Articles Posted in Self-care

With the pandemic  tearing through the United States and overwhelming U.S. health care system,  we pause from the grim news to tally  some of the nation’s blessings in this time.

We can be thankful for the courage, fortitude, dedication, and skill of an army of health workers of all kinds. They have put themselves and their loved ones at formidable risk and strain to treat patients under unprecedented duress. They have dealt with fear and uncertainty, giving little quarter, and approaching their own breaking points. Some health workers have themselves fallen ill, with some dying. Their sacrifices cannot be forgotten, and we need to give sustained and extra support to health workers as the pandemic enters its next perilous phase.

magicshrooms-150x150Voters in the nation’s capital joined with peers across the country to nudge forward a further reconsideration of mind-affecting substances popularized in the Sixties but made illicit thereafter.

Support ran strong for a District of Columbia ballot initiative directing local law enforcement to make among its lowest priorities the prosecution of those who use or sell certain hallucinogenic plants and fungi — aka magic mushrooms and psilocybin, the Washington Post reported.

Those substances also appeared to be headed to legalization in an Oregon vote, which also would “decriminalize the possession of all illegal drugs,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

aged-199x300For the old, sick, and injured who are institutionalized, the Covid-19 pandemic and the efforts to halt the spread of the disease into care facilities has created debilitating side-effects: isolation, loneliness, silence, fear, and worries of abandonment.

Facility lockdowns, combined with the relentless governmental bungling of the coronavirus response, are taking a terrible toll that may not soon be eased, the New York Times reported. Dr. Jason Karlawish, a geriatrician at the University of Pennsylvania, told the newspaper this about the situation in all too many nursing homes and other long-term care facilities:

“It’s not just Covid that’s killing residents in long-term care. It’s the isolation, the loneliness.”

drugcrisisjulyodwoes-300x219With the novel coronavirus crushing the economy and helping to fuel joblessness, individuals’ isolation, and increasing hopelessness and despair among the already troubled, the opioid drug abuse and overdose crisis again is worsening — and fast.

As the Washington Post reported of what had been one of the nation’s leading public health nightmares before the Covid-19 pandemic:

“In Roanoke County, Va., police have responded to twice as many fatal overdoses in recent months as in all of last year. In Kentucky, which just celebrated its first decline in overdose deaths after five years of crisis, many towns are experiencing an abrupt reversal in the numbers. Nationwide, federal and local officials are reporting alarming spikes in drug overdoses — a hidden epidemic within the coronavirus pandemic.

covidcasesus4july-300x154The nation shudders into the second half of 2020, months deep into an unchecked Covid-19 pandemic that has infected 2.8 million Americans and killed roughly 130,000 of us.

America has become the coronavirus’s outbreak epicenter, its would-be travelers shunned by leading nations around the world as too risky to allow without quarantines or outright bans.

Five states set new infection records, and 40 of the 50 states report worrisome spikes in detected coronavirus cases (see New York Times graphic, above, of newly reported U.S. Covid-19 cases).

covidseeyasoon-225x300Do I, or don’t I? Do we, or don’t we?

As the stringent public health measures designed to bend the curve with the Covid-19 pandemic begin to lift or ease — including in Maryland and Virginia — hundreds of millions of Americans will make difficult individual decisions about their lives and livelihoods.

Fears are high that going back too soon may result in a deadly second wave of infections and deaths. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a preeminent expert on epidemics and a leader at the National Institutes of Health, warned senators of serious consequences from a premature restarting of activities.

ammo-300x191As Americans have hunkered down to safeguard themselves from Covid-19 infection, too many people also have stocked their homes with potentially harmful items — and the nation soon may be reckoning with the health consequences.

Will consumers come to regret that officials, locality by locality, deemed “essential” and chose to keep open marijuana shops, gun dealers, and liquor stores? Will doctors rue their decision to support patients, understandably unnerved by the pandemic, with a spike in prescriptions of potent and problematic anti-anxiety drugs?

Experts are sounding the alarms — with reasons worth wide public reminder.

cdcinactivitymap2019-300x265Sure, it can be fun to watch two East Coasters take a long, sharp pin and pop the fantasy bubble that Westerners, especially Coloradans, like to float around in. Mountain state residents may like to tell themselves how the people on the Front Range skew young, educated, and active. How blue skies and open spaces keep folks busy and outdoors. And did they mention super healthy?

Or maybe not.

There’s a bigger takeaway in the recent focus on the Rockies by reporters Betsy McKay and Paul Overberg. As the Wall Street Journal duo found:

boozengals-300x180Tipple much, much less in 2020. That might be a life-saving bit of advice for too many Americans to follow, especially because of new data on a worrisome spike in alcohol-related deaths.

As NBC News reported, based on published research by federal researchers:

“The yearly total of alcohol-related deaths for people ages 16 and over more than doubled, from 35,914 in 1999 to 72,558 in 2017. There were almost 1 million such deaths overall in that time. While middle-age men accounted for the majority of those deaths, women — especially white women — are catching up, the study found. That’s concerning in part because women’s bodies tend to be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol.”

CaseDeaton-300x169Even as economic inequity and inequality fuel a nationwide plague of “deaths of despair,” a runaway and inefficient health system hits Americans hard in their pocketbooks, in effect imposing an $8,000 annual tax on every household, a pair of leading economists say.

The crushing cost of the U.S. health system, exceeding $1 trillion a year, forces all Americans to pay this “tribute,” as if it were going to a foreign power, except this is a toll on themselves that we tolerate and allow, say Anne Case and Angus Deaton. The Princeton economists have reached this conclusion, as part of their research for their upcoming book, “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism.”

Case told economists at a San Diego conference: “A few people are getting very rich at the expense of the rest of us.”

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