You look sad today…
Shouldn’t I be? The Covid-19 second wave is raging like a wild fire in India. So much suffering and gloom all around with no immediate end in sight. I fear the worst for myself and my dear ones too.
I agree. One is bound to get affected. But you still need to keep your calm. Fear does more harm than good.
But this virus is fearful stuff…
Well, to be frank, nearly 98 to 99% of those infected are recovering while 1 to 2% are unfortunate to succumb. It is the sheer number of positive cases and the resultant overwhelming of the health infrastructure which is inducing panic. Even the commonly encountered dengue fever has a mortality rate of nearly 1%, infact more, if it is severe.
So all this panic for hospital beds, oxygen is unwarranted..??!!
No, I never meant that. The Government and National Covid Task Force have given clear guidelines about the cases which need hospitalization and those which can be treated with home isolation. But in a panic situation, many from the latter category also seek hospital beds thereby putting additional burden on the health system. Also, many of the best health infrastructures around the world have collapsed in this Covid tsunami. Caution is must, but panic needs to be avoided. Though I agree, it is easier said than done.
And what about the mad rush for injections like Remdesivir, the convalescent plasma..?
Again, the protocol for administration of such injections are defined. These help only to some extent in the early stages of the disease and in few. Scientific trials have not shown them to be effective in decreasing the death rates. Oxygen, steroids, blood thinners, and prone ventilation are the mainstay of the treatment but it is the core human emotion of survival which makes one clutch on to any hope available. Fear is clouding the rationale and judgement of all involved. Like you, I too wish for sanity to prevail.
Okay I get it. Fear is harmful since it causes panic among people.
Yes, but not only that. On an individual level, the emotion of fear is a subconscious acceptance of sorts and the law of attraction then works the other way around. Just like one can achieve good things by positive thoughts, one can end up getting bad ones by constant fear and negative thoughts. Not to mention, fear causes release of stress hormones thereby affecting the natural healing mechanisms of body. So, cheer up!
Let aside being cheerful. At times, I find it difficult to focus on even simple tasks.
Well, you can. But you need to have a plan in place to deal with all this.
How can one plan for something which has left the entire world clueless? There are talks of a third wave and maybe more. Contradictory news, doomsday forecasts keep pouring in on social media. Emotional turmoil, financial losses and uncertainty about future – this pandemic seems to be unrelenting.
It may well be. But remember, this is a natural calamity and like all others it will settle. Just like the good times, bad times too don’t last. It is the Universe’s law. You just need to ensure that you remain calm and mentally strong to weather this storm.
And how do I do it..?
Well for starters, tell yourself that the pandemic will be around atleast for another year or so. The World Health Organization (WHO) had mentioned at the start of pandemic in 2020, that it will last for atleast 2 years and that was when no one had any idea of the way ahead. Our scientists have done an incredible job of developing the vaccines in less than an year. With increasing percentage of population getting vaccinated and the virus eventually running out of bodies to infect (it needs to stay in human body to mutate), the pandemic will lose it’s sting. We are already witnessing this in Israel, Europe, UK and USA. The virus may not disappear altogether but it will exist only in mild form (endemic). What goes up, will surely come down.
It does sound logical and promising but in a distant future. What about the present when the going is really tough..?
Well, now that you seem to be filled with some hope for the future, I can suggest few practical things to deal with the present difficulties –
1) Be proactive about the evolving pandemic –
Read about the new treatment protocols from official Government/Health authorities websites at regular intervals – Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are few such. In an evolving pandemic, such changes are expected and keeping oneself updated helps deal the problems better when we actually face them. In case of doubts, get them clarified from a qualified, experienced doctor rather than a non-medico friend who is equally clueless.
Keep abreast with the work of scientists and researchers from reliable print/digital news sources. A new vaccine or a new treatment (the latest news about Pfizer’s oral anti-viral pill to cure Covid-19) raise our hopes about the future. Remember, the vaccines being used currently were developed in the last one year and are already instrumental in halting the pandemic in many countries around the globe. Science, not antiscience and fake news, is the way ahead.
Most importantly, do not let your guard down after the second wave. Face mask, social distancing and hand sanitation measures will remain the golden rules, for some more time till majority of the population is vaccinated and the pandemic starts receding slowly.
2) Be careful but not fearful –
Fear, as I said earlier, will create more trouble. An important thing which can be done in this regards is to avoid reading/watching sensational news on social/print media consciously. Neither do they educate nor create awareness but merely feed negativity. निरक्षीर विवेक (wisdom to distinguish between right and wrong) was probably never needed to such an extent before.
News about untimely deaths of healthy young/middle aged adults, especially those known to us, are extremely disturbing. Still, keep your emotions in check. Remember, all of us travel from point B (birth) to point D (death), with a station C (choice) in between. And we can choose not to live in fear, for it will only make us more miserable. Infact, many are already suffering from anxiety, depression and psychosomatic problems due to excessive fear.
3) Be organised –
In these depressing times when all days seem alike, many tend to procrastinate and end up spending way too much time on cellphone/ social media. So, make a schedule of your day (weekday and weekends separately) and try sticking to it as much possible.
4) Be health conscious –
Few things which can be done in this regard are :
- Allot minimum 30 minutes daily for physical exercise (there are few which can be easily done in the safe confines of home).
- Be conscious about your meals – let them be timely and nutritious.
- Take your daily dose of multi-vitamins especially Vitamin C, D and Zinc (do this after consulting your doctor).
- Ensure a good 6 to 7 hours of sleep at night.
All this will surely help improve your immunity levels. Also, a healthy mind resides in a healthy body!
5) Be adaptive –
You may be facing loss of job or business. But use this time to upgrade your skills, knowledge about your field. Explore ways which will help you navigate the changing times and work conditions better. Remember, evolution suggests that it is not the strongest but those willing to adapt who survive and progress. To give an example, Shakespeare wrote some of his greatest works including “Romeo and Juliet”, “King Lear” and “Macbeth”, during outbreaks of the horrifying bubonic plague waves which wiped out nearly a fifth of London in the 1600s.
6) Be cheerful –
There are many ways to do this :
- Spare some time to read a novel of your interest.
- Watch a funny/ inspiring/ classic movie or a television show.
- Call up (not chat with) your friends/ relatives and enquire about their well being. However, the ones obsessed with talking only about the horrors of Covid-19 are better avoided.
- If you have young kids, ensure a playtime with them. Children, with their energy and cheerfulness, are sometimes the best antidote for anxiety and depression.
7) Be Helpful –
You may be feeling helpless when you see known persons/ friends desperately seeking a hospital bed/ injection etc. Guide them if possible. Even if you can’t help physically, just reassure them. Kind words can be helpful in such times.
There are many who are doing exemplary acts of kindness in these desperate times despite their limitations.
Let these noble acts serve as inspiration to do your bit. Remember, like the virus, humanity too comes in many variants of kindness and will eventually fight it off.
8) Be thankful –
You may have had financial losses. You may have lost a loved one. You may be mentally stressed due to umpteen reasons. Yet, make a diary and note down the smallest good thing(s) which happened to you in the entire day. Be thankful for them. Simultaneously, pray for the less fortunate ones for there are many who may be fighting a much harder battle out there. No matter how philosophical this may sound, gratitude and prayer have great healing powers.
Do you really believe that such ridiculously simple things are a solution to the chaos all around and the harrowing plight of people?
No, they are not. But as an individual, we do not have much control over the external happenings and are bound to feel helpless. However, we can always check our emotions which will help us respond to the situation in an appropriate manner. Also, no matter how clichéd this may sound, but a larger change in society is always preceded by individual transformation.
Honestly, I have been reading about all this self improvement stuff time and again but I keep faltering. It is difficult to implement.
You are a Surgeon, right?
When you started your training, were you infallible right from the beginning? That is to say, did you not commit any mistakes?
Infact, I am not one (infallible) even now. I did many but I was corrected and guided by my teachers. I studied and practiced. I learnt from my mistakes and keep learning even now.
Well, there you go. This is true of almost everyone and eventually, it all comes down to how badly we want to succeed. Once we realize it, the excuses cease to exist.
All this does help at a philosophical level. But you hardly gave any substantial information regarding the disease and related stuff. It does not have much clinical utility.
Buddha (smilingly) :
Ohh, I never meant to do that. All I wish is to help you attain some peace of mind, which in turn can help you muster wisdom and courage, for, it is your battle to be fought. I will be around though, provided you have the right insight.