Dr. Crusher

Credibility within Medical Field

Earlier this week I saw my doctor. He suggested a prescription for Claritin (generic: loratidine). I'd tried it once before and wasn't overly impressed, but the doctor told me it was okay to take two tablets. He also told me that it would likely be cheaper if he wrote it as a prescription rather than me buying it OTC (over the counter).

I went and picked up the prescription, and just as he'd promised, it was cheaper. 100 tabs for $10. However, the directions said to take only one tablet in 24 hours. Not one or two. I wondered if I'd heard my doctor correctly, and went to Google to find out.

Every American site stated that the dose was one 10 mg tablet per 24 hours. When I researched taking 20 mgs of loratidine, again the American sites recommended 1 ten mg tablet per 24 hours with health warnings if more was ingested. Then I happened a European site, which stated for everyone else in the world - except America - the recommended dose is 20 mg in 24 hours; not 10 mg.

The reason why? In America, loratidine is marketed as a non-drowsy antihistamine. At higher doses, the chances of it causing drowsiness are higher. What?!

So my doctor was right.

I'm sure a case could be made about a higher frequency of side effects with a higher dose. But isn't that true of anything?

My issue is this: I needed to know if taking twice the established dosage was dangerous. It turns out that it is not, and the reason for the 10 mg recommended dose is spin; not a true health danger. The problem when spin is more important than accuracy is that when people realize it's crap, they assume all information in the same vein is crap. With medications that is a dangerous tack to take. Some really do not have much leeway.


Most of us know that making assumptions often gets us in trouble. We try to be mindful about it and resist the error. The problem arises when a person makes an assumption and fails to realize he has done so. Why? Because unconscious assumptions become expectations. And expectations made on incorrect assumptions leads to disappointment.

How do unconscious assumptions get made? Very generally, it occurs when one mistakenly believes that others view life in the exact same way that he does. This can occur for a number of reasons.

It can be due to inexperience - people not being exposed to a different way of thinking, a different culture, a different belief system. They are not fully cognizant that these other perspectives exist and are consequently unable to take them into account. Example: In visiting a small town in Kansas where almost everybody believes in a Christian God (and those that don't aren't talking about it), it was assumed I did as well. (Philosophically, I lean towards Buddhism.) It never occurred to those new, small town, acquaintances that someone they knew might actually believe something different. Different beliefs happened somewhere else.

It can occur when one is a bit self-centered - either as a personality trait or due to a specific circumstance - and simply fails to consider the possibility that other ideas may be in play. This one isn't a matter of being ignorant that other viewpoints exist; it is an error in not taking into account that other viewpoints should be considered. Example: Two people chatting and flirting on an online dating site. Finally they decide to meet. One expects the in-person date to be a continuation of the online chat and flirting; the other believes the first in person encounter is going to lead to sex. Oops!

Probably the most innocent version occurs when someone is excited and wants to share the happy emotion. Example: The extrovert who hears about a new event she wants to attend, and asks a friend, "when do you want to go?" without first ascertaining whether the friend is even interested in attending. In her enthusiasm, she assumes everyone feels the same way about the event that she does. This has happened to me a couple of times. As an introvert, it drains me to be around large groups of people for an extended time, and yet this is where extroverts thrive. They want to share the fun! It can be hard for my extroverted buds to remember that what is fun for them may not be for me.

And there is a special brand of assumption that hails from those suffering some kind of self-esteem issue. The assumption is always negative. Example: A co-worker fails to say hello in the morning as she always does. The person with ego problems automatically assumes that the co-worker is mad at her. The reality may be that the co-worker is worried about something, has had an argument with her significant other, is physically ill - any number of things. This is the most damaging type of assumption as it creates problems where there are none.

The cure for any kind of assumption is two-fold. First, ask yourself, how do I know this? Is it possible I could be wrong? This will usually reveal whether or not you actually know something for a fact or are making a guess. The second part is communication. If you don't know, then ask. You are not required to be a mind-reader. You'll save yourself and those around you confusion at the minimum, and possibly hurt feelings.

*Originally posted to PsychoticToday.com


Okay, I admit it - I do enjoy taking the ridiculous Facebook tests. Who Would You Be in a Past Life? What Kind of Insect Are You? Or the latest, What Philosophical School of Thought are You in? This latter test took me down a rabbit hole. I got Epicureanism. Hrm. I'd heard of Epicureanism, but that was the extent of it. Now, I had to research it - which led me to studying not only Epicureanism, but also Stoicism, Existentialism, Hedonism, and Skepticism.

Considering the source, I was amazed at how accurate the test actually was. When I read about Epicureanism, it fit remarkably well.

So just what is Epicureanism? Well, I like to think of it as Hedonism Lite. Both Epicureans and Hedonists believe that pleasure is the greatest good. Hedonism, with which people are likely to be generally familiar, strives for a life in which pleasure significantly outweighs pain. Ethical hedonism states that people have a right to pursue pleasure as long as it does not infringe upon the rights of others. In theory, I agree with this. However, in my experience, the extreme pursuit of pleasure may often lead to pain - as in overindulgence in alcohol or risky behaviors. Consequently, I have avoided labeling myself as a hedonist.

Enter Epicureanism. Epicureanism seeks not only to pursue pleasure, but the philosophy also includes avoidance of pain and fear. Epicureans work both sides of the street so to speak. They not only seek pleasure, but also actively avoid situations that will likely result in some form of pain. The Epicurean idea of pleasure is more low key. While not opposed to extreme highs in principle, often the pursuit of such also results in extreme lows. Therefore Epicureans strive for a more sustainable middle ground - contentment and tranquility.

Epicureanism also emphasizes pleasures of the mind over pleasures of the body. For example, with whom you eat is far more important than what you eat. As an INTJ, I actively seek out those with whom I can share philosophies, idealisms, theories. This is my greatest pleasure - and has no painful repercussions.

I welcome interactions and events that help me to better understand myself and others. Who knew a Facebook test would show me a new facet? It's all good.

* Originally posted to PsychoticToday.com
Ava 2014

Does Life Really Suck?

We all know people who plod through the day, always dissatisfied, bitching about how life has screwed them over. Their angst and annoyance is palpable. But is life really so dire? In most first world nations, the answer is usually no. Objectively speaking, life does not really suck.

So what gives? You'll be glad to know it has a name: Negativity Bias. Negativity bias is the propensity for the brain to place greater significance on the situations and interactions we deem as "bad," than those we deem as "good." Have you ever heard someone say, "My day was going great and then this had to happen," with this representing an annoyance, an inconvenience, an uncomfortable moment? So basically, the person is saying all of the great things that happened all day are nullified by this one bad thing. That's a little crazy if you think about it.

Scientists hypothesize that negativity bias is part our survival instinct. We are more likely to be cautious and careful if we are attuned to danger. But in our modern era, true life-threatening danger is comparatively rare. We do not have to be concerned about some large carnivore eating us, or inadvertently ingesting a poisonous plant because we are foraging for our own food. Despite our easy existence, negativity bias does not take a break. It's still doing its thing. Only now, instead of keeping us alive, it's making us discontent by focusing on the boss's bad mood, the unfriendly retail person, an unexpected change in plans. THESE THINGS WILL NOT HURT US. They don't even have to be important. I will say it again - they do not even have to be important.

How does one rein in negativity bias? It has to be consciously challenged. When we start to get that life sucks feeling, we need to step back and logically analyze. Is this thing that happened really significant enough to justify all the upset emotion we are devoting to it?

And what about the rest of the day? Purposefully reconstruct the good things that happened; purposefully take note of the neutral, non-sucky things that happened. I bet you'll be surprised to find that the good and the neutral events far outnumber the bad. And this is what we need to pay attention to. Don't let negativity bias take away life's joys. Just don't.

What do you think?

*Originally posted to PsychoticToday.com

Reacquainting Myself with Life

For the year I worked at AXA as a financial advisor, I worked 50-60 hours per week. And yet that only describes the hours that I was actively doing something; it doesn't count the hours I spent thinking about how to approach my job, my next move, the best strategy. Even in moments when I was ostensibly doing something else, my brain was busy running scenarios in the background.

The new 40 hour a week job, that I leave at the office when I go home, seems like a veritable vacation - and honestly, at times somewhat boring. Boring is okay for now, because I need to recover from that mad, albeit enlightening year. Taking a big step out of one's comfort zone is always a learning experience. I feel like I am still processing the data.

It can be inspiring to make that leap and throw yourself wholeheartedly into a new endeavor. Becoming a financial advisor had been aspiration of mine for some time. And I made it happen. It makes no difference that it was not a good fit over the long term. It was the effort, the journey, the learning that made it worthwhile. I pushed myself and have a clearer picture of what I can do, my aptitude, and what I deem important because of it. There is much to be said for having the wisdom to realize when something has served its purpose, rather than hanging on beyond the point of benefit.

Now, I need to be able to breathe. I have resumed exercising, I pay attention to what I eat, I am catching up on long neglected chores around the house, I spend time with family and friends. You know, all the varied facets of life. Overall, I am no longer fatigued. Sure I get tired, but it's the normal tired that everyone has from time to time; not that heart-pounding exhaustion.

Funny thing though, and I don't know if I can adequately explain it, it's as if some parts of brain are still feeling just a wee bit sluggish, as if they need just a bit more time...

While I am still cataloging the many benefits of last year's experiences, I don't think I fully comprehended demands I made on myself.
music colorful

"Get Lucky"

I don't watch much TV - like almost none - so I didn't see the Grammy's. Fortunately, my mom was kind enough to forward the video of "Get Lucky," which was a really awesome performance. For those who haven't seen it:

Now the cool thing is that when she was searching for the video she also found this version. I present The Red Army Choir: