January Musings, Basic Health

COVID and Basic Health

As our nation transitions through COVID we’ve learned several lessons. People of color are more vulnerable to this particular virus. A higher proportion of this fraction of our population dies when exposed. But think back on the original news blasts about COVID: The luxury cruise liner, the Diamond Princess, where essentially 700 out of 3,711 became infected, and fourteen died over the space of several weeks. None of us knows for sure whether we will survive and sustain through this virus, if and when we are exposed. But we have learned several critical lessons over the last ten months.

  1. If you have a “significant” underlying health condition, you are particularly vulnerable. Significant health conditions include vascular disease, like diabetes, or heart conditions, or respiratory conditions. But not something as mundane as high blood pressure. That is not thought to be a “real” underlying health condition. When you track the incidence of diabetes among people of color, certain ratios jump out. Vascular disease is endemic in certain populations. Often a sign of a lack of basic health, it is both culturally and environmentally induced. Diet and health are culturally and environmentally conditioned.
  2. If you are black or brown, you don’t want to catch COVID. Your diet, your lifestyle, your status relative to underlying health conditions, sets you up to be a victim of this coronavirus. Hopefully readers of this post are among the exceptions to the rule. Hopefully you’ve gone paleo, or gluten free, or ketogenic, with your diet. Hopefully you’ve succeeded in transitioning those around you, your loved ones, towards health by diet. I assure you, that if you’ve succeeded in this that you are the outstanding exception. But know that you are truly present as a major force within our culture’s “transition.” For now, many people of color will die, needlessly, as a result of cultural neglect.
  3. Health by diet is the one variable that all of us can employ against COVID. Personal health is a weapon, a choice, and a tool. It preserves our individual ability to sustain, to live, and to impact those around us. It means you will be there to contribute to transition. It means you can still act, and vote, and demonstrate, and move towards the future we all see in our mind’s eye.

My Brother’s Non-native Native Diet

My brother lived and worked on the Res here in Montana. He took on the “native” diet. He descended from a family with essentially no history of diabetes. Yet, in his fifties, he developed vascular disease, diabetes, and a heart condition too. “Indian” flat bread, cheap Omega 6 fats, sugar and salt dominated his diet. And he resisted basic health advice. Rest assured, I offered feedback, in my way, which in hindsight was not effective. I tried, but was met with statements like, “I won’t give up bread, or potatoes. I love them!”

He was a passenger in a vehicle on the reservation, early in the month, on a Sunday morning, and was involved in a vehicular incident with a drunk driver. The car crash did not kill him, his driver, or the other driver, who was inebriated. But my brother died as he was being transported from the scene: His “underlying” conditions resulted in heart failure.

He was a teacher. An amazing source of information. He had a room in his home that was literally, wall to wall, and floor to ceiling, filled with science fiction books that he had read. He didn’t pass them on, but he did preserve these books for some underlying reasons known only to him.

He was the person who fixed electronics, usually just by cleaning them meticulously, for the entire community there on the Res. He was a story teller, and was many thousands of words into an a historical anthology that may have represented an anthropological expansion of understanding of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne people. And all of this was lost.

Transition towards Cultural and Physical Health

COVID is repeating this. It’s not a vehicular accident. Instead, it is a cultural nightmare. We are moving through it, but the lessons it leaves us with must be written in stone. They must be indelibly preserved and commemorated. If not, we deserve to die and go away, and let the earth recover as it will. But I will work to preserve these lessons. I will learn from them. And we resilient, complex, and annoying humans will sustain. This is not just hope. It is commitment. We will transition. Culturally, socially, politically, physiologically, and environmentally. We will transition.

I don’t know that I have it right. Odds are that some of my beliefs are skewed. But I do earnestly believe that those of us with good will, those of us who are truly hopeful and serious about transition towards spiritual and physical health, will ultimately prevail.

Join me. And thank you for listening!