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Pull Up a Chair

7:56 am in Uncategorized by Margaret

Swine Flu

Good morning!

As almost everybody is aware, flu season is upon us and this one looks like it’s going to be bad. Several of the pups have already had the flu. Yours truly had it around Christmas, Ruth Calvo hasn’t had a voice for weeks and I think Rev Bev got hit with it a week or so after I did. The strain that went through my place of work like a wildfire seemed to include a sinusitis component. The guy who does our purchasing had the whole left side of his face swell impressively and I thought my right eye was going to pop out. It was also some really long lasting flu and in some cases, a dangerous flu. My throat remained scratchy and the area behind my eye stayed sore for a couple of weeks after the other symptoms subsided. One of my co-workers just returned to work after spending a few days hospitalized.

Influenza is a family of infectious avian and mammal viruses known as Orthomyxoviridae. It is typically spread via aerosol excretions through sneezing and coughing. It can also be contracted from contaminated surfaces or direct contact with an animal or person infected with the disease. Typical symptoms include but are not limited to coughing, sneezing, aching muscles, inflammation of the mucus membranes, etc. In some cases it can lead to pneumonia and death, especially if left untreated. Treatments range from bed rest to hospitalization, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Over the counter medications can treat symptoms but do nothing to arrest the progress of the virus in the body.

Oseltamivir, aka Tamiflu is an effective treatment if administered early in the infection. It works by preventing the reproduced virus from leaving already infected cells to contaminate others. It’s very expensive though and since it’s most effective when given immediately after the onset of symptoms, it’s impractical for many Americans to rely on as a treatment because not many of us can afford to run to our doctor every time we sneeze. The best treatment then, remains preventative.

Our own flu outbreak at work has been traced to our web designer, (at least she was the first to exhibit symptoms), which is annoying, since she is one of the few who could have telecommuted and stayed the hell home instead of bringing the illness to work to share with the rest of us. The purchasing guy, who had regular contact with her brought it back into the production department, meanwhile the web designer herself helpfully contaminated the ladies room for us.

Here’s the deal: this flu season is bad. It started early and hasn’t yet peaked. There have been deaths, notably concentrated in Texas and Boston but not limited to those areas. I know not everybody has paid sick days and it’s so easy to talk oneself into struggling through the symptoms, just to get that project done, or make that customer happy but you’re not a hero when you work through being ill with a contagious illness. Your production in an even moderate sized company is insignificant compared to the production you can impact by making other people sick. So please, if you think you have the flu, stay home. It’s best for you and it’s best for your co-workers. I know it’s hard to get a short check but it’s better in the long run to take your small losses rather than to risk potentially much bigger ones.

If you’ve been one of the unfortunates who have gotten the flu this year, you have my sympathy. If you get the flu in the future, please stay home from work, get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. I pretty much lived on soups for most of a week when I was ill. Don’t take it lightly though and get yourself in to see a doctor if symptoms become bad or don’t start to moderate after a few days, especially if your immune system is already compromised by another condition. I found Sucrets sore throat lozenges to be truly beneficial to me but whatever over the counter medications you prefer and are available can help you live with the symptoms while your body fights off the infection.

If you haven’t gotten the flu yet, the best thing that you can do is frequent washing of hands. I carry some benzethonium chloride wipes in my purse in order to wipe down shopping cart handles and to wipe off my hands after visiting a retail establishment, especially grocery stores and pharmacies. I know it’s not easy to avoid human contact during the flu season but at least keeping your hands clean and keeping potentially contaminated hands away from the nose, mouth, eyes and mucus membranes can go a long way in making sure you stay healthy until this nasty flu season is in the history books.

Photo by C. S. Goldsmith and A. Balish, Center of Disease Control

Pull Up Your Cat

9:47 am in Uncategorized by Margaret

Hello there, caturfolk. Pull up your cat and maybe some hot chocolate and share some kitteh chat.

It’s been a tough week here. Sunday night, I got a nagging little headache which woke me up several times. By the time it was Monday morning, I was feeling all sinusy. My right eye was a little bit sore and watery and I had a bleah feeling all day. You know that stage before you are full blown ill and are still hoping you might get over it quickly. Under the theory that a lot of rest would help, I went to bed very early on Monday night but by Tuesday, I knew I had the flu so I stayed home. I slept most of that day but when I did wake up, I was very, very sick. I spent a lot of time off and on the sofa for the rest of the week and though I returned to work, that wasn’t a very pleasant experience at all. I actually feel more or less human again as I write this on Saturday night and hope I’m finally kicking it. I still haven’t been able to get back on the exercise bike though. Maybe Sunday…

Kuroneko hasn’t spent a whole lot of time close to me except when I’m on the sofa because the heat of my fever is uncomfortable and loud noises like sneezing freaks her out. When I’m laying down on the sofa though, she spent some time on my legs, where she could be close without burning up or being sneezed on. That was a great comfort to me though getting up is sometimes problematic. Her resting on my legs brings us to our pictures though.

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Kuroneko picture of the week: Neko is nestled on my left
thigh where she likes to be when I’m on the couch.

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I finally got her to turn around and look at the camera!


Obligatory cute kitten picture of the week: Who can resist a kitteh in a Christmas tree? via I Can Haz Cheezburger

The Rum-Tum Tugger from “Cats!” I enjoyed this play in Chicago in 1986. It was warm in the theater and I can’t imagine how the performers could be so energetic in those costumes.

I hope everybody has a good week ahead. Merry Christmas to all, or whatever holiday you may celebrate. Please remember to set aside some time to spend with whatever animals share your life.