I’m sick, but it could be much worse…

I feel terrible. I’m sick of feeling terrible and I’m upset that I haven’t written in a while so here I am, against my better judgement.

This winter has been terrible in terms of illness. Most people I know have been sick multiple times. I can’t remember if this is my third or fourth time.

It started with a sore throat. The next day it got worse. I described it as a raging sore throat. The day after is was somewhat better but I thought it best to get things checked out. Happily, it wasn’t the throat infection I was expecting, but rather it is 98% likely to be some unknown viral thing that my immune system would take care of in a week or so.

So what is the other 2% chance? Strep! The dreaded streptococcal pharyngitis1. They took a throat swab and told me that if it was strep throat, they would be in touch in a day or two. Happily, that time has expired.

What blew my mind is something else the doctor told me about strep. He told me that not only is strep throat miserable, but it can lead to much more serious things. Chief among them is acute rheumatic fever2. This is particularly nasty because it can lead to rheumatic heart disease. The body attacks the strep bacteria of course, but this can cause an autoimmune reaction resulting in the body attacking the heart itself. According to Wikipedia,

Chronic rheumatic heart disease (RHD) is characterized by repeated inflammation with fibrinous repair. The cardinal anatomic changes of the valve include leaflet thickening, commissural fusion, and shortening and thickening of the tendinous cords. It is caused by an autoimmune reaction to Group A β-hemolytic streptococci (GAS) that results in valvular damage. Fibrosis and scarring of valve leaflets, commissures and cusps leads to abnormalities that can result in valve stenosis or regurgitation.3

So you catch a bacterial illness and it damages your heart! How messed up is that? Even worse is that rheumatic fever is the leading cause of acquired heart disease in India and sub-Saharan Africa4. That’s astonishing to me.

Happily, I’ll be having none of that since what I have isn’t strep. Thank goodness!

And a word of warning … if you follow those links to Wikipedia, be ready for photos of infected throats. I don’t recommend it.

  1. Wikipedia, “Streptococcal pharyngitis,” retrieved April 8, 2018
  2. Wikipedia, “Acute rheumatic fever,” retrieved April 8, 2018
  3. Wikipedia, “Streptococcal pharyngitis: Rheumatic heart disease,” retrieved April 8, 2018
  4. Wikipedia, “Streptococcal pharyngitis: Prognosis,” retrieved April 8, 2018

No more daylight saving time

I wrote my MPP a couple of days ago:

From: Rick Pali
To: Wayne Gates
Sent: Monday, March 12, 2018 6:01 PM
Subject: DST

Wayne, it’s time to ditch daylight saving time. How can we make this happen? The two time-changing events each year are simply not worth the benefits we get in exchange…

Rob Nicholson has made me accustomed to no response or having to fight to get one, so I was delighted to receive a reply today:

From: Wayne Gates
To: Rick Pali
Date: March 14, 2018 at 5:45:30 PM EDT
Subject: RE: DST

Hi Rick,

Thank you so much for reaching out to MPP Gates on this important issue, and for sharing your concerns with MPP Gates. He had an opportunity to review your email, and has added your concerns to his notes on this file.

As you may know., NDP MLA Thomas Dang in Alberta recently introduced a Private Members’ Bill to abolish Daylight Saving Time in Alberta. He is currently leading a public consultation on this bill across the province. He has received widespread support from families with young children and members of the agricultural sector. I can assure you we will continue to follow this issue.

Kindest regards,

Shannon Mitchell
Constituency Assistant – Casework Manager
Wayne Gates MPP (Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie)
Critic for Transportation

I’m glad I wrote because I knew nothing of Thomas Dang and his Private Members’ Bill. He ran a survey1 and 82% of the 26,000 recipients wanted daylight savings time to end. I absolutely believe that. I’m not sure I know anyone who would be sad to see it go. The most ridiculous issue2 people have raised is the start time of hockey games. Save us from the pox of sports.

The only possible issue is some areas considering dumping the change like the idea of staying on DST all year rather than maintaining standard time. In effect, they’re moving one time zone to the west. If most or all states, provinces, and territories stop changing from standard time to DST and back every year, those areas staying on saving time are going to mess things up. I suspect they’ll also revert to standard time eventually.

I hope the results of the public consultation are positive and Alberta makes the change. Then I hope we in Ontario quickly follow.

  1. Michelle Bellefontaine, “‘We need more time’: Alberta bill to end daylight saving time on hold,” CBC News. April 3, 2017
  2. Daniel Stilwell, “Alberta Daylight Saving Time bill to get further study,” Global News. April 5, 2017

Take care

My mom was in the hospital emergency department early this year. Happily, she is reasonably well and hasn’t been back since!

In addition to the air hookups, the call button cable, and all the other miscellany behind each bed, there is a small dry-erase board, presumably for the nurses to make notes for themselves or the nurse on the next shift. Below is the dry-erase board from the unoccupied bed opposite my Mom’s. I kept looking at it because I found it very moving. I hope the subject got well and went home.

20150207-180855 iPhone 5s IMG_0596.jpg: iPhone5s, back camera @ 4.15mm, 1/30, f/2.2, 320 ISO

IMG_0596.jpg: iPhone5s, back camera @ 4.15mm, 1/30, f/2.2, 320 ISO

Rabies and the Leafs

This morning The Voice introduced The Current with this quip:

Toronto has the first recorded case of rabies in a human in more than 80 years. Doctors at first thought it was “playoff fever” … then remembered they were in Toronto…


Running: ten weeks later

So here I am. The Running Room clinic I signed up for, Learn to Run, is complete. Last night was the tenth and final weekly run. The first week started with seven repetitions of running for one minute and walking for two minutes. The second week changed to ten repetitions of running for one minute and walking for one minute. Over the subsequent weeks, the running time gradually increased while the walking time remained the same. The repetitions also decreased to keep the total time at about twenty minutes. The last two weeks involved two repetitions of running for ten minutes and walking for one minute.

As I told the clinic leader last week, the smartest thing they did was not tell us the entire plan in advance. The advancement was gradual when viewed one week at a time, but it would have seemed overwhelming had I known it all in advance. She then told me that the plan was in the course book they gave us on the first day. Oooops. Guess who didn’t read the course book.

So look at me now. I can run for ten minutes, and then another ten minutes after a minute of walking. It’s still not easy, but many people I’ve talked to had hit a barrier at which further progress was more difficult. Invariably, once they broke through that barrier, things got easier again. It seems that the 10 and 1 point is that barrier for me.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started, and I wasn’t even sure where the clinic was taking me, but I’m really surprised that I can run for twenty minutes with a one minute walk-break in the middle. I didn’t think I’d be able to do this. Frankly, I didn’t think too much about  the end of the clinic at all, which is probably a good thing. I just went each week and ran, then I did the same run two more times before the next clinic.

I learned that running is far more a mind game than I ever expected. I’ve talked to others who know this, but only after I largely figured it out on my own. In retrospect, the Nike plan that I tried and failed to complete earlier this year wasn’t the insurmountable and ridiculous task I thought it was. And that’s the key…I thought it was. The clinic was very good for me because it got me into a diverse group of people. There were a few young people, but most were in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, I’d guess. When I felt like I was nearing my limit, I’d realize that I was running with people ten years older and I am, and how could I possibly claim that I couldn’t continue if they could? I found that I could continue, and without exception, I finished the routine.

In retrospect, I think that’s the biggest reason I failed at the Nike plan. I didn’t know how to play the game with myself and win.

Sure there’s the issue of the pain I had. You know what? I had it during this clinic too. I should have gone to my doctor about it, but I didn’t. I asked around and it didn’t fit the symptoms of what people thought it might be. Then it went away and it hasn’t returned since. It may have been yet another difficulty I had to surmount. I will talk to my doctor about it when I next see her, but in the meantime, I’m still running.

During the clinic, I ran 24 times for a total of 59 kilometres over 8½ hours, burning 4600 calories.

The attraction that first got me running still holds. It’s a good workout that doesn’t take very long. The twenty-minute runs pushed me hard and left me with no doubt that I needed a shower afterward. I want to be healthier, and running feels like a very good way to achieve this goal.

So what’s in my future? I don’t see any marathons. I like running just fine, but more for the result than the process itself. I might eventually be able to run 10 kilometres, but if I only ever get as far as 5 km distances, I’ll be very pleased. I’m not so terribly interested in organized races, either. They offer nothing I can’t get on my own, but I’m not closing the door on participation in organized races.

Looking ahead, I’d like to run 5 km, three times a week. That’s my goal. I’m not in any big rush to get there. Also, when I do get there, I may find myself with bigger goals. Who knows? But for now, it’s 5 km.