Category Archives: Healthcare

Stress Hormone Causes Epigenetic Changes

Stress Hormone Causes Epigenetic Changes | National Institutes of Health (NIH)September 27, 2010

Researchers found that chronic exposure to a stress hormone causes modifications to DNA in the brains of mice, prompting changes in gene expression. The new finding provides clues into how chronic stress might affect human behavior.

And how about the chronic stress from living with constant pain? And never being able to plan ahead because it’s impossible to know how much pain any day or time will bring, impossible to know what you’ll be capable of at any specific time?

What about the stress of being disabled from earning a paycheck and making a living, of having to rely on government handouts and the generosity of family and friends?

And, to top it off, always having to worry whether your doctor will continue prescribing opioids or leave you to suffer the endless torture without relief?  Continue reading

The Sorrow and Inheritance of Suicide

The Sorrow of Suicide | NIH News in Health – May 2012

Suicide is tragic. It cuts a life short, and it devastates the family, friends and loved ones left behind.

The children of people who die by suicide are more likely to later die by suicide themselves.

This is because we inherit not only our parents’ genes but also the epigenetic markers on those genes, so we can “inherit” a depressed or stressed state or behavior from our parents thru epigenetics and pass our own stress down to our children as well.   Continue reading

I was Wrong about Coronavirus

I just want to clearly admit an error: I was wrong about the coronavirus situation and dismissed it too easily. I was thinking only of individual risk and didn’t think of what could happen if a sizable proportion of the population became sick and contagious.

For most folks, the virus itself is not much worse than getting a bad flu. However, being healthy cannot protect us from the social and economic disruptions of this pandemic.

I doubt there are any humans who won’t be affected, sooner or later, one way or another.

John Hopkins University has a nifty “dashboard” showing the locations and numbers of cases across the whole planet. To temper all this bad news, it also shows a count of recovered cases: Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS

Provider Beliefs May Affect Pain Relief

Provider Beliefs May Affect Pain Relief | NIH News in HealthJanuary 2020

How your health care provider interacts with you is important. Their style can shape how you feel about your treatment.

A new study found that people experienced less pain when the treatment provider expected a pain reliever to work. This may have been due, in part, to the provider’s facial expressions.

This goes completely against what I and many other pain patients have experienced: Our doctors always believe that whatever treatment they are prescribing or providing will work and most patients do too. “Hope springs eternal” until patients face the reality that this placebo treatment isn’t working. Continue reading

The medications that change who we are

The medications that change who we are – BBC FutureBy Zaria Gorvett – Jan 2020

Over the years, Golomb has collected reports from patients across the United States – tales of broken marriages, destroyed careers, and a surprising number of men who have come unnervingly close to murdering their wives.

In almost every case, the symptoms began when they started taking statins, then promptly returned to normal when they stopped; one man repeated this cycle five times before he realised what was going on.

We’re all familiar with the mind-bending properties of psychedelic drugs – but it turns out ordinary medications can be just as potent.   Continue reading

Vagus Nerve: The Wisdom Your Body Knows

Opinion | The Wisdom Your Body Knows – The New York Times – By David Brooks, Opinion Columnist – Nov 2019

“the concept of safety is fundamental to our mental state.”

This is something I feel acutely these days: unsafe.

I’m terrified that my opioids will be tapered and I’ll lose my only defense against unremitting pain. I’ve learned to live with the constant annoyance of my various “background pains”, but if left unchecked, my rampaging pain flares would be literally unbearable.  Continue reading

Data Science Used to Lend False Credibility to Decisions

Data Science Has Become About Lending False Credibility To Decisions We’ve Already Made – Kalev Leetaru, Forbes Contributor – Mar 2019

One of the greatest failures of data science has been the way in which it has devolved from the genuine search for answers into just another tool to lend credibility to the answers we want.

All that matters is that we can justify our preordained decisions with the certainly of “data.” As we rapidly undermine the promise of data science, will our trust in data fade with it?

It is truly remarkable that our era of searching data for answers has devolved into searching data until we find support for the answer we’ve already decided upon.   Continue reading

Coronavirus: How We Misjudge Risk

Coronavirus ‘Hits All the Hot Buttons’ for How We Misjudge Risk – The New York TimesBy Max Fisher – Feb 2020

I see a striking similarity between fear of the coronavirus and fear of opioid addiction.

Like everywhere else on campus, and in much of the world, the coronavirus was all anybody could talk about. But one of the attendees, a public health student, had had enough. Exasperated, she rattled off a set of statistics.

The virus had killed about 1,100 worldwide and infected around a dozen in the United States. Alarming, but a much more common illness, influenza, kills about 400,000 people every year, including 34,200 Americans last flu season and 61,099 the year before.  

So the 80,000 flu deaths I previously cited from the 2017-2018 winter flu was unusual, but not entirely out of the norm.  Continue reading

Stanford finds personalized approach to opioids better

Opioids: Stanford researchers find personalized approach a better way to prescribe painkillersBy Denise Dador Dec 2019

This article demonstrates the importance of personalization for quality healthcare and shows that standards are inappropriate for medication choice and dosing.

Why do some people get addicted to opioid painkillers and others don’t?

Stanford School of Medicine researchers have developed an innovative program called the Humanwide Project. Through wearable technology, genetics, and other tools, it aims to personalize care and take the mystery out of how we work.

Debbie Spaizman was nearly sidelined by a health concern. Surgery was needed, but she hesitated due to how she reacted to pain medication.   Continue reading

Meditation for Everything and Everybody

Below are 3 critiques of the current panacea offered for all mental and physical ailments, one that irritates me no end because it’s being pushed as a “treatment” for chronic pain, even if it’s from physical ailments, like EDS or the damaged nerves of neuropathy.

Even Mindfulness Meditation Has Turned Into a Minefield | Psychology Today  – Matthew Legge Are We Done Fighting?Jul 29, 2019

A recent essay that offered a critique of mindfulness is creating quite the stir. I’ll show how this follows a pattern I’ve seen.

Over the last few years, I’ve been reading about a wide range of topics, largely to inform a book I wrote on practical ways to address rising polarization. One thing I’ve noticed is that every issue I’ve looked at, even ones that seem very straightforward, turn out to be bitterly controversial once I get further into the details. Every. Single. Issue.   Continue reading