My neighbors bang on my door at all hours, seeking protective equipment, advice, and assurance that someone knows what’s going on. They want to hear that they’ll be able to get their medication, that there will be food.
How could my responses be heartening? I’m just a masked and goggled face grunting across the seven-inch chain that safeguards my door, keeping one hand out of sight so they can imagine I’m armed. I spend my free time (is there any other kind?) looking out the same windows they have.
Their expressions turn sour. Some hold their ground in the hallway, staring, challenging me to admit that things aren’t really so bad. I know this trick: It can get store clerks to look again for what you want.
I have nothing positive to say.
A very good friend of mine—a onetime love who gave me the lamented Ganesh ceramic that Nina smashed on her way out of my life—may have caught H5N1. ‘Lisa’ left a ragged, fearful message while I was sleeping this morning. When I returned her call, I reached the Irish guy she lives with, who was sick for a while in May. I dined pleasantly at their new apartment a week ago. I get along well with her boyfriend, who knows that neither Lisa nor I want to revive our old romance. (Nina seems to have thought we wanted to.)
I’ve never known Lisa’s confidence to falter, but two people at her workplace are sick. One has vanished into a medical system that can’t or won’t account for him. The other was afraid to try a hospital and doesn’t answer her phone.
I had already provided Lisa and her boyfriend with protective gear and I’ve offered to visit if it might help. He’s open to the idea, but Lisa won’t hear of it. She’s feverish and uncharacteristically high-strung. She’s afraid to miss more work because her company is firing people. I felt terror in their voices. I’d do anything to keep her breathing.
I emailed them links to the best sites, including Dr. Grattan Woodson’s Good Home Treatment Of Influenza. And I recommended that Lisa start taking Relenza immediately.
Hydration: Key to Surviving Flu
Woodson offers very good advice about resting and hydrating flu patients. Lying down reduces our need to breathe deeply, so we don’t draw viral particles deeper into our lungs. We must drink a cup of nonalcoholic liquid at least once an hour when awake. This helps cleanse our system and replenishes fluids we lose to fever.
Patients who cannot eat must consume electrolytes. A quart can be made from clean water, two tablespoons of sugar, a quarter-teaspoon of baking soda, and an equal amount of salt (or half a teaspoon, if no baking soda is on hand). Dr. Michael Greger, who literally wrote the book on bird flu (free at his site), further suggests adding orange juice and mashed banana for potassium, if such luxuries are available. The electrolyte drink must be dripped into a patient’s mouth if necessary. Precision is very important in how much sugar and salt you use, says Mike Coston.
Dr. Greger emphasizes that fever is a good thing. Viruses don’t like heat.
Fever is our way of inhibiting replication, effectively curbing the enemy’s reinforcements. Greger warns against tampering with fever by taking acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen unless a temperature surpasses 104 degrees. If it does, he recommends both, along with cooling cloths and tepid water sponge baths. Aspirin should never be given to children (good thing my stepmom doesn’t read this blog or she’d feel inadequate) because it can trigger a rare side effect.
Otherwise, I don’t know much more than you do. The Internet is still up, so I know New York City is the epicenter for Round Two in America.
I scoff at the notion that someone brought the virus from that prison in Sao Paulo (where the pandemic reignited in the Western Hemisphere). People are desperate to identify a foreign flu vector, as if no American could have brought the virus back from a business trip, a sinful escapade, or both. The preferred narrative is that an alien brought H5N1 here. It invites us to blame both outsiders and the government (for letting them in).
Hope-Simpson would have smiled politely and said that nothing could have prevented Round Two. We were well-seeded months ago.
Barricades on the Bridge
I’m astonished that New Jersey closed the George Washington Bridge the day flu came back. I was stuck just blocks from that hysterical parade of pedestrians trying to cross, including drivers who had abandoned their cars. Thousands of New Yorkers managed to reach the dense suburbia that tops the Palisades.
Then a line of New Jersey State Troopers blocked the bridge with shipping containers, tear gas, clubs, and tasers.
You’ve all seen the streaming cell phone videos. The worst was posted by a flugitive while masked cops took turns bashing wads of blood and flesh out of his friend’s head. (How did this brave guy grab and post those shots so near the action?) The troopers’ savage defense of the Garden State against the late Columbia University sophomore who happened to be from Montclair, N.J., was playing on hundreds of thousands of screens around the world before the brutes could catch their breath.
We still don’t know if a tourist from Las Vegas tumbled over the side of the bridge while the crowd ebbed and flowed. She’ll wash up or she won’t.
Protesters are enduring a defiant vigil in high winds under the great suspension cables, surrounded by cops from two states who don’t want to touch them. Suburban police in Long Island blocked the Long Island Expressway until New York’s governor threatened to send our state troopers after them. The media find it inconvenient to cover any of this in person. I see only copter shots and talking heads. Are reporters afraid to go there—or are the cops blocking them?
As for the president’s national military alert, I want to know if it’s intended to help us or lock us in. A little clarification is in order. All we hear are orders amid so much disorder. It sounds like dogs barking furiously at phantoms.