Day 355 and Not That Bad

I made one of the rookie mistakes in coping with illness today. Yesterday I came back positive for Covid. It was pretty mild. So I didn’t cancel any of my appointments. I went to therapy. I still had an on and off work day with a few obligations. And now I feel like shit

Basically I ignored my own advice. I wrote a post about how to effectively beat back an illness in a post I called “How to be sick.” And just a few days later I forgot everything I said. I feel very on my own bullshit.

My experience of Omicron has been quite mild. It feels much more like an inflammatory condition than a respiratory one for me. My whole body aches. I ran a slight fever. I’m exhausted. And I have awful brain fog. Like my normal speed of thinking has slowed ten fold. I can still recall the topics or even general contours of what I want to say. But then I can’t quite get the specifics to form in my mind. It really is like living through a fog.

So I need to wrap this post up and go to bed. I am sick. It’s mild but it doesn’t mean it’s not there. So I need to treat myself gentle and make sure I help myself get well. If you get sick don’t push yourself. It will only extend the experience.

Medical Preparedness

Day 354 and Covid

The worst has happened. After nearly two years of being ambiently aware of Covid as a risk in the world I have tested positive. I honestly didn’t think I had it. I feel a little bit sick. I briefly ran a fever. I mostly felt the malaise from the inflammation. Little did I know that the game had changed with Omicron. That was all Covid.

I think we are in the middle of public communication crisis. The new symptoms for Covid are not severe coughing but the sniffles. And the vaccine doesn’t give you neutralizing immunity. It sure does help reduce the severity of the infection if the mildness of my symptoms are any indication. I worked several days before I realized the extent of the illness. And in no way had we reduced our daily caution. The only time I spent indoors with other people was when I had to go to urgent care for a torn ligament in my ankle.

I’ve got to be honest. This is going to happen to you. It’s happening fast and you probably didn’t see it coming. From when Omicron first got identified to me getting ill was less than two weeks. We have a rapid test shortage which means only those with flexibility and money will know if they are sick.

It’s going to be a very ugly month. Not because anyone is going to get extremely sick. But rather a lot of us are going to be a little bit sick. Let’s be gentle with each other when it happens. We are all going to be really miserable together.

Chronic Disease Medical

Day 352 and How To Be Sick

Everyone I know seems to be sick right now. My husband is sick. My media friends are sick. My finance friends are sick. My random internet friends are sick. No one is in bad shape but everyone is miserable. If Omicron is as transmissible as it seems you’ve got a good shot at getting sick in the next month or two even if you are fully vaccinated. Don’t panic. I’ve a ton of experience being sick so let me give you some advice on how to get through the misery in one piece. Being sick is an opportunity. You’ve got this.

Drink lots of water: basic but crucial. Down a full glass of water every few hours. Set a timer. Being hydrated is key to your body flushing out gnarly stuff.

Stay in bed: your body has diverted all your energy to your immune system to fight off invaders. You are going to be tired. Don’t try to overcome it with stimulants like coffee. That’s just going to make it worse. Accept that you won’t be as focused or as energetic. The less you try to push through it the faster you get better. Cancel everything. If you want to get back to normal the fastest path to that is letting yourself heal.

Intake lots of nutrients: your body needs all the help it can get. Now is not the time to restrict calories. Eat vegetables and high quality protein. Eat healthy fats. Take a multivitamin. Consider taking Vitamin C and Zinc. Drink broth as it keeps you hydrated and gives you nutrients. Here are some ideas from the Cleveland Clinic.

Take care of yourself: tempting as it may be to order junk food, binge watch tv and doom scroll social media, you need to build up your vitality and constitution. This is what had worked for me. Being in bed tightens up your muscles so do a basic stretching routine for ten minutes twice a day. Don’t overstimulate your autonomic nervous system. Go out in the sun and keep your circadian rhythm normal. Meditate even if it’s only a few minutes. Do deep breathing. Take a hot shower even if you can’t stand up for too long. Brush your teeth and your hair. Talk to to your family and let them know how love them. If you have the strength do something artistic or creative. You must maintain your humanity. That means finding rhythms that build you up.

Accept Help: being sick robs you of many of the building blocks of modern identity. If you have built your self acceptance on concepts like hard work and being productive, it’s going to make you feel shitty when you are in bed and can’t do anything. Being sick is a reminder that self acceptance is the key to happiness. You are more than what you do or produce. You are a human being worthy of love simply because you exist. At your weakest and your sickest you are as worthy as at your best. Be ready to accept help from others so you can accept yourself. Be ready to be cared for by others. You do not owe anyone anything. Your existence is enough.

Chances are you are used to feeling healthy. Being sick is going to rock your reality. But you will overcome it. Cultivating empathy for yourself is the best path for doing so. Don’t judge yourself. Care for yourself as if you were your own child. Without judgement. Good luck!

Biohacking Finance Internet Culture Medical Startups

Day 350 and Web3 Healthcare

Imagine you’ve got a disease with a clear biomarker. I’ve got an autoimmune condition called ankylosing spondylitis. One of the ways to spot it on a blood test is to look for an elevated CRP or sed rate.

Maybe I want to find a way to connect with other patients. I provide proof of biomarker to join an autoimmune discord just like you provide proof of ownership of an NFT like they do in the Bored Ape Yacht Club. Maybe I want to join a group of other patients who are pooling their medical data so they can stop being in an N of 1 and have a chance to participate in new research for my own disease. I could join AutoimmuneDAO and contribute to funding, meme-ing, and researching my condition. If we discover a treatment protocol or drug through our DAO we’d have ownership in it. Imagine a token for your own patient DAO. This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. VitaDAO is doing this for longevity research. This is the future that web3 can bring to healthcare.

Quantified self and biohacking have improved my health significantly. But on its own my personal health data has little value. You would maybe pay me a few cents for my biometrics. The real value of that data is in the aggregate. That’s why I pay Whoop to manage my HRV data and why they won’t offer data interoperability.

The value is in the algorithm. But without me and without my data it wouldn’t be worth anything. They have a product and an algorithm because of my biometrics. And yet we’ve found no way to meaningfully integrate ownership and interoperability in healthcare yet.

Let me give an an example. There are multiple companies that make their money by recruiting clinical trial candidates. Why? Because you need aggregate data to run a study. Those companies have the same basic data analytic team as a marketing team at a direct to consumer product company. They know how much a patient (or customer) is worth and the cost to acquire them. You are worth a lot because you represent a demographic that has value in its totality. And yet most clinical trials fail to recruit people because patients just don’t see a benefit to participating. You’ve got no ownership or upside and the costs are significant. So science suffers.

But what if instead of being valuable to marketing and recruiters you could own a portion of the aggregate? Being a token holding biomarker “proof of disease” validated member of a patient research DAO flips the incentives. A breakthrough on a disease that treats you and you’d also own some of the proceeds of it’s intellectual property. Whoever brings web3 to healthcare is going to be doing a significant good for humanity. Web3 can improve diseases, move forward science and get us all paid.

Biohacking Chronic Disease Medical

Day 343 and You Don’t Have to Feel This Way

Modernity is tough on our bodies. We sit hunched over glowing screens for hours and we call that necessary. We rationalize ignoring our meat sacks as logical. Cartesian logic like “I think therefor I am” is a convenient an excuse for disembodied living. Except eventually it will catch up to you. Maybe not for a while but it will. Maybe you’ve noticed feeling shittier recently.

I’ll tell you how it starts. You feel sluggish. So you stimulate your system. Maybe you drink more coffee and eat more sugar. Then you notice you don’t sleep as well. That makes you even more tired. So you stop moving as much as you did before. You don’t track any of this so it’s hard to notice till the effects compound. Then you notice aches and pains and you think well maybe it is just getting older. Maybe you start to have a back problem and friends tell you they have the same problem.

It’s the slow downward spiral of misery and it’s probably happening to you. It happened to me fast and hard but the path is the same. We accept feeling badly. We accept that deterioration is a fact of life because we’ve got to work and take care of the kids (if you are lucky enough to afford a family). We just accept lower standards of living because we get worn down.

It just doesn’t have to be like that. This shitty quality of life doesn’t have to be the new normal. Fuck the doctors who can’t diagnose you. It’s systemic. You’d be lucky to find one things so broken because it’s a place to start. Most people are justly subtly broken. But it’s not reached the acute stage where our medical system finally kicks in. Doesn’t mean what you feel isn’t real.

The shitty part is next. You’ve got to do the work. You’ve got to change your life. No doctor or health practitioner is coming to save you. They an give you a piece of the puzzle but you’ve got to assemble it. If you commit to getting well it’s going to cost you willpower. Because the path out is hard work. It’s nutrition, sleep, lifting heavy things, going outside everyday, taking supplements and vitamins, meditation and mindfulness. Frankly it’s a lot. I spend a third of my day on it so I can live what’s left well. But I no longer feel subtly shitty all the damn time.

Biohacking Medical

Day 341 and Drugs are Good M’Kay

I am a prolific consumer of supplements and vitamins. I maintain a spreadsheet to keep track of all my inputs. I take a bunch of exotic stuff so it’s easiest to check for interactions and assess impact if I maintain strict consistency.

I’ve seen remarkable benefits to the entire mess but it’s taken over a year of dedication to see the compounding effects. Taking vitamins isn’t quite like taking a pharmaceutical that way. But I suppose everything is dependent on dose. And yet I tend to apply a completely different moral valence to my supplements then my pharmaceuticals.

When I was a teenager it felt like the war on drugs had mostly devolved into scar tactics. After school specials, assemblies with terrifying speakers, and the general media landscape showing “this is your brain on drugs” probably gave me an unnecessarily limited view of how to approach drugs. Recreational drugs were bad but I also knew that pain medications were deadly. It didn’t help I had a family member who was an opioid addict.

The running gag on South Park with Mr. Mackey telling the kids that drugs are bad mmm kay logged into my subconscious. And not in a sun skeptical way. I appear to have taken it at face value.

South Park’s Mr Mackey says drugs are bad…mkay?

Except drugs are neither bad or good. I wouldn’t dream of considering my various supplements and vitamins as making me bad or weak. Those keep me healthy and function. I also take prescription medications. Those also keep me healthy and functional. It’s the same thing. I don’t take them for kicks or to get high.

But the idea I absorbed from childhood that I’m supposed to regard things like pain killers with intense skepticism continues to hinder my progress. I was warned by the orthopedist I may need to up the anti-inflammatories I take for my spine as my ligament injury heals. But I am still reluctant to take the prescribed dose. Despite being under the supervision of two doctors.

I’ve got to learn to let go of this attitude. Drugs are good mmmkay? Tinkering and tweaking and looking for improvements are great. No one deserves to be in pain. It’s not morally better no matter what religious nonsense we may have absorbed. Sure pain is a terrific teacher. But it’s perfectly alright to chose to forgo it. We can chose to grow without inflicting any more pain on ourselves than necessary.


Day 337 and Good News

On Wednesday afternoon I had an accident. My husband heard a snap and I was on the ground. I fucked up my ankle. X-rays and urgent care visits ensued and we begged our way into an orthopedist to assess the damage and get an MRI and ultrasound. The initial shock was wearing off.

The mobility aids dropped off by my concierge doctor had me feeling much more optimistic that whatever the diagnosis I could manage. A walker could easily get me to the bathroom on my own power. A shower chair was arriving from Amazon so I could finally wash up with something other than wet wipes. We’d also acquired an infrared sauna, a number of supplements to supplements to support ligament recovery, and some cold compression devices. I’m hoping it get an electro-stim device as well.

The orthopedist we’d begged our way into first thing this morning had good news for us. I’d torn two ligaments but it was pretty run of the mill. For once I didn’t have an exciting diagnosis. It was boring and simple. It wouldn’t require any surgery. It would be two weeks of keeping all weight off my ankle and then a slow introduction to physical therapy. If all goes well I’ll regain mobility in a month.

I’ll be wearing a boot and using a walker for a while but we can slowly introduce weight bearing activities at physical therapy within a few weeks. Maybe by Christmas I’ll be able to get myself up and down stairs. Since I don’t want to miss our Christmas tree being upstairs for the entire season.


Day 336 and Inaccessible

I’m probably still in shock. The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of favor trading and phone calls and begging as we try to figure out the extent of the damage to my ankle. Something is broken but still need an ultrasound and an MRI to assess a full recovery full protocol. We are mostly hoping I can avoid surgery. But we will know more once I meet with the orthopedist tomorrow.

The only upside to this mess is living in Boulder Colorado we’ve got access to the best sports medicine on the planet. We were able to get excellent recommendations on in orthopedic specialist and thanks to wonderful friends secured an appointment within 24 hours.

I’ve also got an incredible primary care physician that has spent the day putting together all of the basics for healing and recovery. She thought of everything from bandaging to mobility aids to supplements. And she makes house calls.

I am however pretty shook up and in a lot of pain. I misjudged crutches this morning and took a terrible fall trying to get to the bathroom. You never notice how inaccessible the basics in life are until you need help getting onto the toilet. I am going to need round the clock help for a bit until we figure out how to install things I can lift myself up on. So maybe my upper body still will improve? But otherwise it’s pretty dehumanizing.

I’m also stuck on the top floor of our three story townhouse as the only way to get down the stairs currently is on my ass with the scoot and lift method. Thankfully Alex doesn’t seem to mind me using his office desk as a dining room table for a bit. They are too narrow to carry me down so this will be a bit tricky for the time being. We can’t have me on the middle floor as there is no bathroom and the downstairs doesn’t have a bed so this will have to do for now.