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Let's Revisit H1N1 Vaccine - Were the Dire Predictions Correct?

Jan 09, 2010 - 3 comments

h1n1 vaccine



At the beginning of the H1N1 epidemic which appears to be winding down, there was this frenzy of "Vaccine Hysteria".  Online dozens of sites were (mis)quoting the CDC as saying that "they expected 30,000 Americans to be maimed or killed by this vaccine." ***  This was actually taking the numbers of expected adverse reactions (1 in 100,000), out of context and then doing some bad math on top of some absurd assumptions.  Then others hearing these numbers quoted them. It went through the internet like wild-fire.

At this point, I would like to revisit the fear mongering.  It seems to me that too often there are predictions of doom, gloom and death BEFORE something happens, but after the event - when the predictions have not come true - no one takes another look too see if their dire predictions came true.  People should take responsibility when they work so hard at convincing others to refrain from getting protection for themselves and those around them.  Another reason this should be done, is so that we have some true ideas of what to expect the next time such an prospect comes up.  The people arguing that this "Swine Flu" would kill and maim, all point to the 1976 incident AS IF the medical and vaccine establishments would not have learned anything from the experience 33 years ago, and would not have worked to make the vaccine safer.

There have been a number of cases of Guillian-Barre, possibly a few more than would occur naturally.  I have not seen any solid numbers. The largest cause of Guillain-Barre is not vaccines, but wild viruses.  There have likely been some deaths that followed the vaccine, if nothing else from allergic reactions.  The question is, after nearly 100,000,000 doses of vaccine administered, have there indeed been 1 in 100,000 people maimed or killed by it?  This would be 1000 or so cases of people maimed and killed in the US alone according to the CDC "worst scenario" predictions and 10,000 cases according to the anti-vaccine groups bad math.

I did a search and found little.  On December 9, the Mercola site - ever the critic of the medical establishment - was holding up one case of Guillain-Barre in the US (in Virginia) and another in France as further evidence that this vaccine was dangerous.  His article went on to recount unspecified numbers of people in China who had reactions.  One here and one there?  Is that all there is?  Where are the 30,000 cases in the US?  Most stories, by sources less rabid then Mercola's, are admitting that the serious side effects have just not occurred in anywhere near the numbers that were touted.

BTW - this has been a deadly epidemic.  In the case of children (0 to 18), most years have around 190 pediatric deaths during the entire 12-month flu season each year.  This year we are only 4 months+ into the 2009-2010 flu season and we have already lost 229 children to the H1N1 virus.  In this same 4 month period there have been 1,738 total influenza-associated deaths so far reported.  We have 8 more months of counting.  This is, indeed, a fiercesome virus which has/had terrible potential.  The epidemic has peaked (we hope for good).  As we look back at the frenzy with which we were warned of the terrible effects of the H1N1 vaccine, we should also remember that we were facing a truly terrible potential pandemic. Is it possible that the use of the H1N1 vaccine did help stop this virus from doing more harm?

I am posting this for what you have found in the way of medically-confirmed cases of death and maiming from the H1N1 vaccine


***The number of "30,000 cases of maiming or death" was apparently arrived at by this bizarre calculation.  First an official at the CDC stated that the worst case scenario was that "in1 out of every 100,000 doses of vaccine they expect maiming or death."

Someone in the anti-vaccine group looked up the population of the US (304,000,000). Then they apparently divided this by 1 in 100,000 and came up with the wrong number, 30,000.  The correct number is 3,000.  The anti-vaccine people "mis"placed a decimal point to arrive at their number of 30,000.  Huh?  This is not nuclear physics!  It is simple math.  This is the number that I found all over the internet last fall as the reason that people should avoid the vaccine.  Everywhere I looked "30,000 maimed or killed" screamed in my face.

Then someone in the anti-vaccine group made the completely absurd assumption that EVERYONE - all 300,000,000 of us - would be vaccinated - to arrive at the 30,000 (should be 3,000) number who would die or be maimed by this vaccine.   In the best of times only about a third of the people get the flu vaccine, but even if they assumed the half the population would get it, the final correct "worst case" number would be 15,000 by their bad math and only 1,500 by the real numbers.

So those people who were swayed by hearing that the CDC had admitted that they expected 30,000 people to die or be maimed by the vaccine were justifiably frightened.  To the extent that the vaccine fear-mongerers persuaded people to refrain from getting the vaccine, I believe they hurt people terribly and yet I see no attempt to show people their numbers were off both by their calculations and by the real number of people who had problems.

To find the dozens of sites that advertised this number just google:

H1N1 vaccine 30,000 maimed or killed

I just feel that people spouting bogus information should be held to task.


Fear - New Territory - Learning to Drive Again

Nov 10, 2009 - 17 comments



driving with hand controls

I don't think of myself as a fearful person.  I always plowed headfirst into my studies, my profession and projects.  Straight out of internship I went right into the Indian Health Service.  There was no hesitation to moving to a rural town to be a solo pediatrician.

Now, I am feeling fear and am putting off something I need to do.

I am afraid to relearn to drive.

Now, I've been driving for 45 years - and pretty successfully.  But, the MS has taken away my ability to raise my right knee - which makes it darn hard to hit the brake!  So I haven't driven for most of the last year.  The solution was to have my car adapted with hand controls.  That got put off as we poured all of our money into finishing our basement so we could move down there and my 85 year old parent could live with us.

I found out this summer that my license had expired - who looks?  So off to the DMV we went.  Should have been simple.  Then they asked, "Do you have any condition that impairs your ability to drive safely?"  I was truthful.  The next thing I knew, I had no driver's license, just a state ID.  That felt weird and prompted us to finally haul my trusty '92 Camry over to have hand controls put on.  First I needed a letter from my physician.  Then it was back to the DMV to get a learner's permit.  That feels even weirder.  I can drive only with another licensed driver over 25.

They told me at the accessibility place that I either had to use the hand controls exclusively or nothing.  No mixing of sometimes hand and sometimes the foot.  My initial intention was to use only the hand brake and use the right foot for acceleration.  They said that was fine.

So, I began practicing.  I have a lever on the left side of the steering column.  To brake I push away from me with the left hand.  Pretty easy.  My left hand and arm is my strongest limb.  The accelerator is accessed by pressing downward on the same lever.  I had problems immediately.  I had trouble making full turns with my right hand on the wheel and the left hand on the brake.  I needed a turning knob.  They are illegal, but I have a doctor's note for hand controls.  So far, so good.

The knob made things ever so much better.  I could turn with just one hand/arm.  Then there was a new problem.  It seemed that while turning the car would leap forward.  The mechanic says that the computer controls on the car raises the idle speed during turns.  They could bypass that, but it would mean that I would need to sit and rev the engine with cold starts until the engine was warm.  Okay, I could do that.

Now I had a car that I could brake and turn and that didn't leap ahead like a galloping horse out of idle.  So I did some practicing.  Mostly around the neighborhood and to the grocery store.  Things didn't go as planned.  Turns out, though I can press my right foot down on the accelerator, I can't reliably know if I have pulled my toes up and off of it while I braked.  Several times, I was still rev'ving the engine while braking.  I learned that this gives unpredictable results.  There were some close calls in parking lots and a pounding heart.

So, I made the decision to operate the car with hand controls only and leave my right foot out of it.  Now, I am smart, aren't I?  And everything I have ever learned to do came easily, didn't it?  So why, was this such a problem?  Why, was managing to turn, brake, then accelerate all with the same hand control so hard to master?  Why did I find myself accelerating when braking was what I intended to do?  Stop.  Start.  Surge!  Stop.  I have lost confidence in my ability to get this down.  And, what about using the turn signals when the right hand is busy pressing down on the lever to keep the acceleration constant?  It's just beyond my finger tips.  The right hand is busy on the wheel.  How do people do this?  Are their muscles as tired as mine?

This is a big machine.  I could hurt people.  Deep down I know the statistics that people with MS have increased reflex times.  We do everything, even think, slower.  We have trouble with attention span.  I do and this was never a problem before MS.  I found myself dreading the practice and not doing it at all.  Something that would give me freedom and help my sister out - I should be really wanting to master this.  But what if I hurt someone?  This became real fear.

I had to get an extension on my upcoming driver's test.  Day after day I avoid getting into the driver's seat.

I went out today, in the rain.  As long as I held my attention together and did things a little extra slowly, I was all right...sort of.  Still, fine maneuvering is iffy.  Sometimes I would still accelerate instead of braking.  This is not a good thing.  I think of the elderly man plowing into the crowd in the LA Farmer's Market.  That could be me.

After about 20 minutes of driving, I find that turning is an effort.  My right arm is fatigueing.  It feels so hard to turn the car and keep it steady.  I don't feel in control.  I came home determined to try to strengthen my right arm.  Washing windows should do it, no?

This should be a matter of practice.  I know that.  I should do short periods of practice as often as I can.  That's what I plan to do.  I have to have this beast mastered by Thanksgiving - my driver's test is the previous day.  Deep down I am afraid.  Should I even be practicing?  Is this within my ability?

Deep down I am afraid.  Is this just caution or is this fear a form of wisdom?



Mar 02, 2009 - 1 comments

There are 5 phases to any large plan.

1)  Euphoria

2)  Disillusionment

3)  Search for the guilty

4)  Punishment of the Innocent

5)  Glory for the uninvolved.

Our tile guy came in yesterday to start the demolition.  He had agreed to rip it all out and redo it at his expense.  Without telling us, he just ripped out a few tiles and will just "hone down" the others.  I am not happy.  Now comes the confrontation.

The Saga of Remodeling  Installment #1

Mar 01, 2009 - 4 comments

A man arrives in h*ll and meets with Satan who tells him he actually has an option of how to spend eternity.  He points to two door and tells the man to choose.  The doors are labeled, "Fire and Brimstone" and "Home Remodeling."

Three years ago I bought a little tract house in Washington State, overlooking the Columbia Gorge.  I intended to live alone, but MS arrived at the door one day and made the the most beguiling pitch for a new way of life.  Being apparently quite guillible I forked over a few dollars for a lifetime contract.  I could enjoy an unlimited number of symptoms of a vast variety whenever they chose for the rest of my life.  What could be more exciting for a woman living alone?

Well, my sister was tantalized by the lifestyle of needing to clean, run errands and care for her younger sister.  She begged to come and live with me.  What could I say?  So the two of us have been living in this 1450 sq ft home on the mountainside with a nice view of the 2nd largest river in the country.  My parents followed shortly thereafter and entered an independent retirement living community close by.  I can tell that although they have symptoms of their own, they are also jealous of my enticing variety of symptoms.

Then, the greedy corporate robber barons made bad decisions and destroyed the economy.  My parents, now 85, jumped at this opportunity to behold my symptoms every day.  They, my sister, and I will all pool our resources and move in together.  The catch?  We need to finish my full 1450 sq ft walk-out, daylight basement for them to have space.

Our first job was remodeling a tub/shower upstairs.  One of my sparkling symptoms is now the inability to lift my leg over the side of the tub.  So, a walk-in shower is being done by a highly recommended builder/tile layer.  Yesterday we got a chance to examine the glorious new cleansing feature, only to find that the tile on the shower was not flat or flush.  Many edges are as much as 1/8" higher or lower than adjacent tiles.  I was in the bathroom feeling the newly grouted walls which were thick with grout dust.  

My asthma has not acted up in a decade.  I never thought of the dusty walls as being a threat -  The air seemed clear.
Only after having the discussion with the tile layer about the quality of the work did I start to cough.  Yes, it was an scinitinllating repartee, with us pointing out where the edges of some tiles actually cast a shadow on their neighbors and our tilelayer telling us that we are too picky and saying we should have noticed this earlier.????

So now I am coughing and my airway and lungs burn like fire - taking my mind off my brilliant and seductive MS symptoms.  I cough, and wheeze, and grimace.  My head pounds with using my inhaler so often.  It feels like I may have a chemical pneumonitis.


He agreed to redo the offending tiles.  He is back without any attitude doing the demolition now.  I so love the sound of a masonry saw.  I long for the days I could relax and enjoy my spasticity and weakness in the simple life.  My sister has interview 5 General Contractors, 4 plumbers, 3 electricians, 2 excavators and a lone partridge who missed the migration south for the winter.  The wind is blowing down the gorge with sustained gusts to 70 mph, which is a darn sight better than the gust to 105mph we had last month.  This is going to be such fun.