Chronic Illness Is the Real Pandemic

My sister lays in a hospital bed, legs outstretched and filled with so much fluid they pit when you press on them. The pressure of the constant fluid has caused her knee caps to crumble. She can barely walk, and she can’t hold her head up for long.

She doesn’t have coronavirus. She isn’t even in a hospital. But she is one of the 133 million Americans currently living with a chronic health condition.

It is estimated that 60% of Americans have at least one chronic condition, and 40% have two or more. It’s not just adults. The percent of children living with a chronic health condition ranges from 27% of children have a condition that affects their daily activities, to 54% of children have a chronic health condition when overweight, obesity, or being at risk for developmental delays are included.

These numbers are rising, and there is no genetic explanation: asthma and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) rates are disproportionately higher for children living in poverty, compared to wealthier families, and a recent study found Autism is half as common in wealthy whites compared to poor whites living in the same exact State.

There is an urgent need to understand what wealthy California parents are doing or have access to that may be lowering their children’s risk, and what changes occurred around 2000 that may have affected these parents’ behavior or options. Conversely, there is an equally urgent need to understand the factors that may lead to increased risk of ASD among lower income populations, including factors that may be beyond their control, such as access to and autonomy over healthy food, health care, stressful environments and toxic exposures.

These studies suggest what many of us have known for a long time: genetics don’t cause epidemics. The truth is, wealthy whites are avoiding or opting out of many of the possible environmental triggers that compromise our children’s health, and rob them of their full potential. Some of the medications and vaccines given for free through Medicaid may be fundamentally different as well. Either way, it’s not the parent’s fault when they too are just ‘following doctor’s orders’. And everything, from infant formula to vaccinations, is FDA approved. We have been failed by these regulatory agencies. *This* is the news story.

In the United States:

1,773 people die of heart disease every single day

1,641 people die of cancer every single day

438 people die of chronic lower respiratory diseases every single day

332 people die of Alzheimer’s disease every single day

These major causes of death take the lives of 1.5 million people every single year. Where are all the news stories?

These people are not just numbers–they are grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, and children. About 16,000 children 18 years and under will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone, an unexplained increase of 60% over the last 41 years.

The causes of many of these chronic conditions often hide behind the ambivalent “unknown cause.” But I have a feeling, we could figure it out if we really tried.

We do know that many of them have environmental causes: diet, air pollution, water quality, pesticides, chemicals, sunscreens, beauty products, medications and vaccines–all contribute something to the toxic load. For example, children who receive ‘any vaccines’ are about 2.4 times more likely to have any chronic condition, compared to completely unvaccinated children.

My sister. After decades of losing battle after battle with her weight (unhealthy eating habits, fast food, big gulps, fried food—these are ‘classic American staples’ right?) and she was and is a smoker too, my sister had an early form of the gastric bypass surgery, the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, which removed most of her small intestine. The exact surgery she had, they don’t do anymore, it is so dangerous to one’s health.

The FDA approved surgery thrust her into a state of malnutrition. She lost all her hair. One in 5 post-surgery patients develop alcohol problems, and she did. She ended up losing everything: her family, then her custody, her job, and her spark. Right when she started to get things together again, she developed a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in her leg.

Her doctors recommended implanting an IVC filter (inferior vena cava filter) which is a little wire filter that resembles a long legged spider. It was placed in her major artery to catch the small blood clots that might break off the larger clot. It was only supposed to be temporary and she was also given blood thinners. (It’s supposed to be one or the other, not both).

The doctor at the hospital who discharged her calculated her blood thinners wrong, and overdosed her. Within three days of being home they frantically searched for an OB/GYN who would perform an emergency hysterectomy to stop a pelvic bleed. The ER doctor could not believe it, her INR blood test revealed she was a 13. A normal person is a 1; a hemophiliac is a 4.

The next month, a surgeon confirmed on X-ray that her IVC filter had migrated (as they are known to do) and one of its legs punctured her renal vein. He said it could not be removed without killing her.

For decades, she has had to deal with a constant battle going on with her body: from her early struggles with obesity to all the post-op struggles, including alopecia, malnutrition and malabsorption, deep vein thrombosis, chronic urinary tract and kidney infections, rhabdomyolysis, sepsis, cellulitis, nerve pain, an inoperable tarlov cyst between T1 & T2, edema, crumbling knee caps, arthritis, and congestive heart failure.

When she had to have dental work done, she needed approvals from all her doctors, and a delicate coordination of cessation of blood thinners. In all, my sister has had multiple hernia surgeries, tonsillectomy, gastric bypass, hysterectomy, IVC filter implantation, knee surgery. Each medical procedure and surgery is an attempt to fix past errors, but inevitably causes more harm.

She is permanently disabled. She’s on countless medications. She has done what the doctors told her to do, to her own detriment. Her doctor even told her that ‘vaping isn’t that bad for her’, when I urged her to quit.

My sister and I are very different. She is a lot older than I, we are like bookends with 4 brothers in between. Because she’s the oldest, she partly raised me too, taking me bowling, to the zoo, to Disneyland with her first long-time boyfriend, and their son. They had been broken up for a few years when he died in his thirties after a battle with cancer.

Several of my brothers have chronic health conditions too. One brother has several autoimmune conditions: ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. He has had both hips replaced, and is on immune suppressing medication so his body doesn’t attack itself. Another brother has asthma and fibromyalgia.

My father was a heavy drinker for as long as I can remember. Like millions of Americans, he took Tylenol every day. His liver failed for the first time when he was 49, ironically the year after a jury awarded Antonio Benedi $8.8 million who developed liver failure after taking Tylenol and drinking wine daily. At the time, Tylenol bottles did not feature a warning about combining alcohol and acetaminophen, even though Johnson & Johnson was aware of the risk.

After the verdict, Johnson & Johnson was forced to add a warning label about risk of liver damage when combining Tylenol and alcohol. It still took the FDA a few more years to finally step in and make the alcohol warning mandatory for all manufacturers of acetaminophen in 1998. These warnings were too little too late for my dad, who passed away at 59.

Thinking back, the very first funeral I ever went to was for a neighbor’s son, age 20, who died of AIDS. I was maybe 13. He was close friends with my brother, and his sister was best friends with my sister. Through no fault of his own, he was a hemophiliac who contracted HIV through contaminated blood products, which weren’t being properly screened for HIV virus. It is said that 5,000 hemophiliacs contracted HIV in the 1980s and 1990s from contaminated blood, but I imagine it’s much higher.

As the entire world is tuned into this one virus: I look around me and I am shocked by the denial and the cognitive dissonance. How we choose to fear a virus, but not chemical exposures. How we quarantine ourselves to protect ourselves, but still eat junk food and sugar. How we spend more money trying to find a “cure” for cancer, rather than preventing cancer. How we have solid evidence that aluminum is one cause of Alzheimer’s disease, yet not one news conglomerate will touch the story. Mainstream news is handing out fear porn like it’s going out of style, yet by all measure, there are bigger stories out there, they just choose to ignore them.

Thus far, 3,000 people in the United States have died with Covid-19 as of March 31, 2020. We can’t be completely sure they died *because* of Covid-19, because the majority of deaths have occurred in people over 80 with 3 or more chronic health conditions.

But no one is asking: Why are Americans so sick in the first place? People in this country are nearly twice as chronically ill as Europeans. If that isn’t a news story, then I don’t know what is.

In 2020, there will be 89,000 cancer cases diagnosed, and 9,270 cancer deaths in adolescents and young adults ages 15-38 years in the US. These are YOUNG people.

Between 2017 and 2025, our nation expects to see a 14% rise in the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, which is currently the 6th leading cause of death. There was an 89% increase in deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease between 2000 and 2014. Alzheimer’s disease is caused by aluminum toxicity, which is preventable. In 2014, 93,500 deaths were due to Alzheimer’s disease.

The CDC estimates from October 1, 2019 – March 21, 2020 there have been 24,000-62,000 deaths from Influenza and Pneumonia, and that is with vaccination coverage hovering around 45% of people over 18 years getting a flu shot!

For a deeper look into controversial medical devices and medical procedures approved by the FDA, watch The Bleeding Edge documentary.