Thursday, 15 March 2018

Please stay at home with a cold!

Special pleading - Don't be a Bug-Hatchery!

Every year during the cold and flu season I am fighting a losing battle not only against the bacteria and viruses that cause respiratory diseases, but also against my fellow human beings that insist on spreading them around.

Since I have asthma this is actually quite serious for me, so I have composed this blog-post, and copied & pasted a few info-bits and links, to make my plea one more time:

If you are sick, stay at home!


This is why you should stay at home with a cold

(1)  The common cold, though mainly harmless for most healthy individuals, can allow other, more serious, respiratory diseases to take hold - they enter the body while it is still weakened from the cold.

Note: Some people are not so healthy, and the common cold can affect them quite badly, leading to weeks or even months of being unwell. Even if you are lucky enough not to experience a cold as a big deal, someone else may be seriously incapacitated by it.

(2)  The respiratory diseases that can follow a common cold, and perhaps the cold itself, can trigger acute myocardial infarction - heart attacks!  According to the research quoted below, the risk of having a heart attack is 17 times higher in the seven days after a respiratory infection.

Note:  A few years ago the BBC reported a long term UK study that showed that civil servants who went to work with a cold had a 50% higher incidence of heart attacks in the following decades than their colleagues who stayed at home with a cold. 

This is true for everyone, not just asthmatics.

Note:  There are people who have both asthma and a family history of heart disease - like me. Which might explain why I really really really don't like it when people try to pass on their colds to me.  I know it is selfish, but I would like to be alive a little while longer .....

(3)  The majority of serious asthma attacks are occasioned by respiratory diseases - and every year 250,000 people die from asthma related causes in the world.

Plea:  Save a life, stay at home when you are sick!

(4)  Many of the microbes that cause diseases have found ways of influencing their hosts - like you and me.  And one of the nastiest things they do is motivate us to seek human company when we are infected - which makes sense for the microbes who seek to infect other hosts, but not to us,  who would prefer not to get sick. Influenza viruses, for example, are notorious for this.

Note:  Don't let those microbes dominate you - show them who's boss!  I mean you, not them, obviously.


Interesting Info /Research to illustrate the points made above

Respiratory infection can trigger acute myocardial infarction

By Nicole MacKee
The risk of having a heart attack is 17 times higher in the seven days after a respiratory infection, according to Australian research published in the Internal Medicine Journal
Senior author Professor Geoffrey Tofler, a cardiologist from Royal North Shore Hospital, The University of Sydney and Heart Research Australia, said the findings confirmed suggestions from previous studies that respiratory infection could act as a trigger for myocardial infarction. 
‘This link may also contribute to the seasonal variation and winter peak of heart attack,’ Professor Tofler told Cardiology Today
The study used coronary angiography to investigate the link between respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, bronchitis and influenza, and increased risk of a myocardial infarction. The researchers noted that absence of angiographic data was a limitation in previous registry- and record-based studies because elevated troponin levels and ECG changes may also occur in myocarditis due to respiratory infection. 
In an analysis of the Triggers and Modifiers of Acute Myocardial Infarction (TAMAMI) study, researchers investigated 578 consecutive patients with myocardial infarction due to coronary artery blockage at Royal North Shore hospital. The patients, who had an average age of 59.5 years and were mostly men (84%), provided information on recent and usual occurrence of symptoms of respiratory infection. 
Patients were interviewed about their symptoms and their activities before the onset of symptoms, including if they experienced a ‘flu-like illness with fever and sore throat.’ They were considered affected if they reported sore throat, cough, fever, sinus pain, flu-like symptoms, or if they reported a diagnosis of pneumonia or bronchitis. 
Among the patients, 100 (17%) reported symptoms of respiratory infection within seven days, and 123 (21%) within 31 days of the myocardial infarction. 
A second analysis was among those with symptoms restricted to the upper respiratory tract, which included the common cold, pharyngitis, rhinitis and sinusitis. Lead author Dr Lorcan Ruane said: ‘For those participants who reported upper respiratory tract infection symptoms the risk increase was less, but was still elevated by 13-fold.’ 
‘Possible mechanisms for why respiratory infection may trigger a heart attack include platelet activation and a prothrombotic state, inflammation, cytokine release and coronary plaque disruption, and haemodynamic effects such as tachycardia and vasoconstriction,’ Professor Tofler said. The increased risk of a heart attack peaked in the first seven days and gradually reduced, but remained elevated for one month.
While the absolute risk of any one episode of respiratory infection triggering a heart attack is low, the researchers said awareness of the link provides an opportunity to emphasise preventive measures such as influenza and pneumonia vaccination, particularly for those at increased risk or who have contact with susceptible individuals. 

Asthma triggers

Respiratory viral infections are the most common asthma trigger. Worse, they’re responsible for the most severe asthma attacks and are the most common cause of hospital admissions for asthma

One study showed respiratory viral infections were responsible for a whopping 85% of asthma attacks.

Another showed they were responsible for 85% of asthma attacks in children and 50% of asthma attacks in adults. Yet another showed they were responsible for a whopping 70% of all hospitaladmissions for asthma. Of those, 18.8% had both a viral and a bacterial infection, making them the most likely to be readmitted once discharged.

Imagine being paralysed by fear as you struggle to breathe, unable to speak, unable to ask for help. That's what an asthma attack feels like.

Asthma is a serious global health problem affecting at least 300 million people, with a high global burden of disability. Despite major advances in the treatment of asthma and the development of several asthma guidelines over the past decades, people still die of asthma currently. According to WHO estimates, approximately 250,000 people die prematurely each year from asthma.

Change in human social behavior in response to a common vaccine

Reiber C1, Shattuck EC, Fiore S, Alperin P, Davis V, Moore J.

The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that exposure to a directly transmitted human pathogen-flu virus-increases human social behavior presymptomatically. This hypothesis is grounded in empirical evidence that animals infected with pathogens rarely behave like uninfected animals, and in evolutionary theory as applied to infectious disease. Such behavioral changes have the potential to increase parasite transmission and/or host solicitation of care.
We carried out a prospective, longitudinal study that followed participants across a known point-source exposure to a form of influenza virus (immunizations), and compared social behavior before and after exposure using each participant as his/her own control.

Human social behavior does, indeed, change with exposure. Compared to the 48 hours pre-exposure, participants interacted with significantly more people, and in significantly larger groups, during the 48 hours immediately post-exposure.

These results show that there is an immediate active behavioral response to infection before the expected onset of symptoms or sickness behavior. Although the adaptive significance of this finding awaits further investigation, we anticipate it will advance ecological and evolutionary understanding of human-pathogen interactions, and will have implications for infectious disease epidemiology and prevention.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Little Late Up-Date

Triplets fighting it out

Although I have not been blogging for a while, I have by no means been idle ...

For my birthday treat the Triplets arranged a visit to the London Post Museum, complete with riding the little post train!  If this means nothing to you, I have you know that there used to be a mini underground train in London that was used to transport letters.  It fell into disuse, but last year was brought back into service as a tourist attraction. 

We took some photos, but they were sub-standard.  Never mind, here is a link to a whole webpapge of excellent photos on the internet that will get you an idea of what we saw. 

It was perfectly monumental, of course, like all Triplettish adventures!

London Post Train

It is very constricted within those little carriages!

Engineers in the making

R & A enjoying the ride

I also did do the annual end of year coin count, but have to disappoint you - I found very few coins during 2017!  I like to think this is because I have had a happy year and looked up rather than down, and thus missed all the coins that rolled into the gutter....

Anyway, I found the following:

£1.00    x   4 = £4.00
£0.50    x   1 = £ 0.50
£0.20    x 10 = £2.00
£0.10    x   3 = £0.30
£0.05    x 26 = £1.30
£0.02    x  9  = £0.18
0.01      x 40 = £0.40

Plus a few euro cents.  So a total of about £9.  Never mind!

It's enough to go for a decent coin drop, which will happen on 20 April along the Thames Embankment, followed by a slap up meal at the Butlers Wharf Chop House.

Perhaps I will do a little coin-drop with the euro-cents when I am next in Paris visiting the Fourth Triplet ...

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Literary Exploits ....

A Young Lady in Threadneedle Street: How not to refurbish Hell by [Lenck, DB]

Yes, I have finally pulled myself together and self published my magnum opus on Kindle Amazon!

Between Christmas and New Year I had a bit of time, and decided to get this baby ready to meet the world.

There where a few issues about formatting, and a nasty bout of flu delayed the project further, but today I finally received the 'your paperback version is published' e-mail from Kindle Direct Publishing.

The on-the-Kindle version was easier.  My only gripe is that the Kindle version has moved the footnotes from the bottom of the page to the end of the book, but that is only a minor annoyance.

I am just thrilled that I have finally put the book out there.

If you are interested, here is a quick synopsis:

"When several high ranking demons decide to refurbish Hell as a nice surprise for their absent boss Lucifer, the apprentice demon Sophia is appalled. As Jehova’s goddaughter, she simply cannot stand idly by while her fellow demons defraud the financial community of the City of London to pay for their improvements.

So while Agrat, the manager of the project, and her team fleece wealthy individuals for start-up capital, and their unscrupulous pet-banker Gingrich Fleabrunckle organises a syndicated loan from the financial community, Sophia accepts a position as management trainee in one of the more venerable institutions of the City. Although her unorthodox business methods almost blow her cover, she manages to remain incognito and is soon joined by the 300-year old mythical Lady of Threadneedle Street, the mighty rodent-catcher Mr Mouser, and the self-appointed priest of Mithras and plant psychologist Mithradates Devadorje, in her efforts to sabotage her fellow demons’ designs.

As the action moves from London to Greenland and Mongolia, we encounter Arnapak, an octogenarian shaman who is searching for the lost soul of her great-granddaughter and confronts the evil sorcerer and Fleabrunckle-friend Florimonde, the Emerald Maiden who traps unwary humans in her Dream-Stone realm and vacillates in her loyalty between Agrat and Sophia’s employer Governor Pinchbeck, and the ancient Inuit Goddess Takanakapsaluk, who lives on the bottom of the sea and hates humanity.

After many hectic adventures and innumerable unexpected plot-twists, the story reaches its finale when both sides invest all their power in two mighty musicians, who battle for the final victory in the icy waste of Greenland."

So there it is folks.  The book is 189 pages long, but densely written - most writers would make an entire book out of a few of my chapters, but I don't like long-winded purple prose ....

I paste the link above, or you can just type 'DB Lenck' into the Amazon search bar and you will be guided to my book.

I now feel quite elated, and motivated to work on some of the other books I have on the go:

  • The Magic Oxen of Doom - set in Oxford Colleges
  • A Slate Roof - Adventures in my Little House
  • The Glidermen of La Bourboule - incorporates the Tiny Visitors, and even stranger things
  • Madame Dubois and Chat-Cherie - basically about Hermes scarves ....

So you see I haven't just been lazy  -  more blog posts soon, I hope.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas Eve ....

The star in action

Photos, we want photos, rang out the cry of the uproarious crowds .....

Well, who am I to argue?  I thought it might be a bit boring, seeing as I stick to my old Christmas decorations like a conscientious leach, and my parlour looks pretty much the same every Christmas, but there it is, the masses have spoken, nay commanded, and I am nothing if not obliging, towards my reading public.

I can report, happily, that two new decorations have been added to my stockpile this year, to wit, the hanging pyramid, propelled by candles, going around fast enough to make one quite dizzy, if all six of them are kindled, and the aforementioned Herrnhuter Star, spreading a warm glow for the neighbourhood, in the hour of dusk, before the lamps are lit.

Also, the Christmas Tree, usually positioned in front of the window, has this time been placed onto the table in the middle of the room - it was newly purchased a week ago and still is rather tiny, and I thought that looking down, rather than up, at it, might create the visual illusion of it being larger than it actually is. 

[Regular readers of this blog know that I buy little trees in pots, which I re-pot and keep thusly in the garden for several seasons in a row, until they indicate by their dropping of needles and increasingly unmanageable size that the time for planting them in the garden's welcoming soil has finally arrived.]

So I can offer you at least these few changes to my Christmas routine.

Enjoy the resulting still-lives, if you can!



Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas!

Well, it was another momentous year ....

Never mind, today is Christmas and we will be happy!

I have finished the decorating of the Parlour, and am currently listening to A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on Radio 4.

Before I was able to assemble my Christmas, I had to do some work.  Firstly, I had to fix a revolving pyramid I had purchased on Ebay - it came with a few pieces broken off.  I complained to the seller, who sent me some spare parts and instructions on how to repair it.  I had to drill out the broken off piece, and glue the new pieces into place, and also add all the leaves on top of the pyramid that make it turn.  It seems to be working OK now.

My sister had gifted me a Herrnhuter Stern, which required self assembly, but that, too, was successfully attempted last night.  It looks really rather splendid hanging in front of the window now!

More photos to follow, of course.

In the meantime, pip pip, tally ho, and all the very best for the festive season.

Remember you are loved.

Repairing the pyramid

That's the bit that was broken

Star got assembled

Parlour at the start of decorating