July 17th

7/17
Greetings Dear Friends,

How has your week been? Are you getting outside?

I’m getting out there! My dogs chased a porcupine up a tree last evening on a walk. I think it was a porcupine, unless it was a wolverine. I’m not sure. I grew up in the city. It was something. I don’t have a lot of experience with big animals in trees.

The summer has (1) wind to help disperse what is not wanted, (2) greenery to lower air pollution, and (3) UV light to sterilize the atmosphere.  It’s the perfect trifecta.

(Keep an eye out for 3’s today!)

 

Covid Update 

LOCAL
Deaths per day are dropping in the state and yesterday were down to just 5, a new low since the peak. Berkshire County remains to get, on average, one positive test daily…in the whole county… not bad. That’s including a little cluster of 4 positives in Monterey this week.

BHS testing
Since July 1, 2020, BHS has tested 1924 patients with only 16 positives (as of yesterday). BHS testing continues to be available for all test requests. Any patient who needs asymptomatic clearance for work, camp, schools, etc. can receive it. Turnover is not guaranteed to be less that 3 days.

BAYSTATE
Baystate can turn around testing in 48 hours, they tell us.  Consider them, if needed. We set that up with an order.

Berkshire Center for Whole Health
The office continues to provide an option for testing as well; we seem to get slightly slower turnaround because Quest is overloaded and is giving priority to the hospitals.
We are also seeing patients in the office when we needed and continue telehealth and tent visits when able.

PHASE THREE !!!!

We are now in phase three of the reopening, and with expanded loosening of restrictions of service-oriented businesses like restaurants, gyms, hair salons, it is likely we will see more positive tests. Wear your mask! Limit useless exposure!

National scene

Most insiders consider us to be in the middle of the nation’s big surge. We keep setting records for daily case incidence, and there are several hot spot states. So far death rates are not matching the surge’s intensity. That’s what we hoped for. Pray with me that it remains that way.

(FYI. There is interesting discussion out there about prayer in medicine.)

BTW, we spent March and April saying we wanted to flatten the curve, not eliminate it.  Despite confusion and chaos we appear to be on a reasonable pathway to keeping the curve flattened in some but not all states. An emphasis on smart, careful measures like we do here in Berkshire County will move this thing through. We can be really smart and wear the virus down. (More to come on immunity below.)

VACCINE

Containment and waiting for a vaccine is not our best strategy but seems to be on a lot of people’s minds. A rushed vaccine is what science-fiction horror stories are made of. There is no guarantee that we will be able to come up with anything worthwhile. Attempts at coronavirus vaccines have been made over the last couple decades, to no avail.

Did you know researchers will have to watch for artificially produced antibodies through the vaccine process that can make the viruses effects more powerful? This is an actual phenomenon called Enhancement. It happens sometimes in vaccine attempts. I’m constantly reminded of what my physician Uncle said to me at my medical school graduation. He told me, “despite all the technology, modern medicine is still a shot in the dark.” That wasn’t yesterday but I would tell the same thing to my nephew were he graduating today from medical school.

I’m not a pessimist, I’m just in support of a revolutionary make-over of how we view the human being and subsequently what we see as smart interventions. (More to come.)

Immunity 

People are still not sure what to make of the whole immunity question, ie, whether or not immunity will persist. There are very small datasets triggering big speculation. Maybe immunity will last 6 months at best, they say.  Maybe it only lasts as long as the antibodies are detectable, they say.

If I may, I’d like to make a suggestion. RELAX ALREADY.  It’s going to play itself out. Our news coverage is like an anxious back seat driver. There’s lots of different scenarios with this, just like there are risks when you decide to get out of bed in the morning, even when there is no dang Pandemic going on.

Most likely we will have immunity. If it’s not perfect immunity then most likely if we get it again it will be muted and cause a milder infection. Why worry about the worst case scenario?  If you did that in life I would tell you to settle into the present and don’t get out in front of yourself. Even if we must face the unlikely worst case scenario (we can get an infection over and over), we will adapt. The human spirit will prevail.

Holistic Philosophy 101

As growers and learners, we have a starting point that is incomplete. We feel an inborn need to change our state. Learning is the purest way to do that.

I want to change gears and give you a very simple 101 class on a holistic view of your body.

(OK, maybe it’s not soooo simple, but you’re super smart.)

I can see why most people think of the body as a machine. I can’t really blame them. We doctors are trained that way. And we educate our patients.

Replace this body part, cut that one out- you don’t need it; tinker with the wiring over here and the plumbing over there.

Carpenters, mechanics and doctors could almost share office space. It could save money and advance expertise. (I’m not being serious).

Bottom line: the body is not a machine! It has an intelligence that we really should behold in complete awe.

POETRY
At some point after med school I was presented with a poetic viewpoint on the human body. I can’t express strongly enough just how nourishing it was to me. More and more it occurs to me that only with the right starting point can we make meaningful progress.

We want meaningful progress, right?

Well, the body-as-machine approach divides the body into 12 or 13 or 14 different coexisting but isolated systems, for example endocrine, immune, digestive systems. This leaves us with no greater understanding. The poetic view of the body taps into a finer organization that is interactive and integrative.  And I’m not just talking about, for example, how the digestive system informs the immune system, etc-  although that type of thinking is helpful.

I can start you off with a small understanding with vast implications about the human organism.  The lead in recalls the idea that man is created in the image of God, so this is no small exploration. Central to this glimpse of the body is the number 3.

There is a threefold nature of the body. Three is a huge operative number. It needs to be kept centrally in mind when you explore the human body. First I want to point out that there are two opposite poles.  Let’s start with those two, then we will add the third.

The first pole is the head, which houses the brain and is the sensory headquarters of the body. The main sensory organs (eyes, ears, taste buds, balance centers, smell and taste organs) are located on the head.
  • This is where the world enters us (through the senses) unchanged.
  • Stillness is important for accurate processing.
  • Coolness is best for a brain to take in percepts properly.  No hotheads please!
  • Vitality and reproduction are low (blood flow is limited)
  • This pole is open to the outside environment

The other pole is our digestion and our limbs.  Food as nourishment enters here. We incorporate this through our digestive tract. We greatly alter the substances as they comes in. We need to destroy these substances that we allow to enter our body.
  • Here the world is changed completely as it enters
  • Movement is key at this pole of the body.
  • And warmth is paramount.  A cold, immobile gut is problematic! The limbs need to keep mobile and are best warmed up.
  • Vitality and cell reproduction are high…reproductive organs are here!
  • This pole is closed to the outside and doesn’t have a direct connection with the surroundings like the head pole does.
They are crystal clear opposites, hidden in plain sight!
The cool, still head pole has a contracting nature. The warm, mobile pole of the metabolism and limbs has an expansive nature. Both poles are nourishing to us.  Both poles aren’t inherently good or bad. Health is their balance.

The third area lies in between the two poles and makes a distinct region that is neither soley contraction or expansion but rather a region that rhythmically alternates between one pole then the other, contracting and expanding, time after time, balancing the two poles. This region lies between the head and the metabolism and has two components: the rhythmic expansion and contraction in the lungs, and the rhythmic expansion and contraction of the heart.  The rhythmic systems “listen” to what needs to be balanced and adjust and heal any abnormalities, as they are able to.

Can you believe that is not taught in medical school? If that takes your breath away, then we come from the same tribe.

The right starting point is crucial. It opens up new insights about health and illness and the possibility for deeper healing.

That’s all the time we have for today. Thank you so much for tuning in!

And let us know if you need anything!

Dr Cooney and staff

(Stay present!
Get outside!)