Last year I wrote “Opinion: The Turpin parents are guilty. Lock them up forever.”  Well, on Friday - I got my wish. David and Louise Turpin, the parents who abused, starved and held all of their children captive, received a sentence of “25 years to life in prison.” Both of them pleaded guilty to torture, child endangerment, false imprisonment and cruelty to dependent adults.

If you do not remember the Turpin parents I’ll offer a quick recap. Last January one of their 17 year old children escaped the torture house the Turpins kept their children shackled up in. When 911 responders arrived they assumed the 17 year old was a child as young as 10 because she was so "emaciated," from starvation. The girl told authorities that her brothers and sisters were inside their house, “chained to the walls and beds.”

When authorities entered the house, sure enough - all the children from age 2 to 29 were living in miserable conditions and that yes, some of them were chained to furniture, beds, walls. Most of them were as thin as their 17 year old sister, due to malnutrition, and all of the adult children were as tiny as the younger ones, again due to the forced starvation they were all rail thin and underdeveloped.

After an investigation, authorities uncovered that the children lived a life of abuse, neglect and torture. The children were even punished for insane reasons up to and including things like this: one of the children would wash his/her hands and the Turpin parents would yank them away from the sink, choke or beat them, and then chain them to a wall for - “playing with water.” The children were only allowed to shower once a year and were only allowed one meal a day. The list of abuse goes on and on. I don't really need to say much more about it. 

Well, it’s been more than a year since the children have been free from the torture house. There was no single foster home that was able to house all of them, and so they were split into three separate homes living near each other. It sounds as if they communicate often vis Skype and are all doing as well as can be possibly expected.

Some of the children even confronted their parents in court. A few of the children even said they forgive their parents and still love them. Which, I find particularly heartbreaking to hear; however, I was warmed to hear about Raider, the 3 year old Labrador comfort dog who sat by the kids as they testified. Raider has been in their lives for a while, actually. Raider is a trained dog with the Corona Police Department and has been meeting with the siblings for almost the a year. The siblings love the dog so much they asked if Raider would be allowed to sit by them while they testified. A 2017 California law allows trained therapy dogs to accompany witnesses while testifying so Raider was they judge allowed the comfort do to join them.

And that's that. The Turpin court case is over, the parents are going to jail and the thirteen survivor children who endured a life of torture get to grow up, be happy and live life. I wish them all the best.

Published in News & Information
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Who, exactly, is your doctor?

People used to know who their doctor was. His name and phone number were on the wall or the refrigerator next to the telephone. He was there for you and could manage most of your problems.

When I was about 13, my mom took me to our pediatrician for belly pain. He was on his way out the door, but he stopped to take care of me. He diagnosed appendicitis based on history and physical examination. He called his favorite surgeon (“Billy,” a Tucson legend), who came from the golf course to meet me in the emergency room. Within hours, my red-hot appendix was in a jar. My parents paid the hospital bill ($150—10 days’ pay for a construction laborer) as I was discharged a few days later.

Today, the patient with abdominal pain could wait for hours to see the ER provider—possibly a nurse practitioner or physician assistant who had never seen a case of acute appendicitis. She’ll probably get a CT scan, after another wait. Eventually, Dr. On-call may take her to the operating room, hopefully before the appendix ruptures. And the bill will be beyond the means of ordinary people.

I used to be able to direct-admit patients from my office and send them with a set of orders to the hospital admitting office. For years, this has been impossible. The hospital is decidedly unfriendly to independent doctors. There’s now a gatekeeper in the emergency room, and most patients are under the control of a hospitalist.

This hospital, still Catholic at least in name, is now owned by a huge national conglomerate. Recently, it thwarted all efforts to keep it from dehydrating a patient to death despite lack of an advance directive or permission from next of kin. The patient’s mother disputed the diagnosis of brain death. The gastroenterologist of her choice was willing and able to place a feeding tube, needed in order to transfer the patient to a skilled nursing facility, but the hospital would not permit it. An outside physician whom the mother had called on was removed from the patient’s room by security, when she was merely praying with the mother. The mother could not get a phone call returned from an attending physician. Who was the doctor? Apparently, the hospital system.

Recently, a physician called me about her mother, who was seemingly a captive in a world-renowned hospital. She was concerned about her mother’s nutritional status and falling oxygen level. She could not speak to the attending physician. “They play musical doctors.”

Largely driven by government policy, the System is increasingly in control. A new level of intrusion is being proposed in California in a bill (SB 276) that would outlaw all medical exemptions for vaccines, unless a public health officer approves each one, based on the very narrow list of contraindications accepted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Doctors traditionally swore an oath not to harm patients, and are liable if they do. But government officials are immune from liability, even if they overrule a physician’s judgment that a particular patient faces an unacceptable risk of harm from a vaccine.

If you disagree with your private doctor, you can fire him or simply decline to follow his advice. But what if the government is your doctor?

In Arizona, law enforcement officers in tactical gear broke down the door to a home where children were sleeping, entered with guns drawn, and took three little children away from their parents. The stated reason: the mother had decided not to follow a doctor’s advice to take her two-year-old to the emergency room for a fever, because the fever broke and the child got much better soon after leaving the office. The main concern seemed to be that the child was not vaccinated.

Americans need to defend their right to have an independent physician, to choose their physician and type of care, and to give or withhold informed consent to medical treatments. Otherwise, their “doctor” will be a protocol in a system staffed by interchangeable automatons. Treatments will be inaccessible or required, tailored to meet the needs and beliefs of the system.

If the government is the ultimate authority on your “health care,” remember that its tools for checking whether a child has a life-threatening disease such as meningitis include battering rams and assault rifles.

Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. Her views and opinions, if expressed, are her own and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of GCN.  Her column can often be found here at www.pennypressnv.com. Her column has been reprinted in full, with permission.

Published in Health
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Health risks from wildfire smoke

As the death toll rises and thousands of acres burn between California’s Camp Fire and Woolsey Fire, those residents lucky enough to escape the flames worry what consequences could result in inhaling the smoke.

What is in wildfire smoke?

 

According to the EPA, smoke emanating from forest and community fires may include any of the following:

  • Carbon dioxide, a respiratory byproduct
  • Carbon monoxide, which competes with oxygen in the blood
  • Wood particles
  • Formaldehyde
  • Acrolein – used as a pesticide
  • Benzene
  • Plastics, and those byproducts after incineration
  • and thousands of different respiratory irritants.

According to the EPA,

Smoke is composed primarily of carbon dioxide, water vapor, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, hydrocarbons and other organic chemicals, nitrogen oxides, trace minerals and several thousand other compounds. The actual composition of smoke depends on the fuel type, the temperature of the fire, and the wind conditions. Different types of wood and vegetation are composed of varying amounts of cellulose, lignin, tannins and other polyphenolics, oils, fats, resins, waxes and starches, which produce different compounds when burned.

What symptoms may individuals experience?

 

Some may have no idea they are breathing in harmful compounds that could affect their lungs and heart.  However, many may experience:

  • Wheeze
  • Cough
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Chest Pain
  • Mucous Production
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Fatigue
  • Racing Heart (palpitations)
  • Exacerbation of their lung disease including COPD, asthma, chronic bronchitis
  • Exacerbation of heart conditions such as angina, heart attack, and cardiac arrhythmias.
  • Increased susceptibility to new lung infections as well as flu

What are PM2.5s?

 

PM2.5 are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter that are present in pollution and wildfire smoke that can penetrate deeply into the lung linings.  Larger, coarse particles 10 micrometers in diameter are called PM10.  Both impair lung function as they inflame the lungs and interfere with the work of alveoli that need to oxygenate the blood.  Moreover the small particles can use this pathway to enter the bloodstream. Although the direct health impacts of the fine particulate matter is not clearly defined it is believed that increased PM2.5 levels increase the risk of lung and heart disease as discussed above.

lungs_alveoli-57ffa7fe3df78cbc284e162b

LUNGS AND ALVEOLI (IMAGE FROM THOUGHTCO.)

 

Symptoms may begin at levels greater than 55 µg/m3 .

Which individuals are the most at risk?

 

  • Infants and Children
  • Elderly individuals
  • Those with chronic lung disease, including asthma and emphysema
  • Those at risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Those with diabetes
  • Smokers
  • Pregnant women
  • Those with chronic allergies
  • Pets

How can residents protect themselves?

 

Avoiding the area of wildfires is paramount.  Additionally, the following may be considered:

 

  • Avoid outdoors until air quality reports improve.  Do not rely on how “clear” the air looks.
  • Take heed of wind and air quality advisories.
  • Recirculate the air in your home and car.
  • Keep windows closed.
  • Consult with your medical provider to monitor blood pressure, heart rhythm, lung function and refill any medications you may need BEFORE you feel symptoms.
  • Be wary of facemasks sold as PM2.5 safe as many do not protect against the very small particles. Respirator masks labelled N95 or N100 may provide SOME protection against particulates but not against the toxic fumes such as formaldehyde and acrolein.

 

Editor's note: As a companion read you might also be interested in a story we published in Sept. last year: 5 apps to help you recover from hurricanes and wildfires.

 

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Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news, her views and opinions, medical or otherwise, if expressed, are her own. Doctor Wachs is an MD,  FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician.  The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.

 

Published in Health

This year, nine confirmed cases of rat lungworm disease have surfaced in Hawaii (Maui and the Big Island), and a couple in California who recently traveled to the Aloha State  came down with symptoms after they returned home from their honeymoon. Four additional cases have been suspected since the start of the year and fortunately no deaths have been reported. The Hawaii Department of Health confirmed 11 cases in 2016, and between 2007 and 2015, 42 cases were reported.  Here are your questions answered.

What is Rat Lungworm?

 

Rat lungworm is in the family of roundworms (nematodes), named Angiostrongylus.   Angiostrongylus cantonensis is a parasite that can cause neurological infections such as meningitis, and its sister species, Angiostrongylus costaricensis, can cause severe gastrointestinal illness.  The specific meningitis, or inflammation of the brain, caused by A. cantonensis is an eosinophilic meningitis, where the main blood cell involved is an eosinophil, prevalent in parasitic infections as opposed to a bacterial or viral meningitis.

 

It's found primarily in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Basin but up until recently it's been extremely rare in the United States.  In 2015 a study published in the Journal of Parasitology cited cases had been reported in Florida, Alabama, California, Louisiana, and Hawaii.

 

It primarily lives in rodents but the larvae can be passed to other species through rat feces.  Adult nematodes live in the pulmonary arteries of rats.  The females lay eggs and these, once they hatch and become first stage larvae, may migrate to the rat’s throat and then enter the GI system, eventually exiting through feces.

What are the symptoms of Rat Lungworm?

 

Symptoms include severe headache, fever, neck stiffness, visual disturbances, difficulty looking at light (photophobia), nausea, vomiting, numbness, temporary paralysis of the face and possibly coma and death.

The incubation period, on average, can be anywhere from a week to three weeks and symptoms could start within that time and possibly last for months.  Neurological sequelae of the survivors can last for extended periods of time.

How does one contract Rat Lungworm?

 

An individual could become exposed to A. cantonensis when one eats undercooked slugs, snails, frogs, shrimp, mollusks and contaminated fruits and vegetables.  Slime from slugs may also be a source of contamination of the deadly parasite.

 

 

How do we know Rat Lungworm is the cause of one’s symptoms?

 

If a person presents with symptoms of meningitis, the cerebrospinal fluid, or fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord is able to be sampled during a lumbar puncture. The needle entering through the back could aspirate enough of a sample for laboratory technicians to determine if the meningitis is caused by bacteria, virus or parasites, the latter of which causing a higher concentration of eosinophils to be demonstrated in the CSF fluid as well as the blood.

 

What is the treatment for Rat Lungworm?

 

Currently there is no official treatment of the parasite.  The parasite will die on its own but can do so in a relatively short amount of time such as days, or become latent for months.  Dead worms could also cause severe neurological symptoms. Symptomatic measures of the patient are instituted to help with pain, although some have been treated with steroids and antiparasitic medications.

 

How do we avoid Rat Lungworm?

 

Make sure all raw vegetables are washed thoroughly,  Handle slugs and snails with gloves and wash hands diligently.  The University of Hawaii recommends boiling snails for at least 3-5 minutes prior to preparing for consumption.  And keep rodents, snails and slugs away from your food and kitchen counters.

 

For more on prevention of Rat Lungworm infections, read: Avoid Contracting Angiostrongyliasis (Rat Lungworm Infection): Wash Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Before Eating!

 

 

LearnHealthSpanish.com / Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00am-2:00pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00pm (Central) at GCN.

 

 

Published in News & Information