By Anna Von Reitz
Bill ran our hometown liquor store for at least 30 years. He was always quiet and alert and helpful, no-nonsense, but kindly. He kept an eye on the kids in the parking lot, did his bit for public safety, and carried on his business in a tidy, understated way that everyone appreciated. And now, he's gone.
Bill died of plain old bronchial pneumonia. It developed this fall as soon as the fall rains set in and the humidity spectrum changed to cold/wet outdoors and dry/dusty indoors. For many people of a certain age, this annual shift in humidity factors is hard to take.
Many of us still haven't learned the advantages of a simple indoor humidifier backed up with a few drops of essential oil.
Many elders can't afford an expensive home-scale air purification system, either. So they suffer. And they die.
Dry, dusty indoor air dries out our mucous membranes and makes them much less effective in filtering out harmful bacteria, fungal spores, viruses, and other pathogens.
Then we walk out the door in the fall, and Mother Nature is having a full scale party for all the decay bacteria and molds and spores and debris that comes with rain and leaf litter.
Combine the two factors and logic prevails.
People have a much higher incidence of respiratory illnesses in fall, winter, and spring --- the so-called "indoor season" or, more to the point, "flu season" of the year, and this is true despite all the maladies of summer hay fever and other seasonal allergies that cause a respiratory ruckus in summer, too.
If you are one of those, who, like me, have spent your lives sneezing because you are allergic to all dust, including paper dust, or suffer from chronic sinus infections, you are probably reading this and nodding, because the liturgy of the dust and humidity cycles is all too-familiar.
Like most men, I am sure that Bill didn't think a lot about indoor air quality. I was never in his store long enough to think much about it, either, yet in retrospect, the large beer and wine coolers were probably a happy habitat for many kinds of molds, and the west-facing door must have brought in a lot of dust along with the prevailing wind.
And this summer Bill began wearing a mask, like so many people faced with the task of serving the germaphobic public. That trapped the dust and bacteria from his own mouth and recycled everything and reduced the amount of oxygen in his system. Imperceptibly, he grew weaker day by day.
Many elders don't take proper care of their teeth and don't know that their own mouth is the Number One source of the bacterial infections they face.
I saw Bill the day before he died. He hunched over the cash register more than usual, but his voice was as strong and "can do" as ever, and I didn't really look at him closely. The next day in the afternoon, he simply keeled over. Too much fluid in the lungs. And he was gone.
Later, we all learned that he had been suffering from walking pneumonia and had been battling it for over a month.
Pneumonia is the real killer among non-chronic respiratory illnesses, and it is far more common than we think. It is exacerbated by restricting the flow of air, poor air quality, airborne pathogens, and by concentrating and re-breathing bacteria-laden air as many people are now doing.
Take a look at the attached report on the role of bacterial pneumonia contributing to the death toll mistakenly attributed to the Spanish Influenza, co-authored by none other than Dr. Fauci. [Facebook friends will have to visit my website, www.annavonreitz.com, to read the research paper.]
So, what can you do to make sure you don't end up like Bill?
1. Buy yourself a simple ultrasonic humidifier. These are inexpensive and widely available and you simply choose them according to how much space you need to humidify. Units will typically cover anything from 250 square feet to 1000 square feet. Add water and keep it clean and it can add comfort and years to your life. You can also do what Grandma did, and boil an open kettle of salt water on the back of the stove, though this is not nearly as constant as a supply source of water vapor and costs more energy-wise.
2. Buy a bottle or two of germ-killing essential oil online or from a health food store. Many essential oils have germ-killing properties, including all the citrus oils, peppermint, eucalyptus, lavender, and the bad boy, oregano oil. During the holidays, you might use balsam fir, cinnamon, or a touch of cloves. Adding a few drops to your humidifier will boost the germ killing and nose protecting benefits.
3. Don't obstruct your airways and access to fresh air. Once or twice a day, open a door or window, even in cold weather, and let fresh air into the house.
4. Pay attention to oral hygiene. I use a mixture of coconut oil and oil of cloves (just a few drops) that works miracles as a mouthwash. I also use an electric toothbrush which is hard to get used to, but well-worth the expense and effort-- and the tiny little gum brushes are now available to use like toothpicks, and dental floss, of course. Taking care of your mouth and teeth pays many, many health dividends including reduced respiratory infections.
5. If your house or budget doesn't allow for a conventional air purification system, consider "growing your own". Spider plants, also known as Mother plants, are super-effective natural air cleaners, as well as providing a high quality source of indoor oxygen. They are among the hardiest and least fussy houseplants to grow, and they multiply like crazy, so there are always abundant new plants to replenish your stocks and to give away.
6. Another health and safety tool that can improve everyone's health this winter, is an electric blanket or heated throw. These are safe, inexpensive, and can reduce temperature shock. We all know what it is like to sleep in a warm bed versus sleeping in a cold bed. It takes a while for a bed to warm up naturally, and takes body heat that may be needed -- especially for elders, and especially for anyone battling a respiratory infection.
Simply turning on an electric blanket for a few minutes while you are doing your nightly bathroom routine will warm up your bed and make it an effortless pleasure to slip under the covers.
So, if you have a child or an elder you love, consider giving them a gift of good health and comfort this winter. They may look at you kinda funny, but when you explain the benefits and help them get used to using these simple tools, you can all look forward to a more comfortable and healthier winter.
Granna's 2020 Gift List: (1) Ultrasonic humidifiers; (2) Essential oils; (3) Electric toothbrushes; (4) Houseplants; (5) Electric blankets or throws; (6) Winter boots with built-in ice grips (the kind that won't harm floors); (7) Environmentally friendly ice melter; (8) Snow removal services; (9) Home weather stations; (10) Wholetones Music (promotes health of plants and animals); (11) Indoor exercise equipment -- light hand and ankle weights, resistance bands, balance boards, etc. (12) ergonomic pillows to promote healthy sleep and proper neck support; (13) LED Deitz-type lanterns you can carry easily; (14) warm socks, hand muffs, hats with ear-flaps; (15) roomy vests with pockets; (16) daylight spectrum LED reading and desk lights; (17) Fresh spices and dried herbs and Himalayan pink salt; (18) Fresh raw nuts -- walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios; (20) dried organic fruits --- raisins, plums, apricots, cranberries, mango.
Now, these are, admittedly, Granna Gifts --- of the sort you probably got from your own Grandma every year, along with a sock monkey. Nothing too flashy or memorable, the sort of solid inconspicuous things (like Grandma herself) that simply contribute in a humble way to your health, to your comfort, and to your safety.
Better air quality, better oral hygiene, and sufficient warmth are, along with a healthy diet, clean water, and sufficient exercise, the pillars of good health and well-being that children need to establish in their lives and which elders need to revisit on a regular basis.
This winter, let Christmas last all winter. Wrap everyone up in your love. And remember that a gift doesn't have to be big, expensive, or flashy to be packed full of meaning and blessings.
I'll miss Bill. Everyone in our small community is grieving the loss in one way or another. We will miss his steady, reliable service, his long open hours, the convenience of being able to "run down to the corner store", his cheerful signage, his droll sense of humor and willingness to laugh at the absurdities of the world. We will remember how he lost his only child, a daughter, a few years back. How the whole community sucked in its breath over the pain that caused him. In a world full of change and uncertainty, Bill and his little store, Big Lake Liquor, were comforting constants. Now, he's gone and the door is closed. Hail and farewell, old friend.
We are all a little lesser for his passing and the loss of yet another small town Mom and Pop private business.