Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Stacks and stacks of books and what I've been learning

I have been absorbing books, CD's, DVDs and books on tape at a record rate lately. The very best part of living here (so far) has been the inter-library loan system. Fantastic!
I have learned so many things lately, and all these things are now rattling around my brain. I wonder if it's possible to O.D. on information? Hmmmmm
I have learned that, in fact, a great many people who died in the 1918 flu pandemic died not of flu, but of ARDS ( Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is sudden, life-threatening lung failure. ARDS inflames the alveoli, causing them to fill with liquid and collapse. Once the alveoli collapse, gas exchange ceases, and the body becomes starved of oxygen. ARDS requires treatment with mechanical ventilation or some other form of assisted breathing.
ARDS is a syndrome, not a specific disease. A variety of underlying conditions, from blood-borne infections to major trauma, can cause the characteristic inflammation and accumulation of fluid (edema) in the alveoli (see causes).
ARDS usually develops within 24 to 48 hours of the injury or illness. The duration and intensity of the condition can vary considerably from patient to patient. The mortality rate from ARDS ranges from 35—50%. In most cases, death results from underlying disease or from complications of mechanical ventilation. In patients who survive, normal lung function usually resumes within 6 to 12 months. ) This was interesting to me because I used to be a respiratory therapist and saw a few cases of this. Always serious, we could, never the less, at least offer life support until the lungs healed, but the did not have the necessary equipment or knowledge to do this in 1918. Even today, at the rate of infection, I would be very surprised if we could treat such overwhelming numbers simply because we would run out of ventilators!
I also learned that my favorite person from BBC America's Ground Force show, Alan Tichmarsh, is a splendid non-fiction writer. I am currently enjoying the book Rosie about an 87 year old grandmother that wants to live some more before she dies.
From Raising the Home Duck Flock I learned that drakes (boys) are quieter then the girls! Who knew?
In After the Victorians by A.N. Wilson (who, by the way, injects a great deal of his personal perspectives into what I took to be a history book) I learned that the British Royal Family were not particularly rich until Victoria died leaving her son a personal fortune which she had saved through her thrifty personal habits. Such was the enmity between Edward and his mother, that before she was even cold he went through the castle making changes in decoration so to erase her personality from his surroundings.
I learned that Victor Borge is still funny and Bette Midler is still one of the greatest female vocalists alive today.
Also, I am learning so many wonderful new ways to prepare food and to garden. I'm reading how the Pope grew up under a Nazi regime and that he and his older brother were both ordained as Catholic priests in the same ceremony after the war. Now I know that when the sewing machine garbles up the bobbin stitch underneath the fabric, it is almost always due to the thread not being threaded correctly.
If I have to be homebound in a place where I don't know anyone, you must admit that I am at least using the time to increase my knowledge in many different areas. Just goes to show you:
There's always a silver lining....

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