Greetings Aspiring Mayflowers!
I have compiled some updated coronavirus thoughts and musings for your perusal. I hope you find them useful.
Have you ever heard of the Precautionary Principle? It forms a cornerstone to a healthy approach to health and illness. It recommends caution when operating in an incompletely understood system. It advises to take steps that limit risk and harm. We should acknowledge that the vast cosmic intelligence that pulses through our living body and the universe, the same intelligence which runs the billions of billions of chemical reactions in our body every second, is incompletely understood. Unless really compelled, stay with low risk interventions. Always start with the basics. Eat real food. Drink clean water. Exercise. Do something good for someone. These are universally true. Nobody will ever decide after a deeper look that they actually aren’t safe and sound.
One thing to add to that list of simple, good things especially during a pandemic: Stay out of the hospital at all costs. Right? Not necessarily. What was right yesterday might not be what’s right today.
At the onset of the pandemic we taught ourselves that the world was not safe, and rightly so. Certainly, we were right to cancel any routine appointments including medical appointments. And, many people also deduced that dealing with anything that comes up including a serious symptom was smartest to be done at home too.
Well, the world is changing. The surge in the Berkshires has passed. Hospitals are quieter. Risks are lower. Institutional policies are smarter. It makes no sense to take on medically risky things alone. I think it’s important to consider that our hospitals are likely as safe as a grocery store, and if you are dealing with the possibility of a serious medical condition be informed that hospitals are serious about keeping non-COVID people safe. Our hospitals are working very hard to not spread the infection. Please seek medical attention for possible emergencies in exactly the way you would before the pandemic started. Get seen. Don’t sit on symptoms that you wouldn’t have in times past. Call me and I’ll guide you. The message is use the ER if you need it. We will start to consider more routine medical appointments and over the next few weeks as well. Everything is in flux and each moment has its precise right move. Keep you ear to the tracks.
Speaking of Change….
My daughter said this whole thing is changing her. She was talking about how her sense of humor is deteriorating by being around my wife and me so much, but there is more. I think we could make the case that she will be different because our family life is stronger due to the society shut down. This period will shape our kids’ lives. Other people have remarked that the family dinner is back. Work schedules from home for many parents has brought an extra dose of humanity back into family life. On the other side of things, however, 9-1-1 calls are up everywhere and 300% in Great Barrington. Many are related to domestic issues. It’s the light and the dark. Both are amplified by the same process and battling for the upper hand.
Picture Rocky in his grey sweatsuit running up the museum steps in Philadelphia preparing for his opponent, a whole mass of his fans running behind him cheering him on. Buba baaaa! Buba baaa! We could use that enthusiasm everywhere! Imagine what it must feel like at Baystate hospital in Springfield when they play Rocky’s theme song over the speaker system any time a COVID patient is discharged. Nice, right? Reminds one of the cheers of grateful citizens at shift change for the medical heroes in hospitals around the world.
We are taking it on, trying to figure it out. It’s a time of little victories, challenging losses, and big questions.
You’ve probably seen the lists of expanding symptoms for COVID. The elderly can have atypical presentations like fainting or confusion. There is also the scary report of strokes connected with mild COVID presentations. A couple dozen case reports from 3 different institutions are being reported. Many were young people without a lot of symptoms. It’s rare, but notable. The tendency to clot is a part of this syndrome for some. We are not sure if blood thinning is warranted in even modest cases, but it makes sense to consider it.
We are getting more numbers from the antibody tests. Incidence of antibodies in NYC residents on one sample was 20%! Greater New York was 14%. That’s a lot of people with antibodies. Most things I am reading support the idea that the antibodies will be protective. That’s the way it is, at least for a year or two, with other coronaviruses. Other parts of the country are collecting data and more will pour in over the next days. Incidence of the presence of antibodies will vary by geographic region, of course. Some places out west are estimated at 2-3%. I might speculate that we in the Berkshires could be in the 4-6% incidence having had early community spread due to our relationship with NYC. That’s 5-7000 cases. It certainly puts the 31 deaths in the county in perspective. It’s all speculative. It’s difficult knowing that speculative data will have to be used to make these decisions about the path forward.
We take it one day at a time. We keep going without knowing exactly where we are heading. It’s going to be someplace new, everyone agrees.We know there is the potential for it to be better or worse for all of us. I would argue that this is a fact of modern life anyway, even in times not dominated by the Pandemic, but we are just asleep to how much the world depends on us to shape it. It’s undeniable now.
We are best to be on guard against the emergence of ideologies that go against our fundamental character as humans or have a potential to be abused. You have to ask: who are we fundamentally?
For one thing, we are the rightful architects of our own lives. We have to claim the space that we have been given. Our selves. And claim it fully. Nature abhors a vacuum. If we aren’t conscientiously awake to our choices then we leave space for competing interests.
“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
How do we claim our lives? What should be the basic focus? It starts with pursuing habits that encourage our alertness, wakefulness, and gaining knowledge. All in the name of advancing humanity’s best interest and preserving humanity’s freedom. Not freedom to do as we please, but freedom to learn the truth and to live life in connection with it.
Being congruent with universal principles of being a whole human in its fullest sense.
I’ll leave you with this quote by Hafiz given to me this week by a dear friend.
“I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the Astonishing Light of your own Being.”
Dr Cooney and staff
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