Health and research

I know, I know, you’re sick of hearing about Covid. Me too, yet we can’t seem to stop talking about it.

Is this going to be controversial? I don’t know. It seems like just about any topic could be these days. When we politicize every single aspect of life, that’s what’s going to happen.

I’m not into politics. I vote. I read. I have opinions on issues but for the most part, I keep those to myself and am able to listen openly to the views of others that differ from my own. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a politically divided home so I witnessed my parents having polar opposite political views, maybe it’s because I met so many different people over the years through running and I’ve allowed different viewpoints to open my mind (from CEOS and VPS of major companies to the grifters). But I also think as my spirituality has grown, I’ve seen the way that politics very much becomes an idol for some people.

So I come from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t want things to be so politicized and believes there is corruption (a great deal of it) in every level of our government, on all political sides. So hopefully, you understand I’m not pushing an agenda, or a political party or anything of that nature. In other words, I’ve tried to remove any bias. While it’s likely impossible to completely remove all bias, I certainly do my best to go with fact and truth, regardless of whether or not it fits in with my worldview.

Back in March of 2020, there were so many unknowns. By June of 2021 we have learned so much and are still learning.

There continues to be politicization of Covid and even the shot. I’m not going to say v a c because there’s a lot of censorship going on. Lately, the news media has been trying to further divide people by posting that it’s conservatives that are largely hesitant of getting the shot. Yet, I know in my own life this is simply not true. I know lifetime democrats who do not want it, and I also know lifetime republicans that happily got it.

I think what the government and media are failing to realize is that people are so much smarter than they give them credit for. Also, people today in the US have access to more information at their fingertips than ever before in history. Now, not all of that information is credible to be sure, but nevertheless, it’s out there.

So of course the best course of action for the government to take would be to take politics right out of it and give factual information, even if they think it might cause people to not get the shot. It’s honest, and that is how you build trust. It takes years and years to build trust, but its lost in a single moment of dishonesty.

We like to throw around labels and say that people are anti you know what. Is that helpful? Or is it a bullying tactic to shut down honest conversation?

For me personally, I’ve always blindly trusted in the shots and even always got the flu shot. There are a lot of people out there like me and I can tell you a lot of people are now questioning shots in general, because they feel the government has been dishonest with the public. But instead of humbly reassessing, the government and officials seem to be digging in.

What is my opinion on the shot? I think it’s amazing that we were able to get one available so quickly. Obviously, Covid was a huge threat to many people and since the shot became available, the death rate for Covid has completely plummeted. That’s a great thing! Additionally, the science on MRNA has very promising research going into it for very hard to treat cancers and diseases such as MS.

That said, every thing in life comes with risks. The shot is not free from these risks and normally there is a risk/benefit analysis that occurs before taking any drug into your body. That is simply not happening here and the message being sent is “get the shot or you’re selfish”, or “if you have questions you must be anti science and anti you know what, conspiracy theorist”, or the new one “All you Trumplicans are so uneducated, you aren’t even worth the air you breathe”.

These are bullying tactics and thus far they have not been helpful in moving the needle for those hesitant of the shot.

Could you imagine raising your children this way and then being surprised when they revolt? It’s disgusting.

Look, the shots have risks. They have short term risks and they have long term risks. All shots have risks.

We know that people who are over 65 have the greatest risk from Covid. We also know that people who are obese, have diabetes, heart disease, cancer, are smokers, or have inflammation type diseases are at greater risk from Covid. If people are going through and checking off those boxes, the risk of serious injury or death from the shot is probably lower than the risk of death or serious injury from Covid. It makes sense, that these are the people who would want to get the shot.

Then there’s people who are young and healthy and want the shot because they still don’t want to get Covid. They are aware of the risks of the shot and willing to take on that risk for the benefit of feeling more protected if they do encounter the virus.

Then there are people who are not really worried about Covid and would rather wait it out on the shot.

And then there’s children and people who have already had and recovered from Covid.

I know people in all of these groups. It’s complicated because there’s a lot of pressure and a lot of threatening and coercion going on. Even our own government agencies are putting information out there that is not true. People don’t know who to trust or where to go for information. We should never shame people for non credible sources. Not everyone knows how to find a good source, but that doesn’t mean they are stupid.

When a situation like Covid happens, and science is changing by the day, it’s important to know how to find a good source. Doctors and nurses that have been treating patients are a good source of information typically but in this highly politicized climate there’s a lot of censorship going on and also severe consequences for speaking outside the standard talking points.

I’ve found keeping up with current research is the best way to stay on top of the latest and greatest information but even that comes with some careful caveats. Medical journals such as the Lancet and Nature have been posting free research on Covid, which is great but much of it is prior to peer review. This is fine, but if someone doesn’t understand research really well, and the article has not been peer reviewed, it’s possible to miss some serious red flags.

I’ll give a non Covid example. I had a c-section delivery with my first child. When I was pregnant with my second I had a choice on whether or not I wanted to have a trial of labor or schedule a repeat c-section. Both had potential risks, so I poured myself into the research to help make my decision. The research supposedly showed that a repeat c-section is safer for the baby and more risky for the mom. That didn’t sit well with me so I went and found the actual study that this conclusion was based on and found that in the vaginal birth after c-section group, there were 2 infant deaths out of around 1,000 healthy births, and that was why they were making that claim. If you do the math, you know that is less than 1%. While any death of the baby is a tragedy, there was no additional information given surrounding those two deaths that could have helped understand what happened better. So I brought this information with me and had a very candid conversation with my doctor. She explained further to me that if she didn’t think I was a good candidate for a trial of labor, she would recommend against it. She also explained that this was why the hospital had strict protocols in place for what’s allowed during a trial of labor after c-section and what’s not. For instance, the hospital allows trial of labor because they have an OB on call at the hospital 24/7 and an anesthesiologist so if the worst happens, they are able to quickly perform an emergency c-section. I ended up having two successful VBACS! The research and science was good, but sometimes conclusions are poor.

So when reading studies, ask who is doing the study and why are they doing it? Also, the way the study happens is important. Are people aware of what they are getting and will that psychologically alter their thoughts and opinions? How did they select the participants? Are all groups represented? Many clinical trials historically have not included women because of our unique reproductive system that can skew results so unfortunately, women are often not represented. How many people were in the trial? Do the conclusions made match the results? In the c-section example, 2 out of 1,000 is a very small number to draw such conclusions from.

Real science always allows for questions and good debate. I’ll write more about what current research says and other ways to protect yourself from Covid.

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