The Genetics of a Virus

I am cheating on my blog post today. I know, only one day into my promise and cheating already……gives you insight into what type of student I was, or am 🙂 No judging, this is a judge free zone.

I love smart sci-ency folks. If it weren’t for social distancing, I would snuggle on up to them, press their big brains against mine in hope that some of that sci-enciness would transfer. Alas, it has not happened yet but I keep hoping.

This was a facebook post from one smart friend to another smart friend who found an article here from the good people in Wisconsin:

Ah Wisconsin. Land of beer, cheese and good people. I now have a craving for fried cheese curds and nothing can be done about it. Stupid pandemic.

Here is a summary of the article. I find it fascinating and terrifying and a reason why I am taking this seriously:

Feeling confused as to why Coronavirus is a bigger deal than Seasonal flu? Here it is in a nutshell. I hope this helps. Feel free to share this to others who don’t understand…

It has to do with RNA sequencing…. I.e. genetics.

Seasonal flu is an “all human virus”. The DNA/RNA chains that make up the virus are recognized by the human immune system. This means that your body has some immunity to it before it comes around each year… you get immunity two ways…through exposure to a virus, or by getting a flu shot.

Novel viruses, come from animals…. the WHO [World Health Organization] tracks novel viruses in animals, (sometimes for years watching for mutations). Usually these viruses only transfer from animal to animal (pigs in the case of H1N1) (birds in the case of the Spanish flu). But once one of these animal viruses mutates, and starts to transfer from animals to humans… then it’s a problem, Why? Because we have no natural or acquired immunity.. the RNA sequencing of the genes inside the virus isn’t human, and the human immune system doesn’t recognize it so, we can’t fight it off.

Now…. sometimes, the mutation only allows transfer from animal to human, for years it’s only transmission is from an infected animal to a human, before it finally mutates so that it can now transfer human to human… once that happens..we have a new contagion phase. And depending on the fashion of this new mutation, that’s what decides how contagious, or how deadly it’s gonna be..

H1N1 was deadly….but it did not mutate in a way that was as deadly as the Spanish flu. It’s RNA was slower to mutate and it attacked its host differently, too.

Fast forward.

Now, here comes this Coronavirus… it existed in animals only, for nobody knows how long…but one day, at an animal market, in Wuhan China, in December 2019, it mutated and made the jump from animal to people. At first, only animals could give it to a person… But here is the scary part…. in just TWO WEEKS it mutated again and gained the ability to jump from human to human. Scientists call this quick ability, “slippery”

This Coronavirus, not being in any form a “human” virus (whereas we would all have some natural or acquired immunity). Took off like a rocket. And this was because, Humans have no known immunity…doctors have no known medicines for it.

And it just so happens that this particular mutated animal virus, changed itself in such a way the way that it causes great damage to human lungs..

That’s why Coronavirus is different from seasonal flu, or H1N1 or any other type of influenza…. this one is slippery AF. And it’s a lung eater…And, it’s already mutated AGAIN, so that we now have two strains to deal with, strain S, and strain L….which makes it twice as hard to develop a vaccine.

We really have no tools in our shed, with this. History has shown that fast and immediate closings of public places has helped in the past pandemics. Philadelphia and Baltimore were reluctant to close events in 1918 and they were the hardest hit in the US during the Spanish Flu.

Factoid: Henry VIII stayed in his room and allowed no one near him, till the Black Plague passed…(honestly…I understand him so much better now). Just like us, he had no tools in his shed, except social isolation…

And let me end by saying….right now it’s hitting older folks harder… but this genome is so slippery…if it mutates again (and it will). Who is to say, what it will do next.

Be smart folks… acting like you’re unafraid is so not sexy right now.

#flattenthecurve. Stay home folks… and share this to those that just are not catching on. 🤓



Where was God.

I have a beautiful songwriter, singer, poet friend named Inda Eaton.

Inda has been on my mind the last couple days…….perhaps because yesterday was her birthday, perhaps because when I’m stuck in my life, one of her songs plays in my head.

It’s called a Prayer for Jo….take second to listen and then tell her how much you love it.

Scroll down to Prayer for Jo…..or listen to the whole album. Ya’ll might have a little extra time 🙂 The music is raw and the lyrics resonate when the world doesn’t seem to make sense………

Now where was God. When the chips came down?

Because all our dreams, they’ve been turned around.

In my mind I need a rest, from the nightmare days.

It could have been anyone, it could have been anywhere, feels like the heat from the Honduran Sun

When this songs comes to my head and I’m a little angry, I change the words chips to shit, because that’s just how I roll, potty mouth and all……

Where was God, when the shit came down? Because all my dreams, they’ve been turned around.

Go ahead, sing it. And change the words. You deserve it this week

So many things have changed- so many dreams been turned around; graduations, weddings, trips, school. People are sad, disappointed, scared and some are angry; looking for something, someone to blame.

In my mind I need a rest. From the nightmare day.

Here’s the rat bastard thing about life……sometimes there is no one to blame. Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes we have to except that we might not have any control over the big overarching issue.

Not having anyone to blame is the worst. It’s so much easier when we can stick our knowing, blaming finger in someone else’s piece of pie.

But this is life; in all of its lovely, unpredictable, heartbreaking amazing glory. This is life.

There were many times in my life when I have asked where was God…..especially when the chips where coming down.

And I have come to this conclusion; God is not what happens to us. God is how we respond to what happens to us.

May we respond with grace. May we respond fearlessly, responsibly and without blame……that is where God is when the chips come down.


My Corona

I remember a hospital stay with Samantha. She had a temp of 102. She could not hold her oxygen. Her lungs were junky so we consistently had to take a tube that was attached to a suction machine, stick it up her nose and suck yellow glop out of her sinus’ into a canister attached.

Note to reader…… Are you eating? I hope you’re not eating…..

Cough. Go ahead right now. Give yourself a good cough. Make sure you cough into your elbow and wash your hands after- because, well COVID-19. But after you do that, think about all of the muscles it took to cough.

You inhale, deeply. Inhale into your strong, capable lungs. Your diaphragm tenses up, perhaps along with your abdominal muscles. Your throat muscles close your glottis while chest muscles exert pressure. Your glottis opens back up and expels whatever ick seems to be residing in your chest cavity.

Whew! That was a lot. Now imagine living in a body with a compromised diaphragm. With a respiratory system that cannot force air out properly so all of that ick pools back into your beautiful lungs, perhaps damaging your tiny, precious alveoli.

I remember wrestling with Samantha and the suction machine; neither was cooperating. The doctor came in and said, “Your daughter has the Rhinovirus!”

“Oh my God,” I said. “Not the Rhinovirus. What do we do? This is horrible!” I then paused, turned off the suction machine and said, “What is the Rhinovirus?”

“It’s a common head cold.” He pointed to his nose. “Rhino? Nose?”

I looked around at tubes and the machines.

“All of this for a head cold?”

“Well, yes. When your body cannot expel the nastiness collecting in your lungs, all of this for a head cold.”

“What can we do?”

“Nothing, its a virus. Lets get her stable and her fever down. We can send you home with a suction machine.”

I learned how to suction like no one has ever suctioned before, well, except for my friend Maria, she could suction her son Jacob with a skill and finesse that really was quite impressive. In fact, all of my mito moms can suction their Loves with ease. Because being able to cough is a big deal and not being able to cough is an even bigger deal.

The common cold became my Corona.

And now, ten years later, I read the current news updates. Tonight I cancelled an event with friends. I do not condemn medical professionals for what they are doing nor do I think we are over reacting.

I do think the toilet paper thing is odd. But that’s another topic.

Here is what I do know. Our medical system is taxed on a good day. Don’t believe me? Go sit in an ER during flu season. Hang out in an ER room for 36 hours because there are no rooms available inpatient. Wait. Because there is nothing else you can do.

We have a medical system designed to get patients in and out of hospital beds as quickly as possible. Empty beds mean money wasted- want to cut costs? Remove beds. And so our system has done so.

This is not a criticism of our system, it’s just fact.

And for you, healthy, beautiful person with strong abs and a functioning glottis, this is no big deal. You might get sick. You might not. It might suck. It might not. Regardless, I hope I never, ever have to suction you.

But think about every single person you come in contact with today and what they might go home to.

Health is our most precious gift. More precious than the stock market. More precious than that Spring Break trip. Be so very grateful for the lovely, functioning coughing body you have.

And in that gratitude, please be respectful and aware of those who do not.

And Wash. Your. Hands.