Since the pandemic of Covid-19 blasted across the globe and caused us to radically change how we’re living, doctors, epidemiologists, public health officials, and the mainstream media have been focused exclusively on creating an outer shield against this infectious disease—lockdown, masks, social distancing, hand washing, etc. Such “Outer Shield” behaviors may be indicated and wise as a strategy to “flatten the curve,” avoid having our medical systems overwhelmed, and buy us time to grow familiar with this virus as we learn more about how to treat or prevent this novel coronavirus. While buying us the time has come at an enormous price—economic collapse, massive unemployment, worsening mental health as the result of lockdown, unemployment, poverty, starvation across the world—it has been moderately successful in helping doctors and scientists understand more about how this virus behaves and how to treat it.
We’re now pretty clear that this virus behaves differently in various stages of the disease. The hypoxia it causes appears to be more hematologic in origin than respiratory, creating the “happy hypoxic” who responds well to oxygen and position changes but is likely to die if put on a ventilator virus. At some phases of the disease, it causes thrombosis and can be treated with anticoagulants. At other phases, triple-drug treatment (which does not include hydroxychloroquine!) seems to offer some benefit. The wrong treatment at the wrong time, however, can cause more harm than good. We didn’t know all this even a month ago, so lockdown has given doctors time to learn how to treat this in its severe forms.
We learn by trial and error, and our learning curve has been steep in conventional medicine, though so much is still unknown. Flattening the curve allows anyone who gets sick three months into the pandemic to benefit from what we’ve learned, regarding which interventions seem to be life-saving and which may actually kill people. Outer Shield prevention methods also give scientists a chance to experiment and test drugs and other experimental treatments like plasma donation from recovered patients, as well as buying time so scientists can begin to try to develop safe and effective vaccination—a process that may prove safe and efficacious but also may never work (think HIV, which still has no vaccine). If vaccination is an option—it will take at least four years to determine safety and efficacy, so rushing to a vaccine would be unwise and even reckless—something we should have learned given the medical history and all its grave, life-threatening mistakes with new treatments.
Nobody likes lockdown, including those tasked with enforcing it. Still, it makes good common sense to intervene early with sheltering in place as a strategy to also buy us time to develop an effective testing, contact tracing, and selective quarantining system, something we in the United States have epically failed to do. While other countries enjoyed the benefits of swift, decisive, citizen-based leadership, the United States utterly squandered what would have been the most important benefits of lockdown—an organized system for testing, tracing, and quarantining only those at risk. Politics and public health blunders aside, we are where we are. Yet we are not helpless victims of an unfortunate situation; we can be empowered patients who take a proactive stance towards preparing ourselves for the inevitable reopening that will happen when your community is ready.
Handling complex pandemic situations are never black and white. Lockdown comes with grave risks; so does premature reopening. We are in a catch-22 situation, and risk is unavoidable, which means we are tasked with weighing often competing risks and making wise personal and collective choices that benefit our own bodies, our loved ones, and the whole.
Some seem to be promoting an illogical narrative—that we should all stay safely quarantined until we have a safe and effective drug or vaccine. No legitimate scientist ever suggested that we could stay locked down until a safe and effective vaccine is developed. That is socially and economically unfeasible—to stay quarantined for up to four years—and the impact on economic and mental health could be worse than the benefits we might get from quarantine. People who are dogmatically in favor of locking down indefinitely strike me as myopically terrified and illogically short-sighted, perhaps blended with very young parts that had adverse experiences in the face of any risk-taking. Others are more comfortable with risk—even to the point of recklessness—doubling down on their right to freedom, even if it means endangering others. The ones who have a “devil may care” attitude and fail to abide by quarantine laws, social distancing, and mask-wearing are perhaps blended with rebellious two-year-old parts having a tantrum, giving the middle finger to authority like teenagers who care only about maximizing self-interest at the expense of what’s good for the collective. For example, one can only imagine a childish part was driving the bus when this New York tourist got arrested in Hawaii after defying the two-week quarantine necessary for newcomers on the island, getting caught by authorities because he foolishly posted photos of himself defying the mandatory quarantine.
I feel tender towards those who naively believe they can avoid all risk by never leaving the house or those who prioritize personal freedom over collective wellbeing. Such extreme polarization can only come from trauma, which deserves our compassion and needs professional treatment, which most people are not getting. Now is the time not for polarization and judgment, but for all of us to behave like mature adults, using our extreme reactivity as trailheads for healing those young child parts. Only when we tend to and love those reflexively reactive inner children can we make wise decisions in the face of uncertain times.
I know it’s scary when there’s so much we don’t know, and I know it’s hard to be with reality when the reality is so fully in the unknown. I understand why people are clinging to doctors and scientists, hoping for a medical miracle the way people still hope for a “one size fits all” cancer cure that modern medicine has never been able to deliver. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a doctor—and in no way am I maligning modern medicine. I pray that conventional medicine and science delivers us a quick, safe, cheap, widely available miracle cure that can be used to treat anyone in the world with Covid-19, regardless of socioeconomic status! But chances are that it will take many years for science to discover how to effectively treat or prevent this illness, just like it took science many years to turn HIV into a chronic illness rather than a death sentence.
Until the time that science uncovers a safe, effective treatment, please be reassured that you are not helpless or powerless! You are not a hopeless victim at the mercy of this virus. There is much you can do to prepare yourself for reopening so you can mitigate the risks, if not eliminate them.
So now what? With parts of the country still locked down and other parts reopening, with some people complying with orders from our leaders and others rebelling, what can we do? It’s time to take back the power we do have to optimize what I call “Whole Health,” which includes the health of all aspects of your life, not just your physical health, but your mental health, financial health, environmental health, relational health, professional health, creative health, sexual health, and spiritual health.
Depending on which side of the lockdown/reopen divide you tend to locate yourself, the reality is that we face many novel risks as a result of this pandemic—not just the risks of the virus, but the risks incurred by quarantine. As much as we might all have young parts that want to avoid all risk, as mature adults, we realize that living without risk is not an option right now. Some people seem to ignorantly believe that if we stay quarantined forever, we might never get exposed to the virus. Yet experts are estimating that 60-70% of us will ultimately get the virus, which leaves us facing the uncomfortable reality that some people’s bodies will be resilient in the face of what might be an inevitable infection, while others may get sick, get disabled permanently as a result of the virus, or even die. Whether you become an asymptomatic carrier who has zero symptoms or someone who gets very sick and possibly dies is not entirely out of your control. YOU can prepare for reopening, so you have the best outcome destined for you.
One thing we’re clear on is that chronic illness is a grave risk factor for this disease, as is old age. While the media tends to sensationalize cases of the very few, extremely rare case studies of young, healthy people who die with a positive Covid-19 test–and that’s heartbreaking and tragic—the reality is that this is a virus that thrives in an already weakened body. Maybe you’re one of those people—and that feels very scary—but many things that weaken the body can be reversed with extreme health-inducing measures, such as diet, movement practices, meditation, trauma healing, supplements, weight loss, detox cleansing, emotional release, alternative medicine treatments, and energy medicine. If you’ve never been motivated to hunker down and train your body for optimal health the way an Olympian would train for a sport, now more than ever is the time to get started, so you can prepare your body to bounce back when and if you get exposed to this coronavirus. I’m not suggesting that you have full control over whether you get this virus and whether it makes you sick or kills you; I’m not a fan of anyone who “blames the victim” or suggests that you can use some “pie in the sky” ungrounded law of attraction practice to get everything you want and avoid everything you don’t want. I’m also very triggered by anyone who says, “Use my hocus pocus treatment, and if you don’t get better, it’s because you weren’t enlightened enough or disciplined enough or hard-working enough.” That’s hogwash. What I am trying to say is that if you can surrender this whole situation to Divine Will (or whatever you might call the organizing intelligence of a benevolent universe that is in us and communicates with us in mysterious ways), you can ride the wave of this pandemic with the optimal flow and the best outcome that is available to you, given your soul’s destiny and your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health discipline.
We’ve got this . . .
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