More important news on vitamin D and coronavirus

On March 27, I published a post about some findings of a team from the University of Turin (Italy) showing that low levels of vitamin D might increase:

  1. your risk of being infected with Covid-19
  2. your risk of having complications if you already have the virus

The University of Turin data also showed that vitamin D can counteract lung damage caused by hyperinflammation.

Well, now a research team led by Northwestern University has found a “strong correlation between severe vitamin D deficiency and mortality rates.” Their results are based on data from hospitals in several countries, including Italy.

Incidentally, I got this information from an easy-to-read Science Daily article, which you can check out for yourself at this link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200507121353.htm?fbclid=IwAR20hJJCU7d2WQj27sdIny3UgwYlrKZDlnR6gnbccXrBPiNu6QkSkspKQCk

So it seems as though vitamin D will lower your risk of having severe complications and of dying from the virus…once you’ve contracted it, of course. Here’s an important excerpt from the article: “Not only does vitamin D enhance our innate immune systems, it also prevents our immune systems from becoming dangerously overactive. This means that having healthy levels of vitamin D could protect patients against severe complications, including death, from COVID-19.

According to the lead researcher, vitamin D might actually cut “the mortality rate in half.” Wowsie!

Interestingly, the lead researcher also says that, while vitamin D “may reduce complications and prevent death in those who are infected,” it will not prevent you from actually getting the virus. Hmmm. That doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean, if your body has adequate levels of vitamin D, it should be better equipped to resist against the virus. But…who knows?

Anyway, whatever! I mean, even if vitamin D doesn’t give us the slightest protection from coronavirus, let’s not forget that keeping our vitamin D levels in the NORMAL range is absolutely essential for us myeloma folks. So let’s keep ’em in that normal range no matter what…

That said, please don’t exaggerate with your vitamin D daily intake: too much of a good thing may not necessarily be a…good thing, indeed, it probably isn’t!!!, as I have said repeatedly here on the blog. So please be careful…and don’t overdose!

I hope everyone is OKAY! Stay Safe!!!

P.S. That’s the photo of a flower from my garden…Nothing to do with the post, of course, but…it’s so pretty!

Did I have Covid-19?

A few blog readers have suggested to me, privately, that the awful flu I had back in early January might have been Covid-19. But well before I had read their suggestions, that same thought had occurred to me, too, in the early days of the outbreak here in Italy. So this morning I decided to write a post about it, just for the record.

I certainly did have some of the Covid-19 symptoms, namely:

  • fatigue (probably my very first symptom)
  • sore throat (also an early symptom)
  • terrible intestinal woes (ditto as above)
  • high fever…a very high fever
  • aches, of course
  • nasal congestion
  • cough (see below)
  • and, finally, pneumonia, yes, the interstitial form that is typical of Covid-19

However, it would have been an anomalous case of Covid-19 for the following reasons:

  1. I didn’t infect anyone. A few days after Xmas, Stefano and I drove up to the city of Padova, in the Veneto region, northern Italy, to pick up my brother-in-law and his family. The following day the four of us drove to the city of Ljubljan, Slovenia, where we spent a very nice, long weekend. This means that we all spent hours inside Stefano’s car, talking and laughing, and breathing the same air. When we returned to Padova, my sister-in-law organized a family dinner party. I had begun feeling a bit tired but of course had absolutely no inkling that I was about to get very sick, otherwise Stefano and I would have left immediately for Florence (we left the following day, and then it all “exploded” within 24 hours). This dinner party therefore took place just before I got REALLY sick. Luckily, nobody got ill, not even the grandmother. Now, we all know by now that Covid-19 is extremely contagious, especially for the elderly. Another point: as you may (or may not!) know, Italians are veeeeeery affectionate, big huggers and kissers, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons why Covid-19 spread so readily here in the beginning (nobody is kissing and hugging now, of course!). After my SMM diagnosis in 2005, I cut back on all the kissing and hugging (explaining WHY to my friends), but when the Xmas holidays come around, it’s hard to pull back….So I had kissed and hugged and been in close contact with at least ten people, possibly more, before I got sick. And what about my husband? We slept together the entire time I was sick. Before, during, and after. He never left my side. In fact, I was so helpless that he stayed at home from work for at least ten days to take care of me. But he didn’t develop even the slightest of sniffles. Okay, perhaps he is one of those asymptomatic folks that we’ve heard so much about on the news, but then every single person that I was in touch with in the 10-14 days before I got sick would have to be asymptomatic, too. Hmmm.
  2. My cough was never dry. And that’s one big sign of Covid-19.
  3. My family doctor never mentioned the possibility of my having coronavirus.

In sum, if what I had back in early January was coronavirus, then it must have been a very odd and non-contagious strain.

Can Covid-19 be non-contagious? Well, from all I’ve read about this terrible virus, and I’ve read a lot, that just doesn’t seem likely. I could be wrong, of course. So, as soon as the antibody tests become widely available, I’m going to have one. Boy, it would be such a relief to find out that I actually have those antibodies AND that I survived Covid-19 (AT HOME, to boot!), in spite of my compromised immune system and my asthma.

But, feet back on the ground, I am almost 100% certain that my early January illness, as bad as it was, had nothing to do with coronavirus. For me, therefore, the case is closed, and, at this point, it would be useless to speculate any further until I have that antibody test. But I would like to thank my blog readers for their interest and concern, which got me thinking…

Finally, and obviously: as soon as I have any test results, I’ll post them. It won’t be for a while, for sure, so don’t hold your breath. 🙂

P.S. I thought I’d add the photos of 1. a swallowtail butterfly drinking nectar from my pansies, and 2. a tulip from my front yard. These are a couple of weeks old, but my black tulips are still blooming….

Lockdown update

I haven’t done any research and haven’t published any posts, lately. Duh, that’s quite obvious! And yet, now that I have more free time during the total lockdown here in Italy, you’d think I’d be on the computer all the time, looking up stuff. No, not really happening. Simply put, I just don’t feel like it. I’ve been doing other things instead.

Before continuing, I should state that I COMPLETELY support the coronavirus-caused lockdown, and I think the Italian government has done an excellent job, given the circumstances, which were (and are) extremely difficult.

However, this month and a half or so (I’ve almost lost count…) of staying at home has taken its toll on me, as it has on everyone, of course. I shouldn’t complain, though. Stefano and I live in a big row-house with a garden in the front and a bigger one in the back. We have plenty of space, and our neighborhood is very pretty and very green. And we have friendly, helpful neighbor. Many people, though, including some good friends of mine, aren’t that lucky. A couple of my friends live in a room in a shared apartment. Others have small children who haven’t been outside during the entire lockdown. So yes, it’s been hard on everyone, on some more than others…especially hard, of course, on the Covid-19 patients, on their families, on the medical workers, many of whom have lost their lives…Absolutely horrifying…

Oh boy, it all happened so fast, or so it seems. I mean, in mid February Stefano and I were in Paris, where life was proceeding as usual…No sign of coronavirus anywhere. In the MusĂ©e d’Orsay and at the Louvre, I noticed only a couple of people wearing disposable face masks.

Stefano and I had left Italy only with our neck warmers, which we used as “face masks” (I have since realized that they gave us almost zero protection, but at the time it was the best we had…). I did finally manage to find, in a pharmacy in Paris, a few disposable masks, which we didn’t wear because nobody else was (silly, I know…but back then, who knew???). I should mention that I went into a lot of Parisian pharmacies and was informed that they were sold out of face masks. At that point, alarm bells should have started ringing in my head. They didn’t.

And then a friend back in Florence texted me about the death of the first French (actually, the first EUROPEAN) Covid-19 patient, a Chinese tourist, IN PARIS. The alarm bells should have deafened me at that point. They still didn’t. I remember that I was sitting down in the Louvre when I read her message, closely surrounded by hundreds of “maskless” people from all over the world. Boy, shivers go down my back when I remember that…And Stefano and I didn’t have masks on, either…sheesh. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Anyway, we didn’t really give much of a thought to coronavirus until we returned to Florence on February 16. As soon as we landed, we noticed that the airport was plastered with posters and leaflets warning about coronavirus, and a couple of medical workers in full protective gear took our temperature before allowing us to go through the exit doors. Okay, that was a bit scary, I admit…

But even then, I was still…unaware. Then again, so were most Italians. This couldn’t be happening here, to us, right? All the shops and restaurants were still open, and people were going about their business while infecting themselves and others, without knowing it, of course.

Things were about to change, though: just a few days after we returned from Paris, on February 21, the first Italian Covid-19 patient, a 78-year-old man who was already in hospital, died, in the northern region of Veneto…Still, no bells…not really. Again, stupid stupid stupid.

I met with my girlfriends to play cards the week after we got back from Paris. One of my girlfriends was wearing a face mask she’d bought during a trip to Japan. We made fun of it (I recently apologized to her…). I’d read that masks didn’t offer any protection, and besides, it was just the four of us, and WE couldn’t possibly be infected, right? Of course, since then, my opinion has really changed! Nobody is safe…nobody.

Well, that was my last outing. I finally became alarmed at the numbers of people flooding the ICUs in Lombardy and Veneto…and dying. I put myself in full lockdown well before the Italian government shut down the entire country.

About a week or so before the announcement of the lockdown (= March 10) I began stockpiling cat food and cat litter…Isn’t it funny that I thought of the kitties first? Hah. I also bought quite a lot of non-perishable human food…pasta and whatnot. And, yes, toilet paper. I’m sooooo glad I trusted my gut instinct because, on March 10, things went absolutely crazy here…long queues in front of supermarkets, some basic food supplies running short, etc. At one point, it was impossible to find any FLOUR…and then YEAST (it’s still impossible to find any yeast, except at my house, of course)…

Because of my compromised immune system and my asthma, it would have been incredibly dangerous for me to go stand in a queue. It still would  be, of course…Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that, thanks to my foresight and to grocery stores that deliver food right to our front door. As for Stefano, oh boy, I was so relieved, incredibly relieved!!!, when he began “smart-working” from home on March 10.

In fact, this is the only “benefit” of the lockdown–we’re able to spend more time together. In our spare time, we watch TV series, cook wonderful meals (I married an excellent cook!!!), work in the garden, and play games. We do lots of things to keep ourselves busy, even spring cleaning (zzzz).

Luckily, things are getting better over here in Italy. After reaching a plateau, the curve is on a downward trend. As a result, some of the lockdown restrictions have been lifted, and the total lockdown should be ending on May 4, if all goes well. But I’m afraid that it still won’t be over for a while, unfortunately.

Even when the number of infected people goes down to ZERO, we will still have to wear masks and face shields and take all the precautions we have been taking thus far (washing hands, social distancing, etc.). Incidentally, after the stupid risks we took in Paris (shivers down my back, again)–that is, not wearing masks because nobody else was–I will be wearing a face shield AND a mask when I start leaving the house.

Must stay safe.

I have to admit that my usual optimistic self has been hard hit by the coronavirus, and that is probably why I don’t feel like doing any research or writing (oh, hey, but I AM writing right now, and quite a bit, too…how about that? My initial idea was to write a brief post, hahahaha!).

Well, let’s get through this first wave of Covid-19 and see what happens and how things go…

Sorry about this long, probably very repetitive, ranting post. I’m going to go ahead and publish it anyway…No time to do some editing…it’s time for lunch…Oh, and that’s the other thing: we are eating and eating and eating. Stefano and I have both gained about 4 kilos, which is almost 9 pounds. Stefano has hidden the scales. 🙂

Much love to everyone, and please stay safe…And the only way to do that is to:

STAY AT HOME!!! 

Virtual museum tours

If you’re at home right now because of the (necessary!) quarantine and don’t know what to do with yourself, why not take a virtual tour of 12 famous museums, including the Uffizi Gallery in Florence?

I’ve never been to the Guggenheim in NYC, so I’ll take its tour later on today. First, I have to have my daily chat/update with my neighbors to make sure they’re all okay. We chat from our terraces, of course. Then I have to put in a grocery order from a lovely little shop just down the street from us…It carries only local produce, mostly organic. This little shop has saved us in this difficult period. Then, after cleaning the cat litter boxes, I’ll be ready for a museum… 😉 

Here’s the link that will give us a moment of “escape” from Covid-19: https://www.msn.com/en-us/travel/travel-trivia/stuck-at-home-these-12-famous-museums-offer-virtual-tours-you-can-take-on-your-couch-video/ar-BB119nm6

Enjoy!!!

Italy reacting to Covid-19

Italians have shown the world how to react to a quarantine and lockdown imposed by the spread of Covid-19.  Singing, clapping, dancing, and playing instruments from their balconies and terraces. This has been happening all over Italy, a sort of country-wide flash mob. For days now. Spain has picked up the message and is doing the same. It’s a way to feel united and also to help those who are alone and finding it difficult to stay indoors.

I have watched a lot of videos showing these impromptu Italian flash mobs–you can find heaps of them on YouTube–but the one that brought tears to my eyes towards the end (you will see why) is this one, prepared by SanitĂ  Informazione, a healthcare-based newspaper.

This is instead a rather slick video on the notes of Italy’s national anthem, but it shows one of the prettiest towns on the Amalfi Coast, Positano, and I posted it mainly for that reason, to show how beautiful Italy is…

The flash mobs are happening in my neighborhood here in Florence, too. The other day, e.g., at the appointed Flash Mob time, I was out on my terrace, joining my neighbors in applauding and cheering the amazing, tireless work that our healthcare workers have been doing since this Covid-19 crisis began.

Italy has responded with determination and unity and, as one foreign journalist wrote recently, “This is why so many people through many centuries fall in love with Italy.”

Indeed. I am certainly madly in love with this country, and there is absolutely no other place I’d rather be right now.

As the current slogan goes, “AndrĂ  tutto bene,” or “Tutto andrĂ  bene,” which means: “Everything is going to be okay.” Children have been painting these words and drawing rainbows on signs and sheets that now are displayed on balconies in every city and town in Italy. I got this photo from the Internet, btw.

It’s a sign of hope…

Covid-19

I have received messages from concerned blog readers, asking me if I’m okay. Today I’m posting just a quick note to say that, yes, I’m fine, as is my family.

I’m staying at home, and in fact I have stayed at home since the first few coronavirus cases appeared in Italy, therefore before the government reached the brave and difficult decision to impose a total lockdown here…

With a compromised immune system, you can’t take any chances…

But I have to go now. I am in the middle of my “spring” cleaning (the cats are exhausted from watching me zip around the house, cleaning and throwing stuff away, as you can see, hehe…).

I’ll be in touch soon!

Keep safe, everyone…and, mainly, wash your hands!!!