By Bari Weiss
I realize the faddish thing to say these days is that we live in the worst, most broken and backward country in the world and maybe in the history of civilization. It’s utter nonsense.
I have a few basic litmus tests in my own life: Can I wear a tank top in public? Can I walk down the street holding the hand of my partner, a (beautiful) woman, in many places in America without getting a second glance? Can I wear a Jewish star without fear?
I do not take those things for granted. I know very well that in many other places, the answers would be different, and my life wouldn’t be possible at all.
America is imperfect. (Does it even need to be said?) There is bigotry toward blacks and gays and Jews and immigrants; there is intense polarization; political violence is becoming more regular; elected representatives believe conspiracy theories. All true here as in many other countries being torn apart by the dislocations of the 21st century.
But there is no gulag in America. There are no laws permitting honor killings. There is no formal social credit system of the kind that exists right now in China. By any measure, we have achieved incredible progress and enjoy extraordinary freedoms. And yet people aren’t acting that way. They are acting, increasingly, like subjects in a totalitarian country.
These people write to me daily. They admit to regularly censoring themselves at work and with friends; succumbing to social pressure to tweet the right hashtag; to parroting slogans they do not believe to protect their livelihoods, like the greengrocer in Václav Havel’s famous essay “The Power of the Powerless.”
These people aren’t crazy. They are scared for good reason.
How much does it cost me to log on to Twitter and accuse you, right now, of an -ism? America is fast developing its own informal social credit system, as the writer Rod Dreher has noted, in which people with the wrong politics or online persona are banned from social media sites and online financial networks.
When everything is recorded for eternity, when making mistakes and taking risks are transformed into capital offenses, when things that were common sense until two seconds ago become unsayable, people make the understandable decision to simply shut up.
Do not nod along when you hear the following: That Abraham Lincoln’s name on a public school or his likeness on a statue is white supremacy. (It is not; he is a hero.) That separating people into racial affinity groups is progressive. (It is a form of segregation.) That looting has no victims (untrue) and that small-business owners can cope anyway because they have insurance (nonsense). That any disparity of outcome is evidence of systemic oppression (false). That America is evil. (It is the last hope on Earth.)
This list could go on for a thousand pages. These may have become conventional wisdom in certain circles, but they are lies.
Yet too many good people are sacrificing the common good, and therefore their long-term security, for the sake of short-term comfort.
It’s time to stand up and fight back. That means you. Social conservatives. Never-Trump Republicans, and anti-anti-Trump Republicans, too. Lukewarm liberals and libertarians. Progressives who have a little curiosity still left. Exhausted parents who want nothing to do with politics. Joe Rogan stans. Reddit revolutionaries and the hedgies getting crushed. Facebookers and email chainers and Etsy-shop owners and Boomers who still use AOL accounts. Start with the following 10 principles:
1. Remind yourself, right now, of the following truth: You are free.
It’s true that we live in an upside-down time in which pressing the “like” button on the wrong thing can bring untold consequences. But giving in to those who seek to confine you only hurts you in the long run. Your loss of self is the most significant thing that could be taken away from you. Don’t give it up for anything.
2. Be honest.
Do not say anything about yourself or others that you know is false. Absolutely refuse to let your mind be colonized. The first crazy thing someone asks you to believe or to profess, refuse. If you can, do so out loud. There is a good chance it will inspire others to speak up, too.
3. Stick to your principles.
If you are a decent person, you know mob justice is never just. So never join a mob. Ever. Even if you agree with the mob. If you are a decent person, you know betraying friends is wrong. So if a friend or a colleague does something you disagree with, write them a private note. Don’t be a snitch. Any mob that comes for them will come for you.
4. Set an example for your kids and your community.
That means being courageous. I understand that it’s hard. Really hard. But in other times and places, including in our own nation, people have made far greater sacrifices. (Think of those “honored dead” who “gave the last full measure of devotion.”) If enough people make the leap, we will achieve something like herd immunity. Jump.
5. If you don’t like it, leave it.
A class in college, a job, anything. Get out and do your own thing. I fully understand the impulse to want to change things from within. And by all means: Try as hard as you can. But if the leopard is currently eating the face of the person at the cubicle next to yours, I promise it’s not going to refrain from eating yours if you post the black square on Instagram.
6. Become more self-reliant.
If you can learn to use a power drill, do it. If you’ve always wanted an outdoor solar hot tub, make one. Learn to poach an egg or shoot a gun. Most importantly: Get it in your head that platforms are not neutral. If you don’t believe me, look at Parler and look at Robinhood. To the extent that you can build your life to be self-reliant and not 100 percent reliant on the Web, it’s a good thing. It will make you feel competent and powerful. Which you are.
7. Worship God more than Yale.
In other words, do not lose sight of what is essential. Professional prestige is not essential. Being popular is not essential. Getting your child into an elite preschool is not essential. Doing the right thing is essential. Telling the truth is essential. Protecting your kids is essential.
8. Make like-minded friends.
Then stand up for them. Two good tests: Are they willing to tell the truth even if it hurts their own side? And do they think that humor should never be a casualty, no matter how bleak the circumstances? These people are increasingly rare. When you find them, hold on tight.
9. Trust your own eyes and ears.
Rely on firsthand information from people you trust rather than on media spin. When you hear someone making generalizations about a group of people, imagine they are talking about you and react accordingly. If people insist on spouting back headlines and talking points, make them prove it, in their own words.
10. Use your capital to build original, interesting and generative things right now. This minute.
Every day I hear from those with means with children at private schools who are being brainwashed; people who run companies where they are scared of their own employees; people who donate to their alma mater even though it betrays their principles. Enough. You have the ability to build new things. If you don’t have the financial capital, you have the social or political capital. Or the ability to sweat. The work of our lifetimes is the Great Build. Let’s go.
Bari Weiss is the author of “How to Fight Anti-Semitism.” Follow her writings at: bariweiss.substack.com.
You know the drill. Orchids are irresistibly gorgeous and yet, you kill them off in record time.
I’m good with houseplants too, so it’s a double embarrassment. It wasn’t until I noted a friend’s post on Facebook. She was showing the progression of NEW growth. The blooms lasted so long I just assumed the Orchid was a goner when they dropped.
The gal that looks after our home when we travel south, had left the bare plant in our east facing kitchen window. When we returned those weeks later I recognized the signs of life. THRILLED. I’ve since gone through two more cycles of blooms dropping, followed by new growth.
I thought I might not be the only one whose orchids were winding up in the compost heap, so I decided to write this post.
I’m always sad to see summer go, but Fall is truly a beautiful season. Here’s a link to an interactive map, for all the leaf peepers out there.
The 2020 Fall Foliage Map is the ultimate visual planning guide to the annual progressive changing of the leaves. While not perfect, it’s meant to help travelers better time their trips, to have the best opportunity to view peak colors each year.
How many times have you heard about a cure for Cancer, a cure for Diabetes, or even a cure for Autism?
NONE of these, unfortunately, panned out but we got to hear about them. Got hopeful. Discussed them with our doctors. Tried one for Autism. And patiently waited for another breakthrough.
We don’t get that hope with the big tech censorship that’s in place.
We don’t hear from doctors treating patients outside of an ER if they mention a particular drug. A drug that HAS to be discussed and dispensed by your physician. A drug that has long term dose complications (for some) and a telephone book list of contraindications, for others.
Shutting down the DISCUSSION from doctors treating patients OUTSIDE an ER or HOSPITAL is what’s missing.
Shutting down other countries SUCCESS with a drug is making this political.
Pulling small dose studies that show strides in favor of large dose studies that harmed patients, is what’s hurting science.
I cannot post that a neighbor took #HCQ successfully without FB or Google or Twitter pulling it down.
We might as well be LIVING in China.
CENSORSHIP has killed science.
I can’t keep up. I just can’t. I’m exhausted trying to figure out what we’re all supposed to do, believe, and be offended and outraged by next.
Two months ago, First Responders were all the rage. In fact, they were heroes. We gave them free coffee, meals, and cheers as they drove by. Today, we hate them and want them defunded because they can’t be trusted.
Two months ago, truck drivers were the heroes, as well, for keeping America moving and the grocery stores stocked. Today we block the roads with protesters, drag them out of the cabs and beat them half to death.
Just 45 days ago protests weren’t “essential” and were considered criminal, selfish and a murderous activity. Today they are gloriously critical and celebrated. All of the obvious criminal and murderous activities are simply ignored. If you protest about lock downs for freedom, you are selfish and you will spread a virus. If you protest, loot, and riot for social justice, you are a warrior and the virus fades to the background.
Trust the experts. No, not those experts. Don’t wear masks … wear masks, but only good ones. Wait, don’t wear masks, wear anything as a mask. Never mind on the masks. Not sure, but if you don’t, you hate people because you could be an asymptomatic spreader. Wait. That’s not a thing anymore?
For 3 months, NOTHING was more important than social distance. In fact, we gave up all of our liberties for it. We canceled schools, medical and dental procedures, yet allowed the murder of babies, canceled activities, closed businesses, eliminated every spring rite of passage from prom to graduation, denied people funerals, even at Arlington, and we wrecked the economy for it. Then came social justice, and social distance was no more. Now things are more cut and dried though. A thousand people at three memorials for someone they never even met. It’s a matter of “respect”. But you can only assemble 100 or less people.
I’m really confused now. Look at the data, NO, not that data. Do the math. No, you can’t do the math like that. Only the experts can understand the data and math. What do you mean other cities/states/governors are interpreting the data differently? Pools are safe in Indiana, but not Michigan? Playgrounds are safe in your town but not mine? Amusement parks are safe in Florida but not Ohio, nor Michigan.
If you are silent you are part of the problem. If you speak, you are part of the problem. If you have to ask, you don’t understand. If you don’t ask, you don’t care.
It’s all so predictable, tedious, and exhausting. Nothing adds up. It’s one gigantic Math life problem, with ever changing denominators that I’m sure the media and politicians are eagerly ready to solve for us…until the next “crisis”.
Penned by James Stein, a cardiologist at UW on May 6, 2020
COVID-19 update as we start to leave our cocoons. The purpose of this post is to provide a perspective on the intense but expected anxiety so many people are experiencing as they prepare to leave the shelter of their homes. My opinions are not those of my employers and are not meant to invalidate anyone else’s – they simply are my perspective on managing risk.
In March, we did not know much about COVID-19 other than the incredibly scary news reports from overrun hospitals in China, Italy, and other parts of Europe. The media was filled with scary pictures of chest CT scans, personal stories of people who decompensated quickly with shortness of breath, overwhelmed health care systems, and deaths. We heard confusing and widely varying estimates for risk of getting infected and of dying – some estimates were quite high.
Key point #1: The COVID-19 we are facing now is the same disease it was 2 months ago. The “shelter at home” orders were the right step from a public health standpoint to make sure we flattened the curve and didn’t overrun the health care system which would have led to excess preventable deaths. It also bought us time to learn about the disease’s dynamics, preventive measures, and best treatment strategies – and we did. For hospitalized patients, we have learned to avoid early intubation, to use prone ventilation, and that remdesivir probably reduces time to recovery. We have learned how to best use and preserve PPE. We also know that several therapies suggested early on probably don’t do much and may even cause harm (ie, azithromycin, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir). But all of our social distancing did not change the disease. Take home: We flattened the curve and with it our economy and psyches, but the disease itself is still here.
Key point #2: COVID-19 is more deadly than seasonal influenza (about 5-10x so), but not nearly as deadly as Ebola, Rabies, or Marburg Hemorrhagic Fever where 25-90% of people who get infected die. COVID-19’s case fatality rate is about 0.8-1.5% overall, but much higher if you are 60-69 years old (3-4%), 70-79 years old (7-9%), and especially so if you are over 80 years old (CFR 13-17%). It is much lower if you are under 50 years old (<0.6%). The infection fatality rate is about half of these numbers. Take home: COVID-19 is dangerous, but the vast majority of people who get it, survive it. About 15% of people get very ill and could stay ill for a long time. We are going to be dealing with it for a long time.
Key point #3: SARS-CoV-2 is very contagious, but not as contagious as Measles, Mumps, or even certain strains of pandemic Influenza. It is spread by respiratory droplets and aerosols, not food and incidental contact. Take home: social distancing, not touching our faces, and good hand hygiene are the key weapons to stop the spread. Masks could make a difference, too, especially in public places where people congregate. Incidental contact is not really an issue, nor is food.
What does this all mean as we return to work and public life? COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. It may not go away for a year or two and may not be eradicated for many years, so we have to learn to live with it and do what we can to mitigate (reduce) risk. That means being willing to accept some level of risk to live our lives as we desire. I can’t decide that level of risk for you – only you can make that decision. There are few certainties in pandemic risk management other than that fact that some people will die, some people in low risk groups will die, and some people in high risk groups will survive. It’s about probability.
Here is some guidance – my point of view, not judging yours:
- People over 60 years old are at higher risk of severe disease – people over 70 years old, even more so. They should be willing to tolerate less risk than people under 50 years old and should be extra careful. Some chronic diseases like heart disease and COPD increase risk, but it is not clear if other diseases like obesity, asthma, immune disorders, etc. increase risk appreciably. It looks like asthma and inflammatory bowel disease might not be as high risk as we thought, but we are not sure – their risks might be too small to pick up, or they might be associated with things that put them at higher risk.
People over 60-70 years old probably should continue to be very vigilant about limiting exposures if they can. However, not seeing family – especially children and grandchildren – can take a serious emotional toll, so I encourage people to be creative and flexible. For example, in-person visits are not crazy – consider one, especially if you have been isolated and have no symptoms. They are especially safe in the early days after restrictions are lifted in places like Madison or parts of major cities where there is very little community transmission. Families can decide how much mingling they are comfortable with – if they want to hug and eat together, distance together with masks, or just stay apart and continue using video-conferencing and the telephone to stay in contact. If you choose to intermingle, remember to practice good hand hygiene, don’t share plates/forks/spoons/cups, don’t share towels, and don’t sleep together.
- Social distancing, not touching your face, and washing/sanitizing your hands are the key prevention interventions. They are vastly more important than anything else you do. Wearing a fabric mask is a good idea in crowded public place like a grocery store or public transportation, but you absolutely must distance, practice good hand hygiene, and don’t touch your face. Wearing gloves is not helpful (the virus does not get in through the skin) and may increase your risk because you likely won’t washing or sanitize your hands when they are on, you will drop things, and touch your face.
- Be a good citizen. If you think you might be sick, stay home. If you are going to cough or sneeze, turn away from people, block it, and sanitize your hands immediately after.
- Use common sense. Dial down the anxiety. If you are out taking a walk and someone walks past you, that brief (near) contact is so low risk that it doesn’t make sense to get scared. Smile at them as they approach, turn your head away as they pass, move on. The smile will be more therapeutic than the passing is dangerous. Similarly, if someone bumps into you at the grocery store or reaches past you for a loaf of bread, don’t stress – it is a very low risk encounter, also – as long as they didn’t cough or sneeze in your face (one reason we wear cloth masks in public!).
- Use common sense, part II. Dial down the obsessiveness. There really is no reason to go crazy sanitizing items that come into your house from outside, like groceries and packages. For it to be a risk, the delivery person would need to be infectious, cough or sneeze some droplets on your package, you touch the droplet, then touch your face, and then it invades your respiratory epithelium. There would need to be enough viral load and the virions would need to survive long enough for you to get infected. It could happen, but it’s pretty unlikely. If you want to have a staging station for 1-2 days before you put things away, sure, no problem. You also can simply wipe things off before they come in to your house – that is fine is fine too. For an isolated family, it makes no sense to obsessively wipe down every surface every day (or several times a day). Door knobs, toilet handles, commonly trafficked light switches could get a wipe off each day, but it takes a lot of time and emotional energy to do all those things and they have marginal benefits. We don’t need to create a sterile operating room-like living space. Compared to keeping your hands out of your mouth, good hand hygiene, and cleaning food before serving it, these behaviors might be more maladaptive than protective.
- There are few absolutes, so please get comfortable accepting some calculated risks, otherwise you might be isolating yourself for a really, really long time. Figure out how you can be in public and interact with people without fear.
We are social creatures. We need each other. We will survive with and because of each other. Social distancing just means that we connect differently. Being afraid makes us contract and shut each other out. I hope we can fill that space created by fear and contraction with meaningful connections and learn to be less afraid of each of other.
Most people who get sick from the coronavirus won’t be going to the hospital. Here’s what doctors say you need to be ready at home.
If you or a family member gets infected with the coronavirus, it is very likely that you’ll have to ride it out at home.
Most Covid-19 cases don’t require hospitalization, and as intensive-care beds fill, all but the most critical cases are being sent home. So, people should be prepared to care for themselves or their loved ones under their own roof—and that means having the right supplies to nurse the ill patient and keep the rest of the family healthy.
We asked doctors at top hospitals all over the country what they would include in their ideal Covid-19 home-care kit. We gathered their best suggestions and advice to help you organize your own.
Safety and cleaning
Isolation and cleaning supplies: bleach; face masks that cover nose and mouth (surgical masks, home-improvement masks or scarfs); gloves for entering sick room and doing laundry (latex or nitrile rubber); hand sanitizer; laundry detergent (wash everything on hot); nail brush; paper towels; soap; tissues.
The first task is to isolate patients with their own stash of tissues, disinfecting wipes, paper towels, soap and warm water.
“At the top of my wish list would be an extra bedroom with an attached bathroom. That’s the ideal scenario,” says David Buchholz, senior medical director at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Most people don’t have that luxury, but it is worth disrupting the rest of the household to try. “If you have a one-bedroom apartment, the sick person gets the bedroom. That’s key. They can’t leave, and nobody can enter. Not even pets,” Dr. Buchholz says.
Another key piece of equipment: masks. Patients should wear a face mask anytime they leave their room, and these excursions should be limited—in other words, bathroom trips only. Anyone entering the room should also wear a mask, and the sick person should likewise mask up for all visitors, regardless of age.
A simple surgical mask is recommended for home use, but given shortages, you can improvise with a scarf tied securely around the face, says Dr. Buchholz. Even hardware-store face masks used for projects like painting or sanding are better than going barefaced. The point is to keep the nose and mouth well-covered, because “if the sick person has a surprising cough or sneeze, you may not be able to turn away fast enough,” he says. Glasses are helpful for keeping spray droplets out of the eyes.
Tying a bandanna over the face outlaw-style isn’t ideal because it will gape at the chin, says Audrey Chun, a doctor in geriatrics and palliative medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “You want the mask to catch the particles from a sneeze, so it’s not spewing out the sides or the bottom,” she says.
You’ll also need gloves—rubber or latex—when you enter the sickroom or when you clean. Stock up on cleaning supplies, because everything the sick person touches—like cutlery, doorknobs or the bathroom sink—must be cleaned. You can make a DIY bleach preparation by diluting five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water. Regular hand soap is crucial, too.
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of hand hygiene: washing your hands with warm, soapy water and wiping down surfaces that have been touched. We know this works,” Dr. Chun says. She recommends a nail brush to scrub under fingernails.
If the bathroom is shared, sick people should use disposable paper towels instead of a shared hand towel, Dr. Buchholz says. Keep their bath towels separate from everyone else’s. And healthy family members should remove their toiletries from the shared space. “You don’t want toothbrushes to be anywhere near each other,” he says.
Medical supplies: cough drops; over-the-counter cold medicines; pulse oximeter and batteries (there is a pulse-oximeter app available for the iPhone, but none of the doctors we spoke to recommended it); saline nasal spray; thermometer; Tylenol/acetaminophen (children’s or infant’s versions if applicable).
Anyone who falls ill should keep in contact with their doctor and let them know if symptoms worsen. To that end, a thermometer is helpful. Since Covid-19 can affect breathing, several doctors also recommended obtaining an at-home pulse oximeter: a device that clips onto the finger and measures heart rate and blood oxygen levels, which are important indicators of how well the lungs are functioning, says Andra Blomkalns, chair of emergency medicine at Stanford School of Medicine. “I ordered 600 of them to send home with patients, and I’m glad I did.” Oximeters are sold over the counter at pharmacies and retailers.
“For a really sick person who’s not sick enough to be admitted to the hospital but they’re on the edge, having an oximeter can be incredibly reassuring,” Dr. Buchholz says.
Have your regular cold medicines on hand and Tylenol or acetaminophen. If the patient is under 18, make sure you have children’s or infant’s versions.
“For the vast majority of kids, you can just stick to the items you would normally use for influenza or other respiratory ailments,” says Danielle Zerr, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Seattle Children’s Hospital. It is difficult to get children to wear a face mask, so the caregiver must wear one at all times when interacting with the sick child, she says. The child’s Covid-19 symptoms may be mild, but “it’s the same virus, and it’ll be much worse in an adult,” she says.
For a dry cough, throat lozenges can be helpful, as long as the child is old enough not to choke on them. For younger children, “if they have throat pain, a little bit of warm tea with honey is a nice way to go,” Dr. Zerr says.
Food and drink
Nutrition supplies: chicken soup; daily multivitamin and vitamin C tablets; electrolyte-replacement drinks (if using sports drinks, cut in half with water); fresh ginger, lemons, dill, fresh or dried oregano; high-calorie, nutrient-rich foods like avocados; honey for throat soothing; pectin-rich foods like bananas and apples.
As with any flulike virus, it is important that the patient drink plenty of fluids. Occasionally, Covid-19 can cause gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea, and replenishing fluids in those cases is especially important, as dehydration can worsen a fever, Dr. Blomkalns says. Electrolyte-replacement drinks are recommended, but popular sports drinks like Gatorade tend to have high amounts of sugar, so they should be cut in half with water for both children and adults, she says.
Another reason to cut sports drinks with water is that sugar can make diarrhea worse. Sugar-free beverages with artificial sweetener aren’t recommended either, because that, too, can worsen gastrointestinal problems, Dr. Chun says. She recommends pectin-rich foods like bananas and apples to ease symptoms of diarrhea.
Some patients tend to lose their appetite when sick, especially children, so Dr. Zerr recommends having on hand comforting, high-calorie but nutrient-dense foods like apple sauce and avocados.
A couple of doctors recommended a daily multivitamin and vitamin C tablets. “And never underestimate the power of chicken soup,” says Mark Hyman, head of innovation at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. “Protein is very important when fighting viral illnesses.”
He recommends adding dill, oregano and ginger to soups for their antiviral properties. One of Dr. Hyman’s favorite home remedies is his “cold-buster tea”: a 2-inch chunk of fresh ginger root, sliced thin, boiled in a pot of water for several minutes. Add fresh lemon juice, honey and cayenne pepper. Steep for five minutes. “It becomes this spicy, sweet and tangy thing,” he says. “It’s great.”
Ms. Potkewitz is a writer in New York. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Everyone is scared of COVID-19 (the disease caused by novel coronavirus). I get it. I’ve been in the hospital a lot in my life, and I definitely don’t want to go back. But a lot of the advice that I’ve seen lately about how to stay safe is pretty ridiculous. I’ll address some specific myths at the end, but first — let me tell you how I know what works and what doesn’t.
I have a genetic defect, one that I was born with. Because of it, my immune cells weren’t good at combating infection or illness. It meant I got sick a lot more often than most people.
I had a bone marrow transplant in 2017. Most people don’t really know what that is. In the simplest possible terms, it means that my doctors gave me a new immune system, by replacing my sick bone marrow with healthy bone marrow from my sister.
The transplant process is basically a blood transfusion, but instead of blood cells, I received new immune cells from the bone marrow, which then took over my body and made it their new home, thus giving me a new immune system that worked normally.
In order for the transplant to work, I had intensive chemotherapy to kill off my original defective immune cells. For a month before and for many months after my transplant (until the new immune cells fully took over), I did not have a functioning immune system. This means I was vulnerable to EVERYTHING.
Many transplant patients get weird infections that most people have never heard of. Many common viruses, that healthy people easily clear without a single symptom, become deadly in a person with no immune system to fight them.
This is the situation I was in after my transplant.
You might think that there were a bunch of crazy rules I had to follow, and maybe that I had to live in a bubble, or travel around in a hamster ball. As fun as the hamster ball might have been, that was not the case.
I followed three basic rules.
1. Constant, thorough hand washing and hand sanitizing.
2. Constant, thorough cleaning and sanitizing of surfaces that I touched.
3. Completely avoiding primary vectors of transmission.
Hand Washing and Sanitizing
At this point, you’re probably sick of hearing people tell you to wash your hands. It sounds so basic. It’s easy to think that it can’t possibly be that effective. I mean, this is a PANDEMIC. If hand washing is so effective, how could it get so bad?
Because people don’t do it. People think hand washing is silly and basic, and they don’t do it often enough or thoroughly enough.
Hand hygiene is probably one of the greatest innovations of 20th century medicine, behind only the discovery of penicillin and widespread vaccination. It prevents countless infections, and its importance cannot be overstated. Your hands are everything.
After my transplant, I washed my hands constantly, and I washed them thoroughly. I washed the palms, the backs, my wrists, each finger individually (concentrating on the finger tips), and then I scrubbed my fingernails in my palms. The whole “wash your hands for 20 seconds” thing made me laugh when I first heard it. If you truly wash your hands thoroughly, with the goal of removing any trace of pathogen you may have touched, it always takes at least 20 seconds, if not more.
I washed my hands like this after every time I used the bathroom, before I ate, after touching anything in a public place, immediately after returning home from being out anywhere, after working out, after driving my car, after working on my computer, after feeding my pets, after cleaning my house.
If I wanted to scratch my nose, or I needed to put in my contact lenses, I washed my hands first, before ever touching my face.
If my hands didn’t physically feel freshly washed, I washed them.
If I couldn’t remember the last time I washed them, I washed them.
I only used hand sanitizer when I didn’t have access to hot water and soap.
If this sounds extreme, consider how much simpler and easier this is than being sick. Washing your hands constantly is just a matter of habit. You have to make yourself do it for a while, and you have to really focus on remembering, but once you do that long enough, you create a habit that will protect you for the rest of your life. In a globalized world ripe for pandemics, this is a necessary 21st century practice.
I have that habit now, because I didn’t have a choice. The hospital is not a fun place to spend a few months. Being sick is not a vacation. I was in constant discomfort and pain. It was difficult to eat. It hurt to move. It was exhausting to simply take a shower. I did not want to prolong my transplant recovery by acquiring an infection that could have been prevented if I had just washed my hands after I touched that door handle (or whatever). You have to have clarity about why it must be done, and then all that remains is doing it, every. single. time.
If you find yourself wondering whether you’re washing your hands enough, then you aren’t. You know when you are. You carry hand lotion around everywhere you go (because your hands look like a crumpled paper bag), and you go through hand soap like (should I say it?) toilet paper.
Every time you wash your hands, imagine trying to poop in a bed pan. Be grateful for the chance to wash your hands.
The best way to give your dry, crumpled-paper-bag hands some relief is to meticulously clean the surfaces that you touch, so that you know you aren’t continuing to spread germs or virions (virus reproductive particles) onto your freshly washed hands.
If you’re isolating at home, clean everything thoroughly once, and then continue to clean each surface that gets touched when someone enters or leaves the house. If you make a habit of washing your hands immediately upon returning home, you won’t have to keep wiping down everything in your house.
This is what I’m doing now, to protect myself from COVID-19. It’s similar to what I did in the months after my transplant.
Upon returning home from any excursion, I wipe down my keys, phone, credit card (if I used it), car door handle, car steering wheel, garage door handles and front door handles. I keep Clorox wipes in my car and right beside the front door to make this easy.
Once I’ve done that, and before I touch anything else in my house, I wash my hands in the kitchen sink. Now everything I’ve touched with my hands is clean, and my hands are clean. I don’t wear outside shoes in the house.
When I go grocery shopping, I take my wipes into the store with me. I wipe down the handle of the shopping cart and the credit card swiper buttons before I touch either one. When I get back to my car, I load my groceries, and then wipe down the car door handles, my credit card, keys, and phone, and finally use hand sanitizer before I touch my steering wheel.
If someone in your house is sick, wipe down everything that people touch, and do it every single day. The sick person should avoid touching things as much as possible to make this easier. When I was recovering from transplant, we wiped every touchable surface in my room and the bathroom, every evening.
I get that this sounds, again, extreme. But consider how uncomplicated it is. Germs and viruses are not mysterious. They are microscopic organisms that hang out on things you touch.
Clean the things you touch. That’s all. Do it consistently. Don’t avoid it or get annoyed about it. Just do it.
Avoiding Contact (vectors of transmission)
The primary vector of transmission of novel coronavirus is people.
People, and the things people touch.
You can’t tell if an elevator button or a bar stool has been contaminated.
So, stay away from everyone, and don’t touch public surfaces. When you have to be around people, do not get close to them. When you have to touch public things, don’t touch your face or body until you wash your hands.
I open doors and push elevator buttons with my elbows. I open the bathroom door with the paper towel I just used to dry my hands after washing them. I do not lean on or touch countertops in public places.
Most of all, now, I do not go out to places that have elevator buttons, or public door handles, or public countertops, unless I absolutely have to.
If you work an essential job that prevents you from isolating at home, focus on the first two rules. Do them perfectly. The only time you should EVER touch your face is AFTER washing your hands, literally before you touch anything else. If you can keep 6 feet of space between you and other people at all times, do it. The virus can linger in the air (although not for very long), so don’t breathe other people’s air.
For the rest of us, the most foolproof protection is to stay home with the people you already live with, and have no contact with anyone else.
Being outdoors in the sunshine is safe and healthy — as long as you’re not near other people. Go for walks, hikes, runs and bike rides. Just don’t get near other people. Cross the road instead of walking past someone on the sidewalk. I know it feels weird. Do it anyway.
It’s a lifestyle change
Believe me, I know. I’ve spent many more months painstakingly following these rules than you have spent even thinking about maybe having to follow them. When I was recovering from transplant, I had to avoid a whole long list of potentially dangerous illness vectors, including fireplaces, potted plants and strawberries (no joke). I know it can be done, and I know that it works.
But there is one major problem that people have, when it comes to following these 3 simple rules:
People resist simplicity and consistency.
Whether out of fear or arrogance, some people insist on complicating things by trying to add rules that may sound logical but ultimately don’t make a significant difference. This creates anxiety over keeping track of all the stuff you think you should be doing, and worse, the inability to focus on the things that really matter.
Take, for example, one suggestion I’ve seen, to shower immediately when you get home from being out.
(If you work directly with sick people, then by all means, take a shower when you get home.)
For the rest of us –
If your body hasn’t touched other people, and you didn’t rub yourself all over the deli counter at the supermarket, how would the virus have come in contact with unexposed parts of your body?
If your answer is, “because I opened the public bathroom door and then touched my face, and then scratched an itch on my neck, and then finger-combed my hair and adjusted my septum piercing” then you need to focus WAY more on the 3 rules we already discussed.
You are not going to be safer with multiple showers a day than you would be by just being vigilant about washing your hands, not touching things, and not being close to other people.
Similarly, coming home and immediately taking off all your clothes at the front door is not necessary (though it may amuse your housemates, which could be good for isolation stress? Idk, you do you.)
If you’re practicing social distancing, hand washing and surface cleaning, your clothes and hair will not be a significant vector of transmission. (Again, healthcare providers are an exception, but this is part of the reason why they wear scrubs.)
Below is a long list of crazy rules I’ve heard people suggest as safety precautions against COVID-19.
As someone who had the mighty responsibility of preventing herself from contracting all manner of illness for a long time, I can tell you that none of these things are useful.
(If someone you know is advocating any of these, please tell them to read this article, or, better yet, get their preventative advice directly from the CDC, and stop giving credence to random lists of things on Facebook that supposedly come from an unnamed “friend of a colleague who works at a hospital.”)
• You cannot kill novel coronavirus by heating up your nasal passages with a hair dryer, sauna, steam from your tea or soup, etc. This is probably the most hilarious suggestion I’ve heard. The flawed reasoning goes like this… “Coronavirus dies at 133 F, and it enters through the nose, so if I heat up my nose to 133 F, that will kill coronavirus.”
There are so many issues with this, but here are two major ones:
Novel coronavirus doesn’t confine itself to your nose, waiting for you to blast yourself in the face with a hair dryer. When your mucus membranes (eyes, mouth, nose) are exposed to it, it enters your cells. It populates your lungs and may live throughout your GI tract. You can’t “catch it” before it reaches your lungs. If you’re positive, you’re positive. Everything after that is your body’s immune and inflammatory response to viral infection — including the pneumonia that causes so many deaths.
Pro-tip: If the inside of your nose reaches 133 F, you is burning 🔥😬
133 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature of scalding water. The inside of your nose is a watery mucus membrane, so if it ever got that hot, you would need medical attention. But it never gets that hot under normal circumstances, even in the desert, even in a sauna. Why? Because you’re a mammal, and your body regulates its internal temperature independent of the environment it is in.
• Drinking hot liquids does nothing to prevent viral infection (but they do warm you up and make you feel good, so enjoy!)
• “Keeping the mouth moist” and drinking frequently to “wash the virus into your stomach, where the gastric juices will kill it” is completely ridiculous. Novel coronavirus is present in stool samples. It survives in the GI tract. For other reasons why this is silly, read this: No, drinking water doesn’t kill coronavirus — BBC Future
• Gargling with “vinegar, salt, garlic, or lemon” does not kill the millions of microscopic virions that invade the cells of your mucus membranes when you become infected with novel coronavirus. Vinegar, salt, garlic, and lemon have mostly antibacterial properties — they are not sufficiently antiviral to be useful in this case.
• “The virus can live on hair and clothes.” This falls into the realm of technically true, but not meaningfully true (healthcare providers excepted). If someone literally coughs directly onto your hair or clothes, go take a shower and wash your clothes. Otherwise, shower daily, wear clean clothes, and wash your clothes regularly, like a normal human person who is clean. The virus infects when it comes in contact with your eyes, nose or mouth. The likelihood of transferring a critical mass of virions to your face because you went to the grocery store and your sleeve touched the checkout counter is very low (assuming you don’t go home and eat your dirty clothes).
• “Avoiding cold foods” has no effect on viral infection or transmission (but if you feel cold, drink or eat something warm! Duh.)
• The virus doesn’t “live in your throat” for three days before “moving” to your lungs. Again, when you are infected, you are infected. There aren’t levels of infection. There are stages of symptom progression as your body ramps up its immune response to the virus, but you can’t prevent virions from invading your lungs by gargling something when you have a sore throat (especially not with mild antibacterial agents like vinegar/salt/garlic/lemon). Viruses do not work like bacteria.
As a brilliant emergency medicine physician (and collaborator on this article) said,
“You can’t disinfect the entire inside of your body unless you are dead and embalmed.”
In conclusion: Don’t be scared.
When people aren’t over-complicating prevention, they are doubting that something so scary can even be prevented with such simple methods, and so they act as though it’s hopeless, and there’s nothing they can do.
In reality, if you can just commit to these 3 simple (albeit, tedious) recommendations, you will dramatically reduce your risk of infection and transmission.
If you do the three things I’ve outlined here as though your life depends on it, then you don’t need to feel afraid. I know it sounds exhausting, but I promise you that you can do this. You just have to become consciously and constantly aware of your contact with things and people, at all times.
I had WAY less natural immunological protection in my body than most of you have, right now, in your bodies. The hard thing is, you have to do these 3 things we’ve talked about, and do them well, every single time. The easy thing is, it’s just these 3 totally uncomplicated, straightforward things.
Wash your hands, clean the things you touch, avoid people (and the things people touch).
You’re gonna be ok.
The year long decline of our daughter’s health followed by the sudden unexpected death of our beloved Sheltie, led to fewer walks, too much comfort food, and not enough veggies.
I wrote this four years ago when I used this diet to lose 30 lbs (stupid thyroid). I’ve kept it off for the most part, but want what I’ve gained off me in a hurry. Maintenance comes easy to me, as my vanity takes care of that.
I STRICTLY adhere to the food list in Cycle 1, but I don’t necessarily follow the portions. I eat as much as I want of the included fruits. And I have 4 GREAT recipes for soup that just happen to be C1 compliant. Making the soups SAVED me the first time around and they’ll ensure your success as well.
I also don’t do probiotics, and the yogurt’s the same variety that my daughter eats daily, a 16 carb Yoplait LITE with fruit.
I can’t imagine losing any faster so I’m sharing my success here with you:
• FIRST PUBLISHED IN 2014 •
If you want to lose weight by jump-starting your metabolism and breaking your cravings for carbs & sugar WITHOUT purchasing anything BUT healthy food in order to do it – the 17Day Diet may be right for you. Tons of water, lean protein at EVERY meal. Unlimited cleansing vegetables and 2 servings of fruit. It’s a book that you can find at your local library. There’s a newer version out for those that like cleansing shakes (between cycles) but I prefer the original version. Sample menus are given but only as a guide. Folks seem to get very confused by that.
NO matter HOW the weight GOT there, THIS will take it OFF. I thought lack of sound sleep and thyroid meant I could never lose the weight that I gained over menopause AND because my (fired) doctor kept ignoring my bouncing TSH scores (a healthy thyroid doesn’t HAVE wild swings in TSH scores. Your TSH should be 3.5 or BELOW). Mine got to 68.72 after 10 years of my (fired) doc’s neglect 😦
You’re going to feel lousy those first few days of the diet because your body is ridding itself of all the bad toxins it’s been storing. When you can’t use the (white) carbs you eat for energy, your body doesn’t know what to do with them so it stores them with COPIOUS amounts of water, as fat. Since you don’t eat but 2 tablespoons of fat a DAY in this diet, your body is forced to burn off the stored fat.
Once you’re done with the diet – you use the tools you learned to maintain. I still eat carbs but I recognize how I FEEL after eating them and THAT makes it easier to avoid them with GOOD CHOICES.
• Canned Light Tuna (water packed)
* Opt for wild-caught rather than farm-raised fish, which may have received doses of antibiotics. Avoid the bigger fish such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and albacore tuna. They are the most likely to carry metals like methyl-mercury, which is considered a toxin.
• Chicken Breast
• Eggs (2 eggs = 1 serving)
• Egg Whites (4 egg whites =1 serving)
• Turkey Breast
CLEANSING VEGETABLES (Eat Liberally)
• Artichoke hearts
• Bell peppers, green, orange, red, yellow
• Brussels sprouts
• Green beans
• Green, leafy vegetables (including beet greens, turnip greens, collard greens)
• Lettuce, all varieties
FIBROUS FRUIT- 2 SERVINGS DAILY
• Berries, all types
• Prickly pear cactus
• Red grapes
PROBIOTIC FOODS- 2 SERVINGS DAILY
Acidophilus milk: (1 cup = 1 serving)
Kefir: similar to a drinking-style yogurt; great for making smoothies (1 cup = 1 serving)
Low-fat acidophilus milk (1 cup = 1 serving)
Reduced salt miso dissolved in low-fat, low-sodium broth (1 tablespoon – 1 serving)
Sauerkraut: (1/2 cup – 1 serving)
Yakult: (1 cup = 1 serving)
Yogurt, any type, including Greek-style, sugar-free (6 oz. container = 1 serving)
FRIENDLY FATS: 1 TO 2 TABLESPOONS DAILY
Condiments and seasonings are allowed in moderation:
• Salsa, low-carb marinara sauce, lite soy sauce, low-carb ketchup, fat-free sour cream, Truvia (a non-caloric sweetener made from natural ingredients), sugar-free jams and jellies, vegetable cooking spray, fat-free cheeses (i.e. Parmesan), fat-free salad dressing, salt, pepper, vinegar, mustard, herbs, and spices.
Substitutions for vegetarians:
One-half cup of tofu (any type)
One-half cup of beans, lentils, or any legume
1-2 vegetarian or black bean burgers (made from textured vegetable protein)
2-4 ounces any vegetarian cheese, including soy cheese
2 vegetarian “sausage” links (great substitute for eggs!)
2 scoops vegan rice protein powder (great for smoothies, blend with 1 cup unsweetened almond milk and a fruit) for a quick 17-Day Diet vegetarian breakfast
Any type of vegetarian meat substitute made from textured vegetable protein (see package for serving size)
For dairy substitutes: 1 serving is 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, almond milk, or rice milk
For yogurt substitutes, it is fine to use soy milk yogurt. These subs will work for all cycles as meat-protein substitutions.