Mask refusal in the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic

This is from an article about the history of medicine, about people refusing to wear masks in the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic:

“Adherence is based on three concepts: individualism versus collectivism; trust versus fear; and willingness to obey social distance rules. Jay Van Bavel opines that some countries tend to be more individualistic,16 and therefore more likely to reject rules and ignore attempts by public health authorities to “nudge” behavior change with risk messages or appeals for altruism. In collectivist cultures, people are more likely to do what is deemed best for society. Trust and fear are also significant influences on human behavior.17 In countries with political division, people are less likely to trust advice from one side or the other and are more likely to form pro- and anti- camps. This may also undermine advice issued by public health professionals. The last and most difficult to attain is social distancing. Human beings are social animals with bodies and brains designed and wired for connection. A pandemic, in many ways, goes against our instinct to connect. Behavioral psychologist Michael Sanders argues that if everybody breaks the rules a little bit, the results are not dissimilar to many people not following the rules at all.18

From another article:

“It was the worst pandemic in modern history.

The 1918 influenza virus swept the globe, killing at least 50 million people worldwide.

In the US, the disease devastated cities, forcing law enforcement to ban public meetings, shut down schools, churches, and theaters, and even stop funerals.

In total, 675,000 Americans died from the Spanish flu, named after the disease’s early presence in Spain.”

I read a book on the 1918-1919 influenza. It started in the U.S. The photograph that haunts me is the bodies stacked five deep in the hallways of San Francisco Hospitals.

And in a third article:

“The scenes in Philadelphia appeared to be straight out of the plague-infested Middle Ages. Throughout the day and night, horse-drawn wagons kept a constant parade through the streets of Philadelphia as priests joined the police in collecting corpses draped in sackcloths and blood-stained sheets that were left on porches and sidewalks. The bodies were piled on top of each other in the wagons with limbs protruding from underneath the sheets. The parents of one small boy who succumbed to the flu begged the authorities to allow him the dignity of being buried in a wooden box that had been used to ship macaroni instead of wrapping him a sheet and having him taken away in a patrol wagon.”

A CDC article about the history of the 1918-1919 influenza says this:

“The fully reconstructed 1918 virus was striking in terms of its ability to quickly replicate, i.e., make copies of itself and spread infection in the lungs of infected mice. For example, four days after infection, the amount of 1918 virus found in the lung tissue of infected mice was 39,000 times higher than that produced by one of the comparison recombinant flu viruses.14

Furthermore, the 1918 virus was highly lethal in the mice. Some mice died within three days of infection with the 1918 virus, and the mice lost up to 13% of their body weight within two days of infection with the 1918 virus. The 1918 virus was at least 100 times more lethal than one of the other recombinant viruses tested.14 Experiments indicated that 1918 virus’ HA gene played a large role in its severity. When the HA gene of the 1918 virus was swapped with that of a contemporary human seasonal influenza A (H1N1) flu virus known as “A/Texas/36/91” or Tx/91 for short, and combined with the remaining seven genes of the 1918 virus, the resulting recombinant virus notably did not kill infected mice and did not result in significant weight loss.14

The 1918-1919 influenza virus was sequenced and studied in 2005. We did not have the tools before that. Frozen bodies were exhumed with the permission of Inuit tribes to find the virus.

Later, that same article talks about future pandemics:

“When considering the potential for a modern era high severity pandemic, it is important; however, to reflect on the considerable medical, scientific and societal advancements that have occurred since 1918, while recognizing that there are a number of ways that global preparations for the next pandemic still warrant improvement.”

Let us now travel back to a worse epidemic: the plague in the Middle Ages:

“Did you know? Between 1347 and 1350, a mysterious disease known as the “Black Death” (the bubonic plague) killed some 20 million people in Europe—30 percent of the continent’s population. It was especially deadly in cities, where it was impossible to prevent the transmission of the disease from one person to another.”

I am hoping that people will awaken, get their vaccines, wear their masks and stop Covid-19 in its’ tracks, so that our death rate resembles the 1918-1919 Influenza. Not the Middle Ages plague.

contrast

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: contrast.

I took this Friday, walking around north Seattle, waiting for my autoclave to finish testing. In the early morning these small flowers were by the road and scattered through a yard. For survivors everywhere: the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia and for men, women and children who have been hurt and abused and go on. For the capacity to love, to grieve and to heal.

Light leaves

I took a long walk yesterday and tried to walk very slowly. I was trying to do an outdoor version of walking meditation. Once I slowed down enough, feelings caught up with me. Mostly grief. I wanted to hurry and walk fast again, but then I thought, no, I can go slowly and let these feelings rise. Overwhelming, like grief risen to engulf me.

I wonder if that is why our culture is so hurried and so full of angst and so worried about performing and being the best.

And yet there is beauty, even in grief.

death in childbirth

When I was in residency, one of the obstetrics-gynecology faculty asked us, “Women died in childbirth. What did they die of?”

We were silent. Stumped. Infection? Well, when there was no infection control and the male physicians went from room to room with no hand washing, yes… but….

Preeclampsia? No. Not that common. Eclampsia? Ditto.

“What if a woman is in labor and the baby is stuck? What do they die of?”

Ick. “Bleeding?”

“The uterus contracts until it ruptures. It contracts until it is thinner and thinner. If there is fetal malposition or a hand presentation or transverse or certain breech positions, the uterus ruptures and both bleed to death.”

We were all silent.

When I hear people bemoaning caesarean section and too much surgery and too many interventions…. I remember what women died of. All the stepmother stories. In the 1797 diary I am reading, the “lady” dies of a fever. She is 24 years old. There is no surprise, just sorrow. The author writing is the same age and grew up with her and grieves, but goes on.

We would like to think this is in the past, but it isn’t. It still is going on, right now, in  poverty stricken areas and war zones where the hospitals have been destroyed, the medical people have left, there are no services…

When I was still delivering babies, I would tell patients: my ideal labor plan is the baby comes out and I hand it to you. And the placenta comes out and the baby nurses and I don’t seem to be doing much. But that is not always what happens. I do not have control nor do you. I will only intervene if I think it is your life or the babies life or both….

http://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2393-14-43

http://www.msf.org/en/article/perils-childbirth-democratic-republic-congo

http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/childbirth/en/

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/

Donate:  http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/

The picture is me on my maternal grandfather’s lap. I was one very lucky baby. My mother had tubuculosis through the pregnancy. She coughed blood in her 8th month. If there had not been medical care and a Tuberculosis Sanitorium to be born in, I would not be here.

 

On the nature of love

love is not one love is longing for one love is two
love is the other longing for the other longing for union longing for one longing for the Beloved seen in the face of the other
do not forget nor lose nor submerse yourself in the other remember there are two not one you are longing to be one that is the longing for the Beloved you must be two and remember both while longing for union while longing to be one
you can love and yet not accept abuse yet not accept ill treatment yet not accept being walked on in the name of love
you can love even one who is behaving badly and treats you ill yet you should not accept ill treatment you are to remember that there are two and you are longing for the Beloved seen in the face of the other longing for union but that does not require that the other long for the Beloved nor see the Beloved in your face
you can love even one who does not want union with you yet they long for union with the Beloved
you can love even one who is behaving badly and treats you ill you should not accept ill treatment and there may be a time when you still love and walk away still loving and longing

for there are two
not one

I took this picture of my sister and our neighbor and friend in the late 1970s, probably playing pong…