|Are we done yet ?
We have all learned more than we ever hoped to in our lifetime that viruses and cockroaches have a lot in common - they are built to last. I hope this post helps to give a bit of perspective and fortitude as we head into the third year of COVID-19 along side a difficult cold and flu season. The next few posts I’ll be sharing some of my favorite holistic and natural tools to have on hand to have a more compete medicine cabinet. But first, I thought it may help to remind ourselves how far we have come; while not abandoning what has worked.
Most of you know the Western Medical toolbox: Vaccine, anti-virals, and symptom support. It is important to remember the symptoms are the body's reaction to the invader. Vaccines are aimed at priming the immune system to recognize the invader so it can use fewer troops to help knock it down. One of the initial and continuing challenges with COVID-19 was a novel virus; our bodies didn't recognize it. Unlike the flu our bodies over the years have gotten accustomed to different versions; let's say it is the classic camel hair winter coat. It is a reliable, never goes out of style companion. Sure each year fashion houses reinvent the classic; but at the end of the day, it is cut from the same cloth. Thus, your immune system recognizes it. Some years you may get knocked around worse than others but by in large we have a been there done that attitude.
Then there is COVID-19 and it bursts onto the scene not even in the normal season; forget fall apparel we are pre-releasing a Spring multi-use coat that covers every season. Move over the boring classic camel hair wool blend we are coming in hot like Betsey Johnson on steroids. We are shaking up the industry with every color of the rainbow, fabric, texture, and length. Forget Park Avenue this is a Meat Packing rave before it was trendy. You won't know what hit you.
|Betsey Johnson Spring 2013
Our immune systems took notice and lost their goddamn minds and not in a good way. So the normal immune response went into an overreaction - the Cytokine Storm. This storm was our pro-inflammatory system going off the rails. This excessive reaction is now the body harming; while it was really just trying to do its job. This overachiever attitude brought with it incredible danger. We as a society paid dearly.
August 2021 the first COVID-19 vaccine was FDA approved. Prior to that medical treatments included antibody treatments, and then came antivirals combined with slowly a better understanding of how to treat COVID-19. The tsunami had passed but the storm was still brewing. Therefore we kept in place the age-old practices of times past; masking, social distancing, and improving indoor air ventilation systems. This had a twofold effect; one it slowed the spread to allow hospitals to not be overburdened but it also has had the rebound effect of having our immune systems get a little laisse-fair.
So here we are entering the Winter of 2022 and sorry to be the realist but this triple threat isn't the newly demure and calm JLo; we are going back to Jenny from the Block about to skyrocket to international fame. We are in the wild west of Bennifer and haven't come out on the other side. This triple threat epidemiologically is a party all its own; a bad one. We have virgin immune systems, mingling with a party of viruses all while the protective measures have been abandoned. This is entering nothing good happens after 2AM territory. This is Ben off the rails in a Casino before the Phoenix rising back tattoo and Jennifer being hounded by paparazzi to catch a tear. This is being bogged down by the reviews of Gigli. If Ben and Jen made it to the other side better than before; certainly we can. But we can’t give up; it’s not 1918 so while we are much better equipped medically this virus is globe trotting as much as our newlyweds.
The Spanish Flu lasted from 1918 to 1920. The first "passenger" aircraft was in 1926 when Western Air Express pilot Jimmy James did his mail route from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles with two passengers coming along for the ride; seated on top of the mail. Thus the virus didn't have human vectors globetrotting. We live in a mobile world economy that just gave this virus an around-the-world ticket. That along with the very nature of modern life gave the virus a leg up at mutations. The longer a virus circulates the more opportunity it has to evolve and change. How often have you heard someone say I got the flu shot but still got the flu? Well, that's not shocking the flu vaccine is made on the best predictive value of which virus will circulate. Some years it's a bull's eye other it's on the outer ring. That doesn't mean it offers no protection but nothing is a bulletproof vest. Everything is a layer to help best protect yourself and the community at large.
So what can we do this Winter of 2022 to take the temperature down so to speak? We can look around and know we learned a few things and not be afraid to implement some changes for the winter season. First, something that I believe sociologists will be studying for years to come - mask up. Not your paisley print cloth mask; a KN95 when in large social gatherings indoors. Recently, there was a report if everyone would just mask in the airport and during take-off and landing while the air ventilation system isn't on it would make a significant dent in transmission. We aren't just talking about COVID but all viruses during this time of year. I know a number of teachers that worked through the pandemic and the one thing they all had in common they didn't get knocked down by their yearly winter cold/flu. We know it works, but it has become a sign of fear versus strength. Take back your power, mask up; flip the script on the false narrative.
Test. We have tests; use them. Add that layer of precaution before you have a large Holiday gathering. Ventilate. Grab an air purifier or crack a few windows if you do have company.
Finally, do the best you can to practice handwashing and common sense. If you don't feel well; try your best to contain your virus to a smaller perimeter. Watch the sugar. The holidays come and hibernating for the winter and our bodies crave those sweet snacks; unfortunately, viruses love them just as much as you do. Remember; our immune systems have been benched; think of yourself as an athlete coming back after an injury; slow and steady for long-term gain.
This is the main lesson I feel with all the bickering that has been lost. A slow re-entry to the days before can really pay off in the long term. Masks unfortunately have become a trigger of COVID and how our lives were turned upside down, but it doesn't have to mean it has to be worse. Maybe we learned something? We can protect each other, and ourselves if we just meet halfway.
We thankfully are moving away from death as the main fear of COVID; writing this US daily death count was 385 on November 15th. But based on lag time and increases in Europe we can unfortunately expect that number to uptick. Now we must address Long COVID which does not seem to care about your vaccination status, the severity of illness and worse every COVID re-infection increases the possibility of a major debilitating disease state. Unlike hospitalized COVID the toolbox for post covid sequela is sitting empty; it is a landmine of unknowns playing catch-up. Current estimates are 18 million Americans are suffering from Long COVID, and an alarming will fall under the umbrella of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Educate on Long COVID data from October 2022; knowledge is power.
We all want to go into the closet and grab the well-aged classic winter coat; it's nostalgic and a place of comfort. Unfortunately, our reality has changed and the sooner we accept that and adapt to that we can move forward healthier together. So we aren't back to camel hair yet, but we've come a long way. We’ve returned to a traditional cut and style maybe just in violet for the time being. Then when the time is right and on our own terms we will find ourselves reaching for our Betsey Johnson with a sigh of relief. We’re just not there yet…but we will be.
|Heather & Daisy
For more information on Long COVID; Ryan Prior of Forgotten Plague released his book The Long Haul today.
Wellness consults available: email email@example.com
In Health, Heather