Sunday, February 28, 2010

What it takes to tell the truth

It used to be easy this thing about the truth. When we were children we knew. So it must be easy since even children learn to tell the truth. The problem comes when we grow up. We know the truth, but there are so many confounding factors. So we think twice, three times and more what exactly is meant by the truth.

According to the American Heritage Dictionary its etiology derives from the word deru, meaning "tree". The reasoning for why a tree is used to be a symbol for truth comes from the solidity of wood. It is something that lasts. It implies steadfastness and trust. It implies faith in its strength.

How does truth measure up today? Placing solid trust in what is being said, does not appear to be important anymore. And where would the truth be coming from? Would it be coming from our leadership? Who are those men and women who give us the supposed solidity that trust is made of. Can we trust what is being said when most of the things being said are twisted to a greedy end?

I hear parents tell their children things they don't mean. "I'll be at your soccer game." "I'll come to your piano rehearsal." "Mom and dad are promising to be at home early on your birthday." To children promises such as that are as if a tree had been planted, knowing that it would grow forever, a very solid presence. The truth is forever. It is not like a blade of grass that sways in the breeze and falls flat when a storm comes.

Trust has a long lifespan. If it is violated it cannot be restored easily. Broken trust is like a tree felled from lightning that cannot be put back. Conversely, new trust is like a sapling that must be nourished and tended so that it can become strong and hard and steadfast. Where is the trust in our leadership. Where is the truth we were promised when we were children?

How can the truth be reestablished with so little tending being done? How can a sapling become a tree when it is being trampled on so much? Let's be careful with what we say so that the trust we expect remains a sturdy tree we can lean against and where we can find restful shade after a strenuous day. Truth is a very restful place.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What's the difference

Visiting Erik yesterday was enjoyable; meaning he didn't seem out of it as he had been the weekend before.

At that time my concern was his creatinine level that, according to the nephrologist, was too high at 1.9. That last visit with the doctor had not been quite satisfactory. She had insisted that a 25(OH)D3 level of 22ng/mL was just right for Erik even though that was the level at which Erik had been given Calcitriol otherwise known as 1,25 (OH)2 D3 two years earlier. I was frustrated by the doctor's insistence on her opinion about parathyroid and Vitamin D level without being willing to discuss the subject in more detail.

I was annoyed. I would have liked to have gotten advice about foods that might be helpful in giving Erik's kidney as much of a chance to improve as possible. After that visit I had to leave with my feelings being solidified that Erik didn't matter to anyone but his mother. His medical care seemed again to be a matter of take it or leave it. The doctor had asked the caregiver what medicines Erik was taking, and the answer was that he was getting the same as last time. That apparently was a good enough bit of information. It didn't satisfy me, though. With an upswing in the creatinine level there should be a little more curiosity on the doctor's side.

Two days later we got a phone call from the caregiver saying that Erik had blood in his urine. I was alarmed. We drove to Capitola to see Erik's primary care physician as well as the urologist at the hospital in Santa Cruz, and as it turned out in a case like Erik's that is not all that unusual. We were reassured that Erik's situation was such that the little tinge of red in the bag would hopefully go away.

Meanwhile I got more curious about the medicines Erik was actually taking. One of those was amitryptilin, the other was polyethylene glycol.

Checking into this a little further, it turns out the first drug is an antidepressant that was apparently given not for depression but instead to make Erik sleep. So, now we knew why Erik had seemed so out of it. The other drug was a laxative. I went to some length to find out if there were reasons to believe that it might interfere with kidney function. Neither of the two drugs had anything to do with Erik's kidney failure, it seemed.

It turns out that I found an article about a study done in Taiwan that indicated a potential problem in patients with kidney failure. Upon finding that information I asked the primary care physician if these two medicines could be discontinued. She had absolutely no objection. She had not prescribed them, she said.

The drugs were discontinued and the next day already Erik was much more alert. He smiled and giggled. He made his needs known by pointing to what he needed. He pushed off with his toes on the leg that could reach the floor to turn the wheelchair to the TV set because he wanted to watch Shrek, his favorite movie. Taking the antidepressant away made the difference. Hopefully the polyethylene glycol removal will lower the creatinine level. We'll have to wait a while before we get the lab tests done again. It was gratifying to see Erik in good spirits. There can be joy in the small things. That's the difference. In the end everything depends on whether somebody cares.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Time to think about my vegetables

I am planning a potted vegetable garden. Last year I had deep purple eggplants, and I am going to have them again this year. I have the pots already. All I need is some good soil and the plants. I am not very successful with seeds. So I buy my plants. I am glad to be planning for that. It keeps me from screaming out loud about the most recent campaign to discredit Dr. Andrew Wakefield.

They call him a fraud now. The Lancet has withdrawn a 12-year-old paper about a vaccine that might or might not cause autism. Just the fact that the Lancet is throwing Wakefield to the wolves is not enough. After all the article will always be in the Lancet of that date, and retracting it now makes me suspect that there really is an ulterior motive to malign him, to make him look more and more like a fraud now.

The vaccine/autism connection may or may not be a connection; but Dr. Wakefield tried to make sense of the epidemic that has been raging for nearly 20 years now. So why is it that this man's possibly questionable study is again in the news after so many years? Trying to find an answer stirs up my natural sense of suspicion.

Why now? Why didn't the Lancet do a better job in the first place? Why did the editors wait as long as they did? I tell you why. It is because an article that was just published with Wakefield’s name on it does find a connection between certain types of essential survival reflexes in newborn rhesus macaques and the mercury vaccine preservative Thimerosal. Is Dr. Wakefield a threat to the scientific community? Is he getting too close to the truth?

My guess is as good as yours. But still I wonder. I shall plant my eggplants and I shall maybe grow some lettuce as a distraction, but to me my question is still a good question. My question to the scientific community is: Why "protesteth thou" too much against a man who would not have had much credence if the media had not spread his name around to begin with? I smell fish-manure in my vegetable garden.