So Quiet You Could Hear . . . .

Please accompany me on a chain reaction of sounds, thoughts, and connections.

Our lives have a constant soundtrack; shifting between melodious, cacophonous, subliminal, annoying, pleasant, etc. Given this, it’s hard to escape the pulse. About a year ago, a house behind us underwent a major renovation. Every day (yes, even Sundays) our lives were accompanied by the ever-present sounds of buzz saws, hammering, and chain saws added to the perennial sound announcing the ending of fall—the leaf blower.

At times, just before going to bed, my wife would say, “Listen,” and we become aware of silence. How often do you have the opportunity to experience quiet during your day? When was the last time? How long did it last? Were you comfortable with it? Or did it grate on your nerves? Did you have difficulty just being quiet with yourself?

Having trained people in various gyms, I adjusted to the reality that the music, usually blaring, is an integral part of the experience. In fact, for many people this beat is motivation and just as important as the weights they’re lifting. I once worked in a facility where the speakers were on the floor, and the volume was so loud I had to talk directly into my clients’ ears just to be heard by them. No wonder being employed in such environments made me relish silence.

I enjoy finding quiet respites to my day; upon leaving them, the jarring cacophony of modern life returns. When you’ve had similar experiences: Do you feel your stress returning? Do you tense up? Find it harder to concentrate? Then, your body is sending clear messages to you regarding the importance of quiet in your life.

In an essay “The Joy of Quiet,” Pico Iyer, says about himself: “I’ve yet to use a cellphone, and I’ve never Tweeted or entered Facebook. I try not to go online till my day’s writing is finished, and I moved from Manhattan to rural Japan in part so I could more easily survive for long stretches entirely on foot, and every trip to the movies would be an event.” Iyer also writes about how for more than 20 years he goes to a Benedictine hermitage a few times a year to have some distance from the world.

We may not wish to or have the luxury to live as Iyer does. What I take away from him and my reactions as I leave quiet surroundings to reenter my daily life is a very clear message to find pockets of silence during the day to escape the bombardment of all the chatter of our everyday existence. To discover the quiet in between the noise. Find, relish, and nurture it.

Looking At All The Numbers

Last Wednesday, The New England Journal of Medicine published a new study that was the culmination of a ten-year investigation regarding the number of emergency room visits due to the use of dietary supplements—sixty-three emergency room departments were used. The results of this study—23,000 visits and 2,154 hospitalizations per year. The main culprits were weight loss and energy supplements.

Such studies bring out criticism that consumers are not being protected from harm. These complaints also like to highlight the 1994 federal law stating supplements are considered safe until proven otherwise.

First and foremost, all emergency room visits and hospitalizations are regrettable.

As you know from my previous posts, I’m a firm believer in looking at a wider canvas. Regarding the above 1994 law, please refer to my post on GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) on June 18 of this year—a food ingredient does not have to be listed on a label if it has not caused harm. Remember it’s the food companies that perform the testing.

If we look at problems with nutritional supplements, light must also be cast on the potentially dangerous effects of prescription drugs (Rx) and over-the-counter medications (OTC); some examples:

  • A 2009 Drug Abuse Warning Network Report states 4.6 million drug-related (Rx, OTC, supplements) emergency room visits per year.
  • A 2006 NBC report states that 1.5 million drug errors are made per year in hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors’ offices.
  • A 1998 report on nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) states over 100,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths per year occurred because of these medications.
  • In July 2000, The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study reporting 20-30% of patients receive contraindicated care and 44,000 to 98,000 die each year due to medical errors.

As the above show, numerous studies and statistics can be used to highlight the dangers surrounding Rx, OTC, supplements, and medical care.

We must be careful when reading about such studies to remember that the numbers are reflecting one study, and we must ask ourselves is the media manipulating us to have us jump to certain conclusions. In my mind, attention should be paid to the problems, issues, and solutions in all the various aspects of health, wellness, and well-being.

The Right To Choose

Regarding my post of September 21, “GMOs & GE—Different Names, Same Process,” I fall into the anti-camp. Some of my reasons being:

●  As I said in my previous post, I want to know how my food was grown as well as the food sources. I believe Congress does not have the right, under the influence of agribusinesses or anyone else, to eliminate my right of choice. Once again, what are these companies trying to hide?

●  The ramifications of GMOs are unpredictable and unknown.

●  If you’re eating processed food, you are most likely consuming GMOs.

●  If you’re eating animals raised on GMO feed, you’re eating GMOs. Think about it.

●  GMOs can introduce allergens into foods.

●  No long-term testing has been done on GMOs—we are the experiment.

●  GMOS may play a role in gastrointestinal issues and chronic disease.

●  Unexpected traits in plants may arise.

●  With the introduction of GMOs and the attack against labeling them, ask yourself who controls our food supply.

●  In nature, the cross-pollination of GMOs can occur with non-GMO crops through the wind and insects. Will this lead to the destruction of non-GMO species?

●  Along with the above point, I believe in the need for genetic diversity.

Again, if you want a choice, contact your senators regarding H.R. 1599. Thank you.

From $13.50 to $750 Overnight

Recently Turning Pharmaceuticals increased the price of Daraprim, (a drug used to fight parasite infections) overnight from $13.50 a pill to $750.00 a pill. Thus, a 30-day supply went from $405 to $22,500 a year for a drug that is 62-years-old.

Martin Shkreli, Turning’s chief executive officer, said they would reduce the cost of the drug due to the public outcry. I believe, as I write this post, this has yet to occur.

Turning isn’t the only company rewarding itself and its investors in this manner. Valeant Pharmaceuticals International also purchases prescription drugs and then, increases their prices. Some examples:

  • Cuprimine (Wilson disease)—from $888 for a hundred 250 mg capsules to $26,189.
  • Glumetza (diabetes)—from $896 for ninety 1,000 mg tablets to $10,020.
  • Isuprel (irregular or slow heart beat)—from $4,489 for twenty-five 0.2 ml ampules to $36,811.

Valeant and Turning were not involved in the research and/or development of these drugs; therefore, they didn’t incur any R&D costs. They just bought these medications and raised the prices. Why is Gordon Gekko’s line “greed is good” sticking in my mind?

Certain politicians have spoken out, and some are calling for Valeant to be subpoenaed for information regarding their price increases and rightly so.

The health and life of individuals depend on these medications, and such extreme increases jeopardize their wellbeing. For example, one man on Cuprimine saw his out of pocket costs for the drug increase from $366 a month to approximately $1,800 a month—a rise from $4,392 a year to $21,600 a year.

Could you handle such an increase? What would you have to give up in order to pay for the prescription? What would happen if you have to stop taking the drug because you couldn’t afford it? Valeant does talk about insurance coverage as well as financial assistance programs to enable individuals to have access to their drugs. Unfortunately, such assistance isn’t guaranteed.

Currently, we are being inundated with candidates running for president; I don’t know if you have a favorite. If you do, try to find out where he or she stands on this issue, because it reflects on where they would stand on other issues as well as whose interests they truly care for and support.

For more information please read the Andrew Pollack and Sabrina Tavernise article I used for the information contained in this blog or you can also conduct your own research. Thank you.