Most Vets Don’t Qualify For VA Dental Care. So These Dentists Are Giving It For Free

As part of its growing efforts to support underserved patients, Aspen Dental, which has more than 500 offices nationwide, dispensed a mobile unit throughout the country for the first time last year…

Before connecting with Aspen, Bell says his mouth’s decrepit state turned him into a recluse…  “I didn’t go out in public,” Bell said. “I had such an ugly smile, I didn’t get out at all.”

He told HuffPost that the VA repeatedly turned him down for dental care and didn’t provide him with any information about potential plans he could even pay for. The VA does offer veterans the opportunity to purchase dental insurance through Delta Dental and MetLife at a reduced cost, Meagan Lutz, VA press officer, told HuffPost.

While Bell didn’t have the confidence to leave the house, or resources to take care of his oral hygiene, he did his best to deal with his other plaguing medical issues, which were covered by the VA. In 2010, cancer led the Arkansas man to have a kidney removed. He’s now in remission. Bell was also facing diabetes, which he says is now at bay after he lost 90 pounds.

Though Bell also had big dreams of becoming a pilot with the Arkansas Forestry Commission, he felt he had no chance of getting accepted because of his appearance. But Bell says he’s now feeling confident about putting those plans into action after getting a full workup at an Aspen Dental office in Bryant, Arkansas…

Through its Healthy Mouth Movement, the organization dispenses a mobile office to 30 states throughout the year. Local Aspen dentists and hygienists volunteer to work on the tractor-trailer when it comes through town, which handles services from X-rays to extractions.

Back in June, Aspen dentists committed a day of service on a Saturday to seeing underserved veterans and, starting Veterans Day, it’s offering a 25 percent discount to any vet through the end of 2015…

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(Photo taken by my sister at the 2013 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.)

DNA test designed to predict drug response

Just as 23andMe has made peace with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, another direct-to-consumer genetics company is testing the regulatory waters with the launch of a $249 DNA test designed to predict drug response…

Currently, pharmacogenetics tests are ordered directly by a treating physician and are not available to consumers. One, GeneSight, made by Assurex Health, is covered by Medicare and some insurers. GeneSight’s sticker price is more than $3,000, but the company says the average patient pays no more than $330…

For Zimmer, the push is personal, born out of the experiences of his 16-year-old daughter, who suffered with severe depression while her doctor tried to find the right medication and dose to treat her. Zimmer believes consumers should have access to their own data through an affordable test…

What do you think about circumcision?

The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to take heat for its stance in favor of male infant circumcision. Should physicians recommend circumcision for newborn boys?

When my son was born, there was never a question about circumcision. I don’t remember anyone asking me how I felt about it, or educating me on the benefits and harms. But there is research showing that pain felt as a baby can negatively affect the adult:

(2004) Are There Long-Term Consequences of Pain in Newborn or Very Young Infants?

When you consider that anesthesia is often not used during these procedures, I would say this amounts to torture.  It would be interesting to see a study of those who were circumcised and those who were not — what correlations would be found, especially dealing with mental illness and chronic pain (even cancer)? When do memories of trauma form and can they survive infancy?

As for the health benefits and harms of being circumcised, I’m going to leave that for the men to debate. As a woman, while I was sexually active, I never came across a guy who wasn’t circumcised. But, as women, we should be accepting of all kinds of penises, no matter what they look like. 🙂

“For some, meditation has become more curse than cure.”

Link provided by alexmoriah86 in the comment section:

After 100 years of research into psychotherapy, it’s obvious that scientists and clinicians have learned a lot about the benefits of therapy, but what do we know about the harms? According to Britton, a parallel process is happening in the field of meditation research…

Given the juggernaut—economic and otherwise—behind the mindfulness movement, there is a lot at stake in exploring a shadow side of meditation. Upton Sinclair once observed how difficult it is to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it…

Shinzen Young, a Buddhist meditation teacher popular with young scientists, has summarized his familiarity with dark night experiences…

Almost everyone who gets anywhere with meditation will pass through periods of negative emotion, confusion, [and] disorientation. …The same can happen in psychotherapy and other growth modalities. I would not refer to these types of experiences as ‘dark night.’ I would reserve the term for a somewhat rarer phenomenon. Within the Buddhist tradition, [this] is sometimes referred to as ‘falling into the Pit of the Void.’ It entails an authentic and irreversible insight into Emptiness and No Self. Instead of being empowering and fulfilling … it turns into the opposite. In a sense, it’s Enlightenment’s Evil Twin…

The identities of Britton’s subjects are kept secret and coded anonymously. To find interviewees, however, her team contacted well-known and highly esteemed teachers, such as Jack Kornfield at California’s Spirit Rock and Joseph Goldstein at the Insight Meditation Center in Massachusetts. Like many other experienced teachers they spoke to, Goldstein and Kornfield recalled instances during past meditation retreats where students became psychologically incapacitated. Some were hospitalized. Says Britton, “there was one person Jack told me about [who] never recovered.” …

The Futility of Modern Fears

“The memory is very vivid because if you experienced something bad, you don’t want to experience it again, so you don’t want to forget it,” Burnett said. “The memory system really kicks it up a gear to make sure that this bad thing isn’t lost.” …

Your memory system includes memories of physical pain, too. Chronic pain is the unbroken loop in the nervous system that keeps these pain memories alive and current, just like PTSD keeps memories of trauma near the surface, instead of in the past where they belong.

“As a child, you’re constantly learning and experiencing new things, and you get a more realistic world view and learn that things aren’t frightening,” Burnett said. “As an adult, if you continue experiencing and learning new things all the time, you can stop being afraid.”

Well, I wouldn’t go that far, to say you can stop being afraid. I will always be afraid of bugs, no matter how much I learn about them or how many times I photograph them. I hope my exposure to bugs lessens my fear (and the pounding of my heart when I encounter one), but it’s an automatic response that I cannot control (only try to manage). Kinda like my pain.

Please buy my addiction book

(July 2015) Addiction is not a disease: A neuroscientist argues that it’s time to change our minds on the roots of substance abuse

One of those neuroscientists is Marc Lewis, a psychologist and former addict himself, also the author of a new book “The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease.” …

Can a psychologist really be called a “neuroscientist”? Or is that a fancy term for a wanna-be neurologist?

“Addicts aren’t diseased,” Lewis writes, “and they don’t need medical intervention in order to change their lives. What they need is sensitive, intelligent social scaffolding to hold the pieces of their imagined future in place — while they reach toward it.”

Under comments:

ThisOldMan Jul 9, 2015
This article is based on the belief that no drugs are good drugs. It’s not that simple, as the many widely accepted benefits that non-psychoactive drugs in society amply demonstrates. The brain is an organ which, like any other, is under complex and not fully understood chemical control. Society’s fear of psychoactive drugs no doubt stems from our ignorance of the brain’s chemistry and, beyond perhaps even that, our fear of “losing control”. But it’s not clear, to anyone who has thought about it very deeply, that anyone is really in control of their own thoughts and feelings, whatever that may really mean. Like any other force of nature, psychoactive drugs have their uses and their abuses, and the real question is ultimately political: WHO DECIDES? I just hope it won’t be the authors of this article …

This is an interesting article (with 452 comments, although many seem to be from AA members). Further to ThisOldMan’s comment, I think the author doesn’t understand the power of certain drugs on the brain — the chemical mixture of drugs and neurons, how they interact, how they combust. (Combust: to be consumed by fire.) We can blame the drugs, or we can look at the whole picture, including the need (in some, desperation) to relieve both physical and emotional pain. And how some people are unable to meet this need without drugs (or gambling, video games, sugar, sex, etc.).

As one example, let’s look at cigarettes — if cigarettes don’t prove that addiction is real, I don’t know what would.

Just like there are many levels of depression, there are many levels of addiction. Some addictions are easily managed, but most can be managed with the right education. And the right help.

But if we truly want to help those who suffer from addiction, then we have to look at all the different sources of pain and how to prevent them. How do we prevent physical pain (part of the human condition)? How do we prevent child abuse, rape, and violence? How do we prevent loss and grief? We will never be able to prevent all pain, so we should know how to treat the side effects of all this pain, including PTSD, depression, and addiction.

Drugs are not the enemy — they are here to help us. Is it even possible to prevent the harms that come from drugs/chemicals? (Shall we ask the oil and gas industry?) Is it possible to prevent the harms that come from being human?

And now you can see why the drug war has failed — you can’t change human behavior through discrimination, shame, and jail (maybe in the short-term, but rarely in the long-term). Those who suffer from addiction know this, and now chronic pain patients know it, too.

If your beliefs ignore reality, then you may have a problem

As I’ve mentioned before, whenever someone likes one of my comments or posts, I pay them a visit in return. Many months ago, I had one visitor who liked 75 different posts on my blog, all within the span of three minutes. (Maybe drugs were involved.) Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything on his blog that I could acknowledge in return.

Sometimes, those who are addicted to “likes” are just bloggers who speak another language (probably looking for attention from a few Americans).  And sometimes it’s people like this:

You know those likers, the ones who disagree with just about everything you have to say. I don’t barge onto other blogs just to force my opinion (and hypocritical “likes”) on them, but the anti-gay and religious folks don’t show me the same courtesy. (Religion can delude you into thinking that you’re always right and it’s your duty to force these beliefs on others.)

My latest anti-gay liker wants me to read about how childhood trauma can turn people gay. Oh, I have no doubt that some people pretend to be gay — for instance, heterosexual women tired of in-your-face sexual attention from men (although that can backfire and create more unwanted attention). I also have no doubt that victims of rape may choose and prefer to love someone of the same sex for safety (and sanity) reasons. And when you’re young, many people experiment. (Heck, I’m sure old people experiment, too.)

But most gay people don’t have a choice — just like most heterosexuals. So, for the latest religious nut who barged onto my blog (my internet home), pretending to be all about love (with a heart for an avatar, no less), I have a suggestion:

As an obviously staunch heterosexual, why don’t you try “choosing” to be gay for a month? (This is called a scientific experiment.)  Let me know how that goes.

When you use stories and myths of ancient times to explain your beliefs, you are ignoring reality (and the fact that it’s 2015). And you may have a problem. Basing your personal and medical decisions on what you think an old man in the sky believes doesn’t provide for the best of results. But it’s your life, your choice.

However, your religious (and delusional) beliefs are your problem, not mine, so leave me out of it. Stop wasting my time. I try so hard to be a nice person (in spite of the chronic pain), and you’re making that impossible for me to do.


(2010) Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science

Though the results of drug studies often make newspaper headlines, you have to wonder whether they prove anything at all. Indeed, given the breadth of the potential problems raised at the meeting, can any medical-research studies be trusted?

That question has been central to Ioannidis’s career. He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed…

In poring over medical journals, he was struck by how many findings of all types were refuted by later findings. Of course, medical-science “never minds” are hardly secret. And they sometimes make headlines, as when in recent years large studies or growing consensuses of researchers concluded that mammograms, colonoscopies, and PSA tests are far less useful cancer-detection tools than we had been told; or when widely prescribed antidepressants such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil were revealed to be no more effective than a placebo for most cases of depression; or when we learned that staying out of the sun entirely can actually increase cancer risks; or when we were told that the advice to drink lots of water during intense exercise was potentially fatal; or when, last April, we were informed that taking fish oil, exercising, and doing puzzles doesn’t really help fend off Alzheimer’s disease, as long claimed. 

Peer-reviewed studies have come to opposite conclusions on whether using cell phones can cause brain cancer, whether sleeping more than eight hours a night is healthful or dangerous, whether taking aspirin every day is more likely to save your life or cut it short, and whether routine angioplasty works better than pills to unclog heart arteries…

Baffled, he started looking for the specific ways in which studies were going wrong. And before long he discovered that the range of errors being committed was astonishing: from what questions researchers posed, to how they set up the studies, to which patients they recruited for the studies, to which measurements they took, to how they analyzed the data, to how they presented their results, to how particular studies came to be published in medical journals…

Scary stuff, right?

When was the last time your doctor recommended a treatment based on faulty research? (How often do doctors treat women with drugs that were only tested on men?) Well, it happens every day. But looking even further than that, government agencies use this faulty research to make restrictions, regulations and laws, especially in the drug war.

In the opioid war, groups like PFROP provide this faulty research as proof of their positions, and often it’s research performed by the very members of these groups, or for anti-drug agencies that agree with their agenda. And don’t count on the media to uncover conflicts of interest or faulty research — the media is part of the problem.

How long have we been using abstinence-based programs to treat addiction when they’ve only been proven to work as well as a placebo? Not that the placebo effect should be discounted, but only a small percentage of people respond to the placebo effect. The rest of us, somewhere between 75% and 90%, are then blamed when these treatments don’t work.

Let’s look at PTSD. Is there credible evidence that currently-used treatments are effective? Treatment that makes PTSD sufferers re-live their experiences can’t possibly work for every single person, while I assume it can actually do a lot of harm. Yet doctors force these treatments on patients as if it’s the best choice, many times regardless of the side effects.

Doctors should finally admit that, even with all their education and experience, they don’t have the ability to tell patients which is the best treatment choice. Patients have to decide. But our health care system doesn’t work that way. The DEA, CDC, FDA, insurance companies, State Boards, doctors — they make the decisions and patients just have to accept it. Decisions often based on faulty research.

Part of the reason that women are often discriminated against within the medical community is because we don’t stand up for ourselves. Mostly male doctors play the unwelcome role of father-like figures, telling us to discount our symptoms because we’re just weak women.

Both women and men need to learn that doctors are not infallible; they’re not gods. Just ask the 400,000 patients who die every year from medical mistakes. Yes, doctors have a lot of power over us, and it can be hard and painful to reclaim that power as patients. You may not be able to do it today, but doesn’t it give you a warm and fuzzy feeling inside to look at a future where you make your own medical decisions? Do we really need doctors to help us make these decisions, especially when doctors are relying on junk science?

How about a study that compares the success of a doctor’s choice for treatment versus the patient’s choice for treatment? Which group will have the best outcomes?


“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.” Stephen King

“Everyone carries around his own monsters.”  Richard Pryor

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“There are very few monsters who warrant the fear we have of them.”  Andre Gide

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Do you suffer from apathy? There’s a pill for that…

From Wikipedia:

Apathy (also called perfunctoriness) is a lack of feeling, emotion, interest, and concern. Apathy is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation, and/or passion. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical and/or physical life and the world…

Apathy may be a sign of more specific mental problems such as schizophrenia or dementia. However, apathy is something that all people face in some capacity. It is a natural response to disappointment, dejection, and stress. As a response, apathy is a way to forget about these negative feelings. This type of common apathy is usually only felt in the short-term and when it becomes a long-term or even lifelong state is when deeper social and psychological issues are most likely present…

The modern concept of apathy became more well-known after World War I, when it was one of the various forms of “shell shock”. Soldiers who lived in the trenches amidst the bombing and machine gun fire, and who saw the battlefields strewn with dead and maimed comrades, developed a sense of disconnected numbness and indifference to normal social interaction when they returned from combat.

In 1950, US novelist John Dos Passos wrote: “Apathy is one of the characteristic responses of any living organism when it is subjected to stimuli too intense or too complicated to cope with. The cure for apathy is comprehension.” …

Dysthymia is a depressive mood disorder characterized by chronic and persistent but mild depression. It is often difficult to be distinguished from major depression, specifically in its partially remitted state because “loss of interest” or “apathy” tends to prevail both in dysthymia, and remitted depression. Apathy may also occur in various psychiatric and neurological disorders, including schizophrenia, stroke, Parkinson’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, Huntington’s disease, and dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal dementia. It is symptomatologically important that apathy is related to, but different from, major depression from the viewpoint of its causes and treatment. Antidepressants, especially noradrenergic agents, are useful for depression-related apathy. However, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be less effective for apathy in depressed elderly patients and have even been reported to worsen apathy…

Dysthymia manifests as a depressed mood persisting for at least two years (one year for children or adolescents) that lasts for most of the day, occurs on more days than not, and is accompanied by at least two of the following symptoms:

(1) poor appetite or overeating,
(2) insomnia or hypersomnia,
(3) low energy or fatigue,
(4) low self-esteem,
(5) poor concentration or difficulty making decisions,
(6) feelings of hopelessness…

Judge sends domestic violence victim to jail

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — Channel 9 has obtained video from a Seminole County courtroom where an emotional domestic violence victim was sentenced to three days in jail for failing to show up for her abuser’s trial. During her contempt of court hearing in July, the woman told the judge she had been having anxiety for months after she was attacked by the father of her child...

“I just, things were…” the sobbing woman said.

“Why didn’t you show up to court?” Collins asked.

“I’m just, my anxiety, and I’m just…” the woman replied.

“You think you’re going to have anxiety now? You haven’t even seen anxiety,” Collins told the woman…