Getting a heads-up on Oktoberfest

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon. One of our favorite food festivals has always been Oktoberfest, which is not only celebrated in Germany but all over the world where eating pork and drinking beer is not forbidden. Today we prepared some pork loin chops Teriyaki-style (sautée at the end with olive oil and honey)

We also fixed some roasted curly potatoes and a luxurious green salad with mozzarella and walnuts.

In order to complete the bacchanal diner, we added a generous portion of sauerkraut to the chops.

We confess that we did not chose a German beer, opting instead for the Japanese Black Sapporo.

Hey, nobody’s perfect.

Prosit!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Happy Sunday with a little bit of Nostalgia

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning and Happy Sunday to you all. Today we awoke with a desperately grey cast sky in South Florida and it has been raining intermittently, which put is in a surprising melancholic mood. As we are shifting through old pictures to compose a comprehensive family album, we came across this picture taken in the Parque Camet of Mar del Plata, Argentina, in 1998. My wife and I had hired  a pony trainer to make our children Noël Marie and Gian Luca experience their first equine ride.

We close our eyes and see the excited apprehension of our son (he was two years old at the time) as he was trying to hold firm to the reins, as the trainer instructed him to do; in the meantime, our daughter (she was nine years then) cheekily smiles with the full confidence of a born amazon. For the parents, our children are and will always be “our babies'”, no matter how hard they poke fun at us.

Thank you God Almighty for giving us the privilege of having these two kids and enjoy their company.

If it’s raining too in your corner of the world, feel free to let go of our usual defensiveness to allow your spirit to be invaded by these sweet-sour memories that define us as caring human beings.

Life is worth living. Every minute of it. Do not ever forget it. May God Almighty bless you all.

Stay distant. stay safe. stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Crying Alone in the Bathroom as a coping mechanism in the Pandemic

-“Doctor…Why didn’t we insist that he should get the vaccine—feel so guilty.”

Maria X. is a brave and tenacious middle-aged homemaker with a loving husband and two gorgeous teenagers, having worked tirelessly since they immigrated to the USA from Cuba in that infamous Mariel exodus. Since they arrived in South Florida, we have been good friends and they even visited our medical office several times.

Her husband, very confused by the false mantra of the social media liars and anti-vaccination wackos decided that they should all wait until the mRNA vaccines got the final expert approval to do the only know way to avoid disease: get vaccinated. They did observe the basic rules of Social Distancing and wore the needed mask. However, all those precautions were for naught as one of his store customers got infected with the dangerous Delta variant in early July and passed it on to him.

Yesterday I garnered enough courage to visit him in the Intensive Care Unit where he has been hospitalized for a week already, with plenty of machines whirring away. Heavily sedated, he could open his eyes to welcome me when the nurse told him. Deeply distraught, I went to the waiting area where his loving family had been keeping vigil day and night, praying to God Almighty and expecting a miracle. When his children saw me approaching, they raced to embrace me and cry in my arms.

After forty years of continuous and varied medical practice, I believed that there would be few things that could shake me to the very bone. I was wrong. That did. I tried to talk them out of their despair and re-assure them that there was still hope. Pushing away at an almost irrepressible desire to cry together, I did what most of us, physicians, have doing during this terrible ordeal. Stiffen my upper lip and carry on. After talking a few minutes with Maria in a discreet corner, I invented an excuse and promised them that I would return. I skedaddled down the hallway to the nearest bathroom.

I cloistered myself in the loo and slumped on a covered toiled seat. I welled up in earnest.

Note. This reproduction of Rembrandt’s Weeping Woman was taken from Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rembrandt_A_Weeping_Woman.jpg

Ever since the sanitary facilities were invented in the nineteenth century, they have been used as a clandestine hiding place by women. But now men are catching up fast. The following text is an excerpt of my upcoming book Emotional Frustration – the hushed plague.

—”Doctor…I hide in the bathroom—so my children can’t hear me cry.”

Susan X. is a nice, intelligent, and hard-working mother of a small child who must shoulder the entire burden of her household all alone, even though she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Her husband works as a salesman and has had a chronic back problem since he was injured in a previous stint as a truck driver.

Her family cannot help her economically but her mother pitches in occasionally. Oftentimes she puts her child to bed, finishes her household duties and, before her husband arrives for a late supper, locks herself in the bathroom to well up at ease. It is a simple ritual that gives her emotional relief. Crying alone in the bathroom.

The tried-and-true escape valve for women in angst. Like our mother Gladys did.

Modern women, who are employed full-time in demanding jobs, usually must return home to complete the house chores with little or no help from their live-in partners; to make matters worse they might not have the support offered by close family members or friends. In our hyper-connected age, where most of the rooms at home are taken over by the obnoxiously-pinging squatting devices, they must retrench to the bathroom—their “panic room” to do an exorcism of sorts.

Welling up, they slump on the floor and hug the cold toilet with passion.

Isn’t it sad that they had to anoint a disposal unit as a default confidante?”

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Anger Displacement as a coping mechanism in the Pandemic

The following text is an excerpt of our upcoming book Emotional Frustration- the hushed plague.

—”Doctor…when I get home, I can’t help lashing out at the kids—so bad.”

Verschiebung. This German term can be translated as “shift” or “move.” It was used by Sigmund Freud to describe a psychological defense mechanism; it entails the shifting or displacement of an aggressive emotion from an important person or object into other ones that are less relevant and often lame. [i] Our patient had many situations of Emotional Frustration in her blue-collar job with her despotic boss and his unreasonable demands but, being a single Mom, she hid her anger towards him and the system, fearful of losing her job in tough  times. Often, she scolded her children a little bit too much for just some obnoxious but inconsequential pranks.

This unconscious defense mechanism is an expression of what Freud dubbed as the mortido—our basic aggressive drive. There are three main mechanisms:

  1. Displacement of object
  2. Displacement of attribution
  3. Bodily displacements.

Unfortunately, as we slowly come out of our forced Social Distancing and we interact much more with other human beings, we are loaded up with stress and, as a natural consequence, we will have a shorter fuse, easily snapping away. We will have a hard time containing ourselves, even with an act of mea culpa [ii], if we allow our emotions to get the best of ourselves in the mad frenzy for survival.

Note. This reproduction of Un episodio de la Fiebre amarilla en Buenos Aires, the great painting from our fellow Uruguayan artist Juan Manuel Blanes, was taken from Wikimedia Commons. Even though it is shockingly gory to watch, it does convey the message that there are many dangerous things that we can bring home and affect our families’ well-being – the virus is just the most lethal.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Juan_Manuel_Blanes_-_Un_episodio_de_la_fiebre_amarilla_en_Buenos_Aires.png

One of the most disregarded aspects of the Social Isolation that we have all been enduring for almost one year already is its serious emotional toll on us. Like the young women and men that went into isolation in a Florentine villa in the Decameron, those coming out of seclusion will not be the same ones that went in. There will be multiple changes in our societies, especially for labor opportunities. The economic analysts are already predicting that, besides the contraction of consumer spending due to loss of jobs, there will be a two-speed labor market.

On one hand there will be persons that can work at a distance, with little physical contact. But on the other hand, there will be those that will be dangerously exposed to contagion. This will bring a generalized angry mood in the street like we have never witnessed before. No longer will we be able to take for granted the barista’s familiarity when we arrive at our Starbucks; she might be too worried about being infected while mulling about her son’s day care. After her shift is over, she might be too stressed out to hang out with her girlfriends. A self-sustaining vicious circle.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

References

[i] Sigmund Freud, New Introductory letters on Psychoanalysis, George Allen and Unwin, London, January 1940,

[ii] This term in the Latin language refers to the ancient act of contrition of Christians in front of the Holy Cross when they beat up their chests while they publicly assumed responsibility for their sins or faults.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

Sexual Pleasure as a coping mechanism in the Pandemic

During the incredibly lengthy and tragic Pnndemic that we have been suffering from the worldwide Covid-19 infection, we have oftentimes discussed, in public and personal spheres, whether our sex life has improved or not due to the close proximity. The results are mixed, as many long-term happy couples have enjoyed it, while others with “less than friendly attitudes” toward each other have definitely hated it.

The fact that both members of a couple had to spend more time together at home has certainly frayed the nerves of all genders, as it always good to have “a little respite.” Now that the economy is slowly picking up in the USA, after the quasi-massive vaccination of almost 50% of the population and the corresponding lifting of the restrictive measures in public, many employees and professionals are reluctant to go back to the offices with the 9 to 5 presence. But others are only too happy to do it.

Of course the natural reaction is to ascribe this “enthusiasm to go back to the office” to Men, who were always looking for any kind of excuses to play “two-timing.” Even though there are not yet any reliable social and psychological studies about the changing dynamics of our (true) sexual lifestyles, there are some good indicators. One of them is that Women seem to be almost as enthusiastic to “hit the road again” to re-connect with friends, work buddies, etc., and pourquoi pas, a hidden flame.

One of the most radical aspects of the Pandemic’s aftermath is that Women, who have been bearing the brunt of keeping their homes functional under extreme duress, may no longer accept the same sex they used to. We discussed this in our new book Emotional Frustration-the hushed plague. We hereby present two excerpts from different sections of that upcoming book.

—”Doctor…Never had so many fab orgasms—not going back to same old.”

Wanda X. is a lovely middle-aged entrepreneur that had the misfortune of being surprised by the “staying at home” order in a business trip to a distant state. Fortunately, she had an old friend from college that gladly welcomed her to bunk. Unlike her, she was single and childless, which gave her a lot more sexual leeway.

One of the little perks of her friend’s lifestyle is to unabashedly recur to the use of a vibrator when she felt the irrepressible urge to satisfy her sexual desire. Reluctant at first, Wanda X. eventually relented, after a month of seclusion. Slowly she learnt how to handle it and at the same time learn more about her sexuality. When she would be finally able to return to her home, she is planning to sit down for a serious discussion with her partner. She will tell him that she is tired  of her culturally assigned role of a passive giver of love and that she wants the urgent addition of the role of active demander of love. Clear as a spring brook can be.

Note. This reproduction of Toulouse Lautrec’s Dans le lit- Le Baiser was taken from Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Toulouse_Lautrec_In_bed_the_kiss.jpg

The same chronic anxieties pervading the workplaces may foster a creeping loss of libido and eroticism in many blue collars’ bedrooms. On the other hand, women with a “hot” privileged spot in the upcoming New World Order will be less amenable to passivity, demanding equal rights inside and outside the bedroom. Moreover, after months of this pandemic and its Social Isolation, our nerves are so frayed that we are seeing in our offices a rising number of patients sick with a depression associated with high anxiety—the Post Covid 19 Anxiety Syndrome.

Note. This reproduction of Gustave Courbet’s Les amants was taken form Wikimedia Commons.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Courbet-Amants-Lyon.jpg

Has my world become dangerous? Will I keep my job? Will I find a partner? 

 Can I safely touch this person? Did I clean my groceries carefully enough?

We are just beginning to see (and experience) a radical re-engineering of erotic relationships.

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

Gnocchiatta Italia Campione Euro Cup 2021

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good morning. Yesterday we had the unexpected happiness of seeing the Italian Football team conquer the 2021 Edition of the Euro Cup in the mythical Wembley Stadium in London, England. Even though England started as the candidate for the cup, the Italian team ,under the guidance of Mancini, showed that it was a competitive and enthusiastic squad, erasing years of frustrations. With our son Gian Luca, we enjoyed the victory of Argentina in the Copa América on Saturday and the victory of Italia in the 2021 Euro Cup last night. A raddoppio for proud Italian-Americans like us.

In order to properly celebrate we prepared a Gnocciatta with a sauce of San Marzano tomatoes, ground beef and walnuts, which was topped by a ball of burrata cheese to melt at the last moment.

Once the sauce was ready, Gian Luca cut the burrata cheese ball so the cream would burst out.

Once the burrata cheese melts, it is time to mix all the ingredients with a slow burning fire.

This is how the dish should look like. Do not overcook the pasta. Turn the heat off and let it stand.

This serving was especially dedicated to our distinguished readers. Please join us in the celebration.

Buon appetito!

Complimenti a la squadra Azzurra per vincere il campionato d’Europa 2021. Forza Italia !!! 

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

Sandwich Argentina Campeón de la Copa América 2021

Querido(a)s lectore(a)s y colegas blogero(a)s:

Buenos días y Feliz Domingo. Anoche el seleccionado de fútbol de Argentina conquistó la Copa América merecidamente en el mítico Estadio Maracaná de Rio de Janeiro. Nuestro hijo Gian Luca ha sido siempre hincha de la Albiceleste ya que nos mudamos a vivir en Buenos Aires cuando tenía solo un añito. Junto a su hermana fueron a la escuela primaria en Pilar, Provincia de Buenos Aires. Aquí esta la camiseta que usó anoche para hinchar por el equipo. Le ganaron a Brasil un gol a cero.

Para seguir festejando en forma, le preparamos un desayuno especial. Le hicimos un sandwich de jamón, quesos suizo y mozzarella, gratinado en el hornito. Que les parece como nos quedó che?

Hizimos un rollito y lo servimos en un plato. Digo yo, le habremos puesto suficiente jamón y queso?

Vamos, vamos Argentina, vamos , vamos a ganar,

Que esta barra kilombera no te deja, no te deja de alentar

Felicitaciones al Seleccionado de Argentina por el triunfo en la Copa América 2021!

Manténganse distantes. Manténganse seguros. Manténganse bellos.

Que les parece? Dígannos.

No me dejen solo.

Alcohol Abuse as a coping mechanism in the Pandemic

Did the Social Isolation during the Pandemic increase the use and abuse of Alcohol in the USA?

In a recent article of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Rita Rubin stated that the generalized decision to keep the liquor stores open in the USA during the worst period of the pandemic (wrongly considered as “essential businesses”) had the unintended but grave effect of increasing its use and abuse by many segments of our society. She said: “…the immediate effects of alcohol abuse patterns have been increases in alcohol-related emergencies such as alcohol withdrawal, withdrawal-related suicides, methanol toxicity, and alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes.”

Moreover, the abuse of Alcohol might have worsened the clinical symptoms of the patients infected with Covid-19 because the virus impairs the normal immune defenses of the Respiratory System. an effect that the medical personnel treating the 1918 Influenza pandemic had already observed.

Note. This reproduction of Edouard Manet’s Un bar Aux Folies Bergères was taken from Wikimedia Commons.  

By Édouard Manet – Un bar aux Folies-Bergère d'E. Manet (Fondation Vuitton, Paris), CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83676367

If women often have borne the greatest brunt of the social and economic consequences of the dire Social Isolation and changes in the work/study parameters of their homes, did they abuse it too? We do not have yet a much needed segmentation of the data in a published paper, but we guess they did. As the dynamics of Alcohol Abuse in Women is different, we would like to present an excerpt of our upcoming book Emotional frustration- the hushed plague, to start the discussion. Here it is:

—”Doctor…Got to have a shot before I go to bed…Can’t sleep if I don’t!”

Carol X. is a divorced middle-aged mother of three that looks much older than her chronological age due to her chronic abuse of alcohol and smoking. Paradoxically she kicked her husband out of their house due to heavy drinking but his bottle—a callous counsellor of sorts—stayed behind in a cupboard’s top shelf. Like for many women, it started as a self-medication for her resilient depression and insomnia, furtively used at home, without nosy witnesses; slowly she became hooked on that habit, even after having Detox and joining Alcoholic Anonymous.[i]

A study [ii] by the National Institute of Alcohol and Drug Abuse shows that 60% of US women have at least one drink a year; 13% of the latter group have more than seven drinks per week. This level is above the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” [iii], issued by the Health and Health Services Department.  Women’s bodies have less water than men’s ones, which makes it harder for them to disperse the toxic by-products in brain, liver, digestive tract, and kidneys. Even with small intakes, they are at a higher risk for car accidents and abuse.[iv]  Even though it is illegal in all states, underage women engage in it, especially in American colleges.[v] Alcohol temporarily blunts all the sensory input to the brain, which brings an illusory sense of relief; it enables the onset of the first superficial phase of the sleep process, but it decreases the duration of the REM phase. [vi]

References

[i] https://www.aa.org/

[ii] https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

[iii] https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/

[iv] National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Video presentation “Alcohol and the Female Brain”, presented by NIAAA Director Dr. George F. Koob, January 9, 2018.

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-and-female-brain-presented-by-NIAAA-director-george-koob

[v] “Are women more vulnerable to alcohol effects?” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, No. 46, December 1999. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa46.htm

[vi] Soon-Yeob Park, Mi-Kyyeong Oh, Bum-Soon Lee, “The effects of Alcohol on Quality of Sleep”, Korean Journal of Family Medicine 2015 Nov; 36(6): 294-299

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.

 

 

 

Longer lasting Immunity against Covid-19 from mRNA vaccines

A successful humoral response to any modern vaccination entails the creation of a high affinity and durable antibody response that will protect individuals for many years. For all those of us who have received the mRNA-platform vaccines—the Pfizer BioNtech or the Moderna brands—the question is: “How long will our protection really last?”

In an accelerated article preview—mechanism through which a paper of high public interest gets prioritized —of the prestigious journal Nature, Jackson S. Turner et al., from the Washington University School of Medicine, addressed this issue. They studied the induction of Antibody Secreting Plasmablasts (PBs) and Germinal Centre (GC) B cells by the two available messenger RNA-based vaccines at present.

They said: “we conducted an observational study of 41 healthy adults (8 with history of confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection) who received the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine…Blood samples were collected at baseline and at weeks 3 (pre-boost), 4,5,7 and 15 after the first immunization. FNAs of the draining axillary lymph nodes were collected form 14 participants (none with history of SARS-CoV-9 infection) at weeks 3 (pre-boost), 4, 5, 7 and 15 after the first immunization.” Do the mRNA-based vaccines induce significant antigen-specific PB and GC B cell responses?

They found that one week after the booster immunization, this vaccine induced a strong IgG-dominated antibody response in blood and that there were strong binding GC-B cell responses and PB responses in the lymph nodes’ aspirates from the 14 participants. These responses were initially detected after the first immunization, and they rose significantly after the second dosage. Compared to the humoral response to the seasonal flu-virus vaccination, these responses were higher in magnitude.

The authors said: “the persistence of S-binding Gc B cells and PBs in draining lymph nodes is a positive indicator of induction of long-lived plasma cell responses. Future studies will be needed to examine whether mRNA-vaccination induces a robust-S-specific long-lived plasma cell compartment in the bone marrow.” The authors admit that these are just preliminary studies that need much stronger scientific follow-ups. If the mRNA-based vaccines induce strong GC reactions, they will become critical tools in the fight against a pandemic that is still producing dangerous virus variants. Moreover, the rise of vaccine hesitancy in the USA and other nations, has to be remedied by increased delivery of good information to the public by the often “isolated, haughty scientists.”

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.