Day 525 – Record Numbers Of Zebras Die Due To Global Horse Paste Shortage

I know this seems a little premature, while we’re still very much enjoying the fruits of our current pandemic, but it pays to look ahead, and so I took a quick wander down Imaginary Boulevard and soon discovered a terrible ticking time-bomb awaiting planet earth. Especially the stripy members of it.

Strongylus vulgaris

Crazy name, crazy creature.

And a scary life cycle – get this:

During the infective stage of the S. vulgaris life cycle, the larvae that have matured in the intestinal tract will migrate into the surrounding blood vessels. Once in the blood vessels, the larvae will continue their migration throughout the body to various organs causing damage to the blood vessels along the way. This can cause anemia or blockage of blood flow caused by the detachment of blood clots from the vessel wall resulting in tissue death. S. vulgaris are commonly where faeces are present. Harsh environments, such as freezing, do not kill S. vulgaris.

Sounds awful (and it is), but you don’t need to be afraid. It won’t infect you. You’re a human.

It will infect horses, mules, asses (no comment), zebras and quaggas, though. And, in case you hadn’t realised from the description above. IT WILL KILL THEM DEAD.

Fortunately, there is a cure: Horse Paste. This isn’t a paste made from horses, in much the same way that Baby Oil isn’t extracted from actual babies, right. (This is right, right?) (I’m suddenly second guessing myself a bit here…)

Never mind.

Horse Paste is a paste for horses (and mules, asses (no comment), zebras and quaggas). And it contains a chemical which is a member of the macrocyclic lactone class of endectocides and which has a unique mode of action. Compounds of the class bind selectively and with high affinity to glutamate-gated chloride ion channels which occur in invertebrate nerve and muscle cells. This leads to an increase in the permeability of the cell membrane to chloride ions with hyperpolarization of the nerve or muscle cell, resulting in paralysis and death of the parasite. Compounds of this class may also interact with other ligand-gated chloride channels, such as those gated by the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid.

I didn’t write the bit above but tl;dr Horse Paste KILLS Strongylus vulgaris DEAD.

It’s just that, for some weird reason, right now, there seems to be a global shortage of Horse Paste.
And that’s bad news for our Zebras.

Look how completely fucked off with humans this one appears (it is rather hidden by his face stripes, but an expert could tell you that deep down he’s properly irritated). And who can blame him? Sure, he’s healthy right now because the local stockpile hasn’t quite run dry yet. But he’s about to be eaten from the inside out because some people are just completely thick and they’ve used up all the Horse Paste.

And now imagine if you were a Quagga. Pushed to extinction by humans once already, and now, despite the best efforts of The Quagga Project trying to right wrongs:

The Project is aimed at rectifying a tragic mistake made over a hundred years ago through greed and short sightedness. 

…about to be wiped out again – this time through stupidity and short sightedness. And a lack of Horse Paste. I think that as a quagga, you’d have every reason to be thoroughly pissed off at mankind. Extinction once could possibly be seen as a bit of an oopsie. Twice seems almost like targeted abuse.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. There is, of course, one big winner here: Strongylus vulgaris. And while some idiots might think they are taking Horse Paste to protect themselves from Covid (it won’t) and to show that they are sticking their middle finger up to The Establishment (ooh, you rebel, you!), they’ve actually just been fooled into being witless shills for Big Parasite.

And it’s our zebras that must bear the brunt.

Next week, we tackle the thorny subject of whether Rhino Paste cures HIV.

Day 510 – Status update

It’s been seven days since I wrote this, so I thought I’d update it with all the latest news.

Things are definitely improving. A little more energy here, a little less breathlessness there. I can climb a flight of stairs (slowly) without stopping at the top to get my breath back, and I can stay up until 9pm without feeling like something has gone very wrong.

This is real progress.

I still can’t smell anything and while a bit of my taste has come back, sadly (and yes, weirdly, because this is a weird virus) it’s only the bitter taste. So everything tastes bitter. I’m guessing that a lot of things have a bitter taste to them, but it’s balanced or overwhelmed by other tastes (sweetness, saltiness etc.) or flavours. Those tastes and flavours aren’t working for me at the moment and so everything is really bitter. It’s not great, but I’m hoping that it might just be the gateway to other tastes opening up once again. Fingers crossed.

Despite this, I’m eating more. Probably (definitely) too much. I think there are some drug side-effects at play here as well as a desperate need to catch up on what I lost. But I need to eat all of the things at the moment, and all of the time. Rather that than an involuntary hunger strike, but I’m trying to keep it under control.

My brain…. comes and goes. Sometimes, things are almost “normal”, but concentration is still an issue and oddly (perhaps because this is a odd virus?), the more I try to think about something – like a word I want to use – the less I’m actually able to do it.

Otherwise, a few iffy side-effects and other symptoms that I don’t want to tell you about and you don’t want to hear about. But generally, I’m on the mend. Hoorah.

We’re not quite there yet though. I tried to have a normal day on Monday. I went to the supermarket and I dropped some stuff off that needed dropping off in Tokai and I did some washing and I cleaned the fireplace and… no. My body decided that enough was enough and let me know. Broken. And that meant that yesterday was crappy too. And so I’m back to taking things easy rather than pushing myself. A sensible regimen of doing the stuff I can do and not trying to do all of the rest of the stuff as well.

Second jab is just under two weeks away now and I just want it in me, so that I can – hopefully – not have to go through this sort of thing again.

Day 498 – Pushing the limits

The boy needed collecting early from school today (why yes, because of news of 2 positive covid cases in his class, of course), and Mrs 6000 was in a VIM (Very Important Meeting). I had to put clothes on for the second time this week and then get into my car – undriven for almost three weeks – and go and save him from the virus (against which he currently has several billion antibodies anyway).

The car started first time, I remembered the way to the school and we both got home safely. Everyone survived.

That all seemed to go quite well, and so I wandered downstairs later for some dinner with a new sense of hope. Dinner was indeed good, and then I packed the dishwasher. And it’s just taken me 10 minutes to get back upstairs. Knackered.

Will I be able to stay awake for Bournemouth v West Brom? The kick off is in just 30 minutes.

I can’t see it happening.

Day 496 – Lungs

Some blood tests and a chest x-ray today.

It’s fun going into a hospital building when you have Covid but you aren’t infectious anymore (which is apparently where I find myself at the moment). All those questions to which you’ve routinely answered “no” for the last eighteen months now, suddenly need affirmative answers. Yes, I have those symptoms. Yes, I’ve been in contact with someone with Covid. Yes, I have a cough and shortness of breath.

But I’m not infectious, I promise.

Of course, we’d all still test positive if they were to swab us again today, but that’s also not a measure of our potential infectivity. And so thank you to all the staff at the doctor’s rooms and the hospital who understood that and allowed me to get my tests done and get out of there really quickly. I don’t think they wanted me around them any more than I wanted them around me – it’s amazing where that little “+COVID D17” on your forms can get you.

Upshot: Inflammatory markers all up, but nothing that was going to break the machine (I have some history with that); Covid pneumonia with delicious “ground glass” lungs, and a change of treatment to oral prednisolone and another new fancy, expensive TURBOHALER with an expensive steroid/alcohol metered dose. No vacuuming, no walking the dog, nothing strenuous at all. Sleep when you need to, don’t expect to do anything for at least the next fortnight and call me next week to tell me how you’re doing. And a conversation (because microbiologist) about just how weird and fascinating and amazing and scary this virus is in rather unequal measures. You choose where your opinions lie.

How wonderful, then. It looks like Youtube, test cricket and lots of dozing. Sounds idyllic, if it weren’t for the crappy symptoms hiding just behind it all.

I’d really rather be out and about.

Day 495 – Not going to plan

I’m still not right, and it’s beginning to get to on my nerves now. There’s no joy in having to sit and struggle for breath each time after you’ve done something as energetic as walking outside or helping with unpacking the dishwasher. Nor having to go to bed by 8pm because there’s no energy left for anything else.

And so I’m going to seek further medical advice tomorrow morning. Whatever my GP can do to get me mended, I’m willing to try.

I’m mindful that the Covid vaccination doesn’t necessarily prevent infection, but does seem to prevent those “serious” complications which might get you stuck in hospital. I haven’t been sick enough to be in hospital, thank goodness, but I need to avoid even this level of illness in the future. I can’t be doing with feeling like this again any time soon.