Category Archives: Science

Guns: A “Right” or an “Addiction”?

Who do I think I’m kidding.  You already know, without anything to back it up, which side of the title question I come out on.

About a month ago, I came across an editorial in an online medical journal that has been on my mind ever since.

Is American Gun Ownership a Form of Addiction?

In it, George D. Lundberg, MD, persuasively argued that maybe the vehemence of gun owners protecting their so-called “right to bear arms” isn’t so much an intellectual argument as one fueled by addiction.  And I think that Dr. Lundberg may be on to something.
He first listed the nine symptoms of substance addiction:
  • Availability of the agent for experimentation;
  • Initial use producing pleasure followed by subsequent pleasant episodes of use and positive secondary reinforcement;
  • Psychological dependence or habituation;
  • Tolerance, with need to use more to get the same effect;
  • Chemical physical dependence;
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the agent is taken away;
  • Drug-seeking behavior;
  • Continued use even when obvious harm has been experienced; and
  • Rationalization and denial.

Then, Dr. Lundberg states that, like addictions to gambling and sex, with an addiction to guns, there is no physical/chemical addiction.  But the other symptoms?  Check, check, check.  Check-mate.

Here, in fact, is Dr. Lundberg’s gun addiction checklist:
  • Availability? Check;
  • Positive reinforcement? Check;
  • Habituation? Check;
  • Tolerance? Big check. Once someone becomes a gun owner, adding guns is usual; one is not enough. The average American gun-owning household includes 8.1 firearms, up from 4.1 in 1994. The NRA goes bonkers about any suggestion of limits;
  • Chemical dependence? No;
  • Withdrawal? I have not personally seen a convulsion in a gun-owning doctor when confronted with the possibility of losing his or her guns, but pretty damn close. I mean….;
  • Weapon-seeking behavior? Check;
  • Continued use despite harmful results? Check; and
  • Rationalization and denial? Check.

I think that Dr. Lundberg is on to something.

I think the issue of gun addiction deserves some attention today, as President Obama unveils the measures he can take towards sane gun control laws because Congress won’t.

Obama and gun control

President Obama hugged Mark Barden, whose son was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, before announcing his executive action on gun control in the East Room of the White House.  Photo Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Thanks, Mr. President.  Because 90% of Americans believe in stronger gun laws.  And because 100% of us remember this:

Sandy Hook Elementary

Sandy Hook Elementary School, 2012.  Wikimedia Image

The Medscape article, with the video of Dr. Lundberg delivering his editorial, is free, but by subscription.

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I’ll Take That as a Compliment

Dr. C wiped a tear from her eye, hugged me and laughed as she walked me out of the examination room after my semi-annual tune up the other day.

“I have never had this much fun during a consultation, Elyse,” she said.

I love this doctor, my gastroenterologist.  She is bright, listens, figures out the best treatment for me, and incredibly importantly for me, she has a fabulous sense of humor.  That’s incredibly rare for a gastroenterologist as I’ve mentioned before.

“I’ve been keeping up with all the research on poop transplants,” I told her.

Yes!  It’s fascinating, isn’t it?”

Even though they aren’t currently being used for IBDs like mine, well, I do keep up with the research.  Obviously, you do too.  Why else would you be reading this post about poop?

Canadian Poop

How could I resist this image?  I know it’s Canadian and they have single-payer health care and I don’t, but you will admit, it’s funny.  Thanks, Google Images. You’re the bomb.  Errr…

Did I lose you there?

Our discussion continued down that same hole …

“I read that you have to be very careful who you get one from,” I said, proud of the depth of my knowledge.  “I read that if you get one from a grumpy person, or a depressed one, you can take on these traits.  Or fat people (thanks, Carrie!)”

“I actually have a patient who had a poop transplant.  She had c difficile,  and the transplant came from a heavy person.  She’s actually gained a lot of weight!”

“I used to think I’d get one from my husband.  But he’s kind of a curmudgeon, and he has risks of a couple of other diseases that I don’t want to get.* But mostly it’s the curmudgeon thing.  I don’t want to become a crank.  Besides, he refuses to laugh at my jokes.  Since I’m often the only one laughing, taking his shit might make my career as a humor blogger short-lived.”

“You’ll have to just tell him to keep his shit to himself!” Dr. C said, roaring with laughter.  Suddenly she realized, oh shit!  I’m talking to a patient!

“‘My doctor says you have to keep your shit to yourself!’ — That’s what I’ll tell him!  –Maybe then, he’ll stop leaving his crap all over the kitchen counter!”

Poop!

Google Image.

“Maybe you have to get your poop transplant from a model — a smart and beautiful one.  You don’t want to get your poop transfer from somebody stupid, because we don’t yet know if it can impact your IQ.  So you should choose somebody really smart — a scientist might be good.”

I looked over at her.  She’s healthy.  She’s slender.  She’s smart.  She has curly hair like mine.

“I want a poop transfer from you!” I announced.

She quieted her laugh for a moment.

Uh-oh, I though.  I’ve gone too far.

“You know, that may be the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.”

We both roared with laughter.

“Great. Lemme know when they figure out that poop transplants really do work on Crohn’s.  I’ll bring the sterile cup.”

Poop 4

Where do you think I found this?

 

* Nobody can say I don’t protect my husband’s privacy.  Ammirite?

***

While this blog was awaiting publication, I found this article in my inbox:

Gut Bugs Affect Cockroach Poop-ularity

By Jef Akst

Commensal bacterial living in the gastrointestinal tracts of cockroaches lace the insects’ feces with chemical cues that mediate social behavior, according to a study.

Lord, why me?

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Hey Doc? Do I Have To?

You know, there may be a good reason why the GOP hates science.

Sometimes it is just plain gross.

As a dog lover, my “gross-me-out-the-door” threshold is actually quite high — I can stand some pretty gross things.  Only today my dog Duncan did the following:

  • Drank from the toilet
  • Licked his genitals with relish*
  • Ate poop

Let’s face it.  Dogs are gross.

But we humans?  We are gonna give these pups a run for their, ummm, money.  Their kibble.  Actually, I’d like to give Duncan a run for that pair of shoes he’s always stealing, but that’s another story for another day.

Today’s story involves poop.

Remember last January when I told you guys all about how you can make big bucks with your butts?  Really!  I did! With this post:

Need Extra Cash?

Are you so rich that you’ve forgotten this already?  Forgotten that I told you that you can clean up by donating your poop so that it can be transplanted into

Poor suckers infected with c difficile, particularly nasty bacteria that is really hard to get rid of.

I even provide a chart by which you can measure just how useful you’re being:

Credit (if you want to call it that) Washington Post

Credit (if you want to call it that) Washington Post

The idea behind poop transplants, in case you’ve forgotten, is that scientists believe that we’ve made our guts too clean — we have too few of the good bacteria that lead to healthy poop left inside our guts.

Today I have an update!  Wait, wait!  Keep your pants on!

Unfortunately, this update will not increase your revenue making opportunities.  Still, scientific advances are awesome.

Because now, thanks to scientific advancements, those same poor suckers can now eat shit! 

Really! I read it in the New York Times:

Fecal Transplants Made (Somewhat) More Palatable

There is a  non-profit organization called OpenBiome that is dedicated to providing poop transplants to needy patients with c difficile.  And they came up with a poop pill.  These poop pills will go a long way towards flushing out the bacteria.

Wait!  Wait!   No they don’t!  They flush in good bacteria.  I mean you eat poop pills with good bacteria in them.  And probably some of the nasty stuff too.  Like poop.

And some day, poop pills may be available for folks like me with Crohn’s Disease and other crappy GI diseases.  They are testing poop transplants in folks even as we speak.

 

Photo: Erik Jacobs for the New York Times

Photo: Erik Jacobs for the New York Times

Personally, I’m keeping a close eye out on this treatment option.  Because with my Crohn’s Disease, some day I might just have to say, “Hey Doc, do I have to?”

* For the record, I do not put relish on my dog’s genitals.  Duncan is not a dachshund.

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Other Useful Technologies

One of my favorite things about blogging, is that often, my bloggin’ buddies often give me the opportunity to tell stories that I don’t have the opportunity to tell.

Like this one.

Now you know that I had a wonderful childhood. As the youngest of five, somehow, I never felt unwanted, no matter what was going on. Except once.*

As I entered the kitchen, I noticed that my mom and two sisters, Beth and Judy, were sitting at the kitchen table, discussing anatomy.  Female anatomy to be precise..  They were discussing “holes.”  Their holes.

This might be a good time for guys to switch to another blog.

Yes, Mom, Beth and Judy were sitting at the kitchen table talking about their holes. Both of their holes.  The TWO holes in their nether regions.

I was 7 years old, and very confused.

“But …” I started saying …

They didn’t want to listen.  They continued talking, ignoring me.

Panic started to rise in me.

“But … but … listen  to me!!!” I finally practically shouted.

They all turned to me and Beth said, “OK, Lease.  What do you want to say.”

I looked around the table and said softly, in fear:

I have three holes!  There’s the one I pee through, the one I poop through, and one in the middle that doesn’t do anything.  Don’t you guys have three?”  Panic was building in me as I realized that the three of them just continued to looked at me.  Judy rolled her eyes.  She smirked.

“Nope.  You’re just weird, Lease,” said Judy.

They all looked at me, blankly, until finally I left, taking my incomprehensible extra hole with me.  And let me tell you that I was baffled about that opening for years.

For more than 50 years, I’ve wondered what that conversation was actually about. Over the years, I asked many times, but since the incident didn’t scar any of them for life, so they’d long since forgotten.

Now what does this story have to do with blogging and blogging buddies?

Well only yesterday my buddy Alice, of Coffee and a Blank Page commented on my blog piece, Tush Technologies  and linked to an article more or less on this subject. Well, on the subject of vaginas, anyhow.  Weird technological things about hoo-hahs to be exact.

‘Smart’ menstrual cup sends texts about your flow

Now I didn’t know that there was such a thing as a “menstrual cup” either.  Apparently I haven’t changed much since I was 7.  These new (to the extent anything used for Eve’s Curse can be considered “new”), more environmentally friendly collection devices.  You can shove a cup into your box at the requisite time and, well, fill er up!

But according to the article that Alice sent me, there were draw backs with the cups.  I’m sure you saw the problem leaking through, didn’t you.

Well, there was a problem Until Now.  Because there is now smart, ummm, cootch, technology to keep that cup from runneth-ing over. 


If I’m reading the article right, it will tell your smart phone when you need to, umm, dump.

Ain’t technology grand?

I don’t know exactly why, but this article made me think of something from another  bloggin’ buddy, Father Kaine of The Last of the Milleniums.

 

* OK, I will admit I didn’t feel completely welcome that time when I was pushing into my newly married sister Beth’s bedroom when she’d pulled the bookcase in front of the door, either.

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Earth Day/Birthday — Recycled Recycled Post

Today, April 22, is Earth Day!  It’s the 45th Anniversary of the very first Earth Day.  Here is Walter Cronkite’s report on the first Earth Day, 1970:

It would also be my late sister Judy’s 63rd birthday.

Whoever made the decision to turn Judy’s birthday into Earth Day chose wisely.  Judy was a born environmentalist and recycler.

On the first Earth Day, Judy was a new, very young mother who believed in saving the planet.  She was the first “environmentalist” I ever knew personally, and well, I thought she was nuts.  There was a recycling bin in her kitchen for as long as I can remember.  And this was back when recycling took effort.  She believed in gardens, not garbage, and she made life bloom wherever she was.

I’ve got kids,” she’d say.  “It’s their planet too!”  

But years later, Judy took recycling to a whole different level when she helped people recycle themselves.  In the 1990s, Jude, who was then living in Florida, began working with the Homeless, assisting at shelters.   Then she actively began trying to help homeless vets find food, shelter and work — to enable them to jump-start their lives.

When she died in early 2000, the American Legion awarded her honorary membership for her services to homeless vets.  A homeless shelter was named in her  honor.  So she’s still doing good works, my sister is.  That would make her wildly happy.

Jude also gave me the Beatles.  So it is very appropriate that they wrote a song for her.

You see, the night the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan, it was MY turn to choose what we were going to watch.  And we were going to watch the second part of The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh starring Patrick McGoohan on the Wonderful Wide World of Disney.  My four (all older and MUCH cooler) siblings were furious with me.  But I was quite insistent.  You might even say that I threw a Class I temper tantrum over it, but I wouldn’t admit to that.  But hey, I was seven.  And it was my turn to choose.  Fair is fair, especially in a big family with only one TV.

Somehow, Judy talked me out of my turn.  She was always very persuasive.  Thanks Jude.

Hey Jude, Happy Earth Day-Birthday.

*     *     *

If this looks/sounds familiar, it’s because I recycled this post from last year.  Because you should never use fresh when you can reuse something already written.  And you can never get enough of “Hey Jude.”

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A Nose for Gold

Have you got a Nose for Gold?

Growing up at the beach, I never had much use for those little dweebes who would pan for gold in Long Island Sound. All they ever got was a plastic container of cigarette butts.

Well, it is Connecticut's "Gold Coast" but that's not quite what they mean.  (Google Image)

Well, it is Connecticut’s “Gold Coast” but that’s not quite what they mean. (Google Image)

And on my one trip to California when I visited a ghost gold town, well, I was still not all that impressed. But at least they got them some gold. Some of them.

I can't even remember if this is the gold miner statue I saw.  (Google image)

I can’t even remember if this is the gold miner statue I saw. (Google image)

But more recently, I’m thinking that maybe I’ll try my, ummm, hand, at gold mining.

Yeah — me!

In fact, it might just be an opportunity for me to work from home.  I may actually be sitting on a gold mine. Really! Who knew!

More than for personal gain, however, I will do it in the name of science.  You see, scientist now think that this type of mining may just save the planet!  It could reduce the need for more environmentally harmful types of mining.

Oh, I guess I forgot to explain the rest.  You see, I just read that scientists are, ummm, mining for gold in unexpected places. Silver, too. And you know, they’ve found some platinum, too.  A veritable jewelry store of precious metals.

Wanna know where?

In poop.  People Poop.

Really! They’re finding all sorts of shit in there! I just read about it in an article entitled:

Scientists Want to Mine Our Poop for Gold

According to the article:

Every year, Americans are flushing a fortune down the toilet. Literally. More than 7 million tons of biosolids—treated sewage sludge—pass through US wastewater facilities annually. Contained within our shit are surprisingly large quantities of silver, gold, and platinum.

I am prodigious poop producer.   I figure, well, I’m golden.

Google Image

Google Image

I’m hiring pan sterilizers if anybody is looking for a job.

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You Heard It Here First!

One of the benefits of my job is that I get paid to scan the news.  What could be better for a news junkie like me?

Well, today I hit the medical news jackpot!  In fact, this information actually came to me.  Electronically.

Today I learned about a whole new syndrome, that well, will have just about everybody shaking in their pants with excitement.

Restless Genital Syndrome.  RGS.

Google Image

Google Image

According to my exhaustive (5 second) web research, the man to go to if you have it is Dr. Waldinger.  (There are some things you just can’t make up.)

I can’t wait for the commercials.

 

 

 

 

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