ONE YEAR, ONE WEEK, A DAY, AN HOUR
The loss of my beloved pet, Ludo, is devastatingly painful, but everything is subjective isn’t it?
A week last Monday I had to take Ludo to the Vet.
I had taken him a week before that, too. I had spotted that he was breathing more rapidly than normal and I became increasingly concerned.
My concern was justified, the Vet discovered he had a general build-up of fluids behind and to the front-left of his lungs, and a heart rate of 210bpm. The immediate plan was to give him diuretics and antibiotics for a few days, then return for the vet to see him again to assess if there was any improved or follow on treatment that could be devised. We followed the plan, and he began to recover. Sadly, it was only a remission and a week last Monday I stroked him and told him how much I loved him as the lethal anesthetic slowly put him into a deep and everlasting sleep.
To say I was heartbroken is an understatement. I was/am devastated!
I have always believed that we living beings are all completely unique, and if by only one characteristic Ludo’s uniqueness was his size. He was a giant. A giant of a cat (though with the heart and temperament of a gentle angel.) Ludo was, effectively – in human terms – about 90 years of age (you would never have guessed!)
All that was such a short while ago – ten or eleven days – but a time when ‘going out’ was an act undertaken with little concern. Since then, of course, this Country – the World – has woken to another devastation – that of Covid19.
A year ago, I was driving back from Toulouse airport after putting my wife on a flight back to the UK for her to see her father for a few weeks. My wife’s father is 90 years of age (you would never guess!) Say, the same age as Ludo was. There’s no chance of a similar trip at the moment.
My wife and I started to self isolate seven days ago. Not because we had any symptoms, but because we believed that only by preventing contagion was there any real chance of constructive action against this virus and its spread. We are also of the opinion that governments are not being strict enough. We aren’t doctors but have a friend who is – in a hospital in Bergamo, Italy, at the very center of the crisis.
He has begun sending messages out to tell people, the World, what is going on, and telling us all how we can help.
Before I let you read what he has told us, I must say that a year ago he was on holiday in Bali with his wife and children… carefree, resting, and enjoying life. A year can make so many changes, can’t it? So too, a day or even an hour!
His first message was deeply concerning, as he described how the staff at the hospital are being worn down by lack of sleep, lack of ICU units, and how he has been separated from his family and children for a couple of months. Here is his latest (with minor edits for context and grammar):
I am writing to you from Bergamo, Italy. The news media in the US and Europe has not captured the severity of what is happening here. I am writing this post because each of you, today, not the government, not the school district, not the mayor, each individual citizen has the chance, today to take actions that will deter the Italian situation from becoming your own country’s reality. The only way to stop this virus is to limit contagion. And the only way to limit contagion is for millions of people to change their behavior today.
If you are in Europe or the US you are weeks away from where we are today in Italy.
I can hear you now. “It’s just a flu. It only affects old people with preconditions”
There are 2 reasons why Coronavirus has brought Italy to its knees. First, it is a flu so devastating that when people get really sick they need weeks of ICU – and, second, because of how fast and effectively it spreads. There is 2 week incubation period and many who have it never show symptoms.
When Prime Minister Conte announced last night that the entire country, 60 million people, would go on lockdown, the line that struck me most was “there is no more time.” Because to be clear, this national lockdown is a hail mary. What he means is that if the numbers of contagion do not start to go down, the system, Italy, will collapse.
Why? Today the ICUs in Lombardy are at capacity – more than capacity. They have begun to put ICU units in the hallways. If the numbers do not go down, the growth rate of contagion tells us that there will be thousands of people who in a matter of a week? two weeks? who will need medical care. What will happen when there are 100, or a 1000 people who need the hospital and only a few ICU places left?
On Monday a doctor wrote in the paper that they have begun to have to decide who lives and who dies when the patients show up in the emergency room, like what is done in wartime. This will only get worse.
There are a finite number of Drs, nurses, medical staff and they are getting the virus. They have also been working non-stop for days and days. What happens when the Drs, nurses and medical staff are simply not able to care for the patients – when they themselves are not there?
And finally for those who say that this is just something that happens to old people, starting yesterday the hospitals are reporting that younger and younger patients – 40, 45, 18, are coming in for treatment.
You have a chance to make a difference and stop the spread in your country. Push for the entire office to work at home today, cancel birthday parties, and other gatherings, stay home as much as you can. If you have a fever, any fever, stay home. Push for school closures, now. Anything you can do to stop the spread, because it is spreading in your communities too – there is a two week incubation period – and if you do these things now you can buy your medical system time.
And for those who say it is not possible to close the schools and do all these other things, locking down Italy was beyond anyone’s imagination a week ago.
Soon you will not have a choice. Please do what you can now.
So I am sharing his message with you. For all I know in another seemingly small period of time I may not be able: I am aged with preconditions. We all need to be kind and think of others.