COVID 99.7% survivable but half the story

While we do know that COVID survivability is high and hospitalization is low for the population as a whole, the oft-quoted 99.7% survivability statistic only tells part of the story. The actual data shows increasing mortality rates by age. It also increases by category of vulnerability and varying levels of immunosuppression.  As a solid organ recipient, I am particularly aware of the studies, though limited, in our population indicating a mortality rate at least comparable to the 65+ age group and as high as 20%.

Yes, the young and healthy population is the least likely to need hospital care. (Although new strains appear to be impacting this data, it is, for now, generally true.)

My oldest son, a Urologist with a Ph.D. in drug research and development,  is also a big advocate for vaccination, especially in healthcare and all areas where people serve the most-vulnerable.

I am sorry that the medical field is faced with potential vaccine mandates but, having a less robust response and decreased protection from my own immunizations, I hope my caregivers will take every available precaution for my protection.

In the state of Maine, healthcare workers must currently prove immunization against:

1. Rubeola (measles);
2. Mumps;
3. Rubella (German measles);
4. Varicella (chicken pox);
5. Hepatitis B; and
6. Influenza

(There are formal processes where certain healthcare workers can file for exemption or reassignment to a less-at-risk work environment)

I’m confident that if vaccines were available against VRE and MRSA, which are mostly spread in hospital environments, they would certainly be added to the list.

Again, I am so sorry a global pandemic is putting us all in these positions and dividing us. I am sorry our freedoms are being impacted as we do all we can to try to save lives and stop future mutations.

There are so many inconsistencies. Part of our society resists every attempt to limit abortion services with, “my body, my choice.” Now, many who normally dispute that rationale are using the very same argument against vaccine mandates. The slogan should be “my body, my choice depending on my personal beliefs, my circumstances, and how it impacts me.” But, that doesn’t fit on a protest sign very well.

Do we now agree that it is “my body and my choice” throughout? I don’t support that rationale in any case where human lives are at stake.

The same group that refuses vaccines with, “God will protect me,” appears to be the same demographic that fights all gun legislation saying guns are needed “to protect myself, my family and property.” Will God protect us from disease but not from break-ins? It is confusing. It seems to me that we should trust God while using wisdom to boost our personal safety using the tools available.

Most arguments are inconsistent and subjective and influenced by our personal preferences at their base.

I hate that excellent healthcare workers are leaving or realigning because of vaccine mandates. I hate that excellent teachers are being forced to make career choices. I hate that all of us in people professions are faced with difficult decisions.

I also hate seeing hospital hallways filled with gurneys because no beds are available. I hate seeing parking garage spaces transformed into overflow treatment areas and cold storage trailers rented for overflow morgue storage.

I believe that God, in his Providential care for humankind, allowed development and discovery of the most effective vaccines in history for this time. I believe that he allows discovery and advances in medicine and will glorify himself through them even though humankind has, sadly, used some of those gifts of discovery against his character and desire.

Having lived through the horrendous ordeal of a liver transplant, my selfish desire is that all who are involved in my care take every precaution against transmitting a highly-transmissable virus that kills as many as 1/5 of solid organ recipients. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7673773/)

I offer all this only as an explanation for my opinions and not to denegrate those who choose to forego vaccine mandates and face realigning careers and lifestyles.

This situation is awful for all.

Posted in Liver disease | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Misinformation in the transplant community?

Did you know that my undergraduate degree is in Journalism and I actually served a stint as the editor of The Daily Maine Campus back when it came out on stone tablets? I had aspirations of being a political columnist or foreign correspondent. Eek. I’m so glad I didn’t head that way!

On my way to that degree, I spent some time studying marketing, thinking that was where I was heading, and then some time pursuing photojournalism until finally settling on the news/editorial track. I think that’s why I’m so critical of what we call “news” today and the clear bias, left or right.

I still like the process of doing a little fact-checking and checking sources. It’s a nerdy thing. Plus, since I can play around with Photoshop a bit, I even check photos whenever I think, “what? No way.”

That pic of the 30-foot boa constrictor? Nope, not real. Cat the size of a calf? Nope. People at the ocean swimming with masks? Nope, Photoshopped. There’s lots of cool photoshop magic available.

Baby Grows Beard Just Like Grampa!

That explains why I’m a little bit obsessive compulsive about this information stuff. I’m an old guy from a time when Walter Cronkite was our hero, libel cases were real, and there were consequences for bad reporting. You couldn’t just take your audience to another network. I’m old enough to remember seeing my grade drop if my personal bias was evident in my reporting or I failed to represent both sides of an issue.

I check misinformation reports on a daily basis. Today’s big viral stories that don’t stand up to scrutiny:

1) ALL PCR COVID tests were recalled for false results!

Nope, not even close. But, yes, doing what the FDA does for our protection, it reviewed the results of the Curative SARS-Cov-2 Test and found too many false results being generated. The biggest concern was FALSE NEGATIVES leaving patients untreated and the virus spreading. The manufacturer of that test quickly issued a recall. Thankfully, the FDA regularly issues reports of everything from pet foods to cheese to medications to medical devices. Now, for fun, what things do we consume or use that have no FDA testing or oversight?

2)”Vitamin B1 repels mosquitoes.”

This would be awesome if it were true. I live in Maine where mosquitoes are big enough to carry babies away. (exaggeration) Unfortunately, B1 does nothing to discourage mosquitoes. The only thing this claim appears to do is boost supplement sales. How do we know this? Remember your neighbor’s kid who spent 8 years in college to get that bug Ph.D.? They spend all day with creepy-crawlies now to see what impacts their behavior. They find no evidence that B1 does anything at all. I would not want to spend all day, day-in and day-out, with bugs.

3) Depressed Mother Tiger Adopts Piglets

2004, not in California, but at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi, Thailand

Aww. Have you seen this one? How sweet that a depressed mommy tiger who lost her litter, adopted a bunch of baby piglets and nursed them as her own! Except, that wasn’t what happened. Momma Tiger wasn’t depressed. The viral pictures being shared thousands of times are actually from a 2004 study at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in Chonburi, Thailand where they wanted to see if animal mommas would feed other animal babies. A sow fed the disguised baby tigers. Why did they do this? I don’t know. Ask your neighbor’s kid who went to school forever to get that Ethology Ph.D. (animal behavior).

Giant hippos invade Maine.

4) LOCAL WARNING! Infestation of giant hippos in Gorham, Maine.

This one hasn’t gone viral yet but I have a firsthand, eyewitness report of two GIANT hippos living in a small pond off Harrison Lane. They are there with American Bullfrogs. My source, Ethan Da Beethan, told me they appear to be friendly hippos but, knowing that hippos are dangerous and aggressive from reports out of Africa, I figured I should warn you. One more thing? Ethan has no formal education and no degrees of any kind but he does watch Storybots, loves dinosaurs and is an expert on Paw Patrol so I think he’s believable. Plus, no one has proven that hippos aren’t invading Gorham so … share this information with everyone you know.

Today is NATIONAL COAST GUARD DAY. I’m thinking the Coast Guard must be slacking. How else would hippos infiltrate our state? They obviously swam here! Plus they missed the Chinese Army moving into Maine last year. (That was a funny one. Click for the bizarre story.) Come on, Coast Guard, we need you to step it up!

There you have it. Now you have some explanation for what makes me so intrigued by this crazy time we are in where we can say anything we want and present any information we want, regardless of evidence or accuracy. Qualifications no longer matter, educational achievement is unimportant and expertise is dead.

The information age has led us to this bizarre reality where the burden of proof has shifted from “prove this true” to “prove this untrue” where, if we cannot prove something untrue, it must be true. (For example: the majority of dinosaurs were rescued from the ice age by aliens from another galaxy who are now on their way back to return them because Earth is warming. Can you prove me wrong???)

Why does any of this matter in the transplant community?

Misinformation that causes us to lose trust in our transplant centers is a matter of life or death. I’m serious. I had a friend offer me some miracle, antioxidant elixir discounted to $90 a month. He counseled me to stop taking all the “dangerous chemicals poisoning” my body, including my anti-rejection prescription, and replace them with just an ounce of his elixir every day.

That’s nuts! There are studies underway to see if, under medical supervision, we can wean off our antirejection meds someday but that’s not now and certainly not without observation. Still, my friend was so confident in his product and his hate for Big Pharma that he truly believed my drugs were killing me at worst or, at least, keeping me a slave to the “lie of modern medicine.”

In the midst of this global pandemic that has killed millions, false information, snippets taken out of context and blatant lies are actively undermining the confidence we have in the very doctors and medical processes that saved our lives through transplant. Some in our transplant communities are refusing vaccination against COVID and buying into the anti-vaxx propoganda. That risk is bad enough for healthy individuals but for those of us with suppressed immune systems it is a HUGE risk that could cost us our lives. What’s worse is that some in our transplant communities are now actively joining the fight against vaccines even within our fragile circles.

Unfortunately, this entire pandemic was, and continues to be, politicized. The top medical minds in our country, many of them known personally to we who were fortunate enough to have them intervene on our behalf, are united in urging vaccination for all, especially solid organ transplant recipients.

If you believe in them enough to have them cut into you, cut out an organ and sew in a donated one, why would you refuse to believe them now when it comes to vaccines?

Posted in End Stage Liver Disease, Lahey Clinic, NASH, organ donation, Organ transplant | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do you trust your doctor? Your transplant center?

I trust my transplant team with my life. If it recommends something, I do it. If it says to avoid something, boom, it’s dead to me. Why wouldn’t I? These people, with their multiple years of education and training, plus their demonstrated expertise, saved my life.

It was just 32 years ago when the first successful living donor liver transplant like mine happened. I was 26 and had two kids. It was not long ago.

When this COVID mess hit, I went into hiding with my family and then, when Lahey Beth Israel called in January and said I should come get a vaccine, we jumped in the car and drove 105 miles with no hesitation. Three weeks later, we did it again. I got my shots right after all the medical people and I WAS PSYCHED! Why? I trust my transplant team.

If you are a transplant recipient and have been ignoring the guidance of your transplant center on vaccines, may I ask what other parts of its guidance you are choosing to ignore? Are you taking your anti-rejection drugs? Why? Staying clear of booze? Why? Because you trust your team.

I encourage you to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Why put your gift, your life at risk?If you are thinking your transplant team told you not to get the vaccine, call again to be sure. Some are remembering conversations of caution back when vaccines were still in the testing stages. That has all changed.

Your docs spent YEARS of their lives studying how the human body works. Some of them have both MD and PhD degrees, long residencies and focused fellowships of training. Their qualifications are undeniable. Please don’t discount their counsel for your 8-10 hours of reading one anecdotal account after another that people now call “research.”

It’s unfortunate that vaccines and treatment have been politicized in America. The Big Pharma, money-hungry, arguments fail to mention how quickly alternate, unregulated, homeopathic treatments are approach the level of a 100 billion dollar industry. This is the USA. Most everything comes down to money. But, all that is really unimportant for us in the long run. We need to trust our transplant centers. They want us to succeed. They want us to be well. In fact, their rankings depend on our success!

Please get the vaccine. If you are unsure, ask your transplant center what their recommendation is. If you are not newly transplanted and you think they are not endorsing vaccinations, double-check. When a doctor says, “it’s your choice,” ask for their opinion. It is your choice. When a doc says that, it does not mean they are against you getting the vaccine.

I received both doses of the Moderna vaccine with my second being on February 19. I had no side effects that I could pinpoint. Fatigue? Maybe, but I often have tiredness and achy joints. I sailed through with no problems at all. I expect I will need a booster since we immunocompromised had a “less robust response” to the vaccine, as expected.

When my transplant center says it is time, I’ll be making that 105 mile drive again to get my shot and a piece of Cheesecake Factory cheesecake as a chaser.

Posted in Liver disease | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why masks actually work

By Scott Linscott

I’ve been spending a good deal of time doing some vaccine advocacy work and trying to answer misinformation with facts, hoping to maybe make an impact here and there.

Being a solid organ transplant survivor, I have been pretty restricted for the past year. This COVID thing is a very big threat to people like me. So, I’ve been trying to make the most of my time by trying to educate.

Recently, I’ve heard and read the same misinformation about face masks numerous times. It claims that the number of COVID deaths in the United States is proof that masks do not work.

If my roof leaks does it means all shingles are useless and I should remove them all? Masks do work and have worked. Without masks, distancing and attention to hygiene we would have been looking at deaths in the millions by now. Only 60% of Americans report consistent masks use.

Isn’t the COVID virus small enough to pass through masks? Yes! Except the virus cannot travel on it’s own. It needs a vehicle to travel. That vehicle is our respiratory droplets.

Non-aerosal respiratory droplets, according to measurable and readily provable standards, range between 5-10 micrometers (µm) . The COVID virus molecules, which require a vehicle for transmission, have a diameter ranging range between 50 nm to 140 nm.

Because there are 1000 nm in 1 micrometer, a respiratory droplet is MUCH larger. Those droplets are what masks are able to trap.

Think of it as a tractor trailer truck that is 14-feet tall trying to go under a 12-foot train trestle. Yes, all the boxes in the truck could easily fit under the bridge on their own but they need a vehicle to move. The masks are like the bridge, the droplets are the truck and the boxes it contains are the virus.

This why masks are effective. They stop the vehicle that carries the virus.

I will get my second vaccine on Friday at my transplant center and regain so much of my freedom. I can’t wait! But, some surveys show that as many as 30% of Americans are either frightened or unwilling to be vaccinated. That’s due to an endless stream of bad science, no science and misinformation (lies).

Maybe I will tackle some of that in another post. For now, mask up and help get the spread under control while we get millions vaccinated.

Posted in Liver disease | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

FOC, I need you

Such a powerful image. Photograph by ?

By Scott Linscott
I can’t imagine. I have no idea. Though I try my hardest to listen and seek to understand, and though I read the right books and listen to the recommended speakers, my own experience colors my conclusions and my feelings.

Please be patient with me, friends of color. Gently confront me to let me know when my speech and actions cross painful lines. Teach me. Tell me. Be a safe space where I can ask any question. Help pull open my eyes to the things I do not see. I need your grace if I am ever to understand. Please don’t give up on me. I know you do not owe me this patience.

I am for you. When human beings devalue, subjugate and oppress other human beings, I feel deeply. My hope is that those feelings trigger action toward change. I will continue to push with you because I actually, honestly believe that all people are created equal by God, even though many misrepresent that same God and warp His words for their own advancement and position.

When I took these photos at National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, I was stirred. I sat at a counter set up to look like a diner from 1960 and tried to play the role of a peaceful civil rights protestor. The very idea that people were once kept from sitting at a lunch counter because of the color of their skin had me disgusted before I even took my place on on one of the stools to begin the simulation. I placed the headphones over my ears, put my hands on the counter, closed my eyes and tried to endure the increasingly horrific verbal abuse endured by the people who lived it. The entire time, I kept reminding myself, “this isn’t real…this is only a museum.” It was when something within said, “Scott, this was real … this is still real” that I broke. I took off the headphones, opened my tear-filled eyes and one of the attendants handed me a tissue and told me, “take all the time you need.”

Only a handful of historical displays, settings and simulations have raised such emotion in me. One was when I sat in the spot where archeologists and historians tell us Roman prisoners were beaten in Jerusalem before crucifixion. Another was at the 9/11 museum in New York City where my emotions shut down and disconnected at the halfway point. I was overwhelmed at the Vietnam War Memorial Wall and the amount of pain it communicated. And then, I added the National Center for Civil and Human Rights to my list in February 2020.

The Atlanta Center helped me better understand the history my brothers and sisters of color here in the United States and made me more aware of the global struggle for human rights that demands our attention and our action. If you visit Atlanta, go.

Today we mark the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. We will talk about all that he accomplished through his call for change through non-violence. We will change our profile pics and cover photos and we will tweet pithy quotes.

But, more than that, I’m hoping for greater understanding and lasting change where all humans are valued and treated equal.

I will listen. I will write. I will vote. I will support. I will be part of that lasting change.

Posted in Liver disease | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

“Family friendly” Black Cap mountain hike. I was pretty sure I was going to need an airlift rescue.

What a year 2020 has been. While we have all had to cut back on our outings and travels, we Linscotts have enjoyed more of the outdoors. We even climbed a New Hampshire mountain! But, “Home for the Holidays” is a fitting theme for the few cards we will mail and this digital “card” on the Internet.

We’re not an outdoorsy family. We are not campers, or hunters and you won’t find us fishing in a backwoods pond. For the most part, our idea of roughing it is staying in a hotel without a smart TV. But I must admit, it has been nice picnicking near rivers and finding trail networks. We’ve spent more time enjoying the small circle of our awesome neighborhood and even hosted movies on our front lawn.

Apple picking

    Robin and I are very thankful that Shara, Jake, Emma and Ethan moved into our basement apartment after selling their house in January. A planned short stay while they built their new house has turned into a much longer stay because of the pandemic grinding everything to a halt. They might feel stuck here but we are so blessed to have them with us. While my transplant recipient status has severely limited my options, Emma and Ethan have kept me sane and smiling. The Grooms have land but are on hold for a bit while everything comes together and builders get caught up.
   Having the Little Ave Linscotts a half mile away has also been a lifeline during the times we’ve not been locked down. Our adventuring group is usually 9 unless Doctor Daddy has been able to join us. In his third year of residency, Josh’s schedule is difficult. We look forward to years 4 and 5 when he gets to have a better schedule. (Yes, Urologists have 5 years of residency instead of the normal 3 and then have a 2-year fellowship after that.) Kristen and Josh are expecting another baby boy in February. We’re so excited!

    Jake and Laura are doing well through all of the pandemic changes and their jobs are stable, thankfully. We see them from time-to-time, mostly when we can gather outside.

    We were so blessed that our church family was able to gather outside, in our city’s beautiful park setting, enjoying beautiful weather every Sunday July-October. It has been so encouraging to see how God has enabled us to shift gears quickly to meet the growing needs in our community. Our faith family inspires and blesses us so much. We’re about to enter year 8 at FBC Westbrook.

My health has been good with a new challenge here and there. Thankfully, my transplanted liver is healthy and strong. This additional 20 pounds of COVID weight is not good and needs to go. But, every day is a bonus day!

    We are all praying that 2021 will be a better year for all of us but, one thing we know for sure, God will give us the strength to face whatever is ahead! You know that, right?

    Much Love! Scott and Robin Linscott

Jake, Shara, Emma and Ethan
Jake and Laura
Josh, Calvin, Chloe and Kristen

Posted in Liver disease | 2 Comments

I remember when I didn’t have enough breath to speak …

By Scott Linscott

It was December 2011 when my diseased liver was threatening my life. Ascites fluid filled every cavity and made me look like I was 10 months pregnant. Doctors stuck needles into my lung cavity and my abdomen to drain off liters of fluid. My lungs did not have enough room to expand and speaking in full sentences was difficult.

I remember begging God to save my life and heal me so that I could keep preaching and teaching. I remember telling him that my condition made absolutely no sense to me. All I could do was write a blog that sometimes barely made sense because of the fluid in my brain causing hepatic encephalopathy.

Since 1888 in Westbrook, Maine

“Yes, Lord, I’m ready to come home, but why? There’s still so much I want to do here. There are people who have no idea who you are. There are hungry children. I’m not ready to pack it in and head home yet. Please let me stay. Please let me speak for you again.”

I never wanted a giant church with grand productions. I had no desire to have my name on the front sign or printed on letterhead, cards, or books. I didn’t want to be the speaker at the next big conference. I begged God for just the chance to do life with a group of people who wanted to follow him and dared to trust. A garage with folding chairs? A living room with people squished together on the couch? A restaurant space?

“What if we got five families to sell our houses and all buy houses in that new development so we could meet all those new families? What if we hung out on the lawn?”

Robin listened to plenty of my crazy dreams and would say, “okay, if that’s where you feel God is leading us, we’ll go.”

God answered our prayers. My son gave me 60% of his liver on May 7, 2012, and, after a difficult year of recovery, I found myself speaking to just a few dozen people in a traditional, old, New England style church building in July of 2013. It was a church facing some very large challenges and facing its own mortality. I shared my story of God’s faithfulness.

Robin went to the church we were attending that morning since she had responsibilities serving there. When we met back at home, I shook my head and told her, “I don’t think that church is going to make it.” I remember feeling sad.

Today, seven years later, you can find me most Sunday mornings, teaching from the front with no shortage of air in my lungs. God has brought families back into the rows and assembled people who are unafraid of impossible challenges. He has allowed us to be part of a Philippians 1 type of church family where I can say, as Paul said, “I thank God for your partnership in the gospel.”

It is a church family where Grace compels us to live out the mission Jesus left to his followers. It is a congregation of less than 100 on most Sunday mornings that the Lord has used to renovate and restore a Noah’s Ark school in third-world poverty in Guatemala. It is a small congregation that furnishes the homes of our new neighbors who are starting over in recovery, are recent arrivals to the United States, or are victims of domestic violence rebuilding their broken worlds. It is a church that hands out 3000+ free, home-cooked meals each year and gave tight hugs to all who needed them before COVID distanced us and turned us into drive-up meals only. It is a church that will have distributed 92,000+ pounds of USDA food boxes by mid-December to families facing food insecurity.

Me? I just shake my head at how massively God answered my desperate 2011 prayers and allowed me to be part of what he is doing in Westbrook. I am thankful for what he has built here. It looks so much like Jesus: simple, consistent, quiet, humble. It’s nothing fancy like more modern buildings. Here since 1888, it is somewhat like a rough stable welcoming the Good News that was announced first to some of the lowliest members of society. Our little family of Jesus followers will probably never attract those looking for polished performance, comfort or perfection, nor will it hold much appeal to those who prefer to gather for a weekly pep-talk without calls for action or selfless living. But, that’s okay.

Nine years after my desperate prayers, I am thanking God for plopping us down in the middle of this former mill town. Yes, this COVID mess has us facing big challenges as a church, but we are doing our best to learn how to do things online while and even increasing the ways we try to meet the growing needs around us. The financial spreadsheets look discouraging but we’re sure God has a plan for that. We will remain faithful to our call for as long as He allows.

If you have the means and God prompts you to be part of his supply for his plans here in Westbrook, Maine, please consider partnering with us at www.easytithe.com/fbcwestbrook or text “GIVE” to 207-600-2777. (Mail: FBC Westbrook, 733 Main St., Westbrook, ME 04092.) If you are one who looks forward to Giving Tuesday to make annual gifts, we could definitely use your help.

If you have needs, like so many in this pandemic, let me know. We can at least pray with you and for you. If you are local, we’ll be distributing another thousand food boxes from our parking lot the next two Thursdays of that could help. We have some furniture and a few coats and hats left. We have some emergency kits for people you know who are without shelter and have collected some winter sleeping bags. Just let us know? You don’t have to go through this alone.

God is good. He has given me a life beyond the life I prayed for and has supplied all my needs. I know He will do the same for you if you, like those shepherds on the hill, go to look for him. In fact, if you’re local, I invite you to come seek him with us.

Posted in Liver disease | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Too much to ask?

I need me some Mickey Mouse.

By Scott Linscott

Here’s what I need, America. I need an empty, clean airport and an empty plane to take me to another empty airport where I can pick up my clean rental car with no human interaction. Then, I need Walt Disney World to open Magic Kingdom just for me. Is that too much to ask?

Robin, my wife? The reality is that she might soon be too much of a risk for me to bring if the virus numbers in Maine keep climbing. She’s a teacher. She doesn’t know it but I’m looking for a good deal on a cot for the garage and a winter sleeping bag for her.

What about all the Disney employees, you ask? Of course, they must all quarantine right there in their stations for 14 days before my arrival. Again, too much to ask?

How’s it going for you? I haven’t been in a Walmart, or any big store, since March 12. That’s 244 days. I went inside one little hardware store for a quick errand once. Do stores have anything new? What would I impulse buy? I’d probably buy one of those 10 gallon jugs of cheese balls.

We ate outside on the deck of a golf course restaurant once this summer, back when Maine was one of the safest places in the world. I ate a rubin sandwich. Oh man, was it good! Yesterday I read that Maine now has the highest transfer rate in the country at 1.43. That means every person who gets Corona gives it to and average of another one-and-a-half other people. It’s called “community spread.” I am not sure where they find .43 of a person, but I am not a scientist.

We had a big election. It was fascinating to watch. I flipped between 4 news stations to compare coverage styles because, having my undergrad degree in Journalism, I am a bit of a nerd in that area. I prefer the BBC because, in my opinion, the major American outlets have become mere arms of ideologies. Back when I got my BA it was very, very bad to be openly biased, but now, it’s just the norm.

I had an appointment with my liver transplant doc on Monday. We decided it was best to do it by telephone. It lasted about 7 minutes because all my blood numbers are perfect and, other than all my whiny complaints, I feel great. We set my next appointment for October 2021. Thank Corona that I didn’t put in 200+ miles of driving for that!

We transplant recipients have been through all these cautions before. Our houses have had hand sanitizer on the kitchen islands since back when Corona was just a type of beer.

Anyway, I’m going a little bit crazy. Other than being naughty on Thursdays, when our church hands out food boxes, I pretty much only mingle with the same 10 people who know all my jokes.

I figure that Mickey Mouse is someone wearing a huge mask so he’s safe. Heck, the same goes for Pluto and Goofy and Minnie and the Tweedle brothers too. I can go hang out with them, right?

Where do I start? Should I call Mickey directly? Should I call JetBlue? I have a lot of details to coordinate.

Is there anywhere I can go to escape this mess? I’d like to go to Guatemala November 28 when our oldest AMG girl is getting married. Nope. Flights to Dubai are cheap and luxury hotels are $40 a night but Robin vetoed that one too.

Disney is my most realistic option. I’m thinking I could be in for a long winter.

Posted in Liver disease | 2 Comments

Some things confuse me.

By Scott Linscott

No one calls me “Nana.”

I’ve been given a stuffy to take care of this morning. I am not supposed to put him down. Meanwhile, loud Lego construction work is happening on the floor nearby. I don’t know why I am responsible for Puppy. I wonder if this is a paying gig.

No one calls me, “Nana.” My coffee mug is a lie. It’s a big mug so I am okay with this lie. Generally, I dislike lies unless they are my own lies. We all are fond of and very protective of our own lies. It’s confusing.

Shouldn’t “menopause”be called “womenopause?” Men don’t go through it. I mean, we don’t go through it unless we are married to a little furnace that switches on and off without warning.

Cats’ purring confuses me. Did phone makers discover the secret to cat purring when they invented vibrate mode?

I find it ironic that gas stations sell cigarettes when they are so firmly against smoking and have signs everywhere.

I’m confused by cargo on ships and shipments on train cars and trucks. Shouldn’t shipments be on ships and truckgo be on trucks and cargo come by train cars?

I’m confused by some work stoppages. For example, if sign makers go on strike, who makes their picket signs?

7-up? What happened to the first six? Why seven? Did 3-up taste gross?

If police arrest a mine, do they tell them they have the right to remain silent? Is it necessary?

Bagpipes confuse me. How does one know when her bagpipes are out of tune? What led to their invention? Did someone unintentionally squeeze a bag of cats and think it sounded awesome?

Self-help groups confuse me.

I wonder how much deeper oceans would be if sponges went extinct?

“He has egg on his face,” is a confusing expression as is “he has to eat his words” and “getting a serving of humble pie.” I’m hearing those pretty frequently this weekend. I can’t see any trace of egg and there are no pictures of words being eaten. I want to know what humble pie looks like because I am usually a big fan of pie and have a difficult time believing any pie is bad. I’ve never met a pie I didn’t like.

Nonetheless, there are quite a few political people getting tough lessons in empathy this weekend and eggs, pie and word-eating are making their way into newsprint and social media.

I try my best to be sad when people are sad and glad when people are glad but I have to admit that I kind of like it when mean people hit tough times. I want bullies to take a beating. When someone passes me doing 95 mph, I kind of hope there’s a trooper ahead. I want them to get what I think they deserve.

Judgement and justice are confusing. I want both for others but want grace and mercy for myself. I’m hypocritical.

The current political climate in America, the outrage, and the conflict has me finding a lot of ugliness in my mirror. I want to reflect the personality and character of my Jesus and am doing my darndest to have self-control, but ugliness is bubbling just below the surface.

The emotions are confusing but my instructions, my code for how I choose to live are clear …

put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts

Colossians 3:14-15

I’m getting spiritually and mentally dressed this morning, struggling to get my giant, ego-swelled, selfish head through this head-hole in my Jesus sweater of love as I attempt to “put on love” and let peace rule in my heart.

Put on love. It looks good on both of us.

PUUUUUUSH!

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I wonder stuff …

By Scott Linscott

                           September 21 frost.

I wonder how many individual wood pellets come in a ton? If you haven’t seen wood pellets, they look like rabbit food pellets but they are made of sawdust and mill scraps. We burn them in a wood-stove thing to stay warm in the cold season. In Maine, the cold season is about 8 months per year.

I wonder why the word “cold” means “brr” and “cough cough achoo.” I have both types of cold this morning and pellets are burning.

I wonder what all the New England Patriots haters are thinking now that they’ve seen the new look without Brady. And, I wonder what this year’s division champion t-shirts will look like.

I wonder if cereal is actually breakfast soup.

If animals could talk, I wonder which ones would be the most rude? I definitely think that cats would be the rudest. I’d tell you what I think cats are saying but I try to avoid using profanity for the most part.

Sometimes I wonder what my daughter’s Golden Retriever is thinking. I suspect she has a five word vocabulary: “food, in, out, play, people.” The first four are obvious but the last one might be her favorite. Bailey wants to meet every human she sees and drags us to them. When she sees a people she responds with the strength of a Fryeburg Fair oxen team.

It’s okay 9 out of every 10 times but when we meet weird people who don’t like dogs it gets downright awkward.

I wonder what Pompom is saying when she runs at other dogs barking her 11-pound head off. I know she is either yelling, “hi, friend” or “hey, what’s your name? Can I sniff your ears? Want to chase me? I like chase games. Is this your human? These are my humans. Want to come see my house?”

Unfortunately, her tone is more like, “I am coming to kill you. I am a mighty warrior. You should fear 11-pound me!” She needs a gentle but firm punt.

If I had a big dog and a little dog came running at him, I would let nature take its course. She really needs a big dog to give her a lesson in respect. She has forgotten old man Manny. He was an old chocolate lab who put her whole head in his mouth and sat her down.

I wonder why it has been 10-20 degrees below normal here in Maine? I wonder where I file my complaint?

I wonder why voters respond to all the “she’s the devil” advertising that both sides play continually. I think all it does is convince us all that both candidates are the devil.

I  wonder why some people are all nervous about the government getting access to pictures of our faces when we use online facial recognition. Have none of these people heard of state IDs, drivers’ licenses and passports?

I wonder when our pellet delivery is going to happen today. All I know is that they are coming today. Morning? Afternoon? I have no idea. All I received was the message that they are coming today. If only we had some type of device where we could put in an address and get an estimated time of arrival. If only that device was then able to, say, send some sort of instant message to say, “your delivery will arrive at approximately…” Imagine what a world it would be if we had such technology.  If I jump into the shower they will arrive at that moment, for sure.

We had a great weekend and got lots of stuff done in preparation for winter. Robin made ice cream with neighborhood kids and sent it home with them so I wouldn’t eat it. Phew! Church in the Park was awesome yesterday. And, believe it or not, I actually gave one of the neighborhood kids a tennis lesson Saturday morning. I think it’s been 20 years since I last hit a tennis ball!

I hope you have a great Monday and are able to resist being dragged into the culture of rage that is our current reality. Look for the good and focus on that.

#everydayisabonusday

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Dear USA, please, could we have just a moment of silence?

By Scott Linscott

Shhh … just breathe.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and remove your hats as we ask you to join in a moment of silence…”

We’ve all done that before. We know how to do it. Entire audiences, auditoriums, school, standiums and even countries stand quietly.

For a moment, just a brief moment, all politics, ideologies, debates, arguments, economies, plans and worries are purposely set aside. We join together in a painfully human moment to empathize and remember. We call it respect.

Our nation lost a pioneer yesterday. Ruth Bader Ginsburg lost her battle with cancer at 87 years of age, still mentally sharper that I can ever hope to be, and still actively serving on our nation’s highest court.

Though small in stature, even those who differed ideologically and politically must admit, she was mighty in presence.

Denied a clerk position in 1960 only because she was a woman, she determinedly pressed forward knocking down numerous gender barriers.

Please, America, I ask for a moment of silence. Lowering my flag to half staff today, I thought of those she leaves behind; family, close friends, and co-workers who loved her as just “Ruth.” I asked God to quiet those circling their wagons, preparing the fight ahead.

Could we just take a moment to respectfully be silent and remember the humanity of loss and grief?

Breathe, America. Hold off on the social media posts until Monday. Put away the signs and the banners for just a brief moment in time.

No matter how we felt about her writings, her judgements, and her decisions, might we just see her as another human being just like your grandmother who passed recently, the sister you lost or the mother you mourn?

Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and remove your hats as I ask you to join in a moment of silence for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Shhh … Just breathe.

#everydayisabonusday

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Cake is Good but Homemade Birthday Cake Ice Cream is Way Better!

My awesome wife makes me breakfast.

By Scott Linscott

I try to eat healthy most of the time but when I fall off the wagon, I fall hard. Back in 1901, that expression meant that the driver of the water cart, going around spraying down dusty roads, drank water instead of booze since he was “on the wagon.” Today, “falling off the wagon” applies to abandoning a healthy habit to dive into an unhealthy one.

My tumbles off the wagon usually come when I am stressed out, feeling out of control, or discouraged. That’s called “emotional eating.”

I also have what I call “celebration eating.” That happens when we party. We Linscotts celebrate A LOT! Cakes, desserts, cookies, ice cream, ice cream and more ice cream are part of every celebration. Every day is a bonus day and we are very good at remembering that.

My too-busy-for-good-eating periods have been crushed by COVID restrictions. I’m not too busy. I don’t rush from one meeting to another anymore and drive through businesses probably think I died or moved. Unfortunately, now I graze the cupboards and counters here at home and, since we celebrate a lot, there are usually left-overs.

I’ve made two significant discoveries this summer:

  1. I can do without donuts made from potatoes. A local, very popular donut shop makes their donuts from a potato recipe and a lot of people love them. Me? Nah. I prefer the light, fluffy donuts. Potatoes should never be used to make cakes and donuts.
  2. Homemade Birthday Cake Ice Cream has the power to turn me into a a dumpster-diving bear. Hunters could bait me with birthday cake ice cream and stand right there with their guns ready and I would still come stumbling toward their trap like I was stuck in a tractor beam. I am powerless around that stuff.

In January I weighed 207 pounds. This morning I weighed 225 pounds. That’s 18 pounds of celebrations, grazing, discouragement and birthday cake ice cream and a promotion to BMI Class 1, 32 BMI. It’s not a promotion any of us want, especially with COVID skulking around. (BMI CALCULATOR) The CDC shows that the bigger we are the harder we fall if we get the virus. It has used cases of people hospitalized to show our risk of “serious illness requiring hospitalization” based on our chunkiness alone.

Overweight (not obese), if BMI is 25.0 to 29.9.

Class 1 (COVID: low-risk) obesity, if BMI is 30.0 to 34.9.

Class 2 (COVID: moderate-risk) obesity, if BMI is 35.0 to 39.9.

Class 3 (COVID: high-risk) obesity, if BMI is equal to or greater than 40.0.

2009. “Oh Beast? Come here, Beast.”

My mother couldn’t say “obese.” She would say “obeast” instead. I weighed more than 300 and she would scold me about my weight, while handing me a whoopie pie, saying, “you are too obeast.” Robin would laugh later and say, “Oh beast, come in here beast!”

I’m considering buying combination locks for the freezers to keep me out of the ice cream. We already instituted the policy of sending all dessert leftovers home with the kids to reduce my grazing habits. And now, we are trying to add daily walks. Our problem is that I’m too slow for Robin so she has to schedule time to walk her beast and time to get in her 3-mile exercise walk.

Are there other tricks to keeping the bears out of your food? Let me know and maybe we will implement them here on Village Lane. I’d really, really love to get back to the plain, old, fat guy classification leave Class 1 behind.

Have a great day. Don’t invite me to your celebration but, if you must invite me, please chain me to a tree where I can’t reach the dessert table. If you have birthday cake ice cream you better make it one of those heavy chains they use to on ships.

#everydayisabonusday

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I’m doomed. I have a cold in this COVID chaos.

Cats! Cats! Everywhere!

By Scott Linscott

I’m doomed. Yesterday, after my afternoon meeting, I didn’t feel super-duper so I laid down “for a few minutes.” That was at around 1:45 PM. The dogs were very excited because they love afternoon naps on the bed.

“A few minutes” ended up being 4:15 PM. Dang. That was a good few minutes! It was around 150 minutes. That’s a significant difference. If you ask me for a few bucks I’ll most-likely have it on me. If you ask me for 150 bucks, I’ll have to check with Robin to see if we have it, and then I’ll need to go to an ATM.

So, I woke up with nose running, some sneezing and the usual dry cough that I get with every cold. “Dang it, I’ve already got COVID,” was my first thought. I figure, with Robin teaching school, that it’s only a matter of time before I join the ranks of COVIDIANS, but she’s only had students for a few days. I have no fever so I’m sure it’s just a cold.

The danger is that if I cough or sneeze outside my house, I will immediately be stoned by a panicked mob. My grave stone will hold a cool Haiku:

Scotty? Gone too soon.

Sneeze! Cough! Rocks fly through the air.

COVID? Just a cold.

– The Haiku Master

I never really understood the fuss about Haiku poetry in high school. I mean, they don’t even rhyme. Most of them feel like a jumble of random words. My friend and I made a mockery of them and I wrote this one that I remember:

Green wall standing high,
Monkey has no food.
Sit on a ball. Death.

My English teacher went nuts about it. I had to try to keep a straight face and read it to the class. And then she asked me to explain my thought process and the “passion” behind my piece. I couldn’t very well say, “I wanted to prove how stupid this stuff is,” so I said, “institutional-ism.” I don’t think that’s even a word but it brought another gushing wave of accolades. She asked if she could submit it to some student poetry thing somewhere.

My poem had deep meaning, apparently. Since I’m so good at Haiku writing, I figure my headstone should have one. That makes sense, right?

I was all excited about today’s events too. I have a new minion mask and another ghastly cat mask from the Morton kids. (They want to convert me into a cat lover. Yuck.) I was ready to fog up my lenses for a meeting with transplant survivor friends on my lawn. We were even going to eat muffins. Stupid cold!

After that I was looking forward to zipping around a golf course in a golf cart to put out hole sponsor signs for our Rotary Club golf tournament. I had to back away from that too. No one likes a cougher-sneezer in this pandemic world. I don’t blame them. Dang it. Driving golf carts is kind of fun.

I’ll keep taking my temperature with Robin’s cool, little, teacher kit to make sure it’s just a cold. Trust me, I’m trying to be pretty careful because that list of people who are at greatest risk is pretty much my health profile. I’m not over 60 yet so I do have that going for me and I don’t have diabetes. But “underlying health issues” could be the slogan on my business card.

We transplant recipients have to be careful anyway, but little things like epidemics and pandemics can make us a downright jittery. I am hoping that we are not bat-poop crazy enough to drink cleaning products and bleach though! I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but I am smart enough to know that sipping bleach is a very, very bad idea. Washing hands and surfaces, wearing masks and distancing are sufficient.

So now my plan for the day is to finish Sunday’s message and then straighten out the church website since it gives people that scary warning about it not being secure. That’s just a scam to make us all pay more money to make even our simple websites “secure” even though we don’t collect any data on them. The data we collect, like offerings and newsletter subscription stuff is through links to secure websites.

My mom used to say, ‘they’ve got you coming and going.” I want to know the origin of that saying. I searched Google for a few minutes and came up with plenty of uses but not anything very far back in history suggesting where it might have come from. You’ll win a prize if you figure it out and let me know.

Have an awesome Thursday. If you hear someone cough or sneeze, hold your breath. It might just be a cold or allergies. Stoning people should only be a last resort.

#everydayisabonusday

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NOON: Beyond the Biopsy: The Massachusetts Panel 9/16

Join us live at 12 PM Eastern for this Global Liver institute panel discussion about non-invasive alternatives to biopsy. Http://www.facebook.com/GlobalLiver

Beyond the Biopsy is a GLI program dedicated to accelerating the acceptance and adoption of non-invasive diagnostics as an alternative to biopsy. This is part of a series of discussions featuring patients, experts, and policymakers on the changing role of non-invasive diagnostics and how they can be promoted as an alternative to biopsies.

Dr. Raymond Chung – Director of Hepatology and the Liver Center and
also Vice Chief of Gastroenterology and the Kevin and Polly Maroni
Research Scholar at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Also joining us from Massachusetts General Hospital is radiologist Dr.
Mukesh Harisinghani, Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School
and Director of Abdominal MRI and the Clinical Discovery Program at
MGH.

And, finally, completing our panel is liver transplant recipient and Lead
Pastor at FBC Westbrook – Scott Linscott.

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I’ve been dishing it out for years.

By Scott Linscott

I’m ready. I’ve been dishing it out for years, riding the success of Tom Brady, sending my football fan friends teasing memes and razzing text messages.

So, yesterday, at the start of the bulk of another NFL season, I prepared myself for an avalanche of payback because Brady is but a memory here in New England.

All the Chicken Littles signaled the end of the Brady era, declaring that our day of reckoning had come. I prepared to eat crow or seagull or whatever bird dishes my friends served up. I deserved it.

But, here I am, waking up to NFL scores that are pretty much the same as usual. Let’s see … Cowboys lost. Check. Tampa Bay, with TB 12 got crushed and Gronk was invisible showing that Tamba Bay may likely continue as the Tampa Bay we all know, except they have a GOAT on the field now. Oops.

And the Patriots? They won. Same old, same old. Yeah, they had lowly Miami and TB12 had the mighty Saints. But still … if the Steelers lose tonight, all will be golden.

In non-football world …

I missed getting a first day of school picture of my girl today because I was still asleep! What??? I know, it’s weird but I seem to sleeping like normal people sleep.

Are these “smart” watches accurate in measuring deep sleep? If they are, that could explain why I feel like a post-marathon-running sloth every afternoon. 1.11 hour of “deep sleep?” That’s not good, right?

Now I have a dilemma. Do I take a picture of her tomorrow morning and fake it? Or, will she let me take a picture of her if she survives today’s masked and distanced chaos? Stay tuned…

It was an awesome weekend. Our church has been meeting outside, in the beauty of the park, since the start of July. It really has me charged up and feeling like we are connecting more, meeting needs and having more of an impact. Today I will deliver another tent from one in our congregation’s attic to another recently unhoused person who has found himself now sleeping on the ground. outside.

We’ve also transformed our food closet, which COVID prevented from opening, into a mobile food pantry. It’s cool. Sunday mornings we have bags of groceries for the unhomed living near the park who have been joining us for service. Then people take bags to deliver to people who they know are in need. I love that!

Have a great week. If you had memes and texts ready to fire my way to razz me about the Patriots without Brady, just hang on to them until Monday. I doubt you’ll get to use them but you can still hope.

#everydayisabonusday

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