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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

Swiss Cheese and the Pandemic: A Few COVID Resources

Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Playful Retching

If you have any history of actually trying to make yourself retch, please ignore this tool. There are many, many other anti-anxiety tools available.

This is a zapchen exercise--one of the sillier ones. But it can work really well to help you voice objections to things that going on around you without getting all tensed up with anger. And there's a lot going on to voice objections about!

Playful retching is just what it sounds like: open your mouth, stick you tongue out if you want, make retching-type sounds (or just say, "bleah!") while generally pushing up and out with your diaphragm, pretending to throw up....just pretending! Be gentle! If you want you can put your finger to your mouth, like a kid might do. Try this a few times.

But don't overdo it--PLAYFUL is the key word here! Don't strain yourself or your voice. Though meant to be physically active (that is, it does help to tense up the diaphragm somewhat and perhaps exercise your facial muscles) this is also supposed to be silly!

Rest a bit and see how you feel. If it feels good, do it a few more times. If it doesn't, stop!

Julie Henderson, who developed zapchen, says playful retching is helpful, "because we put up with so much. Because we stuff so much....It lets you get rid of whatever you may have [metaphorically] swallowed without wanting or meaning to....This exercise is fantastically effective even if you have simply studied too long or worked too hard." And it can be fun in part because you probably haven't done it since you were a kid--it's another one of those things kids know how to do almost automatically.

Swiss Cheese and the Pandemic: A Few COVID Resources

I'm pretty sure you join with me in wishing things were different this fall in regard to COVID!

Unfortunately we're reaping the whirlwind now since we started acting like the pandemic was over well before it was. Who could blame us for wanting everything to "get back to normal"? And, of course, the delta variant has thrown a huge monkey wrench in to the works. But still, if we had really been paying attention individually and as cities, states, and a nation, to all the numbers and all the research, and the accumulated wisdom of nurses, doctors, epidemiologists and the like, I think we would not have been caught so unaware. But now it is not only places like Florida that are re-surging (where the schtick was to throw off concern because "freedom" was more important--freedom to lie desperately sick and immobilized under the control of a respirator in an ICU) but even places like the state of Washington, which had done so well previously.

So, what can we do?

I really, really like the an image shared by Betsy Brown, Seattle physician and author of the Update from an Epidemic blog. She says we need to think of COVID protection as if it were Swiss cheese. Each slice has holes somewhere, but if we are strategic about the placement, several slices together will give us a stack with cheese coverage across all areas--no holes! These slices include:

  • masking (especially indoors)

  • vaccines

  • social distancing (yes, still, and even if you are vaccinated!)

  • testing

  • contact tracing

These are all slices we can all use which will not only help us personally but will significantly help to slow the spread of this very nasty disease. Which will significantly decrease the possibility of mutations like delta, or the newest one to come down the pike, mu.

Here are a few resources, to help you cover up the holes. You may know most if not all of this but it was all new to me.

  • Vaccines work! Public health data in King County, Washington shows that unvaccinated people are 49 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 and 30 times as likely to die than if they had been immunized. These numbers are similar for other locales.

  • How mild is mild? (Not very!) A public health designated "mild" case means you don't have to be hospitalized. Read the story of a reporter who got a "mild" case. He was vaccinated but that doesn't mean the vaccines don't work--he didn't feel very good but he did not need to be hospitalized, put on a ventilator and he is fully recovered after a month. Vaccines are not an impenetrable force field or a silver bullet, hence the need for additional slices of cheese!

  • When is the Delta variant most transmissible? Two days before symptoms and 2 days after the symptoms start.

There is so much more info out there but that's enough for now.

Except one more thing. If you want to know what it feels to be a nurse caring for COVID patients, here's a powerful and well written article, Twelve Hours in Florida COVID-19 ICU. It's pretty intense.

And now, after all that, here's a beautiful photo for a little bit of ahhhhh...this is Iceland.

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Cat, Sergey Taran

Swiss cheese, unknown

Mask fitter, CDC

Counterfeit masks, CDC

Iceland sunrise, Joshua Sortino, unSplash


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