Wednesday, March 17, 2021

A Reset On Our Value System?

Empty streets and quiet cities...

The text below was taken from a New York Times Opinion Column written by Frank Bruni on how we are preparing ourselves for the future without the pandemic.

"...They wish, as any sane person does, that the pandemic had never happened. They hate what it did to this country, to this world, and to many aspects of their own lives and the lives of loved ones.

But its brutal winnowing of their social obligations and commitments beyond the home? They actually didn’t mind this, at least not so much. Their movements had grown hectic and their schedules overstuffed.

The way in which shuttered schools, canceled extracurricular activities, and closed offices compelled them and their children to spend more time together? There was stress in this, often proportional to a home’s square footage, but there was also intimacy. They liked how many nights everyone ate dinner together.

The halt to commuting? That was all upside and, along with the cessation of business travel, it produced a revelation: In-person meetings and the logistics that went into them weren’t as necessary as everyone thought. There were cheaper and easier alternatives."

I know the above is true with the attitudes of my two adult children and their families.  Americans live a rushed and career-oriented life.  We are often amazed that Europeans do not care so much about their jobs and are not afraid to take long vacations.  Maybe this pandemic will reset our Puritan work ethic problem!

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Guinea Pigs Are We ALL?

This is a health post, and if you are not into that after this horrendous year, I will understand and you can move on.

I think with medical care some of us think Doctors are marvelous geniuses and inciteful and caring.  Afterall, we have seem them risking their lives for the past year saving lives in a pandemic.

Yet, our local physicians which run a private office within small practices are pretty much normal people, some with exceptional skills and others counting down  the days until they can retire, with most of them in a  mediocre middle.  Within a rural community this is even more so.

I have written about this dibilitating cough that I started to get over a year ago.  It is the kind of dry cough that cannot be muffled and sometimes ends with a gag or at other times a raging sneezing fit and other times weeping eyes.  Because I am home 99% of the time, I have not had to leave a room or face embarassment.  It  would occur even in the evenings when I was sleeping.  Some nights I was awakened every two hours.  It has been a year since I have had more than 4 hours of continued sleep.  My primary sent me to an ENT who had me x-rayed as well as sent a camera through my nasel passage and down my throat.  Since she found nothing, she sent me to an allergist.  I had already spent over a month tracking what I ate and what I breathed, etc. purchasing a $200 room filter and last spring even leaving my house for a trip for a number of days to see if it was the house and nothing changed in each instance.  I have no fever and no loss of appetite.

The allergist ran those two dozen skin test pricks on my inside arm and said I was  allergic to a number of  things including polllens, but nothing severely.  ( I know that I am severly allergic to cat dander!)

He then started me on a nerve medication, something you give to someone who is under stress and needs tranquilzing.  No side effects after a month and also no reduction in coughing 8-10 times daily and then through the night.  We changed to a second nerve medication and he said that coughs can be VERY hard to find the cause.  A month of the second nerve medication and no side effeccts  and no reduction in cough.  I had to be taken off it gradually as it did  make me dizzy and I had a waking dream the day after! He then tried a third medication which did not reduce the cough but the warned side effect of anxiety and temper did kick in and I told him after two weeks, I was no longer taking it as I was getting murderous!  We are a fragile chemical factory!

At my most reent visit  (four months after my initial visit) he  prescribed a blood test (I was too tired to ask what he was looking for although I did ask if it  could  be a fungus) and also a CT Scan.  He called  last week and said they did find an infection in the top two sinus cavities by my eyes!  I then was put on a 10 day course  of antibiotics  and a 5 day course of a steroid.  I immediately called to explain that I was  getting my second  Covid Moderna shot in two days and wondered about the wisdom of being on a steriod ... my understanding that it suppressed the immune reaction.  He agreed I should only take the antibiotic.  I was thinking that ALL doctors should have COVID in the back of their mind with every patient when they are prescribing these days as many patients do not research their meds!

Anyway, I am on my 4th day of the antibiotic and the cough has been cut by about 30% and  usually is not so intense.  But the cough has not gone away.  I got no  reaction to  my second Covid  shot except for a sore arm muscle and what seems to be two days of fatigue.  I have taken advantage of this being a test tube to try to nap each day and rest generally by doing nothing this whole weekend as I have not felt super energetic.  I MUST do some exercise on Monday.  Tonight is take-out unhealthy pizza.

Anyway, I am so tired of being a guinea pig in this process and exhausted as it has been a whole year of this cough.  I have my fingers crossed and the doctor recommends taking the sterioids in about 9 days.  Wish me luck!  As someone who had fought food poisoning while living overseas and  dengue fever while overseas on a tropical island...under mediocre medical care, I was unprepared for this.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Changing Seasons and Seeing Things in a New Light

The longer daylight and the angle of the sun have awakened the hormones in my birds. I saw an American Cardinal couple kissing the other day! Right out in the open! Right on my deck! Ah, young love. 

The longer daylight and the angle of the sun have also awakened dismay in me. I see all the dribbles and spots on my kitchen cupboards under the morning sun's spotlight. I see the dust bunnies and gunk on the kitchen lighting. 

My kitchen has a small island with a range. Since I have a high ceiling I did not want a huge ceiling vent fan coming down. It would be enormous to clean as well as allowing a draft of cold air to seep through in the winters down that long vent. Therefore, I had installed a counter pop-up fan behind the range. I can never use the fan on high. It is not as efficient and it draws the heat away, so affects cooking, but the filters can go in the dishwasher and there is less to clean.

But the "fancy" lighting fixture that was installed above is a bit of a nightmare to clean. I actually think it was for pool table lighting!  Since I have a bit of a wrought iron theme going in the living area, I selected it.  I have been putting off cleaning for quite some time and this year tried to remove the three lamp hoods and glass shades and pop them in the dishwasher.  I could not actually reach all the curled iron above which was covered in grease.  I got two of the fixtures down using my kitchen ladder and patience.  The last one would not come off.  The ceramic threads were misaligned.  I called in my tall friend. (You may remember the fellow who helped with the Osprey nest.)  HE could NOT get the glass shade off either!

Thus he used his height and good eyes and long arms and cleaned the shades as well as the iron decoration with a rag and some Mr. Clean.  It now sparkles.  He also helped me re-assemble the parts that I had put through the dishwasher.

I now have to go to the hardware and get a finish polisher to shine the two black hoods.  Easy enough! It hangs about an inch off-center, but I will have to live with that.  Now I have to wash all the cupboards!

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Find Me an Empath

The photo above was taken back in 2018 during our Amazon trip.  I have posted about some of this adventure before.  This was a cruise where we went up the better part of the Amazon on an ocean-going cruise ship.  The city above, which looks modern, was not truly ready for cruise ships and clods of tourists, but certainly ready to find a way to extract money from them.  I say this not disdainfully.  They are poor and enterprising people just trying to find a way to stay ahead while living under a corrupt regime with horrible inflation.  Three to five percent of the total income of Brazil is lost to corruption.  It is a tragic way of life.  (Of course, our Congress allows wealthy companies to write the legislation that helps them avoid taxes, so we certainly cannot pretend purity here.)

The city was muddy, rainy, and busy.  The people were poor but polite.  There was criminal behavior.  I have emblazoned on my brain the face of a man in his fifties that just wanted to take people on a bicycle/cart ride around the city for some money.  He waited patiently at the dock as each passenger disembarked.  It was horribly rainy and so no one was willing to ride.  His face was so unbearably sad.  My husband gave him some money, but that would not stop the suffering he faced each day and would feed his children for only a short time.  

This is the city where the Brazil variant of COVID emerged in early December of last year.  The more contagious brand.  Manaus already had 75% of people infected [in the spring of last year].  Now 27 to 50% were vulnerable to this new version.  It just does not seem fair.  Why must some people suffer so?  Why is empathy now considered a weakness among leaders in the U.S. and other countries?

At mid-day, I am going with hubby to a drive-through facility where he will get his second shot. He got no reaction to the first, but I am hearing a second can sometimes make you feel as if you are coming down with the flu--a simple trade-off to avoid the hospital oxygen tent.  It does appear that by the end of spring the majority of Americans will be protected from hospitalization and/or death if not from getting sick even with the current varients, so that is a good thing!

Please be kind to others.  It is so hard these days to just put one foot in front of the other.