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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Vaccines and Sloppy Journalism

[Español abajo] (Saturday,10 April) As I write this, we, the Old Farts, are sitting at the women’s public hospital in Managua waiting to see if we keel over after getting our first COVID-19 vaccine. We are so excited and thrilled... not only did it go well... it was easy, organized, and safe. Every person attending us was friendly, kind, and very efficient.

A friend called us this morning and told us that the lines for vaccines had gone down and for us to head over and so we did.

First vaccination for the Old Farts

We got the AstraZeneca vaccine .The Nicaraguan government first vaccinated all the seriously at-risk people... People with kidney failure and on dialysis, people undergoing cancer treatments, etc. with the Sputnik vaccine.   Now the targeted population are those over 60 years of age.

Earlier in the week, I read an article in The Guardian that a friend had told me about and was appalled by what I read. The article certainly did not reflect what I have experienced in Nicaragua as we live here and have weathered the pandemic.

Nicaragua has had low numbers of cases... Why?
    1. Almost all businesses and government buildings that are enclosed require masks, alcohol for cleaning hands and shopping carts, and temperatures are taken before entering.
    2. The population of Nicaragua is young compared to... say... the U. S. A.
    3. Most houses are opened to the air. In regard to many other nations, most Nicaraguans do not have air conditioning.
    4. At the beginning of the pandemic, health workers went house to house explaining about the virus and how to protect yourself and family - they made nearly 5 million home visits.
    5. Despite what The Guardian said, there have not been mass demonstrations. The normally huge gathering in the Plaza on the 19th of July last year was instead broadcast virtually, and people were encouraged to celebrate at home with the slogan "every house is a Plaza."

Nicaragua has had limited testing like most of the world, but when Becca thought she might have COVID, she was tested. Read her blog about getting tested.

As in every country, there probably have been more deaths due to COVID-19 than are reported, but absolutely nothing like what The Guardian reported. Why do I think that? Because we run a health clinic that has its fingers on the pulse of a crowded and poverty-stricken community. Our Nueva Vida Clinic staff has only seen a few deaths that could have had the virus as a contributing factor along with diabetes, hypertension, and kidney failure.

The Center for Disease Control reports that deaths in the U.S. due to Covid-19 are likely to be 35% higher than has been reported.  Many people everywhere decide not to go get medical care.

So why is the Nicaraguan government getting such bad press regarding health care? 

Republican strategist Karl Rove includes in his playbook how to win using the strategy of attacking an opponent's strength. "It is simple: In a political environment where perception often trumps policy, mount early challenges to your opponent's strongest attributes to raise questions and create an alternative image in the minds of voters."

Among the many achievements of the Sandinista government over the last 15 years, health care - including the successful response to COVID - is one of this government's greatest achievements.  So why would a news media known for being left-leaning report such erroneous information?

Well, when I asked our Community members on our front porch, Becca said, "sloppy reporting.  They take information from someone that they trust and never check the sources."

When it comes to Nicaragua, this is what we see all the way from PBS/NPR to Democracy Now to The Guardian...  they have people they trust within a country and never come to Nicaragua to ask the people themselves or see with their own eyes.  Sloppy journalism indeed.

And such sloppy work plays right into the Karl Rove handbook which - I think - should appall their editors.

-Kathleen

[English above] (Sábado 10 de abril) Mientras escribo esto, nosotros, los Viejos, estamos sentados en el hospital público dedicado a la salud de la mujer en Managua esperando a ver si nos derrumbamos después de recibir nuestra primera vacuna COVID-19. Estamos muy emocionados ... no solo salió bien todo pero fue fácil, organizado y seguro. Todas las personas que nos atendieron fueron amables y muy eficientes.

Un amigo nos llamó esta mañana y nos dijo que las filas para las vacunas se habían reducido y que nos dirigiéramos al hospital y así lo hicimos en carrera.

Primera vacuna para nosotros los Viejos

Recibimos la vacuna AstraZeneca. El gobierno nicaragüense primero vacunó a todas las personas en grave riesgo ... Personas con insuficiencia renal y en diálisis, personas en tratamiento contra el cáncer, etc. con la vacuna Sputnik. Ahora la población objetivo es los mayores de 60 años.

A principios de semana, leí un artículo en The Guardian del que me había hablado un amigo y estaba consternada por lo que leí. El artículo ciertamente no refleja lo que he experimentado en Nicaragua, nosotros que vivimos aquí y hemos vivido la pandemia aqui.

Nicaragua ha tenido pocos casos de COVID-19 ... ¿Por qué?
    1. Casi todas las empresas y edificios gubernamentales que están cerrados requieren mascarillas, alcohol para lavarse las manos y los carritos de compras, y se toman las temperaturas antes de ingresar.
    2. La población de Nicaragua es joven en comparación con ... digamos ... los EE. UU.
    3. La mayoría de las casas están abiertas al aire. Con respecto a muchas otras naciones, la mayoría de los nicaragüenses no tiene aire acondicionado.
    4. Al comienzo de la pandemia, los trabajadores de la salud iban de casa en casa explicando sobre el virus y cómo protegerse y proteger a su familia; hicieron casi 5 millones de visitas domiciliarias.
    5. A pesar de lo que dijo The Guardian, no ha habido manifestaciones masivas. En cambio, la gran celebracion en la Plaza el 19 de julio del año pasado se transmitió virtualmente y se animó a la gente a celebrar en casa con el lema "cada casa es una plaza".

Nicaragua ha tenido pruebas limitadas como la mayoría de los paises del mundo, pero cuando Becca pensó que podría tener COVID, le hicieron la prueba. Lea su blog sobre la experiencia de hacerse la prueba.

Como en todos los países, probablemente ha habido más muertes por COVID-19 de las que se informan, pero absolutamente nada como lo que informó The Guardian. ¿Por qué pienso eso? Porque manejamos una clínica de salud que tiene en sus dedos el pulso de una comunidad abarrotada y golpeada por la pobreza. Nuestro personal de la Clínica Nueva Vida solo ha visto algunas muertes que podrían haber tenido el virus como un factor contribuyente junto con la diabetes, la hipertensión y la insuficiencia renal.

El Centro para el Control de Enfermedades informa que es probable que las muertes en los EE. UU. debidas a Covid-19 sean un 35% más altas de lo que se ha informado oficialmente. Muchas personas en todas partes deciden no ir a buscar atención médica.

Entonces, ¿por qué el gobierno de Nicaragua está recibiendo tan mala fama en la prensa con respecto a la atención médica?


Entre los muchos logros del gobierno sandinista en los últimos 15 años, la atención médica, incluida la respuesta exitosa al COVID, es uno de los mayores logros de este gobierno. Entonces, ¿por qué un medio noticioso conocido por su tendencia a la izquierda reportaría información tan errónea?

Bueno, cuando les pregunté a los miembros de nuestra comunidad en nuestro porche, Becca dijo: "informes descuidados. Toman información de alguien en quien confían y nunca verifican las fuentes".

Cuando se trata de Nicaragua, esto es lo que vemos desde PBS / NPR hasta Democracy Now y The Guardian ... tienen personas en las que confían dentro de un país y nunca vienen a Nicaragua para preguntarle a la gente o ver con sus propios ojos. De hecho, periodismo descuidado.

Y un trabajo tan descuidado encaja perfectamente en el manual de Karl Rove que, creo, debería horrorizar a sus editores.

-Kathleen

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Saturday, April 10, 2021

Is It Normal? ... Really?

We learned yesterday (Thursday) that five people were murdered in Rock Hill:  an A/C repair man, a prominent doctor, his wife, and their two grandchildren. They were killed by a professional football player who committed suicide today as police surrounded his house.  Mike and Sarah went to college with the grandparents, Barbara and Robert Lesslie, and Mama went to church with them.

Within just the past six months we have known two sets of murdered families or known their families.  The other was our dear friend, Jenny's, sister and her husband by the hands of his father, who then killed himself while the sister's child hid and survived.

Mass shootings or even multiple or single shootings in the United States have long ago gotten to be the norm.  But it is not normal...  not for Jenny's whole family and especially the son who survived - they are dealing with trauma and loss.

Not for the Lesslie's son... He has lost his parents and his precious young ones in one horrid act.  Their church has lost loyal members and their friends and other family members have not only lost their loved ones but now are living with the trauma of violent murders.

With the murder of Jenny's sister and husband, they knew their killer.  Can you imagine the horror of having your own father shoot your wife and you?

With the Lesslie's murders, can you imagine the helplessness of knowing you can't protect your grandchildren?  Or just working a routine service call and suddenly facing someone with a gun?

Besides the death... The terror is overwhelming.

My sister-in-law's family member teaches with the football player's mother... She is a good teacher I was told.  Can you imagine having to not only have to cope with the suicide of your child but also that he took five people's lives including those of two small children?

It is tragic from every angle from which one might choose to view these murders.  And most definitely these acts of violence should not be normal.  Never.

And yet...

The shock is not serious enough to force action against the ease in which guns can be purchased.    I don't know how one can get the U. S. government to ignore the money and legislate on behalf of their citizens... to protect them.  More U.S. citizens have been killed in the last 50 years by guns than U.S. soldiers in all the wars and non-wars (i.e. conflicts like Vietnam) combined that the US has ever been in (https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/las-vegas-shooting/more-americans-killed-guns-1968-all-u-s-wars-combined-n807156).

In the US we have the highest number of guns owned... 120.5 per 100 people.  The next highest is Yemen with 52.8 per 100 people.  (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081).

Globally, in just 2021, the U. S. ranks 7th in the number of deaths by guns (per 100,000 people) (https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/gun-deaths-by-country).  




Japan has the lowest number of deaths with their strict gun laws.  Honduras has the highest with 60 per 100,000, third is El Salvador with 45, and fourth is Guatemala with 35.  Note: these are the nations that the immigrants who are flooding the US borders are coming from.

The U. S. goes to war and bombs to protect our so-call freedoms and interests but will not legislate to protect the freedoms, interests, and lives of Jenny's sister or the Lesslies.

In the U.S., shootings are normal events to cope with... along with COVID-19 deaths, school drills for shootings (held like fire drills), mental illness, and prisons over-flowing with the mentally ill and drug offenders.

Take it from someone who lives in a different country, none of these are normal.  Those who live in the US should not have to choose to live with this.

And yet...

- Kathleen

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Future Fridays: The. Most. Pressing. Issue.

This Future Friday, let me tell you about our family endeavor.  I've been writing about solar panels for the CDCA and the clinic...well, the Woodocks (Woodard/Murdock) have joined this parade.

Coury Joseph Jessica Tiff Daniel - New Year's Eve - 2014/12/31

Coury and Cassie (living in California) donated early on.  Daniel and Mike (living here) have been negotiating with the solar company to get good prices and specs for the installations.

Tiff and Liz (living in Texas) are matching gifts given to the project in honor of their wedding that happened in July 2020...instead of friends and family joining them here for their celebration in December 2020...COVID...sigh.  Here is the link if you do Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/donate/784271735768302/?fundraiser_source=external_url 

Joseph and Alex (living in New Jersey) are sending out thank you letters for us for the donations.

And Jessica (living in Massachusetts) has an art "channel" on YouTube and is auctioning a painting she did of a Nicaraguan scene.  You can see the video of her painting as she explains HOW climate change is affecting Nicaragua.  It is about 2 and 1/2 minutes long.   Here is the link.  https://youtu.be/7_6zLliBpr8 

It warms our parental hearts to have all the kids involved, but not surprising.... Some own their own homes, have solar panels, one has an electric car, and all the family knows that climate change is THE. MOST. PRESSING.  ISSUE.

Helen Yuill wrote in the the February 11th NicaNotes...

In the lead up to COP26 [the 26th meeting in Nov. 2021 of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change], the Nicaraguan representative Dr Paul Oquist, argues that the high level of social and economic destruction caused by Covid-19 and its impact on humanity will be ‘small, transient and recoverable’ compared with the potential total, irreversible destruction of the climate crisis.". https://afgj.org/nicanotes-nicaragua-cop26-climate-justice-and-reparations 

know it is hard to imagine something worse coming down the pike, but we have to.  We must imagine, work, and throw money, brain power, energy, and political will at climate change.   

IT. IS. THE. MOST. PRESSING. ISSUE.

- Kathleen

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Saturday, February 20, 2021

Assembly of People into Giving a Sh*t: Me and Ted Cruz

In the wee hours of Friday morning, Mama woke up with serious pain, and after trying to determine what was going on, Daniel flew through the empty roads of Managua with Mike, Mama, and me going to the hospital.

Mama is 91 years old. She came to Nicaragua Christmas of 2019 to stay a few months, but with COVID-19, she has been stuck here since...much to our great delight. She has been doing very well until the last two weeks when her health has been getting a bit shakier.

After we got to the hospital emergency room and many hours later, the ER doc determined that she had a case of acute pancreatitis. She had to be admitted. So, as I write this on Saturday, she is sleeping in a nice hospital bed with four pillows. I have WIFI. Sarah who stayed with her last night so I could sleep…bless her heart…slept on a pull-out couch with sheets, pillow and blanket. The room is air-conditioned. Everyone in and around the hospital follows PPE protocols to the max. Nurses come in with rolling stations to take her vitals. Mama’s internist speaks English as well as Spanish, so Mama can talk to him directly. And it is really nice, and all I can think of is how glad I am that she can afford to be in this hospital with her insurance so that she feels as comfortable as she can.


 
Nicaraguan public hospitals are great. But they cannot afford all the niceties that this particular private hospital can. This same week, Diana’s son…our office administrator… had surgery in a public children’s hospital…one of the new hospitals built in the last years. He had a good bed. He was in a good clean room and she had a chair to sit with him. The staff did their best to follow PPE protocols.

When Hagan, Diana’s son, went home they did not have a hospital bill. None. So far, we’ve paid out $700 for Mama's ER bill and - I know – even that is a small cost compared to the U.S. health system.

The other thing that I am grateful for is that this private hospital has thorough testing laboratories: besides a battery of blood tests, she has had several EKGs and an ultrasound. The ER doctor thought that maybe Mama was having a heart attack until all the blood work results came back and her pancreas enzymes were “out the roof” and “wacky”…those are both medical terms, I am sure.

I kept thinking about our hemoglobin laboratory machine at our Nueva Vida Health Clinic being broken. What if someone right now had serious pain like Mama's and we could not test them until we come up with the $6,500 needed to replace the machine?

In many ways our clinic services are limited by funding, as are the public hospitals here. Nicaragua is a poor nation and even poor this government has taken amazing steps to bring the quality and access to health care up, but they cannot provide what this private hospital does. Because not only do the public hospitals NOT charge their patients, but this private hospital has a robust tourism plastic surgery service and the hospital was built by the only Central American billionaire who lives and prospers in this poor nation. The hospital is also on the side of Managua that is completely opposite of where we live. Besides being opposite locality-wise…the neighborhoods are wealthier over around the hospital. More infrastructure…more resources…well, you get my drift.

Mama woke up a bit ago and being bored asked me about news. I told her about Sen. Ted Cruz getting in trouble when he flew to Cancun instead of being with his fellow Texans in their time of need. She nodded and smiled…and I thought to myself, “he is in solidarity just about as well as I am, sitting here in the A/C in a cushioned chair in the ‘fancy’ hospital. Cruz wanted to be a ‘good dad’ as he said and I want to be a good daughter.” I should reread my blog on hypocrisy.

My bottom line is that I wish every Nicaraguan could come to a hospital like this and walk out with no bill, unlike we will. I wish every Texan had water and heat no matter the neighborhood they live in. I wish every person on earth had what they need to live and then a bit more to be more comfortable. I do hope that my trying to bring that last bit to fruition makes me not AS hypocritical as Ted Cruz, but I’m not so sure it does.
-Kathleen

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Saturday, February 13, 2021

Assembly of People Into Giving a S**t: Mardi Gras

In three days it will be Ash Wednesday... The start of Lent.  For those who are not followers of the liturgical calendar... It is the 40 days before Easter, but omitting the Sundays.  A time to prepare ourselves for the remembrance of the suffering and death of Jesus. 

Many forgo sweets, alcohol, or other luxuries during this time.  Many in the early church fasted for the 6 days... Ate each Sunday... And continued fasting on the following Monday.

Almost like Ramadan... Fasting for long periods of time.

Because of the long fasts, Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday became a blow-out party. And believe it or not the blow-out party is the topic of this blog.

2014 Mardi Gras - Nica style - Mike, Joseph, Coury, Daniel 

I love celebrating.  As I age, I sometimes... no often times... get tired of doing all the preparations for parties, but in my better times I know that life must be celebrated.

I love Mardi Gras... The masks, the beads, the silliness, the joy.  We were in New Orleans once for Mardi Gras and it was a sight to behold.  Parades, costumes, and joy everywhere.  At midnight beginning Ash Wednesday everything stopped.  Restaurants and bars closed their doors... Lights went out... People went home... And quiet settled in the district.

During the pandemic it feels like every day is midnight before Ash Wednesday.

But all of us must remember that during Lent, Sundays are excluded... Why?  Because Sunday is the day of celebrating the resurrection... Celebrating life.

In most worship services one would never know that people have joined to celebrate the resurrection...life.  One can feel the joy in many African American churches with gospel music reaching the heavens.

Can you imagine every Sunday being a celebration of life in all its glory?  If I could, worship would have singing, dancing, laughing, and balloons, confetti, and maybe some beads.  If I could there would be hugging, holding hands, and more laughing. 

Life is precious.  Celebrate it this Tuesday... This Mardi Gras... And on all Sundays...and every day.

But safely until the vaccines are in our arms... Then watch out folks... Hugs are coming in!


- Kathleen

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