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Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
#1

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
If someone from the early 20th century were to be transported here and now, they'd laugh in our faces and breathe a sigh of relief, healthwise.

I give you* encephalitis lethargica.


"Between 1915 and 1926, a world-wide encephalitis lethargica pandemic occurred, impacting nearly 5 million people and killing an estimated 1.6 million people.

In the ten years that the pandemic raged, nearly five million people's lives were taken or ravaged. Encephalitis lethargica assumed its most virulent form between October 1918 and January 1919. The pandemic disappeared in 1927 as abruptly and mysteriously as it first appeared. The great encephalitis pandemic coincided with the 1918 influenza pandemic, and it is likely that the influenza virus potentiated the effects of the encephalitis virus or lowered resistance to it in a catastrophic way.

Many surviving patients of the 1915–1926 encephalitis lethargica pandemic seemed to make a complete recovery and return to their normal lives. However, the majority of survivors subsequently developed neurological or psychiatric disorders, often after years or decades of seemingly perfect health. Post-encephalitic syndromes varied widely: sometimes they proceeded rapidly, leading to profound disability or death; sometimes very slowly; sometimes they progressed to a certain point and then stayed at this point for years or decades; and sometimes, following their initial onslaught, they remitted and disappeared. Postencephaltic Parkinsonism is perhaps the most widely recognized of such syndromes.

The disease attacks the brain, leaving some victims in a statue-like condition, speechless and motionless. Between 1915 and 1926, an epidemic of encephalitis lethargica spread around the world. Nearly five million people were affected, a third of whom died in the acute stages. Many of those who survived never returned to their pre-existing "aliveness".

They would be conscious and aware – yet not fully awake; they would sit motionless and speechless all day in their chairs, totally lacking energy, impetus, initiative, motive, appetite, affect or desire; they registered what went on about them without active attention, and with profound indifference. They neither conveyed nor felt the feeling of life; they were as insubstantial as ghosts, and as passive as zombies.

Encephalitis lethargica is characterized by high fever, sore throat, headache, lethargy, double vision, delayed physical and mental response, sleep inversion and catatonia. In severe cases, patients may enter a coma-like state (akinetic mutism). Patients may also experience abnormal eye movements ("oculogyric crises"), Parkinsonism, upper body weakness, muscular pains, tremors, neck rigidity, and behavioral changes including psychosis. Klazomania (a vocal tic) is sometimes present."

Count your blessings, is all I have to say. Count your blessings one by one**

* Only figuratively speaking!

** And yeah, I know, "no atheist" would say count your blessings. Spare me *that* exercise in petty futility. Deadpan Coffee Drinker
“We drift down time, clutching at straws. But what good's a brick to a drowning man?” 
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#2

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
Quote:They would be conscious and aware – yet not fully awake; they would sit motionless and speechless all day in their chairs, totally lacking energy, impetus, initiative, motive, appetite, affect or desire


Sounds like the US Senate!

Panic
Robert G. Ingersoll : “No man with a sense of humor ever founded a religion.”
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#3

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
Wow. Sound a lot like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-cond...c-20360490
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#4

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
(05-19-2020, 03:14 PM)Vera Wrote: Encephalitis lethargica is characterized by high fever, sore throat, headache, lethargy, double vision, delayed physical and mental response, sleep inversion and catatonia. In severe cases, patients may enter a coma-like state (akinetic mutism). Patients may also experience abnormal eye movements ("oculogyric crises"), Parkinsonism, upper body weakness, muscular pains, tremors, neck rigidity, and behavioral changes including psychosis. Klazomania (a vocal tic) is sometimes present."

I've got that.  Deadpan Coffee Drinker
[Image: giant%20meteor%202020.jpg]
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#5

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
(05-20-2020, 02:06 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote: Wow. Sound a lot like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-cond...c-20360490

Only, with this one you don't fall into a coma and die ;-)

There is a book by the very lovely Oliver Sacks (I've read another of his, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat - it's fascinating, even if really sad at times), called Awakenings, about people who wake up from an EL coma years later. I just got the audio book and the moment I finish listening to Douglas Adams reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe (he's a great narrator too, on top of being a brilliant writer!), I'll be listening to the Sacks one while I bike. (There's also a movie based on it, starring Robin Williams and Robert de Niro. Might see afterwards).
“We drift down time, clutching at straws. But what good's a brick to a drowning man?” 
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#6

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
(05-21-2020, 12:50 PM)Vera Wrote:
(05-20-2020, 02:06 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote: Wow. Sound a lot like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-cond...c-20360490

Only, with this one you don't fall into a coma and die ;-)

There is a book by the very lovely Oliver Sacks (I've read another of his, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat - it's fascinating, even if really sad at times), called Awakenings, about people who wake up from an EL coma years later. I just got the audio book and the moment I finish listening to Douglas Adams reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe (he's a great narrator too, on top of being a brilliant writer!), I'll be listening to the Sacks one while I bike. (There's also a movie based on it, starring Robin Williams and Robert de Niro. Might see afterwards).

I love Oliver Sacks and have read a little bit on his research into Near Death Experiences.  I have it bookmarked.  Hint: it's called near death for a reason.  I've wanted to read the Wife for a Hat book for a while but I don't think I could get through the sad parts.  

Is there a vaccine or medication for Encephalitis?   I think this is the desease they used to call the "stone disease" or something like that?   My mother used to talk about it and it scared the hell out of me when I was a kid.  I kept thinking I would get it and turn into a rock.

And then there's the disease called Elephantiasis which  I used to get confused with Encephalitis but now know they're very different diseases.  We had a neighbor who had Elephantiasis.  One leg was enormous.  I forget what causes this condition.
                                                         T4618
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#7

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
(05-21-2020, 12:50 PM)Vera Wrote:
(05-20-2020, 02:06 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote: Wow. Sound a lot like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-cond...c-20360490

Only, with this one you don't fall into a coma and die ;-)

There is a book by the very lovely Oliver Sacks (I've read another of his, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat - it's fascinating, even if really sad at times), called Awakenings, about people who wake up from an EL coma years later. I just got the audio book and the moment I finish listening to Douglas Adams reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe (he's a great narrator too, on top of being a brilliant writer!), I'll be listening to the Sacks one while I bike. (There's also a movie based on it, starring Robin Williams and Robert de Niro. Might see afterwards).

Awakenings is a wonderful & very sad movie. You'll like it. I saw it years ago, but now that you've reminded me of it I'll have to find it again.

I originally owned it on VHS. Blush
_____________________________________________________

A friend in the hole

"If we're going to be damned, let's be damned for what we really are." - Captain Picard

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#8

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
Awakenings:
Being told you're delusional does not necessarily mean you're mental. 
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#9

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
(05-21-2020, 04:00 PM)Dancefortwo Wrote: I love Oliver Sacks and have read a little bit on his research into Near Death Experiences.  I have it bookmarked.  Hint: it's called near death for a reason.  I've wanted to read the Wife for a Hat book for a while but I don't think I could get through the sad parts.  

Is there a vaccine or medication for Encephalitis?   I think this is the desease they used to call the "stone disease" or something like that?   My mother used to talk about it and it scared the hell out of me when I was a kid.  I kept thinking I would get it and turn into a rock.

And then there's the disease called Elephantiasis which  I used to get confused with Encephalitis but now know they're very different diseases.  We had a neighbor who had Elephantiasis.  One leg was enormous.  I forget what causes this condition.

I think they're trying different therapies with varying success (and once someone has developed Parkinson-like syndromes they use L-dopa) but I don't think there is a specific treatment. I don't think they're even sure what causes it. I think currently the most likely theory is that it's a virus but some think a bacterium.


I don’t think I can watch The Elephant Man, it’s too much... The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat is not unbearably sad and it’s really interesting, the things that can happen to the human brain (there was one about a musician who’d lost his ability to hear music or something along those lines; I think that was the one that made the most sad. But I read it ages ago, at university, so…)

Along these lines, may I recommend Flowers for Algernon, the novella, not the movie. I really like Matthew Modine, who stars in one of the versions, but they seem to have made a story about a “cure” that makes a mentally disabled person really smart, about romance which the real story is not about. But of course, romance is, apparently, the most important thing in the world and definitely the only one worth telling stories about. Anyway, it’s a really interesting novella and rather sad, too.

I’m also fascinated by hemispherectomy, where they remove one hemisphere of the brain and the other assumes the functions of the removed one, included language, in the cases of removal of the left one which is “responsible” for language. Though they say this has to be done as early as possible for the brain to be able to compensate. There is also a procedure where they just sever the connection between the two hemispheres and the brain still manages to compensate for it. I remember reading about a man with whom it happened without him even realising and years later he had a scan or something and they discovered that it had happened gradually and his brain had just learnt how to compensate (or maybe half of his brain stopped working, something along these lines... either way, no one even had a clue it had happened, the brain just learnt to make do).

This is long but rather interesting.

@Unsapien I’ll definitely read (listen) to the book first and will probably see the movie after that.
“We drift down time, clutching at straws. But what good's a brick to a drowning man?” 
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#10

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
On second thought, having started the book, I don't think I'll bother with the movie. I am (extremely) interested in the disease and those people, Oliver Sacks' writing is a joy, and one is both experiencing beautiful writing and a vast amount of fascinating information that can never be translated into a movie.

What I'm absolutely *not* interested in is Hollywoodised love stories (or any love stories, for that matter; *why* the primitive-minded, instinct-driven primates assume that "romance" is a sine qua non in *all* artistic and intellectual endeavours is beyond me) or made-up lives and human interest.

Oh, and based on one patient so far, no, they do not return to their catatonic states. I guess moderate success on L-dopa with a brilliant and fascinating elderly woman doesn't tug the masses' heartstrings quite as much as de Niro's doomed "romance". Pretty much how they mutilated Flowers for Algernon.

Like I said, thanks, but no thanks.
“We drift down time, clutching at straws. But what good's a brick to a drowning man?” 
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#11

Pandemic wars: early 20th century vs early 21st century
Now that I've finished the book... it's pretty much what I expected with the film - it seems to have been given the usual, maudlin, blatantly emotional-rapey, made-up, cheesy Hollywood treatment. What a waste and what total lack of surprise.

No, the patients weren't catatonic in the way *we* understand the word. And no, de Niro's character was not a "vegetable" as *we* understand the word. He could read (and was constantly reading) books, as well as communicate with a letter board. He was completely immobile, and a lot of the others were had severely impaired movement and communication. But see, here's the rub - they were *not* in comas, they *were* aware of what was happening, they had the physical capacity for movement (in a way too simplified manner of speaking) but their brains weren't letting them do it (again, I'm simplifying too much). And *this* to me is way scarier, sadder and lonelier. (Still, a lot of them could talk and express themselves.)

None of the real stories were about "luuuuurve" and de Niro's character, of all the cases, was the worst to choose for *that* beloved of Hollywood's pile of crap. See, the way L-dope *actually* affected him (which is a VERY common side effect of it, actually), was uncontrollable libido: "Driven at this time by libidinal force, he started to masturbate – fiercely, freely, and with little concealment – for hours each day." (and he wasn't the only one who reacted by starting to expose himself to nurses and patients and harassing them - like I said, L-dopa is known to cause highly increased libido)

Show ContentSpoiler:


Doesn't *jerk* the tears of the wholesome American masses quite as much as a beauuuuuutiful lovey-dovey story, eh? What a pity it's actually the truth and one more horrible effect people like him had to suffer.

He also: "‘saw’ that the world was ‘polluted’ with innumerable devils, and that he – Leonard L. – had been ‘called on’ to do battle with them. He wrote in his diary: ‘I have Risen. I am still Rising. From the Ashes of Defeat to the Glory of Greatness. Now I must Go Out and Speak to the World.’ He started to address groups of patients in the corridors of the hospital; to write a flood of letters to newspapers, congressmen, and the White House itself; and he implored us to set up a sort of evangelical lecture-tour, so that he could exhibit himself all over the States, and proclaim the Gospel of Life according to L-DOPA."

Oh, and most patients did not revert to their previous states and while success was of varying degrees (and yeah, some did die, though for various reasons) quite a few people did end up with a noticeable improvement of their lives (obviously, that's not a high bar with such an illness but still...)

(And yeah, there were a couple of patients - and their parents (one of them - parents of a TEN-YEAR-OLD girl) who thought the illness was a punishment from god and they deserved it. Yes, the parents of a TEN-YEAR-OLD, even FORTY years later thought she deserved it for being "bad" (and she was "bad" after the first bout of the illness changed her behaviour.)




All in all, a fascinating number of stories about real and incredibly awe-inspiring people have been reduced to cheap, dime-a-dozen hollywood dross.

I forgot who it was, some time in the 20th century said that TV is the most democratic form of culture we've ever had. It gives people exactly what they want. And what people want is terrible (or was it terrifying. I'd say both)
“We drift down time, clutching at straws. But what good's a brick to a drowning man?” 
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