Checking Your Flu

It’s almost impossible to get through the winter without hearing about the flu. While we often use the word flu to describe any miserable feverish head cold, a cold (rhinovirus) is NOT the same as the flu (influenza). A head cold is 10 days of misery. Flu will disable you for weeks, if not outright kill you.

Flu shots are a government conspiracy. I got the shot and still got the flu.

Preventing death and permanent disability is not a conspiracy. Complications of a cold include sinus and ear infections, asthma, or rarely pneumonia. The most common complication of the flu is pneumonia – the #4 killer world-wide, but can also leave you with organ damage or failure,  encephalitis, and even sepsis. If you get the flu shot and then feel lousy, it’s not flu; it’s your body charging up its antibodies. If you get a flu shot and then get a cold, it’s not the flu. Recombinant flu vaccines don’t even contain flu. CAN you get the flu after getting a flu shot? Of course you can, the same way you seem to get the same cold every year. Here’s why:

Is there more than one type of flu?

There are actually three flu viruses, A, B, and C. A is common, B less so, C mild and rare. Each type has two parts: the hemaglutinin protein (the H) and an enzyme to let it reproduce (the N, for neuraminidase). There are 18 types of H’s and 11 types of N’s – thousands of combinations of H1N1’s, H2N3’s, H6N4’s. Now, not all of these can be caught by people (some are limited to animals), but viruses can mutate and change very rapidly. With all those combinations, the Centers for Disease Control have to make a best guess at what flu will prevail that winter, and make enough vaccine a year in advance. If your shot is for N1H1, and you catch H2N3 – you’ve got flu. Better flu shots (called trivalent or quadravalent) will give you immunity to the top three or four likely flus, quadrupling your chances of staying healthy. Even if you do manage to get a flu, your partial immunity will give you a much milder case.

What are the odds I will get the flu?

What are your chances? In the winter of 2016-17, more than 2500 Connecticut residents showed up at the Emergency Department for flu-like illnesses. 80% of those were type A, and of those , 98% of them were of the H3N2 variety (the others were the old H1N1). Sixty-five of them died. That’s not a total of reported cases; that’s just how many wound up hospitalized. If you have diabetes, heart problems, take immune suppressors, pregnant, sickle cell disease, cancer treatment, are over 65 or under 2, you are considered high risk. If someone in your family or workplace fits these categories, you are placing them at risk.

Now, of course, some years are worse for flu than others. The biggie was 1918, when the H1N1 (yes, that same one you’re getting vaccinated for right now) had a new mutation to a form no one had ever had before, and it became a world-wide pandemic for two years, killing as many as 50 million people. Fifty. 5-0. Million. The next major flu was 1957 Asian flu (H2N2), which killed two million people. The 1968 Hong Kong flu (H3N2) killed more than a million. That’s not counting disabled, or lost 30 days from work, or sick as a dog. That’s the number dead.

Why do so many flus start in Asia?

Many flu strains are animal-only. They’re limited to birds, or horses, or pigs. In Asia, people, chickens, and pigs are often living in close or crowded conditions, and many Asian cities are very densely populated. Pigs are very similar to people in their genetic makeup (surgeons can use pig organs in people for short times). A bird flu can mutate and jump to pigs, and from pigs it doesn’t take a lot of mutation to become a Human flu. This is why scientists worry every time there’s a breakout of swine flu or bird flu, and millions of animals may be slaughtered to keep it from spreading. All it takes is a new mutation to start a mega-deadly 1918-style pandemic.

Should everyone get a flu shot?

So who should NOT get a flu shot? Check with your doctor first if you’ve got Guillain-Barre Syndrome, if you have immune disorders such as HIV, children on aspirin therapy, severe egg allergies, people with certain metabolic disorders, if you have kidney disease or severe respiratory issues. Sometimes it’s worth the risk, sometimes it’s not, depending on the year.

Washing your hands constantly remains the next-best flu preventative. And while you’re avoiding the flu, or perhaps recovering from it, check out these really awesome books on the flu (I’ve read them!) – and some excellent (scary) novels on flu (check for movie versions, too!) :

            

                 

                   

Hiking Cheshire and Beyond

Cheshire residents have the good fortune to live in a town that is home to 2,000 acres of open space, much of which is accessible to the public. The Town maintains 10 properties where hiking is allowed. Trail maps of these properties are available at the library, on both the main and lower levels – as well as online at the Cheshire Planning Department web page . The non-profit Cheshire Land Trust also maintains properties in town with hiking trails.

Additionally, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) website features trail maps to state parks and forests, while on the national level, the National Park Service website offers hiking opportunities throughout the country.

Trail maps are available at the library for the following properties: Boulder Knoll, Casertano, Cheshire Park, DeDominicis, Dime Savings, Farmington Canal, Mixville Hills, Quinnipiac Park River Walk, Roaring Brook, and Ten Mile Lowlands. These maps are also available at the Town Hall Lobby.

Cheshire Public Library does offer many trail books about hiking in Connecticut, New England and across the U.S. Summer is the perfect time to enjoy the great outdoors, and here is a sampling of the books available at CPL.

The green guide to low-impact hiking and camping

America’s great hiking trails

Hiking through history : New England : exploring the region’s past by trail

AMC’s best day hikes in Connecticut : four-season guide to 50 of the best day hikes from the Highlands to the coast

Best hikes of the Appalachian Trail : New England

The National Parks Coast to Coast : 100 Best Hikes

Hiking Connecticut and Rhode Island

Happy trails!

How to Fall Asleep

sleepingWho wouldn’t like a better night’s sleep? In today’s over-connected, 24/7 society, we could all use a little more shut-eye. The Mayo Clinic makes the following recommendations for getting a better night’s sleep:

  • Keep your bedtime and wake time consistent from day to day, including weekends.
  • Stay active — regular activity helps promote a good night’s sleep.
  • Check your medications to see if they may contribute to insomnia.
  • Avoid or limit naps.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine and alcohol, and don’t use nicotine.
  • Avoid large meals and beverages before bedtime.
  • Make your bedroom comfortable for sleep and only use it for sex or sleep.
  • Create a relaxing bedtime ritual, such as taking a warm bath, reading or listening to soft music.

If you’d like more in-depth suggestions, try these titles.

jacket-aspxThe sleep revolution : transforming your life, one night at a time / Arianna Huffington (Book)
Scientific recommendations and expert tips on how we can all achieve better and more restorative sleep, and learn how to make the power of sleep work for us.

 

Good night : the sleep doctor’s 4-week program to better sleep and better health / Michael Breus (Book)
Learn how to identify your sleep issues and what you can do about it.

Sleep smarter : 21 essential strategies to sleep your way to a better body, better health, and bigger success / Shawn Stevenson (Book & eBook)
A 14-day plan with tips and tricks like the exact time of day to exercise for better sleep quality, what to wear to avoid waking up at night, and ways to fall asleep faster.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in April

We’re springing into April with so many great programs for kids, teens & adults, we can’t fit them all here! Check our event calendar for the full list of programs coming up this month.

indexGeology of Cheshire

Monday Apr 3, 2017, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

Ever wonder how Cheshire got its ridges?  Learn about the geologic changes that have shaped the diverse and interesting topography of Cheshire.  Presented by Dr. Charles Dimmick, Professor of Geology, Emeritus.  Sponsored by the Cheshire Planning Department and Cheshire Public Library. Registration is required.

robin-mccahill-e1486659456246-225x300Kids Puppet Making Series

Wednesdays,  April 5, 12, 19, and 26, 4:00  –  5:00 PM

Learn to make puppets using unique and everyday items.  Robin McCahill, local artist at Artsplace, will be our artist in residence leading this workshop on puppet making.  Visit www.artsplacecheshirect.org/ to learn more about Artsplace and the other programs artists like Robin McCahill offer.  This is a 4-week long series, meeting April 5, 12, 19, and 26.  You only need to sign up once to attend all four.  Due to the cost of this program please try to attend all four sessions.  For students in grades K-2, registration is required beginning March 22 for Cheshire residents and March 29 for all others.

poetry-open-micPoetry Open Mic Morning

Saturday Apr 8, 2017, 10:00 AM  –  12:00 PM

Celebrate National Poetry Month with an open mic morning! Teens and adults are welcome to bring their own original poetry to share, recite a poem by a classic author, or just sit back and enjoy the verses. We’ll have tea and coffee available, and we’ll set out some poetry books and resources to peruse for inspiration. No registration required.

bill_96Pysanky Egg Decorating Workshop

Saturday Apr 8, 2017, 2:00  –  4:00 PM

Come learn the art of Pysanky Egg decorating from the egg lady Sharon Leonard. This form of Ukrainian egg decorating uses special wax and color to make beautiful eggs.  Each participant will be able to go home with one decorated egg.  This program is for adults and has limited seating, registration is required.

captureCurious George Party

Monday Apr 10, 2017, 10:30  –  11:30 AM

Join us for a party to celebrate our favorite little monkey, Curious George! We will sing, dance, and read some stories about George and his adventures. Curious George will make a special appearance and pose for photos with his friends! For children of all ages and their families. Registration required beginning Monday March 20.

opener-720x487Foraging and Eating Invasive Plants

Tuesday Apr 11, 2017, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

Join The 3 Foragers, a family that forages for wild, natural, organic food.  This program will highlight edible invasive plants.  Do your part to reduce invasive plants by eating them! The 3 Foragers eat garlic mustard, Japanese knotweed, Rugosa roses, autumn olives, wineberry, sheep sorrel, dandelions, black locust blossoms, and yellow groove bamboo.  Never eat anything from the wild without first consulting an expert! Please forage responsibly. Educate yourself, and have fun. Registration is required.

Community Connections

Wednesday Apr 19, 2017, 12:00  –  2:00 PM

The Cheshire Public Library is pleased to announce a new program that we have started entitled Community Connections. This program connects civic minded individuals with community agencies to perform skilled volunteer projects.  Enjoy lunch provided by the Friends of the Cheshire Public Library while you meet other civic minded folks and talk with local non-profits and government agencies about volunteer opportunities available. Please register in advance (so we know how much food to get!).

back-pain-1911009_1280Exercises to Treat and Manage Low Back Pain

Saturday Apr 22, 2017, 2:00 PM

Whether mild or severe, short-term or long-term, low back pain can greatly affect your daily life. If low back pain is affecting your daily life or if you want to learn the top causes of back pain join Kirsten Albrecht as she explains common causes of back pain and shares exercises to stretch and strengthen your back. Registration is required.

jacket-aspxBirds; Their Side of the Story…

Tuesday Apr 25, 2017, 6:30  –  7:30 PM

John Himmelman is a children’s book/natural history author and illustrator, who has written and illustrated about 80 books since 1981.  He is an avid bird watcher and served as president of the New Haven Bird Club for two years. He will share light-hearted stories of birds and bird watching – from cuisine to cartoons, ornaments to icons, murmurs to murders. Registration is required.

6daf3aa1b259c15f3e788bca1ac6b5a7Taekwondo

Wednesday Apr 26, 2017, 6:00 PM

Join Cheshire resident Master Jonguk Jang for an introductory Tae Kwon Do (also known as Taekwondo) class for adults. Learn about the fascinating history of Taekwondo and its physical and mental benefits such as focus, self-control, confidence, stress release, flexibility and self-defense, as well as an introduction to various fundamental skills and techniques. Registration is required.

dia-banner-imageDía de Los Niños Celebration

Friday Apr 28, 2017, 10:00  –  11:00 AM

Celebrate El día de los niños / El día de los libros (Children’s Day / Book Day) with a multicultural storytime! Día is celebrated on April 30 to emphasize the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

ptsd

Most people associate PTSD with events suffered by war veterans, but it is very common for any one who experiences a traumatic event to get PTSD.  It can be triggered when a person lives through, or witnesses, a traumatic event such as a fire, natural disaster, shooting,  robbery, car accident, sudden death of a loved one, abuse, etc.  Many people are not aware that they are suffering from it.  Symptoms can include flashbacks, trouble sleeping, nightmares, feeling worried, guilty, or sad.  Sometimes the symptoms don’t appear until many months after the event.  Huffington Post recently featured an article that you can read here.  If you think you or someone you know may be suffering from PTSD and want to learn a little more about it, the library has books that may be of help to you.

no-1Post-traumatic Stress Disorder – The authors here provide discussions of current research in treatment, intervention, and prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition to giving a historical review of PTSD, following chapters all include case studies intended to add to the understanding of the influences and impacts of the disease and its treatment and care. Topics include recognizing PTSD, its varieties, PTSD in children and adolescents, neuroscience, treatment approaches, and post-traumatic strengths.

no-2Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Scott Barbour – Describes the causes, symptoms, and treatments of post-traumatic stress disorder.

 

 

copingCoping with post traumatic stress disorder: a guide for families – Cheryl Roberts – This book is a user friendly discussion of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as it affects individuals and families. 

 

the-post-tramatic-disorderThe post traumatic stress disorder relationship: how to support your partner and keep your relationship healthy – Diane England – Citing a prevalence in PTSD in America, a guide for partners of PTSD sufferers shares practical counsel on such topics as managing a loved one’s emotions, communicating while separated by military duty, and handling post-trauma sexual relations.

sourcebookThe post-traumatic stress disorder sourcebook: a guide to healing, recovery and growth – Glenn Schiraldi – An important updated guidebook for those suffering from a traumatic experience provides information on coping mechanisms, emotional triggers, the mental defenses that protect us from further harm, and much more.

conqueringConquering post-traumatic stress disorder – More than 13 million Americans experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and one out of 13 adults will develop it in their lifetime. Recent worldwide crises and events including the Iraq war; the September 11th attacks; numerous Columbine-like events; the Catholic Church child molestation scandal; and the Katrina tragedy in New Orleans, continue to present thousands more PTSD cases each year in all age groups. This book helps victims make sense of the events that led to their illness and teaches them how to create a new reality with specific advice and action plans that put them on the road to recovery and long-term healing.

upsideUpside: the new science of post-traumatic growth – Jim Rendon -Drawing on interviews with leading researchers and trauma survivors, a journalist, delving into the study of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, uses accessible language, prescriptive takeaways and specific tools to promote positive responses to trauma.

the-body-keepsThe body keeps the score: brain, mind and body in the healing of trauma – Bessel Van Der Kolk –  A forefront expert on traumatic stress outlines his own take on healing, explaining how traumatic stress affects brain processes and how to use innovative treatments to reactivate the mind’s abilities to trust, engage others and experience pleasure.