It’s ironic how “social distancing” can isolate you more physically from people while at the same time making you feel more connected than ever. Because we all are in this together. And we all can contribute to keeping everyone safer – and just happier. Some thoughts from life in a wait-and-see situation…

I don’t know if you saw it, but yesterday I did a post on the science behind tests for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-Cov-2. http://bit.ly/39UfWNc 

And I got a lot of responses like “I was waiting for this from you” – but one of the reasons I delayed posting for so long was because I was really concerned about only giving the most accurate information possible, as it’s such a serious issue. So I put out a request for peer review on Twitter and got several takers. It was fabulous to see such a strong community of scientists willing to do whatever they can to help out – whether it’s run tests, donate equipment, or edit blog posts! Speaking of which, if you’re a scientist who wants to find out how they can help, the RNA Society has a webpage you can visit: http://bit.ly/2IMCSSD 

But you don’t have to be a scientist to help out. In addition to washing your hands (and leaving some things on the store shelves for others…) you can practice what’s referred to as “social distancing” – basically avoiding large gatherings and unesscesqary trips & taking things “virtual” whenever possible (like holding teleconference meetings instead of in-person ones). The main goal of this “mitigation” strategy is to slow the spread of the virus so that our health care system doesn’t get overwhelmed with a whole flood of cases coming all at once. Social distancing is a way to “flatten the curve” (graph of number of cases over time) so that our hospitals don’t run out of equipment like respirators and even beds. 

And slowing the spread is especially important for helping those most vulnerable to getting serious disease from it (serious pneumonia) as opposed to just the mild symptoms most people experience (such as dry cough and fever). Those at highest risk are people who are older, have pre-existing health conditions (lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, etc.), and/or a compromised immune system. I’m sure that every person reading this post has friends and/or family members that meet those criteria, and I hope you’ll think of them when contemplating whether to go to some big event (assuming it hasn’t been cancelled). 

I’m a natural introvert, so social distancing comes easy to me – I’m way more comfortable “behind the scenes,” communicating through writing instead of face-to-face or even on camera (so please stop asking me to make a YouTube channel – I love you guys but that’s just not my thing…) However, I know that for less introverted people, social distancing can seem really boring.

And, if you don’t keep in (non-physical) touch with people, it can be really isolating. But, especially in this digital age, there are lots of ways to stay virtually connected – text, email, phone calls, Skype, FaceTime… And it’s especially important to use these tools to check in on and spend e-time with those high-risk friends and family because they have to isolate themselves even more to stay safe. And while you’re “hanging out” with them, be sure to see if they need food (or toilet paper – seriously people please stop hoarding it!) brought or anything.

If there’s one good thing to take away from all this, I hope it’s helped people realize that we really are all in this together and each of us has a chance to help out using whatever our skills may be – from practicing good hygiene, to donating lab supplies, to cooking food for neighbors, to writing or editing blog posts. 

That piece on COVID-19 testing was the most challenging one I’ve ever done because the pressure was so high, but I found it so hard to feel “useless” and wanted to be able to help utilizing the resources and bumbly brain-ness I have. 

I’m really glad I did it and that people seem to have found it helpful, but I’m EXHAUSTED! On top of research, the COVID-19 situation has my mind constantly “on” – and it can be really mentally draining. So today, instead of writing a new science post, I decided to take some “me time” and do one of my favorite things – which also happens to be a great social distancing approved pastime – get lost in some good science articles. I really love when I can allow myself to “get in the zone” and have this intense feeling of flow where I can forget reality for a bit and focus fully on something that makes me happy. 

A lot of times, when I read articles, I do so while trying to figure out how best to explain them to you all. And, while I do hope to share some of what I learn in the coming days, today I just want to read to enjoy. Sorry if this sounds selfish, but it’s important during trying times like these to remember that it’s okay to take a breather (something that’s super hard for me). I don’t know what’s in store for the coming days, but at least I’ll hopefully be better rested to face it!

So, stay tuned for more science, but today I thought I’d just reach out and let you know that, even if I don’t know you, I’m thinking of you, and rooting for you. And I hope you can find some time to appreciate the good things in life and not feel guilty for enjoying moments of happiness. 

Sincerely,

the bumbling biochemist 

if you want some science stuff sooner, see: #365DaysOfScience All (with topics listed) 👉 http://bit.ly/2OllAB0

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