TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

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Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski – author

Donna & David with ARC of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

 

My memoir, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale, is not only a story of David’s and my struggles after his traumatic brain injury, but it is also a love story. Though my memoir addresses a dire topic, it is peppered with comedic situations. They say laughter is the best medicine, and again, they are right.

Prisoners without Bars is a heart-wrenching memoir that will make you laugh, cry, and G-A-S-P. I promise!

 

Boy Laughing

 

Girl Crying girl-crying-clipart-34

Girl Gasping 2

It’s not a beach read, but it reads like one. It’s fast! It’s easy! It’s fascineasy. I mean fascinating.

What Readers are Saying!

Jackie said – “A beautiful and touching story.”

Anonymous Amazon Customer said – “I loved this book. almost couldn’t put it down.

jlgwriter said – “I found the story powerful and compelling.

Todd & Kim said – “This is such an inspirational story of survival! The book is a very easy read and informative as well as inspiring!!”

Judy said – “Donna O’Donnell Figurski tells her story of grace, love, frustration, anger, disappointment, strength, joy, and above all hope.”

Marge said – “I read it in one fell swoop… I guess the word that would describe your book, your life, and who you are is SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOIUS.”

Anonymous said – “This book pulled me in immediately and didn’t let me go until the end! ”

Helen said – “Could not put this book down. Written for easy reading. It was like having a conversation with a friend.” “I finished it in one day with some teary moments along with some chuckles. A must read!!”

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Stay Safe and Healthy!

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Long COVID and Children
by
Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski
presented by
Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19.  Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion, I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

It has been accepted that the infection of teens and children with COVID-19 rarely results in significant symptoms, but it’s worrisome that they may be as susceptible as anyone else to a recently identified effect of COVID-19 – a syndrome called “long COVID.”

Children with the virus often show no signs of infection, and sometimes they (and their parents) are not even aware that they have been infected.  Contrast that with the experiences of the very old.  Infection of the elderly often leads to severe disease and can result in death.  Nobody has yet been able to explain how age results in the radical difference in sensitivity to the effects of the virus.

Doctors and scientists are also unable to explain the onset of the delayed symptoms of long COVID.  In one study, 10-13% of children who knew they were infected thought they had recovered.  They tested negative for the virus, and most of their symptoms were gone. In some cases, there were several weeks of good health. But weeks or months later, they showed new symptoms. (Adult symptoms include fatigue; fever; cough; sore throat; chest pain; shortness of breath; neurocognitive problems with memory, concentration, processing, or finding words; diarrhea; headaches; insomnia; dizziness; heart palpitations; abdominal cramps, rashes; tinnitus; joint pain; depression; and anxiety.) The symptoms may last weeks or months, and some people still have symptoms after several months.

Particularly worrisome is the fact that mild or asymptomatic acute infections can still lead to long COVID.  This means that children, who were thought to be unbothered by infection, are, in fact, sensitive to long COVID.

I haven’t seen the data, but I suspect that the 10-13% number came from people who either had an obvious symptom or tested positive.  If we include the number of asymptomatic infections, the percentage of infected children who get long COVID will likely go down significantly.  If you and your children are using masks and social-distancing, then you’re already at a low risk of even getting infected.

The bottom line is that this virus still shows surprises. It’s definitely too early to relax.

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Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

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COVID-19: Vaccines Part 1 of 3: If Enough Get Vaccinated, Society Can Return to Normal

by
Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion, I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

Vaccination is happening on a large scale in the US. President Biden has said that all adults can be vaccinated by the end of May.

Amazingly, in one year, three vaccines have been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). A fourth is ready, and more are close to finishing their clinical trials.

Why get vaccinated? 

Everybody knows that you will protect yourself from serious disease, so there will no longer be the risk of hospitalization and/or death.

The amount of virus in the body will be lower (and sooner at zero), so you are less likely to infect a sensitive person.

And there is a major benefit to everyone – most people don’t consider this.

Some people are irrationally worried about the vaccines and will not get vaccinated. This is a problem because vaccination is not just a personal decision. The entire population – vaccinated and unvaccinated – is adversely affected.  Let me explain.

When 70-80% of the people become immune, the pandemic will be defeated. (The virus will still be around because the 20-30% who are not immune will allow the virus to stay with us – but in lower amounts.  The 70-80% number comes from virologists (including Dr. Fauci) who understand that the population achieves “herd immunity” at that level.  Herd immunity will allow us to get back to normal – no lockdowns or self-quarantining, no avoiding contact with other people, no social-distancing, and no masks.

So if we want to get back to normal, we need to achieve herd immunity.

There are two ways to become immune – (1) infection with the virus and (2) vaccination.  Infection is iffy and dangerous.  Vaccination is guaranteed.

The former President was sometimes influenced by Scott Atlas – a notoriously incompetent COVID-19 Task Force member. Atlas was convinced that the best way to achieve herd immunity was to let everybody get infected.  The first problem is the number of deaths that policy would cause. (At a death rate of 1%, infection of the 330 million people in the American population would lead to 3.3 million deaths.) The second problem is that some infections (probably some of the asymptomatic infections) lead to poor immunity that’s not protective.  We know that some individuals who have recovered from COVID-19 have no antibodies to the virus. (The “innate” immune system – our first line of defense – was probably good enough.)

Vaccination is guaranteed to provide protective immunity.  FDA approval is based on a vaccine’s protective effect in the clinical trial.  (The Phase III clinical trial involves ~30,000 people.)

A decision to be vaccinated benefits not only you, but also everyone.  

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Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

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Do You Know Someone with a Brain Injury? I Do!
presented
by
Donna O’Donnell Figurski 

Chances are you know someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI.) More than 1.7 million Americans each year sustain a brain injury.  I personally know five people who are living with some form of TBI. In fact, I’m living with one.

My husband, David, had his brain injury in 2005. A professor friend of ours from Brigham Young University has one. So do my nephew, an actor/director friend from my local community theater, and the husband of my friend, Judy.

A brain injury can occur in the blink of an eye. Brain injury is not discriminating. It cares not about color, race, or creed. It can happen to a child or an octogenarian and everyone in between. A child may fall off his bike or off her swing.  A teenager may meet up with a TBI on the soccer or football field or a gymnastic mat. Car and motorcycle accidents are common causes of traumatic brain injuries. An assault in a dark alley or domestic abuse in your home can result in brain injury too. One can even have a traumatic brain injury while exercising (e.g., while doing chin ups in the wee hours of the morning after doing Tai Chi while listening to Deuter or some other new age CD). David did!

Like snowflakes, no two brain injuries are the same. Each survivor is different too and each method of healing is unique to the person who is struggling to regain his or her former life. With a lot of hard work, patience, and persistence many survivors can enjoy a “new normal” life.

Check out this article, Facts About Traumatic Brain Injury, for more information.

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Meghan Beaudry

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Meghan Beaudry – Brain Injury Survivor

     1. What is your name? (last name optional)

     Meghan Beaudry

     2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

     Houston, Texas, USA        meghan_wang@yahoo.com

     3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

     In 2009, I developed lupus, an autoimmune disease, that turned into brain inflammation. I was      twenty-two. Five years later, in 2014, I had another severe brain inflammation flare in which I forgot both how to walk and much of my past.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease.

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

I first realized something was wrong when I began to struggle in grad school.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

A female Doctor.

A female Doctor.

I had a difficult time getting diagnosed, so I did not receive treatment the first year I was sick. I saw seven doctors before I was diagnosed with lupus. 

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

No.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

No.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I have some short-term and long-term memory loss. While I don’t have noticeable balance problems, I have a poor sense of balance for someone my age.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

My life has changed in many ways since I’ve survived brain inflammation. In some ways, it has improved. I’m more fearless and confident. Because living with brain injury and lupus takes up so much energy, I have little energy for negative thoughts and people who might hold me back

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss being able to memorize information quickly and with little effort.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I never would have started writing if I hadn’t developed a brain injury. It’s been an honor to be able to share my experience so that others with brain injuries can feel less alone.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I dislike the fatigue that comes with lupus, as well as worrying that I will have a memory slip when speaking, presenting, or performing.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

What has helped me let go of my grief is understanding that, while living with brain injury is not a choice, grief is. I’d rather only live with one chronic condition than with two.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

It took a while for my family to accept that my abilities and needs were different after my diagnosis. My second episode of brain inflammation led to my divorce because my husband was emotionally unable to handle it.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

I’ve been lucky to know friends who understand my limitations, especially because of the fatigue I experience daily. In many ways, brain inflammation has deepened many of my existing friendships.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

When I was very sick and bedridden with the second brain inflammation flare, my mother-in-law moved into my house to take care of me. Her selflessness and positive energy were huge factors in my recovery.

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I hope to have published a memoir about my experience.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

I use my phone to help me remember everything. There are so many apps to help you keep track of your life.

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Always remember that the lowest point in your injury/life is not the point at which you will stay forever.

 

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Brain Injury Resources …

“Now One Foot, Now the Other”

by author/illustrator Tomie dePaola

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Now One Foot, Now the Other

Now One Foot, Now the Other by author/illustrator, Tomie dePaola

Now One Foot, Now the Other by Tomie dePaola is one of my favorite books. I love all of Tomie’s books, but this one touches the heart.

My husband, David, had a traumatic brain injury in 2005 and, like Bob, had to relearn to walk. I guess I was my husband’s “Bobby” as I helped David to learn to walk again.

This book is so important in helping a child understand what happened to grandpa (grandma, anyone) when they suffer a debilitating brain injury. It is even an eye-opener for adults.

I highly recommend this book to any audience.

P.S. I once had drinks with Tomie dePaola and my friend, Paula Danziger, (author of the Amber Brown books) at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City while attending an SCBWI conference. (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators)

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! Drew Niemann

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

01. What is your name? (last name optional)

Drew Niemann – Caregiver – Host of A Battle Within

Drew Niemann

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email? (optional)

Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you?

My wife, Terry

-How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury?

(No answer)

-What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

Terry had a bicycle accident and two falls, which resulted in three concussions within three years. The second impact syndrome certainly played a role. (Second impact syndrome happens when the brain swells rapidly shortly after a person suffers a second concussion before symptoms from an earlier concussion have subsided.)

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor?

On and off – beginning in September 2014 

-Were you the main caregiver?

Terry Niemann – Survivor of Brain Injury & Drew Niemann – Hosts of A Battle Within

Yes

-Are you now?

I’m more of a “support” person now.

-How old were you when you began care?

49

5. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)?

No

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury?

Yes

-If so, were you able to continue working?

Yes

7. Did you have any help?

Yes

If so, what kind and for how long?

On and off for days and weeks

8. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in the hospital; when the survivor returned home; etc.)?

Immediately

9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

No

A Battle Within – Podcast

10. Did your survivor have rehab?

Yes

-If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)?

Terry had physical, occupational, speech, vestibular, and vision therapies – all as an outpatient.

-How long was the rehab?

The duration of therapy depended on the particular injury being treated.

-Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

(No answer)

11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

Day to day living; assistance in accommodating and with medical appointments

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?

Some days are better; some days, worse.

13. What do you miss the most from pre-brain-injury life?

I miss outdoor and physical activities. 

14. What do you enjoy most in post-brain-injury life?

I have a clearer understanding of what is important in life.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

I dislike what the brain injury has taken from Terry and the pain it has caused her and continues to cause her.

16. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s brain injury?

Time

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. Roles changed in the household. Terry’s no longer able to work as a teacher, so it has affected us financially as well.

18. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Yes. We cannot do the things we once did or do them to same level. We need to choose differently now.

19. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

(No answer)

20. What advice would you offer other caregivers of brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add? 

Be patient. Learn as much as you can. Take time for yourself. Be sure to allow your loved one to do what he or she capable of. If you can and if it is possible, allow for his or her independence.

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COVID-19: Dr. Fauci: Don’t Worry – Santa Claus – Immune to COVID-19
by
Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski
presented by
Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion, I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

     Children and parents don’t have to worry that the pandemic will ruin Christmas.

 Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has stated (video) that Santa has excellent innate immunity. (Innate immunity is the body’s first line of defense against viruses. Specific neutralizing antibodies develop a couple of days later.)

 Santa’s immunity is so good that he can’t get infected by COVID-19 and, consequently, he can’t spread the virus. In fact, he doesn’t need a vaccine. All the elves and Mrs. Claus are staying safe by wearing masks and practicing social distancing. It also turns out that the cells of Santa’s reindeer don’t make the receptor for the virus, so the reindeer can’t be infected.santa-2

 

For those who are concerned about receiving gifts on Christmas morning, the good news is that Santa and his reindeer will make their usual Christmas eve worldwide trip.

To track Santa’s trip around the world on December 24th, 2020, go to Norad Tracks Santa.

Have a safe and healthy Merry Christmas

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

 

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

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As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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Please check out my book.

 

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! Roxanne Greene

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Roxanne Greene – Caregiver for a survivor of brain injury

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Roxanne Greene

  1. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email? (optional)

Wichita, Kansas, USA

  1. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

My husband was 35 years old when he developed sepsis due to an unknown infection. While he was at the hospital for that, the doctors discovered the presence of three frontal lobe brain tumors. My husband’s brain lost oxygen as they were trying to save my husband’s life. He also had a secondary brain injury – brain swelling – after brain surgery.

  1. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

I began as my husband’s caregiver on February 13 2007 – the day I took him to the Emergency Room. I was his main caregiver then, and I still am now. I was 38 years old at the beginning of this journey – 12 years ago.

  1. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)

My husband and I had four young children – ages 3-12 at the time.

  1. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

I was not employed at the time. I was a stay-at-home mom.

  1. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

I was very blessed to have a lot of support. My husband’s parents were able to help, and I had other friends and family that came alongside me – helping with the children, meals, or house, etc.

  1. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in the hospital; when the survivor returned home; etc.)?

The support began the minute we arrived at the hospital. Our pastors met us there shortly after we arrived. During my husband’s entire hospital stay and even through rehab, I always had someone with me.

  1. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

Yes. My husband was in a coma about 5-6 weeks. He woke up very slowly and had to learn everything all over again. It was a very challenging time for the both of us. I was there as his cheerleader – cheering him on. It was hard to have a balance between caring for my husband and taking care of the children. I was very overwhelmed at times, but again, family support was crucial to my husband’s success.

  1. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

Yes. My husband had inpatient rehab for about a month, and then he transitioned to in-home rehabilitation, where the therapist would come into the home to do therapy. My husband had physical, occupational, and speech therapies and even counseling. He was in intensive therapy for about a year, and he had outpatient cognitive therapy off and on for another year?

11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

My husband’s brain injury caused him to become aggravated easily. He has had memory problems and also issues with communication. I had to watch him when he was around the children in the beginning. He was totally dependent on me for everything. I was like a single mother – I paid the bills, and I took care of the house, cars, etc.

  1. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?

My life has changed drastically. My husband and I both say our new marriage started February 13th, 2007. He was then, and is now, a different person. We had to figure out how to be married again to each other as new people. It has been good because our love is stronger than before. It has also been very difficult because this is not what I pictured for my future. I have moments of self-pity and sometimes wish it could be the way it was. Those moments are fleeting, and I know I have so much to look forward to.

  1. What do you miss the most from pre-brain-injury life?

I miss my husband’s going to work every day. I miss his doing projects around the house. I miss his being able to be the protector and the provider that he once was. I miss being a stay-at-home mom and spending one-on-one time with the children (even though most are grown now).

  1. What do you enjoy most in post-brain-injury life?

My husband and I get to spend more time together. My husband is more loving than before. Before injury, he worked a lot and was not home as often.

  1. What do you like least about brain injury?

I miss having more financial freedom. I sometimes don’t like having to do everything, including all the paperwork that goes into maintaining a home. I have to organize all of my husband’s doctor appointments, medications, and dealings with SSDI (Social Security disability insurance). It can get so overwhelming sometimes that I just want to cry.

  1. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s brain injury?

Accepting the reality of my husband’s condition has helped. It is what it is. There is nothing I can do to change what happened to my husband. I decided I can either wallow in self-pity or pick up my feet and move forward. I have also read many books on brain injuries and educated myself through this journey. The one thing I wish for is a brain injury support group for caregivers. I know I am not alone.

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. I have become the main parent and disciplinarian, as my husband cannot parent without getting overwhelmed and angry. He has improved, but the children, even as adults, come to me for advice.

  1. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

We both had close friends before my husband’s brain injury. We would go out and socialize and have people over often. Now we still have friends, but we rarely have anyone over to our house. We go out with family once in a while, and my husband has a few friends that will invite him to lunch once a month. It sometimes happens that my husband will not make the most appropriate comment.

  1. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I am a grandparent now, which brings a new set of challenges. My plans are to continue my education. I am in school to become an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter for the deaf. I had to go back to work to increase our income just so we could pay the bills. I would love to travel some, but I am not sure if that will ever become a reality, as I have to work full-time.

  1. What advice would you offer other caregivers of brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Roxanne Greene – Caregiver

Even though your life has changed, remember you are stronger than you realize. I look back and think of how much I have accomplished and learned about myself during this time. I am not sure I would have gone back to school if my husband had not become ill. Caregivers have been giving a gift that most people never get to experience. We get to see miracles every day as our loved ones fight to improve their lives. It’s a humbling thing to be a part of such a journey.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 4 of 4)

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

The President returned to the White House Monday evening. Was that too soon? Was the President at risk? Was he contagious?

The President’s doctors at Walter Reed were comfortable with his leaving the hospital because the White House has its own doctors and medical facility. Remdesivir is given IV for five days. Putting in an IV line would not be a problem at the White House. If the President needed supplemental oxygen, a chest X-ray, antibiotics, etc., they are readily available. The doctors at the White House can also do the daily blood tests needed to monitor the state of the President’s immune system and his propensity for clotting. Dexamethasone is usually prescribed for ten days, but an oral form is available.

Two important questions loomed. Is the President immune? And, is the President contagious?

The conferral of immunity by COVID-19 infection is a major question yet to be answered. If there is protective immunity and, if so, how long it lasts are major concerns of vaccine producers. There are now reports of people being infected with COVID-19 a second time. Immunity may depend on the severity of the initial infection and the robustness of the consequent immune response. There has been a report of mild or asymptomatic infections that do not elicit an antibody response. Are these people more vulnerable to a second infection? Alternatively, was their response so effective without antibodies that the virus could not become established and cause symptoms?

Is the President contagious? We can’t say without knowing his test results. Dr. Griffin considers a patient virus-free if that person has two negative tests on two consecutive days. Otherwise, a person is considered to be potentially contagious for 20 days. Since the doctors are permitting the President to hold rallies, I assume he is not thought to be contagious.

Dr. Griffin’s extensive experience with COVID-19 patients has allowed us to surmise what was happening with the President’s infection. The President appears to have completely recovered from his COVID-19 infection. But, several questions remain.

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COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 3 of 4)

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

The President was given two anti-COVID-19 drugs – the antiviral, remdesivir, which was used in the ultimately controlled Ebola pandemic and which was recently found to work on coronaviruses, and Regeneron’s experimental mixture of two monoclonal antibodies.

Remdesivir was found to inhibit the virus-encoded molecular machine that copies the chromosome of coronavirus to make more virus. Because it blocks virus multiplication, remdesivir shortens a hospital stay by 3-4 days.

Working with chimpanzees, Dr. Susan Weiss showed that remdesivir works best when given early in the infection when most viral multiplication takes place. This is impractical in humans because they don’t have symptoms for several days following infection.

Regeneron is developing a drug that seems to be effective against COVID-19, as suggested by a small clinical study. It is a mixture of two monoclonal antibodies.

When an individual gets infected with COVID-19, that individual makes a number of antibodies that bind the virus. There are many antibodies, but each one is produced by a single cellular clone (a cell and its descendants). Some of these antibodies are “neutralizing” antibodies, which inactivate the virus or block its ability to bind to a cell to start an infection. Such a diverse antibody response is said to be “polyclonal.” In 1984, César Milstein was awarded a Nobel Prize for developing a way to isolate a single-antibody-producing cell. As expected, its clone only produced one type of antibody. The antibody produced by such a cell line is a “monoclonal antibody.”

Regeneron’s scientists identified two COVID-19-neutralizing antibodies in people that recovered from a severe COVID-19 infection. They isolated the cell clones that produced them and put them into specially engineered mice so they could produce more of each antibody. The President was given this experimental drug because the Food and Drug Administration issued a Compassionate Use authorization.See the source image

(Irrelevant fact: I know Dr. George Yancopoulis, who founded Regeneron and is now its Director and Chief Scientist. He earned both an M.D. and a Ph.D. at Columbia University while I was a professor there. He worked on his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Richard Axel, whose lab was a few floors below mine.)

The President was also given vitamin D, zinc, and melatonin. Vitamin D helps prevent infection. It is a preventative and not a therapeutic agent. Zinc is also thought to prevent infection, but there are no convincing studies on zinc. Melatonin was given as a sleep aid.

(To Be Continued)

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