Giving Disease A Jab

Hello and welcome to SEPTEMBER! Did anyone see SUMMER as it whizzed by?

Leaves are starting to fall, most of our pretty birds seem to have zipped off, harvest is underway — except that the rains we were praying for in July have finally come. I’m glad I’m not a farmer! Mind you, quite a few crops were cut and baled last month because there wasn’t enough grain in the heads to be worth harvesting.

As for me, I’ve started digging up my one large flowerbed. I left it uncultivated in spring because it was so dry; now that it’s been raining I’m getting it ready for winter and for planting next spring.

I’ve been digging around in my family tree roots lately, too, and discovered a family tragedy. One that was quite common back in those days. I can’t imagine how devastated great-great-grandfather Charles must have been when…

– his wife Ann, passed away on Dec 3rd, 1863. She was about forty years old and her youngest child was just a toddler.
– his father, John Watchorn, died on Jan 1st, 1864 at the age of 68.
– his daughter, Ellen, died on Jan 14th. From the records, it looks like she was in her early teens.
– his six-year-old son, Charles Jr, died a few weeks after Ellen.
Ann and her children are buried in one grave with a common headstone.

At one time I made a note in my records that gr-gr-grandmother Ann died of smallpox. An epidemic of that sort would account for the number of deaths in one family in such a short period of time. It’s odd that I can’t find any death records for any of these people. Were they lost in a fire or in transit to the Dept of Vital Statistics, or were there so many smallpox deaths in the area at that time that they weren’t recorded individually? Perhaps a local newspaper of the time would give me a better picture?

Of course I wondered if there was no smallpox vaccine available in their day, so I did some research. Yes, smallpox vaccine was available then. However, there was apparently a lot of fear and resistance, or just plain indifference, to the idea of vaccination. According to the Museum of Health Care at Kingston website:
“Smallpox vaccine was used widely in Canada during the early 1800s, although it soon became neglected. Low immunization levels led to persistent outbreaks…”
The Montreal area experienced the worst outbreak in 1885 when 3000 people died from smallpox. The epidemic spread from there into parts of eastern Ontario.
“Anti-vaccine sentiments mixed with religion and French-English political tensions helped fuel the crisis.”

Sigh… Do things never change?

Well, yes, they do, thankfully. In 1924, a Doctor Heagerty writing about smallpox, lists the terror people felt when the menace was mentioned and all damage it has done in the past, leaving so many people dead, crippled, or scarred for life. Then he writes:
“Vaccination has altered this, and forgetful or ignorant of the appalling ravages of the disease in other days, we now scarcely give the subject of smallpox a thought.”

Small pox, whooping cough, diphtheria, polio. Immunization has dealt a death blow to these scourges our ancestors feared. In more recent years measles, rubella, hepatitis, chicken pox, meningitis, pneumonia, and various influenza vaccines have made life easier yet. We’ve conquered a lot of killers.

So it puzzles me when I hear people who are alive today because their grandparents, parents, and themselves have been saved from these once common killers, now opposing COVID vaccination. I guess some things never change.

“Que sera sera” versus Heart Smart

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is MYOCARDITIS, which means inflammation of the heart muscle. Here are my thoughts on the subject of heart health, though not specifically inflammation of same.

Image by S. Hermann and F Richter — Pixabay

In August of 1929 my husband’s grandmother visited her doctor, possibly because of a stomach problem and the pain it was giving her. While she was in the office she had an attack of acute indigestion and passed away right there. Interestingly enough, her husband had also died of “acute indigestion” some years earlier.

Back in the late 1800s John Holdeman, one of the leaders in our church, died of “acute intestinal distress.” If you’d examine death certificates, you’d find that a lot of people prior to 1940 died of some variety of “indigestion” which caused increasingly sharp pains in the chest, followed by collapse and death. Today the diagnosis would be “heart attack,” or myocardial infarction.

Conversely, my long-lost great-great Aunt Henrietta died in 1907 at the age of 55, and her death was attributed to chronic heart disease.

Prior to 1800 doctors had only their ears to tell them what a patient’s heart was doing, or not doing. The first stethoscope, invented by Frenchman Rene Laennec in 1816, primitive though it was, amplified the heartbeat. Subsequent improvements, including the two ear-bud version developed in 1851 by Irish doctor Arthur Leared, have given doctors a much better idea of what’s going on inside us.

This device enabled Gr-gr-Aunt Henrietta’s doctors to tell that her heart beat was not as it should be. But only the last seventy years, give or take, have tests been developed to record the flow of blood through the arteries and reveal that some are blocked.

What we call a heart attack today is a circulation problem. When blood flow to the heart is blocked because of a buildup in the arteries carry blood through the heart, feelings of pressure and chest pains result. Today’s patient stands a good chance of surviving because of CPR and bypass surgeries.

Cardiac arrest, on the other hand, is when the heart suddenly stops beating for some reason. Some signal prompting the heart’s rhythm doesn’t get through – or an air bubble in the blood stream hits the heart and stops it. Medics call this an electrical problem, and bring out the shock paddles. If someone is nearby to do CPR, the heart can be restarted. A pacemakers is installed to kick in if the body’s signal gets lost in transit, and the person may live many more years.

Perhaps this article is long enough, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about health issues of various sorts, and about fatalistic ideas like “Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be.” Someone recently commented about the COVID threat, that, “If I get it, I do. When my time is up, it’s up.” I’m sure she’s taken every possible precaution, and once you have, you can rest in “What will be, will be.” I also hear people offer comfort when they hear of a death by saying, “It was his/her time to go.” I don’t disagree, but as a general rule we’ll do everything we can to extend our time on this earth.

Circa 1900 people probably had a more fatalistic approach to health. “We’ll live as long as God/ Allah/ the gods/ fate allows us to live.” But amazing medical advances have given a lot of us longer lives than we would have had if we’d just let nature take its course. These days, if you’d go to a doctor with severe chest pains, and he’d say, “You may live or you may die. Whatever will be, will be,” you’d soon be looking for another doctor. One who’d do bypass surgery so your time wouldn’t be up quite so soon.

Blissful Retreat

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was BLISS. And Frank Prem writes about wanting to attend their annual Rainforest Writing Retreat. What a blissful thought!

Actually the thought of any retreat where you can kick back and relax with friends/fellow writers sounds great, especially when their official website invites you to “Escape reality with your fellow writers in Australia’s lush mountain rainforest at O’Reilly’s in Lamington National Park!”

Yes, BLISS! Just a continent and a small fortune away. Sigh. Frank laments that he can’t go either now, because of new COVID restrictions in their area.

RETREATS: An Absence of Real-World Temptations

Twenty-five years ago I knew a lady in Montreal who went on several retreats. Not the blissful kind, though. Over time she paid out what amounted to a small fortune to spend time at a holistic health retreat in the country, where she did nothing but NOT EAT. For $70 a day she was given a tiny room with a bed, a dresser and not much space to move, where she spend several weeks at a time just resting, supposedly cleansing her body of toxins, reading, meditating, praying. She could walk around, but there was no encouragement to exercise; folks were there to purify their bodies.

She felt this effort brought her closer to God, but she also had practical motives: lose weight and quit smoking. Someday I’ll write more about her episodes, but suffice it to say, the plan didn’t work in the long run. Living only on water and juices, of course she lost weight. Back in the real world food and nicotine tempted her as always. Coming home after a retreat one time, she ordered an extra-large pizza — and ate the whole thing. Then her body was suddenly overloaded and she suffered. In all that enforced deprivation, she’d let self-discipline slip away.

So I shall forgo rainforest retreats until my ship comes in. Even being in a gorgeous, low-stress setting, surrounded by all those good vibes, won’t guarantee that a person would spend the time in her seat writing every day once she’s home again. The enthusiasm and inspiration would be a boost any writer would enjoy and you’d come away with fresh inspiration. However, it still takes self-discipline to keep pounding the keyboard when those temptations to skip off and play come beckoning. 🙂

Pixabay image

A Smaller Space

Bushboy seems to be in cahoots with FlyLady this morning. the Ragtag Daily prompt for today is DOWNSIZE and FlyLady’s Morning Musing is a list of things that will finally prompt us to deal with our clutter.

“What are you waiting for?” Stuff to just evaporate? Little elves to do it for you? A fire or flood? Next spring’s garage sale? Her theme song is: “Fifteen minutes a day will make an impact.” Or, as some other sage has worded it: “LITTLE AND OFTEN MAKE A HEAP IN TIME.”

LETHARGY: The Enemy Within

I came through my minor surgery on Tuesday quite well, opting for a spinal anesthetic instead of a general one. Spent Tues night in the hospital and no complications appeared, so I was released. Since then I’ve been taking life fairly easy. No loafing in bed, mind you; I can be up and around and doing the basics with no problem. In fact I was told this is the best plan for avoiding trouble after surgery. Yesterday we went to a local greenhouse and I bought bedding plants to set out in my flowerpots. Will continue with that today, leaving the heavy lifting & shuffling of pots to my husband.

Last night I thought I should get back to painting something, but was feeling so lethargic. Why bother? I’ll just read. (I.e., procrastinate.) Then I decided to apply the above: just get started; do a little bit. Five minutes, even. Paint the undercoat for the rocks and pathway in the courtyard scene. Which I did.

The French have a saying, “L’appetit vient en mangent.” Appetite comes in eating. Doing that bit of brush work got me started again and the desire to paint returned. Temperamental thing that I am, “I don’t feel like it right now” procrastination clogs me, too, so ridding my mind of that initial lethargy is just as needful as clearing out clogged closets. This morning I’m inspired to carry on with that “little and often” thought and spend a few minutes responding to the prompt of the day. Funny how doing a little bit, rather than draining you, gives you courage to do a little bit more. 🙂

For some reason the RDP prompt made me think of an abandoned shell. Has its owner moved to a roomier home…or downsized? With the help of Pixabay, I’ve come up with a couple of cute illustrations. The first was taken by Nowaja; the second by Claudia Wollesen

One More Day of To-Do’s

Hi Everyone,

I thought I’d give you another glimpse of life at my house, as I prepare for the grand event on Tuesday. I’m to be at the hospital and ready for my minor surgery at 7am, which means I have only this evening and tomorrow to accomplish a dozen things in preparation for having limited mobility for 4 to 6 weeks.

I’ve borrowed a few books from the library and downloaded a couple from Kindle Unlimited. (Not that I was ever lacking.) I’ve a tub of articles and verses to-key-in-someday, and this I’ve set on a dresser so I won’t have to lift it. I’ve visited Michael’s and bought a few more paints. I was going to buy canvas board, which is quite stiff, but then I spied a “Canvas Pad” – something I haven’t come across before. It turns out to be ten sheets of stiff prepped canvas duck, about the weight of card stock and ready to paint on. I bought this more for practice, but we’ll see how the finished painting looks.

One of the books I borrowed from the library is HOW TO WRITE A MYSTERY — © 1996 by Larry Bienhart. Random House. I’m finding it delightfully humorous! He starts by explaining the impulse that started him on his mystery-writing career: he read two mysteries in one day and both of them were awful. A conviction settled: if he wrote a mystery, no matter how pathetic it was, someone would buy it. “What was exciting, thrilling, illuminating, was that someone had published these meandering, illogical, poorly constructed, cliche-ridden manuscripts and – I presumed – actually paid the writers! This was attainable.”

I’m only in the first chapter and already he’s mentioned one of my biggest peeves in story lines: people acting irrationally, or contrary to human nature, just to make life easier for Syl the sleuth. Since the points he makes about mysteries is applicable to other genres as well, I’m eager to read more. Any story has to hang together and needs to offer the reader a reason to keep reading.

I also have a few jigsaw puzzles that I could do during my enforced idleness, and have invited a couple of seniors from the Villa here to play Mexican Train (a dominoes game) with me once I’ve up and around. I’ve a half dozen Sudoku and Word puzzle books to work on, and a few sewing projects I should complete. Actually, having reviewed all the things I could do, I’ve realized what I really need is six months on a desert island! Covid-19 hasn’t done it for me because there’s so much that can be done at home, right?

Reading FlyLady’s latest post, I’m encouraged to take small steps toward specific goals, rather than taking huge chomps of everything at once. We’ll see how I manage that in the coming month. One of my first steps will be to varnish the paintings I have finished.

Thanks to the live streaming we can access these days, I listened to a church service in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia, which started at 7:30 am this morning, then we listened to our church service here at 10:45. In the afternoon I listened to a Christian Endeavor program from Fleetwood, PA, then our evening service here at 7 pm. Altogether a very inspiring day! Because Covid cases are dropping in a big way here in Saskatchewan, the govt is saying things will be opening up more by the end of this month, including more people allowed in meetings.

First thing tomorrow morning I want to do some loads of laundry and pack a bag for my over-night stay at the hospital Tuesday night. Yesterday I filled some flowerpots with fresh dirt; tomorrow – Victoria Day here in Canada – I want to visit a local greenhouse and get some bedding plants for them. We had a light dusting of snow Friday morning, which settled the dust for awhile; this evening we’re enjoying a drizzle and hoping the prediction of more rain tonight and tomorrow will pan out.

Well, that’s enough for tonight. It may be a few days until I’m back at the computer. Meanwhile, I’ll be hoping that you all have a great week.

Image from Pixabay

Catch-Up Time!

Welcome to everyone and especially to the various people who have just started following my blog. I see it’s been over two weeks since I last posted — and seems like a month — so it’s high time to write at least a few lines and tell you all what’s up in my world.

No, I haven’t had COVID-19 or been sick otherwise. We both have had our first immunization shots and neither of us had serious repercussions, thankfully. I recovered from the minor discomfort of a sore arm after a few days. Earlier this month was in a kind of slump and didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

I did check the writing prompts this month, but nothing inspired me. Actually, don’t you think SLUMP would be a good writing prompt? I think everyone feels rather slump-ish at times. 🙂

Maybe our weather has something to do with my outlook? We all keep looking out for rain clouds, but they all skirt around us here. This has become “a dry and thirsty land where no water is.” (See Psalm 63:1) We have not had rain once this spring, only a few minutes of spitting. The ground was dampened once or twice.

I’ve been setting out basins of water for a couple of weeks now and refilling them several times a day so the birds will have something to drink. It’s a joy to watch robins, blackbirds, grackles, the odd magpie or mourning dove, and misc sparrows drinking and dunking themselves in the shallow basins.

Most of our sloughs are bone dry; one of the largest in this area has only a small puddle of water now. The air is often filled with fine dust, blowing in the wind or raised by vehicles on gravel roads or farmers seeding crops. This year they’re really planting in hope. Trees are greening up as usual and the dandelions are blooming, though they’re short, scrubby things with small flowers.

In view of the scenery before me lately, I decided to change the header on my blog. That bright little chipmunk in a field of lush lavender didn’t at all fit our landscape. Last night I tried to install a new header but for some reason WordPress wouldn’t cooperate so I went with a picture already in the files. Here were two Pixabay images I chose, but WordPress wouldn’t do the CROP & PUBLISH: Not sure what their issue is. I’ll see what Unsplash has to offer.

However, the Word of the Day Challenge today is TWIST. We had a bizarre twist in precipitation, having such heaps of snow last winter and now drought. I can also write about the sudden twist in my month of June.

I’ve been dealing with a health issue — a type of hernia — and it’s been getting more bothersome. I’m finding it harder to be on my feet for any length of time. I called the doctor’s office last week just to check, but the secretary at Surgery Bookings told me an opening probably wouldn’t come up before fall. Groan! However, this morning she called, said they had a cancellation, the opening was for May 25th, and would I take it? Well, YES! She explained that I’ll have to spend a night in hospital and be somewhat laid up for about six weeks, but I’ll sure be glad to have this taken care of.

As it turns out, this spring was a great time to take up painting; hopefully I’ll get lots done while I’ve mostly off my feet for the next weeks. I have so much to learn about the techniques and whatnot.

This concludes my update. I hope you are all enjoying good health and lovely weather. ( And will you folks in the south-eastern US please send us some of that rain you’re being deluged with! 😉 )