Thursday, March 26, 2020

Still here, still editing, trying not to nightmare

In photo editing date terms I'm up to March 3. No idea where in terms of numbers of photos edited and how many to go. Many, and many. So far I have not covered my eyes and winced at a laptop editing job, though I will take another run at the galaxy and aurora shot.

This morning is Day 5 of self quarantine. Both of us are still alive and feeling fine. Linda has been reading her way through the books that arrived while we were gone. I think she's itching to get out into the garden, but there's still a foot of snow in the back yard, and some in the front. The ground will be frozen for a while. She is planning.

There's been a flurry of phone calls and emails about various appointments. Some have been re-booked for future dates, but that's all very tentative. Nobody knows. I know lots of people who are in our boat, mainly because we've recently returned from trips. I know only one person who may have caught it, and their household is taking dramatic precautions. The suspect isn't quite bricked into a room, but not far off it.

I've been thinking about this. I hope it puts paid to the people who think they are all alone in the world, thinking that people should take responsibility only for themselves, and they shouldn't be subjected to society's rules. That 'the economy' is more important than people, and it should be more efficient, with fewer regulations. You see that a lot in right-wing conservative thinking. You not getting ill depends a lot on how others around you behave.

But who are we relying on now? Grocery store staff. Medical staff. Cleaners. Did we care how well they did their jobs before all this? Not really. Do we care now? Damn right! It could literally be life or death.

Are we going to care afterwards? The ones still alive, I mean. I hope so. These people, especially the medical people are going to take a big mortality hit. They are most closely exposed, and are running short of critical supplies they need to protect themselves and care for their patients.

Why? Because there is no slack in the system. There is no redundancy. No resilience. Costs and staff have been cut again and again in the name of finding efficiencies. We're at the point where our medical system can barely cope with the normal day to day patient load. You know, victims of driver incompetence and other acts of stupidity, heart attacks, strokes, people with chronic conditions that need ongoing care, all in an aging population.

Now comes a huge demand for medical services. This should not be a surprise to anyone, and isn't to many of the medical people. It's only a surprise to the politicians and bean counters that run things. As cautionary examples, there's been recent virus outbreaks, SARS, H1N1, and MERS, and there are others, like the flu that goes around every year. However, that one is always the last one and we don't have to worry about it anymore. Right? Right?

As it turns out, not so much. When COVID-19 starts to overwhelm the system, as it is starting to do here, it isn't just those patients that will die. It's all the other people that need medical attention that won't get it. Imagine if you will, someone who has a heart attack or a stroke. Your mom, for example. Eminently survivable, but seconds count. An ambulance is called, and you wait. They're tied up transporting other patients, and waiting while they get admitted. (This has been happening for a while now, and it's only going to get worse.) You give up and take your mom to the hospital yourself, only to find a scene of barely organized chaos. There are people everywhere awaiting medical attention. The staff are overwhelmed. Your mom dies waiting. You get COVID-19 as you struggle to get the help your mom needs, but you don't think about that. You give it to the rest of your family when you go home. It goes on and on.

The medical staff start dwindling because they're sick. Here's a nightmare choice for you as you lie there needing medical attention. Your choice is nothing, or a doctor/nurse who is known to have been exposed to COVID-19, or equipment known to have been last used on a COVID-19 patient and might have been thoroughly cleaned. It sounds like a bad movie, doesn't it? How can it happen here, in an advanced G7 economy? Answer, the same way it's already happening in Italy, an advanced G7 economy.

Go to an older cemetery and look at how many headstones are dated 1918 and 1919. Look at the birthdates. It isn't all war dead. It's ordinary people, infected in a world where there was essentially no air travel. In Canada, almost as many died from Spanish Flu as died in the war itself. Out of a total population of about 8 million, about 120,000 died from flu or directly in the war. It's why the federal government created the Department of Health, so it wouldn't happen again.

Yet it's happening again. We won't know for a while what the death toll is. So far, the numbers I've seen indicate that of all the people who are identified as having the disease (and we don't know all that do) about 1% die. Though we don't know that number to any degree of certainty either. Did an elderly patient die of COVID-19, or an underlying existing condition? Would they have lived without the new infection?

You may think that 1% constitutes an acceptable risk, mainly because it's old, ill people. (Would you eat 100 candies if one of them would kill you?) That more die of the ordinary flu, or in demonstrations of driving incompetence, or other existing causes, and therefore it's nothing to worry about. That makes you a human vulture in my books. But there's a multiplier effect, as I mentioned earlier. When the doctors start dying, then we start dying of preventable causes, because there is no prevention anymore. Plus, think about this; that one percent, it could be your parents or grandparents. It could be you. Maybe the death rate is much higher than 1%. It's early days yet. Spanish Flu had a second and third waves.

Trying not to be morbid here. Wishing more people would take this seriously. I mean really, how hard can it be to go home? Except, I get it. Many people are one paycheque from going under. They have to work. Why do we permit a world like that to happen? A world where big corporations with exorbitantly paid staff know only how to ask for bailouts and tax cuts, and how to cut staff?

Some don't really believe that asymptomatic thing, and carry on like normal, not realizing they are the reborn Typhoid Mary. Anti-vaxxers, I'm looking at you.

To happier topics.

From St Claire/St Kilda beach. They've got lifeguarding organized there. (As a side note, I could easily have worked in a metaphor relating to COVID-19 here, but I'm leaving that as an exercise for the reader.) As near as I could see, there wasn't a lot of swimming done on NZ beaches. A few people wading to various depth. Lots of surfers. I waded a bunch, then got a sliver on my foot and left my shoes on for much of the trip. Some of the beaches had lots of shells or stones, and often I was walking along the high tide line where there's lots of debris.

Linda and Susi during our walk in Neck Point park.

Sand Pattern
Does it matter which beach? Curves!

Driftwood of the Day

And in the serendipity department from 2017.

1 comment:

  1. I fear we have another horse and water problem. Some horses understand and others don't believe that water is helpful. The tragedy is that the oblivious horses put the other horses at risk, and that is fundamentally wrong on so many levels.
    Maybe it is sand or maybe it is a fossilized sea bed. Either way I like it - no surprise I know . Cheers, Sean


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