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Monday, July 13, 2020

My confession about wearing masks

My confession is I have a hard time wearing masks. Rebreathing my own air is not something that is normal. I do not feel comfortable doing it. I have a bit of claustrophobia. I am a phlegmatic person who would rather wear no shirt and no shoes. Similarly, I would rather not wear that stupid mask.

I believe it does offer some degree of protection. Studies show parents have a 15-20% chance of catching a virus from a sick child. When wearing a mask they have an 8% chance of catching a virus. When not wearing a mask they have a 6% chance of getting a virus. So, wearing a mask (we're talking surgical masks here) you have a 2% reduced risk of catching a virus compared with not wearing a mask at all. (1)

The people who reviewed the study did say the following: "We estimated that, irrespective of the assumed value for the incubation period (1 or 2 days), the relative reduction in the daily risk of acquiring a respiratory infection associated with adherent mask use (P2 or surgical) was in the range of 60%–80%." Keep in mind this is an "estimated" risk reduction, not an actual risk reduction as determined by an in vitro study. So one must question this estimate. And this goes back to my theory that study results are only as good as the people who are reviewing and analyzing. 

Another study shows that masks do help prevent you from spreading the disease. But they are not very beneficial in preventing you from inhaling pathogens like viruses. So, most experts say the reduce your risk of spreading germs if you talk, cough, or sneeze. And, in general, more important to wearing masks is good hand hygiene and social distancing. (2)

So I do wear a mask when I'm around strangers. But not necessarily because I think they do any good. And not because I want to. I do it so others feel good about themselves. I do it so they think something useful is being done. I do it because I'm told. I do it at work so I can get paid.

I cannot, however, wear it for long. I might pretend to be a good wearer. I might have it on my face while I'm at Walmart. But as soon as I'm in a spot where there's no one around I pull it off my face. I pick it up and wipe the sweat off. I wipe my nose.

I have what is called vasomotor rhinitis. This means that eating or high humidity or cool air or any annoying factors make my nose run. So under my mask, I always have a snotty nose. Sure, you can't see it so it does not matter. But it does matter to me. That feeling of hotness and my itchy, runny nose has me lifting up my mask to wipe my nose. Sorry, but it has to be done.

So, you can tell me I have to wear a mask. You might be happy I have one on my face. But the truth is it is not doing me or you much good. And that's what I mean when I say masks are useless.

I wear it well while standing in line. I wear it well when I walk through crowds. I wear it fine during the short time I'm in a doctor's office. I wear it fine when I'm in inpatient rooms. But, even there I find myself poking at it. And I am quite certain I am not the only one to do this.

Again, some studies show surgical masks "might" help protect against the spread of viruses. But no study has ever been done on your homemade mask. So, even while it might make you feel like you are doing something, wearing it is not scientifically proven. You are wearing it at your own risk.

Of course, for many people in this world, "it feels good" is just as good as science. And if you're one of those types, I'm fine with it. And I'm sorry, but I'm not staying home if I don't wear a mask. I need food and clothing and to live my life just as much as the rule-followers who insist on wearing masks.

 I bring this up because some people are dicks. I had a friend who told me he went to Meijer the other day. He wore his mask like a good boy, he said. When he was in an area where no one was around, he moved the mask from his face so he could wipe the sweat off of it. And as he did so, this one lady lectured him, "You get that mask back on!"

My friend is a very phlegmatic and amiable person. But he said that comment by that lady made him so mad. He said he wished he had a comment to say right then. But he didn't. He put his mask on and went where that lady wasn't and then removed the mask and wiped his face.

I am sorry, people, but you cannot remove the risk from life. We can protect ourselves from nasty viruses the best we can. But we must continue living our lives. And when your nose needs to be scratched, and you cannot stand it, then remove your mask and scratch it. That is your inalienable right.

References.

1. McIntyre, et al, "Face Mask Use and Control of Respiratory Virus Transmission in Households," Imerg. Infect. Dis, 2009, Feb, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2662657/, accessed 7/10/2020

2.  Pappas, Stephanie, "Do face masks really reduce coronavirus spread? Experts have mixed answers." Live Science, 2020, June 2, https://www.livescience.com/are-face-masks-effective-reducing-coronavirus-spread.html, accessed 7/10/2020

Friday, July 10, 2020

My Politically Incorrect COVID Answers

The yellow mask offers scanty protection.
The orange mask offers some protection.
The other mask offers protection if you have a trach. 
We receive lots of questions about COVID. So, here's a list of these questions followed by my humble answers.

1. Does wearing a mask mean I'm rebreathing my carbon dioxide?  No. Carbon dioxide is small enough to fit through the mask with no problem. It filters viruses and particles, not carbon dioxide.

2.  Can a mask cause my oxygen level to drop? No. Same reason as above. Oxygen has no problem getting through any mask.

3.  Do surgical masks protect me from getting COVID? Studies show that they do reduce your risk. They may reduce your risk from 10-15%. Some studies show the provide a little more and some a little less. The more secure and tightly fitting the mask is to your face the more protection it offers.

4.  Do surgical masks protect me from spreading the virus? Yes. They can help reduce the amount of virus aersolized into the air when you cough, sneeze, talk, or laugh. Some particles may still be admitted into the atmosphere, but still it reduces the amount of aerosolized COVID or other respiratory pathogens. Note, it does not prevent, hence the reason for social distancing.

5.  Do homemade masks offer any protection against COVID? At the present time there are no studies no homemade masks. I think the general consensus at this time (remember, a consensus is not science) is that homemade masks act as a shield and they may provide more protection than not wearing them. We'll have to see what future studies have to say on this subject.


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

My politically incorrect thoughts on Covid-19

There is so much written COVID I haven't touched on it much. It's a virus. As all viruses do, they run their course. There is little that can be done to stop it. Sure, we can slow the spread by wearing masks and social distancing. We can prevent the spread by doing a permanent lockdown as some have suggested. But, lacking a vaccine, we can't stop it from running its course (and there is no guarantee we will ever get a vaccine).

Speaking of lockdown, it was a good idea at first. My governor of Whitmer here in Michigan. I supported her when she first locked our state down. The goal of the lockdown was to keep the blue curve (shown in picture) below the line of healthcare capacity. This was to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Allow me to digress once again. Speaking of hospitals being overwhelmed, the fact we had to talk about this is a testament to how unprepared we were. There is no telling what diseases are out there. There are many diseases we don't know about. And anyone of them could spread at any given time. And yet, despite this truth, our entire healthcare system was unprepared. They didn't have enough personal protective equipment (PPE), such as masks, gowns, etc. They didn't have enough ventilators. So, I know many people like to blame the government for not being prepared.

And trust me it wasn't. But, the truth to the matter is the government stockpile is only a backup. It should only be used in the case of an emergency. As it was in due time, as many ventilators were sent to where they were needed. Still, it was the hospital system that was unprepared. They are at fault for not being prepared. And we can't point fingers at any one hospital either, as it appears all (or almost all) were equally unprepared.

Still, our governor here in Michigan went a little overboard. I have friends who say she did this for political purposes as she wants to be Biden's vice-presidential candidate. However, when my friends bring this up I say things like, "You cannot prove intent. A person's intent is not even permissible in court unless there is ample evidence. For instance, for a person convicted of murder to be charged with first-degree murder, the intent has to be proved. You have to prove someone intentionally killed someone. And that is difficult to do, and why so few people are convicted of first-degree murder. So, it's not possible to prove our governor's intent for having the strictest lockdown in the country. So let's not go there.

The fact is she did keep the lockdown in order way longer than it was necessary. Why? Only she knows. She was asked by the republican congress in Michigan to show her science why she prolonged the executive orders longer than our Congress approved it for. And, by the way, the lockdown was approved by our Congress until about May 1st. They did not approve of it after that. Meaning it her extended lockdown was illegal. And this is still in the courts for some reason. The fact this was not rushed through the courts has me thinking they are equally as liberal as our governor.

And politics doesn't matter to me. We supported Whitmore regardless of her politics at first. But the fact she held the state in lockdown after May 1st is something we ought to question. Why? Because as of May 1st hospitals were prepared. By this time we had plenty of PPE. By this time we had plenty of beds and ventilators. We had all we needed to handle any surge that might happen.

Speaking of the surge, allow me to digress again. Those models that predicted a surge were not scientific models. It was not science. Science either is or is not. Those models are used to help our government, to help researchers, etc., make decisions. They are computer modulated data. This means they are only as useful as the information entered into them. If the data put into them is flawed, so too is the data going out. The initial data showed that way more people would be inflicted, and way more would be dead than actually occurred. And every model after that was wrong too.

The same types of models are used to prove global warming. And that is usually my argument against any "proof" that global warming exists: "The only evidence they have is computer modulated date. It predicts and is rarely accurate. It's not science. Although, global warming advocates say it's science. Now, I'm not advocating for or against global warming, I'm just saying.

So, back to the death rate due to COVID. Initially, we thought the death rate was 5%. If it was that high, it was worth shutting the country down. But, the truth to the matter is the death rate is between 0.3 and 0.5%. So, was that worth shutting the economy down? Was that worth destroying the best economy we ever had? I'm not sure it was. I think history will look back on determined if this was actually needed. Was our response overdone? You decide. And these are my unabridged thoughts on COVID. More to come in the coming days.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

What's it like having a defibrillator?

Your question. What's it like having a defibrillator? Does it shock you a lot?

My answer. I have had a few patients with defibrillators. Although, I think this answer would come best from someone who has a defibrillator. Obviously, to get one is a very stressful decision. But, it certainly beats the alternative. And it has helped so many live longer and better despite a heart condition. That said, below is an answer from someone living with one.

A patient's answer.  "No it has not shocked me yet. It's also a pacemaker. It's paced my heart several times but I don't feel it. If the defibrillator goes off its because my heart stopped or gone into severe arrhythmia. Then I will feel it. I hear it's like getting kicked by a horse. Hopefully I'm unconscious by then. It will probably go off if I have a seizure. I just make sure I stay on my medicines. It's all good!

Monday, May 25, 2020

Why Don't Inhalers just Have Refills

Your Question. Why do pharmaceuticals companies use so much plastic. I could easily use my rescue inhaler delivery piece on more than one canister of albuterol. I clean it frequently anyway, especially now! One pump device for every three canisters or so would save a lot of waste...and COST!

My answer. That is a great point that you make. I have raised that myself to a pharmaceutical rep a time or two. That argument the other way is that pharmaceuticals want to make sure you have access to the whole inhaler when you pick up a new one. They don't want to assume a person has the medicine but no inhaler device to deliver it with. i think the general consensus is this makes it easier for asthmatics. Although, I do tend to agree with you. It would be a neat thing to advocate for if that was something you'd be interested in doing. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Does wearing a mask affect asthma

Your question. What are your thoughts on people with asthma having to wear masks?

My answer.  I think it's a good idea to be safe in public places. I think most of us tolerate it as well as anyone. 

Your comment. pretty much, was wondering if they were safe for people with asthma, or could possibly cause an attack.

My response.  I think they are. I work with many asthmatics who have never reported an issue. I have never had an issue. Even reusing the same mask all day so far have had no issue. Masks have been well studied over the years. There is no evidence that they affect asthmatics. In fact, in the emergency room, even people short of breath are required to wear masks. And I have not heard any of these patients say the mask made them feel worse. Sure, they might not be happy wearing a mask, but that complaint is probably the same one most of us have. 

Your question. When I wear a mask sometimes I feel light-headed, I assume it’s from not enough oxygen?

My answer. Sorry you have trouble wearing a mask. I do not think a mask would affect your oxygen.  Oxygen would have no problem getting through the mask when you inhale. Although, it is true that some people just don't tolerate masks.

If you have any questions related to anything respirator, please feel free to ask. You can contact me by clicking on the "contact me" icon to the right of this post. 

Monday, May 11, 2020

We cannot hide from death forever

One thing we know for certain in life. This is that we are all going to die. There is only one person in history who defied death. And his name was Jesus Christ. Other than Jesus, every person who has ever lived has died or will some day die. This is a fact that we cannot overcome.

God made the human species. He made us as the only species with an innate awareness of self. We are the only species in existence that can ponder its own existence. And are the only species that can ponder, or even simply be aware, of the fact that we will one day die. Yet death does not consume most of us.

Despite this unique awareness, most of us manage to not think about death much. We go on and we live our lives without thinking much about it. Well, we do think about it sometimes. I think about it sometimes. But, for the most part, we go on and live our lives as though we are going to live forever. Most of us live our lives as though we will not eventually die. Death does not become us.

This is true despite the fact that we go to funerals. We see people die. Yet death is something that occurs to other people. It does not occur to us.

And that right there is all the proof of creation you ever need. Those of us who believe in Heaven don't worry about death. We don't worry about it because death is just the beginning.

So, part of this self awareness is a knowledge that we will one day die. Yet it does not consume most of us. This is how we live our lives. We don't think about death. We think about living. We live our lives as best we can so we can get to Heaven.

We have this virus going around. We have car accidents. We have strange accidents. We have abortion. We have cancer deaths. We have all sorts of things we can die from. We do not know what we will die from. We do not know where we will die. We do not know when. But we do know we will one day die. But, again, thinking about it does not consume us.

We have people with severe end stage cancer or COPD or heart failure. And yet I have seen people with these diseases with the best attitudes. There are times the person dying in a bed is the happiest person in the room. I have seen this true with adults who are dying. I have seen this to be true of kids when they know they are dying.

So, we cannot stay cowered in our homes forever. We must get out and live our lives. And, this is why I discussed what i just did, the few people who are afraid of death, I think, are the ones who do not want mitigation to end. They want to hide until a vaccine is found. And it doesn't matter if the economy is destroyed in the process or not. They are afraid of death. They are afraid of dying. This life, to them, is all they have.

And I cannot speak for these people. If anything, I feel sorry for them. They tell you you can't eat certain foods or you will die. You have to drive no fun cars or the planet will die. You can't have caffeine or you can't have beer for this reason or that reason. You can't ride in a car without wearing a seatbelt. You can't ride in the back of a truck even though you are being safe.

These people don't think you are smart either. They have to tell you how to be safe. They have to make laws pretty much forcing you to quit not wearing your seatbelts. They may not be able to force you, bu they nudge you in that direction. They don't want you to smoke, so they raise taxes on cigarettes so high you can't afford them.

And you have a right to be safe. But you also have a right to be stupid.  If you want to have some fun sometimes in lieu of safety, oh you can't do that. That's not good for you. You might increase your risk for dying. So we are, for your own good, going to do everything in our power to make you safe. We are going to do it for your own good. And all you have to do for this safety is give just a little itty bit of your freedom.

Most of us don't get consumed by death. Until something like COVID-19 happens. And politicians tell us we need to hide. So we give up our freedom. We exchange our freedom for safety.

We do it out of fear.

But then, as we learn how to be safe on our own, we yearn to get our freedom back.

And then when those in power get used to, and fall in love with, that power, they don't want to give it back.

And then, those who yearn to get their freedoms back, are called the bad guys.

Go think about that.