When I was in nursing school, we had to write up “bib cards.” We went to our medical library, selected an article to read, jotted down its salient points, and cited its bibliographic information. Bib cards —you could trust that the information was peer reviewed and based on scientific facts considered universal at the time.
Has the health care industry made mistakes along the way? Of course, but it corrected advice and practice when new studies and tests pointed out errors. And yes, from pharmaceutical companies to the dairy industry, American big business continues to have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Pro and con studies abound. Now with the internet, anyone can find so-called “facts” that are not peer-reviewed and are based on one or two skewed data points. They usually end with the “solution that your doctor doesn’t want you to know about.”
High Cost of Lies
In other words, lies.
In my Body and Soul blogs I write about what helps in our common goal to die with our boots on at a ripe old age. And yes, I do look first at behaviors proven effective in preventing and curing disease. Anything that promotes health and prevents disease will lower our hyper-inflated cost of health care in America. Instead of buying $25 dollars’ worth of prepared food, I will spend that money on veggies, fruits, and whole grains. When I read study after study that broccoli plays a role in defeating cancer, I share that with you. I would not tell you to eat four cups of broccoli a day and poof! your cancer will be gone without any other treatments.
In this pandemic, lies are costing lives, not just money.
From Natural to Clinical
Unfortunately, disease will find us even if we do everything right. (Just not as much or as often.) Hence, doctors diagnose and prescribe medication and procedures that have shown to be effective. Admittedly, some “tried and true” remedies have proven to be not so true over time. Does that mean the baby should be dumped with the bath water? Yes, the CDC can be influenced, as we have seen this year, and I think sometimes the FDA relies too heavily on research handed it by pharmaceutical companies. But right now they are all we have standing between us and snake oil salesmen. I expect the NIH, CDC, FDA, under extreme scrutiny and pressure, have stepped up their collective games to bring this nation through this crisis.
I trust facts that are backed by state-of-the-art research. Mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing work. When people cite personal freedom to avoid mask wearing, I wonder why they obey seatbelt laws, yearly car inspection requirements, or motorcycle helmet laws.
Once, when I was working in the hospital, a patient returned to the floor after surgery with an order for a dose of antibiotics. Since the patient did not have an infection that we knew of before surgery, I asked the surgeon why she ordered the antibiotic. She chuckled and said, “There was a fly in the OR.”
It matters what’s flying around—be it a fly or microscopic virus! We don’t wear masks in the operating room because they look cute with our scrubs. It is not considered highest medical standard of care to breathe our personal bacteria into someone else’s open abdominal cavity. Although not completely, mask wearing greatly cuts down airborne viral transmission. Hence, we add hand washing, social distancing, and now vaccination.
Vax or Not?
I’ve heard some physicians and anti-vaccination groups express concern that vaccines still contain aluminum, mercury, and other ingredients to artificially jump start the immune system. Some say an artificially hyped immune system does not work as well as a healthy immune system bolstered by nutrition, etc. While I do believe we should do all we can to support our immune system, such as eating lots of fiber to feed our “good” gut bacteria, there comes a time when I think we need to balance the cost-benefit ratio of vaccines that have historically proven effective and trusting nature alone.
Supporting our immune system naturally and getting a vaccine are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes we must do something we would rather not, for a better good. For example, eating ice cream is not good if you are ill from fighting an estrogen positive cancer. The hormone laden cream plus the cancer-feeding sugar make it a poor food choice. However, if all I can tolerate is ice cream or other questionable foods, it is better to eat them than to starve to death. It boils down to “Eat a day, live a day.” If it takes a vaccine so you can resume your preferred health/life choices once the pandemic is under control, so be it. Half a million dead Americans proves we need to follow the science to live another day. I am not a medical researcher and have no way to intelligently drill down to the granular level to ferret out truth from lies. In the end, we must trust the experts when they speak with one voice and that voice is echoed and verified the world over.
Belief Drives Action
So that’s my two cents on muddling through well-meaning misinformation, deadly lies, and truth. What if we did wear masks and social distanced for 100 days as a great American experiment? What would we lose? What would we learn? What could we gain?