The message is pretty clear. There are two ways to get into trouble with the coronavirus and the resulting COVID-19 disease. Three ways actually.
- If you are a medical worker and are not fully protected and are in close proximity to those with the disease, that is a recipe for trouble. We call this “viral load.” We pray for those who are working 12 hours shifts and those who have to change in and out of protective gear many times a day. The good news is that these teams of heroes are working together and caring for one another.
- Comorbidity: It’s been well-publicized that those with underlying conditions or who are immunocompromised are at greater risk than the general population. This is really where the majority of problems occur. Now that said, many people have underlying conditions and don’t know it. We’ve taught for years that at least 50% of the time, the first symptom of heart disease is a heart attack. This is also called a rude awakening. Lifestyle, nutrition, environment, stress levels and ability to sleep well all matter greatly. All of these areas of health fall in the category of “personal self-care.”
As Andrew Weil, MD said long ago, “You can’t afford to get sick, and you can’t depend on the present health care system to keep you well. It’s up to you to protect and maintain your body’s innate capacity for health and healing by making the right choices in how you live.” Andrew Weil, MD
The fact is doctors are trained in medicine and treat symptoms for the most part with the use of medicines that have side-effects. There is no disputing that. We see if on TV far to often. People being offered medications to ask your doctor about if you decide this might be the disease you have. Everything from Crohn’s Disease to Ulcerative Colitis to Depression, Anxiety and 54,000 other diseases. We can be thankful for the relief these medicines may bring but remember as all our grandmothers taught us, “A ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Better a fence at the top of the cliff than a hospital at the bottom. Of course, with the risks involved here on earth, we better have both.
There is another branch of medicine that is less than twenty years old and it is called functional medicine. Names like Dr. Jeffrey Bland, Dr Andrew Weil, Dr. Mark Hyman and hundreds of others have added an additional layer of common sense practicality that would make Hippocrates proud. This is not taught in medical schools yet, but is in practice with many physicians, health coaches, nurse practitioners who apply extra nutritional training and lifestyle coaching, looking at the complete person and seeking to find the true root causes of a set of symptoms through extensive health histories and extra functional testing. Adapting lifestyle, stress relief, nutritional guidance to the individual.
The bottom line is to attend to these 4 areas of health yourself with the help of coaches and education online to learn better habits regarding mind state, exercise, nutrition and sleep. Together these 4 pillars comprise our lives, the longevity of our lives and the overall satisfaction we can take from a life well-lived.
The 3rd way to find yourself in trouble with COVID-19 is through fear. (Mind state). Fear breeds disease and robs the body of natural defenses. The incessant 24 hour news cycle can be detrimental to your health. Understand that the media pushes buttons to get a reaction. To keep eyeballs glued to the screen so they get better ratings and can get more money from their advertisers. There is no need to keep the television on all day long. You will become a statistic, not from COVID-19 but from anxiety, fear, depression and worry. It’s a good idea to get the daily update but there is too much noise and fear-mongering going on. Don’t indulge in this habit. Stay well means keeping a clear mind and adhering to a set of beliefs that you know to be true. Here is something you almost never hear: 90% of people who get the virus are better within a few days, many don’t even know they had it. In this regard, it’s no worse than the common cold. If you are in the group of people with heart disease, have diabetes or lung disease, then much more stringent precautions are in order. Courage is the need of the day. We are all capable of being heroes by following these healthy habit guidelines.
It’s a tough challenge the world is going through and the casualties are grim for those who are at high risk. Mother Teresa said losing one life is a whole universe to that person. Here is some more wisdom from a contemporary saint:
Let’s all do what we can to ensure our health and longevity in the age of corona through a spirit of love and remembering our humanity, our strengths and our weaknesses.