Happy Pandemic New Year

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one says a lot about 2020 and Americans in the midst of a global pandemic.

“Confetti falls on a mostly empty Times Square in New York. This year, a limited live audience of first responders and essential workers and their families were allowed to watch the ball drop from a secure area. Corey Sipkin/AFP/Getty Images.” Source CNN

I’ve been tracking COVID-19 news all year. America was the worst at spreading the disease – over 20 million cases and 340,000 deaths – but we made a vaccine (2 in fact) in record time. The first vaccine was administered just 9 months after the WHO declared COVID-19 was a global pandemic (March 11, 2020). Now America is the slowest country to administer the vaccines. Something like 1.3 million doses have been delivered, but only a fraction of that have been administered; inoculation requires 2 doses.

President Tests Positive for COVID-19

Just 32 days until the election, and 2 days after the first presidential debate of 2020, the President and the First Lady both test positive for COVID-19. The President tweeted the announcement late Thursday (10/1/2020) night.

Administration officials were surprise it hadn’t happened sooner.

CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang reported that administration officials had expressed surprise for weeks that the virus hadn’t been detected among White House officials, given Mr. Trump’s own unenthusiastic embrace of measures recommended by senior health officials.

The president has often flouting his own administration’s guidelines on social distancing, mask-wearing and not gathering in large groups.

Source: CBS News

Stock markets around the world reacted negatively to the news; risk aversion set in.

Later in the morning, Biden and his wife, tested negative for the virus.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill Biden, tested negative for coronavirus on Friday morning, the Bidens’ doctor said, following President Donald Trump’s disclosure that he had tested positive just days after the first debate.

Source: CNN

COVID-19 Is Just A Virus

I’m sharing this from a cousin (Facebook). He’s a lawyer and a smart man.


I shared this from a friend. Excellent read:

Chicken pox is a virus. Lots of people have had it, and probably don’t think about it much once the initial illness has passed. But it stays in your body and lives there forever, and maybe when you’re older, you have debilitatingly painful outbreaks of shingles. You don’t just get over this virus in a few weeks, never to have another health effect. We know this because it’s been around for years, and has been studied medically for years.

Herpes is also a virus. And once someone has it, it stays in your body and lives there forever, and anytime they get a little run down or stressed-out they’re going to have an outbreak. Maybe every time you have a big event coming up (school pictures, job interview, big date) you’re going to get a cold sore. For the rest of your life. You don’t just get over it in a few weeks. We know this because it’s been around for years, and been studied medically for years.

HIV is a virus. It attacks the immune system, and makes the carrier far more vulnerable to other illnesses. It has a list of symptoms and negative health impacts that goes on and on. It was decades before viable treatments were developed that allowed people to live with a reasonable quality of life. Once you have it, it lives in your body forever and there is no cure. Over time, that takes a toll on the body, putting people living with HIV at greater risk for health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, diabetes, bone disease, liver disease, cognitive disorders, and some types of cancer. We know this because it has been around for years, and had been studied medically for years.

Now with COVID-19, we have a novel virus that spreads rapidly and easily. The full spectrum of symptoms and health effects is only just beginning to be cataloged, much less understood.

So far the symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Coughing
  • Pneumonia
  • Chills/Trembling
  • Acute respiratory distress
  • Lung damage (potentially permanent)
  • Loss of taste (a neurological symptom)
  • Sore throat
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Mental confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Strokes have been reported in some people who have COVID-19 (even in the relatively young)
  • Swollen eyes
  • Blood clots
  • Seizures
  • Liver damage
  • Kidney damage
  • Rash
  • COVID toes (weird, right?)

People testing positive for COVID-19 have been documented to be sick even after 60 days. Many people are sick for weeks, get better, and then experience a rapid and sudden flare up and get sick all over again. A man in Seattle was hospitalized for 62 days, and while well enough to be released, still has a long road of recovery ahead of him. Not to mention a $1.1 million medical bill.

Then there is MIS-C. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired. While rare, it has caused deaths.

This disease has not been around for years. It has basically been 6 months. No one knows yet the long-term health effects, or how it may present itself years down the road for people who have been exposed. We literally do not know what we do not know.

For those in our society who suggest that people being cautious are cowards, for people who refuse to take even the simplest of precautions to protect themselves and those around them, I want to ask, without hyperbole and in all sincerity: How dare you?

How dare you risk the lives of others so cavalierly. How dare you decide for others that they should welcome exposure as “getting it over with”, when literally no one knows who will be the lucky “mild symptoms” case, and who may fall ill and die. Because while we know that some people are more susceptible to suffering a more serious case, we also know that 20 and 30 year olds have died, marathon runners and fitness nuts have died, children and infants have died.

How dare you behave as though you know more than medical experts, when those same experts acknowledge that there is so much we don’t yet know, but with what we DO know, are smart enough to be scared of how easily this is spread, and recommend baseline precautions such as:

  • Frequent hand-washing
  • Physical distancing
  • Reduced social/public contact or interaction
  • Mask wearing
  • Covering your cough or sneeze
  • Avoiding touching your face
  • Sanitizing frequently touched surfaces

The more things we can all do to mitigate our risk of exposure, the better off we all are, in my opinion. Not only does it flatten the curve and allow health care providers to maintain levels of service that aren’t immediately and catastrophically overwhelmed; it also reduces unnecessary suffering and deaths, and buys time for the scientific community to study the virus in order to come to a more full understanding of the breadth of its impacts in both the short and long term.

I reject the notion that it’s “just a virus” and we’ll all get it eventually. What a careless, lazy, heartless stance.

Coronavirus Vaccine Candidate Shows Promise

With ever mounting deaths, scientists have been under pressure to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.

Moderna, Inc., reported that they have developed a COVID-19 vaccine that is safe. Phase I testing (45 subjects) appears to elicit the kind of immune response capable of preventing the disease. There were no no serious side-effects after the first trial. Source: NPR

Phase II can start right away, and the company hopes to start phase III in early July.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

This new virus is called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or Sars-CoV-2. The disease it causes is called Covid-19. Source: Wall Street Journal. This is a serious disease – “a potential pandemic.” They think it originated in a (animal/seafood) market in Wuhan, China, on December 1, 2019. As of March 3, 2020, the WHO reports that there are 92,315 confirmed cases – 3,131 deaths; 60 cases in the US and 6 deaths.

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There is no cure for AFib

No, there aint no cure for AFib, but if you try sometime, you just might find, you get what you need. I know that’s a bad sample of the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”, but it’s true.

I would call what I have paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF or just AF); sudden, irregular, infrequent episodes of AF. Since I was in the hospital, I’ve felt that I may not be able to get back to the way I was at 20 years old, but I should be able to reverse some of the effects on my body that I put there by poor lifestyle. In the hospital I was given two choices (the third was do nothing): drugs and/or ablation. I didn’t want either. I’ve always been a believer that lifestyle is a major factor in our health.

I opted for the drugs because they started them in the hospital, and they may have been why the AF episode stopped; I see them like aspirin “stops” a headache – it may or may not go away on its own. The other option – ablation – is an out patient surgical procedure to try and burn the electrical spots on the heart that cause AF in the first place. That sounds a little scary. Again, lifestyle first, drugs second, surgery third.

My cardiologist (I can’t believe I’m saying that at age 44) was the one that gave me the options. He also said he would not be the one to do the ablation. Ablations are done by a cardiac electrophysiologist.

Dr. John Mandrola, a cardiac electrophysiologist in Louisville, Kentucky, had this to say about ablation:

In the short-term, I use temporizing measures to relieve AF symptoms: drugs for rate control, anticoagulants for stroke prevention, and maybe even cardioversion with or without anti-arrhythmic drugs. The key is that these treatments are temporary. We aren’t shocking or medicating an AF patient with the idea that this is the fix; we are doing those things to buy time for risk factor management to work. And it does. I’ve seen it work. Source: www.drjohnm.org “A cautionary note on AF ablation in 2015” taken September 29, 2015.

Be still my heart

This is going to sound like a commercial that has been popular for the past decade: people with an irregular heart beat – known as atrial fibrillation or AFib or AF – are at a higher risk of blood clots and stroke. AF – in a nutshell –  is the condition of having disorganized electrical impulses driving your heart beat. The impulses normally start from the top chambers of the heart (atria) and travel to the bottom chambers of the heart (ventricles). This causes your heart muscle(s) to contract. When this happens on a regular basis you have a normal (sinus) rhythm. During AF, the electrical signals are fast and chaotic. The atria quiver rapidly and irregularly, so blood pools in the atria instead of being pumped properly to the ventricles. Pooling can lead to clotting and clots, when pushed out, can go any place in the body. If the clot goes to the brain it can cause a stroke. Source: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

On Wednesday, September 16, I started feeling heart palpitations in the afternoon. Thursday morning we went to see my doctor. He got an EKG on me and promptly sent me to the ER – I was having a paroxysmal atrial fibrillation event – and the hospital could administer the drugs to help slow down my heart. As I recall my heart beat was bouncing between 160 and 60 beats per minute. My blood pressure was high – something like 170 over 110.

The ER took another EKG, a chest xray, then started one IV in my right arm with medicine – something like amiodarone (Cordarone). Then they started another IV with medicine in my left arm to regulate the first medicine; it took two techs and two sticks to get the IV to take – OWW! Then I got a CT scan with contrast. This is where I thought tests were getting a little excessive. Eventually (about 5pm) they put me in a hospital room in the critical care unit (CCU). Around 7pm my heart “reset” itself and I returned to sinus rhythm.

Friday morning I got an echocardiogram – an ultrasound of the heart. I didn’t get a run down of the results – probably not much to say. The echo went to a cardiologist who came by around 2pm. By 4pm I was walking out of the hospital.

They prescribed the following meds: metoprolol tartrate (25mg), flecainide acetate (50mg). And I had to add low dose aspirin (81mg).

My doctor wanted me to start Lipitor 3 months ago, but I didn’t – I wanted to try diet and exercise. A week after the night in the hospital I had a checkup with my doctor and afterwords I went to get the generic Lipitor – so September 26 I started taking generic Lipitor (atorvastatin 20mg).

If you’re keeping score at home that’s 4 medicines or 6 pills per day. Ten days ago I didn’t take any meds now I’m stuck with 6 pills. My goal is to get off of the meds as quickly as possible; some internet pages say 2 years.

Just FYI, I started a new category, Health, with this post. I plan to put my health news and other things I find useful into this category.