Monday marked the start of Adolescent/Young Adult Cancer Awareness Week. For me, it was just another Monday

However, social media will, in accord with the protocols laid down by the Facebook Ruling Council, come alive with photos of people ringing the bell at the infusion center, sobbing at their diagnosis — all those big moments that celebrate the sort of linear narrative that ableds like to build around complex, multifactorial diseases. …


One of the questions I get, infrequently is, “Do people [in your life] know you write about them?’ My answer is, “Yes, and I usually do so in such a pseudonymous fashion that you’d have to know some intimate details not publicly available to identify people, so no one’s usually bothered.” The more-accurate answer is, “Yes, but, quite honestly, if I dislike you, you’re not going to wind up in anything I write, because I don’t have enough space in my skull for people I don’t particularly care for.” The even-more-accurate answer is, “If you’re really worried about me writing…


Don’t ask me who “they,” are; I know who they are, and so do you: the Jews.

As America reels from the latest battle in the ongoing race war (yeah, white supremacists, sorry; the race war started in 1492 and never ended), our political leadership is discussing some sort of basic, common sense gun laws, like requiring insurance and some very basic screening, I can already hear Sarah Palin screaming into a microphone somewhere, “They’re coming for your guns!” The GOP right now has more in common with Spinal Tap than any of their constituents — they’re 30 years past their prime, but insist on releasing “fresh” material that’s just recycled from Nixon’s enemies list. Great. …


Americans are notoriously awful with math. I doubt we’re unique in that Americans tend to have a national character flaw; the EU was started because, prior to 1945, it was hard to go more than a few decades without a major war (See also: Anglo-Franco relations, Franco-Prussian relations, Franco-Russian relations, Franco-Spanish relations, Scottish history). What makes America unique is that we’ve weirdly embraced and celebrated this collective failing, which is beyond strange.

We have now, unfortunately seen the inevitable-but-entirely-foreseeable consequences of cultivating a society that spits upon math and science. We have a significant percentage of the population that believes…


A thrilling tale involving the Pfizer Covid vaccine, brain damage, and Daylight Saving Time

Part of long-term survival of trauma is that you’re just going to accumulate stories. It’s inevitable, you’ll pick them up like dust gathering in unused corners — and most of them are about as useful. I mean, I could tell everyone what it feels like to spend a week with a Foley Catheter in you, but no one really wants to read that, and it’d be a little traumatic for me to tell it. On the other hand, I am chock-full of mostly-family-friendly anecdotes about surviving…


What if I were to create a predictive text algorithm in German? And another that would randomly end sentences or start a new paragraph? And I put the two together to randomly generate entire sentences, paragraphs, and books? This just makes me a German programmer; there’s nothing sinister about that.

And what happens if I take a three week vacation, and leave these two programs running? So what if these programs randomly generate Mein Kampf? That’s just a predictable outcome that has nothing to do with me. So what if I commission a poll that randomly finds a massive market…


The latest rhetoric surrounding the push to vaccinate the populace is that we’re all lab rats in some sort of deep state reptilian overlord experiment. Or something like that

So, if I can take one of my frequent discursions before we get to the heart of today’s essay (I got vaccinated, hooray!), let’s talk about death panels. We all heard Sarah Palin bring this up in the 2008 election, and it was mostly notable for those of us who actually have had a health crisis in that we already know that concept exists — rationed care is the proper label for HMOs. And then the pandemic rolled around, and we actually got to see hospitals issue guidelines about who would get a ventilator. …


I’m catching up on The Good Place, which, if you haven’t seen, is definitely worth watching. Last night, I was fascinated watching The Gang tackle the classic moral conundrum of “The Trolley Problem,” especially when Michael decides to stop making it a theoretical scenario and subjects the humans to a recreation of the scenario.

But it got me thinking about one sentiment that every single cancer survivor faces sooner or later, “This is so horrible; I wish it wasn’t happening,” or, “How should I respond to [X scenario/issue]?” Well, much like Michael teleporting people to a runaway trolley, you don’t have to be theoretical about it.

One of the more interesting aspects of cancer survival with a master’s in biomedical science is that I’m very much aware that cancer is, on a cellular level, an unavoidable fate. It’s the slow accumulation of tiny little errors on a genetic level that occur on a regular…


In an environment rich in people focusing on the end of the pandemic, we’re setting ourselves up for the next one

I’m scheduled to get my first dose of the COVID vaccine next week. I think it’s the Moderna vaccine, but I honestly can’t recall off the top of my head. All I know is, it will magically change my DNA to make me somehow trackable by the NSA in a way that carrying my phone with me everywhere won’t. Or something; I don’t keep up with conspiracy theories, because that leads to stealing Nancy Pelosi’s stapler. Realistically, at this point, as someone who’s considered expendable by most of society (this is absolutely true for all disabled people, and it’s one…


Much as everyone hates it, we still have to discuss Raphael Edward Cruz. I know; I don’t want to, you don’t want to; everyone (including his constituents, at this point) would probably rather see him stay in Cancun and leave the salvation of Texas with Beto O’Rourke, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and anyone willing to lend a hand. But Ted Bundy — er, Cruz — is an unfortunate symptom of a deeper problem.

In medicine, there is a distinction between “signs” and “symptoms” in diagnostic medicine. “Signs” are things that can be seen/detected by others (making them allegedly more-reliable); “symptoms” are what patients or caregivers report (giving them a subjective, less-reliable basis). Even though most people use the terms interchangeably, they aren’t, and most clinicians like to have both before making a diagnosis. The distinction is important, because, prior to this, most of Ted’s bad behavior could be seen through a subjective, positive light. If you want an example of that, you can go to Fox News for any number of bizarre rationalizations…

Patrick Koske-McBride

Science journalist, cancer survivor, biomedical consultant, the “Wednesday Addams of travel writers.”

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