Social distancing

Last week I noticed four of my cats sleeping in the sun, in the four corners of our bed, each on a different blanket. I immediately thought of Social Distancing, two words that are, unfortunately, very familiar to all of us these days…

Cats are the best!!!

Treating COVID-19 in a patient with multiple myeloma

Some readers have recently been asking me about curcumin and Covid-19. Is it good or bad to be taking it if you contract coronavirus?  Can it reduce your risk of contracting Covid-19? (See my post on vitamina D, incidentally.) I don’t know.

If I had any answers, believe me, I’d be publishing them…immediately.

Well, it just so happens that this afternoon I read a very interesting Science Daily article that may shed some light on this matter. It discusses the case study of ONE myeloma patient, in Wuhan, who was given an immunosuppressant drug, a monoclonal antibody, called tocilizumab. Here’s the link: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/04/200403124931.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fhealth_medicine%2Fmultiple_myeloma+%28Multiple+Myeloma+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

Okay, now that you’ve read the SD article, you can read the rest of my post. 😉 

The main use of tocilizumab is to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The interesting bit, as far as I’m concerned, though, is that tocilizumab blocks IL-6. Remember IL-6? I haven’t talked about IL-6 in a long time, but, simply put, it’s a really good friend of multiple myeloma. Aha…

And, by reducing the expression of IL-6, tocilizumab helps control the effects of what is known as a “cytokine storm” (read this April 1 New York Times article for a good explanation of what happens to Covid-19 patients when their immune systems go wacky and begin churning out too many cytokines, which can lead to vital organ failure: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/health/coronavirus-cytokine-storm-immune-system.html).

Okay, now for this: curcumin inhibits IL-6 AND suppresses the cytokines involved in cytokine storms. Yes, it does both the things that tocilizumab does, without all the side effects, which actually don’t look that bad–from a runny nose to urinary tract infections (well, okay, I’d rather not get a UTI!).

Does that mean that curcumin would work against coronavirus or indeed help lower our risk of getting this blasted virus? As I wrote above, I have no idea, even though, as we know, among other things, curcumin has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.

All I can say is that this bit of news today is promising. Sure, this is only ONE single case study, but I can tell you that, on March 19, tocilizumab started being administered to 330 coronavirus patients in a hospital in Naples (Italy). At the end of this month, fingers crossed, we may have some results. Right now, Italian newspapers report that the director of this study has expressed “cautious optimism.” I also saw that the FDA has approved Phase III trials for treating Covid patients with tocilizumab.

We just have to wait and see…

But, while we’re waiting, I’m going to keep taking curcumin (actually, I’d never thought about stopping…!!!)…

John’s post

This morning I read and really enjoyed my friend John’s post, “Today will not be here tomorrow,” and decided to give you the link to it: https://goodbloodbadblood.com/2020/03/27/today-will-not-be-here-tomorrow/?fbclid=IwAR0eeATsBAJDPOxMMajDnq85BSnLf7FApQFegnZpa4g6XA_6punacPJjFg8

I agree with him 100%, incidentally.

The only thing I would add is this: if only other countries, including the U.S., had paid attention to what has been happening in my beloved Italy…if only…eh…

I could go on for hours on this subject. But today let us simply enjoy John’s post. I will keep my rants and ravings for another day…

In fact, I’m going to go into my garden right now to see if my tulips have bloomed…Ciao!

Music that brings people together

Last night Stefano and I watched a lovely TV program called, in Italian, “Musica che unisce,” literally translated as Music that unites.

In addition to comedians, actors (Luca ZIngaretti, whom I adore), dancers (Roberto Bolle) athletes (Federica Pellegrini), and even regular folks like us, 25 well-known Italian musicians (Andrea Bocelli, see photo below, and the Three Tenors, e.g.) got together, from their homes, to thank and raise money for Italy’s Protezione Civile, similar to a Civil Defense, which has the goal of predicting, preventing and managing national disasters and catastrophes, both natural and human-made. Together with our doctors and medical workers, the Protezione Civile has been amazing, simply amazing, during this  disastrous coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

Last night’s program was really inspiring. The musicians played and sang from their homes, as I mentioned above…No audiences, no clapping, no cheering. Only…music. Yes, very inspiring. I confess that I got a bit emotional here and there. There were also a few doctors who explained what Covid-19 is and how to protect ourselves from it. One of the nicest moments was when doctors and nurses played and sang songs, too…

Italy has shown the world HOW to react to the spread, to the invasion of this horrible virus. Italians were THE FIRST to clap (in thanks to doctors and nurses) and sing from their windows and balconies. A united country. Yes, true, a minority of ignorant fools have ignored the lockdown rules, and many will be paying the consequences of their actions, but the same thing is happening in several European countries right now.

In general, though, we have all stayed at home, staying safe…not just for ourselves but for everyone else.

I am so proud of Italy…What an amazing country!

Thanks to Jacqueline, I was able to post the program here. Yes, it’s in Italian, of course, but there’s a lot of music, too, and beautiful images of this beautiful country (oh silly me, getting emotional again), so I hope that even those who don’t understand Italian will be able to enjoy it.

STAY AT HOME!!! STIAMO A CASA!!!

The Kiss

Today I thought I’d post a cute, well, okay, a TOTALLY ADORABLE photo of two of my cats “kissing” each other. It happened a few evenings ago, while Stefano and I were preparing dinner in the kitchen.

Our two baby girls, Pandora on the left, Pixie on the right, were perched on the dining room table, watching us…They looked so cute that I stopped what I was doing, picked up my cell phone and began taking photos of them and, therefore, by pure chance, caught this gesture of affection, too…

A sweet, carefree moment at a time when there is not much to smile about.

#IoRestoACasa!!!

Vitamin D and coronavirus

I’ve been cautious, very cautious, about writing a post on supplements that might help reduce the risk of being infected with Covid-19, for what I think are obvious reasons!, but this morning I came across an interesting new study by the University of Turin showing that hospitalized coronavirus patients here in Italy have very low levels of vitamin D.

Low levels of vitamin D might also explain why the virus has been killing mostly elderly people here in Italy…

At any rate, this news just got released, so I couldn’t find any articles in English, unfortunately, but you can use Google Translate, if needed. Here’s the link to the article (one of many, but all in Italian, different newspapers): https://torino.repubblica.it/cronaca/2020/03/26/news/coronavirus_studio_dell_universita_di_torino_assumere_piu_vitamina_d_per_ridurre_il_rischio_di_contagio-252369086/?fbclid=IwAR0Vya1oRADjlHUYT6iN2tGecrvbMHmIlf8r5fvN_fpWNMQcyvpDyEYnNuA

Taking vitamin D is NOT being suggested as a cure, of course, but it might reduce the risk factors for contagion. That’s good enough for me!

As we know (or should know!), healthy vitamin D levels are important for myeloma folks, too, so taking it can only be beneficial to us…in the recommended doses, of course.

Well, this is a bit of useful news (at least, let us hope so!). I’m going downstairs to swallow a dose of vitamin D right now…

“Nessun dorma”

An Italian tenor, Maurizio Marchini, who lives in Florence, joined the nationwide flash mob a few days ago. Standing on his terrace, he sang “Nessun Dorma,” from the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s Turandot.

So beautiful and inspiring…

Nessun Dorma means “Let no one sleep.” And, of course, we all know that the famous cry “Vincerò” means “I will be victorious.”

A very apt choice for these terrible times…

Categories Uncategorized Tags

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!!!

Categories Uncategorized Tags

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…

Categories Uncategorized Tags

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!!!

Categories Uncategorized Tags