Did we use to be too spoiled before COVID’s pandemic?

Our COVID-19 infested world is well-suited for the Alaskan Bush People!

A favorite reality documentary TV series of mine has been “Alaskan Bush People”. The series depicts the life of a family who live far from civilization in the Alaskan wilderness. The family is composed of a couple and their seven children who refer to themselves as “the Brown wolf pack.” The way that the Browns live their lives has been fascinating to me. It reminds me of the lives of the American pioneers who settled in the wild central plains in the late 18th century.

That which used to puzzle me for some time was how they used to take care of their health, hygiene, and urgent medical needs. But then I realized that there are doctors who are equally passionate about living and making a living in the wilderness. Interestingly, a little while later I learned about a unique and relatively new branch of medicine, the so-called “wilderness medicine” that, in part, piqued my curiosity. As it is not my intention to focus on wilderness medicine, I suggest that if interested you read the article cited at the end for further information.

From what I have mentioned so far, it is apparent that the wild world is no place for the wimps. Those who live under primal conditions do not seek medical care for a long list of procedures that we all take for granted. It is apparent that elective procedures, scheduled vaccinations, and annual checkups wouldn’t make much sense in the wild. I could envision the Brown family brushing off most of their ailments such as common cold, allergies, and minor physical injuries. I can also imagine them seeking medical support only for serious health conditions such as physical accidents, appendicitis, kidney stones, tetanus, rotten teeth, parasitic diseases, and serious animal bites.

I must confess that I adore these people, and at times even envy their lives. If you’re an Alaskan bushman, you’re the man…the only man! You’re the strongest! You shape up your world as it pleases you! You hunt your own game and you accept no handouts! You need no one to tell you what to do and what not to do! You want the government out of your land and your life! You love the classic picture of our country! You are a 21st century American who loves our country … wild and barren… the same way that our predecessors found it back then!

Courage, Knowledge; Ignorance, Folly!

There is a thin line between courage and foolishness. It is said that courage that is based on knowledge leads to wisdom, and it is indicative of a virtuous character. In contrast, a courageous-looking act that is based on ignorance is folly. Those who choose to live in the wilderness are courageous only if they know of the associated dangers … otherwise, they are fools who risk their lives for their ignorance. Some may say “let them risk it, as their lives are their God-given properties!” Some may say “wait a minute … if they don’t know about the risks associated with their follies, then we should bear the responsibility of educating them about those risks!” My response to all these is that I don’t even know why I ended up here! Let us get out of these lines of thought as they may drag us on and on and on, forever! It was my intention to draw a conclusion from what I started!  Oh, I see it now… I just remembered what I wanted to say… I wanted to say that those who get out into the world and love to live their lives as if it’s still the pre-COVID era, are indeed courageous only if they know of the inherent dangers. Otherwise, they are foolish or misinformed!

Public Health is not meant for the Alaskan Bush People!

We used to have, or at least I thought that we used to have, uniformed health professionals from US department of health who were trained to protect us against pathogenic pandemics and public health threats. I used to think of them as commendable commanders leading our wars against pathogenic foes.  I used to see them commanding our nationwide public health battalions in our quest for preserving our country and our humanity.  But that was what I used to believe up until COVID twisted my entire outlook. Lately, I have realized that it is extremely hard to reconcile “public-health” with the way of the life of the Alaskan Bush people, and for the same reason with the classic American way of life. While in most parts of the world officers of the health departments enforce the health laws for the wellbeing of their countrypersons, in our country they are up against people like me who says “I’m the man …I take care of the health of my own self as it pleases me… I deal with the pathogens as I desire… I want the health department out of my life… I challenge bears in the wilderness, and the tiny COVID rascal who doesn’t even dare to show up its face should dare to mess with me and my family!

Our COVID-19 infested world is well-suited for the Alaskan Bush People!

No matter how I throw the dice, it seems that we’re on our own amidst the current COVID pandemic. Our COVID-infested world seems suitable for survivalists such as the Alaskan Bush people. As of July 15, and based on Johns Hopkins University report, the total worldwide deaths attributable to COVID-19 has been 579,335, and the total identified cases have been 13,349,649. Based on this information the worldwide mortality rate appears to be about 4.3%.  Meanwhile, the total US deaths from COVID has been 136,468 out of 3,431,744 identified cases. This translates to a fatality rate that is almost 4%. Epidemiologists would like to argue that this method of calculating mortality rates produces inflated results. They argue that many COVID cases might have been omitted from the total counts because of their asymptomatic nature, or because they might have been misdiagnosed as allergy, common cold, or minor ailments. Furthermore, there is a common understanding that the healthier and younger asymptomatic individuals are by far the most common source of disseminating COVID-19. Also, it appears that in the COVID-positive elderly with comorbidities the death rate has been slightly over 5%. This is sharply contrasted with younger and healthy COVID-positive individuals who present with a rate of less than 0.5%. Therefore, it is fair to assume that the COVID’s mortality rate for the exposed individuals ranges from slightly below 0.5% to slightly above 5%.

Bring it on…

Only point-five to five percent chance of dying for me! Are you kidding me! For an Alaskan Bush individual! Each time that I step out of my cabin in the Alaskan wilderness there is a lot more chance that I may never get back home! Come on man, bring it on! I know what takes to be a real Bushman, and I welcome all the risks! Isn’t ours a free country … after all? 

Science is Awesome Only For…  

Lately there has been a noticeable rise of anti-science and anti-medicine sentiments in our country. I am not sure if this has always been the case or it has become apparent to me as a result of COVID’s pandemic. I tend to believe this stems from our self-interested hypocritical nature, and we are for most part unwilling to categorically apply it to all scientific endeavors and their ramifications? It sounds hypocritical if I disregard COVID as a hoax, and disregard the authenticity of our public health and medical sciences, but I keep my cellphone and high-tech truck close to my heart, doesn’t it? It sounds utterly hypocritical if I defy our public health contributions to eradication of diseases, while adoring the products of our physical sciences such as our interplanetary explorations and our smart TVs!  It sounds hypocritical, doesn’t it?  Unless, one argues that these behaviors might have stemmed from subliminal and subconscious resentments against those with higher academic degrees and higher abilities to secure better job opportunities for themselves in our 21st century world. No matter how I look at it, it is extremely painful to accept such a high level of hypocrisy on part of so many. Is it fair to assume that this is a short-lived politically fueled phenomenon that may dissipate upon time?  I would love to believe it is!

Don’t trust those who act against their cores! One may like to ask, what about those with college education and higher income levels who like taking stance against science and medicine? All I can say to this is that the actions of these individuals are by far the most infuriating ones! They are untrustworthy individuals who are not harmonious to their cores. They are either ignorant or wicked opportunists who knowingly fuel all sorts of societal ailments. Of course, to give them the benefit of doubt, one may like to argue that they are either master hypocrites or utterly ignorant people who don’t understand that they are hypocrites.

The World Used to Look Up to Us…

The world has always been looking up to us for our medicine and public health. Our way of life has always been the ideal way of living in the eye of the others. If the world didn’t know it before, now it knows quite well that this is… the real America! The world now knows that we, the Americans, are willing to sacrifice our lives and the lives of our beloved ones to preserve our exceptional way of life that has always been the envy of the world. We are full-heartedly willing to assume the highest number of the COVID fatalities among all the nations of our planet to prove that we believe in our American way of life, our freedom, and our autonomy. These latter lines of thoughts give me so much relief! It reminds me of the pain of natural delivery that a mom suffers to gain the joy of having her own baby! Is this really what we are doing now?

But what if I am saying all this to justify my ignorance about the imminent dangers of COVID-19 to our humanity.  What are the chances that I am a foolish guy who thinks he is a brave man? What if I am an ignorant man who knows nothing about the viciousness of COVID-19?  What if I am subconsciously dismissing COVID’s pandemonium as a hoax because I fear to confront its imminent danger to my life and the extent of its famine to our country?

No matter how I throw the dice it comes down in one of the two ways; either we should own our utmost freedom by assuming the highest rate of COVID-19 casualties, or we should commend our public health professionals and give them our utmost support to get this plague out of our lives.

https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/docs-gone-wild-risks-and-rewards-wilderness-medicine

P.S. Folks! Are you ready for a confession? I was just thinking that deep in my heart I really love it both ways, and I am constantly struggling to make a compromise between the two!  I adore the ways of the Alaskan Bush people as much as I adore our frontline public health defenders. I love the fruits of our sciences and medicine, and I am willing to give a few of this for a few of that! Is this too much to expect from an American?  Is it that bad for a person to desire it both ways? Is it possible that deep in our hearts all of us may desire it this way? More importantly, what are the chances that this is what all people across the globe may desire?

Dr. E

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Also known as "Dr. Testbuster", Dr. Eftekar (Dr. E) is the founder, head coach and lead lecturer of the medical board training programs at Northwestern Medical Review. A unique attribute of Dr. E is his well-rounded academic background that, in addition to the science of medicine, extends over several other disciplines such as physiology of aging and longevity, philosophy of science and medicine, and integrated kinesiology.

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