Beyond the Cusp

November 14, 2017

Did You Get the Flu Shot This Year?

 

O.K., I will grant you right off the top that when it comes to things like the flu, colds, sprains, pains and automobiles, men are really immature. Watch a man drool over a Bagatti Veyron and you will understand that automobiles were put there as a measure of our insanity when it comes to some subjects. Flu shots are just another means to be treated nicely but this is different. They should have called this year’s influenza vaccine the, “If you survive this, the flu will be like candy.” We got our flu shot just after noon yesterday and the nurse was spectacular as I never felt the shot. I now know why, the people who made this year’s vaccine used a tiny bore needle, to mask the thrills which were yet to come. The nurse even assured us that this vaccine was like the other modern vaccines and there would be minimal side effects. One has to remember that Physicians and other health care individuals have their own language and minimal pain means, in this case, you will be long gone and feeling so miserable that you will be unable to hunt us down and hold us responsible. It is now three in the morning and I have this overriding desire to find a Turkish Bath and go sit there until my joints move regularly. Normal breathing is another fun item now on my bucket list as for the most part I am gulping down air as best as I am able. The unfortunate part is that I have no words to describe movement other than telling you that typing, something I often enjoy as I get my article into the computer, has become a dreaded, painful, laborious effort which has me praying that the next key can be struck without using any large amount of movement.

 

I can hear you claiming that I am just a big cry-baby. I am not crying though I must admit the desire is there. The nurse did describe the symptoms we might feel and I believe she played them down considerably. She warned about some degree of stiffness around the area of the injection. Yep, provided you define the area of the injection as anything within two and a half meters of the injection point. She warned that there could be some flu-like symptoms. Some? Try all of them racing up and down my body. We were asked to drink plenty of fluids which had to be just so they could see you wince in pain in public as you followed their advice. This year’s shot is very reminiscent of the flu shots when they first were offered and young children and older adults were advised to seek their physician’s advice as to whether they should take the shot or risk the flu. Back then getting a flu shot was simply getting the flu and if you survived the ordeal, then you were immunized against the flu, that year. The vaccine was presumed to contain only dead or weakened varieties of that year’s flu bug. Getting the shot presumably led to your body manufacturing the specific anti-body for that year’s version of the flu. The design was to assist the body in preparing for the flu virus by introducing weakened and dead flu virus which would allow for your body to strengthen its T-Cells with which to fight the Flu virus. There were two problems with this method. The first would be if the flu virus mutated and the second was the chance that your inoculation might cause the virus to mutate and give you a different variety of the flu so you would be struck twice, once with the vaccine and once when you contracted the flu. Our worst year was the Chinese bird flu where I became infected with a variant of the bird flu which almost cost me my life. I am hoping I will not be having a recurrence of that event.

 

Flu Shot as I Viewed my Vaccine

Flu Shot as I Viewed my Vaccine

 

One would think that the scientists could manufacture a T-cell designed specifically to destroy the flu cells which would strike each year. They could grow the template in laboratories and then provide vaccines to the people before the flu struck. We understand that the flu continues to migrate and change its form. That has often been my experience as I almost always become deathly ill with the flu after taking the flu vaccine. My treating physician always gives me the same speech, you body probably got a rare strain of the flu, some variant which the inoculation was not manufactured to treat. Really? I am dead sure that I would never have figured that out on my own. Geee, I sure am glad that the doctor passed both his immunology and pathology classes. The Asian Flu of the late 1960’s was one of my swan-song years. They never did isolate the virus and had placed me in quarantine. When everyone who enters your room puts on two pair of surgical gloves, booted foot wraps, a hood, and a one-piece body suit while having a nurse tape up every opening through which anything might pass, you know that you are sicker than anybody else is in the Isolation Ward. When you watch everyone after leaving your room and remaining in a closed area to take off the outer layer of hospital provided clothes, placing them in a large bag, which was placed in another bag and then into a medium size canister, which was carried off while the person was sprayed with disinfectant, you suspect that whatever you have, nobody wants any part of it. I was told that when my temperature hit 106.8oF that I was placed in an ice-bath and they added ice for close to a full day and I worked at melting the ice. When my fever finally broke, they took it again after not taking it for many hours, as they knew it really did not matter. The temperature that next morning was over 107oF. That was my worst flu and they afterwards tested to see if and how much intelligence I had lost. Children are phenomenal at surviving the ravages of disease unscathed. Fortunately, this flu shot has my breathing clogged up forcing me to gulp air and has every joint in my body aching and about as stiff as can be. If this is the inoculation, I can only imagine what the flu they are protecting me from would be. Perhaps we were lucky that the shot was not more like the picture below as that would have really been a problem. I sure am glad I do not work wherever that shot is being given this year.

 

Imagine this Flu Shot

Imagine this Flu Shot

 

That picture is the perfect representation of what most husbands will tell their wives and they are sweet enough to act as if they believe us. I have already found out that all my normal cold remedies, an inhaler, pills, imbuing large quantities of water, analgesic medicine, bed rest which leads to attempting to rise again, fever breaking medicines and just about anything in our medicine cabinet and none of it relieves even one single symptom. The nurse who cheerfully administered the inoculation said we would feel some flu-like symptoms for a few days. One can only wonder how much they laughed during breaks and while sharing stories over their meals. Fortunately, I am well experienced with the medical field, as I have serviced medical equipment in several major hospitals such as Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, Washington Hospital Center in Washington D.C. and others. Thus, I know that these aches and pains will abate within a couple of days pretty much as we were told. We all got our flu shots yesterday and hope that this year they guessed correctly as that is not always the case. Some years they miss the mark and everyone suffers a flu epidemic and the few and the brave fight and remain on their feet treating the other less fortunate people who come down with an entirely different version of the flu and you have an epidemic on your hands. This epidemic is fought by the few who remain sufficiently capable of treating those who are struck even harder, and have totally different symptoms. When such a strain strikes it takes out virtually the entire population as nobody was immunized against the new strain. Then the medical staff faces the task of immunizing the population which has remained unstruck and treat those who come down with the new strain trying everything they know to save people from an unexpected threat. Let us all pray that does not occur this year and that we are past the worst of the flu for another year.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 10, 2014

Ebola: To Quarantine or Not to Quarantine

There has been more than sufficient debate and even beyond to the point of hyperbole. Even mentioning quarantine and you are accused of racism because closing the border to flights originating in the areas which are stricken with the Ebola epidemic will only cause the disease to spread faster across the world and the United States. Statements such as this, which fly in the face of logical thought, are really as ridiculous as any thinking person would first believe. But we are supposed to forgo logic and ordered thought and instead believe those thoughts which we are told solely because these truths are self-evident under the correctness as dictated by political correctness and multiculturalism and the chosen deciders of that which will be considered acceptable thought. We are told that the first person who succumbed to the Ebola virus was a person of color that the treatment he received was racist otherwise he would have lived if he were not a minority. It was due to racism that he was initially sent home when he went to the hospital emergency room with severe flu-like symptoms which should have been diagnosed immediately as Ebola but the hospital sent him home after treating him and the computer misdiagnosed the patient’s high risk for contracting the Ebola virus. Later the hospital readdressed the situation “in the interest of transparency” and stated in writing that “There was no flaw in the EHR in the way the physician and nursing portions interacted related to this event.” The latest statement from the hospital released stated, “Texas Health Dallas has relocated the travel history documentation to a portion of the EHR that is part of both workflows. It also has been modified to specifically reference Ebola-endemic regions in Africa. We have made this change to increase the visibility and documentation of the travel question in order to alert all providers. We feel that this change will improve the early identification of patients who may be at risk for communicable diseases, including Ebola.” None of this addresses the debate of whether to quarantine or not, it just restates the fact that even hospitals are staffed by humans and their procedures come from humans and as such are potentially flawed. There was no racial judgmentalism in the mistaken diagnosis and treatment nor was the treatment for Ebola for Thomas Duncan was exactly the same that any person upon diagnosis for Ebola would have been and the result would likely have been the same in any similar case of Ebola.

The claims that quarantine would cause more Ebola cases which would also spread faster within the United States. The claim that the United States should have a special relationship with Liberia because Liberia was founded because America had slavery misses one crucial factor, had the United States continued to allow slavery there would have been no founding of Liberia; Liberia was founded as a result of the United States ending slavery. Why would this be turned around and made to be that Liberia was founded because America had slavery without even bothering to mention that Liberia was founded for freed slaves because the United States ended slavery is an intentional attack on the United States meant to stir up anger and feelings of the death of Mr. Duncan had a racial element. But why would there be a need to quarantine the areas of the world which are facing an epidemic from Ebola and a closure of the border to flights and passengers coming from Western Africa. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) which had initially stated that there was almost no chance for the spread of Ebola from one person to the next because the Ebola patient is not contagious until they have symptoms and then the virus is not airborne and one needs to have contact with bodily fluids in order to become infected which makes prevention easy. They did not bother to mention that one of those bodily fluids was the spray which results from sneezes and coughs and even sweat and that the Ebola virus could potentially remain active for as long as the moisture from any of the above remained at some residual level. This means that Ebola was far more easily spread than the CDC had initially stated especially considering that sweating, coughing, sneezing and projectile vomiting are all symptoms of a person with Ebola. How long before the CDC informs the public that any surface contaminated with bodily fluids, such as spittle from a sneeze or cough, can potentially remain contagious for hours which means that taking the shopping cart offered in a friendly manner from a person who just emptied it into their car on a busy Saturday where carts are at a premium might become a life threatening event and that you should wipe down the handle area of the cart before touching it and wipe the rest down discreetly out of the friendly person’s sight, especially if they sneeze after handing you the shopping cart. No, there is no reason to initiate a policy which would ban passengers from areas of the world where the Ebola virus is still an active contagion, is there?

The question of whether to quarantine or not to quarantine is even necessary can be blamed upon the invention of aircraft and airlines, especially international direct flights from anywhere in the world to any place else in the world directly. Before airlines shortened travel times between all places on Earth to all other places on Earth within a single day the fastest manner of travel was a steamship which took as much as three weeks to cross the Atlantic Ocean. This meant that Ebola carriers would more likely show signs of the contagion before the ship ever made port in New York allowing for precautions to be taken. Crossing the Pacific took even longer which would really allow sufficient time for Ebola and most other diseases to become evident long before the ship makes port. This was why the immigrants arriving in the United States until World War II landed on Ellis Island where even if a passenger was sniffling they were sent to a neighboring island for medical quarantine and treatment to determine if they should be permitted entry or be returned to Europe or wherever their originating port was. We no longer have that luxury in the modern world where the longest it takes to fly between destinations including stopovers where you do not necessarily need to deplane is under twenty-four hours. The discussion on quarantine is a new one for the United States. In Europe it is an old subject which has already been settled from past experiences and Europe will more often than not opt for quarantine without any concern for political correctness or multiculturalism as their experience where quarantine became their default position has much to do with a small plague which came from the Orient, the Bubonic Plague. From that horrendous time forward quarantine became the default in Europe and Britain but the United States has not yet to discuss quarantine nor have they been forced to before now. The only other time the United States faced an epidemic which was imported came after World War I when the returning soldiers brought the Spanish Flu with them and it spread throughout the United States like a storm, an ill wind blowing across the plains. There was no real alternative as the nations soldiers were already in transit and it was unthinkable to ban them or place them in quarantine, but some towns and even cities enforced short quarantine procedures where they basically had all stores, schools and other places where the public interacted including houses of worship to close and instructed the people to remain in their homes for as long as three or four days which did serve to stifle the spread and such places had far lower death rates than places where they continued life as normal. This is a discussion that should be argued and thought through to a complete and accepted policy for the future which will be applied in all cases of potential pandemic for the future. Any action which simply ignores the subject and dismisses any discussion simply claiming that there is no real need as the Ebola threat is over so there is no pressing reason to address the quarantine subject with any urgency. Such is simply doing what public officials too often use and get away from taking up sensitive subjects known as kicking the can down the road. The problem is nobody can predict when the next Ebola like disease will strike forcing the discussion once again on whether or not to impose quarantine on transit from the effective regions. Starting the discussion while under the gun, so to speak, is waiting too long and is the reason to force the discussion now. Hopefully the people elected to serve the public welfare and wellbeing will take the responsible path and make a reasoned decision now, and if they do not choose to perform their assigned tasks the public must force the discussion until a definitive decision is reached and a definitive policy has been defined and articulated in law, nothing less should be acceptable.

Beyond the Cusp

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