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Concerns to Evade

Uncertainty and I have never been BFFs. Other personality types find uncertainty to be exciting and full of possibilities. For me, uncertainty is more like that one super irritating classmate I can’t stand but always end up sitting next to so I try to make my peace with them. I’m hard-wired to be incredibly anxious and my therapist has been on maternity leave all year. Combined with current events, I’m not feeling all that great lately. Super Tuesday was enough of a blow last week. It feels like everything has been on the decline since then. We failed to contain the coronavirus and now it’s all about coping with the fallout while doubting government officials’ ability to manage this, particularly in Italy and the United States.

Like everyone else, I’ve spent too much of my energy consuming all the coverage about the coronavirus. And who knows how much of it is even accurate? Usually, I enjoy deflecting tension with some humor but right now all the memes make me sad. At least John Oliver’s coverage is more helpful than harmful. In that vein, I’m trying to focus on reliable sources rather than rampant speculation based on emotion.

  • I Lived Through SARS and Reported on Ebola. These Are the Questions We Should Be Asking About Coronavirus.

    For concerned civilians and journalists covering the coronavirus, the figures and projections can be overwhelming, frightening or confusing. Here’s what reporter Caroline Chen is focusing on to keep things as accurate and clear as possible.

    Instead of asking: How many test kits do you have?
    Ask this: How many samples are you running per patient?
    Instead of asking: How many samples can you run?
    Ask this: How many samples is your lab testing per day right now? How about at maximum capacity? How many hours does it take to get a result?

  • It’s hard to feel hopeful, but there are pieces like this one from The Guardian:
    Coronavirus: nine reasons to be reassured
    Yes, Covid-19 is serious, but context is key and the world is well placed to deal with it

  • And some thoughts from Malia Jones, PhD, MPH - a public health social epidemiologist and demographer

    Look, I think there are some positives here. All this handwashing could stop flu season in its tracks! We have an opportunity to reduce our global carbon footprint by telecommuting more, flying less, and understanding where our stuff comes from. We can use this to think about the problems with our healthcare system. We can use this to reflect on our positions of privilege and implicit biases. We can start greeting each other using jazz hands. I’m genuinely excited about those opportunities.

  • While this continues to unfold, I’ll focus on my personal and household health, without going into full prepper mode. Leave the masks for those who really need them (healthcare workers) and use soap and water before reaching for the hand sanitizer. Speaking of, forget Happy Birthday and other handwashing songs. Instead, I’m repeating the Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear while washing my danged hands.

    I must not fear.
    Fear is the mind-killer.
    Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
    I will face my fear.
    I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
    And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
    Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
    Only I will remain.

Some reminders for myself that may help others. Soften that jaw. Try some breathing exercises. When reaching for food to eat your feelings, ask yourself “am I really hungry?” If not, don’t eat. Maybe have a hot cup of tea instead. Or go for a walk. And, lastly, put down your phone for longer and longer stretches of time. Leave it in another room, even. But maybe disinfect it first.

From the NY Times, March 9th 2020

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