Stress Tests

By Dr. Jim Ferguson

“Our world is not divided by race, color, gender or religion. Our world is divided into wise people and fools. And fools divide themselves by race, color, gender or religion.”

Nelson Mandela

 

These days we hear a lot about divisiveness and especially the generational characteristics of millennials. I have written about generational typology and recommended the book “Generations” by Strauss and Howe. Time marches on and my generation of baby boomers has become “seasoned citizens,” a moniker previously associated with my Mother’s greatest generation.

My generation is now in their mid-50s to mid-70s. Hardly a week goes by that someone I know in the boomer cohort develops cancer, dementia or cardiovascular disease. Donald Trump, born in 1946, is a baby boomer. Technically, Joe Biden is not, since he was born in 1943. The president is said to be a healthy septuagenarian. Joe Biden is not, having survived brain aneurysm rupture and aneurysm surgery twice.  Biden also has atrial fibrillation which increases the risk of strokes.

I believe that one’s health is relative to their age and cohort. As I approach 70 years old my stamina is less and every ache raises the specter of some sinister process. An aphorism of medicine (Bayes Theorem) holds that the prevalence of a disease is dependent upon the population studied. A millennial with chest pain would probably not be evaluated with an exercise stress test, whereas a baby boomer almost certainly would.

Cardiac stress tests are commonly used procedures. The theory is that an exercising heart muscle requires more oxygen and energy which is delivered by increasing blood flow. If the coronary artery blood supply is limited by arterial blockages, a doctor may be able to detect and quantitate reduced flow by an EKG and a doctor’s clinical assessment of the patient’s performance. The stress test can also be augmented with various scanning procedures to improve the diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the procedure.

For decades I have tried to teach young doctors to pay careful attention to the complaints of their patients, as these offer the best clues to a diagnosis. And I’ve been known to quip that they should pay attention because someday they will acquire similar maladies. However, to a certain extent, this is a lesson that cannot be taught, only experienced.

America is experiencing heartache and is undergoing stress tests. Our country has been stressed before. Notable examples include the Civil War and the Great Depression. I believe 2020 is a unique period of Constitutional and national stress. If you are not stressed by the looming November 3rd election, I believe you are disconnected from reality. However, history teaches us that people don’t pay attention or are often self-absorbed. Surprisingly, only one third of Americans supported the Revolutionary War, while one third of colonists supported the British and one third sat on the sidelines, disconnected. In our current crisis, I have no doubt where Antifa, Marxist BLM, looters and rioters stand.

There are many stressors in this time of crisis. The pandemic and the scientist recommended shut-down of the economy have caused unmeasurable damage beyond the 200,000 American deaths and financial ruin of millions. As a somewhat trite example, sports without spectators/fans have been ruined for me. Watching the Stanley Cup finals in an empty arena in Edmonton Canada is ridiculous. I realize the demise of sports is a relatively small thing, but “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is gone. A friend sent me a poignant observation of the politicization of sport: “Last night was a sad night for baseball. A cardboard fan got hit in the head with a foul ball and later died at the hospital of COVID-19.” I won’t miss the fan element in the NBA and NFL. Their politics have led me to boycott them.

With all the vitriol, the riots and looting, the irrational hatred of Trump and the police, many have been distracted from China’s stress on our country and the world. The Chinese Communists are ruthless and their push for hegemony endangers the world. They are not our friends despite what Joe and Hunter Biden maintain. The Chinese government infected the world with the Wuhan virus, while protecting their own Chinese cities. Trump opposes the “free trade” philosophy of the Chamber of Commerce boys and multinational capitalists like Apple and Amazon, which made China rich and powerful. So-called free trade shipped American jobs offshore while reaping windfall profits for these multinational corporations. Trump favors “fair trade” policies for America and has pushed this notion despite the ire of nearly everyone in Washington.

I read a paper recently which challenged my notion of Trump hatred as the driving force for leftists and Democrats. The author posits fear as perhaps an equally important motivator. Trump scares the deep state and the Washington establishment. The tech sector giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google fear deregulation by Trump analogous to the historical break-up of Ma Bell. The tech industry has a dangerous monopoly on the flow of information and consequently on American lives.

I have a voice at The Focus which allows me to ventilate. But what can John Q. Public do to resist the insanity and deal with the stress of being marginalized by Washington and manipulated by the corrupt media? My solution is a simple and respectful push-back phrase to challenge bullies you encounter spouting Democrat Progressive Socialist (DPS) talking points. When the bully says Trump is this or that, simply turn it around and say, “Respectfully, I don’t accept your premise.” You’ll be amazed to see confusion when DSPs are challenged to provide facts for their statements without resorting to personal (ad hominem) attacks. I have encountered people who still espouse the Michael Brown “Hands up; don’t shoot” lie. It NEVER happened. And despite what Joe Biden reads from his teleprompter, Trump NEVER said Charlottesville skinheads were good people or soldiers killed in action were losers.

Stress is unhealthy, and I don’t think ours will subside anytime soon, especially with the looming SCOTUS replacement debate. I feel for anyone Trump nominates after watching the Kavanaugh hearings. The Democrats have a history of savagery; Clarence Thomas described his confirmation hearing as a “high-tech lynching” of a black man.

Whatever happens, be in prayer for the conservative woman who will apparently have to endure the Democrat gauntlet as demanded by their rabid base. Perhaps she will be spared this humiliation and agony if Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell follow the Constitution instead of the preening, self-righteous Senate traditions. But don’t hold your breath.

 

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