Before the dust settles on the Bernie Mac tragedy it is important for everyone to understand two things:
2) There are millions of Americans with autoimmune problems of one type or another at risk for the same fate as Bernie Mac.
Conspicuously absent from the facts surrounding Bernie’s death is the lack of specific information about what actually caused his death. We are left to connect the dots based on non-specific comments made by family members that were reported in People magazine. Isn’t it convenient that doctors and hospitals can hide behind medical privacy, especially when their blunders and off-label experiments are the likely cause of death?
It is a national disgrace that more than 100,000 Americans needlessly die every year in a system they have turned to for help. Add Bernie Mac to the list.
Are Hospitals Even Safe?
Bernie Mac was hospitalized with serious pneumonia on July 24, 2008 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, considered one of the best hospitals in the city and above average nationally. Northwestern Memorial Hospital is also a teaching hospital.
According to People magazine, Mary Ann Grossett, Bernie’s sister-in-law, stated “He was critically ill when he was in the hospital. He was in intensive care the whole time….and he contracted a second strain of pneumonia while in the hospital.”
While on average the care may be better in teaching hospitals, they also carry their own unique life-threatening risks. In an April 23, 2006 Time magazine cover story, reporting on why a doctor’s greatest fear is becoming a patient, the problem of teaching hospitals was explained, “For all their fame and all-star doctors, teaching hospitals carry risks of their own. The sickest patients often have compromised immune systems and may need to be treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics – which increases the chance that antibiotic-resistant strains of staph and other bacteria will make the rounds of the intensive-care unit.”
It is also known that the death rate in teaching hospitals jumps in July, as a new round of interns arrive on the scene. I wonder how many interns with three weeks experience were involved in Bernie’s care. Did someone forget to wash their hands?
The reality is that teaching hospitals struggle to teach themselves how to keep their intensive-care units in a condition suitable for the patients they need to treat. What responsibility does a hospital bear when it further infects a patient who is struggling for his life with an existing infection?
A Grossly Incompetent Medical System for Autoimmune Problems
Most of the commentary about Bernie’s underlying health problems have pointed out his long-term struggle with sarcoidosis, an autoimmune problem wherein a person’s immune system inappropriately attacks normal cells of their body. In this case cells stick together forming clumps that can affect any organ in the body, but most often restrict the function of the lungs. Since Bernie had the illness for several decades it is likely that his lungs had extensive tissue damage/scarring, making them a significant “weak spot” in his health. This point should have been well understood by any physician prescribing medication for his condition.
The focus relating to sarcoidosis in the aftermath of Bernie’s death has been to raise awareness of this somewhat infrequent problem. While it is fine to raise awareness on any health issue, this emphasis has shifted the concept of cause relating to his death to his condition, not to the care he received. My focus is much different – it is to raise awareness of the barbaric stone-age experiments carried on by physicians around the country treating millions of Americans with autoimmune problems – including much more common autoimmune problems like rheumatoid arthritis.
Working with a near-kindergarten intelligence level, the Big Pharma-sponsored model for dealing with autoimmune issues is to treat the immune system itself as the disease. The logic goes like this: since the immune system is excessively reacting against the person’s body, treatment means we need to kill off the immune cells doing the damage. Our strategy will be to poison them to death. We will use prednisone, chemo drugs, or malarial drugs – all drugs that poison immunity into a state of reduced function, thus containing the overactive immune system. Almost no thought is given to getting the person’s immune system to work normally again.
An appropriate analogy is to consider an autoimmune problem like a forest fire burning. You must do something to put out the fire. Medical treatments are like dumping fire retardant on the fire, not a bad idea when it is threatening to burn up valuable body parts. Such concepts have clear medical validity and utility – especially when they are used as temporary solutions to bring a problem under control.
However, you would never manage a forest on a long-term basis in this way, even if it were prone to fire flare ups. Most likely you would want to know how the fires are starting – something doctors almost never consider.
Here is where medicine gets in a lot of trouble and causes a lot of harm. The “fire fighting” strategy becomes long term care. Prednisone makes a person fat, destroys their bones over time (bones are where your immune cells are born), and induces Candida albicans to grow in the sinuses, digestive tract, and lungs. These factors alone significantly add to the inflammatory burden of the individual and further contribute to immune system confusion, in turn feeding fuel to the underlying autoimmune problem and locking it into place as a chronic health condition.
When the side effects of prednisone become unbearable or the drug is no longer effective, then the next levels of poison are pulled out. Chemo drugs and malarial drugs are high level toxins. Of course they have devastating side effects to healthy tissue – once again inducing more tissue inflammation and confusion to the immune system.
Any person with an autoimmune problem quickly finds themselves between a rock and a hard place. If they don’t take the toxic drugs then their “forest fire” flares back up. If they do take the toxic drugs they keep heading into a condition of overall worse health. Millions of Americans are stuck in this predicament, betrayed by false practitioners of health beholden to the Big Pharma golden idol and its system of “medical” training.
The finest medical treatment facilities in the country seldom bother trying to figure out why a person’s immune system is misbehaving in the first place. Instead, these practitioners take the fifth – saying they just don’t know what the cause could be. The sick part is they don’t even bother asking the person, who can often tell them exactly how their problems started and what inflammatory situations in their life caused their immune systems to overheat. Oftentimes the patients will volunteer to their doctors the data they need to know, and such information is simply ignored and the patient is told that what they have to say is not relevant and could not be causing their problem.
Autoimmune problems are triggered by traumatic stress, ongoing stress, chemical exposure, pollution, the use of many medications including antibiotics, digestive problems, sinus problems, estrogen, chemicals in food, junk food, etc. The “straw that breaks” the immune system’s back is almost always in plain view and relatively easy to figure out simply by questioning the individual – and is often different from person to person. Such low-tech, labor-intensive detective work is disdained at the Disney World technology centers pretending to be the authorities on health. Yes, these places can measure almost anything in the body down to the molecular level – can they talk to the patient?
Bernie’s Turning Point
Place yourself in Bernie’s shoes. You’ve been struggling with this problem for 20 years. You finally got it into remission on some cocktail of poisons, but they are either not working so well anymore or you just can’t take the side effects. You go to your doctor and ask for help. What else can be done?
And now you enter the world of medical experimentation. The off-label use of powerful new drugs that no longer act as poisons, rather this new generation of biological medicines throw gene switches that control function in a much more powerful way. In the case of autoimmune problems, these drugs are targeted to turn of inflammatory immune system messengers such as TNFa.
There is one major problem; your immune system needs TNFa in order to mount an immune response to fight an infection. What happens if you get sick when you are on one of these newfangled biologic drugs that have your immune system turned off?
Once again we turn to People magazine and Bernie’s sister-in-law to help us understand what likely happened, “He had sarcoidosis, but it was in remission….But because he had it, his immune system was compromised. He had an infection….He was on a new medication that suppresses the immune system, and that's where the pneumonia came from.”
Because sarcoidosis is not as common as rheumatoid arthritis, Big Pharma will not spend millions to prove the safety of the drug specifically for this problem. That means doctors will conduct what is known as an off-label experiment on sarcoidosis patients, giving them the new biologic medicine and seeing what happens – even though such drugs contain clear warnings of their powerful immune suppressing features that could pose a problem. The bumbling FDA stands by counting the deaths, assuming they are reported at all, while preoccupied damaging the tomato industry and watching tainted drugs come in from China.
There are currently three of these new TNFa medications on the market today (Remicade, Enbrel, and Humira), approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The risk of the use of these drugs is highly problematic even in arthritis patients, but arthritis patients don’t typically have lungs as a primary weak spot that can easily become infected.
The death of Bernie Mac was most likely the result of off-label medical experimentation, occurring against a backdrop of general medical incompetence treating and solving autoimmune problems. Quality of care at Northwestern Memorial Hospital didn’t help.