Dr. V. Vinod Kumar
Browse through any news channel today, and you realize that society is obsessed with the topic of COVID-19. This continuous blaring of updates about the statistics of infected and death, feeds the anxiety of a society that has been exposed to a wide array of apocalyptic movies.
Chennai is a city with very high number of COVID-19 positive people and also many of them admitted as patients. Most of the health care workers are working long hours at the COVID-19 ward. But we consider ourselves fortunate to be able to help society stay strong and healthy against this world-wide panic. I consider myself luckier to have a partner who understands the rigor that my professional life requires and supports me in maintaining the milieu interior in the personal sphere of my life.
The chaos and panic of COVID-19 that has gripped the world reminds me of a poem by Rudyard Kipling – “If”.
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs…”
The invisible pandemic this disease is spreading, is the stress that it brings on across the globe. Everyone assume that the COVID-19 pandemic is the death knell of the human race. If one analyzes the data objectively, a majority of the cases are asymptomatic, which means that most of those who catch the infection do not develop even minor respiratory ailments, leave alone pneumonia or respiratory failure. Yes, there are deaths, due to comorbidities. I believe that management of these comorbidities can bring down mortality.
Infection is not synonymous with disease. All those who are infected do not develop the disease or die from it. But this line of thought is for the rational mind and we seldom encounter rationality in the face of such widespread panic.
One person I met was Mrs S She had fever, myalgia and sore throat for 2 days, just like any viral infection but now considered as COVID-19 unless proven otherwise. Ironically she tested negative for the dreaded infection.
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To put Mrs S at ease, I offered her a piece of advice that seemed the most obvious choice when it came to managing anxiety and stress –left nostril breathing and meditation practice.. My experience with meditation is that, it can give a clarity and rational approach to life, if one harnesses it enough to put the mind to ease. Inner peace, is by far, merely a by-product, I feel. We need to develop the ability of discretion, the ability of discernment, to assess facts, to perceive the truth and make rational judgements.
We see many such perturbed people like Mrs S who have succumbed to a state of panic. But this is the time to take sensible precautions rather than falling prey to anxiety. The end of the tunnel is not too far but the journey is, no doubt, bumpy. In the words of Daaji, the global guide of Heartfulness mediation: “Regulate your thoughts to find inner stillness and clarity.”
– Dr. V. Vinod Kumar, MD, DNB, MBA, FRCP, Consultant Pulmonologist, Chennai