What is the tree and where is it?
I am still thinking about the Inflammatory Brain Disorder Conference.
The researchers and physicians are talking about the immune system as if it is broken in Long Covid and ME/CFS and the other illnesses, but I am not sure I agree. Maybe the immune system knows what it is doing. Maybe Covid-19 is a really really nasty infection and the immune system sends out antibodies to make us stay down, stay in bed, rest and keep from catching something else. Maybe an antibody that suddenly makes you weird will make you isolate and hide and not interact with the other potentially infectious humans.
Ok, the inflammatory brain disorders that destroy the brain, those are not adaptive. However, I’ve thought that MC/CFS was a “repair mode” since residency.
When I had my third pneumonia in 2014, I refused to admit to myself that I had chronic fatigue. It was sort of obvious. I went back to work six months after I got sick and seeing just four or five patients left me exhausted. I would come home and sleep on the couch. I also skipped breakfast, because I would go to sleep as soon as I ate. My blood sugar was fine and it was not a food allergy. It felt as if my body wanted to do repair work and wanted me to sleep while it was doing the repairs. I would sleep after lunch. For the next six months of work, I slept twelve hours a day and hoped that I would not have more than five patients. Also that I would not get sick.
We had everyone who had upper respiratory symptoms or a cough wear a mask and I wore one too, hoping to not get another pneumonia. That worked. I only got sick when I went to work in another hospital clinic system. I kept walking into rooms with patients with their masks off. I got Covid-19 in a mere five weeks there, after going a year at my clinic without getting it.
I spoke to a friend yesterday. She was talking about her damaged immune system. I said I didn’t think of it as damaged. With enough stress and infection, I think the immune system gets primed. And then it is as if it has PTSD: the immune system says, “Enough already! We are not going to LET you overdo and get sick again! We are putting you DOWN to sleep if you overdo!” It is an extreme version of “listen to your body”, as if the body is shouting. The immune system is hyperalert and goes all out if there is any threat or suspected threat.
Maybe we need to be more gentle with ourselves and each other. The US culture is so oriented to production and work and money as success. But is that really success, if we work 20 hours a day and drive our immune system to desperate measures?
Maybe we need to learn to relax. To take time off. To breathe.
And the talk about Mast Cell Activation Disorder said exactly that. We need to teach how to go from the sympathetic fight or flight crazy to the quiet, relaxed, parasympathetic state. That quiets the immune system down very nicely.
It won’t fix everything, I am not saying that. But it is something everyone can learn. Slow breathe, in five and out five. Practice.
The tree is a Redwood and it’s in the Chimacum Woods Rhododendron Nursery. Not just rhodys and on the Olympic Peninsula.