To Immunity and Beyond

(I was asked to do a 5-minute health talk for our local congregation. Of course our church is doing virtual service now, so it was on-line using Zoom platform. Here’s what I presented.)

In this time of pandemic scare, we can wear a mask to prevent the virus from entering our system. In the hospital where we have confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, besides mask, we also don gown, eye goggles, and gloves. But what happen if the virus breaks through these barriers and invades our body? Since we really don’t have good medicine to fight the virus, we have to rely on our immune system to fight it.

How can we then boost our immune system? Here are some basic recommendations that we all can do. Let’s talk about the NEWSTART.

N– nutrition. That means eating the right kind of foods. Scientific and medical studies have supported that eating vegetables and fruits can improve our immune system and of course our health in general.

The more colorful the fruit and vegetables – like red, purple, yellow, green -the better, which means they have more anti-oxidants. Antioxidants help repair damaged cells and tissues. Vitamins are antioxidants.

There’s some pilot studies that they are giving mega-doses of Vit. C intravenously in COVID-19 patients. For us, we don’t need Vit. C intravenously, just eat the whole orange or some strawberries. That will taste better too.

There’s also some data that N-acetylcysteine (NAC) helps boost our immune system. NAC is needed for our body to manufacture gluthathione which is a premier antioxidant. NAC is found in legumes, like lentils, beans and peas. You can get NAC supplement in stores too.

E– exercise. Now that it is not too cold outside, go for a walk. Use common sense though and follow the recommended social distancing. Still practice the 6 feet distance from the crowd or don’t walk in a crowded area. But we are in Iowa, we have lots of open fields to exercise. 30-60 minutes of moderate vigorous exercise can release extra immune cells into the system. Exercise will make you look good too.

W– water. The best and the only hydrating fluid you really need. Our body is about 60% water. The brain 70% water. So if they call you airhead, that’s bad. Waterhead? That’s fine. We constantly lose water in our sweat, urine, even through our breath. We lose more water when we have a fever. When we fight an infection, we need to be properly hydrated. Many of our systems needs adequate water to be functioning properly, including our immune system. It is recommended to drink 2 liters of water a day, roughly 8 of 8-ounce glass of water.

S– sunshine. The sun rays can boost our immune system. Besides helping us produce Vit. D, the sunshine can also kill germs. That’s why we place that stinky shoes under the sun to kill the germs and the smell. OK, you don’t have to give that look to your family member, just tell them nicely – how about let’s go out in the sun.

T– temperance. In other words self control. I don’t have to tell you that smoking and alcoholic drinks can be detrimental to our health. As you can surmise, smokers are more susceptible to lung infection.

A– air. Fresh air. Stale air has more CO2 content. We need to replenish the stale air inside our home. Go ahead open the windows. Or go outside and breathe in fresh Iowa air. I hope you’re not near a cattle or pig farm. Or not near somebody who is coughing. Oxygen which in air of course is essential not only for the immune system but for us to live. Practice taking deep breaths. Better yet exercise and so you’ll breathe deeply.

R– rest. We need to have adequate rest or sleep. It is recommended that an adult person sleeps 7-8 hours a night. I know many of us are not getting that. Teenagers who think they don’t need sleep, actually needs 8-9 hours of sleep. Younger kids even need longer hours. Sleep deprivation can weaken our immune system.

T– trust in God. Many scientific studies have shown that people who believe in a higher power, recover faster when they are sick. But we don’t need medical or scientific studies to tell us that. We know that our God is bigger than our world’s problem.

There’s a story in the news about an atheist Italian doctor, and with what’s going on in Italy, he became a believer in God. As the saying goes, there’s no atheist in a fox hole. It’s important that in times like these that we put our trust to the One who is still in control.

Stay safe and healthy everyone.

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PS: To get a glimpse of how our immune system fights a virus, you can read my previous post, “A Battle Within,” (read here).

(*image from astroyard.com)

A Silver Lining

They say that in every dark cloud there is a silver lining. I totally understand that what is going through our world today with this pandemic is alarming and quite nerve-racking to many, yet maybe there are some lessons we can learn from this time of crisis.

I read from one blogger from Italy, a nation that is hardly hit by this COVID-19 pandemic, on how he have learned something from this calamity. He said that he has a “bad” habit of going to a coffee shop 3 to 4 times a day. But since many establishments are closed, coffee shops included, he now brings to work coffee from home in a thermos, and he realized that he was wasting lots of money before. An eye-opening reality.

A day in Florence Italy, before COVID-19 scare

I agree with his realization. Do we really need to go to the coffee shop several times a day? Do we really need to spend lots of our time and money in clubs and bars? Do we really need to eat in a restaurant every night just because we can? Do we really need to go to the mall to buy that 100th pair of shoes?

What we might think is important before, may not be so important after all. This changing times changed our perspective.

I have a friend that posted a photo of a store where uniformed police officers standing guard to a huge pile of toilet paper. That may be extreme, but I believe they were trying to enforce a limit on how much a buyer could get. Who would have thought that we will see something like this, for all we know is they guard only valuable things like gold bars and jewelries. I guess you cannot wipe your behind with your jewelries, nor could it make you clean.

In time of crisis we determine which ones are needs, and the rest are just wants.

It is also interesting in this crucial time that we now have deemed the healthcare workers, (from doctors, nurses, to even the ones that clean and sanitize our hospitals), and the farmers who provide our food, and the grocery workers that stock our food, and the truck drivers that keep the pipeline of essential supplies going to where it is needed, and the police officers that implement the law of lockdowns and curfews – are people more important than movie actors and actresses, pop singers, professional athletes, and other famous people we used to treat as gods.

I have nothing against famous people. What I am against is how we view them compared to the people around us that give us valuable service. Let us give these “regular” people their proper due.

Since we are advised to do social distancing, I encourage all of us to do our fair share of this. I know some of the recommendations by the health authorities may not be feasible to some. Like there is a recommendation that no group of 10 or more people should gather together. But how about those people in very densely populated cities where there might be 10 people already sleeping in one room? How can you do social distancing of at least 6 feet apart, if you already live like sardines?

As we are forced to stay home, let us just be grateful to spend time with our own family – our children, our parents, our siblings – the most important people in our lives that we barely spend time with before. Even though we are not in a beautiful vacation resort or in a cruise to an exotic place, may we find this opportune time with our families, inside the four walls of our home, precious and productive.

It is quite sad to think that it took a pandemic for us to set straight our priorities in life. I know that this crisis will also pass just like every problem we have, but I hope that the lessons we learned from this, we will not forget.

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(*Photo taken during our visit last year, way before the travel ban and lockdown.)

The Hero Who Told The Truth: A Tribute

The Wuhan coronavirus, also known as 2019-nCoV, has claimed its ultimate victim. Chinese doctor, Dr. Li Wenliang, the first one to raise the alarm of the spreading epidemic, died on Feruary 7 from the virus that he tried to warn the world about. Instead of heeding his warning, the authorities tried to silence him, as back in December last year, he was arrested for being the whistle blower who is ‘spreading rumors’ about a mysterious virus. Now we can only speculate if the course of the epidemic could have been different if his government had listened to him.

Dr. Wenliang continued to care for patients in Wuhan until he himself got infected with the virus and paid the ultimate sacrifice for his work.

I found a poem in Chinese that was translated in English circulating in the internet, claimed to be penned by the doctor himself. Though I cannot confirm its authenticity, yet I’m sharing it here in honor of Dr. Li Wenliang.

“The Hero Who Told The Truth”

我不想當英雄。
我還有爹娘,
還有孩子,
還有懷孕臨產的妻,
還有許多的病人在病房。
盡管正直換不來善良,
盡管䢛途迷茫,
可還是要繼續進行,
誰讓我選擇了這國這家,
多少委屈,
等打完這仗,
垂淚如雨仰天遠望。
“I don’t want to be a hero.
I still have my parents,
And my children,
And my pregnant wife who’s about to give birth,
And many of my patients in the ward.
Though my integrity cannot be exchanged for the goodness of others,
Despite my loss and confusion,
I should proceed anyway.
Who let me choose this country and this family?
How many grievances do I have?
When this battle is over,
I will look up to the sky,
With tears like rain.”

我不想當英雄。
只是做為醫生,
我不能眼看著這不明的病毒,
傷害著我的同行。
還有那多無辜的人們,
他們盡管已奄奄一息,
可眼睛裏總望著我,
帶著生命的希望。
“I don’t want to be a hero.
But as a doctor,
I cannot just see this unknown virus
Hurting my peers
And so many innocent people.
Though they are dying,
They are always looking at me in their eyes,
With their hope of life.”

誰成想我競死了!
我的靈魂分明在天上,
望著那張白色的病床,
床上分明是我的軀體,
軀體上還是那熟悉的臉龐。
我的父親母親在哪?
還有我親愛的妻子,
那當年我苦苦追求的姑娘。
“Who would have ever realised that I was going to die?
My soul is in heaven,
Looking at the white bed,
On which lies my own body,
With the same familiar face.
Where are my parents?
And my dear wife,
The lady I once had a hard time chasing?”

天上有一道光!
那光的盡頭是人們時常說起的天堂。
我寧願不去哪裏,
我寧願回到武漢我的家鄉。
那裏有我新買的房子,
每月還要還貸的賬。
我怎能舍得,
我怎能舍得!
沒有兒子的爹娘,
該有多麽悲傷;
沒有了丈夫的寶貝,
該如何面對這未來的滄桑。
“There is a light in the sky!
At the end of that light is the heaven that people often talk about.
But I’d rather not go there.
I’d rather go back to my hometown in Wuhan.
I have my new house there,
For which I still have to pay off the loan every month.
How can I give up?
How can I give up?
For my parents without their son,
How sad must it be?
For my sweetheart without her husband,
How can she face the vicissitudes in her future?”

我分明死了。
我看見他們把我的軀殼,
裝進一個袋子。
在袋子的近傍
有許多死去的同胞,
象我一樣,
在黎明時分,
被推進火的爐堂。
“I am already gone.
I see them taking my body,
Putting it into a bag,
With which lie many compatriots
Gone like me,
Being pushed into the fire in the hearth
At dawn.”

再見了,難舍的親人。
永別了,武漢我的故鄉。
但願你們在災難過後,
還記得曾經有人,
努力地讓你們盡早知道真相。
但願你們在災難過後,
學會正直,
不再讓善良的人們,
遭受著無盡的恐懼,
和無奈的悲傷。
“Goodbye, my dear ones.
Farewell, Wuhan, my hometown.
Hopefully, after the disaster,
You’ll remember someone once
Tried to let you know the truth as soon as possible.
Hopefully, after the disaster,
You’ll learn what it means to be righteous.
No more good people
Should suffer from endless fear,
And helpless sadness.”

“那美好的仗我已經打完了,
應行的路我已行盡了,
當守的道我守住了。
從此以後,
有公義的冠冕為我留存。”
《聖經》提摩太後書4.7
“I have fought the good fight.
I have finished the race.
I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.”
2 Timothy 4:7