680 days of plague: Erlend, and pig bronchus

A bit gloomier today than I had hoped to be. The numbers in Belgium continue to soar – more than 3% of the country’s population had a positive diagnosis last week – and there is no immediate prospect of further relaxations of the restrictions. I had been considering a work trip to the UK next week, but I’ve decided to postpone that for the time being. (Three weeks from tomorrow I’ll be heading off to the USA. I hope.)

I’ve also had a nagging sore throat since the weekend. Not bad enough to stop me working, but irritating all the same, and I worked from home today instead of from the office in Brussels as I had planned. My home COVID tests keep coming up negative, which is something at least.

And yesterday came the sad news that Erlend Watson had left us. Most people outside the Liberal Democrats will never have heard of him, but he was a well-known personality in the party, always proud of his Orkney origins and a bit larger than life. It’s years since we had met in person, but as with so many acquaintances of times past, we had re-engaged more recently on Facebook. He did not recover properly from a double lung transplant last year, and announced on December 26 that he probably had between three and six months left; in fact he did not even get a full month. We will remember him. This was his last tweet:

Is this the worst British government since Caligula? Difficult to go much further on record. The one who lost the Dogger Bank or the one during the Permian extinction? @mrjamesob

— Erlend Watson ️ (@erlendwatson) December 21, 2021

And speaking of lungs… After my visit to hospital when I had COVID in November, the Belgian medical system stored all of the tests and reports for me to look at when I felt like it. It took a while for me to feel like it, but I did have a look last week, and was a bit puzzled by a reference to “pig bronchus”, which I had never heard of. It turns out that I have not one but two connections from my windpipe to my right lung, the extra one being an offshoot from the windpipe a couple of cm above the point where it divides between left and right. This is a mutation found in, as sources rather imprecisely put it, between 0.1% and 5% of people. It’s not in any way dangerous; I got through 54 years of life without it being an issue, and most people would never know if they have it. I would post the actual scan of my torso here, but the extra bronchus is only barely visible on it, even if you know what you are looking for.

Tomorrow it will be 20,000 days since I was born. No party planned, but if I make it to six weeks past my 82nd birthday, you’re all welcome on 14 June 2049 to celebrate 30,000 days of me.

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