It’s pretty much the middle of Winter here at *The Institute and you can tell that it’s going to be a tough one. This morning the sun was 15 minutes late rising and that is an omen of the worst kind. The thermometer was below zero, how much below we don’t know as one of the interns drove a nail right through the big round face of it right below the zero. When asked why he did that he replied “If the needle can’t go below zero then it can’t get any colder than that.” On the surface the logic of that makes perfect sense. Our interns have many strange beliefs and customs and as they come here from all over the country, all over the world actually, we get a lot of loony ideas.
We also get our share of mid-winter diseases. It has been a big worry for our crack medical staff who have been keeping a close eye on the conditions of the interns quarters and surrounding area. This morning for example it was noted that many of the small fires that the interns use to heat their tents and igloos had gone out. That is usually almost always bad. No fires means they didn’t wake up to stoke the fires and that means lots of dead interns. In fact you could hear the cries of the cart men making their way through the crowded paths that wend their way through the intern camp. Here’s one below.
“Bring out your dead ! Bring out your dead!” It’s a terrible cry and is guaranteed to put you off your feed clear into the lunch hour. Like my grandpa on my mom’s side used to say “That’s enough to gag a man’s hinder.” Simple freezing to death is not the only health problems that crop up during these cold times. Below are just a few of the near fatal to real fatal diseases that can run rampant through the camp.
Bilious Fever, (this is like typhoid, malaria and other bad stuff with bile emesis) Cacogastric, (Upset stomach but really upset), Deplumation, (where your eyelashes fall out), Erysipelas, (this is a Contagious skin disease due to Streptococci with vesicular and bulbous lesions, right) , Scrivener’s palsy, (writer’s cramp, sounds minor but not if it happens to you.) Worm fits, (Just what it says), Stranguary, (Painful, interrupted urination caused by spasms of the bladder. This happens when you try and go in the cold especially below zero). Trench mouth, (This is pretty self-explanatory, you get it from living in trenches.) Phthiriasis, (this is an ugly one I don’t even want to talk about it.) And this is by no means a complete list. This is just what was recorded at sick call this morning. Unfortunately yours truly was the one with Scrivener’s palsy, which as you know is writer’s cramp. I only mention it because it really hurt bad and I couldn’t write anything for over 15 minutes. The Doc’s gave me a codeine shot in the temple so I could finish this post, but then I’m done for the day.
As we look out over the grounds of our usually bustling Institute all we see is a depressing view of the valley where the stock all seem to be lying on their sides with all four feet out straight, icicles hanging off their hooves. The jury is out on whether you can thaw out a cow or not. The wind is blowing shifting snow sideways making walking difficult and it mixes with the smoke from the funeral pyres down in meadow making visibility very poor. We’re hoping that we don’t lose more than 60% of our interns otherwise some of the main staff will actually have to do something around here. All we can do is put one day in front of the other and watch the thermometer. It has to warm up sometime.
By the way we found this image that shows brighter times and thought we’d share it with you. It has colors that indicate warm sunlit days, it brings thoughts of the sounds of insects buzzing in the background, a gentle breeze unbroken by the hacking, coughing and spitting of those afflicted or the squeaking wheels of the cart laden with the days harvest. It’s nice. We’re all looking at it a lot. Hope you’re doing ok. Remember, cover your mouth when coughing unless you don’t like the person you’re talking to. Then cough like a Mother.
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