Discover more from Stephen's People
Magnum virus, losing cool and CBD
(no.21) Plus, make your own hand sanitizer, by Stephen P. Williams
(please click the heart, above, to bring joy into my life)
But first, this: In the spirit of fairness I’d like to say that not all viruses are bad. Some are very, very good. Bacteriophages, for instance, that work like antibiotics, but in an even more refined manner, to kill harmful bacteria.
I’ve joined a club I never applied to
It’s a sunny day in early spring, and I’m getting ready to take my senior citizen dog, Alice, to the local dog park where she likes to stand on top of a rock and pose for passing tourists. I wonder how long those tourists will be here, considering that the governor of New York has just declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus that causes COVID 19. (Is that the best name they could come up with? I ran it through a name generator that suggested Magnum Virus, instead.)
Intelligentsia Coffee at The Highline Hotel. Blissfully empty.
At the moment, NYC doesn’t feel like an emergency space. My coffee shop this morning was packed with young people chatting on velvet couches as their purebred dogs lounged with biscuits on ornate rugs. They all had privileged and eventful lives stretching out to the horizon, until the governor messed things up with his pronouncement. Can dogs get COVID 19? One of the big mysteries now being explored on twitter.
If we’re in a state of emergency, no one told the thousand or so people who rode with me on the A train home from taking food to a sick friend last night. I hear construction work out my window, as always. The garbage was picked up this morning. The Highline Park is packed.
A logo from the Chinese Centers for Disease Control
A 65-year old neighbor told me yesterday that he and his husband are planning to take advantage of cheap and empty flights to travel internationally during this crisis, just as they did after 9-11. Now that was a real state of emergency. But I also remember that my wife and I went out for her birthday dinner the night the towers fell, just a couple of blocks from where doctors and nurses stood in the street waiting with stretchers for the injured survivors, who never showed up. Several thousand people had just died a couple of miles south, and the place was packed. In my experience, a state of emergency never unfolds as you’d expect. Neither does aging.
I recently discovered that I’m a member of the endangered, the imperiled, the at risk, as classified by the medical experts. That’s right, I’m over 60, and we ancients are being told to stay indoors because we’re more susceptible to dangerous complications from COVID 19. The fact of my age puts me in the same category as someone with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes or a weakened immune systems. Even though I have none of these ailments, I can see the logic of it.
Here’s how the virus has unfolded in various age groups in China.
87% of diagnosed cases in February were people ages 30-79
78% were people ages 30-69
8.1 % were 20-somethings
1.2% were teenagers
0.9% were 9 years old or younger.
2.3% of cases diagnosed in February died.
14.8% of those who were over 80 died.
1.3% of 50-somethings died
0.4% of 40 somethings died.
0.2% of those 10-39 died.
Bear in mind that these figures are from the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, which has been accused of manipulating the statistics. I do not know either way. But if the trends are to be believed, older people die at a higher rate. While it is widely accepted that our immune systems naturally decline precipitously as we age, that’s just not true. The decline is minimal, compared to how our lung capacity or hearts or brains age. However, we do become more susceptible to respiratory illnesses, and that’s probably why so many older people die of COVID 19.
Half of all patients treated in the Central Hospital of Wuhan, where the outbreak was first noticed, came down with ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). Their average age was 61. ARDS clogs the lungs with fluid, and the resulting lack of oxygen hurts the whole body. Half of these people died. Only 9% of those who didn’t develop respiratory distress died.
These stats are why I keep hearing warnings that people like me should hide inside. I’m not trying to make an argument — rather, I’d like you to know how surprised I am to be thrust into this category. It’s one of the startling facts of getting old -- you join a demographic that all your life has seemed way over there. Sure, 80 is the new 70, and 70 is the new 60. But there’s no getting around the fact that in our society, at 62 I am perceived to have crossed into the land of decline. Despite my frequent swimming and weight lifting, low carb diet, meditation and other beneficial practices, I will never return to youth, as my culture sees it. I can feel young. I can even look slightly young on a good day, but when the numbers are used to divide us into categories, I’m on the downhill side.
Rather than take leave on that Debbie Downer note, I thought about ending with a coronavirus joke. But I saw that Prince William, second in line to the English throne, got in trouble for doing just that the other day. As if that weren’t enough for the royals, The Duchess of Cornwall made a joke of her own a few hours later. I’ve included links, but they aren’t really funny. A prince and his wicked stepmother walked into a pub — a jolly good time.
So I will end by recommending an article about the clever artist who turned face recognition on its head using coronavirus prevention masks. This leads me to believe that I could wear a young looking mask in order to avoid being quarantined with the rest of the elders as I go about my business.
Seriously, I had everything before anyone!
Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem is the story of the cool guy going room temperature with age. Lyrics are here.
News for people who are still cool.
Old polar bear fights young polar bears and has a lot of fun doing it.
Lots of people turn to CBD as they age for relief from aches and pains and help with sleep. Unfortunately, the FDA seems unable to come up with any guidelines for the stuff.