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The New Normal

I hope you and your family are doing well and adapting to the changes we’ve all been experiencing in our lives.   I’d like to share some hope if you read on, but first, a bit of housekeeping:

We’ve modified our hours until the Stay at Home order is lifted currently scheduled for first week of May, but stay tuned. 

We have closed Tuesdays in both offices.  We have made mid-day appointments available on Monday and Wednesday for those who would like to physical distance during this time. 
Lastly, Dr. Sutcliffe and I switch locations on Wednesday afternoon instead of Tuesday.  Which means, Dr. Barrett is in Edina Wednesday afternoon and Dr. Joe is in Oakdale.   
We hope to be back to normal soon.

  1. 1.
    conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.
    "it's quite normal for puppies to bolt their food"
    (of a line, ray, or other linear feature) intersecting a given line or surface at right angles
    a line at right angles to a given line or surface

Normal is exactly what I want to talk about today.   I don’t want to see us go back to the normal we had.  We were already the sickest, wealthiest nation on the planet.  The pandemic has just exposed how little we know about being healthy and staying healthy.   We have people scared to death of each other.  People feeling helpless as if there’s nothing they can do to protect themselves or their families.   It just isn’t true.  If you watch the media, any media…. You would think all we can do is just sit in our homes waiting for the grim reaper to come get one of us or someone we love. 

It is not all doom and gloom.  But, let's get real.   We can run be we can’t hide.  If you’re hoping for a vaccine, that’s a year away and you should know that vaccines for single stranded RNA viruses are notoriously difficult because the single strand type of organisms (not really alive) like to mutate.  After that happens, the vaccines will no longer match…. Much like the flu vaccines.    The other significant problem is like the vaccine experience in swine flu (also single strand RNA).  What happened to thousands was vaccine injury resulting in Guillain Barre Syndrome.  A progressive neurological destruction that caused paralysis and immobility among other things.   The reason for this was not that the vaccine itself caused it, but the arrival of the virus in the vaccinated that resulted in a cytokine ‘storm’.   A hyper-response to the virus due to the earlier action of the vaccine in ‘priming’ the immune system causing the inflammation and damage to the central nervous system.   Never say vaccines don’t modify the immune system.   They certainly do that.   The point is, a vaccine is a long time away and when it's here will not be foolproof tool either.

We are left only with fear if we believe there is nothing we can do, can’t get away and there’s no vaccine.  But, hang on a second.  If you look at case reports daily you are seeing that reported cases are increasing.   Remember, there has not been enough test capacity to determine what is really happening with the infection rates.  What we are seeing may be more cases.  But for sure it is more cases reported because there are more tests being done.  So, yes… that’s the reports daily.  But, whether we are on the upslope, peak or downslope of the spread, we can't determine.  It may not be exactly what we've been told.  

Please, put this information where it belongs for now.   It is incomplete data and drawing conclusions from this is going to make you very afraid. And fear, like mentioned earlier, dampens your immune response.  It puts you in ‘fight or flight” mode.   You will be fighting ghosts in your sleep.   Over time, you will not have the ability to fight when the real fight arrives.   This works just like eating carbs.  It pushes your body into cortisol secretion.   The worrying will not protect you.  It can only make you sick…. And fat.  

So, I know that fact does little to alleviate anyone's fear.  So, let's figure out what we can do.  The world has causes and effects.  Whether you get sick or not is largely under your control.   I know the medical world tells us that it doesn't matter.  It's a giant Wheel of Fortune game.  Some just get sick.  They get dealt a bad hand.  This is particularly true in the oncology industry.  But, it's being sold here too.  The virus, because medicine has nothing,. is being advertised as the worst thing imaginable because it just kills everything.  You've heard the hyperbole.   But, If it really doesn't matter what we do, what we eat or anything else, why not just eat Dilly Bars all day.? I love the mint ones.    Why not just do that if nothing matters?   Or, does it matter a just teeny bit?  But, when push comes to shove we need the medicine.?   The GOOD stuff.     

I think the daily Dilly Bar question is the crux of it.  What we eat everyday, how we sleep, how we think, how our bodies adapt to stressors is what determines whether you will not know if you have had the virus or it destroys you.   Medicine is there for a crisis, but we needn't create our own crises.  

Where are we now?


The emergency pandemic I think requires us to examine what we call healthcare.   Our healthcare system is very limited.  Fabulous for trauma.  Second to none in the world.  But, there is nothing it can do to protect us or make us healthier.  We are left only with the fear that our faith placed in it, has created.  Sadly, what we get for that is advice to stay at home to protect ourselves from the virus.  We've come to believe well, that's just normal. Wait until you need to be on a ventilator.  There's nothing to do until then. 

That is hopeless and helpless.   How about a new normal?  Take matters into your own hands.  Be responsible for you and your family’s health.  That doesn’t mean sitting at home waiting for the “all clear” signal from government.  It won’t be “all clear” ever again.   There is no reason to wait until then when changes can be made right now that will protect you.  

So, let’s focus on some hope for a bit.  I am hopeful that most of us will make use of the changes we’ve been forced into and make healthier habits and choices as a result.  I’ve already seen it.

The new normal will be riding our bikes and walking on the paths.  I’ve never seen so many people outside moving.  This is fabulous!!!!

The new normal will be shopping and eating better all the time.  To reduce the inflammation that makes us susceptible to disease, arthritis and autoimmune problems ….and fat.

The new normal will be spending more time with our kids and spouse.  Figuring out how to get along instead of getting out of the house to deal with these things “later”.   As we are seeing, sometimes “later” doesn’t come. 

The new normal will be assessing just how much time we want to spend at work.   You’ve heard it before.  Work is not everything.  And some of us may have been praying for a new job before this happened.  We hate our jobs.   Well, then.   Perfect.    Time for a new normal there.

The new normal might be permanently working from home.

The new normal might be less traffic (because now many will work from home)

The new normal may be reassessing how many soccer games, t-ball, dance lessons, karate classes, hockey, football, cheerleading, figure skating, la Crosse games…. Etc….  we want to invest our family’s time in.   Some of us parents may have been wishing we didn’t have to do all these things.    I get it.  I’ve been there myself.   

The new normal might be homeschooling from here on.  A rocky start, but some have been wondering about this before now.

The new normal may be spending more time looking at what’s coming after this life.  Like it or not, some of us are going to lose some people we love due to this.   If you haven’t considered that there’s more to it than “this”, the new normal might have you reconsidering matters of faith. 

The new normal might be clearing out the clutter in your house.

The new normal possibilities are endless.   We just need to get past this time of fear.  Everyone has been impacted and some terribly, in their work and financial lives.   And, some have even lost friends and family already.  It is terrible.   It is not hopeless.   I don’t have all the answers, but we can’t just let it all be terrible.  We NEED to get or make some positives out of this.  Spread the hope.

If you need our help, we are here.

Dr Barrett,

Vibrant Life Center

   Oakdale                     Edina

651-777-3611        952-835-0006