A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Medical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Medical. Show all posts

August 9, 2020

Don't Be Like King Asa!


     Before, I get to the points I want to make in today's blog, I want us to revisit a brief passage in 2 Chronicles 16 about Asa, the fifth king of the Kingdom of Judah. The Bible says that "in the 36th year of his reign, he developed a disease in his feet". It says that although "this disease was severe, yet even in his illness he did not seek the Lord, but [relied only] on the physicians". The demise of Asa is mentioned in a very short verse immediately following his diagnosis: "So Asa slept with his fathers [in death] the 41st year of his reign." What can we learn from this brief history?

     I am increasingly finding myself on the fringe of society; even among my fellow Christians. As we continue to swirl around in this "Covid stew of confusion", I am amazed at how easily led some people are to the spirit of fear. Charisma Magazine ran an article that really spoke to my heart, and I think shows us how some of us could identify with King Asa. The article was reflecting on the various comments on Facebook regarding how best to traverse the contradictory information we receive from the media on how to defeat the pervasive Coronavirus.

     One commenter said, "Show me the verse in Scripture that says God heals everything except Coronavirus". That got me to thinking about what Christians believe when it comes to how best to react during this pandemic. Depending on where you live, local authorities across the country have differing opinions as to what our behavior should be. Responses range from mandating we shut everything down, to more lenient policies of opening up businesses while maintaining common sense precautions. When is it okay to go without a mask? Is it really necessary to wear one while driving by oneself in a car? Even the Doctors and Scientists can't agree on the optimum solutions to Covid!

     Some advocate six more months of shutdown and quarantine, with schools closed and everyone locked away in their homes; while others say we must adopt a "herd immunity" mentality, whereby everyone eventually becomes exposed to the disease and the virus dies out, so to speak, as people get the virus and recover. But even that solution is not universally agreed upon. Do you attain herd immunity through vaccinations which have been rushed into existence, or do you achieve it through natural infection? You can see why there is so much stress and anxiety in the population. But we Christians are not supposed to resemble the general population.

     So, why do so many Believers turn to Science and Doctors for deliverance from this virus, rather than God? Perhaps the answer lies in Matthew 13:58, "And [Jesus] did not do many miracles there, because of their unbelief." As Christians, do we turn to the Doctor for a magic pill or procedure [or vaccination] to cure us before we turn to Jesus, who showed us that the power of God to heal is in us? How many, who call ourselves Believers, are afraid to walk among the general population without a mask? I'm not talking about being foolish and subjecting yourself to the company of someone obviously infected and suffering from Covid, or any other communicable disease, for that matter. I'm talking about being so paranoid that you avoid people all together or refuse to attend church or family outings because you can't "safely distance yourself"? What happened to our faith in believing our God is who He says He is? When did our unbelief begin to shake the very foundations of our faith? And when did the so-called "facts" from the so-called "experts" exceed our confidence in God's power?

     I choose to believe the Word when it says that I abide in Christ and He abides in me. To me, that means that I have a life-giving connection with Him; He lives in me, and I live in Him. So when I leave my home, I picture myself stepping inside the realm that is Christ, where Covid cannot touch me. And while I trust in the medical advice that Zinc, Vitamin D3 and Vitamin C are powerful fighters against the virus, I also see God's Living Water continually flowing through my lungs, washing away anything that might try to attach itself. Plus, I anoint my lungs with holy oil so that the virus is unable to become lodged in my lungs. And, of course, I always keep my spiritual armor on, and my shield of faith in position, along with the Sword of the Spirit at constant readiness. 

     I know there are some, even among the Christian community, who would claim I am hopelessly naive, at the least, or insensitive and careless of others, at worst. But I identify more with the Canaanite woman who approached Jesus to get healing for her daughter, than I do King Asa. That woman was willing to accept the bread crumbs from the Master's table, believing that even the smallest portion of what the Lord offers is enough to receive a miracle for her daughter. And yet, do you know how much that offended Jesus's disciples? It's no different today! I know that my belief in Jesus has offended the unbelief in the Doubters. I know that my confident faith in Jesus is seen as foolish and potentially threatening to those who walk in fear. I know, because I have seen the looks of disgust as I remove my mask immediately after exiting the grocery store; or when I have to pull it down to take a breath of fresh air instead of feeling confined by a piece of cloth that has not been proven to stop the spread of the virus anyway.

     Personally, I have chosen to wage war against this virus in the Spirit, refusing to give in to Satan's spirit of fear, and instead, opting to walk in the promises of Jesus. Throughout the Book of Matthew, Jesus shows us time and again that He healed everyone who came in faith and believed that He could heal them. It was their unbelief that caused them to doubt if healing was possible, and ultimately kept them from seeking Him. 

     I choose to live like the Canaanite woman, employing a supernatural faith that miracles and wonders still exist today. No weapon formed against me can prosper and no plague shall befall me as I live in the secret place of the Most High God and abide under His Shadow! I will trust in His protection and His provision. That doesn't mean that I will ignore safety measures or put anyone else needlessly in harm's way. I will continue to do the smart things that ward off all infectious disease. But I will also not give in to another's fear or worry that comes from their faithless unbelief. Neither will I be deceived by faithless Science or faulty human wisdom. I serve a supernatural God from whom all blessings flow, and I live in His Kingdom system, not the world's. Unlike King Asa, I turn to the Lord first, instead of putting my faith in man. Anything less does not honor the One who has defeated Death.

Psalm 73:28  But as for me, it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge and placed my trust in Him,
That I may tell of all Your works.



December 9, 2015

A New Reality and A New Kind of Doctor: Urban Battlefield Medic

     Amid the human and personal stories being revealed in the aftermath of the San Bernardino terrorist attack comes a rather intriguing one.  It is the story of Dr. Michael Neeki, a trauma physician and emergency room doctor at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) in Colton, California, where many of the victims of that tragedy were transported.
Dr. Neeki at a press conference for the
victims of the San Bernardino terrorist attack.
     But Dr. Neeki wears many hats.  He is the chief medical officer of San Bernardino County's probation department and also volunteers as a member of the Inland Valley SWAT team.  He is the only physician/medic on the team, and he trains alongside his fellow SWAT team members for just such a scenario as San Bernardino.  And he is uniquely qualified.
     He was born in Iran and drafted into the Iran/Iraq war at age 18.  He served his native country in war and believes this gives him valuable experience in treating victims of gun violence, or as he puts it, "[I am] mentally and tactically a little more experienced than the other physicians here."  But in 1988, he was forced to leave his homeland after suffering as a political prisoner because of his opposition to the increasingly radical and religious Iranian regime.  Twenty-seven years later, in his adopted homeland of America, he put those skills and mindset to work as he labored, not only to mend and heal, the victims of San Bernardino, but to protect them from the rampage.
     When the first calls went out, he grabbed his rifle and tactical equipment and headed for the "hot zone", where he could put his tactical training to good use, as well as utilizing the medical pack that he carries.  "You have to be ready to put in a tourniquet to avoid the bleeding, or quickly staple a wound in the field. Or use an Israeli bandage, which is a compression dressing. I also have a clotting factor you could put in a lesion."
     So now, as a member of the Rialto SWAT team, he is working to upgrade the medical assistance that his team members can deliver in the field.  He's certified to carry a gun and participates in the team's tactical drills.  His experience on the battlefield is increasingly valuable today because injuries such as those seen in the San Bernardino shootings have become more common. "So, we saw this rifle injury-type pattern, which rips and shreds apart organs in your body, tissues in the body, and vessels as they're going through."
     Sadly, this is becoming the reality that our emergency medicine doctors must face.  I fear that the attacks in California last week will not be the last.  Western civilization's enemy has made it clear that they wish to inflict as much carnage as they are able to, and that they are not limiting their attacks to Europe.  Therefore, because of his unique background and experience, Dr. Neeki now wants to expand the emergency medicine residency at ARMC to give young doctors the exposure they need to such mass casualties, and at the same time, elevate the skill levels of [SWAT] paramedic team members.
     Dr. Neeki envisions ARMC residents (and doctors throughout the country) playing roles in the developing field of tactical medicine by connecting with area SWAT teams.  He said it is important for SWAT team paramedics to have advanced training in wound care, airway management techniques, and procedures for spinal injuries.  Since these first responders are obviously the first on the scene, they are invaluable in providing immediate front-line medical care to the victims of such attacks.  Precious life-saving moments will not be lost waiting for ambulances to arrive to transport the wounded and injured.
     As much as we don't want to admit it, we must change the dynamic of how we will treat these urban mass casualty events.  It is likely that doctors will become part healer and part soldier; prepared to imitate battlefield medicine that their counterparts do in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq.  If like, Dr. Neeki, they actually have military experience, they can be trained to both defend the public and save lives.
     Training medical professionals to become soldiers will not sit well with every American.  But for Americans like Dr. Michael Neeki, who is now a U.S. citizen, being on-scene to treat the trauma from gunshot wounds in those first crucial seconds is one of the reasons he thinks doctors should be members of first-reponder units.  "I am here because I came for democracy," said Dr. Neeki.  "It's sad to see that you come miles from across the world, and to see something like that here... [But I want] to show ISIS what we are made of."
     We must face it -- Tactical medicine is the new reality, whether we like it or not.  And I believe it is a good thing that Iranian-Americans like Dr. Michael Neeki are willing to show us how to better save lives.  Yes, the worst of the Middle East was seen in that conference room in San Bernardino last week, but we also saw the best of those who have come to this country, seeking the freedom we have to offer, and with a desire to pay back this society and nation who have given them such great opportunities.   You see, blind hatred does not belong to just one ethnic group or nationality.  It is the hallmark of the Evil One, and can permeate any soul.  But our God can take someone out of that same cesspool of hatred and shape a heart committed to defending and healing his fellow man.
     The world is seeing a new reality -- one that has us all on edge.  But never dismiss the goodness and mercy of the Lord that shines through one man's actions.  That is showing what our God is made of!

Proverbs 24:11    Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter.

April 18, 2015

Will Enforced Vaccinations Become The Law of the Land?

     The state of California appears to be at the forefront of forcing a showdown between those who are pro-vaccine adherents and those who maintain it should be freedom of choice.  I'm afraid that my "conspiracy" hackles are once again rising as this debate heats up.
     Supposedly the rush to law for mandatory vaccinations centers around an outbreak of measles, which originated last winter at Disneyland.  There was an immediate panic over all the deaths that would ensue, as infected children returned to their home cities and states.  The media did everything they could to fan the flames of fear and promote nationwide vaccinations among our country's school-age children.  There was all kinds of media buzz over "the outbreaks" of measles across the land.  But I could not find one report or statistic about run-away numbers of infected, or deaths.  Only one report said, "Measles count at 59 and rising" ... but that was nationwide!  We had that many in one semester of my elementary school in the 1960s.  And if I recall, no one died and no serious health issues ensued.  Is it all a sham for forced inoculations?
     If so, California is Ground Zero for amending state legislation which would require children at public and private schools to be vaccinated unless a doctor determines they should be exempt for medical reasons.
     But there has been some measure of success in stopping the government from forcing children to be vaccinated.  As of this last week, California SB277 has stalled, and the bill's author was given a one-week delay to alter the legislation in order to make it more presentable to legislators.
     At the heart of the debate are the issues of personal freedoms versus public health.  Some lawmakers were concerned that the bill would deprive unvaccinated kids of a constitutionally required education by barring them from schools.  And choosing to homeschool your children would not necessarily protect your children from the long arm of this law.  Some lawmakers said the way the bill is written, children who are homeschooled would be barred from group learning with other homeschooling families.
     It appears to me that this would be government "strong-arm" tactics.  By refusing to educate non-vaccinated children in the public schools, and by putting roadblocks in the way of home-schooled kids, the government is attempting to force it's own medical mandate on its citizens.  Not only is this a personal choice issue, but many parents are skeptical of the added chemicals in vaccines.  They simply do not trust across-the-board vaccinations because the government "says so".
     Just in case the "scare tactics" of the measles outbreak don't work, pro-vaccine advocates aren't above pitting parents against each other.  Children who cannot be immunized due to adverse reactions (those being treated for cancer, for instance) would be required to stay home for 21 days because another parent refused immunizations based on religious or anti-vaccine positions.  Do you see how it works?  Those who choose not to vaccinate (for whatever reason) are seen as the villains -- if everyone would just vaccinate their kids, then the state wouldn't have to quarantine anyone.
     So, here's how that thinking goes ... I don't really care or worry about what might be in those vaccines.  I think you should vaccinate your kids so it doesn't interfere with my child's education.  We should just all blindly follow what the state tells us.
     But parents who are skeptical of vaccines have usually done their homework.  It is not a knee-jerk reaction and they are well-schooled in the possible reactions that come with chemicals and multiple vaccinations.  They should not be forced to comply with government edicts regarding the health of their children.  As one mother stated, “I would leave the state” if the bill passes. “This is about informed consent. We should be able to make our own decisions.”  (Of course, a few hundred thousand unvaccinated immigrant children in your state should help you make that decision, right?}
     So we should all be watching California very carefully.  Those of us born with the "suspicious gene" will find it ironic that due to an inflated sense of alarm over a few cases of the measles last December, we now find, just a few months later, a bill before the California legislature that seeks to make vaccinations by the State mandatory.  If they are able to get this legislation passed, then it will become precedence for amendments to the law in the other 49 states.
    I do not think parents are being over-paranoid to mistrust vaccinations.  When one considers the government's interest in genetic engineering, and private pharmaceutical companies being funded to research nanobot medicine -- not to mention technological advances towards transhumanism -- one would be foolish to indiscriminately vaccinate your child.  As the California mother said, it is about informed consent ... the American people should become knowledgable on this subject, and they should demand their right to decide for themselves and their children.  Stay vigilant!

Addendum:  Public schools in Spokane, Washington are invoking a law that requires proof of vaccination before students are allowed to remain in the classroom.  Those who oppose the compulsory vaccinations must provide a signed waiver from a health care professional or be able to prove that they challenge it on religious grounds.  Coming soon to a school near you!

Revelation 18:23   "... and all nations were deceived by your sorcery."  [ The root Greek word for "sorcery" is actually pharmakeia (to administer drugs)].

April 9, 2015

Soldier Suicides, Scientology & Shifty Politics

     While taking a little day journey earlier this week, I was struck by this billboard along Interstate 35 in the heart of Texas.  Like most alert Americans, I am aware of the massive amounts of prescription drugs that our returning vets are receiving via the Military hospitals and the VA.  Through my service to wounded soldiers at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, I had heard multiple comments about the amount of drugs and the length of time they were prescribed for the patients.  In fact, more than one soldier told me he just stopped taking them, because "they messed with my head too much."
      So, besides being tuned in to the potential problem with over-medication of our soldiers, I also wondered exactly who the organization was that was sponsoring these billboards.  Apparently they are appearing around the country near major military installations, such as Fort Hood in Texas and Fort Bragg in North Caroline, among others.  So I decided to do a little research.  At the bottom of the billboard, it says that the ad campaign is "sponsored by the Citizens Commission On Human Rights."  The website for CCHR says that they are a "Watchdog investigating and exposing psychiatric human rights violations."
     Digging a little deeper, it didn't take long to uncover the alleged identity of this group.  According to an article at Examiner.com, CCHR "has been described by critics as a Scientology front group that campaigns against Big Pharma, psychiatry and psychiatrists."  If you remember a few years back, the most famous Scientologist, Tom Cruise, got into a heated debate with actress Brooke Shields over medication she took to help alleviate symptoms caused by her postpartum depression.
     Scientology insists that mental illness is not a medical disease and that the use of psychiatric medication is a destructive and fraudulent practice. The organization goes so far as to link psychiatry or psychiatrists to school shootings, eugenics, and terrorism.
     I admit that I have some conflict over the various positions taken on this subject.  I am not a fan of the cult-like religion called Scientology.  Yet, I cannot dispute CCHR's claims that "in early 2013, the official website of the United States Department of Defense announced the startling statistic that the number of military suicides in 2012 had far exceeded the total of those killed in battle—an average of nearly one a day. A month later came an even more sobering statistic from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: veteran suicide was running at 22 a day—about 8000 a year."  And then there are those confirming statements I heard directly from soldiers saying that "too many drugs are being prescribed."
     And perhaps the most disturbing fallout of how we are treating returning veterans with PTSD, is evidenced in this 2014 story from International Business Times:  When former U.S. Army Specialist Kyle Wesolowski returned from Iraq in December 2010 following a brutal yearlong deployment, psychiatrists at the Fort Hood army post in Texas gave him “a cocktail of seven different drugs” for his anxiety, depression and other war-related mental health issues.
     More than three years later, Wesolowski has come to an uncomfortable conclusion about the unintended consequences of ingesting those medications: They made him homicidal.
     While desperately struggling to taper off the drugs without an exit strategy from his military doctors, Wesolowski contemplated murdering a young woman he met in a bar near the base. “When she talked to me, I put on a fake smile and tried to be nice,” Wesolowski said, though in reality he recalled hating her for being happy and carefree, and now says that due to the side effects of his drug cocktail, he felt violent urges. “I began to fantasize about killing her,” he said.
     At this point, I think it is highly appropriate to ask, What are we doing to our soldiers?!?  Why are so many psychotropic drugs being prescribed, often in conjunction with other drugs that produce violent side effects?  Is it possible that, as some experts in the field suggest, "Congress is lobbied heavily by Big Pharma" ... and "Soon after the start of the second Gulf War, we saw a sea change in the prescribing of these [psychotropic] drugs to our troops. This cannot be accounted for by anything other than military decisions at the very top that were certainly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, which markets from the top down, then the drugs flow to millions."
     Certainly, this seems to be verified by an Austin American-Stateman report which found that drug purchases by the Department of Defense ballooned by more than 123 percent, from $3 billion in 2002 to $6.8 billion in 2011, which outpaced by nearly double the overall increase in reported pharmaceutical sales in the U.S!
     While I was astounded (but not surprised) by the amount of drugs being prescribed, I was floored to read another article that reported the Pentagon funded nearly 2/3 of a million dollars to a Scientology De-Tox program to help soldiers get off the drugs.  But at what cost?  The program claims to flush out the accumulations of toxins stored in body fat by flushing out the toxins and excreting them from the skin using high/toxic doses of Niacin and other vitamin regimes.  Plus it is my understanding that soldiers enrolled in this program are subjected to Scientology's famous "auditing sessions", which attempt to tear people down in order to build them back up.  Not only am I leery of this cultic organization on religious grounds, but is that really a safe mechanism for soldiers who are dealing with PTSD?
     So, I'm left feeling that our soldiers are being victimized from all sides!  Who is really looking after their welfare and that of their families?  It simply appears as if the DOD, Military Hospitals, Big Pharma and Scientology all have their own agendas, and the suffering soldier's needs are at the bottom of the list.  As a government and a nation, we should be ashamed!  Who will stand up for them?  Please pray that this insanity will stop!

Psalms 34:18   "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit."

March 30, 2015

Say Goodbye To Rural Healthcare

     When the former president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons expresses her pessimistic view of how Obamacare will affect rural residents, then we'd better listen.  In an article on World Net Daily, Dr. Lee Hieb is quoted as saying she believes the architects of the Affordable Care Act want our health care system to be as centralized as possible, meaning fewer hospitals and fewer specialists.
     Because the federal government is attempting to curb the expenditures of Medicare and Medicaid, those hospitals that serve a higher percentage of the elderly and poor are finding it more and more difficult to satisfy their bottom lines.  It's only logical that rural hospitals will be the hardest hit.
     According to Dr. Hieb, “Up until now, hospitals have failed and succeeded, they’ve come and gone just like businesses ... Some are better-run than others, but the economic deck was not totally stacked against them. Now, unfortunately, the economic deck is stacked against them in such a way that, universally, smaller hospitals are disenfranchised.”  What's more, Dr. Hieb speculates that this was exactly what Obamacare was "designed" to do!
     “This is going to be like the Reichstag fire,” Hieb proclaimed. "It’s going to be an excuse to say, ‘Look, the free market failed, and now we can go in and institute universal health care, because you see, these people in these rural areas need healthcare, and you’re not getting it to them.’"
     I think I can speak for my own rural community where there is a higher percentage of government-subsidized healthcare versus private insurance payers.  As the government continues to deem certain treatments as "unnecessary", and thereby refusing to reimburse doctors and providers, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that providing adequate healthcare in these communities is getting more difficult, and much less profitable.
     We also have a growing elderly population in the surrounding countryside, which means hospitals are crowded with Medicare patients, and the reimbursements don't come close to covering hospital expenses.  We are already seeing a decline in the number of practicing doctors, and those hospitals and physician's offices that have few private insurance patients are the ones that will eventually have to consider closing their doors.  As hospitals close, and doctors move to cities with higher ratios of private versus government insurance, the few doctors who remain in rural areas will see their workloads increase, leading to stress and burnout.
     What is even more alarming is that there is an additional side effect of fewer doctors and less medical care in rural areas; the so-called "black holes", or areas without coverage for certain specialties.  People who live in the country, far from emergency medical facilities have long known that they are at a higher risk of death than those who live in the city, and have easier access to, and quicker response times from, emergency personnel.  But now, we are faced with the very real possibility of actual shortages of physicians and hospitals.  To date, the facts are that 48 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and 283 others are in danger of closing, according to the Washington Post.  Most of those closures were in the South, with 10 of them in Texas alone.
     I know I'm showing my age, but I can remember when I was just out of college, and I worked for a Medical Society in Austin, Texas.  I was managing editor of the Medical Society's monthly publication, and I was covering a Board Meeting where the members were discussing and debating the newly proposed HMO system.  One elderly physician spoke up and predicted that "we will all regret the day that we let the government get involved in our practices."  I guess they thought they could control Big Brother from inserting itself between them and their patients; but once that Pandora's box was opened, there was no turning back.  ObamaCare was inevitable; it's been the plan from the beginning, and it is just the natural progression when you open the door to socialized medicine.
     Everyone agrees that the costs of the medical industry and healthcare have skyrocketed.  The results will be larger numbers of hospital and office closures; and those who find a way to keep their doors open will pay more to do so.  But the question that nobody wants to ask is, "How many people will pay with their lives?"

3 John 1:2   "Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul."

November 8, 2014

Still Think Vaccines Are What They Say?

     I'm sure many of you can identify with me ... someone asks me if I'm going to get this year's flu shot; or, God forbid, if Ebola becomes an epidemic in this country, would I volunteer to receive the Ebola vaccine?  When I unapologetically state that I would not -- that I don't trust what is in the vaccines -- I get that "Oh, so you're one of them" cynical smirks.  Sound familiar?
     I don't even attempt to explain why, or to site statistics of the rise of cancer and the subsequent benefit to the pharmaceutical companies.  I don't even try to quote such World Elites as Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner, David Rockefeller, or Prince Philip, who, deploring the number of human beings on the planet, has been quoted as saying, “In the event that I am reincarnated, I would like to return as a deadly virus, in order to contribute something to solve overpopulation.”
     Well, perhaps this tidbit of news will cast some credibility on my decision to be selective about the vaccines I take.   LifeSiteNews.com reports that Catholic bishops in the African nation of Kenya are accusing the UN of sterilizing millions of girls and women under the guise of annilating neonatal tetanus by means of an inoculation program approved by the Kenyan government.
     The article quotes Dr. Muhame Ngare of the Mercy Medical Centre in Nairobi, as saying, "“We sent six samples [of the vaccine] from around Kenya to laboratories in South Africa. They tested positive for the HCG antigen ... They were all laced with HCG."  HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) is an antigen that causes miscarriages in healthy women, and apparently its use was sanctioned and administered by the World Health Organization and UNICEF.  This action kind of makes a mockery of Unicef's declaration that "The chance to survive is a right owed to every child", doesn't it?
     And it is hard to ignore the proof as provided by Dr. Ngare:  "The evidence was presented to the Ministry of Health before the third round of immunization but was ignored ... This proved right our worst fears; that this WHO campaign is not about eradicating neonatal tetanus, but a well-coordinated forceful population control [and] mass sterilization exercise using a proven fertility regulating vaccine."
     Of course, you expect the same old government denial ... the vaccine is safe, and officials would even give it to their own daughters.  But Dr. Ngare is adamant in her claims that this is a secret anti-fertility campaign.  She cites the unprecedented five-shot regimen over a two-year period, which is primarily applied to only women of child-bearing years.  She further argues that the tetanus series is usually given as three shots over a 2-to-3 year period, and to men, women or children; anyone who comes into the clinic wishing to receive the tetanus vaccine.   “The only time tetanus vaccine has been given in five doses is when it is used as a carrier in fertility-regulating vaccines laced with the pregnancy hormone, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) developed by WHO in 1992.”
     So, how does it work?  According to the doctors and Catholic bishops, "HCG mimics a natural hormone produced by pregnant women, and causes them to develop antibodies against it. When they do get pregnant, and produce their own version of HCG, it triggers the production of antibodies that cause a miscarriage."
     But this isn't the first time this particular vaccine with its prescribed 5 injections has been used in treating the world's population.  Miscarriages became rampant in Mexico in 1993, and Nicaragua and the Philippines in 1994 -- three years after this vaccine was administered by organizations like United Nations Population Fund and USAID.
     And apparently the way the government is rolling out this vaccination campaign lends to suspicions as to its true purpose:  “Only a few operatives from the government are allowed to give it out. They come with a police escort. They take it away with them when they are finished."  As Dr. Ngare asks, if it is so safe, "Why not leave it with the local medical staff to administer?”
     Could it be that what Dr. Ngare alleges is actually true?  That this vaccine has been purposefully designed to help control the population of the world?  What better place to start than Africa, which is home to approximately 15% of the world's population?  Would it shock you to know that LifeSiteNews had obtained a UN report on an August 1992 meeting at its world headquarters in Geneva in which 10 scientists from “Australia, Europe, India and the U.S.A” and 10 “women’s health advocates” from around the world, met to discuss the use of “fertility regulating vaccines.”  -- or that this very same UN report describes the “anti-Human Chorionic Gonadotropin vaccine” as the most advanced?
     I know its hard for the average American to think that there is a global conspiracy to control the population of the world; and even harder to think that our own public health organizations could be involved with anything so sinister.  But this is bigger than trying to keep your flu symptoms on the mild side, or protect you from a case of shingles or pneumonia.  It's about power and money and the Elite controlling the masses.  Just listen to some of their own words:
     Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft and Billionaire entrepreneur:  "The world today has 6.8 billion people. That's headed up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent."
     Penny Chisholm, Professor at MIT:  “The real trick is, in terms of trying to level off at someplace lower than that 9 billion, is to get the birthrates in the developing countries to drop as fast as we can. And that will determine the level at which humans will level off on earth.”
     Paul Ehrlich, a former science advisor to President George W. Bush:  "Nobody, in my view, has the right to have 12 children, or even three, unless the second pregnancy is twins.”
     Ted Turner, founder of CNN:  “A total world population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.”
     Ruth Bader Ginsburg, U.S. Supreme Court Justice:  “Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth, and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.”
     Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood:  “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.”
     John P. Holdren, President Obama's primary science advisor:  "The development of a long-term sterilizing capsule that could be implanted under the skin and removed when pregnancy is desired opens additional possibilities for coercive fertility control. The capsule could be implanted at puberty and might be removable, with official permission, for a limited number of births."
     So, do you still think this is some kind of crazy conspiracy theory?  Or is the evidence in Africa, and the recorded words of powerful people, enough to make you think twice about letting some foreign substance be injected into your body?
     Are all vaccines evil and subject to suspicion?  I'm not ready to make that broad statement.  However, I do believe that we are living in profoundly immoral and malevolent times, and I am cautious about subjecting my body, (which has been made in the image of God), to unknown causative agents that I'm supposed to trust are designed to keep me from harm.  I'm sorry, but there's just too much evidence to the contrary.  I'm going to trust the discernment I receive from the Holy Spirit.

Psalm 41:2-3   "The LORD will protect him and preserve his life; he will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desire of his foes.  The LORD will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness."

November 5, 2014

"Right to Die" Controversy: Don't We All Owe Jesus A Death?

     It's my turn to weigh in on the debatable decision of Brittany Maynard to end her own life this past week after a diagnosis of brain cancer at the beginning of this year.  Her story has occupied our national conscience for the last several weeks, after she announced that she would take the extreme step to end her life on November 1st, with the aid of Oregon's Death With Dignity law.  This law, like those in Washington, Vermont, Montana, and New Mexico, allows terminally ill patients to end their lives with lethal drugs prescribed by a doctor.
     Her decision and this subject matter are not new; in 1990, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, earned the nickname "Dr. Death" when he assisted Janet Adkins, a 45-year-old Alzheimer's patient, to end her life in his Volkswagen van by hooking her up to an IV, and allowing her to administer her own painkiller and the poison that stopped her heart.  He went on to assist with several more medically-administered suicides, challenging the court system and society's morals.  Most of the people were elderly or greatly incapacitated.
     That's why the picture of a vibrant, beautiful, and brilliant 29-year-old who wished to follow this path struck me with so much force.  I took her decision seriously, and did not want to experience a knee-jerk reaction.  I knew she had been given only six months to live, and that the diagnosis of Glioblastoma was a dire one.  In fact, I have a very dear friend who is suffering from this same cancer.  There is no cure, and patients are often left with no hope except for a Divine miracle.
     I also know, according to a spokesman for the advocacy group, Compassion & Choices, that Brittany had "suffered increasingly frequent and longer seizures, severe head and neck pain, and stroke-like symptoms. As symptoms grew more severe, she chose to abbreviate the dying process by taking the aid-in-dying medication she had received months ago."  It was important to Brittany that she live her life to the fullest during the time she had left, and in the end, to die on her own terms.  By the responses of the thousands who commented on one of several internet postings of her death, most people applauded her decision; or at least were able to empathize with her as they related countless stories of their own loved ones' agonizing deaths.
     Let me say, that while I cannot imagine what anguish it was for her to come to that decision, my personal choice would have been different, and here's why.  As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know what His Word says:  This host body that I inhabit is a Temple where the Holy Spirit resides and it is not my own, to do with it as I will.  It was bought and paid for at an extremely heavy price.  There was the physical cost ... Most people in this secular world have no idea what "Scorging" means; that Jesus was flailed by a short whip with lead balls and sheep bones tied into leather thongs.  He suffered deep stripe-like lacerations and an incredible amount of blood loss.  But there was an even greater spiritual cost to his sacrifice.  He carried the pain and suffering of all the sins for all mankind; think of that magnitude -- He endured the cumulative pain and agony that each one of us deserves.
     I know that opinion will be unpopular and will be declared "insensitive" by the masses who are only able to see themselves reflected in Brittany Maynard's choice.  But I see the reflection of Christ when it comes to making that kind of decision.  Brittany stated that she wanted "to die with dignity."  But our Lord chose to forego His own estimable dignity to suffer for me.  Therefore, as my wise husband so often says, "We each owe Him a death."  And, then I have to ask myself, "Do I deserve a better or easier death than His?"
     Don't get me wrong.  I do not wish a long, painful death for anyone; and when it comes to my own, I am praying for God's mercy.  I, just like Brittany and all who suffer at the end of this life, will be wishing for healing.  But I am fully aware that my healing may not happen in this world, and I hope to face that time, should it come, with determination that I will soon experience the joy of His healing hand in the next life.  So, I will neither judge nor condemn Brittany.  I don't know the state of her soul or her relationship with God.  A spokesman for her family said, "She died peacefully in the arms of her loved ones."  It is my prayer that she also died peacefully in the arms of her Savior.  
      By all accounts Brittany was an accomplished and giving young woman.  It is my fear that many young people will hastily follow her example, and that saddens me.  It saddens me that our culture values life so little; or that we have lost the sacred sense that we are made in the image of God, and therefore see ourselves as "little g" gods who only have to consider ourselves when it comes to our lives.  In a sense, this movement towards "death with dignity" mirrors society's approval of abortion.  We can't see beyond the immediate consequences in this world.  We don't view our lives as eternal, or measure the enduring cost of our decisions.  As Brittany Maynard discovered, this life is fleeting, and far too short.  And as I have discovered, this life is precious; not only to me, but to my Creator ... and it is not my own.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20    "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body."

October 30, 2014

NYC Ebola Patient: What's Wrong With This Picture?

     OK, how about a little conspiracy theory to start our day?  We've all heard the news reports about Dr. Craig Spencer, the physician from Doctors Without Borders, who became symptomatic with Ebola after returning to the U.S. --- and holds the distinction of being the first Ebola patient in New York City.  He is currently listed in "serious, but stable" condition.
     Dr. Spencer arrived back in the U.S., after treating Ebola patients in Guinea, West Africa.  He reportedly passed all the screening tests at John F. Kennedy Airport, and then proceeded to enjoy life in New York City.  He visited a local park, ate at The Meatball Shop restaurant, stopped by a coffee shop, found time to take a 3-mile long jog through another park, take a taxi to a bowling alley, and ride 3 different subway trains -- all within a week of returning stateside and coming down with a 103F fever and Ebola.
      Does anyone else think something about this smells fishy?  Naturally, the people of New York are a little unnerved; especially the neighborhoods in which he visited.  But it was one Twitter post that caught my attention ... "He took the subway from Harlem to Brooklyn?!?! YOU LITERALLY HAVE TO GO THROUGH THE ENTIRE CITY SUBWAY SYSTEM TO DO THAT".
    Is it irresponsible of me to wonder why a doctor, who has seen the ravages of Ebola, and knows how rapidly it can spread, would seem to be so nonchalant about taking the necessary steps to make sure he was virus-free before potentially exposing a metropolis like NYC to this deadly disease?  Wouldn't it have been rational for him to take a few days to make sure he showed no symptoms?  After all, there is supposedly a 21-day incubation period.  Dr. Spencer hardly allowed enough time to see if he would begin showing symptoms, before exposing a nice chunk of NYC to the virus.
    Yeah, yeah, he says he wasn't feeling bad, just "fatigued".  But he sure managed to cover a lot of miles and visit a lot of places in three days for someone who was "so tired."  I'm just saying'... If I didn't know better, I would think this looked like an attempt to expose as many people as possible to the disease ... just in case he did come down with it.  Just think about all the potential victims who rode the three different subways; or all the people in the bowling alley, restaurant and coffee shop.  And how many people rode in the same cab he took, or came into contact with him during his hike in the park?  (OK, I'll admit I've got my tin foil hat on!)
     But let me share this little bit of news with you, as well. There's a YouTube video showing a 16-year-old neighbor of Dr. Spencer's being interviewed outside the apartment building in which they both live.  She comments on how nice he is, his dedication to his work with Doctors Without Borders, and she hasn't seen him in a few weeks.  But when (allegedly) shown a picture of Dr. Spencer by one of the reporters, she screws up her face, recoils for an instant, and says, "No, no.  That's not him."
    So what's the truth here?  Is this an Ebola false-flag event, inspired to cause fear?  Or do we have an actor playing Dr. Spencer in order to actually spread the disease?  Is the girl even his neighbor, or is she just another subterfuge to keep us off our guard?  Do any of these unsubstantiated rumors have anything to do with the fact that the U.S. government owns a patent on Ebola?  Doesn't it make just a little bit of sense that the good ol' Hegelian Dialect could be in play here?   You know -- create the problem so that your pre-determined solution can be applied to solving the problem.   An article on Western Journalism lays all out for you:  "Uncle Sam owns the patent on Ebola, but they also own the rights to all variations on Ebola, with the rights to all Ebola research. The official owner of this Ebola patent is: The Government of the US as Represented by the Secretary of the Dept. of Health. Essentially, it is a patent issued by The United States government to The United States government."
     How do you patent something that is supposed to be naturally occurring?  But what if it isn't?  Has it been altered in some way?  And what if the disease mutates so fast, that the entire population becomes exposed and the government has to accelerate the development of a vaccine for the masses? Nice way to make a few bucks, wouldn't you say -- let alone subject the world's population to possible cancer-causing agents?  (Remember that the World's Elite are looking for ways to reduce the earth's population, and that the CDC has admitted to the possibility that 10-30 million polio vaccines may have been contaminated).
     I really must admit that I wish my mind didn't turn towards these crazy scenarios.  I don't want to believe that man could be that devious or that greedy.  But then I realize how evil these times are, and that Satan can tempt man with evil schemes and plans.  I'd like to think that maybe I'm just too skeptical.  But tell me ... what has there been to generate any faith in our current system?  And now there is the whole confusing mess of a nurse who refuses to stay in quarantine!  I am just thankful that the devil's time is short, and my Lord is coming near.  I'm so weary of all this doubt and mistrust!

Psalm 118:8    "It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man."


October 21, 2014

Ebola: It Affects More Than The Victim

    We all feel compassion for those who have been stricken with Ebola around the world.  And now that it has touched our homeland, it is apparent -- at least, to me -- that the effects are widespread.  Besides the personal toll, this frightening contagion impacts our lives across so many areas.

     First, let's consider the Economy.  Here are the facts: The stock market took a tumble last week, due in part to the news that the 132 passengers on a Frontier Airlines flight from Dulles International Airport to Dallas, TX may have been infected by Amber Vinson, the second nurse to contract Ebola from Patient Zero, Thomas Duncan.
     Members of Congress are openly considering travel bans; not only from Western African countries, but from within the United States, itself.  Just think how that will affect the airline industry!
     Then, there's this: according to The Hollywood Reporter, "When treating multiple Ebola patients at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, the staff couldn’t get pizza delivered, couriers refused to handle vials of blood from those patients, and the county threatened to shut off the hospital’s access to sewer lines over concerns about waste from patients."
     And according to my doctor friend, his fellow physicians in Dallas, who have offices adjacent to Texas Presbyterian Hospital, have empty waiting rooms -- patients are refusing to come anywhere near the facility.  And as he reminded me, "The expenses of running those offices aren't suspended; there is a direct impact on their bottom line."
     That piece of information is supported by a recent article in The Washington Post that reported that the playground at an infant and child day-care center near the Dallas Hospital was vacant -- parents are keeping their children home.  But, wouldn't you?
     All this to say, that despite health officials attempting to calm the rising anxiety of Americans by reminding us that "more people will die from the flu than from Ebola," there are some very real side effects from the few reported cases (so far).  First and foremost, there is the economic cost generated by the fear and anxiety associated with this disease.  We are seeing the initial repercussions in the stories related above.  I'm sure the airline industry hasn't forgotten the economic toll that the SARS epidemic took on Asian airlines in 2003 -- the cost was $6 billion!
     But, even if Ebola is stopped in its tracks today, we are already seeing the reverberation throughout different sectors of our economy.  How many of you have re-thought your travel plans?  What about sending your kids to school?  Two schools closed in Ohio last week, after the disclosure that a Middle School staff member may have traveled on the same plane -- though not the same Frontier Airlines flight -- as Amber Vinson.  A student and another teacher, both at different schools in Ohio, have been ordered to stay at home, due to possible exposure to the virus.
    Three schools have closed in Belton, TX, at the news that two students did travel on that same plane with Vinson.  In Fort Worth, TX, an elementary student is also reported to have flown on that same flight, and his family is being quarantined for 21 days.  I would be willing to bet that this presents a financial and economic hardship on all those concerned.  Parents will have to take off work to care for these children; and in the case of entire schools being closed, or whole families being quarantined, one has to ask how many salaries does that effect?  Does sick leave cover this event? And what if you don't have three weeks accrued?
    Then there is the Hospitality sector of the economy.  Do you feel safe going to restaurants?  What about the movies or the book store?  I want to make myself clear on this subject ... it is not time to panic, and I do not want to spread fear.  But I am appalled at the lack of command and authority exhibited by both our government officials and our top federal medical experts.  It goes without saying, that a unified plan to identify and control this disease would go a long ways towards instilling confidence in the American people.  It doesn't help to promote that trust when the top medical experts at the National Institute of Health and the CDC admit that their initial protocol for handling the disease was "inadequate."  I'm pretty sure that's little consolation to the two nurses that were infected.
     And, speaking of nurses, there is the psychological effect among our health care workers, who must be feeling their top government health agencies have failed them.  I have a very good friend who has been a nurse for the last 30-35 years.  I wanted her personal opinion of how she sees this disease playing out in our health care system.  Her first words were chilling... both from a professional and personal standpoint.  She was amazed at "how little she knows about it."  By that she means, forthcoming information from on high has been very limited.  She went on to explain that nurses, as health care providers are at the mercy of not only the CDC for issuing information, protocol and guidelines, but also their county health departments and their hospital administrators.  Every organization has their own agenda; and nurses, who are on the front lines, often get conflicting direction.
     She remembers past outbreaks of Tuberculosis and Legionnaire's Disease; and how quickly guidelines were administered, because the CDC had treatments in place for that.  She candidly admitted that this time, in Dallas, "The CDC dropped the ball.  With Ebola, there is a huge potential for contamination, and the CDC knows that.  They issued a statement saying 'When there is a known case, we [the CDC] are sending in a team.'  That was a bald-faced lie --- they didn't do it in Dallas!"
     I admit, that I think all these nurses have a servant's heart, and are incredibly brave and giving under these circumstances.  But they also have a very real dilemma.  I asked my friend what she will do if/when Ebola becomes an epidemic in this country.  She admitted that she has given this some serious thought.  In the nursing culture, there is tremendous pressure to show up to work, no matter what, because: 1) your patients need you, and 2) it causes a hardship on your fellow workers if you leave them short.  "At some point, you have to isolate the people who are sick.  There definitely needs to be a balance between protecting your patients and co-workers, and performing your duties as a nurse."  But she admitted that if this disease gets out of control, she will stay home.  Like other health care professionals that I know, if Ebola becomes "a mass killer", they feel a responsibility to try to help take care of their families, friends and neighbors, before the general public.
     But the effects of Ebola don't stop there.  Perhaps the most disturbing consequence is the politicization of this disease, which I find repugnant.  As an American citizen, I don't want to hear whining that the Republicans cut funding to the CDC, or patent blaming of the Obama Administration for their policies regarding this disease -- there's been enough mistakes by everybody who is responsible for safeguarding the public.  Somebody needs to take charge and figure out how this disease is transmitted (why can't they definitively tell us if it is airborne or not?); come up with a conclusive nationwide plan for treating it (leaving it to each state seems mutually incompatible); and develop consistent and binding policy to keep it from being imported into this country (remember the wide-open Southern border?).
     And the politics aren't limited to just this country's statesmen.  I, personally, don't care what the IMF or World Banks think ... and I'm not impressed with their "Isolate Ebola, not countries" slogan.  I'm convinced that the Elite have a very personal agenda.  The facts that 4,000 have died in West Africa and as many as 10,000 new cases a week are expected, tells me that we "little people" better look out for ourselves.
     As you can see, this Ebola outbreak has the potential to dominate many aspects of our existence.  Every American should be prepared to institute their own safety precautions and be cognizant of ways they can help prevent its spread.  The good news is that we seem to have some encouragement this week, as it appears that suspected victims are either Ebola-free, or are beginning to recover.  But I am not so confident that I am ready to let down my guard.  Until we get a consistent plan in place -- for ALL states, health care officials, and private citizens -- this disease is not defeated.  Stay alert!

Psalm 41:3-4    "The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health. As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!"

October 15, 2014

Ebola On Our Minds

     To say that we Texans are keeping a sharp eye on Ebola is to trivialize the seriousness of this killer virus.  With the news that a second nurse in Dallas, who cared for expired patient Thomas Duncan, has now tested positive for the disease, the Lone Star State is on high alert.  Because both nurses followed all the prescribed protocols, were wearing protective hazmat suits -- and still contracted the illness -- it is only natural that we are left wondering just how safe we are.
     In fact, according to an article by Bryan Preston, even though both the nurses and the Dallas hospital claim that official CDC protocol was followed, "the Centers for Disease Control, though, claims that there was some breach of protocol, only, it doesn’t know what that breach may have been or when it may have happened. The CDC appears to be falling back on bureaucrat-speak to explain something that, so far, it cannot."  That's reassuring, isn't it?
    So, you can understand that it is not at all uncommon for me to be involved in casual conversations that turn to speculation over how long it will be until we begin wearing N95 face masks in public.  I have dear friends who will be flying to Washington D.C. this week, and who are understandably concerned; not only about flying in a closed-air-system plane, but of the report that Ebola had been "ruled out" in a recent D.C. patient.  Can that report be trusted, given the mistakes made in Dallas with Mr. Duncan, and the CDC's inability to explain the latest case?
     Then there is the fact that these friends will be meeting with a group of us for a Bible study just a few short days after their return.  If they are somehow exposed, what is the possibility that others in the group could become infected?  After all, I am still not convinced of the CDC's announcement that Ebola is not airborne, nor am I exactly sure of the incubation period of the disease... it all seems so "vague".  And, I'm not entirely convinced that it is not deliberate.  But one thing is becoming clear to us here in Texas  -- just how quickly this could become unmanageable.
     And did you know that there are only four hospitals in the U.S. that are designated to handle Ebola cases?  They are Montana, Nebraska, Georgia and Maryland; obviously not Texas.  Yet, we now have the potential for an outbreak here.  So, what is the plan?  Is there one?
     I have to admit that I do not understand why we are not limiting flights from West Africa.  Furthermore, the screening procedures put into place at 5 major airports don't give me a lot of confidence.  Having a high fever and flight plans originating in West Africa will get you pulled out of line and subjected to further screening --- but neither of these tests would have called attention to Mr.  Duncan.  He was not exhibiting fever, and he lied about which country he had entered from.  And what would keep a potential Ebola victim from deliberately flying into a different airport, now that we have announced where they would be screened?  With over 150 passengers per day from Ebola-stricken countries, it is only a matter of time before someone sneaks through the cracks again.
     At this point, you might be thinking that I have given in to my fears; and it would be easy to do so.  But we Texans are not made that way.  True, it is evident to me that we are not prepared to prevent more cases of Ebola.  There are simply too many possible failure points, and too little known about the transmission and control of the disease.  But we Texans are not known to panic, and do not want to do so irresponsibly.  At the same time, it is foolish to act as though there is no danger.  For me, it is a matter of trusting God to deliver me from this pestilence.  There is nothing that He cannot conquer.  If this disease should touch me or someone I love, it is because it is His will.  In the meantime, I and my fellow Texans, will remain cautious and suspicious of "official" claims, and do what Texans have always done ... stepped up and boldly faced our obstacles.  I have faith that, together with God, we will defeat this plague.  Our health ... and yours ... depends on it!

2 Timothy 1:7   "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind."

October 11, 2014

A Personal Look At Ebola

     This week, Thomas Eric Duncan, of Liberia, died in Dallas of Ebola.  While there are many contradictory reports concerning the level of this nation's preparedness for dealing with this deadly disease, it is important to face this monster, as we have done in so many things in recent history.  We must not panic, and we must take as much responsibility as we can for ourselves; get the facts, increase our knowledge of the disease and how to protect ourselves and family, and put a plan in place.
     But I think it is also important to take a good, close look at this disease and know what to expect.  There is no better person to help us do that, than Dr. Kent Brantly, who survived Ebola, after returning to the U.S. from West Africa, where he was treating patients, himself.  The fact that Dr. Brantly is a strong Christian helps me to confront my fears, as I hope it will you.  Here is his story, in his own words, as printed in a recent Time article:
     Ebola is ravaging West Africa like a wildfire out of control.  The morning I woke up with Ebola, I felt a little warm. My temperature was 100.0–higher than normal, but not too concerning. I decided to stay home from work that morning just to play it safe. I had spent the last seven weeks fighting the world’s worst Ebola outbreak in Liberia, where I was working as a physician with Samaritan’s Purse. I thought I just had a cold, but I was not naive enough to think I was immune to the possibility of Ebola.
     By noon, my temperature had increased to 101.4. I took a rapid malaria test; it was negative–not a good sign. I called our team leader, who sent physician colleagues to my home in full protective gear. After two more negative malaria tests, I knew I would be in isolation for at least three more days. Often the blood test for Ebola will remain negative for the first three days of illness, so we had to wait a few days for an accurate result. In the meantime, I grew sicker. My fever hit 104.9. I felt nauseated and began having diarrhea. Eventually the team started an IV in my arm and gave me fluids. We all hoped it could be dengue fever.
      On the fourth day the team leader came to my bedroom window with news. “Kent, buddy, we have your test results. I am really sorry to tell you that it’s positive for Ebola.” I didn’t know what to think. I just asked, “So what’s our plan?”
     In the middle of October 2013, I had moved to Monrovia with my wife Amber and two children. We planned to serve as medical missionaries with Samaritan’s Purse for two years. The first time I heard about the Ebola outbreak was at the end of March, at a picnic for expatriates living in the area. Someone asked if I had heard about the Ebola outbreak in Guinea. I had not, but within a couple of months I was one of only two doctors in Monrovia treating Ebola patients.
     On June 11 our hospital, called ELWA (Eternal Love Winning Africa), received a call from the Ministry of Health. They were bringing two Ebola patients to our isolation unit. In the two hours it took for us to prepare everything, one of the patients died in the ambulance. Over the next month and a half the number of patients grew exponentially. We were overwhelmed.
     On July 20, we opened a larger isolation unit and consolidated our smaller facility with the patients from another nearby hospital. That’s the same day I dropped off Amber and the kids at the airport to return to Texas for a family wedding. I was supposed to meet them a week later. But just three days after their departure, I got sick.
     Even with the bad news, I felt calm. I never shed a tear when I called my wife and said, “Amber, my test is positive. I have Ebola.” Though the rest of my family wept, I felt strangely at peace. God blessed me with that peace that surpasses understanding. Since we had started treating patients with Ebola in Monrovia, we had only had one survivor. I had watched too many people die from this disease. Amber and I were both at the disadvantage of knowing how this illness ends.
     At some point, I was told about an experimental drug. It had worked on monkeys, but had never been tested in humans. I agreed to receive it, but then decided that Nancy Writebol should get it first, since she was sicker. I was not trying to be a hero; I was making a rational decision as a doctor.
     Over the next couple of days, though, my condition worsened. My body began shaking, my heart was racing. Nothing would bring down my temperature, and I had fluid in my lungs. I felt hot, nauseated, weak–everything was a blur. I had friends and colleagues praying outside my house–and all over the world. The doctor decided to give me the drug, and within an hour my body stabilized a bit. It was enough improvement for me to be safely evacuated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
     During my own care, I often thought about the patients I had treated. Ebola is a humiliating disease that strips you of your dignity. You are removed from family and put into isolation where you cannot even see the faces of those caring for you due to the protective suits–you can only see their eyes. You have uncontrollable diarrhea and it is embarrassing. You have to rely on others to clean you up. That is why we tried our best to treat patients like our own family. Through our protective gear we spoke to each patient, calling them by name and touching them. We wanted them to know they were valuable, that they were loved, and that we were there to serve them.
     At Emory the doctors were able to see that my potassium level was low and replenish it–something that could not be done in Liberia and could have killed me. I finally cried for the first time when I saw my family members through a window and spoke to them over the intercom. I had not been sure I would ever see them again. When I finally recovered, the nurses excitedly helped me leave the isolation room, and I held my wife in my arms for the first time in a month.
     Even when I was facing death, I remained full of faith. I did not want to be faithful to God all the way up to serving in Liberia for ten months, only to give up at the end because I was sick. Though we cannot return to Liberia right now, it is clear we have been given a new platform for helping the people of Liberia.
     Ebola has changed everything in West Africa. We cannot sit back and say, “Oh, those poor people.” We must think outside the box and find ways to help. People are fearful of isolation units because “that is where you go to die.” They stay home instead and infect their families. Perhaps we need to find a way to provide safe home care that protects the caregivers. The national governments of West Africa are overwhelmed. They are not capable of handling this outbreak with simply a little help from some NGOs. This is a global problem and it requires the action of national governments around the world. We must take action to stop it–-now.

     Dr. Brantly's honesty and faith in the face of death should inspire us all.  This disease robs us of our dignity, but we must not let it strip us of our humanity.  We must be compassionate towards those who are stricken, follow all safety precautions, and above all else, pray for God's deliverance from this pestilence.  

2 Chronicles 20:9   "Should evil come upon us, the sword, or judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your name is in this house) and cry to You in our distress, and You will hear and deliver us."


October 8, 2014

Is It The Military's Duty To Fight Ebola?

     I can tell you that I am struggling to understand the decision to send our military personnel to West Africa to become involved in fighting Ebola.  In an exclusive report on WND.com, some of our most decorated and retired Military Generals are grappling with this decision, too.  Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin and retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely both question the decision by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to put 4,000 boots on the ground.
     Although U.S. officials want us to believe that our troops' exposure to the deadly virus will be "limited", this seems to be a very rushed and anything but comprehensively planned mission.  We are told that "the soldiers would be responsible for command, control, logistics, civil affairs and medical assistance."  Should that really be their role?  Doesn't that sound like duties that should be carried out by the Center for Disease Control?
     In fact, the CDC Foundation website describes the role of the CDC in case of a contagious outbreak as follows:  If a pandemic should occur, CDC would conduct an investigation and provide technical assistance to cities, states or international partners dealing with the outbreak. This assistance would include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). CDC’s primary goals would be to determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and prevent further cases and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the outbreak, but CDC acting with other federal and international agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas. Scientists in the labs of CDC would work to develop a vaccine to combat the virus and then distribute and administer it to public.
     So why aren't they doing their job and going to West Africa, instead of sending our troops to do jobs they aren't qualified for?  As General Boykin points out, "At a time when our military has been at war for 13 years, suicide is at an all-time high, [post-traumatic stress disorder] is out of control and families are being destroyed as a result of 13 years of war, the last thing the president should be doing is sending people into West Africa to fight Ebola ... That's not what the military does."

     In the WND article, Boykin goes on to point out that there will be no inoculation for Ebola prior to troop deployment. Defense Department spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said that the only preparation service members will receive before heading to West Africa will be briefings on the disease.  How would you feel if your son, daughter, husband or wife was assigned this deployment?  Will that information help you sleep at night?
     And as I look at these young people boarding a transport plane in the accompanying photo, I can't help but think, "What are we sending them into?  How will we protect them, and how will we contain this disease should, God forbid, one of them contract it?  Are they just a face without a name to the DC politicians?"
     Then there is this to consider ... the CDC wanted us to believe that our nation's hospitals were briefed and prepared to deal with any potential Ebola patient that showed up on their doorstep.  Yet, it is clear to us all that the so-called medical experts botched it in Dallas.  Are we really expected to believe that  we can send 4,000 soldiers into the heart of the beast and no one will become infected?  And can they guarantee that all these heroes will be better monitored than one man was in Dallas -- so that they do not endanger their loved ones at home, or deploy to other units and spread the disease?
     And like General Boykin, I want to know, "Where is the U.N. or other African nations?"  Why are our troops once again on the front lines?  You don't have to be a conspiracy nut to figure out that this doesn't make sense, and defies logic or common sense.  The administration spokesmen can insist all they want that our troops won't be exposed to the virus; but the fact that they are in West Africa places them in harm's way.
     Then there is information provided in another WND article, written by Joseph Farah.  He reports that "The Defense Department is planning to spend at least $1 billion on the effort. That represents a commitment of $333,333 for every soldier deployed. Just imagine how many more local citizens could be hired for this assignment?"
     Farah's article also mentions the ambiguity of Defense Department spokesman John Kirby, when he said, “But there’s no – there’s no intent right now for them to have direct contact with patients.”  Do you trust the safety of our troops after that ill-defined statement?  And here's what I don't get ... Kirby very clearly states that this "is not a military operation ... The mission is to do some training, to build these units and do some logistics, some transports, the movement of materiel."  So, if it's not a military operation, why are we sending soldiers?
     You know, it seems to me that we actually have some real missions that better suit our soldiers right now ... like stopping the growing threat of Islamic radicals in Syria and Iraq... or how about protecting our own country from a myriad of threats at our southern border?  That's what our troops are trained to do!  They are warriors, trained to fight and win wars ... this is one mission they should not be called to answer.

Psalm 91:9-10   "Because you’ve made the Lord my refuge, the Most High, your place of residence—no evil will happen to you; no disease will come close to your tent."


September 26, 2014

You Better Know What "Palliative Care" Means!

     Get ready for the new buzz word in the world of Medicine and Health Insurance/Provider jargon ... "Palliative Care".  Do you know what it means?  I didn't, but figured it must be pretty important to be at the center of a new report on End-of-Life Care by a 21-member "non-partisan committee" appointed by the Institute of Medicine, which is the research arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
     I don't know about you, but I get a little nervous when any "committee" gets together to decide how I should be treated in the latter stages of my life --- especially a group that is supposed to be "nonpartisan" and is appointed to provide guidance and advice to policy-makers.  When the make-up of that committee overwhelmingly consists of professors from university medical schools ... well, let's just say I'm a little suspicious of recommendations coming from academia.  A little real-world experience with actual patients might give me a little more confidence in their opinions.
     Nevertheless, this distinguished group of professionals determined that "The country’s system for handling end-of-life care is largely broken and should be overhauled at almost every level."  That's a pretty bold statement with serious implications!Among their key findings and recommendations are the following points:
•  One out of every 4 Americans over the age of 65 dies in the emergency room or hospital, which results in a burden on hospital facilities and family budgets.
•  The elderly are living longer, often with lengthy illnesses that task family resources and demand excessive time delegated to caring for the patient.
•  Most people nearing the end of life are not physically, mentally, or cognitively able to make their own decisions about care. The majority of these patients will receive acute hospital care from physicians who do not know them. Therefore, advance care planning is essential to ensure that patients receive care reflecting their values, goals, and preferences.
•  Although professional guidelines and expert advice increasingly encourage oncologists, cardiologists, and other disease-oriented specialists to counsel patients about palliative care, wide-spread adoption of timely referral to palliative care appears slow.
•  Palliative care services, including hospice, improve patient outcomes and may reduce health care costs by lessening use of acute care services. Changes are needed throughout the health care system to incentivize provision of comprehensive palliative care.
•  Medical schools and groups that accredit and regulate health providers should greatly increase training in palliative care and set standards so that more clinicians know how to compassionately and effectively treat patients who want to be made comfortable but avoid extensive medical procedures.
•  Finally, there is a need for public education and conversations about death and dying.  Americans need to know what their choices are, and the value of Palliative Care.
     That's just a quick and incomplete summary of "the panel's" findings.  But, I'm sure you noticed that term "Palliative Care" sprinkled throughout their recommendations.  So, what is it?  The dictionary defines it as:  Specialized medical care for people with serious illnesses. It focuses on providing patients with relief from the symptoms, pain, and stress of a serious illness—whatever the diagnosis. The goal is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family.  A little more research into the exact meaning of "palliative", and you will find the sense of soothing or calming for the terminally ill.  A little bit deeper, and you will find these terms associated with Palliative Care:  painkiller, sedatives, tranquilizers, opiates.  It's one thing, to consider Hospice Care, when that is the decision of the patient and the family.  It's quite another to consider that Palliative Care is also recognized as a method of reducing the costs of health care.
     So, while I agree that too often, the elderly and terminally ill may be subjected to painful, long-term, and expensive care that does not yield a positive result; and that there are times they would actually choose to forego such treatment, it makes me just a little bit nervous that we now have a panel of "health experts" who are recommending that Palliative Care of the elderly be incorporated (and dare I say, mandated) into our health care system.
     Even the panel, itself, issued a veiled warning with this recommendation:  "Quality standards and measures are needed to ensure that changes in payment systems, particularly those occurring under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, do not adversely affect quality of care for patients at the end of life."  Sounds like they might be just a tad concerned that Palliative Care could get out of hand and be misused in ObamaCare.    
     There is a fine line that needs to be walked here.  Would I rather die at home in my bed, surrounded by friends and family, instead of in a cold, hospital environment attached to tubes?  That's an easy answer.  Any policy that allows me to make that decision at the time it needs to be made is one that I could accept.  But to make the blanket statement, "Most people nearing the end of life are not physically, mentally, or cognitively able to make their own decisions about care", lends itself to suspicions that those decisions will be taken away from us and made by the oft-denied "death panel."
     And if I have this "Advanced Planning" discussion with my doctor, what are my options for changing or amending those decisions?  Or does that private conversation with my physician become part of my permanent medical records, which are shared with insurance providers and hospital staff, so that anytime I am admitted to the hospital, it becomes potential grounds for determining my medical care (or in this case, lack of life-saving care)?
     At what age does Palliative Care become mandatory?  If you read between the lines of these recommendations, you might become concerned about your twilight years.  We all know that our economy is suffering in many sectors, and with our aging population, the exorbitant costs of health care are coming under extreme scrutiny.  And it's not hard to get a little worried, when you read what The Blaze recently reported: "Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a former Obama administration health policy adviser and the brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said in a recent op-ed that 75 is the ideal age to die, claiming that “living too long” can often lead to a “deprived” state — one that sometimes causes people to be remembered as “feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.”
     The last thing I want is "policy advisors" like him to start determining when I might become a burden on society.  So, maybe I'm becoming a little too paranoid, but the way I see it is that how I live the end of my life should be a determination made by myself, my family, and my doctor.  When panels and policy wonks and insurance providers start laying out guidelines, how long before my voice is no longer heard?

Leviticus 19:32    "You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord."