Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A little dangerous virus music

We have measles in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, so far 14 cases in Tarrant County, which includes Fort Worth. Eight cases from a church where a missionary returned infected. The preacher has urged her congregation to get shots, but to pray about it if they have concerns. They have cleaned the church, but it is a virus.

Back in the 1970s, we still had epidemics of measles, and I was a medical writer. I also had never had....the terms have changed, and I need to explain.

The thing is, I have been researching. And apparently, treatment and results are the same.

I called a reporter about this. I wanted to know what kind of measles.

"What?" he said, "It's measles."


So I googled a couple of hours.

You see, we used to categorize three viruses as measles: roseola, rubeola, rubella.

I can't find a vaccine for roseola, which is fine. It's a mild, 3-day rash. Rubella used to be mistaken for it, because it doesn't last long, but it is vicious.

Rubeola and rubella cause more damage. My reading showed there's not much more to be done with them now than 40 years ago. But hey, both viruses were 99@ extinct.

Both can harm patients with it. Sometimes encephalitis. We don't believe in darkened rooms these days, but for measles, it's recommended. Oh. One site recommended not giving aspirin for the high fever. We knew that 40 years ago. Did you? Aspirin to children with a virus can trigger Reye Syndrome. You don't want that.

So measles is what rubeola used to be, lasting about 10 days. If women are pregnant when they get it, it can cause miscarriage, early births and stillbirths. But rubella is a whole other thing. It doesn't kill the fetus often. It can and usually does leave the child with mental deficiencies, birth defects, deafness, impaired vision if the mother has it in the first 4 months of pregnancy.

I would suspect most of those over 60? remember this. Today, that's a lot of people. Most of the doctors practicing today don't know these details, because they haven't needed to know. I checked treatment and found no cures, the same treatments we had in the 60's.

When I was in my first trimester with my firstborn, we had a rubella epidemic. A test had proved I was not immune. I was a news reporter, yet I found myself shrinking away, not going out, no movie theaters or restaurants. I finally caught the virus when my first son was several years old. I was in my 30s and miserable. Overall, I was so damn happy.

Maybe 15 years ago, I was dealing with a family where the father had once done meth rampantly, they were so very poor, and they had kids with bad immune systems. So as the CPS caseworker, I was there. One day I showed up and one of the girls was sick. Fever. Strawberry tongue. Faint rash on her wrists. The family was in the middle of nowhere and had to call family members for transport.(unless kids are in life threatening situations, I could not legally transport.) I recommended an ER visit, and they did go ASAP. I got back the next week and the mother laughed. Their daughter had been show and tell for the staff, who had never seen scarlet fever. But I had had it, recognized it, and referred them to treatment. Thank God we had the rapport that when I recommended a doctor, they went. I certainly wasn't qualified to diagnose.

A lot of the young docs aren't learning how to read patients. They go with the machines. The old diseases, like weeds, will crop up occasionally. Hope they know what to do with them.

I am not impressed with the measles information, either on the news or on computer treatment sites. I found some stuff on rubella, but rubeolla is a conundrum, So little information.

For younger readers, rubeolla is measles. The vaccination also includes rubella (also measles) and mumps. Rubella can disfigure and maim your fetus in the first four months of pregnancy. Sometimes rubeola just kills it. We used to be scared of this stuff.

A vaccination includes measles, rubella and mumps.

Like a bear in the camp grounds, we no longer have the fear to beware.

In any case, you have nothing to worry about, because you had your vaccination, right?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Integrating books and technolog

Fifteen or twenty years ago, when teens I loved graduated, including mine, I gave them a Webster's Dictionary and a Thesaurus. They would need it in college. Today, not many vestiges of those books remain.

Probably should be. When I started in journalism in 1965, I noted the really aging music critic knew many four and five-syllable words I did not know, and I was intimidated, having formerly been proud of my vocabulary. You can say those words are archaic. Many are. But when our forbears used them, it gave an exactitude to nuance, opinion, and degree of importance not many words do today. A parsity that was very fine about exact meaning. Is it pictures? Do they, and videos, actually show us what we feel without the words to define it?

I will always like egregious more than "it sucks".

We are dumbing down language. It isn't innocuous, this dumbing down, loss of grammar and ability to parse. This year I was stunned when fifth graders--smart ones--asked me what it meant when the Bible said Jesus wept. (Guess that won't be one of their profanities.) I don't know if they knew the verb to weep. They certainly didn't know the past tense,"wept."

I explained it meant he was crying. One boy said in exasperation, "Then why doesn't it say Jesus cried?"

Because there is a nuance to weeping that is not in crying. And I don't know if they will learn it. It scares me if they are not learning this.

About 30 years ago, I interviewed an amazing, cutting edge theoretical mathematician loaned from MIT to the University of North Texas for a semester. He was intense about language, vocabulary and multiple languages.

He said the further a mathematician could go in more exacting words and other spoken languages, the further he or she could go in theoretical science because his imagination would be expanded. To think beyond, he said, even mathematicians need the vocabulary to think abstractly.

I am upset when novelists say he "laid down to sleep" but I blame the editors more. In fact, sometimes, I suspect some are young editors who change right to wrong.

My computer remains a part of my life as I read, and as archaic as I sometimes seem to be, synchronicity occurs.

Finishing Barbara Delinski's "Sweet Salt Air" a couple of days ago, I looked up "sarconyot", a cream sauce I had never heard of and now long to try. Her characters ate it with wild organic strawberries. And having eaten those, I remember the taste. It isn't one you forget. So I have taste memory as well.

I am starting a book by Catherine Coulson where a character said her opera-singing grandmother used to rub her hands at bedtime and sing Madam Butterfly's "Un Bel Di".
I don't know if it would have put me to sleep, but if it were my grandmother ('were' still exists in some lexicons), if she sang it often and rubbed my hands, I might well sleep indeed. And I listened to Maria Callas singing this before I have continued.

When I read of places I haven't been, before I continue, I am apt to Google and make a visual tourist journey before I complete the chapter. But only I know where I have been and what I want to see. I do NOT want commercials now intersperced in my reading by um idiots, not the word I want.

God knows, I don't want some techie saying that interfacing must be mandatory. A lot of people have read both books without needing to look this up. This way is pleasant. Freedom exists.

Writers bring different senses into what they write, but with memory, and the internet, the reader now has a whole new spectrum of response.
When my son and his friends graduated high school, I tended to give a matched Websters Dictionary and

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It is hard to close doors.
Today I am doing so.
The friend of a friend who just died sent a beguiling text of dog poems. Charming.
But I remember when she wasn't so charming over my good friend's death.
I called a friend who knew none of us but me.
And I trust her.
She said she saw no good coming to me, but harm could happen.
Why do we call people and work through problems if we aren't going to follow through?

Never mind. I'm following through. that means I do nothing, the hardest thing of all. I might have been able to do this on my own, but I am so thankful for her friendship. I don't have siblings. She does. She doesn't have children, and I do. The love balance evens out.

We are thankful for each other.

Doing nothing is so hard to do, but it is the right thing, plus focusing on the positive.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Vacation Ruminations

I am on hiatus.

Has anyone ever said that without a cough, chuckle?

I am, with the chuckle. The thing is, I could be making more of my life than I am. I know it.

Right now I prefer to read a few old books, slowly clean my house, and in afternoons, when I know it is more than 100 degrees outside, sprawl and read in the cool of my home as if the heat were attacking me.

I have a couple of unfilled quilts for the bed and have recently learned if I don't add a top sheet, I sleep much better through the night with just one of them. The dogs and I have rules. They can't jump up on the bed till it is daylight. Brody usually sleeps near my left knee, and I find that comforting. Gracie usually doesn't jump up until minutes before we go outside.

They do know the word. "Outside". They thunder to the back door, waiting to be let out.

Sometimes, after they come back in, I sleep another hour, and both dogs sleep on the bed. Gracie usually eases off early. Too warm.

Today, I actually awoke before 8 am, fetched the paper to an encouraging breeze, and started a load of wash, watered the tomatoes, picked up living room, played with the dogs. Still haven't swept up all their hair or set a hair care appointment. I will. It has to be easier than all this hair. For them, too.

Yes, I have a new project. It is not life-threatening so far.

You know, before I had children I actually had a little counseling, because I don't particularly "nest", even now. Wish I could. Because I couldn't do that well, the counselor advised me to postpone children. I did for a while. Thought about it. Married. Had two sons. Made a lot of mistakes. They are all good human beings. Frankly, I don't think any of the mistakes dealt with nesting, particularly.

So, I ask the counselor in retrospect, where did I go wrong? Or did I? Please don't ask anyone with design sense. Chris is related and an artist. She just smiles. And lets me into her family anyway.

Actually, I have a few more life situations with others to help with-- that's what I do, I guess.

These are pretty easy.

There was a time when I noticed mostly my stuff in life. These days, I marvel at my fortune, my health, my family, because I look at so many others.

No, we aren't lightning proof. Never. But a fair number among us know our lives are good for now and we are are really, looking-at-it glad. I give thanks to God, Others simply are thankful. And if lightning hits, we have this base to start from.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Do you REALLY believe everyone lied, and cheated, and adulterated, and stole from the poor? Do you really believe that?

If so, how do you live?

Some did. Some of these were friends with the citizens. It was a frontier.
Not back on the East Coast.

I've read about that, but I don't relate.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Deja View All Over Again, with MORE This Time

I see a lot of continuity in many of the friends I know who have full, successful lives with friends, interests, passions, and hopefully some family. And that is an outside view.

My dogs, so attuned to us humans, seek and demand affection. They can demand because I don't make them beg. If I have been gone for hours, they seek me out. And until Brody gets his chin rub, Gracie her belly, until I play with them a little, they won't go away. I think they make me a better person. I think something living must be involved with us. Whether it is rocking NICU babies or nurturing a corn snake, we need to be aware of nature, caring, love. We do what we can do. And it works.

I wish my life were a river, flowing smoothly from one point to another.

Instead, it is more like a book with long chapters, short chapters, vivid and sedate chapters. The point of a chapter is that it covers a period of intense interest or focus, then comes to an end. The book continues because we have our whole lives to continue. If the book is well-written, the closed chapter blends into the whole and what comes next. But I won't shun someone's chapter that is brilliant in an otherwise mundane life. Adventure spills all over that.

Sometimes, we close chapters that really need it. Sometimes, they close because life intervened. Someone went away, chose an entirely different life, or even died. Sometimes life intervened and we became sick, rich, poor, broken-hearted or in ecstacy. Something major changed.

If we are at all reflective, we sometimes look at all these chapters and what our life--our book of life-- has become.

I find myself repeatedly starting over. Never, really, with the same things as before, but hopefully something I learned in the last chapter I want to focus on in this next period, or chapter.

Sometimes, I am at the beginning again. Sometimes, way up in my understanding and ability.

Recently I have spent some days in a barren landscape, interspersed with days rich and powerful. Both were needed to close this ending chapter.

I feel another one opening, full of expectation and laughter.

Time to start over again.

Boy, am I lucky!