Greetings Brave Citizens!
“If you’ve seen one pandemic, you’ve seen… one pandemic.”
This is how most experts refer to the important variations and particular nuances in understanding pandemics. As I see more research about the history of pandemics it’s clear there is a lot we don’t know and can’t predict about this one. The pandemic story over the ages is one of poor living conditions, unclean hunting and butchering practices, and war and conquest. We have come so far in some ways and in others we have a long way to go. I live with the understanding that an essential part of our experience is uncertainty and hardship, and they serve to aid our quest to deepen the understanding of humanity. They wake us up to our task. The main solace is that we are not alone. We have help that transcends all of our individual efforts if we work hard at life and stay engaged. We are in it together! Don’t forget it for a minute.
The counts are staggering, and the predictions are dizzying. We have reached one million cases in the world. There are 250,000 cases in the US and over 6,000 deaths. Government officials are predicting up to 250K deaths here in America, hoping to see only 100K! The Berkshires have been on the front edge due to our proximity to NY, and we certainly will quiet down while other parts of the country are peaking. However, our hospitals are expecting a surge over the next 2 weeks.
The anosmia symptom points to nervous system involvement with this coronavirus. Inflammation in the nervous system is central with the flu too. Did you know that double vision was a common symptom with the flu pandemic in 1918 and is sometimes still seen today with the flu? That’s another cranial nerve symptom.
The generic story of all colds is the overtaxing of the nervous system which makes us susceptible. With modern living, since the invention of electricity, taxing our nervous system has become a way of life. We can extend our waking life long past sundown and make night as bright as day. As technology advances we are more sedentary and obese and unbalanced. Our poor, overworked, overstressed heads draw down much of our vital energy reserves. So, what can balance excess of waking time when we should be sleeping? The answer is “sleeping” time in our waking state: meditation. This is a tremendous balancer of the nervous system. Entry meditation practices can be a simple breathing exercises, like diaphragmatic breathing. See here. It’s a very good stress reducer.
In what other ways can our head-heavy lifestyle be balanced? Our heads passively receive input, and nerve cells don’t have a lot of metabolic activity. There is a cooling down of body temperature with excess head and brain workings. We balance the excessive cool state of modern life with building and supporting warmth. Physical exercise is huge as is nurturing interpersonal and community warmth: every act of compassion, kindness, courage, or generosity heals us.
The first phase of this global occurrence can be considered the Isolation stage. We know it well. As far as the role of the hospital in our lives during this first phase? We take risks to stay away. Routine follow ups and lab tests: gone for now. In this stage, the hospital is to be avoided at (almost) all costs.
Important side point: People still get sickness other than Coronavirus and will need the emergency room. Hospitals are aware that they need to remain safe. They take the protection of personnel and the uninfected very seriously. Policies are put in place to make this happen. The ER can and should be considered an option for those things that we NEED to tend to emergently. You don’t sit on chest pain or bad abdominal pain, for example, because of COVID.
As local, regional and global case counts climb more people will be finding themselves in a second phase, the Infected stage. I’ve been hearing more questions about what to do if infected. So let’s talk about that some. To start, if you are test positive for Corona virus you will isolate from people who aren’t sick. We can give you specific guidance if the time comes. This infection can look like a mild cold, or it can hit you hard with aches, heavy fatigue, cough and fever. (As a review, other symptoms can be shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, and even upset stomach.)
I want to give you the central advice for moderate symptoms that you won’t hear anywhere else. This is simple, but it needs to be really understood. The most important thing to do is to stop doing everything. I mean everything. Fever or not. If the symptoms are enough to slow you down, I say stop completely. The first part of moderate illness could represent inflammation in the lungs- pneumonia, and I can’t stress enough how important absolute rest is. COVID-19 has a stronger tendency to cause viral pneumonia. This type of pneumonia (viral) doesn’t respond to antibiotics and goes through a process over a week’s time. Barring a complicated course, if the process is given much rest and an environment of very steady temperature it has the best chance of recovery.
Warmth is part of the body’s defenses. Don’t chase a fever away just because it’s there. Let a fever stay if you can handle it. Viruses don’t replicate as efficiently under febrile conditions. It’s mainstream knowledge that there is more viral shedding and a longer course of infection with over-the-counter fever medicine.
And tend to the light. Proper light is just as important as warmth and rest. Countless studies show that individuals heal faster in hospitals when they have a view of nature. Natural light saves lives. Be wary of fluorescents, laptops, Netflix, and cell phones. They are not natural light. One week into this pneumonia there can be an intensification. Rest prevent that, in my opinion.
When we are dealing with an infection have to revisit the hospital’s role. They are suddenly not taboo anymore, not at all. It’s important we do a 180 degree turn. We try to stay away in this phase if we are handling it ok to help not bog them down, but if it’s not going well, we want to consider accessing the help that is available. They are, absolutely, where you want to be if you are having sustained difficulty breathing. BMC has access to the study drugs that you are reading about. We use these in severe cases.
Finally, if you’re sick and the ER is seeing you and sends you home but you don’t feel right, you head back to the ER. That’s how it goes. You trust what you’re feeling. Use your instincts if it’s not going well for you or your loved ones, and your resources. I of course can be on the phone with you. Bottom line, if it worries you you need to be evaluated. Trust yourself.
I’m hopeful. We know from China and Singapore and Korea, to name a few. Italy’s curve is flattening. Spain’s is also. There’s no fuel for the corona when it doesn’t encounter susceptible hosts to Infect. The fever curve is down in America per an online thermometer company. We have a ways to go, but we can be full of hope. Have you seen the huge efforts from many companies to shift their production lines to keep our front line workers safe? We can all be part of the effort in our own ways, even from the quiet of our own homes. Embodying and nurturing hope is more effective than we can imagine. Practicing loving and grateful thoughts to our hospital workers is as important as any task in the day. Sending wishes of strength and condolence to everyone who is intimately effected by this should be considered an essential duty.
Two beautiful quotes
I’ll send you with two quotes from Charles Eisenstein’s recent essay on Coronavirus about finding positives in challenges.
He says “disaster often liberates solidarity. A more beautiful world shimmers just beneath the surface, bobbing up whenever the systems that hold it underwater loosen their grip.”
He marvels at the changes we have embraced to meet this challenge. The whole world is united in this effort. “If we can change so radically for Covid-19, we can do it for the other conditions that bind us too.”
Be Well. Reach out if you need anything!