Archive for the ‘science’ category

In Which I Yell ‘SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!’ And My Brain Implodes

April 21st, 2011

Today started off uber awesome. I received a very exciting email that I cannot talk about. I had a very exciting meeting about the new radio station that I cannot talk about. Today has been awesome.

Just when I think things cannot get any better and I cannot contain my excitement any longer, while at the same time warding off an impending panic attack because things can become equally horrible within a second if it all fall apart, I noticed ‘it’. The thing which nearly caused me to break LENT but instead caused me to exclaim, “SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!” and make my brain implode.

I’m neurotic about my stats. I was checking them, as I do obsessively throughout the day. That is when I noticed a link referral to Geeky Pleasures from a site I have not seen link to me before. Being OCD about such things, I clicked on the referral link. This referral link was from an online entertainment magazine that I hadn’t heard of before. So, I did what any good OCD nerd would do. I decided to investigate this website. I searched it out on Alexa. My brain sputtered when I saw that it has a worldwide rank 384.

That is when I decided to look it up on the good old Wikipedia and read the following:

Zimbio.com, a San Carlos, California, USA-based company is an online magazine publisher. It was founded by Tony Mamone and Danny Khatib. Mamone is the CEO of the company, Khatib is its president, and John Newlin is the Editor-in-Chief.

Zimbio publishes a blend of professionally written featured stories, user contributed articles, videos and high resolution photography. The site commonly covers headlines in entertainment, style, current events, and more.

Zimbio has also launched “Zimbio TV” that features various videos from very popular TV series and syndicated shows.

According to Quantcast, Zimbio is ranked the 141 most visited US site on the Internet. In September 2010, it received around 21 million visits.[2] In February 2009, Zimbio was one of the fastest growing community sites on the internet.[3]

The company is venture-backed by Menlo Ventures and Draper Richards.

 

Want to know what article of mine they posted, added by CEO Tony Mamone? Click the clip below:

 

Tony, I don’t know how you found my site but thank you for linking to it. It makes my brain especially implode that you linked to one of my articles about the space shuttle program and William Shatner. For something like that to hit a high traffic, mainstream entertainment section of a website which receives over 8 million unique visitors a month, in the USA alone, is both wonderful and bizarre. Especially when stuff like this is not what I had planned for.

Sorry if this seems like I’m name dropping or something. But this is a major thing for me and I don’t know what to make of it. Things like this just don’t happen to small town girls from Canada and I am grateful and currently a wee bit overwhelmed by it all.

Now please excuse me while I faint.

What Do You Mean There Is No Santa Claus?

October 28th, 2009

I expect people to be ignorant. And people are ignorant regardless of their standing within society. However, there are some subjects where the ignorance from people disappoint me more so than others. Antivaxx thinking being probably at #2 on my list if not #1. Antivaxx rhetoric, lies, misinformation, anti-science, conspiracy theorist, nuttery is dangerous.

Normally I am very happy to agree to disagree on many subjects, even subjects normally very emotionally charged such as theism vs atheism. I like a good debate and exchange of ideas. This is how we learn. I am not an atheist myself. I have many friend who are atheist. I do find fundamentalism on both ends to be equally dangerous HOWEVER I will not stop being a friend with someone for being an atheist, unless I feel they are fundamentally doing harm. Just as I would stop being friends with anyone who believes in some form of Divine entity if I thought what they were saying was dangerous, things that cause parents to set their children on fire or mass suicides or not seeking proper medical care for their children or not teaching evolution as examples.

Antivaxx even in the smallest dose is fundamentally dangerous. I have been removing people from my Facebook who are antivaxx and spread dangerous antivaxx misinformation. If you choose to put yourself at risk by not vaccinating that could be one thing. But by spreading lies and misinformation despite the fact science (let us ignore BigPharma here, I am talking about outside independent studies) has repeatedly shown the antivaxx movement is nothing but a bunch of quacks and as a result putting even more people in danger, to me that is unacceptable. To me, it is the same as preaching fundamental religious beliefs that lead to things such as burning your child alive because you feel they are possessed. I even get really upset when people choose not to vaccinate them self because it puts others in harms way but normally that is not enough for me to stop associating with someone. That falls into a personal freedom over body and thoughts slightly outweighs keeping society safe as a whole thing. Am I making any sense? I do not know if I can make sense right now due to my current state of mind and the conflict I am currently experiencing.

Today I found out someone that I highly respect who also just happens to be influential is a bid of an antivaxxer. I am not going to say who because like I said, I respect this person as a person and not because of their job. I don’t want more people to give them flack or praise for their POV. And some of the things they said is valid, such as investigating. Unfortunately people have done their “investigations” and have fallen victim to the likes of McCarthy et al instead of science which, if done correctly, is free from personal bias. I am conflicted. If it were most other people who came out with something antivaxx, I would stop paying attention to them. In this case, I do not know what to do because they did state they are not giving advice whether to vaccinate or not and told people to do their own investigation. Unfortunately, that is along the same lines as the new anthem sung by McCarthy et al.

I feel as if I were 5 again and just found my parents putting the presents under the Christmas tree with all the tags from Santa or someone just burst one of my favourite balloons.

If Jenny McCarthy et al Can Do It, Why Can't We?

October 13th, 2009

I have been obsessed with antivax nonsense yet again and with good reason. I have been ranting and raving all over the place over the lunacy. Last night, I made another public rant on Phil Plait’s blog “Beck and Limbaugh agree with far left, Satan shivers.”  If you are too lazy to click the link and read through the hundreds of comments to find mine, here it is:

“And there is no evidence either that Satan shivered. Why on earth must people get so tied up in such a small point and completely overlook Phil’s point?

To whoever this reply applies to as I am too lazy to find the actual comment: Why is it that because Phil puts himself out there and expresses his scientifically based decision on vaccines people are now going to fact check everything he says? You know its not like Phil is deciding to re-write the laws of gravity here. He just wants people to get the real facts, suck it up, get vaccinated and save people’s lives. WOW Phil is a monster! And I do not want to hear that is what McCarthy et al are doing, but it is not. They don’t care if people die as long as it serves “the cause”. They consider the deaths causalities of war, plain and simple.

How about we all hold hand and sing kumbaya and nitpick the little points while people get ill, infirmed and/or die. Then after we have done this we can look into the eyes of the family members who have to deal with the aftermath and explain to them why we were to busy singing songs and yelling at each other to get a bloody needle.

Look into the eyes of Dana McCaffery and explain to her why she got whooping cough. OH WAIT! You can’t because she is dead. Explain it to the child then who had a heart transplant as a baby why his heart is being rejected because it was just a simple flu that does not kill like the regular flu does. Look into the eyes of the children you may orphan because their parents are immuno-compromised and explain to them why you are risking leaving them parentless.

If you have the nerve to look into these people’s faces and say “Sorry we can’t get our needle because (insert poor excuse here unless it is a valid medical reason)” as they lay there really really sick… well then you don’t want to know what I think about that.

I ranted about this last night on my personal blog. I ranted about it today when I was given a leaflet saying H1N1 is a man made vaccine and conspiracy to kill people and turn them into zombies type BS and for BigPharma to make millions and I am ranting about it again.

Yes I am being a bit of an alarmist here but the above is many people’s reality. They have to worry about illness in ways many people do not even imagine. But I think it is time to stop being nice about it and shake people into reality. If McCarthy et al want to scare people into not vaccinating then why can’t people use the same shock and scare tactics but with science to back them up? And this flu (as someone has already pointed out) is not just killing those at higher risk, but normally healthy people as well.”

After this rant, I was up all night subjecting myself to stupid video after stupid video with McCarthy et al on a various of different “news” programs and talk shows spewing the same dangerous garbage and shifting the goal post. I could not sleep because I was so upset over this and the comments of people who honestly believe this garbage caused me to shake.

You know, McCarthy is one smart cookie and business woman despite the fact she comes off as a raving lunatic for those of us who are grounded in reality. You want to know why she is smart? Because she has put a face to her crazy, her poor poor autistic son Evan. She has made millions off of her poor poor autistic son Evan and has made others millions. She preys on people’s emotions and fears by using words such as “Iran and Iraq” to describe certain things. She states things such as “parent’s anecdotal evidence is real science” to appeal to the parents who are grief stricken over their child’s disorder. She names names and puts a face to her cause. She is smart despite being so wrong and misguided.

One of the biggest criticism of science is that it deals only in stats and numbers. It is cold and unfeeling. I am well aware of this myself as I decided to leave out stats and numbers when I wrote my own blog trying to put a face to Lupus and raise awareness. For many people stats and numbers are boring and they just don’t care. However, if you humanize the equation, people take notice. It is a basic psychological thing. It is why you see in movie after movie and tv show after tv show that when someone is kidnapped, the police/FBI/etc. tell the person making the media plea for the safe return of the victim to say their name over and over again, to turn the nameless and faceless victim into a person.

There are many people in the science and skeptic community trying to bring awareness to this situation and the damage it is doing. Among them are Phil Plait(PhD), Joe Albietz(MD), Steve Novella(MD), Steve Lundquist / Todd W / IVAN3MAN, studies such as the this that have studied the impact of the antivax movement (A Broken Trust: Lessons from the Vaccine-Autism War)

This is an excellent start but I am really starting to believe it is not enough and never be enough because it is not appealing to people’s emotions. One can argue that science shouldn’t appeal to person’s emotions since science is supposed to be emotion free. However, this subject is not emotion free. Now even so I do become of a bit of an extremist and an alarmist when it comes to this issue because it could very well kill me and leave my children parentless and I feel we could learn from the tactics of McCarthy does not mean we should become her. Using terror to fight terror is never a good idea. And even so anecdotes ARE NOT EVIDENCE despite what Jenny McCarthy wants to say, I think it is time we put real faces to this issue. It has already begun with Dana McCaffery’s parents becoming vocal on the tragedy that struck their family. I think it is not enough.

Like it or not, people listen to anecdote. Like it or not people will listen to something because a friend of a friend of a friend said it and swears by it so it must be true. So I think us science people need to start putting faces and names to how the antivax movement is affecting our families and us. Let us humanize the numbers found above in the study and the McCarthy body count. Let us who are science realists, who have children with autism etc speak out without spouting numbers but with real faces. The numbers are there but they are cold. Some of my friends in the science community may not agree or support this idea and that is their choice. What I am proposing is this, blog about your story. But on top of blogging your own story or the story of someone close to you who is affected by this, I am willing to create a page dedicated to these stories so they can all be found in one location.

I have invited the crazies many times to come here and say their garbage to my face. Now I do not know if it is because they can actually kill me and they can’t say it to my face why they continue to believe what they believe or what is the case, but they remain silent. And I know they read this blog. It is not like I do not get a lot of hits. Now I am inviting the other side. I hope you accept this invitation and speak up. Please pass the word and send me feedback and I will create the page ASAP and we can start building the provaccine community and put another face to this issue.

And if you are part of the science community and think this is a bad idea, please let me know why you think it a bad idea as well. We are not always going to all agree on how best to get a message out and if we make that transparent perhaps it will help get the message out that it is all anecdote and do the real research yourself and talk to your doctor.  Despite the fact we want to think our mommy/daddy instincts outweigh a doctor’s education, they do not. We get insane and irrational when our children are sick. We grasp at straws and will cling to anything told to use that brings us any ray of hope. The last thing we want to hear is a doctor we feel is not listening to us. Well they are listening but it is their job to protect our children and keep them healthy, even at times from us parents.

Ranting Again

October 11th, 2009

I really wish I had something truly wonderful to write about lately, but I don’t. This time of the year is never a good time for me. And this year, it just keeps getting worse. It is coming up on the cold and flu season. And thanks to all the wonderful crazies out there and people reacting out of fear and ignorance instead of science and logic, I get to spend the winter in reverse quarantine. YAY! I guess one good thing has come out of all the crazy stupid. I have been inspired to write a second book entitled “The Stupidity of Humanity.” This book will take a long time to write and it will be a rant and I know it will anger people on both sides of the fence since I am going to take a middle ground on a lot of issues and not so middle ground on a lot of others.

I feel sorry for my followers on Twitter at times because I am not sure if they are aware of why I rant so loudly against certain thing, the Antivax movement being one of my loudest rants. Here is an example of my latest rant:

Everytime something like this happens, I am filled with such rage! A DC laywers (Jim Turner) is suing the FDA to prevent approval of the H1N1 vaccines based on falsified information. FFS! When is the insanity going to end?!? Info via @achura RAGE! JULES SMASH!

Maybe I should write a second book entitled “The Stupidity of Humanity” which would be a complete rant against idiots.

JULES SMASH! “He’s suing 2 stop Swine Flu vaccine on behalf of a client who sells snake oil fake medicine http://j.mp/1m7F35 (via @achura )

Just because you don’t get sick, doesn’t mean you do not carry disease that can kill babies, elderly, the immuno-compromised, transplant patients, cancer patients, those who on the outside look healthy but are not. Just get jabbed already.

And if you think the side effects of the shot are bad imagine how sick you would be if you actually got the disease you are being protected from

Look into the eyes of a child who’s parent you helped kill or the eyes of a dying child or elderly person & explain to them your choice.

I am one of those parents that you will get to explain to my children why something as the “simple flu” took away their mother. Hell even if you are a normally healthy person, these diseases that vaccines help prevent can make you seriously ill. I am so tired of the look I get from my children when I am sick. The look of fear and panic that this illness is the one that is going to take away their mom. They have spent their lives with a mom who has been in and out of hospital more times that one can count. I am a single mother who relies on public transportation to feed her children. I do not have physical support. So of course I get really angry and upset when people just don’t care to understand. I get really angry when the normally sane Canadian health authorities stop the normal fall flu schedule. I break down in tears when my child comes to me and says, “um will you live… and don’t lie to me.” Right now the elephant in the room is HUGE and I cannot ignore it. If I ignore the fact I have Lupus at this moment, it could mean my death.

And it is not only just because of my situation why I rant the way I do against this idiocy, but there are millions of families just like mine. Babies are already dying in countries such as Australia because of all of this nonsense. Australia is not some third world country that does not have the resources to protect the population and babies are dying. Look in the face of of Dana McCaffery’s parents and explain to them why their baby had to die. Explain to them that it is a necessary casualty of war against the BigPharma. Explain to them and the other parents who’s children have died of pertussis because they were too young to be vaccinated and there is no herd immunity.

Explain to the family members of transplant patience, cancer patients, the elderly why their family members are dead because you were either too lazy to get jabbed or you gave into the fear mongering or you used the excuse “I never get sick.” Explain it those who cannot be vaccinated to do allergies why they are sick. Explain it!

Just because you never get sick, does not mean you cannot get others sick. Call it my crazy socialists ways, but it our jobs to protect everyone from these things. What good are we if we are sick, infirmed or dead.

As I said on Phil Plait’s blog last night, we have become lazy and complacent in our instant gratification society. People expect perfect knowledge and heaven forbid there are mistakes made along the way. That is how we learn. That is how we grow. That is how we make advancements and better products. Yes there have been some mistakes made in science and medicine along the way, but we deal with them and move on. Nobody has ever denied that, except for the denialists. As someone pointed out in the comment section, our parents never thought twice about jabbing us. My response to this was perhaps it is because they grew up in a time where they saw first hand the devastating effects of mumps, measles, polio, whooping cough etc. We are lucky enough to be in a part of the world were up until recently, those diseases were under control.

Are you going to have to see a resurgence in these diseases to kick your lazy asses into motion and get a simple needle? I really hope not.

Think Before Giving Into Fear

September 28th, 2009

I am so angry right now I can’t think straight. I am also so upset and sad right now I can’t stop crying. I am so disappointed right now in the different Canadian health authorities. I am so disappointed in those who’s jobs it is to protect families like mine. I am so disappointed in a government that is normally so pro vaccine and even has ad campaigns promoting immunization. They have dropped the ball. They are now causing fear and panic over a supposed research paper they even haven’t read yet because the authors claim they cannot release it as they have submitted it to some science journal and have to wait until publication in said journal before the results can be released.

What this report is claiming is that getting the normal flu vaccine is dangerous and it increases your risks of getting the H1N1 virus. Now other countries have done the same studies and their published findings say that there is no increased risk. But what does our government do? It decided to hold off on the flu vaccine despite the fact THEY HAVE SEEN NO PROOF that the flu vaccine increased the risk of getting H1N1. 5 different provinces have now changed their normal fall flu vaccine campaign based on alleged findings. Does this seem logical to you? No it is not! What this will do is make those who are antivax scream louder and say “HA we told you so! Vaccines are dangerous, m’kay?”

Now why does this have me so upset that I cannot stop crying? Because unlike you normal healthy people, this can kill me. This fear and ignorance is a threat to my life. I rely on others to be vaccinated from things as simple as “just the flu” to keep me alive. This means that this Winter I will probably get to enjoy at least 2 months in reverse quarantine because something as simple as the flu can kill me. I have Lupus and there is no such thing as a simple virus to me.

And people wonder why I get so upset when people are so ignorant when it comes to doing their part to keep everyone safe and healthy. I do not want to ever have to hear Kid1 ask me “mom are you going to die… and don’t lie” again. Now if the flu or cold can kill me, what do you think the other things that vaccinations help prevent will do to me?

I am not the only one who has to worry about things as simple as the flu either. There are millions more like me. And a lot of us cannot be vaccinated because it is contraindicated for health reasons. Another example of why this has me in tears at the moment is this. There is a little boy at Kid2’s school that had to have a heart transplant when he was a baby. He is on immuno-suppressants for the rest of his life, like me, so that his heart does not get rejected. He also relies on other people to be responsible when it comes to health.

When I had H1N1, even so Kid2 was fine, the health authority had to go into their school and remove every piece of furniture from Kid2’s room and the other boy’s room and completely disinfect everything. A notice has gone home to all the parents stating that there are two families with chronic health problems where something as simple as the cold poses a serious health risk. If your child is showing any symptoms of illness, please keep them home until they are symptom free for 24 hours. Kid2 had a cold and I of course kept him home as I understand the seriousness of this situation better than anyone else. But do you think other parents are going to do the same? Somehow I doubt it.

I am so angry and upset right now. I cannot believe those who are in charge of keeping the general population healthy, of protecting babies and the elderly, of protecting those of us with compromised immune systems are doing this. Do they not understand how much fear and panic this has the potential to cause? Do they not understand how much louder people who say, “I never got the flu until I got my flu shot” are going to claim that flu shot is bad and people should have listened? Do they just don’t care?

Think before giving into fear. My life and millions of others literally depend on it.

Dr. Phil Plait Interview

June 6th, 2009

Click here to listen to the interview with Dr. Phil Plait. This link is the temporary fix until our server issues at the radio station are fixed. Thank you all for your patience during this time.

Last night (June 5, 2009), I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Phil Plait aka The Bad Astronomer live for my Geeky Pleasures show on Party934. We discussed a variety of topics from the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA to the antivaxx movement and homeopathy, plus a few other topics of interest to the both of us. A warning: I drop the “s” word a couple of times during the interview. So consider yourself warned. At the very end of the interview, Phil gave me some inside scoop about a couple of projects he is working on. You will only hear it here. The total runtime for the interview is 1hr 38min 23sec.

I want to apologize in advance for the editing of this broadcast. Phil sat down with me live last night and we took a couple of breaks to play some music. I had to edit out the music portion of the interview as it would be in violation of the station’s royalties contracts had I left the music in. After close to 12 hours of editing and technology failing over 20 times during the process, what you are hearing now is the best that is available at the moment. I wanted to make sure the broadcast was available as soon as possible for people to listen to and give feedback. Hopefully I will be able to find the time soon to clean it up a bit.

It was a real pleasure interviewing Phil. I had a lot of fun doing it and my impression was that he did as well. A couple little show notes:

I was very surprised how silent the listeners were as we discussed a couple of topics that have caused Phil to receive some heat on his own blog. We discussed these topics very frankly and openly. Considering the feedback he has received on his own blog regarding these topics, I was expecting some listeners to come out and put him to the fire while he was live on air and accepting questions. This did not happen. This leads me to conclude that people are much braver behind a computer typing out words than when they are given the opportunity to express those opinions live and in person.

You will notice during the interview, that I appear to be tongue tied, at a loss for words or do not complete my thought. There are a couple of reasons for that. The first reason is that when I do an interview, they are not scripted. I like the interview to have the feel of two friends sitting down to a cup of coffee and talking about subjects of mutual interest. Yes I have a general outline of what topics I would like to discuss, however I do not script out the questions and the person being interviewed does not know what questions I am going to ask. This allows for a more natural and organic conversation to occur. The second reason is almost 3 years ago, I suffered from a stroke. So whenever I am excited or passionate about something, my ability to communicate (both verbally and written) is one of the first things to be affected. And let me tell you, Phil gave me many reasons to be excited. Not only is he a very passionate speaker, he is extremely funny.

I think that is all I really have to say about that at this moment. I hope you enjoy and your feedback (both negative and positive) are more than welcomed. As I said in the interview, bring it on!





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Dr. Phil Plait aka Mister Bad Astronomy

June 5th, 2009
The day has finally come. Tonight Dr. Phil Plait will be co-hosting my Geeky Pleasures show. I am a tad nervous about this. Mind you not as nervous as I was when I got to interview Wil Wheaton on my show, but nonetheless I am still nervous. No sooner do I think I have all my questions that I want to ask sketched out in my head, he posts yet another wonderful blog that causes me to rethink interview topics. Regardless of what direction the show takes tonight, it will be a very good one.

Showtime is 9 pm PDT, Midnight EDT. To listen:

Winamp/iTunes/XMMS: [Click here]
Windows Media Player: [Click here]
RealPlayer: [Click here]





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Antivaxx Issue

May 25th, 2009
The other day, I wrote I am so excited I could blast off into the farthest reaches of the universe . I mentioned how the antivaxxers chap my biscuits to put it politely (yes, I am going to attempt to be polite here even so this is a very hot topic with me, getting emotional will not help the issue at hand). I want to say the other day (it could be the other week as each day has been blurred into the next the past few weeks), someone on the antivaxx side of the issue made a comment on Dr. Phil Plait’s blog entitled Are Antivaxxers Liable for Preventable Deaths that us “science” people just don’t get it. I literally saw red when I read that. Now normally, I am not one to react out of emotion or anger. I am a very rational, logic driven person. However, this topic hits very close to home and as I said I would explain why, so here it goes (be prepared to do a bit of reading).

To start off with a bit about my educational background. I have my degree in Psychology. When I first decided to pursue Psychology (originally I was going to be an astrophysicist but that is another story) I was just going to do general studies and work towards being a clinical psychologist. However a few things happened to change my area of focus. In the end my focus was Abnormal Psychology, specifically Abnormal Psychology of Infant/Children and Adolescence (a relatively new field). First one was that my mother was diagnosed with a myriad of psychological disorders, the worse of which is bipolar with schizoid tendencies. The second was my oldest son was started to display a lot of ADHD symptoms. The third, and the hardest one to deal with, was neurological and brain development issues with my youngest, which started in utero.

When I was four months pregnant with my youngest, we received some very scary news. During a routine ultrasound, it was found that I had partial placenta previa and this would have to monitored. I was to go back for a second ultrasound a month later to see if my placenta would start to migrate to where it should be on its own or if not, well there is a lot that can go wrong with that condition. So for about a month, I worried about my unborn child and the possibility of miscarriage or hemorrhaging. Now it was time for the follow up ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the tech got very quiet and called in the Radiology doctor to take a look at the scan. He was very quiet and had a very grave look on his face. He left the room and I asked what was wrong and was told you will have to wait till you see your doctor again. Now how the system works here, you do not get a phone call from the doctor unless you have an abnormal test. Well I didn’t need to get that call because the techs do not call in the head doctor unless there is an issue that they are unable to diagnose. Due to this, I was waiting for a call from my doctor’s office to come in ASAP. One did not come. So I booked my own appointment as I could not wait through the Christmas holidays until my six month check up to find out what was wrong. The first thing I asked my doctor was what was wrong with my baby. He didn’t know what I was talking about. So I told him about the events surrounding my last ultrasound. He informed me he had not received the report yet and he would check his office to see if it were there. He returned back to the exam room with another grave look on his face, holding the report. He said that he was sorry, but there are abnormalities in the baby’s brain. I asked him what kind. He said that his left lateral ventricle was twice the size of normal and that his right posterior horn was dilated. My next question was, “Ummm what? What causes that? What does that mean? Does the baby have encephalitis? WHAT?” He had no clue as it is not something that he has ever seen in his medical career. He told me I was to go to the mainland (Vancouver, British Columbia. I live on Vancouver Island) to the women’s hospital within the week for further tests. I told him that would be impossible as I do not have a vehicle, we need to find another way. I received a phone call a couple days later that I was to head down to Victoria the next day to the special obstetrics unit where the rest of my primary prenatal care would be carried out (and FYI, I am really attempting to make a long story short here, however it is a really long story).

So down the Victoria I went where began my bi-weekly tests and exams. After the first visit, I was sent to get a bunch of blood work done that would be sent off to the CDC (I believe they did 100 tests for a myriad of odd diseases). One of their major concerns was that I had never been vaccinated and my Rubella titre was zero. Now the reason I have never been vaccinated is because I am allergic to eggs and a lot of vaccines are grown in egg white protein. Given my lack of family history of abnormal brain phenomena, they thought I may have contracted some bizarre disease that would have caused the brain abnormalities in my fetus. To make matters even more scary, they gave me the sex of my child (they do not do that here unless you are risk for losing the baby for a variety of legal reason). And to compound fear, there was talk of having to put a shunt into the baby’s brain while he was still in utero to get rid of the water on his brain. Test results came back, everything was negative. Every two weeks, they would do another ultrasound to check the swelling in his head and finally at around 7.5 months, the ventricle started to go to a normal size. The specialists wanted me to deliver in Victoria where there could be a team of doctors at his birth. I refused since my doctor would not be able to deliver (very important to me as he has been my doctor since I was 6 and is like a second dad to me). I assured the specialists we could assemble the same team at my local hospital, but I would not deliver anywhere else.

There was 3 doctors and 4 nurses present when it came time to have him. The deliver did not go smoothly. The cord was wrapped around his neck and they had to force my cervix open when I was 9 cms dilated as his heart rate was dropping rapidly. Then when he was born, he was not breathing and when they finally got him to breath, was not alert. He was cyanotic. A scary pregnancy was followed by a very scary delivery. And well more problems occurred after he was born that really is not too relevant on this topic, however to illustrate a point that will come, it was a very stressful time. He had to have another ultrasound on his head before we were released from hospital and then a CT scan when he was one month old. The CT showed that there was still the abnormalities shown from the ultrasound, however not severe enough anymore to worry. What we did have to monitor, however, was that his right temporal lobe had atrophied slightly.

Now came the early days. It was awful. You could not hold him chest to chest otherwise he would become stiff as a board and scream as if someone were killing him. The only way he would allowed to be touched was that if you were holding him with his back to your che
st. Nursing was a huge pain. He wanted to nurse and was a huge eater, however he was constantly pushing away because of the front to front contact and then would freak out when he would lose the nipple. So came some very creative ways (football hold being the easiest) to nurse so that it was not a constant struggle. Every week like clockwork on Wednesday, he would stay up for 2 days straight. At around 2 years of age, that changed to every second week. And heaven forbid I would ever leave the room. A few of his motor skills were developmentally delayed as well.

We had to see an infant development specialist once a month and the pediatrician every two weeks. As he got older (even so we had a lot of challenges due to the Autistic tendencies) we got to have fun with some of his “neurosis”. He was and continues to be a sorter. He would spend hours a day sorting and lining up all of toys. One of the things he would spend hours on was lining up all of his cars (he had at 200 of them) back bumper to front bumper in a perfectly straight line. He would then leave the room. Then either his father or I would change just one of the cars so that it was pointing the wrong way. Instantly upon my son re-entering the room, he would see what car was out of place and then spend a few more hours fixing it. Taking him shopping was a nightmare. If anybody would look at him (and worse talk to him) he would have the biggest meltdown. His meltdowns (both inside the house and outside) would most often lead to vomiting. Now what I have just described is just a small fraction of what we had to deal with when it came to my youngest. We had issues to deal with (not nearly as bad) when it came to my oldest. My oldest was the easiest baby but as he got older (as often does) his behaviors got more difficult and eventually he was diagnosed with severe ADHD and ODD. My youngest was never given a label beyond displaying Autistic tendencies as a label was not needed for him to receive the treatments and supports he needed. Thankfully due to behavioral therapies, for the most part my youngest is able to manage and self sooth with very few meltdowns.

Now comes the question, were my children vaccinated? My oldest was and my youngest had to stop being vaccinated after his 12 month vaccine as he had 2 neurological reactions to vaccines in a row. I have never been vaccinated. For my family, the fact two of us are not vaccinated is a very thing. One of the biggest reasons is because I have Lupus (more about that here)and I have no immunity. Anytime there is any form of outbreak of anything (flu included) I am not allowed to leave my house since a simple flu could kill me. My youngest has no immunity (he was exposed to chicken pox many times as a baby however he was nursing at the time and was provided with temporary immunity). If he were to contract any of the diseases vaccines protect against, he could die as well.

According to the antivaxx community, vaccines are the cause of pretty much any abnormality that is not chromosomal in children. Well (and this is not science but anecdote) one of my children was vaccinated and the other was not and they both have a “disorder” according the the DSM-IV. Now some may argue that if I had vaccinated my youngest fully, his tendencies would be worse or they are explained by the abnormalities while he was developing in utero. Exactly how or why these things happen is a whole different topic at hand which I could write about for hours. If you read my comments on Dr. Phil Plait’s blog entitled Are Antivaxxers Liable for Death I go into that briefly there. The reason why I am writing this tonight is because I felt it the responsible thing to do to explain my comment to the person that stated us “science” people don’t get it. Most of us do get it more than those with antivaxx agendas could ever understand. We deal with it in a more real way than they have to. Not only do we have family members that are afflicted with different issues and it could be very easy to blame it something outside of genetics so that we don’t feel as if we failed our children by breeding our faulty genes, we continue to do research and to teach in hopes that we can find REAL answers, instead of blaming something that has been proven over and over again to not be linked to Autism or other childhood issues.



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I am so Excited I Could Blast Off into the Farthest Reaches of the Universe!

May 20th, 2009
I am beyond giddy at the moment! I just received confirmation that I will be interview ing another one of my favourite Geeky Pleasure people for my Geeky Pleasures show onParty934, June 5th. He is one of my favourite bloggers (one of the three that I make sure to check on a daily basis). He is one of my favourite anti-science people. Let me correct that, HE IS MY KING OF ANTISCIENCE (just as Wil Wheaton is my King of Geek). The dude got to work on Hubble of all things! And this would be none other than the amazing, the fantastic Dr. Phil Plait.

Now some of you may be asking who? Well he is this dude, the writer of Bad Astronomy which is a blog on Discover Magazine online. His blog is so amazing that it has recently been named one of TIME.com’s Best Blog of 2009. If you google search him, you will find a lot more very interesting information on the man, well because he truly is a very interesting individual. He is also the author of “Death From the Skies!”, which you can order on Amazon,Barnes and Noble and Borders.

In some communities, he has recently received flack for his stance on antivaxxers and the harm that community is doing. Here is his most recent blog on the subject Are Antivaxxers Liable for Preventable Death. If you read the comment section, it is somewhat heated. He has many blogs on the subject as it is very important that science is heard over the anti-science of McCarthy et al. Do the digging through his blog because it is very important information. One day, I was really angry to see that some reader gave him shit for posting about this since it wasn’t about astronomy. Well you know what, it is HIS blog so he gets to talk about whatever he chooses. You don’t like it, don’t read that blog entry as they are all very clearly titled. However, actually do read them because they need to be read. People need to hear more than just a few sides to this story. If you read his latest blog on the subject, you will see my comments quite a few times. The discussion left me very angry and hurt for a few reasons (which I do plan on blogging about when I can blog about it rationally and logically instead of from a place of heated emotions and frustrations).

I really don’t think I will be able to sleep tonight, because for me, this is extremely exciting news and I am beyond giddy! If someone does not tie me down soon, I think I will reach escape velocity and blast off into the farthest reaches of the Universe (and that is a whole other topic of discussion as my youngest (who is 10) asked me the other day, “Mom, if the universe is constantly expanding, that means there is an end, but there isn’t because its always growing bigger but if is growing it has to stop somewhere since it has to grow from some type of ending. MAN, now my head hurts! “).

Show time will be 9 pm PT – 11 pm PT on Friday, June 5, 2009 pending any unforseen circumstance.



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