vaccines”). The same guy posted some rage against convention attendees who did not Follow Science by attending a 70,000-person indoor event while wearing a mask of some sort:

This guy and similar are endlessly fascinating to me. He is concerned enough about COVID-19 to wear a mask and post about others’ mask-wearing. But he is not concerned enough about an aerosol respiratory virus to refrain from attending a 70,000-person indoor event that attracts diseased individuals from all around the world.

Finally, when will the CDC announce a hangar rent moratorium? That’s the kind of COVID-19/monkeypox relief that I feel would be most beneficial.

Related:

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Another day and another scam in the American health care system

Our health insurer just sent an Explanation of Benefits. I went to see a doctor and she billed the absurd $528 that would have been charged to the unfortunate uninsured victim. The insurance company knocked this down to $123.75 so they paid $43.75 and I paid the $80 copayment (on top of the $30,000 per year that we pay in premium).

Except for catastrophes, it seems that nobody would need health insurance if health insurance didn’t exist and providers had to charge a retail price that had some basis in market reality. The person who can afford the $80 co-pay can also afford $123.75.

Related:

  • “A $20,243 bike crash: Zuckerberg hospital’s aggressive tactics leave patients with big bills” (Vox): Paramedics took her to the emergency room at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where doctors X-rayed her arm and took a CT scan of her brain and spine. She left with her arm in a splint, on pain medication, and with a recommendation to follow up with an orthopedist. … A few months later, Dang got a bill for $24,074.50. Premera Blue Cross, her health insurer, would only cover $3,830.79 of that — an amount that it thought was fair for the services provided. That left Dang with $20,243.71 to pay, which the hospital threatened to send to collections in mid-December.
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Monkeypox motivates Science to find something essential other than alcohol and marijuana

The Science-following states, e.g., Maskachusetts, California, and New York, closed public schools for 12-18 months while keeping alcohol and, at least in MA and CA, marijuana stores open as “essential.”

Let’s look at a recent tweet from one of America’s top scientists, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Medicine (smart enough to stop SARS-CoV-2 but not smart enough to notice an administrator stealing $40 million):

I think we can infer from the above that the bathhouse joins the marijuana and the liquor store in the “essential” category, as determined by Science.

Maybe Professor Gonsalves was always anti-lockdown? It is possible to search by date range within Twitter, e.g., “from:gregggonsalves school since:2020-08-15 until:2020-09-01”

In August 2020, Science wanted schools kept closed:

(the idea of “all schools open”, pushed by Donald Trump, was a mark of “surrender”)

And in July 2020:

Danger is everywhere, and especially in open schools:

So I think it is safe to say that, like in-person marijuana and alcohol retail, the bathhouse has been found by scientists to be more important than K-12 education.

Related:

  • “Monkeypox outbreaks across Europe linked to gay sauna and fetish festival” (PinkNews): Twenty-three new cases were confirmed in Spain on Friday (May 20), with regional health chief Enrique Ruiz Escudero telling reporters that most of the cases had been traced from a single adult sauna, used by queer men for sex, according to Reuters. Authorities have also confirmed the first cases of monkeypox in Belgium, which have been linked to visitors of the Darklands fetish festival which took place from 4-9 May.
  • Darklands: Life is great, but it is even better in your favorite fetish gear. Darklands Belgium encourages visitors to explore their sexuality and develop a safe and sane interest for the many fetishes in our community. The event is a collaboration of different groups, organizations, clubs and over 150 volunteers. The various tribes in the gay fetish community (Leather, rubber, army, skinhead, puppies, …) come together to create a unique spectacle of fetish brotherhood. [i.e., it was “safe” except for the monkeypox]
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Will masks for the general public work as well against monkeypox as they did against SARS-CoV-2?

“New Yorkers told to mask up again after local patient tests POSITIVE for same genus virus as monkeypox” (Daily Mail):

An NYC patient has tested positive for the same genus virus as monkeypox sparking calls from the health department for residents to wear masks indoors – just as New Yorkers were finally returning to mask-free normalcy after COVID-19.

The health department is encouraging New Yorkers to wear face masks to protect against the new virus outbreak, as well as COVID-19 and the flu. Monkeypox primarily spreads through physical contact but can also be transmitted through respiratory droplets in the air.

Why isn’t the best advice “Leave New York City, which is one of the world’s most crowded places”? The Science is strong with the NYC health department, but ordinarily a scientific conclusion is supported by evidence. What is the evidence that a monkeypox outbreak can be stopped by ordinary residents of a city wearing masks?

In a world obsessed with avoiding viral infection, I can’t figure out why cities like New York make sense (or why boosting population density in already-crowded cities via low-skill immigration makes sense). I have a lot more confidence that someone living in the suburbs can avoid monkeypox compared to someone living in a Manhattan studio apartment and going out to the stuff that used to make Manhattan attractive.

Combining these topics, a photo from June 2021:

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Colorado Supreme Court forces hospital to deal with a consumer in a semi-reasonable way

News on one of my pet topics, the ability of hospitals to hit the unwary with bills for 5-10X what a service actually costs (i.e., what 95 percent of customers pay via insurance)… “She Was Told Surgery Would Cost About $1,300. Then the Bill Came: $229,000.” (NYT, May 21):

When Lisa Melody French needed back surgery after a car accident, she went to a hospital near her home outside Denver, which reviewed her insurance information and told her she would be personally responsible for paying about $1,337.

But after the surgery, the hospital claimed that it had “misread” her insurance card and that she was, in fact, an out-of-network patient, court papers said. As a result, Centura Health, which operated the hospital, billed her $229,112.13. When she didn’t pay, Centura sued her.

“I was scared about it,” said Ms. French, 60, a clerk at a trucking company, who eventually filed for bankruptcy. “I didn’t understand because I kind of relied on the hospital and my insurance company to work out what I needed to pay.”

This week, after a yearslong legal battle, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that Ms. French did not have to pay nearly $230,000 for the spinal fusion surgery she underwent at St. Anthony North Hospital in Westminster, Colo., in 2014.

It took 8 years of litigation to shut down the conventional scam for this particular patient. How come?

Before her surgery, Ms. French signed two service agreements promising to pay “all charges of the hospital.”

Centura asserted that, because Ms. French was an out-of-network patient, those service agreements required her to pay the full rates, listed in a giant health system database known as a chargemaster — a catalog of the cost of every procedure and medical supply Centura provided.

In Centura’s view, the service agreements “were unambiguous and French’s agreement to pay ‘all charges’ ‘could only mean’ the predetermined rates set by Centura’s chargemaster,” the court said.

But the court found that Ms. French wasn’t responsible for paying those rates because she didn’t know the chargemaster even existed and hadn’t agreed to its terms.

Justice Gabriel pointed out that courts and commentators have noted that hospital chargemasters have become “increasingly arbitrary and, over time, have lost any direct connection to hospitals’ actual cost, reflecting, instead, inflated rates set to produce a targeted amount of profit for the hospitals after factoring in discounts negotiated with private and governmental insurers.”

“They have no basis in reality,” said Gerard F. Anderson, a professor of health policy and management and a professor of international health at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“The hospital cannot explain to anyone why they charge the prices they charge,” he said. “They are not based on costs. They are not based on accounting principles. They are fictitious instruments created by somebody in the hospitals.”

I still can’t figure out how the hospital’s behavior, despite being conventional nationwide, was ever considered legal in any state. It wouldn’t work for a car dealer to not tell a customer in advance how much a brake repair was going to cost and then charge that particular customer 5-10X what everyone else pays.

Some detail from the opinion:

Based on its understanding of the information that French had provided, Centura estimated that her surgeries would cost $57,601.77 and that after French’s insurance payment, she would personally be responsible for $1,336.90 of that amount.

Thereafter, and notwithstanding the fact that Centura had told French that her surgeries would cost $57,601.77 and that she would personally be responsible for $1,336.90 of that amount, Centura billed French $229,112.13, reflecting its full chargemaster rates. Centura did so because it determined that it had misread French’s insurance card and that she was, in fact, an out-of-network patient. Centura calculated the amount due after subtracting from the total charges the payment from French’s insurer of $73,597.35 and French’s payment of $1,000.00 (thus, the total amount that Centura charged was over $300,000.00, notwithstanding its pre-procedure estimate that the surgeries would cost $57,601.77)

The hospital’s victimization of this lady was far worse than the NYT article reports, in other words. Her insurance company actually paid the hospital more than the originally estimated fair cost of the services provided. But the hospital decided that it had found a clever opening to go after the patient for $229,000 extra.

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Should we take the neighbor’s 5-year-old in for a COVID-19 vaccine booster?

From the Journal of Popular Studies: “FDA Grants Emergency Use Authorization of Pfizer COVID Booster for Kids 5 to 11.” Children are facing an “emergency”, according to the scientists at the FDA. If there weren’t an emergency, by definition, the shots wouldn’t be available until completely tested and approved via normal procedures.

If a child in the neighborhood is facing an emergency, you’d be morally obligated to take him/her/zir/them to the local hospital, right? You wouldn’t let a 5-year-old bleed out on the sidewalk in front of your apartment when you could simply load the injured kid into the minivan (or Tesla if you’re a douche and/or dog lover!) and zip over to the ED.

Suppose that we suspect some of our neighbors (most of them physicians or dentists) are deplorably failing to respond to the emergency facing their young children. Are we obligated to snatch up the neglected children and rush them to to the nearest healing center for an injection? If not, why not?

If you’re at Disney World in the sexual orientation and gender identification dark ride for kindergarteners and discover that a child in the next car hasn’t received his/her/zir/their booster…

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How’s the miracle drug Paxlovid doing against COVID-19?

“Paxlovid is a miracle drug,” says a primary care doc whom I know, “because it is a miracle when I can prescribe it. Anyone who is sufficiently vulnerable to serious consequences from COVID-19 is already on drugs that have interactions with Paxlovid.” The other docs with whom I’ve talked about this drug, especially cardiologists, are generally negative regarding the drug. In their view, it will interact badly with other drugs, have bad side effects, and/or result in SARS-CoV-2 attacking the patient as soon as he/she/ze/they stops taking Paxlovid.

Chinks in the miracle drug’s armor are beginning to be described in our otherwise cheerleading media. Example from the NYT, March 25:

Certain medications or supplements, including painkillers, statins and even St. John’s Wort, may have adverse interactions with Paxlovid. So you may be advised to hold off on taking them for a week while being treated, Dr. Gandhi said. But for some medications, like drugs that regulate heart rhythm, abstaining for a week may not be possible. In those cases, your doctor may recommend molnupiravir for Covid-19 instead.

From Yale, where they understand medicine if not accounting, “13 Things To Know About Paxlovid, the Latest COVID-19 Pill”:

The FDA authorized Paxlovid for people ages 12 and older who weigh at least 88 pounds. But in order to qualify for a prescription, you must also have had a positive COVID-19 test result and be at high risk for developing severe COVID-19.

That means you must either have certain underlying conditions (including cancer, diabetes, obesity, or others) or be 65 or older (more than 81% of COVID-19 deaths occur in in this group). The more underlying medical conditions a person has, the higher their risk for developing a severe case of COVID-19, according to the CDC.

Since Paxlovid is cleared by the kidneys, dose adjustments may be required for patients with mild-to-moderate kidney disease, explains Dr. Topal. “For patients with severe kidney disease—or who are on dialysis—or those with severe liver disease, Paxlovid is not recommended; the levels of the drug can become too high and could cause increased side effects,” he says.

There is a long list of medications Paxlovid may interact with, and in some cases, doctors may not prescribe Paxlovid because these interactions may cause serious complications.

The list of drugs that Paxlovid interacts with includes some organ anti-rejection drugs that transplant patients take, as well as more common drugs like some used to treat heart arrhythmias. Paxlovid also decreases the metabolism of anticoagulants, or blood thinners, that many older adults depend on, driving up levels of those medications in the body to a point where they are unsafe, Dr. Topal explains.

It also interacts with cholesterol-lowering medications like Lipitor, but that’s less challenging for patients to overcome. “If you stop taking your Lipitor for five days, nothing bad is going to happen,” he adds.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, the FDA recommends discussing your options and specific situation with your health care provider, since there is no experience using the drug in these populations. If you could become pregnant, it’s recommended that you use effective barrier contraception or do not have sexual activity while taking Paxlovid.

So the ideal Paxlovid patient is morbidly obese with the blood pressure and heart health of a 22-year-old tennis star.

Pfizer wants you to take your Paxlovid every day… “FDA rebukes Pfizer CEO’s suggestion to take more Paxlovid if COVID-19 symptoms return”:

The FDA rebuked Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla’s proposed solution to reports that some patients experienced a relapse of COVID-19 symptoms after treatment with the company’s antiviral Paxlovid.

After reports said some patients who took Paxlovid rebounded and started feeling symptoms again, the CEO told Bloomberg that patients can take another course, “like you do with antibiotics.”

“There is no evidence of benefit at this time for a longer course of treatment … or repeating a treatment course of Paxlovid in patients with recurrent COVID-19 symptoms following completion of a treatment course,” John Farley, M.D., director of the Office of Infectious Diseases, said in a post.

Science is complex!

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