Saturday, October 08, 2005

Mom's status

My Mom had her surgery (a mastectomy) Friday as planned. Generally, it went as planned, thought the sentinel node did not show up, forcing the surgeon to remove a pseudo-random sampling of lymph nodes for testing.

She's resting comfortably in her room (in the maternity ward!) and she may get to come home tomorrow. We'll know more about her long-term prospects late next week.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Thinking about bird flu

Unless you've been under a rock (which may not be a bad thing, given all the weirdities in the news lately), you've probably heard all the talk about the potential bird flu outbreak. It's all over the web, the mainstream media, and is making the water-cooler circuit at workplaces around the country.

It's some pretty scary stuff. The last time a flu bug jumped the species barrier, we had the Spanish Flu, which killed 25-50 million people during its run in 1918-1919. I remember the cemetery in the small West Virginia town where my Dad grew up--there is a whole section there that is only people who died from what they called "the flux".

Since then, we've been lucky and not had a repeat. However, our luck may be (and I emphasize, "may be") running out. H5N1 seems to be on the move.

Consider this: In 1918, travel was slow. There were no airlines, just trains and ships for the most part. If you had to travel a few thousand miles, it took days. Time enough for the travelers to get sick and be quarantined to help slow the spread.

In 2005, travel is fast and efficient (if you leave out the TSA). If you pick up a bug, you can be halfway across the world and still feeling fine--all the while spreading it far and wide as you move about.

If this bird flu bug gets into circulation, people could die by the millions again. Some WHO-type has bandied about the number of 150 million, but in reality no one really knows. It could be fewer, or it could be more. A lot more.

You've probably also heard about the President's idea, which he's ran up the flagpole to a rousing chorus of razzberries, of the military taking a big part in dealing with any outbreak here in the US. Posse comitatus aside, it's a frightening idea, even though I understand his point. The US military is the only organization we have with the capability of mounting such a large-scale effort quickly. I mean, face it--you want FEMA to handle this?

Should this event come to pass, I expect there will be some sort of widespread quarantine. The idea would be that if we can keep people from congregating in groups and from moving around from place to place, the bug will kill most of those who are infected, but they won't be able to infect other people before they become ill enough to be recognized as "sick".

From a survivalist standpoint, there are things you can do now in order to survive any problems our hypothetical bird flu outbreak may bring:
  • The ever-popular stocking up on food and water is a first step. You may not be allowed to go to a grocery store if things get bad. If things get worse, the grocery store may be empty--truckers get sick too.
  • If things got bad enough, various utilities might be unavailable. Be ready for this.
  • You'll need communications gear, all battery-powered, just in case. A small TV, a radio with shortwave bands and a good scanner will all prove useful for keeping tabs on things. Get plenty of batteries, too.
  • You should have a stock of disposable facial masks (similar to these) for use if you do have to interact with people. Flu is usually transmitted through airborne droplets.
  • You'll want some stuff to wash up with. Be sure it will kill a virus--anti-bacterial stuff isn't good enough for this.
  • You'll need something to wash yourself with as well. I don't have any suggestions at this point, but I'm sure looking for some.
The Centers for Disease control has some guidelines for long-term care facilities that might prove helpful.

This is another of those posts that I'm going to continue thinking about. Edits will be noted as usual.

An update on my Mom

A number of you have been so kind in enquiring about my Mom. Here's an update.

After further consultations with her oncologist, who consulted with her regular MD and lord knows who else, it's been decided that there will be surgery for her breast cancer after all. Physically, all the MDs involved believe she can survive it with a good short-term outlook.

So Friday, she'll go under the knife for a mastectomy, which may or may not include a number of lymph nodes--depends on the initial pathology report from the "sentinel node" (first one downstream from the breast). Past that, we wait for a final pathology report before making any big decisions about chemotherapy.

It was a big decision for my Dad and me, and we've struggled with the question of whether or not an 83 year old, bed-ridden woman with stroke dementia should have to go through it. I still struggle with that question, wondering if we've made the right decision. I don't expect to ever have an answer to that question.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Running late

I got kind of busy yesterday and didn't get the Carnival of Cordite #32 mentioned. Gullyborg has done his usual excellent job of rounding up all the gun goodness you have time to read.

Me, I'm there with my Lessons from Rita.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Florida and gun rights

(Via Drudge)

Florida, a leader among states in supporting our Second Amendment rights, is now looking at a legislative proposal that will bar businesses from banning their employees from bringing legally owned guns to work. The bill will also shield businesses from lawsuits if an employee should use the gun for illegal purposes.

On the whole, I can support this, although I'm a bit conflicted when it comes to favoring one right over another. On reflection, it comes down to this:
  • Far more crimes are prevented by legally owned guns than are committed with them.
  • We're favoring the individual right of real, flesh-and-blood people over the rights of a corporation, which is a fictional person created for the benefit of the government and stockholders. (An oversimplification--there are probably entire libraries with weighty tomes discussing how and why corporations came about. Feel free to do your own research.)
Here's hoping all the states see the wisdom of this path. Legislating "unarmed victim zones" is a bad idea. Enabling people to legally defend themselves is a good idea. I'm all for good ideas.