Friday, July 16, 2010

Bogus Living

For the first time in 25 years, medical experts are proposing a major change in the criteria for Alzheimer’s disease, part of a new movement to diagnose and, eventually, treat the disease earlier. The changes could also help drug companies that are, for the first time, developing new drugs to try to attack the disease earlier. So far, there are no drugs that alter the course of the disease.

---- Key words here "drug companies" and "treat" and "developing new drugs."

I grew up surrounded by older folks, my parents were older when I was born. My grandparents, aunts, uncles lived into their 80s, 90s, and a great grandmother to 102. None had Alzheimer disease.

Alzheimer, like many other "modern" diseases, is a cash cow, golden goose. Not to say there are not folks losing brain cells, it's obvious many folks have degenerating brain cells, but prevention is the answer - not more treatment and prescriptions after the fact. To date there are no drugs proven to stop or reverse Alzheimer. Not Namenda, not Aricept, not Exelon, not Razadyne. They "appear to" or "may" help slow the disease, according to BigPharma. Alzheimer drugs of any use are those that calm the "behavior issues" associated with the disease - combativeness, agitation, the grouch. Such drugs create a more tranquil nursing home.

Risk Factors for Alzheimer:
Smoking after age 65 up your chances of Alzheimer’s by 79%.
Obesity in midlife makes you 3-1/2 x as likely to have Alzheimer’s.
Diabetes makes you twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s.
Genetics account for only 25% of Alzheimer’s cases.
Chronic stress may quadruple your risk.

Of course smoking takes first place blame for all things these days, even though my ancestors smoked like chimneys, unfiltered cigarettes and pipes, and did not develop Alzheimer disease. None were obese. None had diabetes. And they handled stress in a healthier way - known as "deal with it." A few were more forgetful in later years, but not to the point they forgot how to eat , use the bathroom, or who they were and who you were. I think Alzheimer is the disease of "use it or lose it" and more folks are using less of their brain.

Much of today's "genetic" excuse is nothing more than the environment you were born in. Fat parents, drug using parents, sedentary parents, chronically stressed parents typically produce fat kids, hophead kids, lazy kids, stressed out unpleasant kids. Parents and children with unhealthy habits. Hence families usually develop the same diseases and conditions.

In the last 50 years or so, since socialized medicine was introduced (Medicaid/Medicare), there have been hundreds of diseases discovered and what were once rare conditions have become epidemic: Fibromyalgia, autism, diabetes, obesity, restless leg syndrome, epilepsy, migraines, chronic pain syndrome, chronic back pain, neuropathy, ADHD, adult onset this and that, depression, anxiety, bipolar, obsessive compulsive disorder, PMS, PEMS, eating disorders, PTSD, Asperger syndrome, anything "cyclical", body dysmorphic disorder, Tourette's, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel, on and on and on.

Tell me your disease and I will know your lifestyle, your upbringing, and your social status/philosophy. I will know what you are by the "disease" or syndrome you hide behind.

(A few trendy surgeries whether you really need it not: Cholecystectomy, hysterectomy, C-section, knee surgery, back surgery, tonsillectomy, carpal tunnel, sinus surgery, and the "exploratory" surgery because no physician can find anything wrong with your literal bellyaching.)

Yes, some of the above diseases are valid - epilepsy, PTSD, but all can and are also faked. Healthcare professionals will not tell you to go home and get a life - you're a dollar sign for the billing department. Stop using a body part, or abuse it, and you eventually have your disease. Fake it 'til you make it.

Sixty years ago folks with some of the above "diseases" would have been considered retarded - and they are, emotionally and psychologically retarded. Hypochondria was seldom seen until it was taxpayer funded. Malingering was for the occasional bored middle/upper class white housewife with a vodka bottle and Valium - now anyone can pretend to suffer.

Don't expect to see a lot of the above afflicted folks living to retirement. Obesity alone is shortening the lifespan and lowering age expectancy in the US. Society and government now encourage us to pick a pain - an excuse to be nasty, mean, lazy, hateful, encourage us to be failures, losers, selfish, unable to help ourselves or anyone else because we have a syndrome that debilitates us. Do or say whatever nasty vile thing you want and excuse it with having one of your "episodes" or one of your "spells" that is connected to your syndrome or disorder. Or do nothing because the excruciating pain of your "disease" won't let you lift anything heavier than a beer, a bong, or a bigmac.

Years ago we did not see t.v. shows of folks living in their own filth and say it was the disease of "hoarding." Drunks and addicts were a family shame, not an intervention episode for all the world to watch someone put a needle in their arm or pass out drunk on the curb. The unfocused, ill-mannered, rowdy kids would have been in special education, not going to the school nurse to get their noon fix. Back then folks had to make a life and living, now they only need a syndrome that insurance and SSI (or government) will cover.

I remember when there was no syndrome or disorder or disease to excuse a low life - society did not condone screwed up choices and government did not fund them. When and if Obamacare kicks in - expect to see a sicker nation.


kf said...

I got a long-winded here but I could not agree more with you about the DSM industry. People annoy me with their "my" states-of-being; my fibromyalgia, my depression, my diabetes, etc. Speaking of my. . .

When my son was in first grade in 1988, his teacher diagnosed him with ADD. She brought the principal, the guidance counselor, and finally administration folk around to her way of thinking. So began a year-long trial which demanded use of vacation, sick and personal time from work. I was pressured into presenting a formal document from the school to the pediatrician. The once-loved pediatrician prescribed something. I refused it and after another attempt with another pediatrician, ended up with a GP who understood that there was nothing wrong with my bright, curious and energetic young fellow who "couldn't sit still" and was genetically prone to meeting himself coming and going.

The teacher would not give up.

I secured a seat at a professional seminar (one of the first in town) at the county hospital re: ADD (as it was called back then). An expert there backed me up (after much arguing). Still, the teacher kept submitting paperwork defending her position. Finally I managed an appointment with the staff of the Greatest Expert For The State. Several days' worth of six-hours-a-day comprehensive testing; physical, mental, emotional, psychological. They could prove nothing and I would not agree with any of their theoretical diagnoses.

Because the situation had escalated into a federal case, the greatest expert himself was finally called in to persuade me. When he came into the office for our consultation, he immediately dismissed the two other doctors. Without skipping a beat, I hammered down on the lack of proof and reiterated my refusal to give in. He asked if I was certain about my position, was there anything that might be done to help me reconsider, blah, blah, blah. I said no and asked what he intended to report to the school system. He said my son's diagnosis would be "dysgraphia" - the inability to translate thoughts into writing at a comfortable pace (he couldn't write as fast as he thought); a condition which would correct itself as the child gained in writing skills. He added to this that it might be high school and computers which would provide optimal translation opportunities and comfort. In all events, no special help or intervention would be required.

I thanked him and as I shook his hand to depart, he leaned in and said to me that no one, not even his wife, knew that he attended AA and he would appreciate it if I honored the tradition of anonymity. (He traveled many miles for that one exclusive-type meeting a week in the middle of nowhere). Although my face had registered recognition (to the great expert, I'm sure) I did not mention it during the consult, and I never have since - even though I did not remain in AA. But if it wasn't for that, who knows how much longer that fight would have gone on. We were cleared for the duration of the school years!


Kate-A said...

Kudos to you Kathy for standing firm in regard to your son.

When the adhd/add trend began, or when I noticed, it seemed to target sons of single white mothers. At that time fathers would have said "no way in hell" are they doping my kid. Like all things it spread to all races, creeds, and social classes, and now fathers are as quick to fill a prescription as mom.

What I wonder is why no one has made the connection between drugging children and the decline in US test scores, the fact that children have become intellectually and psychologically dumber and dumber over the last 3 decades.

I read a report recently, can't remember where or who, that said research on adults who grew up on add/adhd drugs on average have an IQ score 20 points lower than adults who were not medicated - I'm sure the results won't be widely publicized. The report basically said that what is learned under the influence of add/adhd drugs is not retained long-term. Made me think of marijuana's effect - a person recalls they had an intellectually stimulating conversation when they were stoned but can't remember much of it. Never mind that the discussion was on the meaning of a ball of string.

The inmates are truly running the asylum.

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