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Here's a very different, more benign view of COVID in a recent article in Slate (3/19/23)

https://slate.com/technology/2023/03/long-covid-symptoms-studies-research-variant.html

David (fully vaxxed and fully boosted)

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Thanks Jim for sharing. I am sharing this article with my granddaughter who has had Covid 3 times. The aftermath of this terrible illness is real and prevention is a must. Take the shots! Read and be informed. Praying for you and Deb.

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Oct 15, 2022·edited Oct 15, 2022

New Guardian UK series on living with long covid: this condition is an unrecognized tsunami waiting to happen:

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/oct/14

"I was an athlete – now I’m 30 and in a wheelchair thanks to long Covid"

"I know a runner, a fighter, a coach are still in me. But I don’t feel like her any more"

The Guardian’s new series, Living with long Covid

by Savannah Brooks. Illustrations by Julia Louise Pereira

Dr Anna Brooks

@DrAnnaNZ

PhD.Senior Lecturer. Immunologist, flow cytometrist. Leading #LongCovid research NZ.

Crowdfund:http://bit.ly/3AuTiYN

#LongCovidkids #MECFS Admin:

@LongCovidNZ Auckland, New Zealand

"This new @guardian series on living with #LongCovid is absolutely beautiful. And exactly what we need: to publicize some of the millions of stories. To put human lives/faces/stories to this illness, so no one can look away"

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2022/oct/14/long-covid

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Oct 15, 2022·edited Oct 18, 2022

Thank you for sharing the personal experience! It is really valuable for those facing post-covid.

Let's all recognize a point made recently at a WHO convention: if everyone got the vaccine, covid would be wiped out worldwide.

About long covid: There is a lot more written in the UK among physicians. Some doctors got long covid and have been tracking this since the beginning.

They write that the government is trying to sweep long covid under the rug to avoid paying for care.

There is a direct connection in the article that you cited from Dr. Harrington, the early misconceptions about lyme, G-Barre, and chronic fatigue, to long covid. Everyone seems to be ignoring the reality of long covid, causing untold suffering.

In fact, some comments on the long covid sites indicate that some long covid might actually be lyme or reactivated lyme. Lyme can hide, then it can be reactivated. That is similar to chickenpox that can be reactivated as shingles.

In New England, post covid symptoms mimic flu, so doctors are alerting patients that they may have the flu, not long covid.

A recent article in a medical journal reported that the booster shot appeared to accelerate an existing cancer progression as well. We don't know enough about the booster to know: it was approved quickly in one year instead of the 10 years of testing the FDA usually requires.

And it is important to accept where we are instead of hoping for something different. Dr Harrington makes this point at the end of his article.

Doctors find that inflammation causes most disease. Dr Andrew Weil writes on these topics in a very accessible way (he graduated first in his class at Harvard Medical School but immediately got interested in alternative medicine). He also wrote the best seller, Spontaneous Healing, about how our bodies are self-healing, if we take care of them.

Ancient asian remedies work very well for anti-inflammation and energy: ginger, garlic, onion, goldenseal, and fresh produce offer anti-inflammatory properties

Thank you for the tip on B12. It really helps to have this great information and I am sure that everyone wishes you both very good health in the future!

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I am chewing on ginger at this moment, as I do most evenings after I finish eating--partly because I just like it, and partly for the anti-inflammation.

There was a recent article in Slate (3/19/23) that takes a more benign view of COVID

https://slate.com/technology/2023/03/long-covid-symptoms-studies-research-variant.html

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founding

Another good one, Jim. Do you agree that the dinner/dance at Boston's Museum of Science was the most likely spreader event last June? Since we spent so much time there together (unmasked), I just want it on the record that it wasn't me! Remarkably, I have remained COVID-free since the beginning, including my wife getting it twice this year. Great sleuthing on B12.

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author

Hi Bill — I am pretty sure it was the opening-night reception, at least for me. So you are in the clear! And congrats on staying Covid-free — as has Deb.

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Thank you for sharing your experiences in such concise detail, Jim. I am exceedingly happy for you and yours as well as relieved by the positive developments that you report but are clearly still evaluating as the days pass.

I also want to thank Justin Dillon and Robert Litan here rather than separately: the conundrum that they lay bare alongside your personal experience is at the heart of the matter that my wife and I, along with many millions of other thoughtful folk, are dealing with on a daily basis whether consciously or not. Speaking for ourselves, both in our 60's, we have not yet tested positive or had any symptoms that caused us to believe we might have contracted COVID. We were very circumspect in our outings until we had been vaccinated (though our son who lives with us was an essential worker at a local market throughout the epidemic). We have been careful if increasingly inconsistent as time has passed about wearing masks in public places.

I have read the accounts of other readers who, like you, were less fortunate than us and have nothing but sympathy for you all as well as thanks for the thoughtful presentations of your different experiences and perspectives. It may seem like a non sequitur to state this, but I read your piece just before the Jan. 6 Select Committee began its meeting today (10/13/22) and have been formulating this response during their subsequent presentations of the different aspects of their findings whether well known or not...

... and my one clear thought regarding the juxtaposition of these two tragic circumstances is that one was a public health catastrophe that still tests our ability to cope collectively with the challenges and uncertainties of modern society while the other was probably avoidable but for the incendiary doubt that Trump and his entourage of fellow provocateurs manufactured out of whole cloth with premeditation during the many months leading up to the 2020 elections and their aftermath.

I apologize for now suggesting that there is a meaningful synthesis to be found in the evolution of these two very different social phenomena, but both occurred within a larger common context that has been in the making for decades and that frankly does not seem to be acknowledged by those most responsible for its establishment.

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author

I appreciate this, on several levels. Will plan / intend to write about Jan 6 committee tomorrow

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Reading about parathyroidism, it sounds like low vitamin D is a major risk factor. And most Americans are low on vitamin D, especially in the darker months when the sun is too low in the sky to catalyze vitamin D production. For more on that see my post about vitamin D below.

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author

Thank you. Vitamin D was a big factor in recovery from parathyroid issues.

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The immune system needs a certain level of Vitamin D in the blood in order to run on all four cylinders. I keep my blood level at ~55 ng/ml year round, in summer by running shirtless most days, and from late September to mid-April by taking 5000 IU 4 times a week. But people differ in their requirements to get to a good blood level. After you've been taking it for six weeks, get your blood level taken by your doc. I'm a Medicare aged 135 lb male. Increasing age and weight are supposed to increase the amount of D you need, but I've been taking the same amount of D since '04. And since '04, I almost never get colds or flu.

Rule of thumb: if your shadow is longer than you are, the relevant rays for catalyzing D production are being filtered out by the atmosphere.

And... Docs of a certain age were taught in medical school that it's easy to get toxic levels of D. I fought with my doc for a number of years about this (well, maybe discussed is a better word). She's fine with it now. One friend of mine was prescribed 10,000 IU/day, for osteopenia, which she's been taking for a number of years now. And people with multiple sclerosis are often prescribed more than that.

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Thanks for this. I did pay close attention to Vitamin D in the year or so after parathyroid surgery, as noted above. Will look into how it may affect these Covid issues.

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There is a lot of research coming out on long Covid now. The WaPo just posted an article by Gretchen Reynolds on exercise intolerance: https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2022/10/13/long-covid-exercise-symptoms/ and a Scottish study using the UK data base came out this week also. The UK NHS with it's electronic medical records system is a gold mine for doing this type of longitudinal research. One interesting finding is the increased number of women suffering long Covid vs men, another phenomenon with no ready answer right now.

Even with all the genomic tools, we still don't have a firm grasp of who is and is not at risk. For those of 'older' citizens (my wife and I are both 75), wearing masks inside stores is still prudent.

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author

Ooof. Thanks for this.

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I've seen that (GREATLY) increased number in women vs. men from some Danish stats.

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All very familiar----After my wife and I were "early adaptors" becoming infected in January 2020 while working in Singapore / Malaysia, which was honestly horrible (coughing so long and hard that I developed three separate hernias, I lost my voice for about 3 weeks, also lost about 18 pounds, and generally felt horrible for about 6 weeks---my doctors told me that I probably was able to continue breathing only because of taking significant amounts of prednisone that I always keep on hand for asthma emergencies); we both suffered a second more recent bout (despite full vaccines and boosters) that was much less severe, and my wife and I both have much faster pulse rates and about half the lung capacity we had prior to first infection----huffing and puffing from only minor activities. This seems to now be our new normal, much weaker and less healthy for more than 2 1/2 years. We realize we are lucky, and feel thankful that we are still among the living, albeit with half the strength and energy we had prior to COVID. We just had our third booster and hope these long COVID symptoms will not get worse, but who knows.......

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As could be expected, this is a sensible report with the right tone, solely by virtue of word choice.

"Everything about this Covid era is a combination of data, conjecture, larger patterns, and individual exceptions. Everyone involved—from research scientists to medical practitioners, from public officials to individuals and families—is constantly and unavoidably recalibrating plans, assumptions, and behavior as new information arrives."

I hate people quoting from articles they are commenting upon. We all read it. But this was just so...sensible. I sure wish this sort of journalism wasn't so rare.

Feel bad for you. Physiologically I am your opposite, and yet I have been unaffected. Covid is just maddening. Oh, and I had my own thyroid issue earlier this year. I pinched a nerve in my neck which paralyzed my right diaphragm, and when they X-rayed me they found a mass on my thyroid. Turns out to have been a goiter developing. And the pinch resolved so diaphragm is back to work. Old age...

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author

Thank you.

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Oct 13, 2022·edited Oct 13, 2022Liked by James Fallows

I am one of Jim's friends that also had Parathyroid disease and had never personally known anyone else with it until I read Jim's piece. That was shortly after I was treated for it. Even though I live in San Diego with great medical care, doctors here had done just a few of these operations and explained it would take a couple of hours. That's when I discovered Dr Norman's Parathyroid clinic in Tampa (parathyroid.com) that does over 3,000 thousands/year. It was a 15 minute operation. His website is a treasure trove of information about this disease. Highly recommended.

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Phil, thank you.

The operation I had at UCSF took five hours (rather than 15 minutes), because of various complications. But it is amazing what this (largely unknown) disease can do, and the difference that the surgery can make. Whether it takes 15 minutes, or .. .somewhat longer.

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Oct 13, 2022Liked by James Fallows

Thanks for this. It's timely, because I am in Week 3 of the "acute" phase of the disease, and only now starting to feel better from the flat-on-my-back, this-feels-like-pneumonia, everything-hurts-and-I'm-dying first two weeks. I too am normally robustly healthy, but not in the same way. I don't exercise, I eat and drink too much and I'm fat - but I'm never sick, I've never ever been hospitalized, and until recently my blood pressure was pretty good. COVID has made it challenging to sit up long enough to do work Zoom calls, and I *can not afford* to have lingering health issues from this.

So thanks for the suggestion. ::trundles off to order B-12::

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Oct 13, 2022Liked by James Fallows

Jim, I am sorry to hear that you're dealing with this, but I will respectfully suggest that you put the wrong headline on this one. We're all going to get COVID--it's endemic now. Saying "Don't get COVID" is, at this point in the pandemic, equivalent to saying, "Never move on." It's telling people to keep living in fear, on some level. Because as far as I know, not a single scientist has ever said it's going away. We will never eradicate it. Like the flu, it will be with us forever, and hopefully when we get it, it won't be too bad. Headlines like this, to my mind, contribute to an overly fearful approach to life where (as I sometimes see in the DC area) people mask outside and, even more incredibly, mask their *kids* outside. Masking is in general bad for society, and--like the vaccines--doesn't stop you from getting COVID. (I would suspect that almost everyone you know who's had COVID has been vaccinated and worn a mask a lot.) Masking is also really bad for kids, for a whole host of reasons that have been pretty well documented. And, of course, there's the recent Harvard study suggesting that some cases of "long COVID" may be a function more of psychology than physiology (not that I am saying that's true of you): https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2022/09/depression-anxiety-may-escalate-chances-of-long-covid-says-study/. Anyway, those are my thoughts. If we were still at U.S. News, I might suggest a headline that reads, "Long COVID Stinks--Here's My Experience." Hope the B-12 works and you feel better soon!

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I edited a paper by an NIH immunologist and an NIH statistician which found that following mask mandates, hospitalizations dropped a predictable number of days later, and deaths dropped a predictable number of days after that. There's clearly a benefit to masking indoors and I say that as someone who hates to have to wear them, and does not like having other peoples' faces hidden.

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Fair point Justin, but disagree with import of your comment, which implies there is no benefit in measures to reduce the risk of getting COVID and especially severe COVID. Vaccines of course. And certainly N95s do that, for people in public places. And clearly for high risk people (like me and tens of millions of others). I'm not saying that we require all kids to wear masks, but if parents suggest (and their kids listen) that kids wear masks as a self-protective measure, they shouldn't be ridiculed.

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Oct 13, 2022Liked by James Fallows

I think you may have misread me, but in any event, I certainly don't think we should ridicule anyone.

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author

Justin, a fair and astute point. Ah for the old days of working together on US News headlines!

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Oct 13, 2022Liked by James Fallows

Indeed! I still remember writing one for David: "Leadership by Litany." An early career highlight! And hope you feel better soon!

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I have shared this with my network. Too many people are now dismissing COVID, sick with precautions, etc. -- Well news for you, COVID isn't sick of you! This column is an incredibly important reminder to continue to be careful. Jim, thanks hugely for writing this

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author

Bob, thank you.

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