Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 10th, 2020

‘How long can a heart last like this?’

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Here’s one example of why it’s worth going to some lengths to avoid getting Covid-19. Darlene Krawetz writes in the Washington Post:

I’ve hardly moved from this couch in weeks, but right now my heart rate monitor says I’m at 132. That’s double my normal. That’s like if I’m climbing a mountain. How come? Nobody knows. Nobody ever knows. And why has my fever been spiking again? Do I need to go back to the ER? I’m on week six of this crap, and I still don’t know if I’m getting better or worse, but people want to act like the threat is behind us?

Wait, no, that’s not right. This is actually week eight for me. I started getting symptoms right before New York shut down. I mix up my dates. My mind is all foggy. I’ve been a nurse for 30 years, and now I can’t even remember if my last Tylenol was five minutes or five hours ago. It feels like electricity is burning through my spine, and nobody can tell me why. It’s like I’m sucking air through a straw. When I stand up, my ears start ringing until dizziness forces me back down. Every symptom is a whole new mystery. This virus is unpredictable and so, so violent.

I’m up to 140 now. See? It’s relentless. How long can a heart last like this? The palpitations come a few times every hour and go on for a minute or more. It’s just banging, banging, banging, banging.

It hurts too much to talk. I’ll try again later. I have to lie down and breathe through it. That’s what they tell me to do.

* * *

The next morning, Wednesday, May 6

My heart rate is back down now to 105. That’s nothing to celebrate. That’s still considered abnormal, but it’s typical now for me.

I didn’t use to be like this. I’m healthy. I’m a vegetarian. I’m only 52. I’ve got grown kids in the military and a teenager at home, and we hike and kayak. I’m a positive, hard-charging person. Maybe I got it at the VA hospital where I work, but we didn’t have any confirmed cases yet. Or my son might have had an exposure and given it to me. Who knows? It’s one more mystery. I didn’t even notice I was sick until another nurse asked why I was coughing. I figured it was allergies. Take some Zyrtec and get on with it. Hardly anybody here in Syracuse had covid at that point. What were the odds?

Then, after I tested positive, I thought I’d get a mild case. I told my husband: “Relax. I’m fine.” I don’t have diabetes. I don’t have hypertension, COPD or anything like that. I thought I could stay home, take care of myself and be back at work in a few weeks.

Right away I started running a temperature of 103, and the Tylenol couldn’t control it. I was shaking and cursing all day in bed, and the symptoms spread from there. I was head-to-toe exhausted. I wanted the whole world to let me alone. I had equipment at home from my nursing work, and I started checking my vitals and saw my blood pressure shooting up. I’ve never had that. I’d get up to shower and start gasping for air. My son was also covid-positive, and he ran a high fever and recovered within a week while I kept on getting worse. Maybe because I’m older? Or because I used to be a smoker? You can’t get a definitive answer on anything with this. I started coughing to the point of throwing up. I coughed until I was incontinent. My lips were chapped from dehydration. I had headaches. Migraines. Heartburn. Rashes. I lost 16 pounds in the first few weeks. I would lie down at night after taking melatonin and Benadryl, soaked in sweat and terrified of what might be coming next. What if I fall asleep and stop breathing? More Benadryl. More melatonin. Maybe try a Xanax. I’d lie there for hours but it was nonstop insomnia. I’d turn the TV to Lifetime for a distraction, but I couldn’t make sense of what they were saying.

One day, my son needed money to buy groceries. I said I’d give him $80, but I couldn’t count it out. I couldn’t do the math. I handed him $50, then $70. I asked him: “Is this really happening right now or is this a hallucination?” He took the cash and counted it himself. He begged me to get help.

I went to urgent care. The X-rays showed pneumonia, so they told me to go to the ER. I didn’t want to risk a secondary infection at the hospital, and I knew they didn’t have any magic treatment for this virus, but I couldn’t take care of myself. There wasn’t any choice. I wrote down my end-of-life wishes, and I had my son drop me at the ER.

I’m having another palpitation. Hang on. . .

Continue reading.

And Trump has in effect declared that the problem is over. Let’s keep an eye on what happens in (say) Georgia and Texas over the next 3-4 weeks.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2020 at 9:42 am

Posted in Daily life, Medical

Best 250 adventure stories of the 20th century

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With a bonus of a short list of top novels from the 19th century. Well worth a bookmark. The post begins:

As HILOBROW readers know, since 2014 I’ve endeavored to identify, read or re-read, and offer a few helpful notes on the best 10 adventure novels, comics, and story collections published during each year of the 20th century (from 1904–2003, that is, according to HILOBROW’s eccentric/correct periodization scheme). Since we’re all stuck at home, flattening the curve, I’ve put together this list of my Top 25 favorites from each decade of the past century.

This page supersedes my 2013 list of The 200 Greatest Adventures (1804–1983), which has received hundreds of thousands of visits… but which no longer accurately reflects my thinking about the 20th Century’s best adventures. There are 200 titles listed on this page, so far; dating from 1904–1983. (Plus: 25 titles from the 19th Century, just for context.) This summer, I’ll add 25 titles from the Eighties; early next year, I’ll add 25 titles from the Nineties. More information on the BEST ADVENTURES series below — including a few lists from the Eighties.

So much to read/listen to here, hope it helps…

PS: Thanks for the shout-out, Boing Boing.

— JOSH GLENN (APRIL 2020)

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Drop me a line.

ALSO SEE THESE LISTS: 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE “SCI-FI” ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2020 at 9:38 am

Posted in Books

Meet the ‘psychobiome’: the gut bacteria that may alter how you think, feel, and act

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I found this article interesting. The gut bacteria depend on your food choices for their nourishment, and dietary fiber is important to them, particularly the fiber from foods like onion, garlic, and asparagus (see note below, following article extract).

Elizabeth Pinnisi writes in Science:

Katya Gavrish is searching for new brain drugs in a seemingly unlikely place: human stool samples. An earnest and focused microbiologist who trained in Russia and loves classical music, she’s standing in front of a large anaerobic chamber in a lab at Holobiome, a small startup company here. She reaches into the glass-fronted chamber through Michelin Man–like sleeves to begin to dilute the sample inside. That’s the first step toward isolating and culturing bacteria that Gavrish and her Holobiome colleagues hope will produce new treatments for depression and other disorders of the brain and nervous system.

The eight-person company plans to capitalize on growing evidence from epidemiological and animal studies that link gut bacteria to conditions as diverse as autism, anxiety, and Alzheimer’s disease. Since its founding a mere 5 years ago, Holobiome has created one of the world’s largest collections of human gut microbes. The company’s CEO, Phil Strandwitz, cannot yet say exactly what form the new treatments will take. But the targeted ailments include depression and insomnia, as well as constipation, and visceral pain like that typical of irritable bowel syndrome—conditions that may have neurological as well as intestinal components. Strandwitz, a mild-mannered Midwesterner with a Ph.D. in microbiology, isn’t prone to visionary statements, but neither is he short on ambition: He predicts the first human trial will start within 1 year.

The allure is simple: Drug development for neuropsychiatric disorders has lagged for decades, and many existing drugs don’t work for all patients and cause unwanted side effects. A growing number of researchers see a promising alternative in microbe-based treatments, or “psychobiotics,” a term coined by neuropharmacologist John Cryan and psychiatrist Ted Dinan, both at University College Cork. “This is a really young and really exciting field with a huge amount of potential,” says Natalia Palacios, an epidemiologist at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, who is looking into connections between gut microbes and Parkinson’s disease.

Some researchers prefer a less hurried approach focused on understanding the underlying biology. But Holobiome and a few other companies are eager to cash in on the burgeoning, multibillion-dollar market that has already sprung up for other microbial therapies, which aim to treat conditions including intestinal disorders allergies, and obesity. Those companies are pushing ahead despite many unresolved questions about how psychobiotic therapies might actually work and the potential dangers of moving too fast. “There’s a gold rush mentality,” says Rob Knight, a microbiologist at the University of California (UC), San Diego.

OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS, the recognition that the microbes living inside us outnumber our body’s own cells has turned our view of ourselves inside out. The gut microbiome, as it’s known, weighs about 2 kilograms—more than the 1.4-kilogram human brain—and may have just as much influence over our bodies. Thousands of species of microbes (not only bacteria but also viruses, fungi, and archaea) reside in the gut. And with as many as 20 million genes among them, those microbes pack a genomic punch that our measly 20,000 genes can’t match. Gut bacteria can make and use nutrients and other molecules in ways the human body can’t—a tantalizing source of new therapies. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

And from an article in the Washington Post on prebiotics and probiotics:

But it’s not enough to just get beneficial bacteria into your body. To make sure these good guys stay and thrive, you’ve got to feed them. One of their preferred meals is a type of soluble fiber called fructooligosaccharides (FOS), found in a wide range of vegetables, fruits and grains.

Because FOS helps probiotics thrive, this fiber and its relatives have been dubbed prebiotics. It’s a term we’ll be seeing more as scientists unravel the details of how our gut microbiome works. Beyond being probiotic power food, FOS has been shown to increase absorption of minerals such as calcium, improve feelings of satiety, reduce the risk of colon cancer and, ahem, “keep things moving.” . . .

You won’t find prebiotic fiber listed on nutrition labels, so the best way to boost your intake is to focus on getting more total fiber (most of us fall sorely short of getting enough fiber in general), and with that, regularly including more foods known to be richest in FOS, such as bananas, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, barley, whole wheat, garlic, and onions. Just add them gradually to avoid upsetting your digestive system.

A whole-food plant-based diet has a good amount of fiber, and I do focus on including a good amount of foods high in FOS (onion, garlic, asparagus, and intact whole grain (oat groats, hulled barley, wheat berries (kamut, spelt, red fife, and others)). See this post for details.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2020 at 9:20 am

How to Draw in Six Steps

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Andy Wright has an interesting NY Times article on how to draw, with brief videos to illustrate the six steps. The article begins:

Drawing can be a meditative way to relax. Do you want to learn today? Here, let us show you!

Binyamin Appelbaum is a member of the editorial board of The New York Times, focusing on business and economics. He also doesn’t know how to draw, so we made him try this out as our model.

You will need:

  • Any pencil, pen, or even Sharpie will do. Artists we spoke with especially love No. 2 pencil and Uni-Ball pens

  • Paper

  • A timekeeper

STEP 1

Copy paper does the job but cardboard, old takeout menus, and mail are also all acceptable canvases.

Arshile Gorky sometimes drew on napkins and newspapers; Pablo Picasso’s obsession with scrap of all kinds, from Vogue magazine pages to hotel letterhead, is the subject of a recent exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

“We all have art supplies at home,” said Diane Olivier, a San Francisco-based artist and educator who has been teaching basic drawing classes to college students for over three decades. “We’ve just never looked at them that way.”


STEP 2 . . .

Continue reading. There’s more, including the videos.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2020 at 8:15 am

Posted in Art, Daily life, Education

In the early days of the pandemic, the Trump administration rejected an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America

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Aaron C. Davis reports in the Washington Post:

It was Jan. 22, a day after the first case of covid-19 was detected in the United States, and orders were pouring into Michael Bowen’s company outside Fort Worth, some from as far away as Hong Kong.

Bowen’s medical supply company, Prestige Ameritech, could ramp up production to make an additional 1.7 million N95 masks a week. He viewed the shrinking domestic production of medical masks as a national security issue, though, and he wanted to give the federal government first dibs.

“We still have four like-new N95 manufacturing lines,” Bowen wrote that day in an email to top administrators in the Department of Health and Human Services. “Reactivating these machines would be very difficult and very expensive but could be achieved in a dire situation.”

But communications over several days with senior agency officials — including Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and emergency response — left Bowen with the clear impression that there was little immediate interest in his offer.

“I don’t believe we as an government are anywhere near answering those questions for you yet,” Laura Wolf, director of the agency’s Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection, responded that same day.

Bowen persisted.

“We are the last major domestic mask company,” he wrote on Jan. 23. “My phones are ringing now, so I don’t ‘need’ government business. I’m just letting you know that I can help you preserve our infrastructure if things ever get really bad. I’m a patriot first, businessman second.”

In the end, the government did not take Bowen up on his offer. Even today, production lines that could be making more than 7 million masks a month sit dormant.

Bowen’s overture was described briefly in an 89-page whistleblower complaint filed this week by Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Bright alleges he was retaliated against by Kadlec and other officials — including being reassigned to a lesser post — because he tried to “prioritize science and safety over political expediency.” HHS has disputed his allegations.

Emails show Bright pressed Kadlec and other agency leaders on the issue of mask shortages — and Bowen’s proposal specifically — to no avail. On Jan. 26, Bright wrote to a deputy that Bowen’s warnings “seem to be falling on deaf ears.”

That day, Bowen sent Bright a more direct warning.

“U.S. mask supply is at imminent risk,” he wrote. “Rick, I think we’re in deep s—,” he wrote a day later.

The story of Bowen’s offer illustrates a missed opportunity in the early days of the pandemic, one laid out in Bright’s whistleblower complaint, interviews with Bowen and emails provided by both men.

Within weeks, a shortage of masks was endangering health-care workers in hard-hit areas across the country, and the Trump administration was scrambling to buy more masks — sometimes placing bulk orders with third-party distributors for many times the standard price. President Trump came under pressure to use extraordinary government powers to force private industry to ramp up production.

In a statement, White House economic adviser and coronavirus task force member Peter Navarro said: “The company was just extremely difficult to work and communicate with. This was in sharp contrast to groups like the National Council of Textile Organizations and companies like Honeywell and Parkdale Mills, which have helped America very rapidly build up cost effective domestic mask capacity measuring in the hundreds of millions.”

Carol Danko, an HHS spokeswoman, declined to comment on the offer by Bowen and other allegations raised in the whistleblower complaint. Wolf also declined to comment on the whistleblower complaint.

A senior U.S. government official with knowledge of the offer said Bowen, 62, has a “legitimate beef.”

“He was prescient, really,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe internal deliberations. “But the reality is [HHS] didn’t have the money to do it at that time.”

Another HHS official, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “There is a process for putting out contracts. It wasn’t as fast as anyone wanted it to be.”

A voice in the wilderness

Two decades ago, the low-slung factory in Texas was part of a supply conglomerate that produced almost 9 in 10 medical and surgical masks used in the United States. . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

The Federal government is no longer working. The US needs more competent people in charge.

Written by Leisureguy

10 May 2020 at 7:11 am

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