Pandemic Reflections

There is always a new voice, always a new idea. It never quiets here.

I often describe Medium as an incredibly busy intersection on the internet. A massive amount of overlapping activity happens here at once. Writers and readers are everywhere you turn — some on their daily commute, some parked with no plans of leaving, some visiting for the first time, some lingering in doorways, seated on rooftops, or clustered in conversation.

As an editor for Medium, I stand at this intersection every day.

I read countless stories in depth, and catch glimpses or jagged corners of others. One person’s idea leads me to another and another — I move from the grimy…

It will be your turn soon

I’m occasionally annoyed by the fact that my state’s Covid-19 vaccination website is called My Turn. To be clear, the annoyance is absurd. It’s my immature self that gives in to it on days when I’m feeling sorry for those of us parked at the back of California’s line. And given how rapidly that massive line is moving, my woe-is-me nonsense is particularly insufferable. But pandemic brains can be insufferable, this we know.

As a well-oiled American, the name also inspires me — and hopefully others. Sadly, there is no shortage of good reason to remind us Yanks about how…

Yale professor Akiko Iwasaki, PhD, shares a working hypothesis

A pandemic, by definition, is a time of devastation. This particular pandemic has wrought severe devastation in an unbearably dark and heavy year. And yet, it has also been a time of astounding progress.

Bobbing and weaving among the shadows, the bright light of science has been mesmerizing to watch. Vaccines have emerged at breakneck speed. Epidemiologists and virologists have pioneered new advances in untested territory. And all of it has happened in real time — before our sad, tired eyes.

Of course there’s still plenty of work to be done, particularly when it comes to the mysterious, multifaceted, and…

Insights from former CDC director Tom Frieden

There’s reason to feel hopeful about the state of the pandemic in the United States.

Though variants are plenty scary and deserve careful attention (keep your upgraded masks on), so too do the drop in case rates and significant uptick in vaccination numbers deserve celebration. We’re getting there.

As former CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden writes in his latest weekly update for the Coronavirus Blog, “If things continue to go as planned, by June anyone in the United States over the age of 16 who wants a vaccine should be able to get one.”

Though the virus shows no sign…

How the body responds to pain

I’ve been thinking about pain lately.

Last week, a teenage friend fell and broke her wrist while snowboarding. The accident itself was reportedly low on the drama scale, yet the ensuing pain sidelined her. When ski patrol arrived on the scene to zoom her to safety, they administered fentanyl in response to her insistence that the pain level was a 10.

As her story bounced from friend to friend (my children among them), kids responded with condolences and reflections on their own adventures and mishaps that yielded broken bones. Testimonies flew via Snapchat. “I was in shock, but didn’t cry…

Screen eyes are tired eyes. So what to do about it?

I’d never thought of my childrens’ six underage eyeballs as “plump” until Manoush Zomorodi prompted me to in her recent piece about the tricky ways quarantine behaviors are impacting eyesight. Her description conjured a creepy haunted house moment from elementary school days — my hand plunged into a bowl of perfectly round peeled grapes.

The image is apt. By design, eyeballs are round and — as Robert Roy Britt reports for Elemental — nearsighted ones (like mine) are elongated. …

Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Give your mind and body all you can right now

Today marks the end of this column: A month’s worth of daily hacks to support your well-being in a winter season like no other. As I wind down the series, I’d love to believe the pandemic’s finale is nigh. But alas, that happy ending is still a ways off.

And though I’m a fierce advocate of both hope and optimism, I’ve set my watch to science and patience for the time being, so there I’ll sit (in my upgraded mask) for as long as it takes to arrive at what’s next.

If this little series has helped as you, too…

Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Your body will soothe your brain

In this time of unbearable hardship, I am one of the lucky ones: healthy, employed, and thus far unscarred (in an immediate way) by the tidal wave of loss. It’s sobering to consider how few Americans can claim those three pluses right now. To write this column is to be privileged. To think about well-being (a level up from just being) is to be privileged.

None of that is lost on me.

But that’s not to say I don’t swing into lost territory in plenty of moments. A steady diet of restrictions is hard, and I miss all sorts of…


Fiber is your friend

My primary care doctor is a keeper. Sharp, gracious, and no-nonsense, she frequently impresses me with how well she’s kept her human shine intact after a long career in clinical medicine. After all, as many docs will readily acknowledge, the grind of patient care and ensuing burnout can suck the gentle goodwill right out of you.

Six months ago, Dr. Amazing enlightened me about something I won’t soon forget: “We should all be pooping about a pound a day.” Okkkkay. Because she’s so cool, I listened as she got excited about the topic — nodding slowly and repressing my urge…

Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

Hold hands and snuggle pets

Though I’ve yet to experiment with weighted blankets, I am familiar with the sensation of being lovingly suffocated by heavy warmth. It happens when my 10-year-old drapes himself across my resting body to snuggle, talk, read, or laugh. As most parents can attest, one version of a no-longer-miniature kid climbing on you can feel squirmy and uncomfortable. But another, calmer version is incredibly delightful and how I imagine hibernating animals must feel in their messy, furry pileups.

Our cuddle usually prompts one or both of our resting heart rates to slow. My son will confess his anxieties and annoyances, and…

Kate Green Tripp

Senior Editor, Health & Wellness @ Medium. I write and edit stories about health, science, well-being, and behavior.

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