May. 1st, 2009

joreth: (Bad Computer!)

Usually, when I see links to "Gardasil Causes Death!" articles, they link to something like or some obviously biased website with an agenda.  So when I saw a link to an article by WebMD that says "Gardasil Linked To Nerve Disorder", I perked up and paid attention.

Then I read the article.

This article makes the claim that some researchers are reporting an association between Gardasil and Guillian-Barre Syndrome, a particularly nasty, although very rare, nerve disorder.  The article then goes on to cite several quotes from the CDC and others that there IS NO LINK BETWEEN GARDASIL AND GBS.

This pisses me off.  This is a respectable website with usually trustworthy articles.  But here it uses shock tactics to frighten people into thinking there is a link between Gardasil and GBS when that information has not been proven.

Here's the summary.  Between 2006 and 2008, 53 cases of GBS were reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which is managed by the CDC and the FDA.  VAERS's job is to research whether these reactions are coincidentally timed to the vaccine they just took, or are caused by the vaccine they just took.  In EVERY SINGLE CASE, it was decided that the GBS was not caused by the vaccine.

Yet, this article follows up immediately with a quote from a researcher that says: The fact that so many cases occurred in the first few weeks after vaccination strongly suggests that “some cases are caused by the vaccine".

So, let's look at the data.  According to this article, the general population's chances of getting GBS are about 5 in 10 million.  According to this one study, the chance of getting GBS within 6 weeks after getting Gardasil are 30 in 10 million.  That's a 6-times increase.  That's pretty significant, although the chances still remain ridiculously low - way lower than even getting cancer caused by HPV (which is, admittedly, pretty low).

So, there appears to be an incidence increase after getting the shot, which suggests the shot has something to do with it, right?

Well, then the article goes on to quote the following inconsistencies:

  • Overall, the vaccine does not raise the odds of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS), a disorder of the peripheral nervous system, says Nizar Souayah, MD, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark.  “But there is clear evidence from our database of an increased incidence of Guillain-Barre syndrome in the first six weeks, especially the first two weeks, after vaccination,” he tells WebMD.
  • the CDC says that “the data do not currently suggest an association between Gardasil and GBS.”
  • “The FDA and CDC have reviewed the reports of GBS that have been submitted to VAERS. To date, there is no evidence that Gardasil has increased the rate of GBS above that expected in the population.”
  • Gorson says much more study is needed before any conclusions regarding Gardasil and GBS can be made. Plus, the chance of developing Guillain-Barre syndrome, regardless of whether you’re vaccinated, is extremely low, he says

How can there be simultaneously "increased incidence" and "does not raise the odds"?

So, it's clear that continued study and research should be done on Gardasil, but no one who is in favor of the vaccine argues with that.  It wouldn't do us any good to promote a vaccine designed to prevent cancer only to have that same vaccine cause death in another way. 

But what pisses me off about this article is that, over and over and over again, the evidence strongly points to no link between Gardasil and GBS, but articles continue to get written with shocking headlines and contradictory statements.  If Gardasil really did increase your chances six-fold, then we should have seen an increase in the total number of cases that matches that increase.  Yet we haven't. 

Instead, what we have here is an article that says "Dude, Gardasil gives you GBS, some guys researched it!  The data doesn't support it, cases haven't gone up at all, and even the guy who researched it says your chances haven't gone up, but it's totally linked!"

We do know that certain illnesses can kick-start GBS, but we're not really sure *why* these illnesses kick-start it.  Apparently, certain vaccines can also kick-start GBS, or at least the article implied that a swine flu vaccine in 1977 did, but, again, no one really knows why.  So it's plausible that this vaccine could have something to do with GBS. 

What I want to know is, do people have a genetic pre-disposition for GBS and it ony sits around, quietly, until a trigger is introduced, like the flu or a surgery?  If that's the case, then, until we know exactly how this trigger works and we develop a way to shut off the reaction to the trigger, then avoiding Gardasil won't necessarily prevent GBS, it'll just wait around for some other trigger, like getting the flu, or having surgery for your cervical cancer that you didn't prevent because you avoided the vaccine.

And is it possible that this is another case of coincidental timing like the autism link?  Does GBS typically not show up until the age range that these girls just happen to be when they get this shot?

The bottom line is that there is *still* no conclusive data linking Gardasil to anything and the chances of developing GBS after receiving Gardasil are *still* absurdly low even if there was a link.  And ... we don't really know what that link could be - is it causal?  Is it correlation?  Is it a trigger mechanism for something already in place?

But even respectable, science, trustworthy sources are not immune to shocking headlines and "journalism" that includes missing facts, contradictory statements, and stories that imply something scary while the author sits behind his "both sides of the story" psuedo-impartiality.

If there is a link, by all means, research it, find it, report on it.  But please do not run a headline that says "Vaccines Cause Death!" and then follow it up with an article that does not actually support that claim.  That does nothing but cause panic and prevents people from getting the medical treatments they need and causes distrust of the medical community and provides fodder for the conspiracy theorists.

joreth: (polyamory)

I'm always on the lookout for unique and simple jewelry and accessories that make a statement ... something that symbolizes who I am (or a part of who I am).  On my right wrist, I wear a black scrunchie for a simple and quick method of practical hair management and a piece of tie-line (the most common type of rope used in my business) that is tied into a bracelet using a double-fisherman's knot, which is a useful and attractive slipknot.  The tie-line, in case you haven't figured it out, symbolizes my work as an electrician and rigger in the entertainment industry.  On my left wrist is a very small and delicate, yet industrial-looking watch with a black rubber band, and a white face with plain, no-nonsense numbers and a hardy, brushed steel/silver-looking head, which just feels very "me" - small and delicate-looking but hardy and practical and no-nonsense.  Around my neck I wear a very simple poly heart/infinity pendant in silver and copper (a nice, industrial metal).  In my ears, I wear my birthstone, a dagger, a tiny pair of handcuffs, a tiny crescent wrench, and one long earring that gets changed out but is usually a chain-like design, all in silver. 

My jewelry and acessories tell a story of who I am.  They symbolize those parts of myself I most strongly identify as - polyamorous, kinky, strong, self-reliant, a technician.  The birthstone is a throwback to my woo-days, but it's still a representative stone.  It's a deep, deep red, almost black.  In fact, it usually looks black unless you get it in just the right lighting conditions, then it looks black with red highlights.  It's not a precious stone, it's not very expensive, but it's hardy and simple and dark.  I don't like expensive jewelry, and I don't like "girlie" or flashy or sparkly stuff.  I do like black and red - in fact, out of the handful of people who have even *seen* me in color, that color is almost always red, but usually, I'm very monochrome with my all black clothes and silver accents.  I no longer believe in the woo regarding birth signs and stones and such, but I still retain an emotional attachment to my birthstone.  The fact that I think the stone is pretty helps (if my birthstone were a diamond, I would have disowned it as a teenager).

I also have really, really long hair, and it often gets in the way, but I don't like wearing my hair up in clips or ponytails.  It takes a great deal of effort to get my hair looking nice in some kind of updo because of the length, and because it's very fine, I get a lot of flyaways and this horrible Florida humidity actually manages to make my straight hair friz, if you can figure that one out.  Plus, the weight of it just pulls it out of any hairstyle after a few minutes anyway.  But, occasionally, I do pull my hair back into a low ponytail with my scrunchie, and even more occasionally, I do pull it up or back for a dressy style, especially if I'm dancing, since the length of my hair actually causes me to hit my partners when I spin.

But I'm never satisfied with hair accessories.  They're always so girlie.  Plus, they rarey hold my hair.  I like black and I like silver, but black doesn't show up in my hair.  I hate yellow gold with my skin tone, and anything with color in it can only be worn with outfits that match that color and I don't like sparkly, sequins, or glittery.  I like simplicity in my accessories, understated elegance.  And, of course, function.  There's nothing more unattractive to me than fashion without function.

So, my aunt has very fine yet very curly hair that she says nothing will stay in.  Clips and barrettes all slip out.  But she found this one particular barrette that she says holds her hair very well, plus she likes how it looks.  So she sent me a link and I checked it out, always on the lookout for any kind of hair clip that won't slip down my very straight hair or won't fall down with the weight.

This brand, called Flexi-8, advertises that they are specially made for very straight, very fine, very thick, and/or very curly hair.  They don't slip, they hold weight, and they can even accomodate very, very long hair.  One of their video tutorials actually shows a girl with hair past her waist, as long as mine, and how to use this clip with hair that long.

So I was impressed.  Then I saw the designs.

Many of the designs are too "girlie" for my taste, and many come with colors.  But the majority of the designs have, what I call, understated elegance.  I think they are very simple and delicate looking, enough for the most dressy of occasions.  But, even better, they're poly-friendly!

As you may have guessed by the name, they use a figure 8 pattern.  Basically, imagine a figure 8 on it's side (in other words, the infinity symbol).  Now imagine bending that 8 to curve around a bun or a twist in the hair, and slipping a hairpin like a chinese chopstick through the loops but under the hair.  Now, to add fashion to the function, put a symbol at the center intersection of the figure 8.  Can you guess where I'm going with this?

That's right, there are a handful of designs that have a heart in the center of an infinity symbol.

So, we have here an accessory that combines function with fashion, and incorporates a symbol that I find very near and dear to my own heart, one that I already wear to signify who I am and would therefore wear in another form when applicable (such as my heart/infinity earrings and my polo shirt with the heart/infinity on the left breast, and my high-top converse with the heart/infinity on the ankle).  What's so great about the heart/infinity design, is that people who wish to remain "discreet" about their polyamory can still wear this symbol and those not-in-the-know won't have a clue.  It's just pretty.

I have not purchased one yet, so I can't vouch for their performance, but they do come highly recommended by my aunt, who says she wears nothing but this brand of hair clip since she discovered them.  I find several of the designs to be pleasing, and they're fairly affordable, so I plan on purchasing some soon.  So I will recommend them on their appearance and the hidden poly-meaning that I can assign to it.  Below are some pictures of some of the heart designs I found.  I think you can click on the pictures to make them bigger if you want.


**EDIT** Here's a review for the Flexi-8 hair clip by a real person, not a paid advertisement:

And since I'm sharing poly-friendly accessories, I found these earrings at Walmart.  They're a circle of linked hearts and the whole thing is plated with an irridescent, rainbow finish.  In particular, I like the queer-friendly tone with the rainbow finish, but the iridescence is a lot less cheesy than if it were painted with primary colors.  The flash really doesn't showcase the iridescence very well, but the little bit of earring on the right shows it off a little better.  In person, the heart earrings look more rainbow-ish than they do in the photo.

I'm also thinking of trying to design a series of earrings that will be a simple string of beaded birthstones for which the wearer can change out themselves, thereby keeping up with changes to the romantic network without having to buy all new jewelry.  Sort of like a DIY Mother design, y'know the type that's sold for moms to have birthstones of all their kids?  It's been remarked on in the past that these Mother rings and necklaces would make great poly jewelry because you can have a birthstone for all your partners, or everyone in the network, or whatever. 

My problem with these items is that they're usually very expensive and I haven't had a network stable enough to justify spending the amount.  My network is always changing, and it is set up intentionally to be able to change, so the last thing I want is to spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of jewelry that will symbolize something that doesn't exist in a year.  But if I come up with an earring design or a pendant design that uses birthstone beads, that somehow allows the wearer to mix and match and change out the beads him or herself, I think this would be much more practical for someone like me.  Sort of taking the charm bracelet concept and applying it to a birthstone pendant or a set of beaded earrings.  And then each wearer can add, subtract, or arrange the birthstones in whatever configuration has the most significance to the wearer.

If I get around to finishing this design, I'll post about it so anyone who is interested will be notified.


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