Sunday, September 13, 2009


A few quick requests:

If you cannot use the terms "Nazi", "Stalinism", "socialism" and "communism" in a sentence correctly, or cannot differentiate one from the other, please do not engage in political discourse.

There is no mercury in flu shots. The flu shot is bits of a dead virus and will not give you the flu. Nor will it give your unborn child birth defects. If you cannot internalize these simple bits of scientific fact, please do not engage in discussion of how evil flu shots are.

It's not "hermaphrodite." It's "intersexed." That's the correct, accepted, professional term. If you can't bring yourself to be correct, please don't talk about South African runners to me.

Your opinion on medical issues is automatically downgraded in my eyes if you are a young-Earth creationist.

Your opinion on *everything* is automatically downgraded if you cannot accurately define "theory," "hypothesis," and explain briefly what the differences between the two are.

If you begin a sentence with the words "All women..." and if that sentence ends with anything other than "are fantastic", don't be surprised if I end that sentence for you with a heel to your instep.

Thank you, and good night.


Lisa said...

I always feel like S*** after the flu shot but it's a heck of a lot better than the flu!!!

L said...

I ... I think I love you. Brava, brava!

Charlotte said...

Very succinct Jo! Excellent points, all of them. I wanted to thank you for your very informative - and helpful to me - comment on my post about the flu shot. Although now it appears I owe you an apology for using the word "hermaphrodite." I was unaware that this was not the appropriate terminology as I was just quoting the Reuters news article. But now I know for the future! Thanks!

Sunflower RN said...

Wow Jo!

I think I will leave it at that. I had all kinds of things popping through my head, but then, I like my insteps just as they are.

So good night and don't let the bedbugs bite!! ;-)

Penny said...

Oh, don't get me started on the wads of coworkers who INSIST that the flu shot has GIVEN them the flu in the past. They're totally serious.

To paraphrase King Edward Van Halen: "Fools. I work with fools."

Engranon said...

Yet again, I am reminded why I love you!

me said...


Slatsette said...

I guess I'm confused on one of your points... "Hermaphrodite"
According to every definition of "Hermaphrodite" I can find it is basically the same thing as "Intersexed"

It seems the same as refusing to be called a woman, but instead be called a female.

Then again, my opinion doesn't count because I'm a science lover who doubts the total veracity of evolution on the basis that no one was there to acquire first hand account of it being true. *shrug*

Deana said...


I guess I don't expect my patients to be up-to-the-minute current on all things intersexual. I understand that they see things on TV and the internet and read things in the paper and may talk about it but I do not judge them if they use a word respectfully, a word that has been used for hundreds of years . . .

I, too, expect people to understand the difference between Nazism, socialism, and communism but I also expect the average person to understand that each have several things in common with each other - the most concerning of which is the heavy emphasis of the state versus the individual . . .

I also do not care (and am astonished that there are nurses who have the time to care) whether a pt. believes in evolution or creation. It simply doesn't matter - I don't think less of one or give "extra points" to the other. The last thing I want one of my patients to think is that I'm judging them. They have enough on their plates.

However, I do expect people who like to impress others with their knowledge to know how to spell things correctly.

In the future, the Spanish word for hello is spelled with one "l".


Jo said...


Sorry I wasn't clearer. The post wasn't about patients at all; it was a general screech on the conversations I've had in the meat world with non-patient-people, or the things I've read on the 'Net in the last few days. My patient-people are usually much more interesting and a whole lot more fun!

"Holla", by the way, is a slang term, like "holla back"--as in, "shout it out, get it out, vent" or "Hey, how are you?" or even "I hear you, baby."

Jo said...


"Then again, my opinion doesn't count because I'm a science lover who doubts the total veracity of evolution on the basis that no one was there to acquire first hand account of it being true. *shrug*"

This gave me a real, true, out-loud laugh. Thank you! Are you, by any chance, from Missouri? ;)

The whole "hermaphrodite" v. "intersexed" thing came out of a blog response by somebody who ought to know better and who, I suspect, was trying to be snotty. Even science blog readers can be jerks, I guess. I agree with you that if somebody's using the term in a respectful way, I'll cut 'em a lot of slack.

Anonymous said...

LMAO that uptight Deana thought 'Holla' was 'Hola'! ...And that you wouldn't know the diff, living and working as you do in Tejas.
Love this post so much that I shared it with F'book friends, which I hope is okay...didn't see an easy click-to-share option, so just copied it and cited you.

Anonymous said...

Whoops, nevermind; didn't work, the way I tried to put it up on F'book.

Slatsette said...

"This gave me a real, true, out-loud laugh. Thank you! Are you, by any chance, from Missouri? ;)"

No, better yet I live in Idaho. But I'm FROM California. I was taught that you cannot say that a thing is true unless you can prove it. I have yet to see what I would consider to my own strict standards to be 'proof'. Even Dawkins would rather believe that aliens brought the first life forms to our planet than consider that there could be other explanations. Until we have a 'proof' it will always be a theory. Right now it's the best scientific guess. I'd say it's a matter of faith either way. Faith in No God or faith in God.
Now... if one chooses to teach multiple theories on creation, we need to come up with another, because all religious ones are FAITH, not science.
That DOES irritate me- faith does not stand on par with science- there is no proof, and the Bible is clear on that. If we present biblical creation to students in science class, we must also present all other religious views on creation. Religious creationism should be reserved for history/literature.

Abilene Rob said...


We have so many hermaphrodites because of the flu shots and vaccinations that are being forced on our children by the stalinist Nazis who just want to sell us unnecessary vaccines to make money for their communist friends in big pharma. If you weren't being poisoned by the mainstream media (who are just trying to sell more ad space by pushing their corporate socialist agenda down our throats), you might know more about how vaccines are linked to autism. However, you've clearly been brainwashed by the same socialists that want to teach our school kids that evolution is a fact and not a theory. (For the record, because I would hate for you to not take this seriously: the difference between a theory and a hypothesis is that a hypothesis can be proven with an experiment, but a theory is just a guess that cannot be proven - like evolution can't be proven because nobody observed it.)

All women are fantastic. It's a shame the Nazi evolutionists are using politically-correct terms like "intersexed" to tear down the idea of gender and dilute the role that women were designed for: to be the heart and soul of the family unit.

danielle said...

'The flu shot is bits of a dead virus and will not give you the flu.' why is it that so many of my supposedly educated co-workers cannot understand that??
And Abilene are a master of the written language!

Sarah said...

I'm surprised you're *that* annoyed about people being confused about flu shots since some vaccines use heat-killed viruses, some use weakened varieties, and some use direct antibodies. People have and do get sick as a result of vaccines (although my knowledge of this is very limited, and I couldn't tell you whether it is possible to get the flu from a vaccine). Often the effects that make people feel "sick" are from the bodily response, and it seems plausible that the introduction of these materials could cause a substantial reaction in *some* people that they might conflate with a flu. Your peeve seems to preferentially favor those who have an unusual familiarity with flu vaccines so that they know which of these varieties are typically used, and those who mistakenly believe that vaccines only involve heat-killed viruses.

And Slatsette - you can't be that great a lover of science if you think of things in terms of "proof". Science can never "prove" anything; not possible. It is impossible to prove something by inductive logic, which is how science works; deductive logic (as in, a=b, b=c, therefore a=c) is provable, since it is self-contained in its own "world" or "system". The knowledge understood by Science would be substantially less if consistent reinforcement of evidence and repeatability were not considered substantial, and "support" were replaced with "prove". As in, this evidence "supports" the theory of evolution as currently understood. Evolution works because it is a broad framework of evidence that supports various hypotheses that function together to form a cohesive theory that provides a mechanism to explain the change observed in the fossil record and the arrival at the current level of biodiversity; it also provides ripe explanations for behavior, and predicts future changes. And it does this all extremely well. So I don't imagine you can actually call yourself a "lover of science" and think this way - what science do you "love", and what scientific method to they follow?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have thought that people with sticks up their asses would read your blog.

Penny said...

I am wondering what has happened to bring the cranky, contentious people out of the woodwork.


Anonymous said...

"Intersexed" is a more general, and thus reliably accurate, term that includes all cases in which chromosomes, gonads, external genitalia and/or reproductive ducts do not all "match". But the term "hermaphrodite" is acceptable when used correctly - which I absolutely agree is rarely the case.

In my experience, I encounter more pseudohermaphrodites than true hermaphrodites (technically speaking, a "true" hermaphrodite has gonadal tissue of both sexes, and this is rare indeed). But I do not work with the human species; I am a veterinarian and thus have no idea of relative case prevalence in humans. And I imagine terminology may have changed since I absorbed my embryology course some time ago. It is much easier to call everything "intersex" and stop worrying that I've confused a unilateral hermaphrodite with a female pseudohermaphrodite.

I'd guess that it is not okay to name an intersex human "Cousin It" "Pat" or "He/She". But it is somewhat more acceptable to do so if said intersex is your calf or kitten. At least that's what my clients think.

Cranky Student Nurse said...

The Flu Shot is not a "weakened" form. The flu SHOT is a dead strain of the flu. It is impossible to get sick with the flu from it. If you DO get sick, it's because either you already had the flu or it's your body's natural immune reaction taking over, which can lead to swelling and inflammation, which can give you a stuffy runny nose and general feelings of shitness. Please don't come on here and tell a bunch of nurses about viruses and vaccines: specifically those of us who have to teach patients about how you cannot get sick from getting the flu shot. It is ANNOYING to have to explain this day after day after day. It's doubly annoying to have you trot in here and spout off about attenuated strains and killed strains, as if this is the reason the general public thinks they can get sick from the flu shot... AS IF John Doe is sitting in his recliner watching SpongeBob saying to himself "Well gee I just got the flu shot and I feel sick, must be because it's an attenuated form I suppose." I doubt it. The average person has no fricking clue there are different forms of vaccinations out there. They just think they can get sick from the flu shot, DESPITE all the CDC warnings otherwise. These are the same people who come into my ER crying for antibiotics for viral symptoms.. despite again all the pretty, simple posters hanging up with pretty, simple graphics.

Now, you MAY get sick from FluMist, the inhalant kind-- made for all those moms whose heads collectively spin and mouths froth at the thought of "OMG MERCURY IN THE FLU SHOT!!!!!!!!!!" (another untruth, but I digress)-- because it's an attenuated form of the virus... but then it's not really a SHOT then is it? I would never expect someone to tell me they got the flu SHOT when they in reality inhaled it up their nose, which is what you do with FluMist.

On a side note: I was working with a nurse in the ER who claimed she got sick from the flu shot. I about had a conniption fit. I said how long have you been a nurse?? 10 years. Znd you still think you can get sick from the flu shot?? I'm a student for chrissakes and I know this.. way to keep up with your CME lady.

beadnik said...

Hmmmm....the way I think of it, intersexed is someone of indeterminate sex, while hermaphrodite is someone who, as they say in the old joke, has a penis *and* a brain.
Holla back atcha, HN

Molly said...

Um, excuse me? *sheepishly raises hand*

Hi, um, I'm a reader and occasional commenter, and I have a question for the distinguished blogger and commenters, if you wouldn't mind answering it.

What IS in vaccines? I've tried to look it up online, but every site I come to is by the fuckwitted people who still think vaccines are full of mercury, antifreeze and autism germs or something.

I know the flu virus is dead, I get that, but what ELSE is in it? (Though every year I've gotten the flu, I've also gotten the flu shot. I didn't get it immediately after the shot, usually a few months after. I know there's no correlation, but it's still a funny coincidence.)

I'm sorry if I'm disrupting y'all, feel free to ignore me.

Jo said...

Molly, that's a really good question. I had never thought about what else is in vaccines. Anybody gots any further info? Corrections? Do your thing!

Near as I can tell (thank you, Wikipedia!), the bits of virus or attenuated virus or what-have-you are "suspended in an aqueous solution...(with) one or more adjuvants". This is a foncy-poncy way of saying that the bits are in a watery solution with (sometimes) bits of other bugs that'll help you form an immunity to other things (think diptheria/pertussis/tetanus). What that watery solution is--and this is mostly conjecture--is probably saline or a weak sugar solution: something that won't irritate the muscle or skin that it's put into.

The Wikimind goes on to say that Thimerosal, the mercury-based preservative bugaboo that's been the root of a lot of the vaccine/autism controversy, is only used in one childhood flu vaccine any longer. Now, I don't know how accurate that is--I was under the impression that Thimerosal was gone, poof, in about 2004 or 2005, but then, I don't do childhood vaccines.

Ah. A further look into the Hive Mind informs me that thiomersal (gotta love the difference between British and American English!) is used mostly in the third world and in rarely-used vaccines in the first world (pit viper, coral snake, ohmigawd) as a bacteriostatic preservative. Given that preservative-free vaccines (like the flu shot here) have to be a) packaged in single-dose vials and b) refrigerated without interruption, you can see why you'd want something to preserve your diptheria or tetanus or what-have-you vaccine when you're out in the backcountry.

Anyway, that's more than you wanted to know, I'm sure, while simultaneously being less than satisfying. I'd just go to Wikipedia and search on "vaccine" and all the other related terms you can think of, bearing in mind that Wiki is of necessity a grain-of-salt first step in research.

And please, never apologize for introducing interesting diversions into a conversation. I'm a huge fan of detours.

Penny said...

Thimerosal is the Bad Stuff that made many people scream and run back to the drug store for distilled water and salt tablets, back in the freaking dark ages when one mixed one's own saline for soft contacts.

Did anyone else here use the handy-dandy heating unit with which to "sterilize" one's lenses every night?

Laugh if you must, but I'm telling you: I wore soft lenses PERFECTLY when I was in high school. I had ZERO problems with them. Yes, my eyes have gotten drier as I've gotten older, but that's not the only factor at work here. I never had issues with my soft lenses until all those freaking chemicals started getting introduced.

Having said that, I'm still a massive proponent of flu shots. Roll up your sleeve for the common good, dammit. And people who refuse to vaccinate their children are ignorant and selfish. And I need more coffee. Stat.

The Perpetual Student said...

Nurse Jo, I always enjoy reading your blog entries. I'm so glad you brought up vaccinations. I completely agree with Penny. We don't see large-scale outbreaks of scary things like smallpox anymore because of vaccines (in our privileged country, anyway). The ignorant anti-vaccine movement scares the crap out of me.

My husband and I will be getting the flu vaccine for the first time this year. We're both students preparing for careers in healthcare, so we might as well start now.

Anonymous said...

I was in the my doctor's office last week and overheard two ladies (RN's?) talking. Conversation result was the flu vaccines they had in house had preservatives in them and thus weren't "rated"? for children. Checking on the CDC's page: Yes, the majority of influenza vaccines distributed in the United States currently contain thimerosal as a preservative.
I'm not in the medical field, but that seems pretty clear to me that there is, in fact, mercury in some flu shots.

None-the-less, I've been enjoying your blog for quite a while now and sure I will in the future.

Jo said...

Hey, Adam:

AFAIK, it's the pediatric flu shots that contain thimerosol; the stuff in the adult dosages has been removed. I don't do peds, so I'm not up-to-date on the info.

Thanks for weighing in!