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LGBT people are prone to mental illness. It’s a truth we shouldn’t shy away from | Alexander Leon

I almost didn’t write this. It wasn’t from not wanting to. I cradled my head in my hands, desperate to contribute to the reams of social media positivity I had seen surrounding Mental Health Awareness Week.

I almost didn’t – couldn’t – because I was depressed.

There came a certain point in my experience of being LGBT where I accepted that I had to be strong and uncompromising in the face of disapproving glances and withering remarks. I made a pact to throw myself into my community with zeal, no matter how exhausting, and to make full use of the privileges I was afforded in the tolerant metropolis I’d landed in.

And yet, for some reason, I find this an incredibly difficult attitude to transfer over to my struggle with depression. I will share with my co-workers that I am going on a date with a man or going to an LGBT-themed event with an almost belligerent pride, but am overwhelmed with fear in having to admit to those same people that I’m leaving slightly early to see my therapist or that I need to take some time off due to another episode.

Indeed, the word “depression” still has a bite to it, in the way that the word “gay” did when I first dared to say it to someone else in reference to myself. The tone of my voice takes on an odd quality as I approach it in a sentence, to the point where I sound intolerably meek by the time “depression” tumbles out.

The thing is, in many cases, mental illness and being queer go hand in hand. It’s an uncomfortable but important reality that LGBT youth are four times more likely to kill themselves than their heterosexual counterparts. More than half of individuals who identify as transgender experience depression or anxiety. Even among Stonewall’s own staff, people who dedicate themselves to the betterment and improved health of our community, 86% have experienced mental health issues first-hand. It’s a morbid point to make, but it makes perfect sense that we, as a community, struggle disproportionately.

At a recent event I attended, set up to train LGBT role models to visit schools and teach children about homophobia, no one explicitly mentioned their struggles with mental illness. We told one another stories of how we had come to accept ourselves in the face of adversity, talking in riddles about “dark times” or “feeling down” or being a “bit too much of a party animal”. But these problems have other names – depression, anxiety, addiction – that we consistently avoid, despite being in a community in which a large percentage of us will have undergone similar experiences.

And this phenomenon replays itself over and over. Despite there being a common understanding between me and my queer friends that we’ve probably all been vilified in the same way and made to feel a similar flavour of inadequate, we will rarely acknowledge, even within the safe boundaries of friendship, that this has had a lasting impact on our ability to maintain a healthy self-image.

But part of being proud of who we are as LGBT people is being able to be open about the struggles we’ve faced. It’s in naming and wearing the uncomfortable badges of anxiety, depression and addiction that we take the first step towards fully accepting mental illness as an important part of our collective identity. After all, how can we be true role models to the next generation if we refuse to tell the whole story?

And so, this Mental Health Awareness Week, I’m issuing a challenge to my community. If you are LGBT and suffer from a mental illness, be defiant in your acceptance of it in the same way that you would about your sexuality or gender identity. Bring it up, speak it out and feel sure that your voice, however seemingly small or insignificant, is a valid one. After all, we have been, and will always be, a community of fighters – it’s about time we dared to show our battle scars.

Olaseni Lewis died in part from ‘disproportionate use of force’

The death of a man after prolonged restraint by police on a mental health ward was caused in part by “disproportionate and unreasonable” use of force, pain compliance techniques and multiple mechanical restraints, an inquest has found.

The narrative conclusion, which came after the coroner ruled out a verdict of unlawful killing, found fault with both police officers and medics involved in the death of Olaseni Lewis at Bethlem Royal hospital in south London in 2010.

Lewis, 23, an IT graduate with no prior history of mental illness, collapsed at the hospital after being taken there by relatives on 31 August 2010. He never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at Croydon University hospital on 4 September.

A postmortem examination found he had suffered a hypoxic brain injury, which occurs when the brain is starved of oxygen, jurors heard on the second day of the inquest.

Early in the inquest, Lewis’s mother, Ajibola Lewis, recalled how a nurse at the Maudsley hospital in south London, had warned her not to allow him to be transferred to Bethlem, where the incident occurred.

“She said to me, ‘Look, don’t let him go to the Bethlem, don’t let him go there,’” Ajibola Lewis said. However, she took the decision, on the advice of doctors, that her son should attend the mental health hospital as a voluntary patient.

The case only came to inquest after years of investigations into who should be held responsible for Lewis’s death. In 2015, following an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, the Crown Prosecution Service determined that the officers involved had no criminal case to answer.

Last year, it was decided that no charges of corporate homicide would be brought against the South London and Maudsley NHS foundation trust, which manages Bethlem, after it was investigated by Devon and Cornwall police.

A Health and Safety Executive investigation into Lewis’s death is pending following the conclusion of the inquest.

In India a 3D printed spine saves a woman from paralysis and death

Most people know tuberculosis as a disease of the lungs, but that’s not always the case.

For a 32-year-old woman in India, the disease manifested in her spine – in 10 different vertebrae, thanks to a lowered immune system caused by drugs she was taking for infertility. Her condition deteriorated quickly; the disease caused such extensive damage to her first, second and third cervical vertebrae that she no longer had any support between her skull and lower spine.

A 3d printed vertebrea

A 3d printed vertebrea Photograph: supplied to 3dprint.com by Sanjay Kumar Pathak at Global Health Care in New Delhi

As a result, the woman’s head was sliding forward and her posture curved in a way that obstructed her spinal cord, resulting in progressive weakness in her limbs. She was also at risk of quadriplegia and even death, if her respiratory nerves were to become compressed. But this young woman is going to be just fine, as impossible as that sounds.

Surgeons at Medanta – the Medicity in Gurgaon, India, replaced the woman’s damaged first, second and third vertebrae with a 3D printed titanium implant in a 10-hour surgery, closing the gap between her skull and spine and allowing her to stand and walk normally again. It was the first time such a procedure had been performed in India, and among the first in the world, following similar operations in China that first took place in 2014 and a surgery that was performed a year ago in Australia.

“Given the complexity of this case, the use of 3D printing technology has helped us in bringing a successful outcome,” Dr V Anand Naik, senior consultant (spine surgery) at Medanta’s Bone & Joint Institute, told the Indo-Asian News Service. Dr Naik led the surgical team that operated on the woman. “The patient today on 12 post-operative days is now walking with minimal support, all her pain has gone, her voice and dysphasia has recovered completely and, most importantly, her life was saved by this technique.”

A 3d printed vertebrae inside the spine of a woman in India, 2017

A 3d printed vertebrae inside the spine of a woman in India, 2017 Photograph: supplied to 3dprint.com by Sanjay Kumar Pathak at Global Health Care in New Delhi

Sanjay Kumar Pathak of Global Health Care in New Delhi told 3DPrint.com that the titanium implant, customised to perfectly fit the patient’s spine, was designed at his company. CT and MRI scans helped create a replica of the woman’s spine so that the gaps between her vertebrae could be measured to ensure that the final printed vertebra would fit perfectly.

The patient, a teacher, is recovering quickly, which is incredible considering the severity of her condition before the surgery. Just a few years ago, there would have been very little hope for her, but 3D printing is changing the prognosis of many severely ill and injured patients.

“These techniques have opened a new avenue wherein any type of complex reconstruction can be done in the spine with less collateral damage,” said Dr Naik.

The advancements that 3D printing has brought to the medical field are nothing short of astonishing. We may not yet be at the point where we can 3D print full human organs and transplant them into patients, but the fact that we can even talk about such a thing as a feasible possibility shows just how quickly and dramatically this technology is changing the industry.

Although 3D printed organs are often talked about as the ultimate goal in medical 3D printing, and companies such as Organovo have already made an impact on pharmaceutical research with their 3D printed liver and kidney tissue, many of the biggest, most life-altering changes so far have been thanks to 3D printing’s ability to create customised implants and organ models. The young woman in India isn’t the only person to have been saved from paralysis by 3D printing; it would have seemed laughable a short time ago, but stopping or even reversing paralysis is now possible thanks to the advanced spinal surgeries and implants 3D printing allows.

When dealing with the spine, there’s no room for error or imperfect fit, and the fact that no two bodies are exactly the same has rendered the “one size fits all” implants of the past ineffective or even harmful for many patients. Today’s advanced 3D technology allows for a perfect copy of an individual patient’s anatomy to be printed in plastic, meaning that surgeons can study the affected area or even practice procedures before operating. In addition, the design freedom that 3D printing allows means that implants can be produced that perfectly match that patient’s anatomy. We may not have 3D printed organs yet, but customised 3D printed implants are already synthetically reproducing – and replacing – parts of the human body.

Hundreds of private patients seek compensation from rogue surgeon

Hundreds of private patients of a surgeon convicted of carrying out needless breast operations are seeking compensation after nearly £18m worth of claims were made against the NHS.

Ian Paterson, 59, was convicted on Friday of 17 counts of wounding with intent and three counts of unlawful wounding against 10 patients, upon whom he conducted “extensive, life-changing operations for no medically justifiable reason”.

More than 250 NHS patients have received payouts after being treated by the surgeon and it has now emerged that around 350 patients who underwent treatment privately at clinics owned by Spire Healthcare in the West Midlands are also taking civil action against Paterson and the firm.

Paterson, described in court by one victim as being “like God”, lied to patients and exaggerated or invented the risk of cancer to convince them to go under his knife.

Thompsons Solicitors, a firm representing the private patients, said the Spire Healthcare’s treatment of those who complained was “shabby”.

“We are determined to secure appropriate compensation for every single one of our clients, some of whom found the courage to come forward only as recently as four weeks ago,” said Linda Millband, lead national lawyer at the firm.

“Spire needs to face up to its responsibilities, because they let him operate well after he was suspended by the NHS.”

A freedom of information request revealed the NHS has resolved 256 cases, paying out £9.5m in compensation and £8.2m in costs, while a further 25 cases are still to be heard.

Paterson, who was suspended by the General Medical Council in 2012, lied to patients and exaggerated or invented the risk of cancer in order to convince them to go under the knife.

He sobbed as the jury returned the guilty verdicts on Friday at Nottingham crown court. The surgeon was released on conditional bail ahead of sentencing in May, when he faces a custodial sentence.

One patient who gave evidence in the trial had 27 biopsy cores taken from her healthy right breast and had “absolutely not” received medical best practice.

A Spire Healthcare spokesman said: “What Mr Paterson did in our hospitals, in other private hospitals and in the NHS, absolutely should not have happened and today justice has been done.

“We would like to reiterate how truly sorry we are for the distress experienced by any patients affected by this case. We can say unequivocally that we have learned the lessons from these events.

“We commissioned a thorough independent investigation and have fully implemented all of the recommendations.”

From Millions Against Monsanto to Billions Against Bayer

The illegitimacy of the corpo-governmental power structures on Planet Earth would be hard to deny at this point even for the staunchest of maya-dwellers.

As part of the resistance to ongoing dirty dealings, protests will be held April 28, 2017 in Bonn, Germany to show resistance to the planned merger of German-based pharmaceutical, chemical, and genetically modified seed giant Bayer with the most well-known face of genetically modified foods, Monsanto.

These protests are set to coincide with Bayer Corporations’ Annual General Meeting on April 28.

For those who can’t make the demonstrations in Germany, take to YouTube or social media on or around April 28 to express what you would like to say to Bayer executives. Use Twitter hashtags #bayer, #stopbayermonsanto, and #billionsagainstbayer, or tweet directly to Bayer at @BayerAG. Even a single individual acting alone can raise a lot of needed awareness. If you feel moved by this issue, participate in any way you can.

The planned merger of Bayer with Monsanto follows other recent mega-mergers in the genetically modified seed and chemicals game – Dow and DuPont joined forces to form DowDuPont in 2015, and ChemChina merged with Syngenta in 2016.

Bayer is now planning to swallow up the highly toxic public facade of Monsanto Corporation for $ 66 billion, obscuring the evil deeds of both under its falsely innocuous brand of “the Aspirin company.”

It’s our job not to allow this burying of dirty deeds to happen. It’s our job to see through this hollow public relations strategy as the ruthless power consolidation move that it is.

As I sit here writing this in a state of physical debilitation and pain, as I have been every day for the past seven-and-a-half years since taking Bayer’s devil drug antibiotic Cipro, it would be quite impossible for me to forget the evils of the Bayer Corporation. It would be impossible for me to forget that this corporation matches, if not trumps, the crimes against humanity committed by Monsanto.

Bayer Corporation has knowingly debilitated and disabled hundreds of thousands (most likely millions) of people with its pharmaceuticals, including me. It has knowingly killed tens of thousands of people by leaving its deadly drugs on the market without adequate warnings. It has done this willingly, despite the anguished pleas and warnings from its victims, in the pursuit of its own profit and global domination.

The next planned step in this global domination, it appears, is swallowing up Monsanto Corp.

So now we have our own transformation to facilitate.

We now shift from Millions Against Monsanto to Billions Against Bayer.

Join us in resisting these knowing abusers of humanity and of life on this planet. Join us in resisting their poisonous products as they attempt to reach even further into our food supply.

Join in solidarity with the people in Germany – and across Europe – as they fight for their health and their food supplies, as they fight for an outcome different from the one we have in Canada and the U.S. with widespread GMO cross-contamination of our food.

This is a Worldwide Call to Join Together as Billions Against Bayer!

This is a Worldwide Call to Educate Yourself About the Crimes Against Humanity Committed by Bayer!

On December 8, 2009, I finished the last of three antibiotic pills prescribed to me by a walk-in clinic physician for what was believed to be a mild urinary tract infection.

By the next day, I was crawling around my apartment on my hands and knees because my tendons had turned to mush and I could not put weight on my Achilles.

I was having an extended, drug-induced panic attack with morbid and suicidal thoughts coursing through my brain without cessation. I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t sleep. There was intense pressure in my head. I had a severe headache to the point that I could barely move my head off the pillow. My ears were ringing loudly. My vision was not lining up correctly. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw colors and shapes and figures and flashing lights, as if I had a strobe light going off behind my eyelids. I couldn’t use artificial light or look at my computer screen without pain. I had fatigue so crushing that crawling to the bathroom and back took a couple hours to recover from. My entire body felt poisoned, and eating food made me feel worse. I was so weak, I could barely lift my arm to my mouth to feed myself (subsequently losing 30 pounds in three weeks). I was convinced I was going to die.

By taking those three prescribed pills, I had taken an inadvertent step through the gateway to Hell. I had been initiated into new depths of understanding about our human condition on this planet.

It was the beginning of years of debilitation, pain, and relentless drive for recovery. It also deepened my drive to follow threads and peel layers in an effort to expose the roots of the heartless and soulless machines that are poisoning us here on Earth.

Dramatic, huh?

Although feelings of extreme isolation are common these days within the often horrific circumstances we find ourselves in on this planet, we are not alone in our experiences of Hell on Earth. In fact, our own personal Hell is usually just the tip of the iceberg, with thousands, millions, or even billions of other people experiencing very similar things for very similar reasons.

Our personal experiences of Hell connect us to the sociological imagination. The personal stories have collective roots that connect us to many, many other human beings experiencing similar things, becoming caught in the same traps, falling prey to the same dirty tricks.

Almost across the board, the people at the highest echelons of the hierarchical pyramid schemes of power on this planet are not our leaders. They are not our authorities. They do not hold legitimate influence over us. They are, in fact, injuring, poisoning, and killing us.

We’re not alone with these experiences. We do not live in a vacuum. We’re caught up in broader societal trends and themes, issues that are affecting large numbers of people from all walks of life, in all corners of the world.

The Hell we experience at a personal level is often inextricably linked with the requirement for collective awareness, transformation, and change.

Bayer Corporation: Following the Twisted Roots of the Corporate Oligarchy

The exposing of corporate and governmental crimes against humanity demands that no stone be left unturned in our examinations of the rotten and the corrupt, that no twisted root be left uninvestigated as we bring the muck and mire to the surface and to collective awareness.

This process demands that we respect with utmost seriousness the complexity, the layers, and the tenacity of the reach of these corrupt corporate tentacles and the people behind them. We must extricate ourselves from these tentacles in order to live a true alternative, and looking at the ugly and intricate web head-on – shiny, advertising grins wiped clean – is the only way we can do that.

So even though we all have “corporate evil-doing fatigue” at this point, let’s get out our books and pencils and dig in…

This particular case study is about the pharmaceuticals and chemicals corporation Bayer. We in North America almost all know this company, but the next time you’re popping a Bayer Aspirin or two, you might want to think a little more deeply about the people behind this household drug.

I’ve come to learn some very interesting things about this company, the makers of the fluoroquinolone antibiotic Cipro that has poisoned and debilitated me along with hundreds of thousands (likely millions) of others.

Bayer became a household name after co-opting the pain-relieving folk remedy salacin, derived from willow bark, in the late 1800s to make its over-the-counter pain reliever Aspirin.

Bayer is a German company founded in 1863 that lost its assets to the West as reparations for World War I. Bayer had produced chlorine and mustard gases that were used as chemical warfare in the trenches.(1)

It was then enveloped in the Nazi’s IG Farben, their chemical and pharmaceuticals conglomerate.

This conglomerate used concentration camp slave labour to produce its wares. IG Farben was the only German company in the Third Reich that actually ran its own concentration camp, buying and using human guinea pig slaves to test their drugs. IG Farben also manufactured the pesticide Zyklon B, which was used to kill people in the gas chambers.(2)

Bayer has a long history in the military industrial complex, and these activities continue to this day.

Cipro was originally developed by Bayer to ward off anthrax attacks. Cipro was given to many Gulf War soldiers and is considered to be one of the causes of Gulf War Syndrome, a chronic and debilitating condition seen in up to 250,000 soldiers who served in the Gulf War.(3) Anyone suffering from an adverse reaction to a fluoroquinolone is also connected at the soul to these soldiers…

Once the anthrax scare was over, Cipro was re-purposed as a cure-all for a variety of minor infections, including urinary tract infections and prostatitis. This was how Bayer made the big bucks on this terribly dangerous drug.

This history of profiting from warfare is common with almost all the big GMO/chemical corporations.

It is a group of six corporations – Monsanto, DuPont, BASF, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta – currently merging the world’s seed supply with their genetically modified versions. Again, most have very recently merged with each other or are in the process of merging.

Five of the six – all but Syngenta – are chemical corporations with long histories of involvement with the military industrial complex, including chemical and nuclear warfare.

United States-based Monsanto is the most well-known of the six with its line of genetically modified Roundup Ready seeds designed to grow into plants that withstand its glyphosate-based chemical herbicide Roundup. Monsanto is the company that brought us Agent Orange, a defoliant used to strip trees of their leaves during the Vietnam War. Agent Orange is highly toxic and carcinogenic and killed or debilitated hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people as well as U.S. soldiers during and after the Vietnam War. Exposure to Agent Orange has caused widespread genetic damage and birth defects that are affecting generations of people to this day, including in the United States. Facebook groups: Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance and Agent Orange Activists. Other toxic products on Monsanto’s roster include saccharin, DDT, PCBs, bovine growth hormones, and Aspartame.(4)

DuPont is an American corporation now in the chemicals and plastics game but started off manufacturing gunpowder, becoming the largest supplier to the U.S. military by the mid-19th century. During World War II, DuPont produced military explosives and Plutonium, playing a major role in the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb.(5) It also helped to choose Hanford, Washington as the plutonium production site, now considered the most radioactively-contaminated site in the United States. DuPont is also the maker of the Kevlar vest, used in police forces around the world.

American chemical company Dow produced napalm, a chemical that clung to the skin and melted flesh, for the U.S. government during the Vietnam War. After public protests of napalm, all other companies making it stopped production, leaving Dow to reap the profits as the sole provider.(6) Dow managed a nuclear weapons production facility from 1951 to 1975 near Denver, Colorado called Rocky Flats Plant that was involved in multiple management problems leading to radioactive leaks and contamination fires. Thousands of plant workers have died or are sick from cancers they say are caused by radiation exposure and most have had their compensation claims denied.(7) Dow is indemnified by the U.S. government in the case, meaning taxpayers will pick up the tab for any legal settlements along with the company’s legal fees.

Please keep in mind the illustrious (and deadly) histories of the corporations attempting to dominate the food supply with their genetically modified seeds and chemicals. These corporations have manufactured and profited handsomely from products designed to injure and kill life on this planet, and they continue to do so with their GMOs and chemicals.

Bayer is also the maker of the deadly and debilitating Yaz/Yasmin birth control pills. These are “third generation” birth control pills that are much less safe than their predecessors, producing many life-threatening adverse reactions.

In July 2012, Bayer had settled 1,900 lawsuits related to Yaz/Yasmin in the United States alone to the tune of $ 402.6 million. There were 12,000 other cases pending, with more being added all the time. Deaths due to Yaz and Yasmin were associated with cardiac arrhythmia, heart attack, blood clots, and stroke. Gall bladder disease was also linked to the use of these drugs.(8) A class action lawsuit is also in progress in Canada.

Bayer has reached into our food supply with Bayer CropScience, a major manufacturer and seller of biotechnology and genetically modified (GM) seeds/crops, as well as the chemical herbicides that go with them.

Large parts of the United States rice crop were contaminated with Bayer’s genetically modified LibertyLink Rice, which is unapproved in Europe and cannot be exported there. In 2011, Bayer agreed to pay 11,000 U.S. farmers a total of $ 750 million for contaminating their natural rice crops.(9)

And again, Bayer is now, since 2016, in the process of gobbling up Monsanto Corporation for $ 66 billion, forming a monstrosity of a merger between two of the largest GMO seed and chemical corporations in the world.

As stated, in December 2009, I took three little pills of Bayer’s antibiotic, prescribed to me without warning for a very minor health issue, and I have been recovering from complete systemic devastation ever since.

Taking Ciprofloxacin, described to me by the walk-in clinic doctor as a “mild antibiotic,” was the gateway into a Hell that has been experienced by millions of others: pharmaceuticals poisoning.

Though I was unaware of it as I struggled through the first horrific weeks of the reaction, the experience connected me at the soul to hundreds of thousands (most likely millions) of people who have experienced or are experiencing horrific reactions to fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro – many much worse than my own.

But even that doesn’t tell the tale.

Iatrogenic illnesses and deaths are illnesses and deaths caused by the treatment of a physician. There is currently an epidemic of iatrogenic illnesses and deaths due to the irresponsible prescription of new generation pharmaceuticals, which include fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

In the United States alone, more than two million people have adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals every year. Of those, 1.5 million cases require hospitalization. A low-end estimate is that 100,000 people die in the U.S. every year from correctly-prescribed pharmaceuticals, making adverse drug reactions one of the leading causes of death.(10)

This statistic does not include people who commit suicide due to adverse reactions without “provable” links to the drug. Suicidal thoughts and actions are common side effects of many new wave pharmaceuticals, including fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro, the “stop smoking” drug Champix, and many prescription anti-depressants.

This statistic also does not include the skyrocketing number of people dying from illegal prescription drug use and addictions, particularly from opioids.

Because most adverse reactions to pharmaceuticals go unreported (it is commonly estimated that less than 10% are reported), the real number of related deaths is much higher.

There’s a general idea that adverse drug reactions are quite rare (false) and that the effects of them are fairly short-lived (often also false). People can struggle with the damage from adverse drug reactions for years, decades, or even the rest of their lives.

Each person affected is a loved and precious member of this planet, being treated by pharmaceuticals corporations as if his or her pain and suffering are meaningless in the face of continued corporate profit and “success.”

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) is a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, a variety of antibiotics that has been infused with a known toxin, fluorine, supposedly to increase efficacy. These antibiotics have devastating, debilitating, and even deadly potential side effects. They attack tendons, connective tissues, neurology, vision, organs, the central nervous system, and the digestive system, among other things, and many of the adverse reactions are long-term or even permanent.

Though tendon rupture was a side effect known about by manufacturer Bayer – forced by class action lawsuits to declare it on a “Black Box warning” on Cipro’s packaging in the United States – I never saw it. I was not warned about it by my doctor or my pharmacist.

Recently, yet more lawsuits have forced another Black Box warning to be put on Cipro packaging – peripheral neuropathy, a painful and debilitating inflammation of the nerves that can be permanent.

Over the past ten years, 80,000 adverse drug reactions have been reported to the United States Food and Drug Administration alone due to the fluoroquinolone antibiotic Levaquin and its generic version levofloxacin, including 1,000 deaths. There were 79,000 adverse reactions reported due to Cipro or its generic version ciprofloxacin, including 1,700 deaths.(11)

Again, since only a small fraction of all adverse reactions are reported to authorities (likely less than 10%) and these numbers include only two of the many brands of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, the real numbers of injuries and deaths will be in the millions.

Fluoroquinolone reactions can also occur after a delay – many months or even years after taking the drug – which can make it hard to source symptoms to their root. People are often misdiagnosed with other diseases and conditions like lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, arthritis, and fibromyalgia that are, in actuality, fluoroquinolone antibiotic poisoning.

If the real potential side effects were disclosed to people before they took fluoroquinolones – or any number of new wave pharmaceuticals – they would be far too terrified to swallow them.

The real warning labels should read something like this:

Warning! Fluoroquinolone Antibiotics Are Known to Cause:

– Repeated tendon rupture and connective tissue damage

– Muscle weakness

– Muscle wasting

– Disability to the point of wheelchair use

– Peripheral neuropathy (constant pain due to inflammation of the nerves)

– Vision damage

– Tinnitus

– Severe dental damage

– Central Nervous System damage

– Toxic psychosis

– Severe migraines

– Severe light sensitivity

– Extreme food sensitivities and digestive damage

– Morbid thoughts and prolonged suicidal thinking

– Prolonged anxiety

– Prolonged insomnia

– Arthritis and joint problems

– Chronic fatigue

– Aortic dissection

– Phototoxicity and increased incidence of skin cancer

– Permanent debilitation

– Death

These antibiotics are so potentially dangerous that they should never be prescribed as first-line antibiotics for minor infections. All safer alternatives should be tried first.

There is a culture of denial, cover-up, irresponsibility, and greed within the big pharmaceuticals industry and within the health care establishment, in general, that must be addressed layer-by-layer.

Regulatory agencies in Canada and the United States have just now, after decades of poisonings and deaths, updated the labels on these drugs – most likely an action forced by class action lawsuits.

The United States Food and Drug Administration updated labels on fluoroquinolone antibiotics in 2016, warning of disabling and potentially permanent damage, including to the tendons, muscles, joints, nerves, and central nervous system. It warned that these drugs should only be used as a last resort, not as first-line drugs to treat minor infections.

In early 2017, Health Canada followed suit, updating their own labels to better reflect the dangers of these drugs.

Unfortunately, the damage has already been done for the millions who have been injured by these drugs, many permanently. The Big Pharma marketing machine has created a climate where, despite the warnings, physicians continue to erroneously prescribe these drugs and pharmacists continue to erroneously dispense these drugs as first-line antibiotics for minor infections. This is a widespread practise. Frighteningly, Cipro is one of the most widely-prescribed antibiotics in the world.

Many doctors do not believe these types of reactions are possible from fluoroquinolone antibiotics, even when their patients are describing their adverse reactions and symptoms to them.

Neither doctors nor pharmacists are warning people adequately before dispensing these drugs, and physicians are contravening the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm to patients:

“I will apply diatetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.
I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect.”

Three little pills, and I’ve been working through a recovery process from complete systemic and neurological poisoning ever since.

Just like that, nothing is the same again.

And just like that, the soul takes on new layers, new colours, new wisdom, new strength, new awareness, new beauty, new power.

As stated, most doctors do not believe the types of adverse reactions involved with fluoroquinolone antibiotics are even possible. None of the doctors I saw believed me when I recounted the severity of what I was experiencing.

They should take a look at some of the stories here:




Facebook Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Group

Facebook Fluoroquinolone Wall of Pain

Unfortunately, we cannot expect most mainstream medical doctors to do any independent research. Most will listen to the literature written by the corporations who are profiting from the pain and misery being caused by these drugs.

There is an ongoing whitewash of the adverse reactions related to fluoroquinolone antibiotics, as well as a multitude of other dangerous drugs prescribed to people every day.

Investigation into hundreds of other pharmaceuticals will unravel the web even further, turning up more horrific side effects, adverse reactions, and deaths.

For a little extra credit assignment, research pharmaceuticals giant Merck, their fast-tracked “cervical cancer vaccine” Gardasil, and the class action lawsuits over their arthritis drug, Vioxx.

Gardasil is Merck’s fast-tracked HPV vaccine, tested on a mere 1,200 girls before being approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2006. The vaccine was never tested on the age group of girls intended to be vaccinated – nine-and-ten-year-olds – but was approved by the U.S. FDA as a blanket vaccine for girls.(12) By mid-March 2015, the Gardasil vaccine had generated more than 35,000 adverse reaction reports to the U.S. government, including more than 200 deaths.(13)  Again, it is estimated that only about 10% of adverse reactions are actually reported to authorities, and there could be more than 1 million adverse reactions associated with Gardasil.

(The Truth About Gardasil is an American website raising awareness about the deaths and long-term injuries from the Gardasil vaccine.

Merck is no stranger to widespread death and debilitation caused by its drugs – it is in the midst of class action lawsuits by at least 50,000 families suing because their loved ones died after taking its arthritis drug, Vioxx.

Most recently, thousands of people have launched a class action lawsuit against Merck due to its shingles vaccine, Zostavax. It is alleged that Zostavax has caused blindness, paralysis, brain damage, liver failure, and death in people who took the vaccine, not to mention causing shingles, the ailment it claims to prevent.

All this makes the safety record of Merck’s drugs and vaccines highly questionable, to say the least.

For the true extra credit keeners, research into the anti-bacterial drug Bactrim (also sold as Septra and Septrin) will illuminate another tentacle in the tangled web of pharmaceuticals poisonings. Bactrim has killed and debilitated many and was exposed in a series of articles by London, England’s The Sunday Times journalist Brian Deer in the 1990s.

Please research any pharmaceutical you are prescribed before taking it. Do not simply take your doctor or pharmacist’s word for it.

Consider trying natural antibiotic forms like oil or oregano or colloidal silver for minor infections.

Please do not take fluoroquinolone antibiotics unless they are the last option for you. There are many brand names, including:

– Cipro (ciprofloxacin)
– Levaquin (levafloxacin)
– Floxin (ofloxacin)
– Avelox (moxifloxacin)
– Noroxin (norfloxacin)
– Penetrex (enoxacin)
– Maxaquin (lomefloxacin)
– Vigamox (eye drops for pink eye)
– Zymar eye drops
– Besivance eye Drops
– Ciloxan eye Drops
– Iquix eye Drops
– Quixin eye Drops
– Ocuflox eye Drops
– Ofloxacin eye Drops
– Cetraxal ear Drops
– Cipro and Ciprodex ear Drops
– Floxin and Ofloxacin ear Drops
– Baytril (for veterinary use)

(1) (6) Source: “Bayer AG: Corporate Crimes,” Corporate Watch, https://corporatewatch.org/company-profiles/bayer-ag-corporate-crimes

(2) Source: “IG Farben and the History of the ‘Business With Disease,’” Dr. Rath Health Foundation; “150 Years of Bayer,” Coalition Against Bayer Dangers; “Bayer AG: Corporate Crimes,” Corporate Watch; “The Ghost of IG Farben: Can Monsanto Reform Bayer?” by Victor Grossman, www.counterpunch.org

(3) Source: “Gulf War Illness Tied to Cipro Antibiotics,” by Lisa Bloomquist; “Cipro May Be Linked to Gulf War Syndrome Nerve Damage,” by Ashley Vanover, TopClassActions.com

(4) Source: “Monsanto: a checkered history,” by Brian Tokar, The Ecologist, http://www.theecologist.org/investigations/health/269016/monsanto_a_checkered_history.html

(5) Source: “DuPont and Hanford,” The Manhattan Project: an interactive history, U.S. Department of Energy, https://www.osti.gov/opennet/manhattan-project-history/Events/1942-1944_pu/dupont_hanford.htm

(6) Source: “Dow Chemical: Corporate Rap Sheet,” Corporate Research Project, http://www.corp-research.org/dowchemical

(7) Source: “Rocky Flats’ workers burden still heavy even with new legal status,” by Electra Draper, Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com/2014/02/22/rocky-flats-workers-burden-still-heavy-even-with-new-legal-status/

(8) Source: “Bayer’s Yasmin Lawsuit Settlements Rise to $ 402.6 million” by Jef Feeley and Naomi Kresge, www.bloomberg.com

(9) Source: “Bayer Will Pay $ 750 Million to Settle Gene-Modified Rice Suits” by Andrew Harris and David Beasley, www.bloomberg.com

(10) Source: “Death by Medicine” by Gary Null, PhD; Carolyn Dean, MD; Martin Feldman, MD; Debora Rasio, MD; and Dorothy Smith, PhD

(11) Source: “Canada Expands Fluoroqinolone Antibiotic Warning” by Michelle Llamas, https://www.drugwatch.com/2017/01/27/canada-strengthens-fluoroquinolone-warning/

(12) Source: “Preventing Gardasil Vaccine Injuries and Deaths,” National Vaccine Information Center

(13) Source: “HPV Vaccine Can Make You Susceptible to More Serious Strains of HPV” by Dr. Mercola, www.mercola.com; MedAlerts. Gardasil Vaccine (HPV4) adverse event reports through Sept. 14, 2014. VAERS Database on MedAlerts.

Prince Harry grief revelations draw praise from mental health experts

Mental health experts have praised Prince Harry for revealing that he sought counselling after 20 years of bottling up his grief over his mother’s death.

The prince said he had suppressed his emotions after losing his mother, Princess Diana, when he was 12. He took up boxing to help cope with feelings of aggression before finally seeking counselling.

“I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and all sorts of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle,” he said in an interview with the Telegraph.

Sir Simon Wessely, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, said the prince had achieved more in terms of communicating mental health issues in a 25-minute interview than he had in a 25-year career.

“He has a reach across the world that people like me can only dream – he will have communicated in a way that I have been working all my life to achieve,” he said.

Wessely said grief – “though raw, painful and uncomfortable” – should not be viewed as a mental health problem and, for some, coping with it in silence could be the right approach.

“It’s not rocket science, and we should be wary of applying an orthodox approach to the individual experience of grief,” he said. “However there are times when prolonged grief can become a barrier, preventing us from moving on in life, and then it can become a problem which may perhaps need help.”

Marjorie Wallace, founder of the mental health charity Sane, said: “It’s done more good than many many campaigns. It’s given a message of hope that feelings left for too long can become malignant – but that it is never too late to seek help.”

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the Mind, said the interview would have a huge impact. “It’s inspiring to see Prince Harry speaking out about his experiences. It shows how far we have come in changing public attitudes to mental health that someone so high-profile can open up about something so difficult and personal,” he said.

“We know that this will have a huge impact on people who are still struggling in silence with their mental health – every time someone in the public eye speaks up we know that it encourages ordinary members of the public to do the same.

“Prince Harry speaking so candidly is a true turning point that shows that as a society we must no longer adopt a ‘stiff upper lip’ attitude and that we need to talk openly about mental health, something that affects us all directly.”

Sue Baker, director of the Time to Change mental health charity, said research showed that speaking out helps overturn stigma.

“Prince Harry sharing his experiences of mental health issues and the counselling he sought as a result of losing his mother will have helped change attitudes, not just at home but also overseas. It was a dream of mine 20 years ago that we’d see the royal family join sports people, music stars, politicians and business leaders as well as everyday people in sharing their mental health experiences in all sorts of communities,” she said.

On Twitter there was admiration for the prince for breaking the stigma over speaking of mental health and bereavement. Chuka Umunna, the former Labour shadow cabinet member, tweeted:

Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna)

1/2 Big big respect to Prince Harry for opening up about his mental health and grief https://t.co/zXE3mZmyPm

April 17, 2017

Chuka Umunna (@ChukaUmunna)

2/2 Losing a parent so young is v.tough. I lost my Dad at 13 -doing so in the public eye wld have been harder still https://t.co/zXE3mZmyPm

April 17, 2017

Bryony Gordon, who interviewed the prince, told the BBC: “To hear someone of his profile talking so candidly about the stuff in his head, it’s a watershed moment, it’s so important.”

Gordon, who has had mental health problems, said if when she first became ill aged 12, a member of “the most famous family in the world” had spoken about it, the ensuing decades might have been very different.

“He has taken something massively negative and he’s turning it into a positive,” she said.

Michael Bublé’s wife says son Noah is recovering from cancer

Michael Bublé’s wife, Luisana Lopilato, has said their son is recovering and well in her first public comments since the couple announced last year that the three-year-old had cancer.

The Canadian singer and Lopilato, an Argentinian actor, have returned to her home country after Noah, their eldest son, had medical treatment in Los Angeles.

Speaking at a press conference in Buenos Aires for her latest film on Monday, Lopilato, 29, thanked those who had offered their support to the family.

She told reporters: “When things like those that happened to us occur, your take on life changes. It happened to us. Now I value life much more, the now and the today. Thank God, my son is well.”

She went on: “It’s difficult for me to speak about this. It’s very recent and I’m still a bit sensitive about the subject. But the love is daily, when people stop me in the street. It’s wonderful to know that you’re accompanied in life and that people love you.”

Bublé, 41, and Lopilato put their careers on hold following the diagnosis, but she said seeing Noah “grow and being happy” gave her the strength to finish her forthcoming film, Those Who Love, Hate.

Noah was diagnosed in November 2016. Earlier this year the couple released a statement on Facebook saying he was “progressing well” and doctors were optimistic about his future.

What can the UK learn from Finland’s approach to mental health?

When Aino Korhonen*, 69, saw an advert for online mental health therapy in a newspaper, she went to her GP and asked if she could be referred to try it.

The lifelong Helsinki resident had been diagnosed with depression and had attended a few sessions with a psychologist but the two didn’t get along. She remembers: “We didn’t [seem to] talk the same language. I went a couple of times and it didn’t help me at all.”

Korhonen knew it was time to try something different when she turned up for an appointment only to sit and wait until she was informed that the psychologist was ill. “I was shocked. Somehow they hadn’t managed to contact me. I decided this wasn’t working. I couldn’t come here and not see anybody. I needed something else.” she says. Her GP agreed.

While online therapy is viewed with some scepticism in the UK, in Finland the service, Mental Health Hub, is used by every hospital district in the country. It was first set up 10 years ago by Prof Grigori Joffe and Dr Matti Holi at Helsinki University Central hospital in response to fragmented mental health services and because it is hard for patients in rural areas of the sparsely-populated country to get help.

It’s a win-win for patients, for professionals, for [hospital] management and for the taxpayer.

Prof Grigori Joffe

The online portal includes a questionnaire to determine whether users have mental health problems, along with a signposting service to show people where to go for help. The hub also provides self-help tools for those who don’t need professional help. Three years ago, it started offering therapy courses with qualified mental health professionals for people with mild to moderate mood disorders. Anyone can access it but a referral is needed for therapy. The hub also offers education, training, advice and consultation opportunities for mental healthcare professionals, as well as various tools for measuring mental health.

Patients can access computer-assisted cognitive behavioural online therapies for depression, alcohol misuse and a wide rage of anxiety disorders. They log on to watch videos and complete written exercises designed to highlight destructive behaviour and how to avoid it. If they have questions or worries, they can message a mental health professional who will reply to them with advice or encouragement.

It has proved popular. Funded by the hospital district in Helsinki, HUS and the government, in November 2016 the hub had 80,000 unique users, compared with 53,0000 in November 2015 – a rise of 70% year on year. The total number of unique users in 2016 was 545,000, equal to roughly 10% of the Finnish population; this has grown from 218,000 users in 2014 and 400,000 in 2015, the year the hub became available nationwide.

For Korhonen the service was invaluable. She remembers: “I started doing it and good heavens this was very good for me. I could do it very early in the morning because I normally wake up early. I could do it last thing in the evening. The exercises were very versatile. It really worked for me. I started appreciating myself. I changed my harmful beliefs into something creative. I got rid of my automatic negative thoughts. I changed them into positive ones.”

Preliminary evidence shows that the therapy provided works as well as that provided in a more traditional face-to-face setting, according to HUS director of strategy, Dr Visa Honkanen. Research shows that over a three month period, patients’ depression levels reduced by 10 points, as measured by Beck Depression Inventory, a widely-used instrument for measuring the illness. If someone were to have moderate depression and their BDI score dropped 10 points, they would be left with very mild or no depression.

Views from Soderskar lighthouse, Porvoo, Finland

Mental Health Hub was set up partly because it is hard for patients in rural areas to get help. Photograph: Alamy

Honkanen adds, however, that the idea of Mental Health Hub is not failsafe. He asks: “What if we have cases where self help tools say that everything is OK and then a young person harms him/herself. Who is responsible? Of course we would be.” This situation has not arisen yet in Finland but Honkanen recognises that as digital services develop, it is an issue that will come more to the fore. Of course, this situation could occur with face-to-face therapy as well.

The service has been somewhat of a revolution for the healthcare professionals involved. Eero Matti Kovisto, a psychologist based at HUS who does part of his work online, was sceptical at first about whether Mental Health Hub would be effective. “It was scary [to start with], I was just wondering: ‘Does this help anybody?’ I had the feeling that something was missing [from the therapy].”

He recognises that online therapy is not for everyone and Mental Health Hub is only effective for certain mental health problems which don’t require intensive treatment, but he has seen firsthand how it can transform lives. He also sees that it creates a more equal relationship between the professional and the patient and gives more responsibility to the latter for their care. He sees his role as more like that of a coach: “I give my patients comments and they do the therapy independently. It’s a whole different role [for a healthcare professional] and internet therapy is a whole different thing.’

The service is also much cheaper than traditional treatment; the professionals providing therapy can take on a bigger caseload. Kovisto has 20 people he helps online, which just takes up one day a week. Joffe adds: “It’s a win-win for patients, for professionals, for [hospital] management and for the taxpayer.”

As for Korhonen, whose depression almost entirely disappeared after taking the course, she knew it had helped when in November she lost a close family member. “This was a real shock. I had just finished my depression treatment and I felt quite terrible about it. I still grieve but somehow I feel that because of this therapy I was able to manage. I can remember all the good things and be grateful for them. Without the therapy, I don’t know what I would have done.”

*Not her real name

  • Sarah Johnson was in Finland to learn about what health initiatives are running in the country. The trip was supported by Finpro and Tekes, who had no say in the content of this article.

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