Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf. Proverbs 11:28
Covid has had a universal impact in all corners of the world. It is a serious threat, but sometimes you need a step back to put it in context.
My son-in-law, Ben Fischer, could have been a writer. Instead he is a primary care doctor in Raleigh. He sent a letter to his patients which was so grounded and sensible that I couldn’t resist making a post about it. He could have written Younger Next Year. After a preamble to his patients, Ben writes:
“The principal truth I want to call you to is that the pursuit of health has not been changed by the emergence of a new virus. We should first and foremost focus on doing those simple things that tend to keep us healthy, which not only lower our susceptibility to COVID, but they also make us less likely to succumb to early death or disability from ANY of the many threats to health and life that have existed for millennia.
‘Dr. Lapinskes and I have had a number of our patients die in the past year primarily from the usual suspects like cancer, heart disease, pulmonary fibrosis, injuries from falls, sepsis and advanced age. By contrast, none of our patients have died from COVID. Of course many people HAVE died of Covid, but it is a reminder that MOST of us will die of something else. Our individual actions in pursuit of healthy and long life should not be overly focused on a single threat, rather it should be more long term, broad in focus, and solid in the fundamentals.
‘We all know the fundamentals of health. 1) Nourish your mind, body and spirit, 2) Condition your mind, body, and spirit, 3) Rest your mind, body, and spirit, 4) Don’t pollute your mind, body, or spirit. The practical application of these fundamentals should also be no surprise – eat right, exercise regularly, get your sleep, don’t smoke, don’t drink to excess, don’t abuse drugs, keep your weight in a normal range, don’t pollute your mind and spirit with toxic media and images, watch and read things that bring you up not down, don’t dwell on negatives, strive to maintain work-life balance, care well for the people with whom you share life.
‘These fundamentals have not changed in the face of this or any previous pandemic. Doing them won’t render us bullet proof, for we are mortal beings and tomorrow is guaranteed to no one. Doing those things will help us live WELL, which should be our principal ambition. The other unchanging thing about the fundamentals of health is that though they are simple, they are not easy. We all know how easy it can be to fall into bad habits. We need to support each other in the pursuit of health, which is why I have over the years organized wellness programs to help myself and my patients stay on a healthy path.
‘These fundamentals are even more important in a time when COVID is rampant. This is most easily measurable by a fact we all know: obesity increases risk for severe illness and death from Covid. Maintaining a normal body weight is not the only barometer of healthy habits, but it is an important one, and not doing so has myriad adverse health consequences.
“A well-researched article in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed obesity doubling the risk of hospitalization from COVID and increasing risk of death by 50%. None of therapies that are subject of heated debates, such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine have anywhere the efficacy of protecting you from COVID than the act of getting into shape.
“I’ll make one last Covid specific assertion, regarding vaccinations. The debates about them have become toxic and many of the conclusions people are making are based on notions that are entirely discordant with my lived experience as a physician. The majority of our patients have been vaccinated. And while there have been a small number of minor adverse reactions, none of our patients have been hospitalized with adverse reactions due to any of the vaccines. Wake Med, where Dr. Lapenskes and I admit our patients, has seen few instances of patients suffering adverse reactions from the vaccines.
“[….] Hearing from my patients that they believe vaccines are killing more people than the virus to me is like being told that it’s raining outside by someone who has looked up the weather on their phone when I can step outside and see that the sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky. I acknowledge that we do not have long term data on vaccine effectiveness and safety, but I can assure you that the medical community is not seeing short term, large scale, and already manifest harm from Covid vaccines.
“What we ARE seeing locally is that 90% of the patients in the WakeMed ICU with Covid are unvaccinated (as of September 1st) a much higher percentage than the roughly 35% of eligible Wake County residents are unvaccinated. My professional opinion is that the vaccines are protective against severe illness from Covid. They are also protective of scarce collective community health care resources. If you have not been vaccinated yet, I encourage you do so for your own good and for the good of the community.”
There you have it in a nutshell. God wants us to thrive, even in a pandemic. As parents and mentors, we can pass along this kind of advice to our charges and mentees. Ben finishes his letter by inviting his patients to join him in a 12 week health program at the local YMCA where he guides them through exercise regimes with an emphasis on nutrition and healthy lifestyles. His patients love him.
MENTOR TAKEAWAY: While Covid is a threat to our health, we should be clear that there are other threats which we can actually do something about such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
FURTHER READING: Younger Next Year – Crowley
WORSHIP: Thrive – Casting Crowns
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