Friday, 31 January 2014

09:44 – Barbara is picking up her sister this afternoon and heading down to the hospital in Thomasville to visit their mom. Sankie is not doing very well, and they’ve decided she’ll be better off at home. Barbara and Frances are going down to Thomasville again tomorrow morning to meet with a home health care provider that will be providing sitters to stay with Sankie around the clock when she returns home Monday. Barbara and Frances think she’ll do better if she’s surrounded by her own stuff in her own apartment and can get back into her regular routine. I hope they’re right.

I’m still making up and bottling chemicals for kits. I’m trying to take some time to work on the two new kits we plan to introduce this year, Earth & Space Science and AP Chemistry. We’ll produce the latter kit in two forms, a standard kit for homeschoolers and a classroom kit designed to support four workgroups–eight to twelve students–in a formal public or private school setting. The classroom kit will be consumables only, assuming that standard lab equipment–balance, glassware, etc.–is already available.

Derek Lowe has posted the first decent write-up I’ve seen about the chemical spill in West Virginia. It’s worth a read, particularly if you’re not a chemist.


10 thoughts on “Friday, 31 January 2014”

  1. Winter was nice while it lasted but it looks like we are back on the treadmill to summer. 69 F here in the Land of Sugar, heading to 71 F today and 73 F tomorrow.

    Sorry to hear about your MIL. Looks like we get a choice made for us of failing body or failing mind. Or, if you are truly lucky, both!

    Am I the only one noting that the end stages of life costs seem to be rapidly increasing? Some of these Doctors think that they can delay the onset of the next stage in life by a month or two and are willing to spend $50,000 of your money in order to try it. And your quality of life (surgery or surgeries, multitudinous drugs, living conditions, etc) go downhill in a hurry when all one wants is to be left alone to pass in peace. The tough part comes when one (the individual or the caretaker(s)) have to decide what to do next. Rarely do these decisions seem to have a clear path in the beginning.

  2. I agree with Lynn. That was the good thing about chain smoking cigarettes. In reality all the non-smoking drivel was just nonsense. Smokers died younger and more cheaply (medical expense wise) than non-smokers chewing up medical funds into their 90’s.

  3. My maternal grandfather was a chain smoker. He started smoking at age 12. He would smoke three packs a day of ciggies (hat tip to OFD) until his cough got bad and then would cut back to two packs a day. He died of prostate cancer at the age of 63 in 1981.

    My maternal grandmother never smoked. She died of lung cancer at the age of 88 in 2007.

  4. [snip] And your quality of life (surgery or surgeries, multitudinous drugs, living conditions, etc) go downhill in a hurry when all one wants is to be left alone to pass in peace. [snip]

    That’s exactly why my mother chose not to go on dialysis in her mid-late 70s. She didn’t see any good end to it, and was already in enough pain from her back and neck troubles. Her mother spent several years in a nursing home, which did exactly no good for anyone. The doctors didn’t like her attitude, but they are trained to pretend that death can be dodged, and no matter how much they wish, or spend, or treat, it just isn’t so.

  5. Actually, iirc doctors tend to be the ones with lower end-of-life costs, because they refuse extraordinary life-extending measures for themselves. It’s only for their patients that they pull out all the stops, and I figure that’s for fear of lawsuits.

    It’s rarely the patients who want all measures taken, especially if they are chronically ill and have accepted that life has an end. My father was seriously ill for the last few years of his life, and he was absolutely livid when he found out he had been revived on the operating table, despite explicit instructions to the contrary. He went on to full dialysis and other fun things, hanging on for another year or two of misery.

  6. I’m sure there are a lot of factors involved, but I suspect at least 90% of “follow-up” doctor visits are entirely unnecessary. Some of it is avoiding lawsuits, some because of genuine concern for the patient and desire to “manage” the patient’s progress, and some no doubt just to keep the fees coming.

    Back when people had to pay the costs out of pocket, they were much less likely to visit the doctor, and that’s as it should be. Visiting the doctor should be the last resort, not the first.

    And there should be heavy consideration given to cost/benefit. I’d go so far as to say that, other than pain relief, treatment of chronic conditions in anyone over, say, 80 or 85 years old should not be paid for by any third party, whether insurance company or government. If the person or his family wants to and is able to pay the bill themselves, fine. But measures taken to extend life to no purpose are simply ridiculous. Extending someone’s suffering has negative benefit, to that person and to society.

    What I think is interesting is that there’s a direct correlation between the intensity of someone’s religious beliefs and the likelihood that that person will want to take extraordinary measures to extend his own life, even if the quality of that life will be horrible. Much more than irreligious people, religious people simply don’t want to die. Which is pretty strange when you think about it. They obviously don’t believe what they claim to believe about an afterlife.

    If it were me, I’d give terminally ill patients who were in pain a large bottle of oxycodone or whatever and tell them that if they took x number of them at one time they’d never wake up. It should be their choice.

  7. I think religious people do believe their claims about the afterlife, and far too many of them would end up in Hell. That’s why they cling to this life for so long. They’re afraid of the direction they would go.

    When my wife was dying of her cancer, she was put on a oxycodone program to help with her pain. The doctor prescribed a huge amount of pills “so I didn’t have to leave her side to get more”. And I mean a huge, the pharmacist made a comment (“that’s a LOT of pills!”) at the time. The doctor didn’t actually wink, but I certainly got the impression that he was “greasing the skids”. There were enough pills for numerous people to make that choice. Anne didn’t, and I returned at least 100 of the pills to the pharmacy for destruction.

    While I support patients who choose to end their suffering, I don’t want legalized euthanasia. I don’t want the State to tell me not to, and I don’t want them telling me I should. My experience tells me that the “authorities” would start making decisions for those people who won’t.

    Currently -18.8C (-2F) with clear skies here in Ktown.

  8. Oh, I agree, but then I don’t think the government should have any say in anything at all. I think it’s absolutely bizarre that we put down animals who are suffering, but not people, even if those people beg for it.

    A US doctor who did what your wife’s doctor did (which was clearly the right thing to do) would face loss of license and almost certainly criminal prosecution for over-prescribing narcotics. The government is so damned paranoid that oxycodone will be sold on the street to people who want it. Geez.

    Reminds me of when I was in college. We were a dry campus, and that was strictly enforced. But there had been a string of violent rapes at nearby colleges, committed by a guy dressed in a pink tutu. So, one of the assistant deans is driving down one of the campus streets one evening, when what should he spot but a guy running around in a pink tutu. He takes off in pursuit of the guy, but he happens to spot a couple of guys carrying cases of beer into one of the dorms. So he immediately shifts his attention away from the guy in the pink tutu and sets off in pursuit of the guys with the beer. Geez.

  9. But it’s beer! That’s irresistible to a cop. After all, you can drink beer, what do you do with a guy in a tutu? You know what? I don’t want to know!

    The police certainly do have misguided priorities, and the media assists them in doing so. If you drive drunk and kill someone, they don’t seize your kids. If you get busted growing marijuana, they do. A grow op was recently busted here in town (BC’s largest industry is the underground grow ops, reported to be about $2B per year, all untaxed) and the media report that there were “children rescued by Social Services”. Rescued indeed. Current statistics show that 133 children have died in care of the government between 2001 and 2012, many of them homicides and suicides, with a shocking number of “undetermined” causes. There have been ZERO documented reports of a child being killed, or injured in any way, because their parents ran a grow op.

  10. I went to the doctor about a year ago, because I of some really odd pains in my arms (for the past several months – I don’t go to the doctor at the drop of a hat). My doctor has a new assistant, whom I wound up with. The guy took blood tests, poked and prodded, and in the end basically said “seems like tennis elbow, but I have no idea”. This was a silly diagnosis, because I had the pain in both arms, and it actually was worse in my left arm, whereas I am right-handed.

    Anyhow, when I expressed some frustration, he said: “Look, a doctor can only do three things: he can operate, he can give you medicine, or he can send you to physiotherapy.” I found that somehow enlightening: if none of those make any sense, a doctor can’t help.

    In my case, I did try physio, but it didn’t help. Another year went by, and the pain disappeared just as mysteriously as it originally came. I suppose in the US I’d have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which is Latin for “you’re probably faking it, but a formal diagnosis will make you feel better”.

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