The funeral industry is currently more expensive then it has ever been. A large portion of this high price tag is the signature piece of a funeral: the casket. This fine piece of craftsmanship, seen for only a few days before being placed forever out of sight, can quickly build debt for family of a deceased loved one. Whilst the materials and human labor may make it deserving of being costly, is it currently far too expensive for what is essentially an ornate box.
A large portion of why the prices on modern day caskets tend to run so high is simply because the funeral homes can get away with it. Quite often, prices can be hiked simply because the surviving family members are in no position to bargain and shop-around. Instead, they simply wish to move the process along as quickly as possible. Sometimes this means being pressured into the purchase of a casket far outside the budget of the buyer (Cobbey 8).
Often, to increase the price they can sell their caskets for, funeral homes take on even more underhand tactics. In many funeral homes, the high priced caskets are often placed in such a way as to capture the attention of the viewers. One article about caskets and an attempt to find a cheap alternative to the several thousand dollar show room pieces a woman states that “They led us to a hall on the way to the boiler room.” The article goes on to speak of another woman being “taken to a basement full of cobwebs.” Still yet, when asking for a casket under $2000, they were given the reply “Oh . . . you want the welfare casket?” These are just some examples of the countless efforts by the funeral homes to achieve as much profit as possible, by any means necessary. (www.funerals.org).
These efforts are often successful: on average, a casket shopper will buy one of the first three caskets he or she is presented. To make matters worse, sometimes even the cheap caskets are modified to be as least appealing as possible. They may be painted uglier colors to turn away some potential buyers. Lastly, cheaper caskets require being ordered, and in order to even see the cheaper selection you may have to ask to view a catalog. (www.scambusters.org)
Speaking strictly in terms of money, these caskets simply are not worth how much they cost. Whether a casket is wooden or metal, they are often drastically overpriced. In today’s industrial age, caskets are quite capable of being mass-produced in factories almost anywhere in the world. In fact, books and websites are available to help you build your own if you so wish. As for the professional work, many of the special touches that allow for markups in the cost of caskets are almost insulting. Take for example the “protective gaskets” found on many of today’s high quality caskets. These rubber gaskets supposedly keep things on the outside such as dirt and water from entering the casket. These gaskets which can be produced for less than $20 often result in as much as a $700 markup. (www.scambusters.org)
Clearly these are not ethical business practices. When one considers that the goal of a mortician is to organize and manage a funeral so that the friends and family of the deceased do not have to experience the added stress, it appears all the worse. They are not helping to relieve stress; they are creating it. Ironically, the motives of a mortician are often driven purely by greed, one of the seven deadly sins.
Cobbey, Nan. “Death Rites; Comfort Comes at Great Cost.” Episcopol Life February 2000: 8.
www.funerals.org. 26 November 2007. 18 November 2009 http://www.funerals.org/frequently-asked-questions/144-caskets-everything-the-mortician-wont-tell-you-and-some-better-places-to-shop.
www.scambusters.org. 16 November 2009 http://www.scambusters.org/funeralscams.html.
The subject of health care affects all Americans in some way. We each have our own needs, desires, beliefs, and opinions. This results in much controversy over varying practices. For instance, while some may believe abortion to be morally acceptable, others may feel it is only allowable in times of emergency, such as after a woman was sexually assaulted. Still yet, others may feel that, under no circumstances, should such a practice be allowed.
Such is the way with a newer topic of late: palliative medicine. With so many differing views on this one subject, there is much room for misinterpretation and slander. This results in the term “palliative medicine” being thrown about, and often in a loosely defined manner. In this case, it has even resulted in the creation of a new term, “death panels,” being used as a tool to invoke feelings of dread, misery, pain, and death. It is often used as a synonym to palliative medicine by the enemies of the practice. To begin understanding this situation, along with the epithet “death panels,” we need to first clearly define palliative care.
Palliative care is a relatively new form of medicinal care. The goal of this treatment option is actually not treatment; the primary focus is instead maintaining the quality of life of an individual who is facing impossible odds of recovering. When it is determined that a patient has little to no chance of survival, the decision is made that the best road may indeed be the one less taken. Instead of painful, costly, and unsuccessful treatments, the patient is given pain medications and a chance to live a life before dying (Hartocollis).
Using cancer as an example, some patients report no physical pain. However, this is not always the case. “Cancer pain” as it is called, can come in three varieties: somatic, visceral, or neuropathic, each one resulting in different feelings of pain. These pains are often caused by nerve cells being pushed against by growing tumors. Some psychological treatment methods, such as “Redirecting Thinking” attempt to direct the patient’s thoughts on other, more enjoyable things. Outside of these mental methods, the only cure for cancer pain is pain medication (Ortho Biotech). The pain of cancer, however, runs much deeper than physical pain.
According to one cancer survivor, cancer does not have to hurt physically. Regardless of your ability to manage pain, cancer will still hurt. Leroy Sievers, a cancer survivor, describes the first diagnosis as “a knife in your heart,” the first prognosis as a “punch in the stomach,” and waiting for scan results as “water torture – slow, agonizing, and excruciating.” The pain continues, says Sievers, stating, “It hurts in the dark hours of the night, when you’re alone with your thoughts, and you have to confront the idea of your own death. It hurts when something simple reminds you that you may not be around in six months, a year, whatever. It hurts when you think about the things you’re going to miss” (Sievers).
These powerful words show us what it is like to be in the situation, more than merely observing it from an outside point of view. It also shows us the goal of palliative care: removing the pain associated with the final days. If we can imagine ourselves in the shoes of someone diagnosed with terminal cancer, we begin to see the goal of palliative care. Often, palliative care patients are capable of learning and understanding that death is imminent, and they soon come to accept this fact. This understanding allows them to see the world as an opportunity and have a better send off than if they lay in their hospital beds, hoping for a miracle recovery.
Palliative care allows patients to be happy until their death. We forget that these patients are going to die, barring the possibility of a miracle recovery that is ridiculously outside the realm of possibility, so they really have two options. They can opt to die in a hospital, racking up debt for their surviving loved ones and missing out on their last opportunity at enjoying the world and those in it. Or they can instead choose a second option, to die in the safety and comfort of their own home, surrounded by those who will miss them dearly.
Who then makes the decision that palliative care is the best option? The truth, despite what those trumpeting the term “death panels” would have you believe, is that it is a combined decision, made by the patient and the doctor. This decision is subject to change at any time by the patient, and the doctor is not capable of ever making or changing this decision (Hartocollis).
However, doctors do play an important role. The palliative care specialists often serve as advisers who help make the decision based on actual chances of recovery. They create and manage a psychological profile of the patient. In this profile, information such as the best methods for speaking with patients, the goals and wishes of the patients, and much more can be found. This profile gives the doctors a tool to help best treat them and choose between the question of life or death, such as when the fatal option of a do not resuscitate order should be given (Hartocollis).
This is where the derogatory description of “death panel” arrives. Enemies of the practice assume that, in palliative medicine, the patient is given little to no option. A board of doctors decides who gets to live and who does not. The option is left solely to the doctors, insurance, and hospitals. These false statements are meaningless, groundless, and pure slander by those who do not understand what palliative medicine truly is.
While it is true that the doctor has the option of “do not resuscitate,” that option is made with a doctor-patient understanding of what the patient really wants. The doctor may propose certain treatment methods that focus more on living well then finding a cure, but with the patient’s consent and desire for such methods. There is not a board of members who look at people on a case by case basis and say that a certain person will not be healed because they may not be able to pay for the procedures. This is not the goal of palliative medicine; the goal is the best possible ending for the patient, not a forced early ending against their will based on varying factors, such as pre-existing health conditions and finances (Hartocollis).
So where does this term come from? One may believe it comes from the average human’s inability to accept that which he does not understand. As a general rule, even if they do not fear death, humans do not want to die. Since most do not wish to die, it is hard for many to understand someone actually wishing to just go home and die, even if they would have died anyways, in a far less pleasing hospital setting. This lack of understanding causes us to assume, out of human nature, that it is not a fair practice to the patients and is, in some way, affecting the chance of living of patients against their will.
This misunderstanding, and refusal of acceptance of others beliefs, is not the only issue. As humans we inevitably fight for what we feel is right—it is part of what causes us to be separate from other species on earth. Not only do we have each have our own opinions of what is right and wrong, we obviously attempt to get others to accept these beliefs as well. This hope of creating a world more like what we personally desire leads to arguments of what should and should not be, in turn causing us to create these derogatory statements and terms about our argument opponents and their systems of beliefs.
As humans, we have to work towards a common ground. I believe the common ground in this instance is to allow patients to choose the option of palliative care if they wish. While others may not agree with this opinion and choice, if a patient chooses the road of palliative care, the choice does not affect the rest of the population. We need not worry about someone’s decision if it has no effect on us as individuals.
If patients opting for the so called “death panel” treatment have any effect on the rest of the world, we can tell it is only in a positive form. As more patients choose the treatment method in question, the demand for some aspects of the health care industry goes down. According to basic level economics, as demand goes down, so does cost. Therefore, we can conclude that the only effect that palliative care patients have on the rest of the world is that they, while maybe not having a huge effect, actually lower the cost of health care for the average person.
The term death panel has slowly risen to popularity. With a small glimpse into the world of what this term stands for, however, we can see it is a groundless insult at a wholesome, honest, ethical practice. Simply being a different, uncommon practice is not enough to call it evil. We must not forget that at one time it was common and “correct” to draw blood using leeches for almost any type of malady. One hopes that, in time, innovative practices such as these can become more widely accepted.
Hartocollis, Anemona. “At the End, Offering Not a Cure but Comfort.”
The New York Times 20 August 2009: 1A-6A.
Ortho Biotech. Pain. 18 February 2009. 7 October 2009
Sievers, Leroy. Does Cancer Hurt? 18 9 2006. 10 October 2009 http://www.npr.org/blogs/mycancer/2006/09/does_cancer_hurt.html.]]>
When I was just a little kid, my life already revolved around sports. Both of my brothers and I were always competing with each other. It didn’t matter if it was a pickup game of football in the backyard or our class grades in school. We were raised to compete. Some of us took the games too serious and hurt someone physically or emotionally. Either way, any game we played would end badly.
I vividly remember one such game. We were in the backyard playing basketball. It was my older brother, Chase, and my younger brother, Tyler, against me. As the middle child, I was usually the one who got ganged up on by the other two. They were dominating me. Once they had beaten me for what seemed like the millionth time, my competitive anger took control. I grabbed the ball and punted it over the neighbor’s fence, then took off toward the house. Chase immediately picked up a football and launched it at my head. This game ended with me in tears. I lost.
Football was usually the game in which I got hurt the worst. That was until one day at Grandma’s farm. We were playing football and the fat jokes just wouldn’t stop. As a kid I was a bit huskier than most. “You can’t catch me fatty…Why so tired jelly belly?” Chase yelled out. My anger kept building. It was time for the next play. I was playing defense and Chase was the quarterback. He tried to do a quarterback sneak, but I knew it was coming. Running toward each other, we lowered our shoulders and collided. I got underneath him and picked him up on my shoulder. Once I had him up in the air, I slammed him to the ground as hard as I could. He immediately burst into tears. I bruised his ribs that day. I called that a win.
My competitive nature didn’t always involve me getting angry and doing something immature. In the classroom I strived for excellence. If I didn’t earn an “A”, I felt like I failed. When I would get a “B” my parents would say it was okay, but I didn’t want to be just okay. I wanted to be great. Thus,
throughout high school, I worked hard and managed to graduate with a 4.0. My brothers didn’t even get close to that GPA. I won again.
High school is done, and the competition is tougher than ever. I managed to earn a scholarship for football, and every day I get to compete in the weight room and on the field. My urge to compete in the classroom has increased too. More students are trying to earn a better grade than me, so I have to work twice as hard to stay ahead of them. I don’t know when the competitive side of me will call it quits. Maybe it will be when I am done playing football, or when I finally become a doctor. Personally, I don’t think my competitive nature will ever cease to exist. It will merely focus on something new and more challenging. That is, of course, until I cease to exist.]]>
In eighth grade I was enrolled in my hometown’s Catholic Confirmation class, through the local church. The class was a culmination of the previous “religion school” classes. At this time, I found myself questioning my beliefs more and more, and began thinking outside what the classes taught and demanded. At this point, the involvement of religion in my life had made a unique influence on me. In the religion classes, we were taught a number of qualities and ideals by which to live our lives. However, I always critically listened to what the teachers had to say, and learned a few things about qualities they did not teach. From the perspective I had, I could see that many involved in my religion class showed an unbelievably small amount of tolerance towards other people different than themselves. All of the people had preconceived notions of how things were supposed to be; anything different was something to be gawked and pointed at, not worthy of understanding.
In one of the final classes, we watched a video with the teacher and our parents that helped cement my perception about religion and tolerance. In the video, we watched a camera crew navigate through the audience of a Marilyn Manson concert. The camera began to interview and catch glimpses of people attending who had dressed up in all black clothes, makeup, and some unconventional, Marilyn Manson-esque styles of dress. Our confirmation teacher began mocking the audience for being “so weird.” He focused on specific people and began making fun of them and declaring how this was “un-healthy.” At this point my own mother turned to me, and commented on how bizarre these people were. Most of the class and the teacher then began laughing at the audience’s comments that they were just normal people dressing up and having fun. Following this, the class then began laughing at the people on the screen in a more demeaning way, as if to state they were inferior for dressing up and attending this concert. The video was shown to us in order to “help” us understand how different people are wrong, and that only through faith in God can prove us worthy. However, this lesson taught me of the prejudices against people that were different, and the importance of tolerance.
Celebrities and media figures have always been in the public eye, and their influence on the public has always been criticized. Because of this, society and the media tend to put more responsibility and, consequently, blame on them when things go wrong. Somehow, it is the people in the spotlight to blame, when in fact their messages and voices are not directed at any one single person. Credit is due to Marilyn Manson for being the target of ridicule and persecution that he is. Not many people deal with the amount of labeling and disrespect that he does. I have had teachers use him as a means of accusation towards the stupidity of being “weird,” and I have had lecturers and people of great recognition use him as a negative example of how society is spiraling downwards. It seems many people are quick to judge Manson’s based on appearance, and give no effort to change their negative perceptions of him. These same people, who claim to know so much about him, probably haven’t even listened to one of his songs, or read any of his responses to interviews. In many of his songs, he speaks of people not being able to cope with their world, the fight against drug addiction, love, and rebelling against the norms of society. However, people fail to give his lyrics and poetry a chance. This gives the impression that society doesn’t care what you have to say or how beautiful it is if you can’t abide by the accepted standards of appearance. Society and the media have no tolerance for difference. It is unacceptable for society to so quickly condemn someone for not conforming to what it has established as the norm. People like Marilyn Manson help offset this false ideal by pushing the limit on what people are exposed to, and defying the command to conform to society’s standards.
Manson has been under the accusational spotlight for years now by the media as being a negative influence on young listeners. He has received much criticism for the things he does and the way he dresses, but one of the more serious events to which the media linked was the 1999 Columbine high school shooting in Columbine, Colorado. The media and many people in the United States were quick to blame and point the finger at many sources of influence on the two school shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. Even after allegations that the two kids had been huge fans and avid listeners of Manson’s music had been discredited, many still blamed him for the tragedy at the school. Manson, in a statement made after the shooting and aimed at reporters and critics nationwide, said “The media has unfairly scapegoated the music industry and so-called Goth kids and has speculated – with no basis in truth – that artists like myself are in some way to blame. This tragedy was a product of ignorance, hatred and an access to guns. I hope the media’s irresponsible finger-pointing doesn’t create more discrimination against kids who look different.” Manson canceled many of his music tours shortly after the shooting because of media and public pressure. In one of many interviews after Columbine, Manson told reporter Alice Hammond of the magazine NY Rock some of the reasons why he presents his act the way he does, and his take on the “hysteria” surrounding the tragedy. “I do [things] in an extreme way, which provokes extreme reactions.” Manson stated that what he does, in large part, is to provoke people into thought. He concluded his statement with, “thinking is something that most Americans have forgotten how to do.”
Whether it’s how society treats a celebrity or how we are all taught to judge people that are different, tolerance is a decreasingly present characteristic in society. We are all taught from a young age to dress, talk and act a certain way so that we can be accepted by those we seek acceptance from. Marilyn Manson is an example of how certain people can become a focus of blame in society and the media. However, he continues to defy the norms and engage people to think beyond accepted values. Watching that video in Confirmation class, and seeing how my peers and teachers treated people who looked different taught me more about tolerance and the importance it has in society. Only by challenging people to deny what they accept as normal can tolerance be established. Without tolerance, there will be no room for variation or difference, and everyone will become shades of gray.
Boucher, Geoff. “Marilyn Manson Cancels Tour in Wake of Colorado Shooting” Los Angeles Times 30 April 1999.
D’Angelo, Joe & Jennifer Vineyard. “Marilyn Manson Bows Out of Denver Ozzfest Date.” MTV News. 2001. MTVNews.com. 7 Oct. 2008. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1442018/20010322/marilyn_manson.jhtml
Hammond, Alice. “Marilyn Manson: Baby Eating is Bad Influence, Our Teens Need Balanced Diets.” NY Rock. 1999. NY Rock Magazine. 7 Oct. 2008. http://www.nyrock.com/features/manson99.htm]]>
Dark splotches litter the red, gold, yellow, brown and orange leaves that are scattered all along the wooded ground. Marylyn Beemish is thinking about him again as she takes her daily stroll through the woods behind her house. Excruciating pain radiates from her ankle as she decides to sit and take a break; she’s only been off the crutches for a few days now. More dark splotches land on the leaves below her and on her sunshine bright jacket as water leaks from her eyes again. She yearns for him like a homesick child yearns for her mom. Her heart feels like it’s been cut out of her with the Jaws of Life. Now if only those same Jaws of Life could of cut her husband from the wreckage that claimed his life. Marylyn stands back up; she’s tired of resting. With her head hung, she drags herself back down the wooded path to a once happy place.
Marylyn faced the funeral director, alone, just three days ago. There were so many numbers thrown around that she doesn’t even remember what price she’s paying just to see her husband one last time. But she doesn’t even care anymore; it’s the least she can do for her husband who gave her the world.
Today, many Americans fall into the same trap Marylyn fell into. They are lured into believing a funeral is the last thing they can do and they want to do the very best, so they spend money like it’s going out of style (Cobbey, Some protections in place, 2 of 3). The funeral industry charges an obscene amount of money for one last viewing of your loved one.
Caskets are the most expensive cost in funeral services today. People are paying at least twice as much as they need to. They ought to be paying no more than $2,200 (Cobbey, Why the steep price, 2 of 4). According to the Roman Catholic priest, most of the cost of funerals is the casket, which he says is frequently marked up 300 to 500 percent. He publishes a list of caskets with wholesale prices and color pictures to give customers some type of bargaining power (Cobbey, Why the steep price, 2 of 4).
The Rev. Henry Wasielewski of Phoenix, founder of the Interfaith Funeral Information Committee, is convinced that U.S. mortuaries charge high prices “because there are five to 10 times too many of them.” According to Wasielewski, the 23,000 U.S. mortuaries arrange 100 funerals per year (Cobbey, Why the steep price, 2 of 4). In most industries, that kind of competition would usually keep prices low or even force some owners out of business. But that’s not the case in the funeral industry. Funeral directors inflate prices to cover costs because they know grieving families won’t be comparison shopping (Cobbey, Why the steep price, 2 of 4). There are family traditions of going to your local funeral director and not asking any questions, and that is a huge problem because people are getting screwed out of gobs of money.
But, if you look at this situation from the funeral industry’s perspective, they may see their prices as far beyond justifiable. They may need to charge high prices to help employ their staff, to pay their taxes and quite to possibly pay other fees that are associated. But then again, how much is the most they should charge for their services?
According to Nan Cobbey, “a fair price for a funeral is between $1,400 and $2,200. You should hold services in your church instead of using the funeral parlor. Don’t buy protective seal caskets, and don’t buy a pre-paid plan” (Some protections in place, 3 of 3). In England, a funeral costs $1,650 and in France, it costs roughly $2,200 (Cobbey, Why the steep price, 1 of 4). The cost of a funeral is so ridiculously priced; it is the third-largest expenditure in the life of an ordinary American family, which is after a house and car, of course (Cobbey, Final acts, 2 of 3).
It again goes back to families not asking questions about why they are being charged for certain things. They just assume the cost of a funeral naturally has to be expensive, when in reality it doesn’t. There are many organizations out there that want to help families spend the least amount possible on a funeral and it still be a nice ceremony. More than 120 funeral and memorial societies exist the country, who offer information and referrals to the most responsible and lowest-cost mortuaries in their region (Cobbey, Some protections in place, 2 of 3). People’s Memorial Association in Seattle, provides standard funeral services at low costs (Cobbey, Final acts, 2 of 3).
After her husband’s service, Marylyn realized that what she thought was the last thing she could do for her husband, wasn’t at all the last thing she could do for him. She didn’t need to spend that fortune she just paid to show her husband the love she has and always will have for him. She realized that the last thing she can do for him is to commit him to the Father of all, God.
Cobbey, Nan. Final acts. 2000. Web.
Cobbey, Nan. Some protections in place. 2004. Web.
Cobbey, Nan. Why the steep prices? 2004. Web.
My mind was restless as I was waiting for the sound of the gun to start the race. I noticed how perfect the weather was for running. It was cool out, not warm, but not cold either. The ground was still slightly wet from the leftover morning dew and the air was filled with the aroma of freshly cut green grass. It was definitely track season. I had done every stretch I could think of to help relieve the pain radiating from my left ankle, but nothing seemed to be working. With only moments before my last race in the Class 3A Regional Track Meet, I wasn’t focusing on winning; I was focused on just finishing the two-mile. My coach didn’t seem too concerned about my ankle, so I wrapped it and tried to forget about the pain. This was my race of a lifetime and I was not about to let some baby kitten pain stop me.
The “Pop” of the starting gun echoed around the football stadium as I snapped back into reality and took off. The first lap went by and I moved from 9th to 5th place. In the second lap, I moved from 5th to 3rd place, and that’s where I stayed until the end of the first mile. I barely even noticed how much my ankle hurt during that first mile due to all the adrenaline pumping through my body. But once I started on the second mile my ankle took a turn for the worse; my baby kitten pain grew and was now a teenage lion.
Thudding footfalls of the runner in front of me and the huffing from the runner behind me filled my mind. I knew as long as I focused on those two things I could ignore the cries for help coming from my ankle. Turns out my ankle is just as hard-headed and stubborn as my mind is; no sooner had I started on my sixth lap, than most excruciating pain I had ever experienced pulsed from my ankle, down my foot, back through my ankle, and up my leg. My teenage lion was now fully grown. I had never experienced such real pain before, that I almost collapsed; my ankle had finally given out on me.
I tried to keep up my calm façade, but my coaches saw that one moment of weakness I let through. As I limply ran past them, they told me to pull out of the race, but I had too much self respect to not finish. I had never dropped out of a race, and I surely wasn’t going to start now just because my ankle had had enough. I knew I was strong enough to finish, or at least I hoped I was. I only had the remainder of the sixth and all of the seventh and eighth laps left, and I was going to run them, even if I came in last.
I dropped from 3rd to 4th place as my teammate passed me with caution and 4th to 9th in the seventh lap. Beginning of the eighth lap, I was yelling at myself. I told myself I could do better and that if I didn’t do better, then I was going to let myself down. I was continuously encouraging and yelling at myself to forget about the pain because I knew how much this race meant to me.
Between all the internal noise coming from me and the external noise coming from my teammates and coaches cheering me on, I forgot about my ankle for that last lap. I pushed through the surging pain and stepped my performance up. I only had 200 meters left in the 2 mile and I had finally gotten my second wind. I knew I wasn’t going to come in last because there were about seven other exhausted people behind me, a person whose ankle had given out on her at the beginning of the second mile. I was already so proud of myself for not falling that far behind, and I really wanted to finish in a higher position.
The last 100 meters of the 2 mile was the most crucial part for me; I could finally see the finish line that would put an end to my pain and misery. I focused solely on that and the encouraging cheers from my supporters and the next thing I knew, I was in 8th place.
Just 50 meters to go and I passed another competitor, placing myself in 7th. I could again hear the thudding footfalls of the runner in front of me and the huffing of the runner behind me, but I couldn’t hear any cries for help coming from my ankle. With those two glorious sounds occupying my attention, I focused on them and finally finished my race, coming in 7th place.
The absence of pain lasted fifteen seconds after crossing the finish line. By then, my ankle was years past exhaustion and ready for the retirement home. As I collapsed, I couldn’t help but feel prouder than Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, when women were given the right to vote, for not giving up when my coaches told me to. As I hit the still slightly wet, freshly cut grass on the football field, I was euphoric. I didn’t even care that I had to be carried off of the track. I had accomplished what others didn’t think I could do. I ended up on crutches and in a walking boot for the next two months, but that’s the small price I paid for those everlasting memories and feelings of hard work, determination, and sheer stubbornness. I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for that race, for it taught me to believe in myself.]]>
Recent studies have shown that iron deficiency is becoming a large problem in today’s American society. It is said that “15% of the world’s population” (Wollinsky 138) is affected by this type of mineral disorder. Although this figure may not seem very high, studies show that the percentage is increasing. Before extensive studies were popular in the medical world, doctors were not overly concerned about iron deficiency. Even today it is not considered a priority to find better cures or treatments because of the amount of cancers and other health problems moving to the forefront. These are legitimate reasons for its lack of attention, but those who have iron deficiency still live untreated. This type of mineral disorder does not typically start out as a serious medical issue, but it can end up becoming one – especially if the patient goes untreated or fails to make changes to their eating habits or daily iron intake. It is also the most common cause of anemia reported in the U.S. (Callen 1). Finding better treatments for iron deficiency should be made a higher priority, in addition to increased awareness about iron itself, symptoms of deficiency, treatments, and who is most at risk.
To fully understand the importance of iron deficiency awareness, the concept of iron and its effects on the human body must first be understood. If there is an insufficient amount of iron in the body the individual is reported to have an iron deficiency. Iron deficiency doesn’t just occur after one day of low iron intake, but over an extended period of time (Pynaert 1). In the human body, the mineral that is the most prevalent is iron (Driskell 100). In a recent study, the average amount of iron intake for healthy Americans is below the nation-wide recommendation (Pynaert 1). For the human body to perform important functions it needs the right amount of red blood cells, which are the most important blood cells in the body. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which is a protein chemical in the body. To obtain sufficient amounts of hemoglobin the body must have iron (The Human Heart). This makes iron an important element to sustaining a healthy immune system and lifestyle.
Apart from knowing about iron itself, it is also important to understand the physical, mental, and emotional effects that iron deficiency can have on the body. Although some may argue that iron deficiency is not harmful enough to invest research time and dollars, the seriousness of the symptoms prove otherwise. The most frequent physical symptoms are fatigue, lack of energy, and weakness (Driskell 102). With these types of physical effects, it is logical that mental effects would also be present. Some of these include lack of interest, shortened attention span, and a decrease in overall mental awareness. This is why being aware of the symptoms of iron deficiency is so important because it may be hard to differentiate between normal tiredness or fatigue due to the deficiency. Other physical symptoms include lack of body heat in cold temperatures and the amount of work that can be done at a given time is less than a person without iron deficiency (102). A symptom of an iron disorder that is often overlooked is the effect on the body’s blood. Red blood cells are needed to sustain the system’s blood flow and two important functions: removing waste and carrying oxygen. Red blood cells are circulated throughout the body and when they deplete they eventually die out. If the human body is working correctly, they eventually replace themselves. However, if iron deficiency is present the body may take longer to replace the cells, therefore affecting the functions of the body (The Human Heart).
The symptoms of iron deficiency range from minor to very serious. However, with the right treatments iron deficiency can become a little less frightening. The most obvious treatment for increasing iron intake is through food and supplements. Iron supplements can be prescribed by your doctor and taken regularly. However, iron supplements can cause iron poisoning; that is too much iron is taken in by the body, thereby hindering it from absorbing other minerals and nutrients such as zinc, Vitamin E, and copper. It is also mentioned that too much iron can lead to colon cancer (Driskell 102-103). Another treatment used is increasing iron-filled foods. These include more red meat, fish, and green vegetables (Pynaert 1). Whole grain cereals and breads and dried fruits are also encouraged (Driskell 101). These treatments combined would benefit the patient with the disorder greatly, but there is still that risk of too much iron. It is recommended that those with iron deficiencies visit a Registered Dietitian to receive health suggestions about their diet (Wollinsky 151). With these being the only three treatments for this mineral disorder, it is easy to see why it is so important to do more research to find better, more efficient treatments.
It would be easy to prescribe iron supplements to the person with iron deficiency and tell them to live life normally, but with the extensive risks of using supplements, it hard to determine whether they would help or hurt the patient more. Although having iron deficiency is a disorder in which the person can still go about their daily life, the physical and mental affects could eventually add up making daily life more difficult and unenjoyable; this isn’t how people should have to live. The physical and mental effects could eventually lead to emotional ones, which could hurt the social aspects of their lives and even the people they love.
The lack of treatments for and preventions of iron deficiency has caused an assortment of problems with different people depending on their situations in life. Since a side-effect of iron deficiency is weakness and fatigue, it is easy to see how athletes are more likely to develop or be affected by iron-deficiency sometime in their lives. The amount of hemoglobin in the body determines the amount of energy in the body and if the hemoglobin level is low the energy level is subsequently low (Wollinsky 145). Athletes take pride in their sport whether it is running, playing baseball, or swimming. They are all about speed and endurance. If athletes develop iron deficiency and there is no definite way to treat it, how will they win that next race or advance to the next level? Even those who are not athletes but who are normally active on a daily basis are at risk for developing iron deficiency. One might argue that helping athletes with iron deficiency is near impossible because their bodies require more blood and oxygen, but it is not fair to take them out of perspective. Many people in today’s society are doing their best to stay active on a regular basis which is a habit that should be encouraged. Another minor group of people who have a risk of developing iron deficiency is vegetarians. As discussed earlier, iron filled foods such as meat and fish are what contribute to sufficient amounts of iron (Wollinsky 139,151). Vegetarians usually avoid these specific types of food therefore putting them at a higher risk for getting iron deficiency.
Apart from athletes and vegetarians, iron deficiency affects up to 3.3 women in the United States who are pregnant. They may experience an early delivery or delay in physical or mental development after birth. There is also the possibility of low birth weight in children whose mothers are iron deficient (Callen 1). In pregnancy it is important to be healthy and avoid taking medications that could affect the baby. It would be a risk for a pregnant woman to take iron supplements, but also a risk for her not to. Women who are pregnant should concentrate on eating the right amounts of iron-filled foods. When a woman turns nineteen she should consume at least ten milligrams of iron a day and when a woman becomes pregnant she should increase her iron intake to fifteen milligrams (Wollinsky 151). On the other hand, a positive aspect of having iron deficiency is that there is no research showing that it can be passed along from mother to child. Iron deficiency isn’t hereditary but is developed because of the bodies’ need for iron and the amount or lack of daily iron intake (Driskell 101).
One might argue that because iron deficiency has become so “popular” in society, it isn’t worth worry about. However, it is scientifically and medically proven to lead to more harmful effects later in life. They then may argue that those just happen later in life and everyone has health problems when they get older. However, by the time “later” happens it will be too late to do anything about it; and the side effects will have already been taking place. Why not do something about it now? With technology in the field of medicine developing so rapidly today it makes the most sense to start finding solutions now than to wait until it has affected more people. Although there are not many diseases or disorders that can be fully cured, the solutions offered are meant to help the individuals with the health problem. Iron deficiency only has treatments that have other risks attached to them that may do more damage than help. There is also a lack of updated research on the disorder. All of these factors contribute to the need to make iron deficiency a priority in the field of medicine.
Callen, RN, MS, Bonnie L. “Program of Care for Young Women with Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Plot.” Journal of Community Health Nursing Vol. 17 07370016 (2000): page numbers. Academic Search Elite. EBSCO. Web. 24, Feb. 2010.
Driskell, Judy A. Sports Nutrition. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2000. Print. (A copy of this source has been submitted with the paper); (This is a source from Owens library.)
Pynaert, I., J. Delanghe, M. Temmerman, S. De Henauw. “Iron Intake in Relation to Diet and Iron Status of Young Adult Women.” Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 51.2 (2007): 172-181. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 24 Feb. 2010.
“The Human Heart.” The Franklin Institute. UNISYS. 1996-2000. Web. 14 March 2010.
Wollinksy, Ira, Judy A. Driskell. Sports Nutrition: Vitamins and Trace Elements. Boca Rotan: CRC Press, 1997. Print. (A copy of this source has been submitted with the paper); (This is a source from Owens library.)
For centuries, rats have had a notorious reputation as pests. According to research conducted by Richard A. Gibbs, et al, rodents can spread infectious diseases such as cholera and bubonic plague, which wiped out two thirds of Europe’s population. Rats also reduce world’s food supply by eating about 20 percent of the world’s harvest. Despite their negative impacts on humans, rats have been contributing to humans’ well-being. The research by Richard A. Gibbs, et al, indicates that rodents are a widely-used mammal model for physiology, nutrition, and biomedical research nowadays. Rodent experiments aid in human’s health from diabetes to addictions to cancer (293-294). As it continues to yield beneficial results, rat experiments should be emphasized and further researched to utilize rats to their full potential.
The first question that rises from laboratory rat research is, why rats? In fact, William D. Stansfield’s Death of a Rat: Understanding and Appreciation of Science states that chimpanzees are the best candidates for medical research; chimpanzees are physically and genetically similar to humans. Stansfield notes that chimpanzees share 98 percent of DNA sequence with humans. Such primates, however, are an endangered species that the United States is forbidden to import for medical research and other purposes (50). On the other hand, rodents are hardly ever going to go extinct. Laboratory rats can reproduce several offspring periodically. Researchers can also save purchase and management expenses with rat experiments by inbreeding adult rats to produce more offspring and keeping several rats together in one cage. Though rodents may not be as genetically similar to humans as primates, rats are 90 percent genetically similar to humans (Jha and Howard 178). Such high genetic similarity have led scientists to revise the rat genome project. Considering all the practical benefits of rodent experiments, rats are better experimental recipients than chimpanzees.
With several advantages over chimpanzees, rodents have been used to study genes that cause obesity. Obesity has become a popular concern as technology and modern urban lifestyle demote movement while promoting unhealthy meals and lifestyles. Development of transportation and machines for mass production make work get done faster, but the unhealthy factory food products and stress from exigencies at work trigger people to release stress through unhealthy diets. Besides such conditional causes, researchers also found a genetic cause for obesity and diabetes through rat experiments. According to a Telegraph article, “‘Fat Gene’ May Lead to a Thin Pill,” Oxford University researchers recently reproduced an experiment conducted in 2007 that discovered a possible link between the FTO gene and obesity. In the experiment, rats with extra copies of the FTO gene weighed more than normal rats: female rates weighed 22 percent and male rats weighted 10 percent more than normal rats after 20 weeks of observation (“Fat Gene”). Extra copies of FTO genes won’t cause much weight difference in humans, but the experiment was successful in pointing out the direct relationship between obesity and FTO genes.
Such certainty about the FTO gene opens a greater potential of producing effective thinning pills. With more research on FTO regulation, scientists can produce thinning pills that will prevent hereditary obesity. Obese patients with type 2 diabetes, heart disease, or cancer can seek better well-being by taking anti-FTO medicine. The discovery and reproducibility of the FTO rat research itself is a great step forward towards humans’ health.
Laboratory rats are also used in experiments for another prevalent disease, cancer. Treatments for early discovery of the disease can cure or abate the growth of cancerous tumors. However, not enough sound cures exist. Among the various cancers, breast cancer is rising as one of the major concerns. This October, Northwest Missouri State University promoted breast cancer awareness by selling pink paper ribbons. Food companies are donating money through Cups-of-Hope. Fortunately, recent rat experiments discovered that losartan can possibly treat breast cancer (Jha). According to the experiment, losartan, a common blood pressure drug, can shrink a breast cancer tumor by decreasing the overactive effect of AGTR1 gene (Jha). The full potential and possible future side effects of losartan need further studies, but the discovery itself is great progress in breast cancer research. The discovery motivates breast cancer patients to keep fighting. With both rat and human genomes going under revision (Gibbs 294), further studies can be conducted on AGTR1 genes and correctly convert a rat’s AGTR1 gene activity to that of a human’s.
While treatments for individual diseases are under research, a fundamental cure, stem cell research, is also attracting attention in the medical field. The value and potential of stem cell research is highly anticipated in the world’s medical and health fields. According to Nancy Snow’s Stem Cell Research: New Frontiers in Science and Ethics, stem cells have two characteristics that make them suitable for promoting a specific growth of transplantable cells: stem cells can maintain a growing stem cell population by continuous cell division, and they can be programmed into a variety of specific cell and tissue types (17). Before being programmed, stem cells are like empty folders, able to save orders given by the DNA sequence and function in distinctive roles as specific cells or tissues. Such newly programmable cells can produce cells and tissue that patients lack, such as red blood cells, muscles, and even organ tissues.
Between adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells function as a more preferable medical research resource. By utilizing patients’ adult stem cells, the newly transplanted cells or tissues will face less resistance from the patients’ immune system, which means the treatment can avoid lethal side effects and efficiently treat the patients. Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cells can be researched without facing ethical concerns. According to Nancy Snow’s Stem Cell Research: New Frontiers in Science and Ethics, adult stem cells are generated from adult body tissues such as bone marrow and neural stem cells. The book also provided examples of adult stem cells being used for various cancer, lupus, multiple sclerosis, sickle-cell anemia and immune-deficiency treatments, as well as for growing new body structures and tissues including cartilage, bone, cornea and cardiac tissues (17-18). Careful study of adult stem cells can bring great medical innovation in repairing and replacing human cells.
Rodents have been playing a big role in the study of adult stem cells. Mice experiments have been crucial in finding alternative stem cell sources of embryos. “Mice Join Clone Club” by Sean Henahan reports that researchers at University of Hawaii successfully cloned two generations of mice with the Honolulu technique, which micro-injects a donor nucleus to the egg, in 1998. The cloned mice helped to identify a new stem cell able to be re-programmed from existing adult skin cells. The mice specimen showed that the new stem cells functioned like the genuine skin stem cell (Henahan). With such results, scientists can hope for further discoveries and understandings of stem cells and their potentials through mice cloning. According to Dr. Ian Wilmut, the Roslin Institute researcher who successfully cloned Dolly the sheep, studies on mice can help scientists to “understand the basic mechanism involved in the ‘reprogramming’ of adult cells” (Henahan).
Rodents have been part of the expansion and growth of human civilization. Though their reputation has been notorious for causing harm on public health, rodents are attracting interests from science and medical departments as one of the highly anticipated sources of medical innovation. Mice experiments have just introduced traits of specific diseases and their possible cures, but the boundless potential of mice stem cell research can find a definite answer for those diseases. As research on rodents provided the first step toward better well-fare, it will continue to help researches to take further leaps forward.
Works Cited -
“‘Fat Gene’ May Lead to a Thin Pill.” Telegraph. 15 Nov, 2010: n. pag. Web.15 Nov, 2010.
Gibbs, Richard A, et al. “Genome Sequence of the Brown Norway Rate Yields Insights into Mammalian Evolution.” Nature (2004): 493-521. Web. 14 Nov. 2010.
Henahan, Sean., “Mice Join Clone Club.” Access Excellence. 22 July, 1998: n. pag. Web. 13 Nov 2010.
Howard, Walter E., Animal Rights vs. Nature. California: Walter E. Howard, 1990. Print.
Jha, Alok. “Of Mice and Medicine: If a Treatment Works on Rodents, Will It Cure US?” Guardian. 4 Aug, 2009: n. pag. Web. 22 Oct, 2010.
Snow, Nancy., Stem Cell Research: New Frontiers in Science and Ethics. Indiana: University of Notre Dame, 2004. Print.
Stansfield, William D., Death of a Rat: Understanding and Appreciations of Science. New York: Prometheus Books, 2000. Print.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll. ]]>
Read Pinching’s article here.
In 2001, Journal of Science revealed an interesting view about Shakespeare: he smoked drugs. With permission from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, researchers launched chemical investigations into Shakespeare’s house and found traces of cocaine and hallucinogenic drugs in the pipes. Immediately, the media “drug-[lobbied]” for evidence of Shakespeare’s drug usage (Pinching 9). David Pinching asserts that such a search is another example of modern journalism degenerating established figures (9). In “Shakespeare and Narcotics,” Pinching employs an assumption that journalists overreact to the discovery of Shakespeare’s drug ingestion and uses the pronoun “we” to mislead his audience in believing that modern journalists contribute Shakespeare’s literary genius to drugs.
Pinching makes hasty assumptions about journalists to mislead the audience into believing that journalists overreact to celebrity gossips. Throughout his essay, Pinching makes statements that assume modern journalists “lather” into “fervent discussion” in the matter of controversial discoveries about established figures and criticize those figures (9). According to his observation, journalists go so far in scavenging for evidence of drug influence on Shakespeare’s work that they present “entirely innocuous” phrases as evidence: journalists provided “noted weed” and “compounds strange” as evidence of Shakespeare’s drug addiction, but according to context, “noted weed” means “famous type of clothing” and “compounds strange” is just an intentional word arrangement to make the phrase sound exotic (9). Pinching’s premise also appears where Pinching explains how magazines and websites “naturally” responded to the drug discovery with doubts about Shakespeare’s talent. He is arguing that it is in the media’s natural interest to ruin a figure’s reputation because such news can spur “amusement and indignation” that will attract more readers (9). Pulling down an established figure is an easier way to attract readers than creating a sophisticated article. The problem with Pinching’s assumption is that it only repeats the statement of how modern journalism aims to “knock [figures] off [their] high horse,” but it doesn’t further develop its logic (10). For a stronger argument, Pinching could have provided evidence of different views about media’s reaction and refute them or provide concrete examples of how frequently the media condemn celebrities and how potent such criticisms are.
Pinching further makes assumptions about how journalists purposefully selected information and images to bring Shakespeare down. According to Pinching, the journalists “studiously” avoided the fact that drug usage was common during Shakespeare’s time (9). Pinching’s presumption may be true, but the media may have reacted “naturally” to the discovery or disregarded the fact about the past because drug usage itself is such a controversial topic nowadays. According to him, journalists “would like to imagine Shakespeare, spliff in mouth” or “freebasing and rolling up joints because they see him as an establishment figure” (9). Pinching’s descriptions depict Shakespeare as a heavy drug addict that would even “make the Beatles blush” (9). The vivid image of Shakespeare smoking drug gives the audience a sense of disgust and distrust. Such illustrations, however, fall into Pinching’s intentional appeal to emotion to state that journalists’ view about Shakespeare is corrupt.
Another strategy Pinching uses to appeal to his audience is pronoun usage. Pinching separates the audience from the journalists by using first person pronouns to refer to the audience and himself, while using third person pronouns to refer the journalists. Pinching first states that the audience and himself are also part of the West culture of “[degrading] the great and promote and sensational” by saying such a trait is “our attitude” and “our simultaneous and hypocritical prudishness and excess.” Then Pinching separates himself and his audience from the journalists (9). He distinguishes that “we,” him and his audience, don’t make as big a deal about Shakespeare’s drug usage as the journalists do: “What we are effectively saying in insisting that Shakespeare probably smoked drugs is that given the task to trying to write all the plays Shakespeare did we would probably turn to narcotics” (10). Pinching further discriminates between the audience and the journalists by referring the latter as “those” and “people,”: “those who like to degrade,” “people like to imagine Shakespeare freebasing,” and “people have problem accepting that one man wrote so much” (10). By separating the audience from the journalists, Pinching tries to prove that journalists ridiculously overreact to the 2001 discovery. By referring to the audience as “we” instead of “you,” Pinching tries to relate to the audience, make them feel comfortable, and represent himself as credible.
It may be true that Shakespeare smoking drugs does not change the fact that his plays are brilliant. Maybe the media is wasting time on focusing on a less-than-worthwhile issue. But with lack of deeper logic, Pinching’s approach to the media’s “lather” and “desperate kafuffle” embodies the exaggeration itself.
Pinching, David. “Shakespeare and Narcotics.” Inventing Arguments. Ed. John Mauk and John Metz. Boston: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2006. Pages 9-11. Print.Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll. ]]>