Health Update 9/14/21-Follow Up

My PET scan is complete. The results show five small bony lytic lesions BUT those are typical for active Multiple Myeloma, even MM in remission. The thing we were worried about, pain in my right ribs (small area) x 4 months, did not show cancer-related findings. That pain came on after spending several hours per day for two days INSIDE my pizza oven, chiseling out old bricks and putting in new ones. So I can just caulk it up to old-man injury.

I will also mention that I had new cancer labs come in since 9/14/21 and my major cancer labs (lambda light chains), which had been steadily going up since April, showed a slight decline. That was nice to hear.

As always, thanks for your interest and there should be no more updates for a while unless something major changes.

As always, thanks for your interest and support. I hope you are doing well.

Mike

Writing Update

I know there are a handful of aspiring writers like me who come to this page. I will give a peek preview and update of my present project.

Bryan Rogers, PA-C, went to Yemen to save the children … he left Yemen to save the world.

It usually takes me about six months to write a book. The major exception was my nonfiction book, Butterflies in the Belfry, which took ten years of research and at least two of writing. With each writing project, I try my best to hone my skills to a new level. I do this through the hard work of attending workshops, reading many well-written books, classes, and working with editors. I hope to make my next book, (working title) The Mills of God; A Yemeni Journey, my best so far. So far, I have spent ten months on this book and am in the middle of my twenty-first re-write. I’m feeling really good about it.

Last January I entered an early version of manuscript into the Pacific Northwest Writers Contest. It is one of the largest and most prestigious contest for unpublished works. Winners just announced. No, I did not win. However, the editors’ comments were very encouraging, giving me some hope that this book could be eventually picked up by a major publisher. The other thing this feedback gave me, was the motivation to do one more rewrite as I thought I was done at twenty. I am taking the advice of the editors seriously.

My next step is turning the manuscript over to professional editors. My original goal was to have the book on the market by Christmas. I’m now doubtful I can meet that deadline, but early next year will be reasonable.

People write for different reasons. I have a passion to write. Writing this book literally saved my life during the dark days of last winter. I got up in the bleak, rainy mornings and went to my sauna. There I spent two to three hours hashing out the story in my mind and key board. I lived in Yemen with my imagination, so much so, that when I left the heat of my sauna and stepped into the wet cold air of the Pacific Northwest, I was always jolted back into reality. It kept me sane when I was bound up alone in my house for months.

Like any artist, my success is measured in the eyes and mind of the consumer. If I had to choose between getting a million dollars for a book (and no one reads it) or getting a million people to read it and not one dollar, I would choose the latter. I think painters and singers would do the same. In a perfect world I would get enough money in return to cover the costs.

The Sneak Preview

This book is best classified in the genre of a thriller, but an “upscale” thriller. What I mean is a thriller with thoughtful considerations of serious social issues. Most of the story takes place in Yemen and during a round-the-world chase on the high seas. I wish I could say more … but just wait and stay tuned. I will add one more hint. The term, “The Mills of God” first appeared in Greek as, “The mills of God grind slowly.” It was meant to portray the idea that we need to be patient, that God’s retribution will eventually be realized upon the unjust. It was also used by Christians, based on the verse in Deuteronomy 32:35:

Vengeance is Mine, and recompense;
Their foot shall slip in due time;
For the day of their calamity is at hand,
And the things to come hasten upon them.

The book takes the reader on an inspiring and intimate journey through war-torn Yemen and ruminates over the issues that create terrorism and result from it. You will smell Yemen, feel it between your toes, taste it in your drink, and hold it with your heart.

Mike Jones

Health Update: 9/14/21

Where to begin?

This morning my latest labs returned with a consistent evidence that since April my cancer is returning, although slowly. My renal function slightly worse. Other labs okay.

I saw my myeloma specialist last Tuesday. She is still in agreement that my myeloma is coming out of remission, but it is doing it slowly enough that we are not in a rush to make major changes, but to plan for that. On the last visit we discussed two possibilities for our next step, either a new chemo called daratumumab, or entering a CAR-T study. Now, the next step is clear, daratumumab, as the study is no longer an option.

Tomorrow morning I’m having a whole-body PET – CT scan. I’ve had a significant pain in my right ribs for about four months and we need to rule out a metastasis (extramedullary lesion of myeloma). If it is, it will require focal radiation treatments. My prayer is that it is a simply strained muscle.

I’m not one to “look on the bright side” because I see that type of thinking as Novocain for the soul. I would rather feel disappointment, than to not feel at all or to base hope on an illusion. Yes, disappointment is my breakfast every morning. Yet, I can still appreciate a beautiful day. With that said, there is a silver (but tarnished) lining to this change. The chemo I’ve been on for 18 months is weak. I only went on this specific chemo because it was right in the middle of the first surge of COVID and my risk of death from COVID was extremely high. My present chemo is the only one I can do from home and that’s why we choose it. Each trip to the hospital in early 2020 was a flirt with the COVID death angel.

Daratumumab is a (weekly at the start) inpatient infusion, being inpatient means that Medicare will cover it. Secondly, it is considered to be a much better chemo (works as a monoclonal antibody against the cancer) and our hope is that my myeloma will respond better. Lastly, the past two chemo’s I’ve been on, both work the same way, and have the number one side effect of diarrhea. I’ve struggled with diarrhea for about eight months now and I hope this new treatment will not have that side effect.

So it looks like I will have to move on to daratumumab by December. My hope is that it will keep me in remission for a few years, until the CAR-T or other new modalities will be perfected to a cure. Yet, I must always be prepared for the worst.

Besides my diarrhea and rib pain, I’m feel pretty well.

Thanks for your interest and continued support during this marathon.

Mike

Suicide is (not) Painless, Part II

I hate to leave things undone, however, I considered dropping this topic. But I do have unfinished business within it. The danger is I’m writing on another one of those steroid nights, I have a deluge of thoughts … meanwhile sleep evades me.

First, I will make it clear to anyone who is not familiar with the way I write. I do not claim any expertise in suicide or mental health. I do have a BS in psychology, which says that I know the terminology. Also, as a medical provider in pain management, I had to be conversant in mental health issues, quickly deferring to the real professionals when needed. I write as an observer, like a journalist. Sometimes I write as a thinker … but expert I am not. I wanted to address two remaining issues, suicide among Christians, and the influence of the “bell jar” syndrome on suicide with the hopes of answering the question of why would someone hurt their own family so much by taking their own lives.

Suicide Among Christians

In my previous life in1986, believe it or not, I was on a national traveling preacher circuit. I was a hard-core evangelical and was preparing to take my family as missionaries to Muslim countries. I was trying to arrange a preaching engagement with a large church in Saint Louis, MO. I was getting frustrated because (this was before the days of cell phones and e-mail) because the pastor of that big conservative church stopped returning my calls and we had not established a date yet for me taking his pulpit.

Then one day I called his house (after calls to his church secretary went un-returned). His wife told me that he could not come to the phone because he was “recovering” from a hospitalization. I somewhat became pushy as I needed to book my speaking engagement or there would be no days left. Finally, she confined with me, “John was in the hospital for a suicide attempt and his psychiatrist wanted him to avoid church work for at least a month … but I will let you talk to him.”

I was stunned. Within my world of a prosperity gospel, a true Christian would never attempt suicide, because we believed the Christian life brought you into a utopian world. We thought we were far better than the non-Christian, who would struggle with emotional things, such as depression. I remember saying to Denise after I got off the phone, “That guy can’t even be a Christian. How did he get to be the pastor of such a big church?”

I wanted to look at the research about suicide within religious groups. I found ten such studies. It was my hypothesis that suicide was higher among those devoted to their religions because, in my opinion, those systems are devoted to pretense, trying to appear that you have your shit together more than actually having it together. However, to my surprise, suicide was slightly lower among conservative evangelicals and Catholics. However, mental health pathology (eg. Depression and anxiety), in contrast, were higher among those two groups. My conclusion is that suicide is less because those two groups have a strong conviction that suicide is deadly sin, and possibly sending the person to hell. Long held Catholic beliefs said that since the act of suicide is someone’s last possible act, and therefore they have no opportunity to ask for forgiveness or to seek mercy from God, they will go to hell. I think the evangelicals share some of that stigma. So, I believe that suicide is slightly less common because of the guilt and shame it would bring to the religious person’s family, not because they personally have less of a desire to do it. If this false guilt keeps someone from suicide, then it is better than nothing, but not the best way to prevent suicide in my opinion.

The Bell Jar

What started me on the whole suicide study was my research into the life of Sylvia Plath. I was studying her life and writings, not to learn more about suicide, but that I could become a better writer. It is still my goal that before I die, I will write something stunning. I have a ways to go.

Sylvia was a very gifted American writer who, at age thirty, committed suicide while her two toddlers slept nearby. Being the gifted writer as she was, she was able to give us inside into that world of suicidal ideation, most notable in her book The Bell Jar (btw, she published it under a pseudonym, Victoria Lucas, because it was so personal).

Bell Jar | National Museum of American History
A Typical Bell Jar

I suspect that Sylvia suffered from some variation of bipolar disorder. I suspect that it was a primary genetically caused, as several of her family members had similar mental health histories. But like the pure manic-depressive, she had periods of her life of intense elation, vivid writing, and social activities, followed by periods of the deepest and darkest places of depression and despondency. It was those periods of depression that she said was like living inside or under a bell jar. It is a place where the real, outside world, is distorted by the glass and you are held captive to your own negative thoughts trapped inside the jar.

The example of her manic phases was when she was a college student at a private New England school for women. She said she would go on dates six nights a week, each lasting until the wee hours of the morning and with six different men, most from nearby Ivy League schools. She did this too while she was engaged. Then she took a summer internship in New York city and partied nonstop for three months while being a prolific writer.

But in her down times, she was filled with self-doubt, feeling like a complete failure as a writer, and a profound sense of worthlessness. People who knew her writing were dumbfounded by her suicide note (first attempt) when she described those feelings. She was a child prodigy as a writer. She wrote professional poetry at age seven. She had a contract with a national magazine as an author while in high school. From what I read, she was offered a professorship of creative writing at Oxford, the only time they had offered such a professorship to a non-PhD candidate and someone only in their twenties. However, under the bell jar, she saw herself as a complete literary failure and hated by all (she had a huge fan club, especially among young women). This is the curse of the bell jar. This is how a mom of two toddlers could take her own life, thinking that she was so worthless that her children would be better off without her. Many who take their own lives can’t see the pain they bring others, because they feel so worthless to society that they see their death as a gift.

The Bell Jar - Wikipedia

I debated how much I wanted to write here about my own bell jar. I, again as a journalist, wanted to tell the story of what it is like inside that awful space, from a personal account. However, this type of writing about myself, will invariably sound like self-pity and I don’t think I have the word skills to navigate this information in a way as not to sound that way. To make it clear, I am writing about this topic to help those of you who have felt suicidal to navigate this world better, and to help those who have been victimized by suicide by someone they love, or have someone they love now contemplating it, to understand it better and to know how to intervene better. But first a brief word (sorry steroid-induced rabbit hole) about self pity.

Self-Pity

Someone said to me after I wrote of my suffering in 2019, “It’s not fair that you get to talk about your suffering when most of us suffer in silence.” That was a haunting thought for me. I have never felt like I have suffered more than all others, quite the opposite. I have also never felt like I deserve the right to talk about my suffering when others do not. I happen to like observing and writing, and I don’t care so much about social mores, which tell me what I can and cannot talk about.

I have thought a lot about self-pity and wrote about this in my early days when I wrote about stoicism. But when we suffer, we have three possible attitudes to have. The first is guilt. “I suffer due to my own fault and I should be ashamed of my suffering.” The second is denial. “I will never speak of my suffering, pretending it is not there.” The last is self-pity. “I’m suffering … and its not my fault.”

Now the attitude of self-pity, in my opinion, has gotten a bum-rap. I think, when we suffer without any fault of our own, that self-pity is the most healthy way to deal with it. The problem with self-pity is allowing it to consume you in a death spiral.

I remember an interview with Barbara Walters and the late Christopher Revee. He was a strong man (played Superman in the movies) who, via a simple accident, was left as a quadriplegic in the prime of his life. She asked him if he ever felt sorry for himself. He said (my paraphrase), “I allow myself to feel sorry for myself for the first five minutes of the day … then I end it, otherwise it would consume my entire life.” That is healthy self-pity. Far better than guilt or denial.

I recently heard someone say something about a friend of mine who had died, “He was a good man. He never complained up to the end.”

This friend had a horrible chronic illness. He, indeed, was a good man. I often cornered him and asked he how he was doing and how he was feeling. He was reluctant to answer me … but sometimes he did. I knew was suffering because I asked. But I think he was well-aware of the social stigma of not talking about suffering as not to appear like he was in self-pity. I feel sad for him because of that. It’s isolation that makes your suffering worse. I bet some of his physical suffering could have been alleviated if he talked about it more (greasy wheel syndrome). Now, we all know those people who talk nonstop about their suffering, to the point we try to avoid them because they wear us out. But those are the exception.

From Inside My Bell Jar

I mentioned last time that I’ve had suicidal ideations four times in my life (that I remember). One time, 2019, so seriously that I was within minutes of ending my own life. But my last time was last winter. While 2019 was impulsive (unbearable suffering and no hope of life), 2020 was the more typical depression and gradual introduction into self-destructive thoughts inside the bell jar.

In summary, (as if I had not talked about this many times) I went from a healthy man, bread-winner, strong person in my family in 2018 (preparing for a trek across Greenland) to instantly being near death, profoundly weak, loss of hope for a future, or ever feeling well again, and finally being fired from my profession. I didn’t realize how powerful that last event would become in my personal life, a sucker punch to my gut. In 2001, I was a headache specialist in the # 1 neurology practice in the world (Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota) and I was constantly praised by my colleagues, as invaluable to the department. From that, I went to sitting with the CEO of a small town hospital’s in December 2020 as he told me, in my present weakened state, I brought no value to their organization anymore (my paraphrase).

I saw the winter of 2020 on the horizon. Because of COVID, I was ordered back into strict isolation. No leaving the house. No connecting with others, including my own children. On the other hand, because of COVID, Denise’s hours went from 50/week to about 100/week. We rarely talked in depth. She was exhausted. I had two video chats with my friend Curt during those months. I had to suspend my walks with my friend Jerry, who always asks me how I’m doing, as I do him.

It was a set up for serious depression and such depression ensued. If it were not for me talking to Greta, my Saint Bernard, I think I would have lost my mind. Writing and building also helped keep me alive. But under that bell jar, the world outside became very distorted. I felt captive, within the ambience of my own negative thoughts, “I’m completely worthless now. I bring no value to the world. My family has no use for me anymore. I’m better off to them … dead.”

While I had serious suicidal ideation last winter, and I know that many of you have, or at least have had those negative feelings about yourself, I did not make a suicide attempt as I did in 2019. But if I had, people (including my family) would ask the question, “Why would he do this, take his own life, hurting the family he supposed to have loved?” The answer is within that self-delusion, that they are better off without you and you see your suicide as an act of love. Yes, I know some people commit suicide for other reasons, even revenge.

The Problem with Our Society

I’ve had three conversations with Christians, that I can remember, about how I handled the pandemic. I have a deep flaw (in some people’s opinions) is that I’ve very candid. I answered those conversations by telling the truth. “The pandemic was very hard for me. I was isolated dealing with cancer, getting fired, and feeling ill all the time. It was so bad I considered taking my own life.”

All three Christians reacted the same way. First, shock. Second, what appeared as anger toward me. Lastly, quickly telling their story of how they fared so much better than me during the pandemic because they trusted Jesus. Now honestly, what purpose does that serve except to make me feel even worse than I do and them to feel better about themselves?

I will add, my one friend who I do talk to the most, Jerry, did not respond this way at all.

I will pause here again before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am not writing to talk about how people have mistreated me. I am writing about how something is wrong with our societies, especially the Christian society. I am part of that problem. I have not listened to others when they have tried to tell me about their suffering. Especially when I was an evangelical, I did not hesitate to shame someone who confessed weakness, if it made me feel more pious.

When someone talks about their suffering some of the worst things we say are, “Look on the bright side or count your blessings.” Is that the cause of their suffering, thinking that they are suffering more than anyone else or have no blessings? I don’t think so. I know for me, I see my blessings profoundly clear, and yet I can suffer and want to die at the same time.

Another bad thing to say to someone who is suffering is to give a report of how you have handled things so much better than them. I know that’s the evangelical M.O., but I’ve seen non-religious people do it too. Like I said, I’ve done it.

Lastly, the very worst thing you can say to someone who tells you they are suffering or contemplating suicide, or for whom you suspect these things without them saying it, is … NOTHING. Silence is a horrible thing to give back to someone who has shared with you their most intimate feelings, either through words or non-verbal communications. What does work? Validation of their suffer. “That sucks” will suffice. In the case of actively thinking about suicide, it takes more time, words, and actions. Count yourself fortunate that you know in advance. So many take their own lives without a hint given to anyone. For those who love them, they never had the chance to say or doing anything to help.

I know that talking about hard things is difficult in our society. I have had to talk to one of my own children about their depression, and asking them, “Have you had any thoughts of hurting yourself.” That was hard as hell. It was also hard as hell to take them to a mental health professional, but I did it. I did it for selfish reasons because I didn’t want to loose them. But I don’t mean to share this story in the same spirit that I somehow handled it better. I didn’t.

This is another point that frustrates me about our society. Talk of suffering is so taboo, and for what reason? On this side of suffering, I don’t get it anymore. I know my family loves me, but the word “cancer” has never been uttered in our household, except by me. Maybe Denise has used that word, rarely, but she loves me. It’s just hard to talk about. Maybe my oldest son, who has PhD in biochemistry and works in cancer research has spoke to me about it, but I rarely see him. But no one in my family ask me how its going, how I feel, what’s going on with my “c” (dirty word). My kids know far more about Denise’s pull hamstring than my battle with cancer … per their choice and I try to never bring it up. My sisters never ask me about it. Thankfully Jerry ask me how I feel as I do him. I don’t blame these individuals but I blame our screwed up society that has declared that cancer is shameful, as is depression, substance abuse, suicide … and suffering in general. Why is it that if we talk about these things, it is considered a social blunder, something shameful? Yes, I have to imagine my family loves me when somethings it doesn’t feel like it, only because of the way society (and me in the case of my own kids) has taught them how to deal with someone else’s suffering. Denial or shame.

Can you imagine a society where someone is thinking of hurting themselves and has no hesitation about telling his or her friends and family because they know they will be met with a listening ear and a profound support? This is what all parents fear, the silence of depression. Can you imagine a society where people can mention their suffering and not be ignored or ostracized for it? Again, I’m not talking about the constant complainer, but the social force that pushes all mention of suffering and sadness underground.

To give us who have failed in this area some credit, I think why someone else mentioning real suffering is awkward for us is that we don’t know what to say or do about it. We do care. I suspect this is why my own family can’t talk about it.

One Last Story

When I was about fourteen, I was playing basketball (alone) on our street’s hoop. I happened to notice a neighbor, John Smith (about 70 years old), inside his car parked on the street. I saw him there for an hour and the car wasn’t going anywhere.

When I got done shooting baskets, I walked up to his car to make sure he was okay. When I got there, I was shocked. He was laying down in his back seat crying like a baby. He had been crying so long, that his white buttoned up shirt was soaked.

With my basketball under my arm and a scared look on my face, I asked him, “What’s wrong?” To which he replied in a rare moment of candidness, “Son, don’t ever get old. I have prostate cancer (which I had no clue what that was) and I’m in so much pain that I want to die.”

In a moment of profound social awkwardness, I slammed his car door shut and ran to his house. I knocked on his wife’s door and when she answered, I said to her, “Uh, uh, John is crying in the car and he wants to die.”

She laughed at me and said, “Leave him alone. It is shameful for him to act that way.”

I felt horrible for days because I didn’t know what to say to John or what else to do to alleviate his suffering. This is the stigma of suffering, sadness, and suicide ideation. The fear that we don’t know what to say or do. Let’s work together to change society. Love listens.

Love, listens.

If you are thinking of suicide and have no one to honestly talk to, here is the 24-7 suicide hotline’s number: 800-273-8255. Call it. They can navigate you from beneath the bell jar.

It is 3 am and I must try to sleep. Please forgive the typos, cloudy syntax, and lack of conciseness. I’m done with this topic. Good night.

Mike

Steroid Nights, Part I (part II will come much later as I still need to finish part II of suicide is not painless)

Once a week, with my chemo, I must take a hefty dose of steroids. Those nights I fall asleep and then awaken about midnight and am up for the rest of the night (typical side effects). During those early mornings, my mind (again from the steroids) become filled with a stream of important thoughts. This is an attempt to get up and write those down.

You will never be as young again, as you are today.

Your own death is always more palatable when viewed from a distance.

Never fully trust someone with an agenda . . . virtually everyone has an agenda. I have an agenda, not always good.

The good scientist, and most are good, are the one person in our society that is seeking truth above all else. They are therefore doing God’s work.

For many people, their relationship with God is defined by emotional, mystical experiences (like a drug high). I’m so glad that my relationships with my wife, kids, or dog are not defined that way … and certainly not my relationship with God.

A good reporter, and most are, are doing God’s work because they are seeking truth.

A propagandist, posing as a reporter, does the work of the devil by passing along lies in the guise of truth.

A marketer posing as a scientist, is doing the work of the devil because they wear lab coats while shouting lies.

Those who prorogate lies, that cause harm or death to those who believe them (such as don’t get the COVID vaccine because it is not safe), that person is guilty of murder.

If God exist, and I think he does, the more we are in touch with reality, the more authentically we live, the better we can see him, because he lives in reality. The more we live in magical worlds, created by our wishful thinking, the more opaque God becomes.

Faith without evidence is silly superstition, castles built in thin air, an offense to the God of reality.

The most dishonest people in our society, those who seek truth the least, are the politicians, the marketer, and the religious … because their goal is to promote a dogma, not to seek truth. Michael J. Lindell is an example of where all three meet in one person.

Not a big fan of religion, but totally enthralled with the historical Jesus … we share our distaste for religion and our love for the poor and displaced.

The end game of all religious endeavors is a (false) sense of moral superiority. The end game of a personal connection with the Creator … is simply that.

Most atheists reach their positions, not because of moral failure or stupidity, but because the theists have failed to show them a reasonable alternative. The religious-theists prefer to believe that the atheists have a moral failure or stupidity because the religious’ ultimate end-game is the (false) sense of moral superiority.

I believe that God will look kindly upon the atheists who pursued truth honestly, but for whom the path was made opaque by by the theists.

If Dante’s hell existed, the front row seats of the most detestable would be those religious people who exploit others for power, money, sex, or ego. Behind them, the politicians who do the same.

If Jesus was the bird of paradise . . . then Christian religion is KFC.

I would rather travel to Mars on a two-year journey in a spaceship of honest atheists than Christians with a personal agendas, because they will always hide their ill-intent behind “God’s will” or personal “spirituality.”

The American church is dying a rapid death, and I believe God says good riddance. On the right or conservative side the church has lost its flavor by being absorbed into the Republican Party and American Nationalism. What was “white evangelicalism” is now, “religious-flavored republicanism” and Fox News is now their place of worship. On the left, the church has lost its flavor by adopting “new age pantheistic ideologies” (cherry-picked ideas from Hinduism and Buddhism) for the sake of harmony. Jesus said we have harmony, not by compromising our beliefs and all people agreeing, but loving profoundly those people which we disagree with the most. But my hope is in the fact that God always saves a remnant of the Church, and with each cycle, thus one must hope, it gets better until the gates of hell can no longer prevail against it.

Jesus said that we have harmony, not by compromising our beliefs and all people agreeing, but loving profoundly those people which we disagree with the most.

There is more intimacy on the wrestler’s mat than in the lover’s bed. If your relationship with God is built upon spiritual success stories, then you don’t him nearly as well as those who have wrestled with God within the throes of despair.

No one has the right to look at you and tell you that you don’t have the spirituality or relationship with God as they do. This is a symptom of the religious pursuit of (false) moral superiority.

A well-worked out, litany, of countless precise dogmas within a religious framework is designed to to help reach the end game of a (false) sense of moral or intellectually superiority over those who don’t hold them.

The Bible is the most over-thought book in history, where the placement of a comma can create a new dogma and new church denomination. The “Cliff Notes” of the entire Bible is found in Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

When you share a personal struggle with a Christian and their response is to share how they succeeded in the very same area in which you have failed, their purpose is not to offer encouragement, but it is part of their religious end game of a self (false) sense of moral superiority over you. You deserve better friends, who know that you are better than your struggles and that they have struggled worst than you.

The emotions is a gift and blessing from God. It is for us to use to enjoy or to fear the reality that our senses and reason finds for us. This is how God designed us. However, most religious idolize the emotions as something greater, something beyond the material by which we can find truth. Emotional reasoning always leads us further from reality, not closer to it.

Nature is God’s work and gift. Within the Christian framework, while created perfect, is now broken. It is not despised as the evangelicals claim, good for nothing but exploitation. It is also not perfect as the pure naturalists claim. But very, very good, yet can be abused (if we are not careful), or improved (if we care enough) upon by humans.

Supranational miracles today are rare, if at all. This is not based on anything that the Bible says but upon the reality that God has created. To falsely call something that happened via natural laws (which God created) a supranational miracle does God no favor because it is a lie in that case. God is opposed to lying, even lying “for him.” The more we live in lies, the least we know God who, if is there, lives in reality. Fake miracles win many points within religious societies. Still, I always hope for miracles and let God, not my imagination, determine if one should occur.

Unfortunately suffering is always married to isolation, which magnifies the suffering. The reason is, no one else (except rarely an extremely empathetic like my aunt Helen ) can take that journey with you and no one really even wants to imagine that journey. Because, for someone else to try and imagine the depths of your pain, it exposes their vulnerability of some day having the same pain, which is profoundly threatening.

For the person that says there is no possibility that God does not exist, never had a doubt for a second, then it is not great faith they have, but social coercion and rearing dogma (which eliminates all other possible choices) for the religious idea of (false) moral or intellectual superiority. Those who knows the possibility of there being no God, yet looks carefully at the evidence and chooses to believe, based on that evidence, that is the real person of faith.

Hebrews, chapter eleven, tells us that real faith is the emotional confidence we carry once our God-given senses and reason has pointed us the way (“The assurance (emotional) of things hoped (believed or reasoned) for”). The Christians have abused the word faith into an anti-reason leap into the total dark and wear absurd actions “based on faith” as a badge of honor. That’s not faith but insanity and deserves no merit of accomplishment.

The world has never seen, since Christ, a person who has loved others as equal to themselves. But we can keep trying.

The world has never seen, since Christ, a person who has loved others as equal to themselves. But we can keep trying.

Those who have the greatest despair, those who are suffering, the refugee, the dying, those who are hungry, those who are unsheltered, or suffer from mental demons . . . those containers have the greatest capacity to carry all your love.

While there is a huge moral difference between the person who seeks to love and to save lives and those who harm and take lives, there is only a thin line between the patriot and the terrorist, based on the perspective of those being harm or killed. I’ve spent time talking to the Taliban on the boarder with Pakistan. They sounded almost identical to the American, hyper-national, evangelical … whose food is conspiracy theories.

Those who look at their own institution, be it a political party, religion, or business, and white-wash over and deny all of its flaws, present and historical, they move further into the wilderness of illusion and propagate those flaws into the future. I’ve taught church history classes and pissed off a lot of people when I told the truth.

Someone asked me once if I laughed at “dirty jokes?” No, I said … not all of them … only the funny ones.

To stand out within an institution, be it a political party, religion, or business and declare the real flaws; that individual often faces the harshest of social backlashes and condemnation, because the majority around them prefer that wilderness of delusion because within it, they can maintain their (false) sense of moral or intellectual superiority over their competitors.

As a twenty-year evangelical, and now twenty years removed from that, I can testify that evangelicals imagine that they are superior to the rest of society, morally, but I can tell you from personal experience that they have their “shit together” only on the surface. I’ve heard many spine-chilling stories, often late at night, from the very secret vaults of “godly” missionaries, pastors, elders, and etc. of depression, suicide attempts, incest, adultery, drug use, porn addiction, closet homosexuality while opposing the “gay agenda” in public, and you name it. It is okay to be private, but when we pretend on the surface to be one thing, but live privately like something else, then it becomes religion, were the end game is to have a (false) sense of moral superiority. The worst case was guy I knew during my years as a Navigator, who was then the elder of a large Presbyterian church and who confined with me late at night at hotel that he had habitually sexually molested his daughter … but “God had not convicted him of it yet.” Of which I became enraged and defriended him immediately. I would have reported him to the police, but the daughter had just reported it herself and that was why he was telling me. But he didn’t want any Christian to find out … nor his church.

Religious societies tend to build cultural fortresses, where inside the walls, all ills are over-looked (like Donald Trump’s atrocious personal morality, or TV preachers screwing prostitutes with the attitude of “we all have flaws” or “who am I to judge?”), yet on the outside, all other people are demonized as detestable and are shown no mercy. Like all literal stone fortresses, it is about power and defense … and a (false) sense of moral superiority.

In 1990 I made a deliberate decision to live authentically, warts and all. It has been hell at times and I’ve lost many Christian friends over it. Many would detest what I’ve written here. But, I had no choice if I wanted to know truth and wanted to know God honestly. But I do love my new friends of other of no faiths.

Mike. Time to go to bed, not time to proof-read.

,

Suicide is (not) Painless

The theme song to the movie and tv series, Mash, was Suicide is Painless. It is too cumbersome to explain that song here, but to say, of course suicide is anything but. Suicide brings incredible pain to a family, maybe more so than any other cause of death. There is anger married to the bereavement, because the victim’s life could have been spared only if they had made the choice not to do it.

Last scene of the movie MASH, where the character called “Painless” is committing suicide

But suicide is very painful for the victim as well. On one level, that seems counterintuitive because they didn’t have to do it. We all have a great instinct to live and it takes an incredible amount of pain to lead someone to take their own life. Sometimes we can’t see the pain of the victim because we too feel incredible pain and are immersed in the fog of anger at them.

Suicide is one topic I wanted to discuss for a long time, but I do it with trepidation. It has been in my draft box for weeks if not months. The reason for the angst is my fear of misunderstanding. When it comes to suicide, I already know that some people will read this as me crying for help or my personal anger over something, or simply melodrama. I will be clear, this article is not about me, but about the topic of suicide. I will say with confidence that, while I have been in the past, I am not suicidal at this time. I am feeling better than I have all spring, better than many of you with chronic health problems must feel. I come to this topic as a writer, an observer of life, but will draw from my own experiences at times.

I have been studying authors for at least four years, with the hopes of becoming a better writer myself. I spent months reading everything that Hemingway had written. One of his short stories, In Another County, he describes in the detail that only he can describe, the dead of World War I. While a reporter and observer, he does draw from his own experiences because he was an ambulance driver in that war. That’s what I hope to do here, speak from experience while not talking specifically about me. Oh, and by the way, Hemingway did commit suicide … with a long gun, bullet to the head because he lost his ability to write after having shock treatments at Mayo Clinic for depression.

The real reason that I’ve decided to write on this thorny topic at this time is that my latest author study was of the American author, Sylvia Plath. Sylvia was brilliant, a child prodigy. She wrote of suicide (The Bell Jar), drawing from her own experiences, and, like Hemingway, did it … committed suicide, but young, at age 30, leaving three small children. It was her third serious attempt. Was anyone listening?

Recently we planted a tree for my nephew who took his own life … with a gun. Another nephew took his own life, about the same time, but insidiously … with a bottle. Painful losses of great people with even greater potential. I’ve had many friends and dozens of patients who have committed suicide. I’ve had the suicide prevention discussion with countless patients, me trying to pursued them from the act and into good treatment for their depression or whatever they were dealing with.

If the odds are right, of the almost 300 people who follow this blog, 50 have had suicidal ideation (thoughts or planning about it) and about 5 of you have or will have a serious attempt within your life. Maybe a couple will succeed. If writing about it prevents one of those, it was well worth the time. I do realize that many of you have never had a suicide thought in your life and you can’t understand us that do.

I’ve had several friends commit suicide, all men … all with a gun. Guns are unforgiving. Those who attempt suicide with a gun, about 98% are successful. Those who are not, are usually seriously maned.

As I mentioned, I’ve had many patients attempt and succeed at suicide. Two attempted with a gun and lived. The bullet in their heads was why they were having headaches. Suicide is the second cause of death for the younger crowd (<34) and third to fifth for the other age groups. Thinking about suicide is very common. In 2019 47,000 people died from suicide another 12 million seriously thought about it. For some groups, young men with anxiety or trauma, it is the number one cause of death.

Impulsive Suicide

I will oversimplify the situation, but suicide is either the result of a long standing mental illness, usually depression or anxiety, or a sudden crisis. Often a combination of the two.

One of my two female headache patients with a bullet in her head, said she had never suffered with depression or had thoughts about suicide. However, after thirty years of marital bliss, she came home sick one day to find her husband in bed with her best friend. They had been sleeping together, behind her back, for years. This was a sudden crisis. She was extremely upset and as the argument with her husband continued into the night, her without a tear left to cry. Eyes all dried up. Finally she said, being distraught, “I want to kill myself.” Her husband, a police officer, loaded his service revolver and handed it to her. He taunted her and dared her to do it. According to her, he placed the barrel on her temple and begged her to pull the trigger (I think he wanted the freedom to marry the girl his wife had caught him with). She did pull the trigger. But, by some miracle, maybe she winced as she shot, she lost a chunk of brain tissue, but lived. She had chronic headaches and seizures as a result. But her husband … ex-husband I should add… was not arrested because, according to her, he knew that in Minnesota it was not a crime to entice someone to commit suicide.

I know someone who attempted to kill himself by jumping off our nearby 180 foot high Deception Pass bridge. He was one of a few who survived that fall. Now a paraplegic, he told me he still wishes he had succeeded. He had suffered from depression, but the last straw was his wife leaving him for his best friend.

But talk of suicide carries a stigma. A profound stigma, where people in distress have to bury the pain. Dare they mention that they feel like killing themselves? That would put them in the position of sharp ridicule. But if they could only talk about it … that could change everything.

I remember a young mother in my childhood community committing suicide. I was just seven. It was the first time I had heard of killing yourself. She suffocated herself in the closet of big new beautiful house with a dry cleaning bag. My mother told me it was a shame because she was rich, therefore no excuse, and she will spend eternity in hell because suicide is unforgiveable.

Chronic Suicide

The chronic form of mental illness that can lead to suicide, like with Sylvia Plath, include depression. This form is often genetic. The book about Sylvia Plath, Red Comet, goes into great detail point out the people in her family with suicide and depression. Her grandmother was institutionalized for depression and eventually committed suicide. Her father, a Harvard professor of biology, committed defacto suicide via ignoring his medical symptoms, with the assumption it was terminal cancer. However, it was a very treatable form of diabetes … discovered too late to save his life. But he had never gone to a doctor even with extreme weight loss and a rotting foot.

Defacto Suicide

Speaking of defacto suicide, I’ve now come across this many times in my new world of cancer patients. I keep running into people who have a simple and usually treatable forms of cancer but refuse the treatment because it “isn’t natural” or “Jesus will save them.” They all have died and I find that regrettable. I would trade my non-curable cancer with theirs in a heartbeat. Did they want to die as a way out of the fear? Was it suicide? I believe so.

The Silence of Suicide

Here is the angle I want to talk about . . . the silence about it. Every society on the planet has good traits and bad. I think one of the bad traits in our society, is the stigma and reluctance of talking about suicide. I write in haste because many of these 47,000 people who died, could have been saved if they felt comfortable talking about it.

A few years ago I heard an interview with Kevin Hines. He jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge in 2000 and, like my Deception Pass bridge jumper, was one of the very few to survive. He tells the story that as he walked up the bridge, if just one person would stop and talk to him about not jumping, he would not have jumped. He had had suicide conversations with his dad previous to that day. But on that day, he passed three people, who did not speak to him, except the last. As he was getting ready to climb over the railing, a woman with a German accent asked him to take her picture. He did, then jumped. He said if she had asked him what he was doing, he would have told her. If she had told him not to jump, he wouldn’t have. He and his father now work in suicide prevention.

From My Experience

I don’t think I have any form of chronic depression. I’ve said before that I feel things very deeply. My mother told me when I was very young, “You’re not like other children. You feel things very deeply.” I feel anger, especially when people lie and those lie hurt other people. I feel sad easily, even crying when I write in the deaths of character in a book I’m working on. But I also feel elated very easily. I’ve cried at sunsets, standing and looking at mountains, and I could go on and on. Denise has a different interpretation. She says that I don’t feel things any differently than anyone else, but I share more candidly. She, growing up stoic Scandinavian, where they did not share feelings so easily. Maybe she’s right, because feelings were shared opening and freely in my childhood home, especially with my mother, a profoundly honest woman. But you can pay your money and make your choice which is better. I do relate to the Italians and Arabs (Mediterraneans) in how they were their feelings on their sleeves.

With the above said, I have had suicidal ideations a handful of times in my life. But I don’t think it is from any type of chronic depression. The first serious time was in 1990 and 1997, both times after a deep personal loss.

The closes I ever came to suicide was in 2019. I was diagnosed with cancer in January of that year. The physical suffering that I endured from that point and for the next twelve months was beyond what I thought a human could bear. Working in health care for all of my life, I assumed that we had to the tools to prevent suffering … but I had none. Until I got to the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, I felt like no one was listening. I would tell my cancer doctor here that my suffering was horrible. His response was always along the lines of, “Do you not understand that I’m trying my best to save your life.” To which I would respond, “What’s the point?”

For months I spent sleepless nights on the floor in tears begging God for mercy. How could I sleep when the suffering was so intense 24-7? It was a profoundly intimate time with God, not me in any type of anger, but at his mercy as there were no answers for me form the medical establishment. That’s why it is so hard when people say to me, and several have, “I see that you do not have a relationship with God by the things you write on your blog.” Painful! I’ve said before, there is more intimacy in a wrestlers’ mat than a lovers’ bed.

While I had promised my kids in the hospital that I would fight the cancer and that was the only reason I had not given up before. But after about 4 months of this, I could not take it any longer. I was out of my mind in suffering. I have found out that suffering is very isolating because no one wants to hear about it as it disrupts society’s narrative that all will work out well.

At that time, there was no hope for a cure for me. My doctor said he was fighting to give me 11 months (medium survival rate for someone in my condition) and I had spent four hellish months already. I came to a juncture that I was going to end my life. I told Denise. That night, about 2 AM, I collected all of the 12 medications that I had, pour out the bottles in a big pile. I got a tall glass of water.

With a neurological system and kidneys that were severely damaged, the last thing I wanted to do was damage my liver or other organs, and then survive. This happened to a friend of mine who took an overdose of amitriptyline, was in ICU for a month and lost her liver, but survived. She took the overdose on her ex-husband’s birthday … the husband who had left her for a younger woman. So, not to digress, but that brings up another suicide motive … revenge.

To be standing on the cusp of taking your own life is a horrible place to be in. We come into this world with great aspirations of being a good person and making a difference. It is overwhelmingly sad to reach a such a low point, of feeling trapped by suffering and no way out. That it would come to this. Me ending what life I had left … via my own hands.

Before I took my pills, I went to a (pro) suicide page. It gives instructions on how to end your life … cleanly. It listed medications and the milligrams it would take to cause certain death. I did not have enough of anything. It was only for that reason, I did not take the pills that night.

Those who have never been in this place themselves may be very angry at me at this juncture. “How could you do this to Denise and your kids?” But you have to understand that when you suffer so much and for so long, with no hope of recovery, the final exit of death is the profoundly sad choice left. If you are angry at me, then that is part of the problem of our society. Why do we have such anger at people who kill themselves, or who threaten to kill themselves, but offer them no hope, no options . . . not even a listening ear?

I’m not talking about people being mean to me. Recently a blog reader and (Trump supporter) said to me, “Mike I’m sorry other Trump supporters have treated you so badly.” I was perplexed. I haven’t been treated badly by any Trump supporter. When I spoke of Donald Trump last year it was about my concern about the big picture, not personal. The same it true here. I am not writing to complain how I was treated (the medical establishment not listening). I am writing about the big picture of the stigma that we put on self-harm. I’m as much to blame as anyone. I know that, outside of my medical work, my attention span with other people’s problems has been short. Why didn’t I listen better?

I spoke to my one nephew David on the phone several times before his death. Could I have said something more? I hadn’t spoken to Michael, my other nephew, in a while, but could I have reached out to him more? I was friends with him on FB, I could have asked him how it was going? Why didn’t those men and many other people like them, not feel safe to reach out to us?

The second point I want to make is about the victim. Recently on our community FB page a mother posted a photo of he son and announce the one year anniversary of his suicide and how she missed him. The first comment was from a heartless man who said, “So he took the easy way out.” I’m here to tell you, and I told that man, that suicide is not the “easy way out.” For those who do it, it is a horrible way out, but from their perspective at that time, the only way out.

After the night that I came close to suicide, Denise encouraged me to see a psychiatrist. I did. It went well. He listened to me, and that’s all I expected or wanted. In the end of the hour session he validated what I was feeling by telling me that it was one of the most hellish stories he had heard. He made a follow up appointment … but then COVID hit and all future appointments were cancelled. Two months later his office called me to reschedule, but by then I was past the acute phase and was heading to Seattle, where I did follow up with mental health professionals. They said up front that they would not attempt a bone marrow transplant while I was still suicidal. There they did make some attempts to alleviate the suffering too, to no avail. Fortunately, it is much better since 2019.

Sylvia Plath calls her book about her own struggles with suicide, The Bell Jar. She describes how this mood of depression and suicide descended on her, like a bell jar. The world around her becomes distorted through the glass. Her own, distorted thinking is locked under the glass . . . from which there is no escape.

I want to come back with a part II to address two issues. The first is my own “bell jar” experience in 2020. By sharing my story I want others to understand the why of suicide. The anger at the family member is so wrapped up in this unanswered question. “How could have done this to the family? She knew we loved her, why did she still kill herself?”

In the next and final installment, I also want to look at suicide within the Christian context. I’ve reviewed more than ten studies about suicide among the religious (most of those Christian sects) as compared to the non-religious.

This is a long and complex article that I had to write quickly without a lot of proof reading. I could have written it better if I had had the time. The next article will be shorter and less sloppy, at least I hope.

Mike

Health Update: 8/20/21

Labs back. The kidneys are still at their improved state. The cancer is definitely coming out of remission, but on a slow course. This trend is clear since April. I don’t have to do anything new just yet, but if this trend continues, by December, (or sooner), I will need to grid up my loins for my next big fight. Disappointing for sure, but typical of MM.

Heath Update: 7/22/21

Monthly labs returned this morning. First the good news. My renal labs had a remarkable improvement (after dropping last month). This month my estimated GFR went from 22.2 to 27.5 which is a rather profound improvement for 30 days. Now my kidneys are functioning at about half normal rather than just a fraction.

My cancer monitoring was slightly worse, but in ways unchanged. This was measured by my Lambda Light Chains proteins. We will watch this carefully and if rose significantly, I will have to switch cancer treatment.

I completed my first flight since covid, to see my Minnesota family. So far I have not caught anything from that trip, for which I’m thankful.

Thanks for your interest,

Mike

In Defense of the COVID-19 Vaccination

As most of you know, America and the world is on the cusp of yet another deadly surge in COVID infections, this time being driven by the highly contagious Delta Variant, which is also more deadly than the previous infections. All the computer models (the same ones that were very accurate over this last year) predict a much bigger surge by November. Also, this time the wave of infections is entirely avoidable and that breaks my heart.

I have found myself engaged in many conversations of late, with friends and family, who refuse to get the vaccine because of “reading and studying a lot about its dangers.”

First, I want to be explicitly clear why I have engaged in this conversation to start with and why we were involved with the vaccination program in our area. I know that I’ve made some friends mad simply because I have promoted the vaccine and challenged them when they refuse to get vaccinated. I do this for the same reason that I tell my friends and family not to become intoxicated and then drive … because I sincerely care about them. My defense of this vaccine in this setting is my act of love. I don’t take it personally when friends disagree any more than taking it personally when friends choose to drive drunk, but I am sincerely concerned about their safety and the people they could kill in the process. Neither driving drunk or not getting vaccinated is a “personal choice.” Getting COVID is more dangerous than drunk driving to the individual and the people they are in contact with. But please understand, I’m not in this just to win an argument. I hope I am wrong (about COVID getting much worse by the fall).

We can argue if it is good for the country to run monetary deficits. We can argue about how many immigrants should be allowed into the country each year. These topics are on a spectrum and are debatable, with valid points on both sides. But the vaccine debate is because I’m concerned about my friends and family and the overwhelming evidence from real science is that getting a vaccine is overwhelmingly safer than getting COVID itself.

I will not try to address the entire argument here. I am trying to end my discussion and to, “let this go.” However, this means that there is a chance that some of my friends and family will not be here in a year. I realize I may not be here in a year, but that would be because of cancer, (unless some of my friends or family give me COVID).

I will address one issue that I hear from most of my friends, when they support their anti-vaccination views. They usually quote from the Children’s Health Defense organization (CHD). It is a political organization, whom I agree with on many of their environmental concerns and children’s health. You can correct me if I am wrong, but they have always been against vaccines, all vaccines and thus have a profound political bias. Their charter is to oppose vaccines. Now they are promoting conspiracy theories about censorship.

The number they quote, is that there have been 10,991 deaths and 48,385 serious injuries from the COVID vaccine that the CDC is not reporting. Mark Twain said something to the effect of, “There are lies, damn lies … and statistics.” Real math never lies. Statistics are always correct, when collected correctly and presented honestly. However, statistics are often abused, especially in political environments.

First of all, this would mean that the CDC is profoundly corrupt and willingly causing the deaths and injuries of Americans and hiding it. It would also mean that the 1 million + scientists who have worked on the vaccine or have endorsed it, are all criminals and out to hurt or kill you. But for what purpose? The CHD and others always point to “Big Pharma” as the evil nemesis behind the scenes, as if was an organization from a Spiderman movie. Is that consistent with reality? Are conspiracy theories of any type, the best way to find truth?

I am not saying that the CDC is perfect. I’m certainly not saying that “Big Pharma” is perfect. The CDC can have political influences and “Big Pharma” can have financial interests. I’ve seen the former, in the past year, where the CDC made some politically-influenced decisions. I’ve witnessed, first hand, “Big Pharma” being misleading for the sake of profit, but never on a wholesale level. But the scientists in both systems are trained in the scientific method, which is profoundly accurate in finding truth most of the time. I’ve worked with them. I have two sons who are research scientists who could not imagine faking data just to hurt you. The vast majority are in the pursuit of truth at all costs.

I am very disappointed in the Children’s Health Defense organization (and I’ve read most of their information) because they have deliberately misrepresented the data to support their political position. They give their subscribers the feeling that they are the good guys with secret inside information . . . something like a political Erin Brockovich. I will try to explain the truth in this specific data set.

They draw from a tool called VAERS ( https://vaers.hhs.gov/data.html ). This tool is not a scientific data collection system that we would use in studies. It is an informal online, self-reporting system, established in 1990 as a tool where health care providers or patients report perceived adverse reactions to a vaccine, including death. Anyone can log on this information and there is no way to verify the data or to show if there is a causal relationship to the vaccine. But, if enough of the same side effect is reported, it catches the eye of the CDC to do real research into that vaccine. That is what happened with blood clots and the J & J vaccine.

I worked in research for four years, managing more than 20 drug studies. We collected all side effect information. However, those studies were double blinded, meaning that neither the patient or I knew who was on a drug or who was on a cornstarch tablet. If 10 people reported cold sores in the real drug group and none in the placebo group, then you can reasonably suspect a relationship between the drug and the cold sores. However, if 10 reported cold sores in each group, then you can be pretty sure there was no relationship between the drug and the cold sores.

In the VARES system, it is NOT double blinded. Everyone knows they had the vaccine. Most people who get the vaccine get some side effects. But other “side effects” may have nothing to do with the vaccine and the patient still goes online and reports it because of what we call the nocebo effect (where you sense the side effects that you were worried about having). This is what the CDC says about this data:

Reports of death after COVID-19 vaccination are rare. More than 334 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through July 12, 2021. During this time, VAERS received 6,079 reports of death (0.0018%) among people who received a COVID-19 vaccine. FDA requires healthcare providers to report any death after COVID-19 vaccination to VAERS, even if it’s unclear whether the vaccine was the cause. Reports of adverse events to VAERS following vaccination, including deaths, do not necessarily mean that a vaccine caused a health problem. A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records, has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines. However, recent reports indicate a plausible causal relationship between the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine and TTS, a rare and serious adverse event—blood clots with low platelets—which has caused deaths.

Regarding the deaths, you have to remember that the vaccination program started in December in the most vulnerable population, such as nursing home residents. By logging online and reporting a death of a family member who is 90 years old, in poor health anyway, does not mean that their death was related to the vaccine. Now, if a lot of people died in that group, more than average, it would raise suspicion. But that did not happen. You have to understand that the number of people getting vaccinated during the time period is a huge number, 334 million. So even if the numbers that the CHD are reporting were true and really related to the vaccine, that means that the death rate for the vaccine is about .0018%. The death rate with the original COVID was .5% when spread out for all groups. The long term side effects from getting the infection may be as high as 30%.The new COVID is higher, but the exact numbers are not in yet. So, even if the CHD was being honest, still the vaccine is far safer, many times over, than getting COVID.

I am a lover of truth. Emotional reasoning is always a poor way to find truth. I am disappointed when groups use information falsely for a political purpose to stir emotional reasoning. I believe that the CHD is doing that. Most of the “news outlets” mislead the public all the time, especially Fox News, but CNN does so about other issues.

I will not argue my point any longer. But understand, I care about you, your family, the country, and the world. I also care about truth. Lastly, I care about my own life. Per doctors’ orders, based on my co-morbidities, I cannot associate with unvaccinated people, unless both are masked and outside. I am at high risk of death from COVID, maybe even 100% chance. There is also evidence that my vaccine is not effective because of my risk factors (bone marrow transplant, renal failure, on chemo, on steroids, etc.) so don’t be offended if I can’t hang out with you if you are not vaccinated.

If you have honest concerns and have data that you would like for me to review, I would be willing to do that. But I will try not to post things here or anywhere else about the vaccine anymore as I must let this go. I will pray for my unvaccinated friends and family, hoping for their safety. Likewise, if you think you have convincing data to prove the vaccines are riskier than getting COVID, I would be willing to look at that. If you convince me, I will change my mind. I’ve reviewed many articles and videos on the topic from the anti-vaccine perspective and so far, all have been wanting for good data. I can’t even get my head around the fact that some people won’t get a vaccine because they are Republicans or Evangelicals so I won’t discuss that here.

Please get vaccinated.

Peace,

Mike

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