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The Tail Wagging the Dog: Death Categorization Drives Healthcare Decisions

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By World Mercury Project Guest Contributor Joy M. Fritz, posted here with permission.

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I work with doctors, coroners and the local county registrars every day to create death records. It’s what I do for a living and I wanted to share my thoughts on the mortality rates being thrown around on mainstream and social media regarding the influenza epidemic. Please note: This information I am sharing is not limited to influenza reporting, but rather, serves as a case study of how the mortality rate recording system (mal)functions at large.

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I am sorry to say that death rates are NOT as simple or as valid as every news broadcaster with perfectly-trained vocal delivery makes them sound, and they are absolutely not the infallible pillar of medical history that the CDC purports.

This failed mechanism in the mortality rate ‘generator’, if you will, is the same for the hotly debated adverse vaccine reactions. This is the reason you see horrible adverse vaccine reactions and deaths being claimed by parents on social media, but no line item for them in national statistics.

An Imperfect System

Our current system for capturing mortality rates can and does provide a mostly uninvestigated and inaccurate picture of what causes a death. The process for creating and registering causes of death for public records is a complicated, convoluted, and politicized one. It is completely open to both ignorance and the manipulations of personal, professional, and governmental interests.

I have come to realize how greatly this reality becomes a public health issue during this current flu season when every major media outlet is providing us with live updates on the accruing death toll. Seeing these reports caused me concern for my family. My husband and I discussed what preventive treatment we might consider. I started reading the FDA package inserts for different flu immunization options to get informed on which might be safest for our infant and six-year-old. What I ultimately wanted to investigate was the risk of death. My kids getting sick is just part of life; other people getting sick is just part of life; lowering the risk of death to my family and the people around me is what I cared about when it came specifically to the seasonal flu.

The process for creating and registering causes of death . . . is completely open to both ignorance and the manipulations of personal, professional, and governmental interests.

I started researching mortality rates to find the line item in the CDC reports for “deaths due to influenza” vs. “adverse reaction to influenza medications and immunizations”. I found influenza rates, no problem. Flu medications and shots? No deaths reported. Awesome. What a simple decision to make! But, being in the mortuary industry and curious about how they get these reports, I looked at the last full report for 2014, dug deeper, and eventually found that they simply code and reorganize the data that they receive from death records—the very death records that I am typing up and registering every day.

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So my head started to explode. And I felt, and still feel, sick. I realized that without being aware of it, I knew exactly how influenza deaths are recorded, and why there was no line item in the CDC’s mortality rates for adverse reactions to common medical treatments.

Before I continue, please know that I will not be explaining all the ins and outs of my job, nor the incredibly rare reality that medication complications and adverse reactions do get captured (usually in box 112 of the death record, not as the primary underlying cause). Those exceptions are made possible by exceptional, and likely, very principled people, choosing individually to go above and beyond the call of protocol, whether that be the family that is aware of the impact of the legal documentation that occurs after death and stays level-headed and involved mere hours after the death of their loved one, or an insanely humble and honest doctor, in conjunction with the coroner medical-legal officer who trusts and cooperates with the honest doctor and vigilant family to think outside the box of their standard procedures. Almost five years and nearly 5,000 death certificates later, I can say with confidence that that kind of post-death communication concoction is at a statistical percentage point that even the CDC would consider insignificant.

What most people don’t know is that doctors are not allowed to attest to anything that is not a strictly NATURAL cause of death.

Core Considerations

So, in the spirit of very uncomfortable truthfulness, I will share a snapshot of the core issues embedded in the daily procedures of creating the death statistics that we so desperately need to make prudent health decisions for ourselves and our families. I will also include some examples of how these core issues would manifest into faulty statistical analysis at the level of our public health and lead to the miscalculation of the benefits and risks surrounding our individual medical choices.

Core Issue A: Doctors who provide causes have not all been trained the same way, and therefore do not provide standardized responses. This may at first glance seem minor, as it always has to me, but this directly affects the cause that the doctor lists on the death certificate. Some doctors prefer listing the underlying cause of death as the recent complications that occurred in the last days or weeks before death, such as pneumonia or influenza, while leaving out the more chronic illnesses that had led to the decline in health. Other doctors decide they will provide the more long-standing health conditions as the cause of death (for instance, diabetes, asthma or congenital abnormality) while leaving out the more immediate illnesses. Some doctors include both the short-term and long-term diagnoses.

Many factors play a role in which approach doctors choose. These include in what capacity the doctor saw the patient (hospital vs. hospice care for example) or the immediate availability of the complete medical record within the time frame being impressed by the mortuary due to upcoming funeral or cremation services, or simply the way the doctor personally prioritizes information. Furthermore, doctors feel limited as to what they can provide for a cause by the professional context in which they saw the patient, as determined by their specialty. For example, a primary care physician might provide a cause of death as “coronary artery disease” since that was what he/she was prescribing medication to the patient for, whereas the patient could simultaneously be being treated for stage four chronic kidney disease and be on dialysis. In this case, rather than the objectively more serious health condition being listed on the death certificate, the health condition that the doctor is most comfortable attesting to is listed. Again, way too many factors to go into in this piece, but the basic issue of the lack of standardization in cause of death diagnosis and reporting remains.

In the case of a patient who dies after contracting influenza, this patient could have all of the above-mentioned conditions on his/her medical record simultaneously, from influenza to asthma, pneumonia, congenital abnormality, coronary artery disease and chronic kidney disease. Any ONE of those conditions listed is correct and valid, and could be entered as a stand-alone cause which would then be registered by me and the local and state registrar’s offices without a query. It’s the doctor’s preference and his medical opinion—yet the national attention given, medical research dollars, and yearly health choices we all make are swayed by whichever cause this particular doctor, with his/her own particular training and personality, decides to jot down on the worksheet and send back to me to enter into the official record.

CORE ISSUE B) What most people don’t know is that doctors are not allowed to attest to anything that is not a strictly NATURAL cause of death. Falls, medication complications or overdoses, causes with the word “injury” in it, anything that is considered an unnatural or external cause is outside the realm of their jurisdiction as far as the death record is concerned. The coroner would need to be contacted and agree to certify or co-certify a death record that has an unnatural or external cause listed. This is a whole other, very complicated reporting issue that I will not get into in this post. I will say, however, from the perspective of a mortuary representative, that everyone involved (doctor, coroner, registrar and myself) understands that the delay caused by any coroner involvement is highly dreaded and avoided if at all possible due to the amplified grief it can cause the family if they do not want an autopsy or investigation done or have to suffer a delay in services and/or an upset in their own personal closure process.

However, the majority of doctors are aware of their own limitation to certify only natural causes of death. And usually in the interest of serving the grieving family, they will provide the simplest natural cause that they know will quickly pass the approval of the local registrar’s office, fulfill their duty as a signing physician, and enable the grieving family to move forward with their scheduled burial or cremation services. It should be noted here that doctors are under an additional pressure since they have a limited time set out by their State Health and Safety Codes to provide causes of death to a funeral home. In California, it is within 15 hours of death, although that is rarely achieved. Delays of more than a few days after death would risk them getting their license reported to the state medical board for lack of compliance.

What Works About This System?

The system is created in such a way that naturally occurring infectious disease (such as influenza) can be and is being reported and recorded in national mortality rates. However, the lack of standardization in the way doctors report it creates an unreliable number to set as the threshold for what constitutes an epidemic.

What Does NOT Work About This system?

It does not report on the true consequential timeline of the patient’s medical treatment, including unnatural and external complications and errors in their medical care and is therefore woefully inadequate as the basis for ANY medical claims or recommendations.

The first example to illustrate the impact of this issue is as follows:

I read a post from a nurse the other day that shared her story of being hospitalized due to complications of the flu. Even though she had gotten the flu shot every year, she had only gotten influenza this year. Five days after experiencing flu symptoms, she went to her medical provider and was prescribed Tamiflu. She went through her course of medication. Her flu symptoms eased but she started getting a tightness in the chest, which further worsened until she needed to be hospitalized for pneumonia and a close call with sepsis. The conclusion of her post—and her medical opinion as a nurse—was that this year’s flu was very dangerous and anyone less healthy than she could have easily died with her symptoms, so she urged everyone to please get the flu shot to prevent the flu from spreading.

The saddest part about reading her story was discovering that she must not have read the Tamiflu manufacturer’s insert, which states that “No influenza vaccine interaction study has been conducted” and “Efficacy of TAMIFLU in patients who begin treatment after 40 hours of symptoms has not been established” and furthermore, “Events reported more frequently in subjects receiving TAMIFLU compared to subjects receiving placebo in prophylaxis studies, and more commonly than in treatment studies, were aches and pains, rhinorrhea, dyspepsia and upper respiratory tract infections.” (emphasis added)

This would lead to an alternate, very feasible medical conclusion that her hospitalization and pneumonia was the result of using a medication that has not been tested on a population of her vaccination status and symptoms duration, which also has the adverse reaction of a URTI.

…the likelihood of influenza causing the death is greater than the medication causing the death because of mortality rates—but they are the ones creating the mortality rates…

But what if someone less healthy than herself with her exact symptoms and medication course HAD died? Her medical opinion, and many other medical care providers’ opinions would have been that it was influenza that had caused the death, instead of the complications of the medication. In the medical provider’s mind, the likelihood of influenza causing the death is greater than the medication causing the death because of mortality rates—but they are the ones creating the mortality rates—so what is considered reasonable likelihood is being created in a closed loop, a regurgitating cycle.

So, whether the attending physician at the hospital was aware of this medical misstep by the other medical provider or not, in this case the hospital physician could simply put “Influenza” on the causes of death worksheet and send it back to me. Influenza would be entered in the death record and be reported in the state and then national database as such with no question from me or the government registrars.

A Public Health Reporting Conundrum

What this has created, then, is a serious public health reporting conundrum. Death due to complications of improperly prescribed medications are NOT being calculated into the national reporting agencies in a real-time setting. Neither would they be communicated in real-time to the public. Instead, people would simply hear of the rising influenza death toll and run for more medication (and likely not be reading the manufacturer’s insert either to verify if they truly are good candidates for that medication).

I have many friends and family in the medical industry and it is easily admitted that legal and personal liability is a factor in the considerations of proper reporting.

In this medication example, as you can imagine, even IF the recorders realize that the medication was prescribed erroneously, it would not be in the professional best interest of the medical provider or medical facility to report this prescription error and its possibly fatal complications to the family or public health officials. I have many friends and family in the medical industry and it is easily admitted that legal and personal liability is a factor in the considerations of proper reporting. However, if and when this possibly fatal prescription misstep was ever reported, it would be in some very passive EMR analysis many months or years later, with no urgency or real-time public health warning. The ability for government to cross-check and minutely examine nearly three million decedent medical records of varying electronic availability—annually—is just not there.

This failed mechanism in the mortality rate “generator”, if you will, is the same for the hotly debated adverse vaccine reactions. This is the reason you see horrible adverse vaccine reactions and deaths being claimed by parents on social media, but no line item for them in national statistics. It is not because they don’t exist or don’t happen. The real-time data reporting system of death recording is not set up to calculate these deaths. The families that become aware of the adverse reactions in time to request investigation (<24 hours after death), and are able to request any relevant pathological specimens to be procured before the burial or cremation of their loved one, would then need to have the time and resources to go through the lengthy reporting and court procedures through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the National Vacine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP). A very few families do, and if they can establish enough scientific evidence (like pathology reports) and find and produce enough experts and professional support, they MIGHT eventually get the causes of death amended and compensation for their loss paid out by the allotted government fund. And after five, 10, 15 or 20 years, this passive data capture system might accrue enough statistical information to be reported back to the medical community so that they adjust their recommendations. However, with the HHS claim that only around 1% of vaccine injuries are reported to VAERS, even this may not be realistic.

So, just like in the medication example, any death due to an adverse reaction to the flu shot or for ANY regularly scheduled wellness immunization, would similarly not be captured in the standard process of death recording. As before, the doctor can still provide either influenza or any other natural-occurring immune response as the only cause of death. He would send it to me and I would enter it in, get the state to approve it, and “Voila!”—a thoroughly inaccurate mortality rate reporting. 

Impacting Informed Consent

One of the most difficult realities for me to recognize in examining the mortality rate reporting system that I am a part of, is that the medical community itself is suffering from the ignorance that this kind of circular mortality rate generating system creates. Doctors and coroners are limited by the already existing mortality rates to gauge the likelihood of what caused death. That kind of system can only regurgitate the same causes of death over and over again by forcing its reporters to use the same types of “acceptable” death diagnoses that already exist.

And these are the statistics the medical community uses to educate themselves and provide informed consent to the patient on what the most prudent option is for medical care to safeguard health and prevent death.

And, yes, I will take the opportunity here to say that we can logically apply this critical analysis of the lack of proper data capture to those reluctant to vaccinate or use medications. There is no current national data capture system that records the morbidity or mortality rates of those who choose less medical intervention or choose to not vaccinate themselves or their kids. We don’t know what their life expectancy, quality of life or mortality rate is in our modern day, with the advancements in hygiene, technology and post-disease-diagnosis medical care availability being considered. It could absolutely be worse, statistically, but we wouldn’t know.

For nationally reported statistics, we are left then with bad data on one side, and no control group data on the other. Hardly the recipe for safe or settled scientifically guided medical care.

Now where does that leave you and me? Our highly subjective—yet somehow infallible—weaponry of mortality rates, whether from national statistics or the social media horror stories, has us and all our friends and family swinging the manic flag of “People are dying!”

This flu season, for example, some of our friends are saying, “People are dying from flu! Get vaccinated! Take medication!” while other friends are saying, “People are dying from adverse reactions to medications and shots! Don’t get vaccinated! Drink elderberry!” And we are all running for the nearest remedies that we are sure will help us because of statistics—OR because we don’t see statistics reflecting our lived reality, so we do the best we can to discern our health without statistics.

But I’m the one creating these statistics and I offer you this: If you take one thing away from this, take away a healthier skepticism about even the most accepted mainstream, nationally reported, CDC or other “scientific” statistics. Humans who had no concept of their widespread impact made them. The numbers are not hard—they are very, very fluid. And conversely, have a healthier skepticism about all the alternative remedies we welcome as hopeful scientific-ish options. There is no unbiased, century-long, data capture system set up for these choices either.

As a parent, the most painful part of taking a step back and looking at all this, is having to humbly admit—I don’t know what the right thing to do is.

I don’t have the unbiased data I need to make the safest decision for my children.

I don’t know what the right thing to do is for myself, or for my husband.

I don’t know what side of the fence to stand on in the vaccination and mainstream medicine battlefield, and I don’t want to stand on a side: I just want the unbiased, uncorrupted and standardized data needed to accurately assess the benefits vs. the ultimate risks for my family’s health.

For nationally reported statistics, we are left then with bad data on one side, and no control group data on the other. Hardly the recipe for safe or settled scientifically guided medical care.

A Self-Reporting System

In the face of this fallible data capture system, my own resolution that I am willing to publicly recommend—no matter what medical choices you decide are best—would be:

  • Become self-reporters. Keep a health journal for each family member complete with dates and times and severity of symptoms of illness, and track dates and dosages of any medical treatment administered. Track degree of fevers, severity of migraines, frequency of ear infections, changes of behavior, hospitalizations, medication dosages and immunization combinations, etc.
  • Think critically and ask questions when you see inconsistencies in any health recommendations offered to you or your family. Request and encourage a satisfactory discussion of benefits and risks with your medical provider.
  • Download and thoroughly read the manufacturer’s insert provided on the FDA’s website for any medication or immunization you are considering, and verify that you are a good candidate for that medication. If you decide to use that medical treatment, record any minor reactions in the health journal, immediately report any somewhat severe reactions to your medical provider, and ask for that information to be added to your electronic medical record so that it might inform any future medical provider on your individual contraindications you may have in other medication courses. Remember that each of us is liable for our own health choices; you cannot expect a medical provider to be a perfect assessor of what’s best for you.
  • Follow up and make sure proper reporting was done on the medical provider’s part to the appropriate national databases, or report it yourself:  MedWatch reports for medications and VAERS reports for vaccines. This recommendation is less for you and more for others and for the sake of having the appropriate authorities informed so they can eventually take medical treatments off the market and create the demand for safer ones. Those kind of databases can only function well for the populations they serve if they are being used by everyone.

Yes, people are dying. Each and every day. I do their death records every flu season or surfing season. And try as hard as we do—and no matter how absolutely shredded inside I am, especially when I do an infant or child’s death certificate—we will never eradicate death. We CAN work to slowly eradicate and reform bad systems and misinformation. And even though there is no immediate gratification in it, we will probably save more lives when we work intelligently, truthfully and ethically towards a better future. That usually starts with a lot of humility and admitting that change is needed.

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Awareness

How Does Anesthesia Work? We Still Don’t Know: What Happens When Someone Goes “Under”?

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

When patients ask anesthesiologists what we charge for putting them to sleep, we often say we do it for free. We only bill them for the waking up part.

This isn’t just a way of deflecting a question, it also serves as a gentle reminder to both parties regarding the importance of “coming to.” If we couldn’t regain consciousness, what would be the point in having the surgery in the first place? Nobody wants to experience pain and fear if it can be avoided. If the only way to avoid the pain of an operation is to temporarily be rendered unconscious, most people will readily and willingly consent to that, as long as we can return to our natural state of being alert and interactive with the world around us. We are awake and aware and that–rather than any particular conception of health–is our most precious gift.

How does Anesthesia work ?

From an Anesthesiologist’s point of view, we really shouldn’t charge for putting someone to sleep. It’s too easy. With today’s medications, putting someone to sleep, or in more correct terms, inducing general anesthesia, is straightforward. Two hundred milligrams of this and fifty milligrams of that and voilà: you have a completely unconscious patient who is incapable of even breathing independently. The medications we administer at induction are similar to the lethal injections executioners use. Unlike executioners, we then intervene to reestablish their breathing and compensate for any large changes in blood pressure and the patient thereby survives until consciousness miraculously returns sometime later.

In addition, those in my field have to contend with the reality that we really don’t know what we are doing. More precisely, we have very little if any understanding of how anesthetic gases render a person unconscious. After 17 years of practicing Anesthesiology, I still find the whole process nothing short of pure magic. You see, the exact mechanism of how these agents work is, at present, unknown. Once you understand how a trick works, the magic disappears. With regard to inhaled anesthetic agents, magic abounds. 

Take ether, for example. In 1846 a dentist named William T.G. Morton used ether to allow Dr. Henry J. Bigelow to partially remove a tumor from the neck of a 24-year-old patient safely with no outward signs of pain. The surgery took place at Massachusetts General Hospital in front of dozens of physicians. When the patient regained consciousness with no recollection of the event it is said that many of the surgeons in attendance, their careers spent hardening themselves to the agonizing screams of their patients while operating without modern anesthesia, wept openly after witnessing this feat. At the time, no one knew how ether worked. We still don’t. Over the last 173 years, dozens of different anesthetic gases have been developed and they all have three basic things in common: they are inhaled, they are all very, very tiny molecules by biological standards, and we don’t know how any of them work.

Why we still don’t know…

If you have never closely considered how our bodies do what they do (move, breathe, grow, pee, reproduce, etc.), the answers may be astounding. It is obvious that the energy required to power biological systems comes from food and air. But how do they use them to do everything? How does it all get coordinated?

These are the fundamental questions that have been asked for millennia, by ancient shamans and modern pharmaceutical companies alike. It turns out that the answers are different depending on what sort of perspective and tools we begin with. In the West, our predecessors in medicine were anatomists. Armed with scalpels, the human form was first subdivided into organ systems. Our knives and eyes improved with the development of microtomes and microscopes giving rise to the field of Histology (the study of tissue). Our path of relentless deconstruction eventually gave rise to Molecular Biology and Biochemistry. This is where Western medicine stands today. We define “understanding” as a complete description of how the very molecules that comprise our bodies interact with one another. This method and model has served us well. We have designed powerful antibiotics, identified neurotransmitters, and mapped our own genome. Why then have we not been able to figure out how a gas like ether works? The answer is two-fold.

First, although we have been able to demonstrate some of the biological processes and structures that are altered by an inhaled anesthetic gas, we cannot pinpoint which ones are responsible for altering levels of awareness because inhaled anesthetic agents affect so many seemingly unrelated things at the same time. It is impossible to identify which are directly related to the “awake” state. It is also entirely possible that all of them are, and if that were the case consciousness would be the single most complex function attributed to a living organism by a very large margin.

The second difficulty we have is even more unwieldy and requires some contemplation. As explained above, western medicine has not been able to isolate which molecular interaction is responsible for anesthetics’ effect on our awareness. It is therefore reasonable to approach the puzzle from the opposite side and ask instead, “Where is the source of our awareness in our bodies?” and go from there.

We do know that certain neurological pathways in the brain are active in awake patients, but if we attribute consciousness to those pathways then we are necessarily identifying them as the “things” that are awake. To find the source of their “awakeness” we must then examine them more closely. With the tools we have and the paradigm we have chosen we will inevitably find more molecules interacting with other molecules. When you go looking for molecules that is all you will find. Our paradigm has dictated what the answer would be like if we ever found one. Does it seem plausible to think we will find an “awareness molecule” and attribute our vivid, multisensorial experience to the presence of it? If such a molecule existed, how would our deconstructive approach ever explain why that molecule was the source of our awareness?  Can consciousness ever be represented materially?

A more sensible model would be to consider the activity of these structures in the brains of conscious individuals as evidence of consciousness, not the cause of it.  To me it is apparent that, unless we expand our search beyond the material plane, we are not going to find consciousness or be able to understand how anesthetic gases work. Until then I know I am nothing more than a wand-waver in the operating room. And that is being generous. The magician is the anesthetic gas itself, which has, up to this point, never let us in on the secret.

What happens when someone goes “under”?

The mechanistic nature of our model is well suited to most biological processes. However, with regard to consciousness, the model not only lends little understanding of what is happening, it also gives rise to a paradigm that is widely and tightly held, but in actuality cannot be applied to the full breadth of human experience. We commonly believe that a properly functioning physical body is required for us to be aware. Although this may seem initially incontrovertible, upon closer examination it becomes quite clear that this belief is actually an assumption that has massive implications. To be more precise, how do we know that consciousness does not continue uninterrupted and only animate our physical bodies intermittently rather than the other way around, where the body intermittently gives rise to the awake state? At first, this hypothesis may seem absurd, irrelevant and unprovable. I assure you that if you spent a day in an operating room, this idea is not only possible, it is far more likely to be true than the converse.

Let us first consider how we measure anesthetic depth in the operating room. We continually measure the amount of agent that is circulating in a patient’s system, but as described earlier, there is no measurable “conscious” molecule that can be found. We must assess the behavior of our patients to make that determination. Do they reply to verbal commands? Do they require a tap on the shoulder or a painful stimulus to respond? Do they respond verbally or do they merely shudder or fling an arm into the air? Perhaps they do not even move when the very fibers of their body are literally being dissected.

There are many situations when a person will interact normally for a period of time while under the influence of a sedative with amnestic properties, and then have absolutely no recollection of that period of time. As far as they know, that period of time never existed. They had no idea that they were lying on an operating room table for 45 minutes talking about their recent vacation while their surgeon performed a minor procedure on their wrist, for example. Sometime later, they found themselves in the recovery room when, to their profound disbelief, they noticed a neatly placed surgical dressing on their hand. More than once I have been told that a patient had asked that the dressing be removed so that they could see the stitches with their own eyes.

How should we characterize their level of consciousness during the operation? By our own standards they were completely awake. However, because they have no memory of being awake during the experience, they would recount it more or less the same way a patient who was rendered completely unresponsive would. This phenomenon is common and easily reproducible. Moreover, it invites us to consider the possibility that awareness continually exists without interruption, but we are not always able to access our experiences retrospectively

During some procedures where a surgeon is operating very close to the spinal cord, we often infuse a combination of anesthetic drugs that render the patient unconscious but allow all of the neural pathways between the brain and the body to continue to function normally so that they can be monitored for their integrity. In other words, the physiology required to feel or move remains intact, yet the patient apparently has no experience of any stimuli, surgical or otherwise during the operation. How are we to reconcile the fact that we have a patient with a functioning body and no ability to experience it? Who exactly is the patient in this situation?

What can Near Death Experiences (NDEs) tell us?

If we broadened our examination of the human experience to consider more extreme situations, another wrinkle appears in the paradigm. There are numerous accounts of people who have experienced periods of awareness whilst their bodies have been rendered insentient by anesthetics and/or severe trauma. Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are all characterized by lucid awareness that remains continuous during a period of time while outside observers assume the person is unconscious or dead. Very often patients who have experienced an NDE in the operating room can accurately recount what was said and done by people attending to them during their period of lifelessness. They are also able to describe the event from the perspective as an observer to their own body, often viewing it from above.

Interestingly, people describe their NDEs in a universally positive way. “Survival” was an option that they were free to choose. Death of their body could be clearly seen as a transcending event in their continuing awareness and not as the termination of their existence. Very often the rest of their lives are profoundly transformed by the experience. No longer living with the fear of mortality, life subsequently opens up into a more vibrant and meaningful experience that can be cherished far more deeply than was possible prior to their brush with death. Those who have had an NDE would have no problem adopting the idea that their awareness exists independently of their body, functioning or not. Fear and anxiety would still probably arise in their life from time to time, but it is the rest of us who carry the seemingly inescapable load of a belief system that ties our existence to a body that will perish.

What happens when we wake up from Anesthesia?

The waking up part is no less magical. When the anesthetic gas is eliminated from the body, consciousness returns on its own. Waking someone up simply requires enough space and time for it to occur spontaneously. There is no reversal agent available to speed the return of consciousness. I can only wait. In fact, the waiting period is directly related to the amount of time the patient has been exposed to the anesthetic. At some point the patient will open their eyes when a threshold has been crossed. Depending on how long the patient has been “asleep,” complete elimination of the agent from the body may not happen until a long while after the patient has “woke.” 

By the time I leave a patient in the care of our recovery room nurses, I am confident that they are safely on a path to their baseline state of awareness. Getting back to a normal state of awareness may take hours or even days. In some cases, patients may never get their wits back completely. Neurocognitive testing has demonstrated that repeated exposure to general anesthesia can sometimes have long-lasting or even irreversible effects on the awake state. It may occur for everyone. Perhaps it is a matter of how closely we look.

Interestingly, it is well known that the longterm effects of anesthetic exposure are more profound in individuals who have already demonstrated elements of cognitive decline in their daily life. Indeed, this population of patients requires significantly less anesthetic to reach the same depth of unconsciousness during an operation. This poses an intriguing question: Is our understanding of being awake also too simplistic? Is there a continuum of “awakeness” in everyday life just as there is one of unconsciousness when anesthetized? If so, how would we measure it?

Does our limited understanding of awareness keep us “asleep”?

Modern psychiatry has been rigorous in defining and categorizing dysfunction. Although there has been recent interest in pushing our understanding of what may be interpreted as a “super-functioning” psyche, western systems are still in their infancy with regard to this idea. In eastern schools of thought, however, this concept has been central for centuries.

In some schools of Eastern philosophy, the idea of attaining a super-functioning awake state is seen as something that also occurs spontaneously when intention and practice are oriented correctly. Ancient yogic teachings specifically describe super abilities, or Siddhis, that are attained through dedicated practice. These Siddhis include fantastical abilities like levitation, telekinesis, dematerialization, remote-viewing and others. The most advanced abilities, interestingly, are those that allow an individual to remain continuously in a state of joy and fearlessness. If such a state were attainable it would clearly be incompatible with the kind of absolute psychological identification most of us have with our mortal bodies. It may be of no surprise that Eastern medicine also subscribes to an entirely different perspective of the body and uses different tools to examine it.

Certainly fear has served our ancestors well, helping us to avoid snakes and lions, but how much fear is necessary these days? Could fear be the barrier that separates us from our highest potential in the awake state just as an anesthetic gas prevents us from waking in the operating room? It is not possible to remain fearless while continuing to identify with a body that is prone to disease and death. Even if one were to drop the assumption that the source of our existence is a finite body, how long would it take to be free from the effects of a lifetime of fearful thinking before any changes that reflect a shift in this paradigm manifest? As long as we leave this model unchallenged we may be missing what it means to be truly awake.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

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Awareness

Study: Organic Diet “Significantly Reduces” Urinary Pesticide Levels In Children & Adults

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CE Staff Writer 4 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A 2019 study published in the journal Environmental Research found that an organic diet significantly reduced the pesticide levels in children and adults. Their urine was used to measure pesticide levels.

  • Reflect On:

    Are the justifications used to to spray our crops actually justified? Are they really necessary or can we figure out a better way of doing things?

Before you begin...

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Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

What Happened:  A 2019 study published in the journal Environmental Research titled, Organic diet intervention significantly reduces urinary pesticide levels in U.S. children and adults” highlighted that diet is the primary source of pesticide exposure in both children and adults in the United States. It found that an organic diet significantly reduced neonicotinoid, OP pyrethroid, 2,4-D exposure, with the greatest reduction observed in malathion, clothianidin, and chlorpyrifos.

The researchers noted that all of us are exposed “to a cocktail of toxic synthetic pesticides linked to a range of health problems from our daily diets.” They explain how “certified organic food is produced without these pesticides,” and ask the question, “Can eating organic really reduce levels of pesticides in our bodies?” They tested four American families that don’t typically eat organic food to find out.  All pesticides detected in the body dropped an average of 60.5% after just six days on an organic diet.

First, we tested the levels of pesticides in their bodies on a non-organic diet for six days. We found 14 chemicals representing potential exposure to 40 different pesticides in every study participant. These included organophosphates, pyrethroids, neonicotinoids and the phenoxy herbicide 2,4-D. Some of the pesticides we found are linked to increased risk of cancer, infertility, learning disabilities, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and more. (source)

The most significant drops occurred in a class of nerve agent pesticides called organophosphates. This class includes chlorpyrifos, a highly toxic pesticide linked to increased rates of autism, learning disabilities and reduced IQ in children. Organophosphates are so harmful to children’s developing brains that scientists have called for a full ban. (source)

A lot of the food we now spray on our food were  initially developed as nerve gases for chemical warfare:

To understand this controversial issue it is helpful to look at the history of pesticide use. Prior to World War II, the pesticides that we use now did not yet exist. Some pesticides currently in use were in fact developed during World War II for use in warfare. The organophosphate insecticides were developed as nerve gases, and the phenoxy herbicides, including 2,4-D (the most commonly used herbicide in Canada), were created to eradicate the Japanese rice crop, and later used as a component of Agent Orange to defoliate large areas in jungle warfare. After World War II, these chemicals began to be used as pesticides in agricultural production, for environmental spraying of neighbourhoods, for mosquito eradication, and for individual home and garden use. –  Ontario College of Family Physicians

It’s also noteworthy to mention that A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition carried out a meta-analysis based on 343 peer-reviewed publications that indicate “statistically significant and meaningful differences in composition between organic and non-organic crops/crop based foods.” The study found that

The study found that Phenolic acids are 19% higher in organic foods,  Flavanones are 69% higher in organic foods (linked to reduced risk of several age-related chronic diseases),  Stilbenes are 28% higher in organic foods, Flavones are 26% higher in organic foods, Flavonol is 50% higher in organic foods and Anthocyanins are 51% higher in organic foods.

Apart from nutritional content, the study also measured for concentrations of the toxic metal Cadmium (Cd), finding that in conventional foods, “significantly higher concentrations” were found. Conventional foods appear to have nearly 50 percent more of this heavy metal than organic foods. Furthermore, significant differences were also detected for other minerals and vitamins.

When it comes to pesticide residues on non-organic foods, the authors found that the volume of pesticide residues was four times higher in conventional crops.

Another study conducted by researchers from RMIT university nearly 5 years ago published in the journal Environmental Research found that eating an organic diet for just one week significantly reduced pesticide exposure in adults by up to 90 percent.

The Takeaway: At the end of the day, people are and have been voting with their dollar. More grocery stores and brands are offering organic options, and the industry is starting to recognize that it’s in demand. Furthermore, more people are growing whatever food they can. At the end of the day, sprayed food not only has implications for human health, but it’s detrimental to the environment as well. This is a big problem on plane Earth, we are constantly told that GMO food and the spraying of crops is the only way to combat world hunger and changes in climate, but this sentiment goes against a plethora of information showing that local organic farming/agriculture is the most sustainable.

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

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Alternative News

Fact-Checker Claims No Causal Relationship Between 929 Deaths Reported After COVID Vaccine

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CE Staff Writer 13 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Data from the CDC's Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) shows, as of today, 929 deaths, 316 permanent disabilities and more than 15,000 adverse reactions reported after of the COVID-19 vaccine.

  • Reflect On:

    Should private institutions/companies have the right to mandate this vaccine for people and employees? When it comes to vaccines, should freedom of choice remain? Why is only one perspective presented by mainstream media?

Before you begin...

Coherent icon

Take a moment and breathe. Place your hand over your chest area, near your heart. Breathe slowly into the area for about a minute, focusing on a sense of ease entering your mind and body. Click here to learn why we suggest this.

What Happened: According to the CDC Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS), as of today (February 20th, 2021) 929 deaths, 316 permanent disabilities and more than 15,000 adverse events have been reported from people after taking the COVID-19 vaccine. This mainly represents reports that are coming in from the United States. The data shows that 799 of the deaths were reported in the U.S., and that about one-third of those deaths occurred within 48 hours of the individual receiving the vaccination. You can look it up for yourself and/or see the screenshot below. I have not looked up, or attempted to look up reports from countries outside of the U.S.

Many articles have been using VAERS to claim that the COVID-19 vaccine is causing deaths & injuries, but according to Facebook Fact Checker Health Feedback, the adverse events attributed to the COVID-19 don’t demonstrate a causal relationship between the vaccine and the adverse events. They do acknowledge, however, that VAERS records adverse events occurring after vaccination.

Health Feedback highlights the following point:

Both COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were thoroughly reviewed for safety and efficacy before approval. The U.S. Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) enables the public and healthcare providers to report adverse events that occur after they received a vaccine. While VAERS serves as an early warning system for potential problems with vaccines, determining whether there is a causal link requires further investigation into these reports. VAERS data only tells us that an adverse event might have occurred after vaccination; on its own it cannot prove that vaccines caused the adverse event.

VAERS themselves makes this point clear by stating:

A report to VAERS generally does not prove that the identified vaccine(s) cause the adverse event described. It only confirms that the reported event occurred sometime after (the) vaccine was given. No proof that the event was caused by the vaccine is required in order for VAERS to accept the report VAERS accepts all reports without judging whether the event was caused by the vaccine.

Keep in mind that approximately 40 million Americans have had at least one COVID shot thus far.

The VAERS data can also be perceived from another perspective. There is no proof showing that the vaccine did not cause the adverse events. The reports coming into VAERS are from people who believe the vaccine is indeed responsible for the adverse event. There are, as I’ve written about many times before, other important factors that have been noted about VAERS. For example, according to some, like this U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report, VAERS is estimated to capture an estimated one percent of vaccine injuries, or at least reports by those who believe to be injured by a vaccine, because the majority of them are believed to be unreported. It’s not clear how many health professionals let alone people are even aware of VAERS.

VAERS has come under fire multiple times, a critic familiar with VAERS’  bluntly condemned VAERS in The BMJ as “nothing more than window dressing, and a part of U.S. authorities’ systematic effort to reassure/deceive us about vaccine safety.”

It’s also noteworthy to mention that, when it comes to vaccine injury In the United States, the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)  has paid out more than $4 billion dollars due to vaccine injuries. Since 2015, the program has paid out an average total of $216 million to an average of 615 claimants each year. Furthermore, those injured by the COVID-19 vaccine won’t be eligible for compensation from the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) while COVID is still an “emergency.”

lyson Kelvin, a virologist and assistant professor at Dalhousie University, who is currently working on COVID-19 vaccines with VIDO-InterVac, told Global News that “there’s a difference between “adverse events following immunization” and adverse events “directly related to a vaccine…Just because it’s an adverse event, doesn’t mean it’s directly related to the vaccine. It just means that it happened after someone got a vaccination… In Norway’s case, we’re talking about adverse events following immunization.”

Below is a screen shot from of the DATA:

When it comes to science and determining whether or not a vaccine is the direct cause of an injury, there doesn’t seem to be, in my opinion appropriate systems in place to investigate this. Furthermore, the VICP protects pharmaceutical companies from any liability with regards to vaccine injuries. Vaccines are a liability free product.

The scientific method in general is quick to point out that correlation does not mean causation, but again, in some cases correlation may actually mean causation. The Bradford Hill Criteria is one of the most cited concepts in health research and are still upheld as valid tools for aiding causal inference. You can look more into that too see how it all works if interested.

Another factor one must consider, also, is the politicization of science. Kamran Abbas is a doctor, recent former executive editor of the British Medical Journal, and the editor of the Bulletin of the World Health Organization. He has published an article about COVID-19, the suppression of science and the politicization of medicine, and the medical industrial complex.

Science is being suppressed for political and financial gain. Covid-19 has unleashed state corruption on a grand scale, and it is harmful to public health. Politicians and industry are responsible for this opportunistic embezzlement. So too are scientists and health experts. The pandemic has revealed how the medical-political complex can be manipulated in an emergency—a time when it is even more important to safeguard science…The UK’s pandemic response relies too heavily on scientists and other government appointees with worrying competing interests, including shareholdings in companies that manufacture covid-19 diagnostic tests, treatments, and vaccines.

According to Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard professor of medicine and former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Medical Journal. 

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”

It’s no secret that vaccine hesitancy is quite high in some places when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, and with vaccines in general.  The Washington Post reported this week that nearly a third of military personnel are opting out of the vaccines, and ESPN reported that top NBA players are reluctant to promote the vaccine.

A survey conducted at Chicago’s Loretto Hospital shows that only 40 percent of healthcare workers will not take the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available to them. Riverside County, California has a population of approximately 2.4 million, and about 50 percent of healthcare workers in the county are refusing to take the COVID-19 vaccine despite the fact that they have top priority and access to it.

At Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Mission Hills, one in five frontline nurses and doctors have declined the shot. Roughly 20% to 40% of L.A. County’s frontline workers who were offered the vaccine did the same, according to county public health officials.

Vaccine hesitancy among physicians and academics is nothing new. To illustrate this I often point to a conference held at the end of 2019 put on by the World Health Organization (WHO). At the conference, Dr. Heidi Larson a Professor of Anthropology and the Risk and Decision Scientist Director at the Vaccine Confidence Project Emphasized this point, having  stated,

The other thing that’s a trend, and an issue, is not just confidence in providers but confidence of health care providers. We have a very wobbly health professional frontline that is starting to question vaccines and the safety of vaccines. That’s a huge problem, because to this day any study I’ve seen…still, the most trusted person on any study I’ve seen globally is the health care provider.

A study published in the journal EbioMedicine  as far back as 2013 outlines this point, among many others.

Drene Keyes, described as a “gifted singer and grandmother of six,” found herself unable to breathe and began vomiting within a couple hours of being vaccinated, according to media reports. She was rushed to Riverside Tappahannock Hospital, where doctors administered an EpiPen, CPR and oxygen. Keyes’ daughter, Lisa Jones, told WKTR:  “They tried to remove fluid from her lungs. They called it ‘flash pulmonary edema,’ and doctors told me that it can be caused by anaphylaxis. The doctor told me that often during anaphylaxis, chemicals are released inside of a person’s body and can cause this to happen.”

Heidi Neckelmann, the wife of Dr. Gregory Michael from California, said that in her mind, her 56-year-old husband’s death was “100% linked” to the vaccine.  Now, at least one doctor has come forward publicly to say he also believes the vaccine caused Michael to develop acute idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), the disorder that killed him. According to the New York Times: “Dr. Jerry L. Spivak, an expert on blood disorders at Johns Hopkins University, who was not involved in Dr. Michael’s care, said that based on Ms. Neckelmann’s description, ‘I think it is a medical certainty that the vaccine was related.’“‘This is going to be very rare,’ said Dr. Spivak, an emeritus professor of medicine. But he added, ‘It happened and it could happen again.’

Heidi made a Facebook post about the incident:

The love of my life, my husband Gregory Michael MD an obstetrician that had his office in Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach Died the day before yesterday due to a strong reaction to the COVID vaccine. He was a very healthy 56 year old, loved by everyone in the community, delivered hundreds of healthy babies and worked tireless through the pandemic . He was vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine at MSMC on December 18, 3 days later he saw a strong set of petechiae on his feet and hands which made him seek attention at the emergency room at MSMC…read the full post HERE.

Approximately one month ago, Norway registered a total of 29 deaths among people over the age of 75 who had their first COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, the country changed which groups to target in national inoculation programs.  Steinar Madsen, medical director of the Norwegian Medicines Agency (NOMA), told the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that “There is no certain connection between these deaths and the vaccine.”  Bloomberg Reported that the “Pfizer/BioNTech was the only vaccine available in Norway”, stating that the Norwegian Medicines Agency told them that as a result “all deaths are thus linked to this vaccine.” So, there seemed to be some conflicting information there as well, one piece of information stating that the vaccine was linked, and the other stating that it wasn’t, both from the same source.

Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University, a biostatistician, and epidemiologist, Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University, an epidemiologist with expertise in immunology, and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School, a physician and epidemiologist were all the initiators of The Great Barrington Declaration. They recently announced that they are strongly in favour of voluntary COVID-19 vaccination.

It doesn’t seem like governments are going to mandate the vaccine. What instead seems to be the case is that private businesses and institutions may do so. For example, certain airlines may not allow people to travel unless they’ve had the shot. Some restaurant, entertainment facilities and other places of businesses might follow suit. Certain employers may require their employees to take the shot. All of this of course raises a number of legal and ethical concerns. We will just have to wait and see what happens. In all circumstances, I do believe the COVID vaccine should always remain voluntary, especially when it’s quite unclear if they can even reduce the risk of transmission and infection, and there does seem to be a number of concerns being raised with the vaccine.

Dr. Peter Doshi, an associate editor at the British Medical Journal published a piece in the Journal issuing a word of caution about the supposed “95% Effective” COVID vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. You can access that here.

A few other papers have raised concerns as well, for example. A study published in October of 2020 in the International Journal of Clinical Practice states:

 COVID-19 vaccines designed to elicit neutralising antibodies may sensitise vaccine recipients to more severe disease than if they were not vaccinated. Vaccines for SARS, MERS and RSV have never been approved, and the data generated in the development and testing of these vaccines suggest a serious mechanistic concern: that vaccines designed empirically using the traditional approach (consisting of the unmodified or minimally modified coronavirus viral spike to elicit neutralising antibodies), be they composed of protein, viral vector, DNA or RNA and irrespective of delivery method, may worsen COVID-19 disease via antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE). This risk is sufficiently obscured in clinical trial protocols and consent forms for ongoing COVID-19 vaccine trials that adequate patient comprehension of this risk is unlikely to occur, obviating truly informed consent by subjects in these trials.

In a new research article published in Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, veteran immunologist J. Bart Classen expresses similar concerns and writes that “RNA-based COVID vaccines have the potential to cause more disease than the epidemic of COVID-19.”

For decades, Classen has published papers exploring how vaccination can give rise to chronic conditions such as Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes — not right away, but three or four years down the road. In this latest paper, Classen warns that the RNA-based vaccine technology could create “new potential mechanisms” of vaccine adverse events that may take years to come to light.

Again, these are a few of multiple examples, I just wanted to provide some context. All of this warrants freedom of choice, does it not?

The Takeaway:  One thing that seems to be quite evident, in my opinion, is the fact that mainstream media and the “mainstream” in general is failing at having proper conversations around controversial topics, like vaccines, for example. Instead of using terms like “Anti-Vax conspiracy theorist, as well as ridicule, it would be great if mainstream media advocates actually addressed the concerns being raised by those who are concerned about vaccine safety and effectiveness. Should private institutions/companies have the right to mandate this vaccine for people and employees? When it comes to vaccines, should freedom of choice remain? Why is only one perspective presented by mainstream media?

Dive Deeper

These days, it’s not just knowing information and facts that will create change, it’s changing ourselves, how we go about communicating, and re-assessing the underlying stories, ideas and beliefs that form our world. We have to practice these things if we truly want to change. At Collective Evolution and CETV, this is a big part of our mission.

Amongst 100's of hours of exclusive content, we have recently completed two short courses to help you become an effective changemaker, one called Profound Realization and the other called How To Do An Effective Media Detox.

Join CETV, engage with these courses and more here!

Continue Reading
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