Healthcare Consumer Navigator Center is a Healthcare Consumer Advocate Organization that helps consumer navigate the healthcare maze. The following Series “KEEPING THE CONSUMER SAFE; LIVING WITH COVID”.  Our goal is to provide a commonsense approach to living with covid with general healthcare information.

In a previous article, I compared medical innovation and making sausage. For those never seeing how a hotdog is made, consider yourselves lucky. I’ve decided having the whole world exposed to seeing how medicine/science is dealing with COVID is very much the same as making a hotdog. On the simplest level, we experience medicine by going to our doctor, getting a diagnosis, getting a prescription, and picking it up at the drugstore. Presto with have a fix. In more complex circumstances we go to our doctor, who sends us to a specialist who sends us to a hospital for some type of intervention. In either case, history and experience have created accepted algorithms of treatment and care. Things are predictable. Not so much with COVID.

Because COVID is occurring real-time and in the context of an advanced social media world. We are all seeing how scientific discovery happens. At times it does not always follow a straight line. So now we are dealing with a different version of COVID. In a matter of a few months we’ve gone from vaccinating those with compromised immune systems and over 65 to 5 years old and older.

I can only vaguely remember the beginning of COVID, as I recall the warning symptoms were, temperature, loss of taste, loss of smell, difficulty breathing and a scratchy throat. So now the CDC website lists the following as symptoms: fever or chills; cough; difficulty breathing; fatigue; muscle or body aches; headache; loss of taste or smell; sore throat; runny nose; nausea; diarrhea (the CDC is careful to note this is not a complete list). Complicating factors are now the Omicron variant and the impact of vaccination. More people are now asymptomatic. It doesn’t take a medical degree to realize there are many physical abnormalities that have the above mentioned symptoms.

I live in the great state of Texas. For 20 plus years in December and January, I have the displeasure of being extremely allergic to juniper pollen. I don’t know how many of our readers share this unfortunate condition, but I do know a number of colleagues. It is more commonly known here as “cedar fever.” The symptoms are fatigue, sore throat, runny nose, partial loss of smell,  temperature (usually not higher than 101.5), sneezing, itchy and watery eyes. Needless to say, to the layperson cedar fever bares an awful lot of similarity to COVID-19. In addition, we’re also entering a time of year the medical community refers to as the “flu season.” Because these symptoms are generally more common to everyone, I won’t delineate. Let me just say they are also very similar to COVID.

So combine the aforementioned medical conditions along with exploding COVID cases and a perfect storm for COVID-19 testing has been created. In very limited circulation is a document, “The Great Barrington Declaration,” written by 3 epidemiologists and public health scientists and as of this writing signed by over 916,000 supporters. Simply stated (you’re encouraged to read it for yourself) the document presents alternative approaches the writers call “Focused Protection” as opposed to COVID current strategies and was released to the public on October 5, 2020. What’s contributed to the notoriety of this document is the apparent opposition it’s created from the CDC and FDA and the political reaction to the document and the authors.

I’m more sensitive to the document now that I’ve been vaccinated, infected, recovered, boosted and surrounded by a circle of friends that share similar experiences. In all cases, vaccinated, they’ve not been hospitalized, minimal to no symptoms, recovered in 3 to 5 days without medical intervention other than over the counter cold and flu remedies. So as I read and hear stories on social media of people spending in excess of 8 hours waiting to be tested, I wonder why? Are all this people in the high risk categories? Are they responding to a panic being created by social media? It appears the majority of media is focused on the “vaccine or bust” agenda. There is almost no mention of the potential for infection despite vaccination, no significant messaging of infection and short recoveries and continued coverage of the outrageous demand for testing and the craziness this is causing.

I have lived with cedar fever for 21 years. I don’t look forward to it but have learned how to manage the 2 months when it impacts me. There seems to be a general feeling in the media there will be a complete eradication of COVID sometime in the near future, and we just need to live through these fire drills until that day arrives. Given my observations of the past 2 years, I think we’re more likely to be dealing with COVID for a much longer time horizon and should be adjusting to life-style changes that aren’t reactionary but permanent. Are we really going to make our children wear masks for the next 20 years? Are we really going to wear masks every time we get on an airplane? If we go to concerts, are the entertainers all going to be speaking through masks? Many of you aren’t old enough to remember the nuclear bomb drills we went through in the early sixties at school when we all were instructed to crawl under our desks.

Currently, I’m not spending my time waiting in line to be tested to see if I have cedar fever or the flu. I’m also not spending $20 on a home test kit to see if I have cedar fever. Because I have one of the top four comorbidities I take my temperature every day. I’m also very aware of any change in my physical well being.

I’m awaiting for my TSA-like vaccination card that enables me to live a more normal life. We need someone to start developing longer term approaches without the political influence, soon!


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