Showing posts with label Death. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Death. Show all posts

March 25, 2019

An Early Death

So I received an email last night from the teacher of my Ulpan class. 

She was passing along a message from a wonderful man in class letting her and us know some terrible news.

His son suddenly and unexpectedly died at just 28-years old this past week. 

He wrote about how tragedy like this impacts a person and family, and that obviously he didn't know when he would be coming back to class. 

The message from this man who had just prematurely lost his son in the prime of his life really hit me. 

Life is so tenuous--where everything truly hangs in the balance by a thin thread. 

You can think you are building a fortress of success where no one and nothing can touch you, hurt you.

But life has its own catapults, battering rams, siege towers, and explosive moments in store.

You can't really plan for these things, and you are never ready when they happen. 

Having to bury a child is not the normal way of the wold, and the pain of this is unimaginable. 

A child is the culmination of all our efforts and represents the future, even while we are the past. 

I am so sorry for what happened to my friend from class and I wish him my sincerest condolences and that no one should have to go through such tragedy any more. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 24, 2018

Iron Maiden Torture


Check this out. 

This is called an Iron Maiden.

It is from Nuremberg, Germany. 

This one is from Medieval times, but they were apparently still around even in the 19th century!

It has 14 spikes on the inside that were designed to pierce the eyes, throat, and heart. 

People placed for torture and death in the Iron Maiden sarcophagus would be completely mutilated. 

Is this one of the reasons that so many people suffer from claustrophobia?  

I remember seeing in a movie where someone was placed in a dungeon cell, but this one was carved into the rock wall horizontally. 

The prisoner would be forced to lie down in it with iron bars caged over the side vertically. 

S/he could not sit up, roll over, or move. 

Can you imagine the sheer terror and torture?

How people could be so evil and inflict such suffering on others and often for crimes like heresy is extremely hard to understand. 

Why in G-d's name does anyone call it the "good 'ol days?" 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 19, 2017

Never Ever More Vulnerable

So we have never been more technology advanced. And at the same time, we have never been more vulnerable

As we all know, our cybersecurity have not kept near pace with our ever growing reliance on everything technology.

There is virtually nothing we do now-a-days that does not involve networks, chips, and bits and bytes. 

Energy
Transportation
Agriculture
Banking
Commerce
Health
Defense
Manufacturing
Telecommunications

If ANYTHING serious happens to cripple our technology base, we are toast!

From a crippling cyberattack that disables or hijacks our systems, steals or locks down our data, or creates massive chaotic misinformation flow to a EMP blast that simply fries all our electronic circuitry--we are at the mercy of our technology underpinnings. 

Don't think it cannot happen!

Whether it's Wannacry ransonware or the Equifax breach of our privacy data or the Kaspersky Labs hidden backdoor to our top secret files or North Korea threatening to hit us with an EMP--these are just a few of the recent cyber events of 2017!

Technology is both a blessing and a curse--we have more capability, more speed, more convenience, more cost-effectiveness than ever before, but also there is greater vulnerability to complete and utter death and destruction!

This is not just a risk that life could become more difficult or inconvenient--it is literally an existential threat, but who wants to think of it that way?

People, property, and our very society is at risk when our cybersecurity is not what it must be.

It's a race of defensive against offensive capability. 

And we can't just play defense, we had better actually win at this! ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 16, 2016

Death With Dignity

It is amazing that still in the 21st century there is not widespread acceptance and legality of physician-assisted suicide. 

Even the term voluntary euthanasia (from the Greek meaning good death) is still considered taboo--similar to using the term radical Islamist.

People are afraid to call a spade a spade and deal with life's complexities and harsh realities. 

All through history, mankind had the code of conduct and honor that when someone (person or animal) was mortality wounded by nature or in battle, they would be "put out of their misery."

This is called COMPASSION!

Yet, in modern-day civilization, extremist PC-ness (politically correctness) dooms even such a basic fundamental act of decency toward one another. 

Like with radical Islam, the fear of saying it and admitting to a war against extremist and murderous religion ideology cannot be fathomed and so "leadership from behind" mandates that we close our eyes and pretend the boogeyman isn't really in the room--even if it means continuous losing in the global war on terror. 

Similarly, with euthanasia, poor excuses for leaders fear that once the genie is out of the bootle, people will just be committing arbitrary acts of suicide left and right. 

Unfortunately, these weak people in leadership positions are not leaders, but rather cowards who force others to suffer whether by the hands of terrorism and war or by the unnecessary and cruel suffering for people with the most horrible illness and disabilities in society. 

In 1988, "Dr. Death," Jack Kevorkian, provided assisted suicide to someone with the horrible, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and in turn, he had to spend 8 years in jail for second-degree murder.

Fortunately, there are now already 5 U.S. states where "physicians cannot prosecuted for prescribing medication to hasten death", where individuals that "have a terminal illness as well as a prognosis of six months or less to live." These include: Oregon, Vermont, Washington, California, and Montana (when mandated by a court ruling).  

Similarly, overseas in Switzerland, associations like DIGNITAS, provide services "accompanying dying patients at the end of their lives and assistance with suicide."

The person must have a: 

- "terminal illness" and/or an 
- "an "unendurable incapacitating disability" and/or 
- "unbearable and uncontrollable pain."

The end is made reasonable and humane by having a in-depth evaluation, followed by at least 2 face-to-face meetings with doctors, getting a prescription for the medicine, setting a mutually agreed date, having loved ones at their side, and self-administering the fatal dose of Sodium Pentobarbital (NaP), usually 15 mg by swallowing or administering by gastric tube or intravenously.

The medicine is "lethal, fast-acting, and completely painless"--after taking it, the patient falls asleep within a few minutes and passes peacefully. 

Having seen my own mother suffer horribly with Parkinson's Disease, I know that voluntary euthanasia would not only have been the merciful thing to do, but the right thing to do to help people. 

Political correctness and fear of doing what needs to be done is no excuse for prolonging the suffering of those that want to exercise their right to die and who deserve their final peace. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 30, 2016

What Do We Fear More?

So it's Halloween tomorrow.

It's a holiday to remember those that have passed. 

In modern times, it has become a holiday of ghosts and ghouls, spooky and scary.

People dress up often in ghastly costumes, party hearty, and go door to door, trick or treat.

With fright night, I ask myself, are we more afraid of what we don't understand from the spirit world or perhaps of what do understand from people in this life?

Certainly, the supernatural and the spirits--elements of what's awaiting for us on the other side are things we don't really have tangible experience with or understand...we are afraid of the unknown.

But in this world, we are familiar and encounter bad people and deeds, and unfortunately have to deal with them, but it never becomes easier or less scary to confront these.

Sure, we understand that not everyone is good, and not everyone has the best impulse control--people do rotten, horrible things for selfishness and greed or simply because they can't stop themselves.

How scary is it to run into and have to deal with people that can and will do almost anything--maybe without a conscious thought or remorse for doing wrong...perhaps, they might even enjoy hurting others, taking what doesn't belong to them, forcing their will or themselves on others, and doing unthinkable acts of crazed violence and evil. 

We are definitely afraid of people like this...they are out of control, and don't add up for those of us who think in terms of a soul, conscience, an everyday moral compass, and a seeing and hearing L-rd above

So life is scary, but death awaits us all as well. 

And as my dad used to say, no one has ever come back to tell us what happens over there. 

He had the most faith of anyone I know, and I understand we are supposed to have faith that we are going to a better place, but like coming out of the mother's womb into this world, when we die, we are coming out into a whole new place altogether. 

New things are scary and going from the physical world to the spiritual one, I assume can also be a little earth shattering--where exactly are we going and how will we be judged when we get there? 

Of course, I hope that I will be with my family and with G-d and bask in his eternal light. 

Thus for me, I find myself less scared of ghosts and metaphysical things, but the evil that people can bring, behind ghoulish smiles and with hidden agendas, telling lies and fooling us of their evil intent, that is scarier than any ghost or goblin, any time of year on Earth or beyond. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 6, 2016

Style From Head To Toe

 
So I took these photos of two young fashionable men. 

The first had a very cool "Death" cap on.

And the second had the reddest pair of sneakers, I've ever seen. 

Both were stylish standouts!

To me, the hat confronted the scariness of death head-on (excuse the pun) or that the person is themselves, in a sense, death to anyone that starts with them or gets in their way--it is not only bold in terms of the big white letters, but in terms of the courage to face the harshest of all our realities. 

Then to the shoes, going red and untied, spoke to me in terms of looseness, comfort, and ease with yourself--you are who you are and the world be darned!

Both the cap and the shoes are in your face and make a statement of cool nonchalance and the daringness to confront "whatever." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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June 5, 2016

Amazing Will

So this is amazing Will. 

He is a veteran who was disabled and is missing a leg. 

But that doesn't stop him from going to the track with his beautiful son to play ball and do some laps. 

In a few short moments he switches between his regular walking prothesis and the carbon fiber running blades for playing and working out. 

All I could say to Will was how amazing he is. 

And he is amazing Will for what he can do despite any disabilities--he turns his disabilities into abilities!

And he is amazing Will not just because of his name and his service to his country and his devotion to his family, but because of his willpower.

Will is determined to succeed no matter what. 

Not to compare, but I thought to myself what excuse do I have with my titanium hips.

Get the heck around the track for another dozen Andy!

And I did, and I am losing weight and getting back to myself. 

I think the lose of both my completely dear parents the last couple of years was more than traumatic for me. 

But they would want me to heal and to be me again.  

I know they are watching and I want to make them proud. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 29, 2016

Better Than A Cadaver

So I'm at the doctor's office for a checkup.

The doctor tells me to lie down on the exam table. 

There is also a 3rd year medical student in the room as part of her training. 

The exam starts and there are all these devices for checking things out. 

It's feeling a little tense. 

I jokingly say, "I feel like a cadaver lying here (being studied)."

Then the medical student says, "Oh you smell much better than a cadaver! I just took that class."

Oh, how comforting is that--smelling better than a stinkin' dead person whose been embalmed!

At which point, there is some ridiculous talk about dead people and formaldehyde, body odor, and decay.

This was quite a lively visit, but I hope it was helpful to me and to medical science. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 9, 2016

It's Got To Be

So I read a book review the other day that I haven't been able to get out of my mind. 

The book was by an atheist who had 2 near-death experiences. 

And while for other people, they see the light at the end of the tunnel--and are reunited with family loved ones and are in bliss from being with the Heavenly Father...

This guy saw nothing but blackness and said it was empty and nothingness. 

And he was dead serious about it. 

He said there is nothing after we die, absolutely nothing. 

Now, while I have always believed in life after death and even in reincarnation if we still have more growing and learning to do, I had heard others say contrary beliefs in the past.

One guy in synagogue when I was a young adult used to say, "When you die, you're as dead as a dead dog!"

Lovely thought (not), but I never took any of that seriously. 

Yet, this guy's book somehow got to me on a deep level. 

Maybe because I lost my beloved parents over the last 2+ years and am still deeply mourning them, and the only thing that can possibly console me about that is the notion that I will one day be reunited with them and see them again. 

So the opposing idea that it's really over--that I will never see them again--experience their love and laughter again--is beyond my comprehension--it literally blows my mind in a bad bad way. 

Also, I said to my wife, if this atheist is by any chance right (not about G-d) but about there being no afterworld, then what is the purpose to anything we do--who cares?

Without G-d, without Divine will and justice, and a world-to-come, there really is nothing but darkness and not just after we die, but now too--because it would all be purposeless. 

No, I cannot believe that!

The atheist saw nothing afterwards, because he believes in nothing--it's a measure for a measure. 

For those who believe that there is more, much more--there really is. 

It has to be that way...for anything to make sense. 

For us to try so hard. 

For us to go on.

For us to have a purpose.

For there to be justice.

For there to be us. 

My dad used to tell me that "No one has ever come back from the other side to tell us what's there."

So it really is the ultimate mystery of life...but I choose to believe in life now and in life later. 

The miracles of my own life and those around me show me again and again that there is design, there is order, there is a plan, there is a purpose and I will find mine. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 5, 2016

Warning 613

As per my prior posts in November and December, we are continuing to see the mystical 613 (representing the number of commandments in the Torah). 

This morning, on the Washington, D.C. Metro, see the time showing (above upper right). 

The whole family is seeing this, as I got a note from my daughter just a few minutes ago looking at online classes at Lynda.com and one of the classes had 613 views. 

Even to me (normally a critical thinker and healthy skeptic), it seems beyond regular explanations for the frequency and locations that we are seeing these signs. 

Also, last night I had a scary dream about what seemed like the end of times--it was almost like The Walking Dead, with people running to the countryside amidst chaos and destruction all around them. 

As tensions heat up between major Sunni and Shiite rivals, Saudi Arabia and Iran, and "Axis of Evil" Iran unveils a 2nd underground depot with missiles capable of carrying nukes, and ISIS continues their jihadi rampage leaving 80% of Ramadi in Iraq destroyed at a cost of $10 billion, a new Jihadi John replacement is executing British hostages in Syria, and there are escalating superpower tussles with Russia and China--it is not hard to see just some of the potential dangers in our times in terms of escalating conflict, terrorism, and war. 

What is the future for us all, I do not know for certain, but all I can tell you is there appears to be warnings all about, and the question is will we heed them or not and then what is the outcome--it should be with mercy and for blessings. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 17, 2015

Work-Family Is A Word

This week I learned something about "work-family."

Yes, work is not family--it's your job.

But on the job we meet people that influence us, change us, and sometimes inspire us. 

Not everyone has a positive impact on us--some people we work with are bad, unbalanced, selfish, biased, and abusive--they bring their personal craziness into the office. 

But some are truly good people out there--and they leave a lasting impact. 

This week was the first time I experienced someone in my group passing away suddenly. 

She was at work Monday and Tuesday--we had talked and joked.

I remember she wore pink on Tuesday and it matched a pink stuffed animal on her desk--she looked happy or at peace. 

By early Wednesday morning, I was getting texts then calls that she had passed away (I simultaneously let my boss know). 

One day she was there in the office (and had been for some 30 years) and the next day she was gone.

But there was something special about this lady and how she interacted with the team. 

She seemed to touch people far and wide with her outreach, caring for others, joking around, and good spirit despite whatever challenges she herself may have been going through.

When she passed this week, people were in my office and the halls crying--they loved this lady, their coworker and friend.

At 9 AM, I gathered the broader team to announce her passing. "One of our own has passed." I spoke and then went around offering others to say a few words, which some surely did. 

At 10 AM, I sent a notification of the passing to the people in the entire building (and others associated).

Later in the day, there was a toast to her and more speeches from up and down the chain to remember this good lady as well as to pull together as a team to support each other.

By the next day, things had quickly moved to care for the family, packing her office things and memorializing her, as well as provisions for some grief counseling. 

[Note: I am blessed with an extraordinary high-performance team, and this passing was not only a shock but added to the intensity of the work we do and how much of it there is.]

Once we have all the funeral arrangements, then next up is sending out an broader department-wide notice--and a large attendance for her is expected. 

What I learned is that while work itself can be productive and meaningful, through doing good to others and sincere personal interactions on the job, there can be bonds formed that can have a personal impact on people and bring tears to their eyes. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 5, 2015

Freak Accidents, Illnesses, And Events

Dave Goldberg, the CEO of Survey Monkey (and the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook), died suddenly in a freakish accident falling off a treadmill and hitting his head. 

Poof...dead at age 47!

Unfortunately, we hear all the time about these type of tragic occurrences to people.

And of course tragedy knows no bounds--so while sh*t happens everyday to people from all walks of life, we tend to pay more attention when it's someone we know and love or when it's splashed wildly in the news about fabulously successful people we admire and follow. 

- Entertainer, Michael Jackson (50) dead from drug intoxication after suffering cardiac arrest.

- Actor, Robin Williams (63) dead by hanging suicide. 

- Singer, John Lennon (40) shot in the back by someone he had autographed an album for.

- Martial Artist, Bruce Lee (33) died on a movie set from a cerebral edema.

- Model, Marilyn Monroe (33) dead by drug overdose.

- President, John F. Kennedy (46) dead by assassination.

Whether by a plane crash or car accident, drowning or fire, poison or electrocution, a criminal or animal attackterrorism, war, or natural disaster, a heart attack, stroke, or cancer, through suicide, punishment, or mercy killing...regardless of the probabilities and statistics, many people never make it all the way to "a ripe old age." 

We feel bad, shake our heads, say a few words of sympathy perhaps, when we hear of these lives cut short.

But like the TV shows, Six Feet Under (HBO) or 1000 Ways To Die (Spike)--there are a near endless number of horrible ways to go--and they can take you at literally any time.

While we can't stop living and just sit around worrying all the time about all the bad things that can happen, we do need to remember that anything can happen at any time (and these things are not so freakish after all)--no one is beyond the Angel of Death, no one should be arrogant, and we should make the most of every single moment that G-d lovingly grants to us.  ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Military Health)
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January 5, 2015

Comfort In Mourning

While sitting in mourning (Shiva) for my dad (as previously I did just last year for my mom), people come and say the ancient Jewish words of comfort:

"May the Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem!"


The experience of sitting Shiva is humbling, being in mourning, sitting on a low stool, unshaven, and with torn garb, and reciting the words of the Kaddish (mourners prayer) out loud. 


"...May He who makes peace in the high places, grant [in his mercy] peace upon us, and upon all Israel, Amen."


But more than anything, I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring from so many good people in the community. 


People have come to pray with me, tell me wonderful stories about my dad, and generally share with me in my mourning for him. 


I have been truly taken by the many people who have come both in good health, but also from people that were blind and with everything from broken arms to walking canes and to those who called thinking of me while they themselves are sick or even wheelchair-bound. 


People have shared their own stories of grief to let me know I wasn't alone, and they brought food so I definitely wouldn't be hungry. 


Others have told me how wonderful my dad was as a friend and in the community, how he made people smile and was always in good spirits (even perhaps when he had good reason not to be), and how he did so many good deeds (some that were known and many others that were not). 


I have been amazed how people stay not just for prayer services, but take the time to really talk to me, to give selflessly and generously, even from their own busy family and work lives and schedules. 


Some of the people I know from the community, some just knew my dad, but I realize how these good, giving people are really worth knowing as human beings--not because they were my dad's friends or gave to me at this time of mourning, but because they are truly spiritual people, who just desire to do some good in the world--like my dad who did this for others (and how he taught me all my life and especially as a child). 


I hope that this time of mourning is not just one of finding comfort and healing, but also a re-awakening of my own feelings for community, spirituality, and selflessness. 


I have much room for personal growth for myself, but also many role models around who have set the bar very high. Also, my dad has left some VERY big shoes for me to fill. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 10, 2014

Cure Cancer B4 It Kills Again


Nice seeing these signs and slogans against cancer posted today in Washington, D.C.

Looking at the 2014 statistics, there were almost 1.7 million new cases and almost 687 thousand deaths in the U.S. alone for cancer including of the brain/nervous system, female breast, colon/rectum, Leukemia, liver, lung/bronchus, non-hodgkin lymphoma, ovary, pancreas, and prostate.

Way too much suffering and death from cancer...we must fight this killer. 

Whatever we can do to raise money, caring, and empathy...we should do. 

Run, walk, give, support, remember...even just hold someone's hand. 

Thank you American Cancer Society and everyone out there helping to find the cure. 

"14 million cancer survivors are celebrating birthdays this year."

Won't it be miraculous when everyone is a survivor in a world without cancer anymore. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 18, 2014

Welcome Ebola To America!

While our self-declared intelligentsia has decided to keep the commercial flights open to Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, experts are predicting that new ebola cases will reach 10,000 per week by December!

Moreover, the United Nations has warned that if Ebola is not controlled within the next 60 days, "the world faces an 'unprecedented situation' for which there is no plan."


But by the time, we get our political will and act together, who knows...


What isn't helping are publications like Bloomberg Businessweek, with another classic asinine article this time by Charles Kenny who writes--get this--that "A Travel Ban Is a Terrible Idea."


While Kenny acknowledges "Travel restrictions have a long history as a tool against spreading infection" dating back already to the Middle Ages, Kenny is concerned about the "trade-offs" of quarantining the source countries--"because the benefits of contact outweigh the risks"--i.e. "People want to travel to see family and friends, visits places, work, or invest."


Well Mr. Kenny, how about that people want to live and not die because of the irresponsible spread of this deadly virus? Two-thirds of the public, as well as many in Congress, and the media have already called for a common sense temporary travel ban. 


Kenny then goes on to exaggerate and talk about how laughable it is that we would "completely seal off the U.S. from the rest of the world" even though what we are talking about are just the countries where this deadly infection is currently raging. 


Further, Kenny is concerned not about containing the disease and protecting the more than 300,000,000 people in this country, but about the possibility that a ban on commercial flights "will deter people from volunteering to work in the region"--here again, Kenny ignores that specialized, trained people from the military, World Health Organization, Doctors Without Borders, and more are already being deployed--although too little too late. 


Incredibly, Kenny even compares Ebola to the common flu, and intimates that since we don't quarantine for the seasonal flu, why should we do it for Ebola--uh, Mr. Kenny have you heard that Ebola has a 70% mortality rate!

Finally, Kenny says in his defeatist way, "We live in a global disease pool. In the end, once a disease begins to spread, there's no escaping an infection."


Hello Mr. Kenny, we have a responsibility to prevent and protect our people--there is no place for your throwing in the towel on all of us--what a shame that Bloomberg makes this dangerous rhetoric the Opening Remarks for their magazine. 


There is long established protocol of quarantine to stop the spread of infection--not that it would necessarily be 100% successful, but at least it would help contain and control the spread from getting worse, and we would learn to improve as we go along, and live to fight and save more lives now and in the future.


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 30, 2014

Ebola Has Arrived

The Washington Post ran an article on August 1, "Why You Are Not Going To Get Ebola In The U.S."

As of about 10 minutes ago, they are now reporting, "As Ebola Confirmed In U.S. , CDC vows, 'We're Stopping It In Its Tracks.'"

What do you think we'll see in the news about Ebola within the next 6 months or year--completely eradicated, mostly contained, spreading slowly, or G-d forbid a global pandemic? 

G-d should help us to conquer this disease quickly and completely. 

(Source Photo: here with Attribution to European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection)
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August 15, 2014

The Ebola Bomb {^}

Ebola is the "one of the most virulent microbes" to mankind--there is no known cure and it has a 90% mortality rate. 

The death toll from the current outbreak of ebola in West Africa has now hit 1,145.


And according to the U.N. Health Agency, the number of deaths are "vastly underestimated."


Already, as of two weeks ago, more than 100 health workers had been infected. So who is going to care for the infected and sick, when the medical professionals themselves are sick and dead? 


According to the World Health Organization, Ebola is spread by "direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected people, and indirect contact with environments infected with such fluids."


However, as frightening and deadly as ebola is as a disease that spreads and must be contained, what is even more terrifying is that there are those who believe that terrorists may try to harness it into a dirty bomb.


CBS reports that a disease expert from Cambridge University says that "A bigger and more serious risk is that a [terrorist] group manages to harness the virus as a power, then explode it in a bomb in a highly populated area."


A biological bomb like this "could cause a large number of horrific deaths," and would further spread the disease--and until it stops, no one knows. 


Visiting any number of local doctors offices, emergency rooms, or hospitals that are already filled with patients and with lengthy wait times to be treated, I cannot imagine what an Ebola (type) outbreak would look like.


I hope and pray we never find out the suffering, death, and havoc something a virus like this would cause--whether transmitted through human-to-human contact or by one of the dirtiest, sickest bombs you could imagine. 


(Source Screenshot: here with attribution to Unicef)

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November 11, 2013

From The Window In the Nursing Home

I visit the nursing home pretty often to see my mom who is there. 

While I try to focus on my mom and her needs, I do notice other patients there. 

The images are deeply impactful on me...here are ten that are on my mind today:

1) The husband and wife who are both in the home in a shared room--the wife is wheelchair-bound and the husband dutifully pushes her around the floor. This weekend, I saw them together at the nurses' station asking for some crackers. When the nurse came back with some individually wrapped crackers in cellophane, the couple took them and went off down the hall happy as clams.

2) The lady at the table who is overweight, but always asks for more food. She doesn't talk much except to ask for more dessert. She stares at the other patients and seems annoyed and upset with them.

3) The guy who was a lawyer, but now has dementia, and sits and talks half to himself and half trying to engage others, but all that comes out is sort of gibberish. So others just nod or say something to politely acknowledge him, but can't converse with him with any meaning. 

4) The lady in the room who sits in a chair hunchback. She never seems to leave the room or the chair. Sometimes, she watches TV and other times appear to be crocheting. Mostly she sits hunchback, looking uncomfortable, but settled for the long hall like that. 

5) The woman who sits outside her door in the hallway. She is in a wheelchair, and she doesn't say anything, but she stares at you while you walk down the hallway. She sits there watching--sitting and watching. 

6) The younger but still old disheveled guy. He comes into the dining room to eat, but gets food all over himself. He sits alone, always. He eats quickly, leaves half his food, and gets up and goes out while everyone else is still picking away at their food. 

7) The lady with a wall of baseball caps. She has no hair, maybe she has cancer, I don't know. She usually is in bed, sitting up. The caps look like they have a lot of meaning to her, but I'm not sure if it's because she's a sports enthusiast or why.

8) A lady in a wheelchair that pulls herself along down the hall. She puts one foot in front of the other in these baby steps motions, and the chair moves along, slowly, but at least she is mobile, somewhat. 

9) This weekend, I looked out the window of the home, and there was a woman on the sidewalk. She had fallen on the ground, on her butt. Her walker was next to her, but she could not get up. Some people were near here, apparently trying to get help, but not wanting to touch or move her themselves. I ran for the floor nurse, and she came to the window to see. She said is that so and so, which meant nothing to me, and then she ran off to help her get up. 

10) A lady sits downstairs by the glass windows--she is dressed up fancy like older healthy people are want to do. Next to her is an older gentleman in a turtleneck, but he is just visiting and is her son. They seem to be sort of wealthy as they sit upright in the high-back chairs and discuss family and what she's been eating at the home. They look askance at some of the other patients who are crying out in pain. 

The nursing home, like the hospital is a horrible place to be, even when you have to be there.

In both places, even the most caring doctors and nurses and attendants, cannot make up for the fact that you are a prisoner of age, failing health, and disability--and let's face it, even if many are nice or attentive, not everyone is. 

I am still unclear why people must suffer so--why we haven't found a better way to end good, productive, and loving lives.  

I am not sure that people are really even focused on this issue of old age, because it's not sexy, it's at the end anyway, and "they had the chance to live their lives."

Maybe, it's because we simply don't have the answers yet, can't afford what they would take, or we would just rather not deal with mortality, pain, and suffering when there are so many other things to do. 

But one day, we all will face the piper--and it would be comforting if we had better answers.

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 1, 2013

Can't Wait For The Walking Dead - Season 4


This show, The Walking Dead, is just awesome.

It's the end of the world...

With the the few battling to survive.

The scary fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaah 26:19  that the "dead will live; their corpses will rise up."

But rather than "shout for joy," in this version of events, we scream with horror as zombies keep coming  and coming, and their is no place left to hide. 

Those left have to run and fight, but if they get bitten (and eaten) and die, they too become what they fear and hate most--"The Walkers."

The characters, the action, the intensity, the ultimate challenge for humanity.

Can't wait for October 13, 9 pm on AMC. ;-)
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May 3, 2013

When Desperation Turns Deadly

It was shocking to read that suicide deaths in the U.S. have now surpassed deaths by motor vehicle accidents.

In 2010, there were over 38,000 suicides compared with almost 34,000 motor vehicle deaths (or 14.1 suicides per 100,000 people aged 10 and older versus 10.7 deaths from motor vehicles). 

Motor vehicle deaths have been, thank G-d, declining since 1999, while suicides are unfortunately up by almost a third (31%). 

Suicide for working adults were double other demographics (and highest for those in their 50's), while for teens and the elderly, the rates stayed flat. 

According to the Wall Street Journal (3 May 2012), for middle-age people 35-64, suicide is now the 4th highest cause of death after cancer, heart disease, and unintentional injury (e.g. drowning). 

Suicide prevention efforts that have typically been directed to at-risk teenagers and the elderly are now being looked at for greater focus on middle-aged adults. 

The article points to tough economic times (with the recession of 2007) as a potential factor in the increase. 

I would assume also that the 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed to the increase as well due to posttraumatic stress disorder. 

Yet, suicide is a very final act of escape for those acutely suffering from economic hardships, the horrors of war, and depression--and we can only imagine how much pain these people must be feeling to do the unthinkable. 

I am familiar with teenagers and adults taking or attempting suicide--some have survived and others have died. 

For those lucky enough to survive, they have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and try again, while those who didn't make it, their loved ones suffer with the emptiness that was once a loving and caring individual, part of their lives. 

I was taught in Yeshiva that suicide is a very grave sin and people don't have the right to take the life that G-d granted them, but in my mind, those who suffer so as to attempt or commit suicide are probably not in a state of mind or in full control of themselves to be fully responsible. 

It is worth thinking about that if 38,000 actually commit suicide a year, how many more attempt it, contemplate it often, or otherwise consider it occasionally. 

People need help coping. I remember learning in English class in college that "all men live lives of quiet desperation," and I wonder how many are out there suffering inside--at times desperate, but usually putting a smile on their faces. 

We need to look beyond the surface of what people are going through, have empathy, have mercy, and give plentifully of your time, and kindness to all--you may just be saving a desperate life from taking that one last and unforgiving step. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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