Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Service of “Can I Do Anything For You?”

Monday, January 29th, 2024

When my friend suggested the idea for this post so many other examples popped into my head.

She texted, “‘Can I do anything for you?’ coming from friends seems to be a throwaway comment when someone is sick or recovering from surgery–empty words when they do nothing if there is not anything you need immediately.”

Such friends, especially neighbors, remind me of a guest firmly planted in his/her chair at the dinner table who asks, “Need any help?” and doesn’t budge to clear so much as a matchstick. [I know: Some don’t want help. I’m not talking about them.]

My friend recalled being extremely ill when she was young with an infant at home and too shy, when posed that question, to ask for help which, she thinks, is why she’s especially sensitive when temporarily disabled these days. She told an able-bodied dog walking neighbor in her apartment building who joined the “can I do anything?” chorus that she craved a cupcake from a bakery down the street, as a test. She really didn’t need one.

She wrote: “I don’t mean to sound like I am keeping score but like you I am always thinking about what I can do for others -not expecting something in return. But why ask that question if you don’t really mean it? The locals also stopped even checking in!”

I know what she means. When my broken foot was at first ensconced in a boot, I wasn’t supposed to walk more than three blocks and I exceeded that restriction just to get to the office. So once there, I didn’t move much. The only person who ever asked if I needed anything when she’d head out for lunch or to run an errand was a young temp assistant. Were my office neighbors afraid I’d stiff them the cost of a soda or sandwich or were they simply oblivious?

Not all neighbors are passive, insensitive, or unconscious. This happened to the parents of another friend. They had recently moved to an apartment in Florida from their home in upstate New York when her dad became terminally ill. A neighbor would ring her bell on the way to a grocery store asking for her list. And they knew the schedule she followed to rotate her husband’s position in bed so he wouldn’t get bedsores. She was petite and needed help. One of the neighbors was at her door several times every day, on the dot, without being asked.

Why do we utter “can I do anything for you?” the way we say, “how are you?” without listening to the answer or planning to address the response with action?

Service of Who Are You Fooling?

Thursday, September 2nd, 2021



Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Astonishing how some are willing to harm themselves, and others in some cases, believing harum-scarum theories over science or thinking they are clever to cut a crucial corner and cheat at their own and others’ peril.

Don’t Horse Around

A Facebook posting this week made me laugh: “Anti-vaxxers who ingest horse dewormer Ivermectin shall hereby be referred to as neighsayers.”

But it’s not funny especially because politicians have given the dewormer credibility as a potential cure for Covid-19 in spite of FDA warnings. According to Dominick Mastrangelo on thehill.com: “Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) suggested researchers are not pursuing ivermectin as a possible COVID-19 treatment because of their disdain for former President Trump.” Reminder: Sen. Paul is a physician who should know that when it is prescribed for humans, it’s often in a head lice lotion.

Steve Benen wrote on msnbc.com: “Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas also pushed ivermectin at an event late last week.” He quoted a CDC health advisory: “Clinical effects of ivermectin overdose include gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Overdoses are associated with hypotension and neurologic effects such as decreased consciousness, confusion, hallucinations, seizures, coma and death.”

Wrote Mastrangelo: “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned Americans last week not to take ivermectin….. “You are not a horse. You are not a cow. Seriously, y’all. Stop it,’ the FDA said in a widely shared tweet.”

Dangerous Fake ID
What about the essential workers who populate hospitals, nursing homes and schools who endangered those they are entrusted to care for as well as themselves? They–some 250 in all–paid $200 to Jasmine Clifford for fake Covid-19 vaccine documents. Molly Crane-Newman wrote about this bunch in The Daily News in “13 charged with paying ‘AntiVaxMomma’ for fake documents to avoid free vaccine, say Manhattan prosecutors.” The “AntiVaxMomma is Clifford’s Instagram pseudonym.  She promoted her scam on this social media platform.

For $250 more, reported Crane-Newman,  a collaborator who worked at a medical clinic entered false proofs-of-vaccine into New York State’s official Excelsior Pass database system, the smartphone passport to enter New York restaurants, sporting events, gyms and the like. They found 10 of these.  

“The DA charged the 13 essential workers with felony criminal possession of a forged instrument and conspiracy, a misdemeanor,” she wrote. “Prosecutors also accused one of the 13 with offering a false instrument for filing, for paying the extra $250 to be entered in the Excelsior Pass database.”

Manhattan DA Cy Vance, Jr said “We need companies like Facebook to take action to prevent the fraud happening on their platforms. Making, selling and purchasing forged vaccination cards are serious crimes with serious public safety consequences. This investigation is ongoing.”

What makes people believe in untested ivermectin and not the Covid-19 vaccine vetted by scientists and taken safely by millions?

What twisted minds think they are getting away with anything by cheating about having taken a life-saving vaccine? More important, have they harmed their charges?




Image by Katja Fuhlert from Pixabay

Service of Unanswered Questions or None of Your Business

Monday, March 29th, 2021

I hate to admit how old I was before I could parry an unwelcome question. Before you could find out real estate sale prices online a friend asked me what we got for our co-op apartment. My answer: “We got what we asked.”  These days I reply bluntly to intrusive questions. I’ll say: “I don’t want to talk about it,” or I change the subject.

“Going on an interview?” you’d hear in the workplace if a colleague who usually wore casual clothes was dressed to the nines.

And then there’s the nag who starts every conversation with “Did you get that job yet?” It’s especially grating when you’ve told the person you’ll let them know and to please stay off the subject.

There’s a health question on some job applications: “Did you ever have cancer, epilepsy, mental health problems?” to name just a few of the listed diseases. The applicant’s choice of responses are “Yes,” “No,” and “I don’t want to answer.”

When a state adds to its list of vaccine-eligible citizens those at risk of Covid-19 due to underlying health conditions the nosy get to work. “Medical privacy has become the latest casualty of vaccination efforts, as friends, co-workers and even total strangers ask intrusive questions about personal health conditions,” Tara Parker-Pope wrote in a New York Times article, “‘How Did You Qualify?’ For the Young and Vaccinated, Rude Questions and Raised Eyebrows.”

If you check “I don’t want to answer ” to health questions on job applications will the reader assume that the answer is “Yes,” you have had one of the listed diseases? When you’re asked an intrusive question, do you feel obliged to answer? If not, what wording works best for you? What are other examples of questions you’d rather not answer?

Service of How to Speak Up–or Should We?

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Photo: cbs8.com

I didn’t say a word when years ago a man lit a cigarette in the subway as the train headed into the tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan. I thought about asking him politely not to smoke and wondered “What if the train stopped for an extended period and the little air we share in the car is poisoned by his smoke?” I was afraid he’d attack me and I’d have nowhere to run and escape.

Today it’s about masks. I wrote about them on May 14th in “Service of Symbols III.” Since then NY Governor Cuomo had a contest for the best video to promote their use and immunologist Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and other authorities repeatedly tout their impact on slowing down the spread of Covid-19.

Nothing seems to drive home their purpose with some. A New York Times article by Margot Sanger-Katz “On Coronavirus, Americans Still Trust the Experts” explains what’s going on. She reported: “In the Times survey, 84 percent of voters said they trusted medical scientists to provide reliable information about the virus, with 90 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans trusting the experts. Overall trust in the C.D.C. was 77 percent — 71 percent among Republicans and 83 percent among Democrats.”

Photo: abcnews.go.com

Gregory A. Poland, MD told the audience on a WOR 710 NY radio program last week that a man yelled at him for wearing a mask when he was out walking with his wife. Poland knows more than most about why he wears one. He is director of the Mayo Clinic’s Vaccine Research Group and editor-in-chief of the medical journal Vaccine. He didn’t engage the aggressor who didn’t know who he was harassing.

Most stores post signs asking visitors to wear masks but there are no laws about it. It’s up to the retail staff–even youngsters with summer jobs–to reprimand and confront potential customers and ask the mask-less to return with a mask on.

A friend who owns a business in the suburbs said a man came inside last week, stopped, said, “Oh my–I forgot my mask in the car,” raced out and returned. That can happen.

Often the omission is aggressive and deliberate. A NYC radio talk show host boasted that he’s deep-sixed his mask and nevertheless enters the small shops in his Manhattan neighborhood and nobody stops him. He’s tired of wearing one. He’s not alone. It’s not enough that these people imperil the health of others, I’ve read that some punch mask-wearers.

Photo: youtuebe.com

Anecdotal information from friends who live in or are visiting New England tourist destinations report streets crowded with vacationers gleeful to be freed from sheltering at home. Many left behind their facial protection and social distancing awareness. Shops with seasonal business that are starved for sales employ staff who, like most sane people, are fearful of getting sick. They are especially stressed when potential customers pass right by mask signs and enter with exposed nose and mouth.

Does a business that wants to protect its staff need to hire a six foot 200 pound guard? If you worked in a restaurant, shop, hair styling salon, barbershop or any business that welcomes outsiders how would you ask patrons to put on a mask or would you grin and bear it?

Would a request to put on a mask on a recording in well recognized, respected voices that employees could easily and invisibly engage when someone enters without a mask help avoid confrontation?

If you are a customer trapped in an establishment and someone enters without a mask, do you speak up? What do you say?

Photo: twitter.com

 

Service of Old Wives Wisdom

Monday, June 8th, 2020

Most cultures pass on old wives’ wisdom for generations.

I asked Google about the lore surrounding the curative powers of chicken soup: “Chicken soup appears to help fight colds, according to several studies. It helps clear nasal congestion as well as thin mucus so you can better cough it up. In addition, research shows it may have a mild anti-inflammatory effect than can help ease symptoms.”

So what I read on usatoday.com didn’t surprise given the source of the legend: “CDC: Americans desperate to kill coronavirus are dangerously mixing cleaners, bleaching food.”

Adrianna Rodriguez wrote: “Don’t wash your food with bleach. Don’t eat or drink cleaning products. These lifesaving warnings may seem like common sense, but a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests Americans are throwing common sense out the window as they attempt to keep the coronavirus out of their homes.

“In a survey published Friday, 39% of 502 respondents reported engaging in ‘non-recommend, [sic] high-risk practices,’ including using bleach on food, applying household cleaning or disinfectant products to their skin and inhaling or ingesting such products.”

Rodriguez continued: “One caller even asked how she was supposed to drink a cleaning product after President Donald Trump made a comment about drinking disinfectant, which triggered several states to issue a warning against dangerous disinfectant use.”

The president made the suggestion on April 23.

Rodriguez added: “The National Poison Data System noted the following increases in call volumes between March 2019 and March 2020, and between April 2019 and April 2020:

  • A nearly 60% increase in calls about bleach products in March and a 77% increase in April.
  • A 94% increase in calls about disinfectants in March and a 122% increase in April.”

According to Rodriquez, Michele Caliva, administrative director of the Upstate New York Poison Center shared simple tips: “Follow directions; don’t mix chemicals; don’t use cleaners or disinfectants on the body; don’t ingest them; be vigilant in keeping such products and hand sanitizers away from children; and don’t spray bags or packages containing food.”

How has a daily apple panned out for you? Raw steak on a black eye? Did cleaning windows with newspaper ever  work? [Not for me.] Does anyone still wait an hour before swimming after eating? Do you know anyone tempted to ingest disinfectant based on the suggestion of the leader of the free world?

Service of Crowds

Thursday, June 4th, 2020

New Yorkers were used to crowds. Before the pandemic hundreds of us would routinely enter a concert, game or theater at once, while others would similarly board rush hour subways, commuter trains and buses daily.

I don’t like crowds so if possible I’ve been strategic to avoid them. When I depended on a subway to get to the office I’d leave early or late and always missed rush hour at day’s end by working until well after 6:00 pm. Even if at a protest, I’d go alone and plant myself at the crowd’s edge so I could leave promptly.

In addition to a feeling of loss of control created by walking among a mass of people, these days there’s the potential danger of exposure to virus-infected droplets if marchers, ignoring social distancing, wear masks or not. That’s why I was alarmed when I couldn’t cross 50th Street and Second Avenue on my way home on Tuesday afternoon. Vehicular traffic and bicycles were stopped at the street as if at the starting line of a race, backed up for blocks making a giant parking lot.

We–me at a distance from them and other pedestrians standing appropriately apart–watched an enthusiastic throng of mostly youngsters protesting against police brutality and racism who only by the virus and their proximity to one another posed any danger. There was nothing to do but wait or come face to face with marchers by struggling past a tight line of them to reach the other side of the street. Finally there was a slight break and we raced through it to continue downtown on fairly empty streets.

I empathize with the marcher’s goal of solidarity but NYC isn’t theirs alone. It’s mine too. I didn’t like feeling trapped. This morning on WOR 710 radio Arthur L. Caplan, Ph.D., Professor of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, warned in an interview that the marchers must take care not to block ambulances from reaching the hospital which he said has happened.

The Democratic National Committee, which moved its convention from July to end August, is exploring some kind of virtual convention. In “If Democrats Hold a Big Convention, Will Anybody Come?” in The New York Times Reid J. Epstein wrote: “Interviews with 59 members of the Democratic National Committee and superdelegates who will formally nominate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in August found that the vast majority of them don’t want to risk their own health or the health of others by traveling to Milwaukee and congregating inside the convention facilities.”

With the uncertainty around the spread of Covid-19–we’re now hearing that the heat of summer may have no impact on lessening it as hoped–I wondered if anyone has asked the some 50,000 Republicans, of which 2,550 are delegates, that the president expects to attend the August convention if they still plan to stand shoulder-to-shoulder for hours under one roof?

Do you hope as I do that there will not be an uptick in Covid-19 cases as a result of the marches in spite of dire predictions by many in the medical community? That would be a big relief to both parties and all Americans.

Service of Collateral Damage: Who Picks Up the Pieces?

Monday, May 11th, 2020

We are all collateral damage to this virus, some more than others.

For starters restaurants, airlines, retail and small businesses of all kinds, museums, theaters, consequent furloughed/fired employees and retired citizens living on savings all suffer. In addition to and as a result the country’s mental health has taken a terrible blow. Heading the list: substance abuse; domestic violence, alcoholism and suicide. The headline from a Well Being Trust & The Robert Graham Center Analysis: “The COVID Pandemic Could Lead to 75,000 Additional Deaths from Alcohol and Drug Misuse and Suicide.” People are understandably desperate.

Heather Long and Andrew Van Dam at The Washington Post reported last Friday that April job loss at 20.5 million with unemployment rate at 14.7 percent is “the worst since the Depression era.”

Policymakers have to make Russian Roulette-like decisions, the most difficult of their careers: Life loss over jobs? Jobs over potential sickness and death? The data on which to make decisions and forecasts of where this unpredictable tornado-like virus will go is mercurial: Every week we learn of new twists and turns as experts struggle to recognize symptoms and cobble together remedies. And too many interpretations appear to be political which doesn’t feel right in a crisis.

Between the squabbling and posturing I’m not sure who is leading the charge which is troubling. The president tossed the ball to the governors. CDC standards to determine when it’s wise to reopen businesses are followed by some but not all governors and nothing is done to enforce them.

Some governors on the east coast are coordinating the acquisition of personal protective equipment so they don’t compete and achieve the best prices but that seems to be it. They are not in sync when it comes to opening beaches, businesses and restaurants which Governor Cuomo has previously said is essential due to their proximity and the fluidity of citizens armed with cars.

  • Connecticut expects its restaurants to welcome patrons–with restrictions–on May 20. Whether town beaches are open depends on each mayor according to ctpost.com. For example Greenwich beaches are open to residents and Norwalk’s on a “case-by-case basis.”
  • New Jersey’s sun lovers will visit its beaches Memorial weekend.
  • NY State parks and beaches are closed at least until May 31 according to a NYS parks website. In order for a region to open under Pause New York, which expires May 15, it must meet CDC criteria: “a 14-day decline in hospitalizations and deaths on a 3-day rolling average. Regions with few COVID cases cannot exceed 15 new total cases or 5 new deaths on a 3-day rolling average. A region must have fewer than two new COVID patients admitted per 100,000 residents per day.” The NY State website spells out the priorities regarding business openings. In Phase I: construction, manufacturing & wholesale supply chain, select retail using curbside pickup only, agriculture, fishing. Only in Phase III do we see restaurants and food service that many other states have long opened. A crucial component: A region must keep an eye on data and be able to pull back and shut down again if the numbers of Covid-19 cases increase.

Do you feel secure that your state is interpreting the criteria for raising the gates to reestablish the economy while protecting workers, citizens–and you?  With the exception of NY Governor Cuomo, who has said time and again “hold me accountable; blame me,” the handling of this pandemic is like watching a child’s game of hot potato where some leaders don’t want to be holding the spud when the music stops. Who has a handle on the true full picture? How will the federal purse control/disperse life and worker-saving funds when regional criteria differ so drastically? Will exacerbated mental health issues be given their proper due by government and insurance companies?  And most important, who will ultimately determine which comes first–the economy or risk of death?

 

Cats sheltering in place in a neighborhood pizza parlor, hungry for company.

 

Service of Can You Ever Do Enough to Be Safe?

Monday, March 30th, 2020

For a moderately good housekeeper these are stressful times especially since I can’t find the ideal products recommended for coronavirus whistle-cleaness.

So I wonder: “Did I clean the plastic bags correctly? Are my apartment keys virus free? My credit card? Do I really have to wash my hair every time I go outside? Did I catch every nook and cranny of that tuna can or OJ bottle? What about my jacket pocket where I keep my phone? And the phone itself?”

And then I remember what happened one summer vacation in high school. I was in southern Italy with two classmates and the mother and brother of one. For our safety, Mrs. G was scrupulously careful about the water we drank–it had to be bottled. At the time we didn’t care for fizzy water but that seemed to be the only kind available. One day we found a restaurant with bottled still water. We were gleeful. As we sipped our drinks through a straw–real straw–we suddenly realized that the ice in our drinks was made with local water. None of us got sick.

Fact: My home will never be as clean as an operating room–live with it [I hope].

Joseph G. Allen’s Washington Post opinion piece “Don’t panic about shopping, getting delivery or accepting packages” put some of my concerns in perspective. He claims low risk for “box delivered by UPS, touch packages at the grocery store or accept food delivery.” Allen is at the Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health in its Healthy Buildings Program.

He wrote “First, disease transmission from inanimate surfaces is real, so I don’t want to minimize that. It’s something we have known for a long time; as early as the 1500s, infected surfaces were thought of as ‘seeds of disease,’ able to transfer disease from one person to another.”

Today a New England Journal of Medicine article is trending [and scaring]. “The coronavirus that causes covid-19 ‘was detectable . . . up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.’”

Allen shared an example of an Amazon package delivered by an infected driver who wiped his/her nose, didn’t wash hands and touched your package. “Even then, there would be a time lag from when they transferred the virus until you picked up the package at your door, with the virus degrading all the while. In the worst-case scenario, a visibly sick driver picks up your package from the truck, walks to your front door and sneezes into their hands or directly on the package immediately before handing it to you.”

Allen then described a model–think pieces of pie. “For disease to happen, all of the pieces of the pie have to be there: sick driver, sneezing/coughing, viral particles transferred to the package, a very short time lapse before delivery, you touching the exact same spot on the package as the sneeze, you then touching your face or mouth before hand-washing.”

He wrote to cut the chain: leave the package outside or right inside the door for a few hours and wash your hands. He continued: “you could wipe down the exterior with a disinfectant, or open it outdoors and put the packaging in the recycling can. (Then wash your hands again.)”

Regarding grocery stores: “Keep your hands away from your face while shopping, and wash them as soon as you’re home. Put away your groceries, and then wash your hands again. If you wait even a few hours before using anything you just purchased, most of the virus that was on any package will be significantly reduced. If you need to use something immediately, and want to take extra precautions, wipe the package down with a disinfectant. Last, wash all fruits and vegetables as you normally would.”

Feel better? What precautions are you taking? Any shortcuts? Can you share examples of when a goal of perfection fell short yet all was well in the end?

Service of Cartoons

Thursday, January 9th, 2020

I was given every chance to show talent for drawing or painting when young. Sadly I’m like a tone deaf person who loves music: My stick figures are not convincing and I admire people who can translate on paper or canvas a thought or scene.

Nevertheless I see material for cartoons all over the place. Here are recent examples that a sketch would capture far better than I can with words.

Achoo

I was passing an urgent care office—they are at street level all over Manhattan, many with large windows neither frosted nor with shades drawn.

Behind the reception desk at one was an attractive staffer blowing her nose into an enormous wad of Kleenex. Struck me funny.

Ying &Yang

Walking to the subway this week on 77th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues I passed on my left a Christian Science church and on my right, Lenox Hill Hospital. The contradiction brought a smile.

Seating Arrangements

The subway car was jammed the other day. A little boy about 10 sat next to his mother. She didn’t suggest he give up his seat to fellow passengers encumbered with packages, disabled or elderly. The scene inspired this invented scenario: In every seat are kids and 20-somethings. Standing are people with canes, crutches or pregnant.

Do you come across scenes that would make poignant or amusing cartoons? Do you have a favorite cartoon?

Service of Friendships–Better than Drugs or Anti-Aging Remedies

Monday, November 25th, 2019

I’ve written about office friends and those whose names you don’t even know; buddies as good company, splitting the check, hugging and protecting them. Tara Parker-Pope wrote about friendship from a different perspective in her New York Times article “How to be a Better Friend.”

She reported results of research that showed that students in pairs estimated the slope of a hill they were expected to climb to be far less onerous than those who were alone. Another study supported “the notion that social support helps us cope with stress.” Friends in a room made the heart rate of women faced with solving a math problem go much slower than those approaching the task alone.

Parker-Pope claimed that friendships, more than romantic partners, positively impact health. Here’s one of three studies she chose to illustrate the point: “In a six-year study of 736 middle-age Swedish men, being attached to a life partner didn’t affect the risk of heart attack and fatal coronary heart disease, but having friendships did. Among risk factors for cardiovascular health, lacking social support was as bad as smoking.”

She wrote that “proximity was not a factor in the benefits of friendship” though its obvious that local friends can run errands and help in other ways if necessary. People with friends get fewer colds which might be related to experiencing less stress.

The effect of peer pressure can be good or bad. Some participate in exercise routines and other healthy activities with their buddies while others may gain weight together. If a person did the latter, a 2007 study showed that there was an almost 60 percent risk that their friends would too.

In Japan, Parker-Pope wrote, “people form a kind of social network called a moai — a group of five friends who offer social, logistic, emotional and even financial support for a lifetime.” Women in Okinawa, Parker-Pope reported, have an average life expectancy of 90–the longest in the world.

Dan Buettner, a National Geographic fellow and author who studies health habits of people who live longest told Parker-Pope “Your group of friends are better than any drug or anti-aging supplement, and will do more for you than just about anything.”

The title of Parker-Pope’s article–“How to be a Better Friend”–didn’t match the information in it. Just being a friend is what counts. As I am blessed with life-saving friends I can vouch for how their support is an effective passport to joy and an antidote to stress and anxiety. Who knew there might also be health benefits?

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