The Greatest, Freeist Country On Earth

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Homestudy, Psychology, Webinars

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.

We’re approaching the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.  December 7th 1941, was indeed a day that would live in infamy.  Only a few survivors remain.  They must feel dismay when they observe our current culture.

Values that have survived centuries of human experience are under assault.  Millions of people expect to receive a government check for repetitive breathing and no productive work.  They are chronically angry and resentful but confused as to why.  Again, our World War II veterans must be near despair.

The brave men who fought for our survival understand the importance of hard work, discipline, honor, and common sense.  Some of the “elites” in our country could use a few reminders:

  • Success is earned.  So is freedom.
  • A sense of shame over bad behavior is a good thing.
  • Weakness invites evil and aggression.
  • True honor seeks to serve others.
  • Tyrants, terrorists, and criminals cannot see the pain they cause others.
  • True liberty is not licentiousness.  True liberty is the right to do what we ought to do.
  • To misunderstand the nature of evil is to risk being overcome by it.
  • Elitists always play a major role in the collapse of any society.
  • Victimhood (not a characteristic of World War II veterans) allows you to blame every failure you will ever have on someone else.
  • Fear is contagious, but so is courage.

We are the greatest, freest country on earth despite the efforts of a malevolent few.  The 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor should remind us all of that.

Let’s Live A Normal Life

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Elder Care, Homestudy, Psychology

By Mary, O’Brien, M.D.

There is increasing confusion about mask policies in our country.  This is understandable.  The U.S. is a large country with federal, state, and local governance.  Complexities are bound to develop.  A brief, straightforward review may be helpful.

Clinical experience over the past 18 months has shown that SARS-Cov2 is a virus that will be, in all likelihood, an endemic respiratory virus for years to come, much like the flu.  There will be multiple variants, and vaccines will be adjusted as necessary to reduce morbidity and mortality.

Capricious policies, protocols, and mandates will not protect people or eliminate this problem.  If edicts and executive orders solved problems, we wouldn’t have any problems left.

So what makes sense at this point?  The same things that have always made sense:

  1. Protect the vulnerable.  We know who they are:  the elderly and those with significant underlying conditions.
  2. Offer vaccines appropriately.  The principle of patient autonomy, a crucial component of medical ethics, must not be abandoned.  Forcing any medical procedure on people is a very serious breach of ethics.  Natural immunity after infection is potent and important, and it must be acknowledged.
  3. Expand and facilitate early treatments.  We have failed too often on this one.  Telling infected people to stay home until they can scarcely breathe has been disastrous.  Early use of inhaled steroids and monoclonal antibodies can prevent severe illness and death.  They should not be delayed or restricted for the sake of financial maneuvering, power grabs, or bureaucratic scheming.
  4. Focus on facts, accurate statistics, common sense, and perspective.  A mask-less two-year-old on a commercial jet with a sophisticated HEPA filtration system is not a threat to anyone.  Hysterical neurotic adults are tormenting toddlers to assuage their own paranoia.
  • Consider the current COVID survival statistics from Stanford University:
    • Ages 0-19 years:  99.9973%  survival
    • Ages 20-29 years: 99.986%   survival
    • Ages 30-39 years: 99.96%    survival
    • Ages 40-49 years: 99.18%    survival

5. Stay home if you don’t feel well.  This has always been sound advice.

      So far, medical research has demonstrated that every lockdown, school closing, and mask mandate around the world has failed to stop COVID.  It’s time to face the research, drop the double standards, and get a grip.  It’s time to live a normal life.

A Thin Crust Over A Volcano

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Homestudy, Psychology, Seminars, Webinars

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.

We are in dangerous territory.  Disrespect for law, order, ethics, life, property, and the rights of others is at an all-time high.  In many of our cities, more people are suffering from violent crime than from COVID.

Shoplifting in California is utterly out of control.  Thugs fill garbage bags full of merchandise, ranging from toiletries to designer handbags and brazenly walk out of stores.  Employees and security guards have been told not to confront the thieves. It’s too dangerous, and no one will be arrested or prosecuted in most cases.  In San Francisco, Walgreens has closed 17 stores as a result of unbridled shoplifting.  The people who suffer the most are the old, the weak, and the poor.

 Violent crime in New York City is skyrocketing. Homicides, assaults, robbery, and rape are the worst they have been in decades. Recently, a 61-year-old disabled lady with a walker was brutally attacked by four people, including a vicious woman who beat the victim repeatedly with a saucepan.  They stole the victim’s purse with $22.00 and even took her walker.  Similar violence has been perpetrated on young mothers, tourists, children, and women walking to church.  The oldest victim was 101 years old.

What is causing this descent into madness?  Several factors are obvious:

  • Criminal behavior is being tolerated by many local authorities.  No-cash bail policies amount to arrest and release.  In many cases, no arrest is made at all. Coddling criminals is neither kind nor compassionate.  It is not wise, prudent, or just.  The first and most important duty of government officials at any level is to keep their citizens safe.  Societies typically experience the behaviors they tolerate.  Tolerate crime and violence, and you’ll get plenty of it.
  • Police presence, numbers, power, and authority have been systematically weakened over the past year.  This is not an accident.  Chaos, confusion, crime, and corruption have been used by malevolent people throughout history.  It is a stepping stone to the subjugation of society.
  • Growing up fatherless is now the norm in many urban areas.  Misguided policies over the past 60 years have done profound damage to the integrity of the American family.  When children and teens have no structure, discipline, or role model at home, they will emulate what they see on the streets.
  • Moral decay and the abandonment of genuine virtue are taking a terrible toll on our culture.  The decline of the American family parallels the removal of any reference to God, faith, prayer, traditional values from public schools, or public life in general. Gang members are not losing sleep over the thought of “Thou shalt not kill.”

   It’s been said that civilization is a thin crust over a volcano.  The thin crust is cracking.  How much more are we willing to tolerate?

Life is Short and Precious

Posted Posted in Continuing Education, Elder Care, Homestudy, Psychology, Seminars, Webinars

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.
It happened in an instant. Unimaginable horror and tragedy stunned a community and, indeed, the world.  The collapse of a condominium building in Surfside, Florida, at 1:38 A.M. instantly changed the lives and focus of thousands of people in the U.S., Israel, and South America.

Hundreds of people have been working around the clock, under brutal and treacherous conditions, to save a single life.  Rescuers of every race and background are feverishly trying to find even one survivor of any race or background.  Brave, skilled, and dedicated heroes are doing what brave, skilled, and dedicated heroes always do:  They sacrifice their own safety and well-being to help others.  Rescue personnel, regardless of their color or politics, must be pulled off their shift against their will.  Trying to save another human being is their sole focus. They work together selflessly as a unified team to save life.

This is not shocking to anyone who has ever worked in an ER, an OR, or an ICU.  It’s not a mystery to veterans who have served in combat or police officers who have saved countless lived in emergency situations.  However, too many individuals in the realm of politics, the media, academia, and the corporate world remain baffled by genuine courage and devotion in others.  Since the beginning of our species, ill-intended people have tried to sow division and strife.  Pitting people against one another is malicious, but it has always created an opportunity for power-hungry individuals to seize control.  Teaching children and young adults to be suspicious and resentful of others based on race, gender, or any other physical — therefore superficial — characteristic is a form of cultural rot.  It is a poisoning of the mind.

The tragic collapse of a condominium complex in Surfside, Florida, shows how misguided our priorities can be.  Life is short and precious.  There is never a good reason to promote hatred.  There is more than enough heartache in life without deliberate nastiness. We should never permit ourselves to be focused on race.  We have every reason to keep our focus on grace.

Einstein Was Right!

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Homestudy, Psychology, Uncategorized

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”  Albert Einstein said that many years ago.  He was referring to physics, but his wisdom could easily apply to any situation, including COVID-19 vaccines.

Increasing numbers of people in business, politics, education and, of course, the media, are trying to force COVID-19 vaccines on everyone.  “Vaccination or termination” has become the new threat to employees and students.  Most people, regardless of their lofty achievements in other areas, are not well-versed in the fine points of immunology.  Sadly, however, some of them are convinced that they know what’s best for everyone.

Nearly everything in medicine carries potential risk and reward.  Both possibilities must always be considered.  Every prescription we write and every procedure we do has some potential to cause harm.  Every patient is unique.  Every individual has a combination of genetic factors, past illnesses, medications, and allergies.  Also each patient has metabolic, endocrine, hematologic, rheumatologic, neurologic, and cardio-pulmonary conditions that may need to be considered.  For example, patients with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and other autoimmune disorders produce antibodies that attack their own tissues, hence the need to suppress — with potent drugs such as TNF (tumor necrosis factor) inhibitors — certain parameters of immune function.  Giving such a patient a vaccine, which stimulates the immune system to produce antibodies, can be unwise.  This is usually most problematic with live virus vaccines such as those for varicella, measles, and mumps, and rubella.  The COVID-19 vaccines are messenger RNA-based.  They do not contain live virus.

Pregnant women with COVID-19 illness are at increased risk for serious disease and mortality.  According to the Food and Drug Administration, data on the COVID-19 vaccines are “insufficient to inform vaccine-associated risk in pregnancy”.  Translation:  we don’t know enough yet to be dogmatic about these decisions.

All of COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States (Pfizer, BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson) are safe, effective, and appropriate for the vast majority of people.  But good medical practice is not about the vast majority of people.  Medical decisions are based on the conditions, needs, and details of the individual patient.  Politicians, corporate chief executives, school board members, and media types have no business making (or forcing) medical decisions on other people.

Einstein was right.  Oversimplifying anything is a bad idea.  So is judging others without knowing all the details.

Correct Answers

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Psychology, Seminars, Webinars

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.

Quick.  Looking back on your life, who was your favorite teacher or coach?  Was it the one who let you get away with anything?  Was it the one who set standards so low you tripped over them?  Was it the person who gave you a gold star for repetitive breathing?  The answer to all of those questions is a resounding “no.”  Most of us would agree that our favorite teacher or coach was the one who inspired us to give our best and achieve more than we thought we could.

Recently, many of us were stunned when state education officials in Virginia proposed eliminating any advanced or accelerated math classes prior to the 11th grade.  They opined that such classes were “unfair” or “intimidating” to less gifted students.  Somehow they reasoned that slowing down the smarter students would make sense.  We already went through this in the 1970s.  Educational giants back then introduced the “New Math” and declared that spelling and grammar didn’t “count.”  Creativity was king.  More recently, the “woke” crowd has informed us that correct answers don’t even matter when it comes to math.  “Process” matters.  In order for our future generation to compete at the highest level, both precision and creativity matter; we need both to succeed. 

We need advanced math to send astronauts to the moon and to the international space station.  We need math to calculate a safe antibiotic dose for critically-ill patients with deteriorating renal function.  Correct answers matter.

Perspective, Humanity and Common Sense

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Elder Care, Psychology, Seminars, Webinars

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.

It’s been a year now.  Several hundred thousand frail, elderly people have died in hospitals and nursing homes alone, confused — and no doubt — feeling abandoned.  Tens of thousands of people have lost their businesses and livelihoods.  Children and teens deprived of normal schooling, sports, and other activities are suffering from anxiety, depression, insecurity, and loneliness.  Poor and disadvantaged children and those with learning disabilities are falling behind rapidly.  Online absenteeism is staggering, and grades are sinking.  The frustration and loneliness are excruciating for millions of innocents.

Politicians and bureaucrats are not lonely, however.  Their lives have not been destroyed.  If they want to dine out, work, socialize, or travel they do.  After all, they’re special.  They are enlightened elites.  We have heard the elites preach “science” to us for over a year.  The question is which science?

Medicine involves many sciences — chemistry, biology, mathematics, physics, statistics, genetics, physiology, pathology, epidemiology, and microbiology.  And that’s only a partial list.  Medicine, however, is also an art.  Sadly, over the past year, too many people have forgotten that.  Individual nurses, doctors, and other professionals have worked heroically to save lives and to be kind — under impossible circumstances — to patients.  But bureaucrats and politicians, with rare exceptions, cannot fathom the art of caring for seriously ill or dying patients — deprived of even a loved one — to hold their hand.  Once they taste control over others, they will not relinquish it willingly.

Human beings are social creatures.  We need contact, communication, and — perish the thought — touch.  Throughout human history exile, isolation, or solitary confinement has been considered painfully harsh punishment.  Yet this is precisely what has been inflicted on young children, the frail elderly, and millions of people in-between — all in the name of “science.”

The point of medicine is to relieve pain and suffering, it is not to control behavior.  Elderly people giving up hope and dying alone, and young people committing suicide were entirely predictable.  Some of us warned about an epidemic of anxiety, depression, addiction, abuse, and suicide a year ago.  These concerns were largely dismissed.  Histrionic media types and “officials” had millions of people convinced that COVID was a veritable death sentence for everyone. 

In reality, 99.7 percent of people who test positive for COVID survive.  Children are not vectors for this illness.  This virus attaches to human cells via angiotensin, converting enzyme receptors in the nasal mucosa and respiratory passages.  Children have very low levels of these receptors.  This is not difficult “science.”

Across the country we are seeing dramatic declines in case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths.  In all likelihood, millions more people have antibodies to COVID than we realize.  They were simply never sick enough to be tested.  Millions more have been and are being vaccinated.  When 80 percent or so of the population has antibodies (either from infection or vaccination), we will have herd immunity.  There is no need to compromise the physical, social, psychological, and academic well-being of children and teens for one more day.  There is no need to refuse grandparents a hug.  We are rapidly losing any sense of perspective, humanity, or common sense.  We have developed a penchant for panic.  But panic is not policy.  Paranoia is not policy.  We must never again permit the self-serving notions of so few to dictate the misery and destruction of so many.

Exactly What We Need

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Homestudy, Nutrition, Psychology

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.

The holidays have gotten off to an odd start.  Thanksgiving was different, to say the least.  Most family gatherings were small and lots of people were alone.  Now the focus has shifted to shopping and decorating. At least it’s a pleasant distraction.

Hanukkah begins on December 10th and Advent started this week.  Who knows what will happen by Christmas.  Given the depressing and stressful nature of this entire year, it might be uplifting to embrace some time-tested traditions of a spiritual nature. For centuries the Christmas tradition of Advent was a time of fasting, prayer, and alms giving.  Many of us were taught to “give up” something like candy or soda as a spiritual discipline in preparation for Christmas.  Nothing wrong with that, especially since many of us have gained a few pounds during the pandemic.  But giving up candy doesn’t help someone feel better.  And right now, nearly everyone needs a little something to feel better.  So here’s an old idea that might help us all feel uplifted.

Cut 25 strips of paper and write an activity for the day on each one.  Fold the strips of paper and place them in a jar or bowl.  Each morning, pick one, and commit to performing the activity.  By Christmas, you will be a better person (and a happier one) for the ripple effect you will have set in motion.

Here are some examples:

  • Send a Christmas card with a personal note of gratitude and encouragement to an active service member or veteran.
  • Leave a little treat (not homemade this year) on the doorstep of a neighbor you haven’t met.
  • Stop by your church or synagogue for a few minutes of quiet prayer or reflection.
  • Give up fancy coffee drinks or alcohol for a month and donate the money you save to a shelter.
  • Offer to do a grocery store run for an elderly neighbor.
  • Say something pleasant or kind to someone you don’t like, perhaps a grumpy patient.
  • Send a small floral arrangement anonymously to someone in a nursing home.
  • Order take out or delivery and give an unexpectedly generous tip.
  • Apologize to someone you may have hurt or offended. It may be more difficult than giving up candy.
  • Place a treat in the mailbox for your mail carrier just because.
  • Try to get through the entire day without criticizing anyone.  There’s some spiritual discipline!

You can make up your own list. It’s well worth the effort.  The next four weeks will pass regardless of our actions.  This year the true spirit of Advent could be exactly what we need.

homestudy

The Greatest Enemies of Freedom

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Elder Care, Pain, Psychology, Seminars, Webinars

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.

Election Day.  Veteran’s Day.  Pearl Harbor Day.  Do these days have anything in common?  They do — more than most of us might think.  The catastrophic attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, shocked the nation into unprecedented action.  Millions of people who had ignored the war in Europe and Asia could no longer remain unaware or uninvolved.  Massive numbers of people rushed to enlist or pitch in on the home front to defend freedom itself.  People willingly sacrificed everything from gasoline, to meat and sugar, to fabrics and metals for the sake of the war effort.  Discipline and sacrifice were a given.

Veteran’s Day (originally called Armistice Day) honors the end of World War I. Few of us can even begin to fathom the anguish, misery, and suffering endured by the troops in Europe.  The horrors of trench warfare, malnutrition, hideous infectious disease, nerve gas, and deprivation of every sort took a terrible toll.  Nearly half of U.S. troops who died succumbed to complications of the Spanish Flu.  A hundred years ago, there were no antiviral drugs and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial pneumonia or meningitis.  Curiously, President Wilson never even gave a speech about the flu pandemic.

In World War I and World War II, the hardships of sacrifices endured by so many millions of people were intense.  But how does that relate to Election Day 2020?  It’s not that strange or complex.  The two greatest enemies of freedom are apathy and cowardice.  It’s been that way for thousands of years.  We are in a time of great conflict and uncertainty.  Angry, jealous, controlling people are everywhere.  Remember, if someone is trying to frighten you, he or she is trying to control you.  Don’t be intimidated.  Don’t be demoralized.  Observe, think, and vote.  Apathy and cowardice have dreadful consequences.

This Too Shall Pass

Posted Posted in Brain Science, Continuing Education, Elder Care, Psychology, Seminars, Webinars

By Mary O’Brien, M.D.

Raging wildfires, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, riots, arson, violence, lockdowns, pandemic fears, economic upheaval, and political turmoil.  If you’re not stressed out at this point you may be in a medically-induced coma.

Nearly everyone is dealing with some degree of anxiety, sleeplessness, weight gain, tension, irritability, frustration, and/or depression.  There are some constructive strategies we all know and have even advised patients to follow.  But we’re in “Physician, heal thyself” mode these days, so here are a few reminders:

  • Avoid people who are chronically angry and, if possible, don’t be one of them.
  •  Don’t obsess about things you cannot control, including the behavior of other people.
  • Re-invent some aspect of yourself — invest in a new hobby or resurrect an old one that used to give you joy.
  • Freshen up your work space or home. A pleasant, cheerful, clean, de-cluttered environment can really boost morale.
  • Move more.  Sitting at a computer or in front of a TV for hours on end is not healthy physically or emotionally
  • Take a good look at yourself and your appearance.  It may be time to kick it up a notch, if only for your own mental health.
  • Limit your exposure to negative, nasty, snide, snarky people on TV — that means 95% of the “news.”
  • Let yourself have 30 minutes of total silence every day.  It might feel like withdrawal if you’re addicted to noise and devices.
  • Make an effort to compliment someone — about anything.  It may turn around your entire day and theirs.
  • Go out of your way to be kind to a patient, colleague, neighbor, stranger, or — this is shocking — relative.  Acts of kindness boost levels of endorphins, serotonin, and Immunoglobulin A in everyone involved.
  • Get your minimum daily dose of uplifting inspirational reading, prayer, and meditation.  Human beings are more than bodies.
  • Don’t be difficult.  Being pleasant and cooperative is a gift to the people around you.  As we read in the Book of Proverbs, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine.”

Cheer up.  Do some good for others.  This too shall pass.