Schizophrenic. Killer. My Cousin.
"It's insanity to kill your father with a kitchen knife. It's also insanity to close hospitals
, fire therapists, and leave families to face mental illness on their own." [Via]
Trial of the Will.
"Reviewing familiar principles and maxims in the face of mortal illness, Christopher Hitchens has found one of them increasingly ridiculous: 'Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.' Oh, really? Take the case of the philosopher to whom that line is usually attributed, Friedrich Nietzsche, who lost his mind to what was probably syphilis. Or America’s homegrown philosopher Sidney Hook, who survived a stroke and wished he hadn’t. Or, indeed, the author, viciously weakened by the very medicine that is keeping him alive." [Via]
Army vet with PTSD sought the treatment he needed by taking hostages – but got jail instead.
"Fifteen months of carnage in Iraq had left the 29-year-old debilitated by post-traumatic stress disorder. But despite his doctor’s urgent recommendation, the Army failed to send him to a Warrior Transition Unit for help. The best the Department of Veterans Affairs could offer was 10-minute therapy sessions — via videoconference. So, early on Labor Day morning last year, after topping off a night of drinking with a handful of sleeping pills, Quinones barged into Fort Stewart’s hospital, forced his way to the third-floor psychiatric ward and held three soldiers hostage, demanding better mental health treatment." [Via] [more inside]
Abortion Drugs Given in Iowa via Video Link.
"The situation has played out hundreds of times. From his office here, a doctor asks a woman on the computer screen before him one final question: Are you ready to take your pill? Then, with a click of his mouse, a modified cash register drawer pops open in front of the woman seated next to a nurse in a clinic
— perhaps 100 miles from this city — with mifepristone, the medicine formerly known as RU-486, that is meant to end her pregnancy." [Via]
David Kessler Knew That Some Foods Are Hard to Resist; Now He Knows Why.
Former FDA commissioner David Kessler
goes dumpster-diving to investigate the neurological impact of eating junk food. [Via]
Ecstasy's long-term effects revealed.
"Enough time has finally elapsed to start asking if ecstasy damages health in the long term. According to the biggest review ever undertaken
, it causes slight memory difficulties and mild depression, but these rarely translate into problems in the real world. While smaller studies show that some individuals have bigger problems, including weakened immunity and larger memory deficits, so far, for most people, ecstasy seems to be nowhere near as harmful over time as you may have been led to believe." [Via]
The Medicalisation of Everyday Life.
"As the pace of medical innovation slows to a crawl, how do drug companies stay in profit? By 'discovering' new illnesses to fit existing products." An extract from Ben Goldacre's
new book, Bad Science
PTSD: The War Within. A Marine writes about his PTSD experience.
This article from the January issue of the Marine Corps Gazette
was written by USMC Staff Sergeant Travis N. Twiggs
. Twiggs killed himself and his brother
after a long police chase in Arizona earlier this week.
Trial by Transplant.
"Most transplant recipients are grateful beyond measure. Amy Silverstein's
view, after nearly two decades with a donated heart, is more conflicted and often bleak. Much of her life, as described in Sick Girl
, has revolved around nauseating drugs, ongoing fatigue, painful tests, ER visits and hospitalizations without end—and the constant fear that the next heartbeat could be her last. At low ebb, she has teetered on the edge of giving up."
Progress for Children: A World Fit for Children Statistical Review
"reports on how well the world is doing in meeting its commitments for the world’s children. This UNICEF
special edition analyses progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in four priority areas for children: promoting healthy lives, providing a quality education, combating HIV and AIDS, and protecting against abuse, exploitation and violence." [more inside]
was a former concert pianist and systems analyst who suffered from an autoimmune disease similar to lupus for over 20 years. The disease left her in constant pain
and made her allergic to most pharmaceutical painkillers. Only medical marijuana brought her relief, but last spring the DEA seized her medicine. Unable to cope with the chronic pain any longer, she committed suicide
on October 18th
. [Via Andrew Sullivan.]
Recognizing Pain Management
as a Fundamental Human Right
. These pieces from the journal of the International Anesthesia Research Society
argue that under-treated chronic pain
is becoming a public health crisis which must be addressed. But a warning to pain doctors in the U.S. who prescribe opioids
in doses that seem high to narcotics agents and prosecutors: “Be afraid.” [Via Hit & Run and TalkLeft.]
Drug-resistant TB strain raises ethical dilemma.
A man in Arizona who has a virtually untreatable strain of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR TB)
has been locked up indefinitely
because he failed to take precautions to avoid infecting others, even though he has not commited a crime. The new strain of TB is described as a nightmare
by health officials, and though mainly found in Africa and Asia, it is slowly beginning to spread in the U.S. [Via Technoccult.]
Soldiers Face Neglect, Frustration At Army's Top Medical Facility.
The Iraq war has transformed Walter Reed into "a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients." Meanwhile, despite predictions that the cost of medical care for veterans will skyrocket
, the Bush administration apparently plans to cut funding for veterans' health care
. Tired of waiting for the government, more people are taking the initiative in developing alternative facilities
to help veterans.
Cheap, safe drug kills most cancers.
That's the good news. The bad news is that because there's no patent and it's so cheap to make, researchers may not be able to get funding from the private sector
for further research since the treatment wouldn't make a profit
. [Via Hullabaloo.]
Thou shalt not make scientific progress.
"Medical research is poised to make a quantum leap that will benefit sufferers from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, muscular dystrophy, diabetes and other diseases. But George W. Bush's religious convictions stand in its way."
Making the Mind.
"The general outlines of how genes build the brain are finally becoming clear, and we are also starting to see how, in forming the brain, genes make room for the environment’s essential role. While vast amounts of work remain to be done, it is becoming equally clear that understanding the coordination of nature and nurture will require letting go of some long-held beliefs."
The FDA has put the brakes on clinical trials of a promising form of stem cell therapy
which uses the body's own stem cells to heal dammage. The procedure was used earlier this year to heal the heart of a teenager who was shot in the heart by a nail gun
. Other research is being done with the body's own stem cells on the heart
and the spinal cord
, and new ways to produce large numbers of adult stem cells have been discovered by MIT
and the British company TriStem
. With the controversy over embryonic stem cells
, I'm glad that adult stem cell therapy is showing promise. [Some links via FuturePundit
, who is rather annoyed
with the FDA.]
The war on drugs is unfairly targeting doctors who prescribe legal pain medication
to their patients who suffer from chronic pain, according to a spokeswoman of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons
. She was speaking at a press conference of patient and physician advocacy groups
, sponsored by the Pain Relief Network
, in support of Dr. William Hurwitz
. Dr. Hurwitz
has been indicted and imprisoned for prescribing high doses of opioid pain relievers
, as have other pain-management doctors
. But these crackdowns may end up doing more harm than good to patients in chronic pain
. [More inside.]
"China's catastrophic mismanagement of its AIDS crisis has come to this:
Xie Yan is trying to give away her son. Ms. Xie's husband died last year of AIDS, and she has the virus as well. They are the victims of government-backed blood-selling schemes that have left about one million people infected here in Henan Province in central China. Multiply Ms. Xie's heartache a millionfold, and you understand the cost of the Chinese government's cover-up of its AIDS crisis. If China continues to be more concerned with hiding the tragedy than confronting it, then today's Chinese leaders could kill millions of people over the next two decades. We in the West must exert strong pressure on China to act quickly to address the AIDS challenge."