Posts tagged ‘Medicine’

Hunger games


By Elizabeth Anne Hull

Elizabeth Anne Hull. Photo by Barb Knoff.

Anne Hull

By Elizabeth Anne Hull

Let’s you and him fight! One of the most effective strategies in battle is to pit factions of opposition against each other. Politicians do it so that opponents stop bothering the people in power, or the people who want power. They view government — whether local, state, national or international — as “playing the game” of politics.

When I saw the first of the Hunger Games films, I was surprised that I actually enjoyed watching such a violent idea come to life through the wizardry of Hollywood. I wrote my doctoral dissertation on neo-Freudian transactional analysis to understand drama (“A Transactional Analysis of the Plays of Edward Albee,” Loyola University of Chicago, 1975), and I think games can sometimes be dangerous even if they aren’t immediately lethal.

Regarding a sporting event as a game can make fans blind to the suffering of others. I have been watching the debate over football players and their higher risk of dementia at a young age, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Playing games in personal relationships can prevent you from enjoying the tension release of intimacy and trust.

I’m not sure whether I feel less comfortable with those who view human life as gamesmanship in a zero-sum game (if one wins, another must lose), or with those who view the abstract qualities of life as battles, declaring war on poverty, drugs, or terrorism.

Ordinarily, games can be fun, but they can get to be tedious when they are unrelieved by work. And sometimes wars must be fought, especially if others pick the fight.

Pig-roast-by-Leah A. Zeldes

Cook pork well to avoid disease. (Photo by Leah A. Zeldes.)

Apparently largely because farmers feed regular doses of antibiotic to pigs to make them grow to salable weights faster, many pigs harbor the food-poisoning bacterium Yersinia enterocolitica. One study found that some some 69 percent of supermarket pork was tainted with Yersinia.

How to protect against infection? Always cook pork to at least 145 degrees F. That’s not so high as the 170 degrees that used to be recommended for cooking pork to when Trichinosis was a serious threat.

Hypodermic Needle


By Elizabeth Anne Hull

Elizabeth Anne Hull. Photo by Barb Knoff.

Anne Hull

Remember the recent outbreak of measles? It brought a rush response from the CDC to immunize recent immigrants and visitors with long-term visas, who sometimes come from areas of the world where measles hasn’t been vanquished to the extent it has been in the West. But it wasn’t just noncitizens who suffered; American children also have been catching this sometimes life-threatening disease.

We’re also seeing a resurgence of whooping cough, and not just among the poor or uninsured. We hear early warnings that polio may soon reappear as well. Can smallpox be far behind?

Either because of complacency or ignorance, children aren’t getting their shots. For fear that vaccinations will produce autism (debunked) or other unanticipated side effects, or for religious reasons, or whatever, it has become a deadly trend not to get all children protected. Their parents rely on the fact that most families do comply with recommended and required immunizations, when they enroll their children in public schools across our nation, if not before.

Recently, nurse in central Pennsylvania was fired from a healthcare facility, per company policy, because she refused to get a flu shot; she was pregnant and groundlessly feared miscarriage. I personally would prefer that my health-care workers be immunized. We’re told by the CDC that people can get the flu even though they have taken the shots, but if they do, they’ll likely get a less severe case.

Word is that the majority of cases this flu season are H1N1. This is the strain that Fred and I probably had in 2009 that knocked us flat on our backs in the middle of the South Pacific. About 10 percent of our cruise’s passengers were stricken. It’s terrible to be sick with a flu virus in tropical areas. My sister, traveling with Fred and me, left the ship at Tahiti to spend several days in a hospital there, and flew home to be hospitalized for four more days.

I might have had rheumatoid arthritis prior to the flu; but it was coincidentally diagnosed after I returned home. I can’t help wondering if that could have been triggered by H1N1. (I also realize that this speculation may easily be as misguided as that of those who fear inoculations and so, unintentionally, become part of the problem of spreading contagious diseases.)

Where do individual rights end? Who are the proper people to make this decision? Would you support this nurse’s right to keep her job without getting a flu shot? Have you gotten all the vaccinations you should have?

nuts - public domain image

By Elizabeth Anne Hull

Elizabeth Anne Hull. Photo by Barb Knoff.

Anne Hull

Two headlines in recent news seem at odds:

1) Eating nuts tied to lower risk of death, and
2) Doctors see increase in those allergic to sesame seeds.

The first story touted not only “true” nuts like pistachios, almonds and walnuts, but also said the results of a 30-year study analyzed at Harvard University included peanuts, a legume. Eating nuts seven times a week reduced by 20 percent a person’s risk of dying of any cause.

Since I love nuts, including of all those mentioned, plus filberts, brazils, pecans and others, I rejoiced. Nuts are also reputed to help with weight loss and contain no transfats. Good tidings of great joy!

But not so fast. The second article reported that, since America’s rise in popularity of Middle-Eastern cuisine, especially hummus (which is usually seasoned with tahini, sesame paste) and the general infusion of Asian dishes that also use a lot of sesame, allergists have discovered that any individual sensitive to peanuts is also somewhat likely to react to sesame. Why remains a mystery, since sesame isn’t a nut, it’s a seed, while peanuts are not really nuts, but a legume.

Researchers have been puzzling over the rise in allergies and asthma as well, often blamed on the pollution in densely populated areas. Another theory is that children who have been blocked from infection by cleanliness have not had a chance to build anti-bodies and develop their own immune system defenses.

Since my mind is such that it searches for unified theories, I can’t help wondering if one problem in medical research is that we are supposed to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people by statistical analysis. Applying a set of diagnostic criteria to any individual’s ailment may cure more patients, but it doesn’t help the individual who deviates from the norm.

For now, I intend to continue eating nuts; they are delicious, if high fat — fat is where the flavor is. I’ll also try to find ways to cope with my asthma while enjoying homemade hummus, unless I develop hives or go into shock. I already have noticed that eliminating stress is a bigger factor in controlling my asthma than whether or not I’ve forgotten to take my inhaler today.




I was getting almost accustomed to being almost single again.

That is, I don’t mean that there were no female people in my life. There was Carolie Ulf, taking care of the kids just as though her daughter and I were still obsessively married.

Then there was Marge, the surgical nurse who supervised the operation on my nose and didn’t seem to mind, or even notice, the way it smelled while it was healing, and Bea from the folk-dance group I had begun taking my kids to now and then. Take them all in all, it was surprising how many basically single but not unavailable youngish women I turned out to know once my wife Carol was no longer obscuring the view.

That’s not even counting the Bantam office. There, people weren’t asking me why I bought Dhalgren anymore. They were jealously curious to know instead how I had been able to tell that this peculiar and highly sexual bunch of pages was going to have legs, for legs it was beginning to have. 50,000 copies sold, 80,000, and the books that were on the shelves from the original print order were melting away and the production people were on the phones ordering more, and quicker.

I was as surprised as anybody. In my own world of bookselling dreams I had thought that Dhalgren might turn out to be a sleeper, a book that might have a modest early sale, but a sale that kept on coming and maybe growing slowly, and then, as more and more people discovered it, growing less slowly all the time. But there was nothing slow about the way customers kept appearing and searching for copies to buy.

That was quite a good feeling to have. I found myself spending a little more time in the office to enjoy it., maybe three days a week instead of one or two.

  Continue reading ‘And the Day Came’ »

Poltergeist II

(Did you notice we were gone?)

Gone we all were, and for weeks on end. There were the bugs that were flying around, for starters. We didn’t get any of the more popular brands, but we got some mysterious upper-respiratory hits and several others at other locations, and that’s without mentioning the plagues that, without warning, took our computers out.

But now we’re back, healthier and happier than ever — so give us a look and let us know what you think.

Fred and the Team