A History of Epidemics

The Covid-19 Epidemic Was Just One of Many Outbreaks

We’ve all heard about the Bubonic Plague in Medieval Europe, and even more recently in Daniel Defoe’s London (see A Journal of the Plague Year). Probably the worst were the combined plagues brought to the New World by the Spanish and the Portuguese. The native Meso-American population was to drop by more than 80% due to the combined ravages of smallpox, measles, and malaria (the latter was brought in with black slaves from Africa).

In more recent times, the British Isles have been ravaged by cholera. In his The Victorians, historian A. N. Wilson writes: “After 1832, there were to be three major cholera epidemics in Britain: 1848-9, 1853-4 and 1866. The first of these killed 53,000 in England and Wales, 8,000 in Scotland; the next killed 26,000—but 10,000 in London.”

More recently, the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918-1919 infected approximately one-third of the world’s population and killed 50 million worldwide.

It is fortunate that vaccinations to fight Covid-19 have been developed. The pity of it is that many of the poorer nations do not have the vaccine, and many of the richer nations are populated by ignorant doofuses who refuse to be vaccinated.

Uh! I’ve Been Shot!

Two Vaccinations in Two Days!

Yesterday, I got the Fluzone High-Dose Seasonal Influenza Vaccine at my local Walgreen’s. I would also have gotten the Covid-19 booster shot the same day, but I had to make an appointment on the Internet because their system was down. So today I returned and got a jab in my other arm.

I have a difficult time understanding anti-vaxxers with their silly reasons for not getting their shots. It is a strange time in history when people would rather be dead or kill their friends, neighbors, and acquaintances rather than submit to a simple shot. Perhaps, at bottom they’re cowards about a little pain. And in both cases for me, there was very little pain, and it was short-lived.

Booster

I’ll Be Getting the Covid-19 Booster Shot Soon

Speaking as a Libtard Sheeple (and proud of it!), I’ll be getting the Pfizer booster shot as soon as I can. It was March 15 when I got my second shot, so it has been six months plus a week or two. I figured it was best to move quickly before the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson boosters get approved and before all the school kids start lining up.

I’ll just call around to see who has the booster and make an appointment.

Hallelujah!

A Small Victory—With Large Consequences

Today I accompanied Martine to the Access Pharmacy in Westwood where she received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine (AKA Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine).

Martine is a person of monumental stubbornness, so I was surprised that she decided to get the vaccine. In all honesty, it wasn’t my impeccable persuasiveness that did the trick: Her tête de Normande (referring to her Norman French stubbornness) was swayed by the Los Angeles City Council, which was going to make it hard for her to go to restaurants, movies, museums, etc. without either a vaccination card or a weekly Covid test.

Whatever the reason, I am delighted that she has disobeyed the KABC shock jocks and consented to possibly save her life.

My Fingers Are Crossed

No That’s Not Me: I Don’t Wear Ties

After months of bullyragging Martine about not getting her Covid-19 vaccination, Martine has finally made an appointment to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine tomorrow. There have been harsh words spoken by me (“That’s because you get all your info from Nazi radio!” “KABC Talk Radio is not Nazi radio!”). But the LA City Council’s unanimous vote on requiring vaccination proof for restaurants and other indoor locales finally did the trick.

I see this as a victory over the shock jocks of KABC, which I persist in referring to as Nazi radio.May all of them come down with Covid-19 complicated with a few other embarrassing ailments!

Since she made the appointment, Martine has been Googling all the negative info she could find about the shots, so I hope she doesn’t back down at the last minute.

On the Longevity of Teeth

I Am About to Lose Another Tooth

Within the last year and a half or so, whenever one of my crowns comes loose, there is some collateral damage that entails either (or both) a root canal and an extraction. I remember that my great grandmother, father, and mother all had false teeth. With my father, the false teeth were problematical, as any pressure on the roof of his mouth led to his ejecting his dentures at high speed across the kitchen table, to the amusement of my brother and myself. (I have inherited the same roof-of-the-mouth sensitivity, which makes me not a comfortable candidate for dentures.)

Now suddenly, I find myself in a similar situation. As my former dentist, Dr. Thomson Sun, said, “Teeth don’t last forever.” I am beginning to find that he is right.

Truth to tell, I have been greatly remiss about oral hygiene. I didn’t brush my teeth after every meal, or even once a day—and as for flossing, fuggedaboutit! I have become more regular about brushing my teeth with an electric toothbrush every evening before going to bed, but there were all those years during which I let plaque accumulate and attack my teeth.

I would love to have implants, but not only are they expensive, I would need special surgery to increase the bone mass of my upper teeth, where all the recent damage has occurred. And for me, it would be even more expensive because I would need to have an anesthesiologist present to make sure I awaken. (This harks back to my lack of a pituitary gland, and therefore no adrenaline.)

So if things continue along the same line, I will have a crystal meth addict’s smile, which is good for frightening small children and young women.

Puffy Eyelids

The Worst Allergy Season in Memory Continues ….

For a couple months now, I have had a savage attack of blepharitis. My eyelids continue to itch like crazy, inviting me to rub them, while discharging what looks like endless tears. Last night, all night long, I had to wipe the tears from my eyes, which woke me as they ran down my face.

Finally, today I contacted my ophthalmologist, who prescribed eyedrops and a salve that worked well a few weeks ago until they ran out. They should be ready for pickup on Friday or Saturday.

The worst thing about this condition is that I am tempted to drive with only one eye open, which is not great for depth perception. Also, reading becomes a much more tiresome activity. (For me, that’s serious.)

I have no doubt that this condition is somehow connected with climate change. The summers have been growing progressively hotter, and large-scale wildfires have packed the air with various toxins.

In the absence of prescribed medications, the only thing that helps for an hour or two are hot or warm compresses. Over-the-counter preparations like Pataday are not even that good.

Rejoining Society

The Vaccine: E-Ticket to Normality?

Having been vaccinated for Covid-19, I have, in effect, rejoined society. I am now visiting my friends who have likewise been vaccinated. Not coming with me, however, is Martine, who refuses to be vaccinated.

Martine is no anti-vaxxer who believes that nano-sized microchips are injected into the body with each shot. She is simply afraid of most medications, whether in pill or injectable form. Her doctor wants her to take Vitamin D3 supplements, but she gets an adverse reaction if she goes beyond a minimal dose.

I have long suspected that the Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card is going to be a useful piece of paper, whether for travel or work. Despite the efforts by Republican governors to outlaw mandating the card for this purpose, I think they will fail. Until I got the vaccine, even my own doctor did not want to see me: I had several “visits” in the form of telephone calls.

It is my hope that eventually Martine will get vaccinated. Martine’s family comes from Normandy in France. She therefore has what the French call a tête de Normande, in effect a head like granite block—impervious to argument. Perhaps she will eventually see the light, but she won’t take action based solely on my urging.

High Rise Hell

Manhattan: Esplanade Apartments and Lake Shore Drive Apartments

American urban architecture is, for the most part, a series of rectangular Kleenex boxes fronted by rows of large glass windows, requiring scandalous amounts of electricity for air conditioning. When Mies van der Rohe and other postwar architects pioneered their glass towers, they little thought that they were creating unhealthy environments for companies and their workers, and even more so for the dwellers of apartments and condominiums built in that style.

For a quarter of a century, I worked in two such glass towers in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, just south of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). They were right across Westwood Boulevard from each other, and both had what I feel is a baneful effect on my health.

It was only when I retired that I discovered I was not always coming down with colds and headaches. The way that air is circulated in these towers reminds me of giant free-standing Petri dishes.

With global warming, it is becoming more expensive than ever to cool these buildings, at a time when the air outside is requiring even more juice for the HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system. In Los Angeles during the frequent heat waves, I remember dreading going down to the parking lot to get my car. It was almost like crawling through a sewer.

All these architectural fads are based on what seems cheap and feasible at the time they are introduced.

I Spent 16 Years Here

I remember once taking a course in commercial real estate at UCLA. One of the things I learned is that building owners could request—and get—higher rent for suites which have corner offices. Just the sort of thing for a CEO with a swelled head! And that’s one of the reasons for all the Kleenex boxes.

Boy Jeezus, That’s a Pissah!

Bacteria in a Urinary Tract Infection

When I was a student at Dartmouth, we all made fun of the local New Hampshire employees, whom we called emmets. The most typical speech mannerism was the same as the title of this posting. At the time, I never realized the irony of that phrase.

After I graduated from college, and days before I was to head out for graduate school in Los Angeles, I got the mother of all headaches and lapsed into a coma. It turns out that I had a pituitary tumor, called a chromophobe adenoma. Making the right diagnosis in 1966 was a flipping miracle: Remember that MRIs and CAT Scans weren’t around then. All they had to go on were fuzzy X-Rays, and sheer deduction based on miscellaneous hard-to-interpret factors.

With luck, I not only survived, but I made medical history. The only problem is that I paid for it with a scarred urethra caused by some ICU staffer who forced a catheter up my urethra at a time when, groggy with drugs, I thought I was being attacked and resisted what I perceived was violence.

Well, boy Jeezus it was a pissah! For several years, my scarred urethra tended to shut down, forcing a procedure variously called a dilation or a cystogram tray. I have undergone that procedure about eight times over the last fifty-five years, and I’m going to have to undergo it again on Tuesday because I currently am recovering from a urinary tract infection.

This weekend, I leaked so bad I went around in Depends adult diapers. I either peed into the diaper, or had to carefully aim my instrument at the toilet while the stream tried to go in every which direction. The dilation will be a sort of quick fix, but it will result in copious if painful urination for about two weeks until the urethral scars tend to close up again.

There is no pain I have endured in this life compared to a dilation. It’s like fifteen or twenty minutes of being whipped with a cat-o-nine tails.

With luck, the pain will eventually go away, and the urethra will open up slightly … until the next time.

Now, wasn’t that fun?