over the lower airways ; if someone sneezes at you , start monitoring your every twitch . By now we have found at least 30 offshoots of the Delta variant and WHO is following four to five new “ mutations of interest ” as of early January .
Living with uncertainty is always hard . Doctors struggle with this extra , since we are supposed to know what is wrong , ideally long before the autopsy results make it clear . Not knowing is frightening and bad for one ’ s sleep . What I see happening everywhere now are people acting like the threat is over . They are screaming unmasked at the Yum ! Center , bellying up to the bar , crowding into restaurants and saying things like , “ I can ’ t live like this anymore ,” and “ It ’ s time for this to be over ,” as if they could unilaterally declare .
Not believing in your mental worst-case scenarios is ok . You can certainly think them ; you can consider their likelihood ; but believing that the worst will happen triggers feelings in us just as though it had already happened . Your mother called this “ borrowing trouble ,” as in “ Don ’ t go there .” The more you borrow trouble , the more anxious and worried you feel , and then you start looking for someone to throw you a lifeline - as if !
What works better is to accept what is truly happening . In childhood we called this “ examining your conscience ,” and what therapists might call it is “ Check in with yourself , be present to yourself .” Figure out what you are feeling ; live with it . If you can , understanding the meaning of that feeling really helps .
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For instance I am currently deeply enjoying the sentiments of French President Macron , who is prodding the unvaccinated into changing their minds by banning them from going inside anywhere . I need a tricolor to hang from my window . The meaning of this feeling is quite clear : my eternal angry frustration with the vaccine holdouts . You are killing each other and our nurses and doctors and secretaries and janitors and teachers and EMS and the nice lady at ValuMarket - and maybe us - and we cannot take it another day . But we have to , because of you .
The sirens have not sounded an all-clear . Instead , the experts are telling us to hunker down and wear only N95s in public now , K95s if that ’ s all you can get . Choosing to act as though none of this is still real is infuriatingly irresponsible .
Resisting reality is not a winning strategy . Reality bites - hadn ’ t you heard ?
1 . Covid Mortality in India : National Survey data and health facility deaths . Prabhat Jha et al Science first release online 01 / 06 / 22
2 . medRxiv preprint / SARS-CoV-2 Omicron VOC Transmission in Danish Households . Frederik Plesner Lynge et al
Dr . Barry is an internist and Associate Professor of Medicine ( Gratis Faculty ) at the University of Louisville School of Medicine , currently retired and mulling her next moves .
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