Some years, the temperatures never get below freezing in Austin. In the years when it does freeze, it doesn’t last longer than a few hours. We’re accustomed to 70 degree days in January, not consistently, but warm enough that some younger men don’t even seem to own a pair of long pants.
Not this year. We are breathing Arctic air, experiencing ice, snow, and prolonged below-freezing temps, and many are without heat and water due to the Texas electrical grid being overloaded and shutting down in many places for several days, so far.
I’ve been extremely fortunate that my power has stayed on the entire time.
My central heat is struggling to keep up. I’ve had a large pot of bone broth simmering on my stove day and night, dipping into it for an occasional cup of warm nourishment.
I discovered that a weighted blanket is even better than a sleeping bag at keeping me warm because I can sprawl out underneath it and it holds my body heat in just as well.
It’s chilly at home, but it’s a fun challenge, like winter camping. So far, anyway!
It started when it rained on 2/11 and froze on the bare limbs and twigs of the trees and bushes around my place.
On 2/12, the temperature briefly rose above freezing, and the ice on the branches slowly started melting.
On 2/13 I covered my Meyer lemon tree with a quilt and 3 tarps to prepare for temps in the teens. They’re supposed to be good down to 20 degrees F, but seeing as it’s 6 degrees as I write this on 2/16, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to make it.
We got five inches of snow overnight on Feb. 14-15. It’s the most snow I’ve ever seen in Austin in my many years here, and it’s definitely lingering the longest. The forecast changes slightly from day to day, but it looks like we may get above freezing briefly Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
My four square-foot gardens are covered in snow. Not sure which plants will make it.
From my long-ago experience of an entire January spent below freezing in Oklahoma, it will melt the roads just enough to be passable for a few afternoon hours, and then slick over once temps drop at night. Saturday night will remain above freezing, or so it’s forecast.
It was 4 degrees this morning, and more snow and freezing rain are forecast.
My bird feeder has been super busy with puffed up birdies getting nourishment for all the energy they need to stay alive in these temps.
Well, at nine am, I ran out of propane. My daughter is coming to pick me up, and I’ll stay with her until this cold front is over, probably on Friday.
I did a craniosacral therapy session last week on a friend whom I hadn’t seen since the start of the pandemic. I went to his home since he has a massage table. We wore masks during the session with the window open.
The session was successful. He’d taken a spill on his bike, hit his head, didn’t seem too badly injured, went home…and noticed that he just didn’t feel right for a couple of weeks and called me. He felt shifts and releases throughout the session.
I sent him my Post-Concussion Self Care guidelines. If it was a concussion, it was minor, but any time the brain gets sloshed via head injury, craniosacral therapy can help.
Anyway, he’s a great cook, and he invited me to share a mid-afternoon meal of his homemade green soup outdoors on his patio. Of course I accepted!
It was so delicious, I want to make it myself.
Here’s how he described making it: 1. In a stockpot, sauté an onion in olive oil. 2. Chop 2-3 different bunches of greens and stir into onions and olive oil. Choose from chard, spinach, kale, beet greens, collards, dandelion greens, arugula, or whatever leafy greens you like or have on hand. 3. Add 1 teaspoon salt. 4. Add about 6 cups water, cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. 5. When cool enough to handle, pour into a Vitamix and blend. 6. If purée is too thick, add water to thin to desired consistency. 7. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
After heating it, he added chunks of avocado, a handful of pumpkin seeds, fresh garlic chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Oh, and bird peppers! I tried one. Too hot for me.
Yum. The amazing thing is how simple this recipe is. Of course, you could fancy it up by adding garlic, herbs, lemon juice or vinegar, and veggie or chicken stock instead of water. You could add a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream or some croutons, or grate Parmesan on top.
I urge you to try it plain first. You may like it a lot, just that way.
I’ve dropped my prices on craniosacral therapy, from $120 for 75 minutes to $100 for a single session.
I’m offering a package of three such sessions for $250 and a package of 6 for $500.
Well, selfishly, doing craniosacral therapy is really good for me. I enter a healing state that (what else can I say?) feels really healthy.
I’m also planning to get certified in CST, which is a big deal, consisting of an essay exam, an objective test, and a 2-hour examination of my ability to use the techniques and describe why/what/how I’m doing them by a skilled, experienced teacher/examiner.
It’s a big deal, and I need to practice, practice, practice.
What’s in it for receivers?
Pretty much everyone gets deeply relaxed, maybe even more relaxed than they can get by themselves. It’s great for letting the nervous system move into parasympathetic dominance, where healing, tissue repair, and optimization occur.
Beyond that, little releases occur throughout the body throughout the session. Sometimes the receiver notices, sometimes not. It seems to depend on how sensitive they are to their own sensations and how accustomed they are to being deeply relaxed and aware at the same time.
If you need sleep, you’ll fall asleep. Good. You need it. CST also helps with insomnia.
And…how relaxed can you get and still be awake?
I advise newcomers to CST to get three sessions. It’s so different from other forms of bodywork, it simply will not be what you expect. It’s more subtle and deeper, and it often lasts way longer than a massage does, in my experience.
I recommend checking in by doing a body scan before and after each session to notice what’s different. Tune into your whole self, too.
For me, years ago, I noticed that I felt calmer (which was unfamiliar at that time in my life). It was like CST helped me discover a quiet, still place inside me that was present and aware, not doing anything, simply being.
I had no idea how busy my mind was, until it wasn’t.
I came to think of this state as being more centered in myself. That’s part of the healing state I enter when working. I also feel a lot of energy in my body, especially in my hands. I experience relaxation and releases too.
CST works really well when people get it regularly. A regular experience of relaxing and releasing restrictions works cumulatively over time.
Hence the 6-session package. Two of those would net you monthly sessions for a year, costing you (if bought separately) $83.33 each. That’s a deal.
After three years of monthly sessions, I had cleared so much baggage (aka restrictions), I felt like a new person: aware, present, resilient, positive. I went on to make some major changes in my life, for the better.
I never thought about becoming a craniosacral therapist myself until 6 months after I finished massage school when a new friend who was a craniosacral therapist asked me why I wasn’t one. I started taking classes 3 days later, in early 2013.
Current Austin stats: over 22,000 cases, 287 deaths. The number of daily positive cases has declined from over 700 in June to less than half that since late July.
Austin appears to be doing better than other large Texas cities.
I am still not doing bodywork.
That just doesn’t feel safe any more, especially given that more than half the sessions I gave included working inside the mouth.
That’s very risky in these times.
So…I’ve been working on creating an online course, Self-Help for Jaw Pain. It will be a 5-class series offered on Zoom. I hope to get going in September. ]
The coolest thing about the class is that I don’t know that it’s ever been done before: a course that teaches people with pain and tension in their jaws to work on themselves, working inside their own mouths to release tension in the never-touched but overworked internal jaw muscles.
That is often a revelation, based on my experience of having given over 500 TMJ Relief sessions and consultations since 2018. (I started doing intra-oral sessions in 2013 but switched from paper to electronic records in 2018 and haven’t sorted my records from 2013 through 2017.)
The course will also address factors that predispose people to experience jaw pain: strain patterns, stress, and habits such as clenching and grinding.
Changing these habits will keep jaw pain from progressing.
I’ve worked on so many people (who’ve paid way more than this class costs) who have lived with jaw pain for a decade or longer.
This kind of suffering is optional.
Please help spread the word.
The first class will be limited to 8 students and will be offered at a low price, so I can learn and tweak It as needed.
I will post more here when I’m a bit further along in course development.
Anyone with jaw pain who’s interested can also check out my Facebook group, Word of Mouth: Resources for Relieving Jaw Pain/Dysfunction.
Quality and length of sleep affect the immune system. If you don’t get enough sleep or enough good quality sleep, you’re more likely to get sick from a virus, and it can slow your recovery.
While you sleep, your innate immune system releases cytokines (interferons, interleukins, growth factors). Some cytokines protect you from infectious illness, and lack of sleep reduces production. Antibody production, part of the adaptive immune system, also decreases due to sleep deprivation.
So get enough sleep (adults generally need 7-8 hours), and get good quality sleep to keep your immune system working well.
We can check in with ourselves when we wake each morning (always a good idea) to see if we feel rested or not. This is the biggest indicator of “enough good sleep,” but you may be wondering how to measure quality sleep.
I wear a Fitbit watch that monitors my sleep through movement (rolling over) and heart rate variability. Every morning when I wake up, I first tune into how rested I feel. Then I look at my sleep stats. I aim to get at least 7 hours, and I usually do.
Time asleep matters. I know I do best if I get 7 to 7.5 hours. I’m not using an alarm, so I let myself sleep as long as I want. I often awaken early but keep still with my eyes shut to see if I can go back to sleep, and I usually do.
I imagine lots of people are doing that while sheltering in place.
Fitbit measures sleep quality by duration and percent time spent in each of the three levels of sleep: light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep. It also measures how often I awaken during the night. From all that, Fitbit creates a sleep score. I hope to get 90 or better, but usually my score is in the upper 80s. I’m working on it!
We sleep in cycles of about 90 minutes, cycling between light sleep and deep sleep during the first part of the night, and cycling between light sleep and REM sleep in the later part of the night. We also awaken briefly, or for longer, multiple times during the night, usually about 5 percent.
We spend about 50 percent of total sleep time in light sleep. Our temperature drops. Our heart rate and breathing slow. Our muscles relax and may jerk. We can be awakened more easily.
We spend about 20 percent in deep sleep. Getting enough deep sleep is connected to feeling rested in the morning. It’s restorative. Our brainwaves slow way down. Our brain actually cleans itself during this stage. Tissue growth and cell repair take place. Blood pressure drops, and blood flow to muscles increases. It’s more difficult to awaken from deep sleep.
REM sleep takes up about 25 percent of sleep time. We dream during REM sleep, even if we don’t remember dreaming. The brain wave pattern of REM sleep is closer to wakefulness. This stage is where memory consolidation, problem-solving, and learning occur. Respiration and heart rate increase. Brain activity is high. The body becomes immobile to keep us from acting out our dreams (usually).
Sleep patterns change with age. As we get older we usually get less deep sleep. Some older adults take longer to fall asleep, spend less time in REM sleep, and wake more often during the night. Sleep may begin earlier in the evening, with waking occurring earlier in the morning.
Anxiety Affects Sleep
It’s especially relevant that the anxiety so many are experiencing because of the COVID pandemic may be robbing us of good quality sleep when we really, really need it.
We may be anxious about getting sick or about our loved ones following health guidelines or getting sick. We may be anxious about hospitals being overwhelmed.
Personal finances may have drastically declined.
For some, food and shelter and peaceful co-existence with others in the home are major issues.
Uncertainty about how long this pandemic could last, how long it may take the economy to recover, politics nearly everywhere, mixed messages from medical experts and politicians can keep us awake at night.
How can you improve the quality of your sleep in the time of corona? There are a lot of ways, and I’d love to hear what works for you.
For me, when dealing with my own anxiety, I recognize that it’s in my mind and it’s about the future. These are thoughts that may or may not happen. I realize how fortunate I am to have a home, food, family nearby, friends, and enough income to know I won’t starve.
And then I bring my attention to my body. I notice my breathing. I notice sensations, of textures and temperature and weight, of muscle tension and relaxation, of discomfort. I try to feel my heart beating in my chest.
It’s very calming and helps me fall asleep quickly. Turning off my mind like this took some practice.
What Helps Me Get a Good Night’s Sleep
I am admittedly not a person who loves routine. I don’t have much of a bedtime routine. I don’t put my screens away an hour before bed, but I do stay away from disturbing news late in the day.
I get tired anywhere between 9:30 pm and 12:30 am, though those are extremes. I usually go to bed about 11.
I use a sleep mask because some light leaks in through my curtains.
I don’t drink caffeine after 1 pm.
I put together a playlist of binaural beats for delta brain waves (deep sleep), and I listen to that using headphones sometimes. (Honestly, I’m not sure it makes much difference.)
I get some exercise every day, whether it’s taking a yoga class online, participating in ecstatic dance online, or simply walking. According to the National Sleep Foundation, even light exercise like a 10-minute walk can improve sleep quality.
I get outside and get some sunlight every day, unless it’s raining. Morning sun on my skin feels great and gives me more Vitamin D, which helps immunity.
I often drink a cup of bone broth in the evening, and I take my magnesium in the evening.
I take two supplements, both from Premier Research Labs, with whom I have a practitioner account. Tranquinol is a capsule that improves deep sleep, and Melatonin-ND is a liquid that improves REM sleep.
What helps you sleep better?
Catching Up on Austin COVID Stats
Austin implemented sheltering in place on March 24, so today, April 7, is Day 14.
You may have read in the news about the 70 UT students who chartered a plan to Baja California for spring break and took commercial flights back. Forty-nine of them have tested positive as of 3 days ago.
Zip code 78705, the area west and north of UT that houses many students, has 55 verified cases, the most of any zip code in the county. The 20-29 age group still has the highest number of cases of any age group in the area. It’s a younger city demographically.
Okay, readers, I posted on the basics of the immune system. If you missed that post, click here to read it. Bare bones version: we have an innate immune system that immediately goes to work against pathogens, and a slower adaptive immune system that kills pathogens, remembers them, and confers immunity by producing antibodies to those specific pathogens.
Since SARS-CoV-2 is a novel (new) virus, our adaptive immune systems have nothing to remember, which explains why it is so contagious and why it is taking so many people down. We don’t know yet if this virus will mutate and evade adaptive memory. Can people get it twice? We don’t know.
In this post, I want to explore how what we eat and drink affects our immune systems.
In general, eating lots of fruits and vegetables is recommended for the fiber and nutrient density, as is moderate to no alcohol consumption. Maintaining a healthy weight is also recommended.
There’s a lot that we don’t know yet about the highly complex immune system, but we do know that malnourished people are more vulnerable to infectious diseases, as are the elderly. You of course are aware that you do not have to be living in poverty in a third world country to be malnourished. Diets high in processed foods (a first world problem) can result in malnourishment.
Micronutrients that affect immune responses
The micronutrient deficiencies that have been shown to alter immune responses in animals include the following:
Foods high in these nutrients are recommended, and if these foods are unavailable, supplements should be helpful. High quality multivitamin and multimineral supplements can help.
I found this cool website where you can select a micronutrient and see what foods are high in it. Did you know that hemp seeds are high in zinc? I didn’t.
Stomach acid declines with age, which impacts nutrient absorption
Older people are more likely to be deficient in micronutrients. One possible factor is that stomach acid production declines with age. Zinc deficiency, high sugar intake, and eating too quickly also contribute. Stomach acid helps break down food for digestion and absorption of nutrients.
A way to remedy this is to take HCl, hydrochloric acid, with meals. Chewing food thoroughly, limiting processed foods, eating fermented foods, drinking apple cider vinegar in water, and eating ginger are recommended ways to boost stomach acid production without taking an HCl supplement.
The gut microbiome influences the immune system, and vice versa
Seventy to eighty percent of immune cells are found in the gut. The gut microbiome provides antigens and influences immune system cells. Food is a foreign substance introduced into the body, and the immune system decides if it’s beneficial or a threat. These two systems regulate and support each other.
When all is well, the immune system helps maintain stability of beneficial gut microbes, and microbes support the development of immune cells, as well as fine-tuning immune responses.
Keeping the gut microbiome healthy includes:
Not taking antibiotics unless absolutely necessary,
Consuming prebiotics — nondigestible fiber feeds the health-producing gut bacteria. Eat lots of veggies and fruits for fiber.
Eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, and beet kvass increases beneficial micro-organisms in the gut.
Improving gut health and reducing gut inflammation (leaky gut)
One concern about the modern diet is that it may produce systemic inflammation through gaps in the cells that line the small intestines. This is called leaky gut, or intestinal permeability. These gut lining cells produce the anti-microbial chemicals that are part of the innate immune system.
Here are some recommendations to reduce gut inflammation:
Avoid processed, high fat, and high sugar foods.
Avoid common allergens, such as wheat and dairy.
Investigate a low-FODMAP diet.
Add foods with probiotics (kefir, yogurt, kimchi, etc.) and take probiotic supplements.
Add foods with prebiotics (bananas, berries, etc.). Prebiotic supplements are available.
Reduce your use of NSAIDs.
Reduce your stress level.
If you smoke, quit.
Working with a nutritionist can be very helpful.
This is Day 7 of sheltering in place in Austin, Texas. Here’s our case count as of last night. We’ve had another death. We’ve been getting roughly 20 more known cases per day.
Expect the case count to go up quite a bit tonight. There’s a report that a group of 70 people (mostly UT students) in their 20s went to Cabo in Mexico for spring break a week and a half ago, and after returning to Austin, 28 of them have tested positive, so far. About half the cases in Austin are still those ages 20-40.
Here’s a poignant video showing the empty streets of normally bustling Austin. The sentiment at the end says it all.
I am not a scientist! I’m trying to make this understandable for non-scientists like me. If I can get these basics down, so can anyone!
The first thing to know is that it’s not like other systems in the body in that it doesn’t consist of specific organs, like the digestive system, nervous system, cardiovascular system, etc. It’s bigger than that.
The immune system spreads throughout the body through the blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and mucosa (both mucous membranes and that surrounding organs), and more specifically, it is a key function of the thymus gland and the spleen.
The immune system works to prevent pathogens such as viruses from causing harm. There are two branches of the immune system, innate and adaptive.
The innate immune system responds first to invading pathogens. The innate response is rapid but not specialized. There are many different types of cells involved.
The adaptive immune system responds to pathogens that slip past the innate immune system, and it remembers them if exposed again. The main cell types of the adaptive immune system are T cells and B cells, which are produced in the bone marrow from stem cells. They are also called lymphocytes.
T cells recognize invaders and coordinate immune responses. They consist of killers, helpers, and messengers. They kill infected damaged cells. They produce cytokines that fight pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and fungi. When they find pathogens, they send messages to activate the rest of the immune system.
B cells produce antibodies, called Immunoglobulins (Ig) of various types. These are specific proteins in our blood that respond to and counteract specific antigens (substances in pathogens that provoke an immune response).
Both T cells and B cells can become memory cells, which persist and can recognize when an antigen appears again and create a rapid, antigen-specific immune response. For instance, having had the measles once confers immunity — if exposed again, you don’t get the measles again because your adaptive immune system recognizes and defends against it successfully. You can prove it with a blood test for measles antibodies.
This is also how vaccines work. Introduce just enough of an antigen for the body to produce antibodies, and the body becomes immune to that antigen.
We don’t have any specific immune cells for SARS-CoV-2 (the actual name of the virus; COVID-19 is the name of the illness) yet, because it is novel — new. It’s one of many coronaviruses (which can cause the common cold). Immunity to one coronavirus does not confer immunity to others…and the nature of viruses is that they mutate.
So, it seems to me, developing a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 is like trying to hit a moving target. There are labs around the world working on a vaccine — but testing one to see if it works well and is safe enough to offer everywhere takes time, about a year from what I’ve heard…so next spring…if the virus doesn’t mutate, possibly becoming even more contagious and severe.
Medical people in the trenches are currently trying to find out whether and when people who have recovered from COVID-19 have produced enough antibodies in their blood plasma to inject in critically ill people and turn it around.
Scientists around the world are also working on a simple blood test for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. This test would not require as much testing as a vaccine, and it could be readily available in a much shorter time frame, telling us who’s had it and who hasn’t.
Since up to 25 percent of COVID cases may be symptomless (this is the largest figure I read), many more people many have had it and become immune than we now know.
Your lifestyle is a major factor in supporting your immune system, making you healthier, possibly even conferring the ability to have that symptomless version of COVID-19 that I’m sure we all wish we had (but knowing we have it and self-quarantining so as not to spread it to people with weaker immune systems)…and having complete immunity afterwards.
Maybe even being able to donate blood plasma full of antibodies to save lives!
A healthy immune system might make the difference between a mild case and a serious case.
But since it’s new, we’re still learning.
Hygiene, diet, sleep, fresh air, exercise, the parasympathetic nervous system, and supplements all play roles in keeping your immune system working well. I intend to explore these in the coming days.
Defend yourself with impeccable hygiene
Humans got way healthier when we started washing our hands and utilizing public sewage systems and drinking clean water. Before these practices became common, a lot of people suffered and died miserably from cholera, dysentery, diarrhea, hepatitis, typhus, and other diseases spread from poor sanitation.
In the time of the coronavirus, the actions you can take to improve hygiene and reduce transmission of the virus include hand washing, coughing or sneezing into your elbow, not touching your face with unwashed hands, wearing gloves, wearing a mask, self-quarantining if exposed or ill (whether you test positive or not, given the shortage of tests), social distancing, sheltering in place, lockdowns.
This virus is very contagious! Please take care not to get exposed and not to spread it. Wash.Your.Hands and Wear.A.Mask.When.You.Go.Out.
Current coronavirus stats from Austin
This is day 4 of sheltering in place. As of last night, we had 160 cases here and one death, a woman in her 70s with significant underlying health conditions. Blessings to her family. 💚🙏🏽
It’s still affecting more people in the 20-40 age group than older people in this city with a young-skewing population.
One person at a homeless shelter has tested positive. That person is being isolated at a hotel and the 19 others exposed are also isolated and being monitored.
I’m hearing reports of customers being abusive to employees at to-go restaurants and grocery store cashiers. I hope management protects their employees and bans these people for a few days so they will be more appreciative.
A Facebook friend posted this poem three days ago. Asenath Avinash is also a bodyworker. Her place of employment is currently closed, but if you love this as much as I do, you could ask for her when they reopen. http://www.workwellaustin.com/
It’s a good reflection of the shift in the narrative many of us are experiencing now.
And we looked around, and we saw ourselves, and it was so funny, so strange to recognize, not the selves we had built, but the ones that were buried out in the long backyard of our lives, forgotten, rusted, decomposing, presumed lost, presumed even never to have existed, but there they were, just like the canal-bottoms in Venice, waiting for us, never having gone, never having left, and the miracle was being able to see clearly what was already there.
The miracle was how quickly the pollution vanished, and our eyes healed, and we looked out on a world that was fresh and different and we saw that businesswomen were really poets, and that scientists were really prophets, and that we were all vulnerable and worth protecting, and that toilet paper was a kind of false security, and that all our systems needed a pause and a fresh start and that most of us were really, very tired.
And we rested, and our children wondered what is happening right now? and we couldn’t answer. We weren’t supposed to touch anything or do any work or go anywhere, and it felt that we were being shown something.
So we stayed at home, and we mowed the tall grass and listened to birds and gave thanks for the garbage collectors and the grocery clerks, and we organized our closets and made pots of nutritious soup, and the introverts turned their cameras on and taught us how to make crafts, and the musicians picked up their instruments and walked out their front doors and sang in the streets, and nothing stopped them, not cars, not fear, and no one thought they were lunatics, in fact, we thanked them, we came outside to listen standing far apart, and feeling our interconnection.
We understood that something so profound was taking place, and that if it went on long enough, the fireflies would come back into our yards and the ladybugs and the milky way. The earth herself was waking up quietly, or rather, we were, and we saw that maybe we didn’t need so much after all, maybe in this new world, we’d find new careers or they would find us if we let them, and we wanted to stay put and be still and feel it out moment by moment. We didn’t want to touch it with our clumsy hands or make plans or disturb anything, and so we just watched it breathing softly and steadily like a precious newborn.
And we knew that, at some point, it would probably start up again, which was confusing, because, yes, we did need money, or so we had always believed.
I have a dear friend who is my age (60+) who sn’t worried about getting sick from the coronavirus. She is a naturopath and a homeopath and is trained in a lot of other alternative health care modalities.
She has absolute faith that her immune system is so robust that she will not get sick.
I don’t quite have that much faith, even though I’m doing a lot to stay healthy, but it made me curious about immunity.
One question I have is this: how many people are positive for the virus but have no symptoms? Is this because their immune systems are so robust that the virus keeps trying to make headway, but it just can’t?
Or, possibly, could it be because they were exposed to very little of the virus, just enough to test positive, but not as much as people who get sick?
I believe the tests are binary: either you test positive or negative. (I wish everyone could be tested frequently.) The threshold for testing positive may be low if people are carrying it but symptomless.
I’m also assuming that people in close or frequent contact with those carrying or sick with the virus would have more virus in their body and be more likely to get sick. So, nursing homes. Prisons. Cruise ships. Mardi Gras. Spring breakers packing the beaches.
Packed churches at Easter?
I want to learn more about the immune system. We’re all interested now!
I’m going to investigate that and report what I find here in plain language.
Today is Day 3 of shelter in place in Austin, Texas, USA. As of last night, we have 137 known cases and no deaths.
Interestingly, the majority of cases are in people under 40. Only 19 cases are in people 60+.
Today is Day 2 of sheltering in place in Austin, Texas. We had 119 known cases as of last night (but no deaths so far), and we know the virus is being transmitted in the community. No one I know has it so far, that I’ve heard, but friends and relatives of friends do. The number of cases will almost certainly go up over the next two or three weeks. The hope is that then the number of cases will start declining because of first, social distancing, and now, sheltering in place.
For me, this means staying home, which I have been since Saturday, and for the week before, my outings were rare. I’ve ordered groceries online and picked them up. I have a wonderful daughter who can pick items up and bring them to me. I have groceries enough to last for at least a week, and I’m keeping a list on the fridge door of the items I run out of that I can get next time I shop (which will probably be online to be delivered or picked up curbside, but I do have a mask and gloves in case I need to venture inside a store). My fridge, freezer, and nonperishable shelves are full.
I feel pretty good about my chances of getting through this without getting sick, or of being mildly ill if I do get it. I had a cold in October that was mild and lasted two days, and I couldn’t remember how long it had been since I’d previously had a cold. My immune system is robust.
However, it’s unpredictable. I’m in the 60+ population and therefore considered at risk. I do yoga and dance regularly (now doing these online), I eat healthy (organic unprocessed food mostly), and I meditate, which helps keep my nervous system more balanced rather than going into stress, which is hard on the immune system. I’m working on improving my sleep, getting more deep and REM sleep according to my Fitbit.
I take really high quality supplements from Premier Research Labs and Wellevate. (I have practitioner accounts with both that you can order through if you wish.) I have homeopathic remedies on hand too. I have health insurance should I need it, and I hope that if I do, the health care system isn’t overwhelmed and can tend to me. I’m very very fortunate and grateful.
Y’all, no one is immune. This virus targets humankind. It’s a great equalizer. It doesn’t respect fame, power, talent, or riches. Movie stars, professional athletes, famous artists, royalty, and politicians have come down with it. Because it’s novel, no one has immunity, except those who have completely recovered from it.
I’m hearing people say things like “What a year this past week has been” and “there are many days in a day.” We’re in a time of rapid change.
I believe when this pandemic is over, some aspects of our lives will not go back to the way they were. This will influence people living through it for the rest of our lives. We will not take our health for granted. We will better understand the relationship between lifestyle and health. We will require that our governments take actions that support our health over corporate profits.
Dead people don’t buy stuff.
I hope the biggest takeaway is that we humans are ALL connected through our humanity. We are all dependent on this planet for our lives. Maybe we will treat each other, and our home planet, much better.
Blessings for health, immunity, resiliency, resourcefulness, and connection. 💚🙏🏽
Update, September 17, 2020: I stopped doing intraoral manual therapy in March 2020 due to COVID. I’m resuming my in-person bodywork practice in Austin, Texas, one day a week on Tuesdays. I’m offering TMJ Relief sessions but not working in people’s mouths until COVID no longer poses a threat.
I’ve spent a lot of time and effort pivoting to teaching online. It’s risky to work in people’s mouths, and yet the need is even greater. The stresses of the pandemic and the recession (and all the related adjustments) have people clenching and grinding even more.
I’m offering a course, Self-Care for Jaw Pain, on Zoom. The next series of classes are slated for February 2021.
Check out my website, maryannreynolds.com. If understanding causes and finding remedies for your jaw pain appeals to you, please sign up for my class. Space is limited.
So far, since I began doing intraoral work for jaw issues in 2013, I’ve had several clients come in for TMJ relief sessions who had previously seen multiple practitioners who worked inside their mouths to try to relieve their TMJ symptoms.
They had seen chiropractors, chiropractic neurologists, Rolfers, dentists trained by the Las Vegas Institute (LVI), and/or other massage therapists.
These clients told me, “No one has ever touched me there,” after I worked on their lateral pterygoids.
These are small, sensitive, hard to access muscles, and they may be key muscles to soften to release jaw tension. It takes patience to reach them and gently influence them to soften and lengthen.
You can see in the image below that there are two heads to the lateral pterygoid muscle. The superior head attaches to the articulate disc between the mandibular fossa of the temporal bone and the condole of the mandible. Tension in this superior head pulling the disc anteriorly may create clicking or popping sounds on opening and/or closing the jaw.
It is important to address this early on to prevent irreparable damage. Even when there is damage to the disc or the tissue behind the joint, intraoral manual therapy can relieve tension.
It’s not that the other jaw muscles don’t contribute. The medial pterygoids are also major internal pain-causing culprits, and the external jaw muscles — the masseters and temporalises — also play important roles in jaw tension and pain (they can have trigger points and taut bands within the muscle, and also be in a long-term state of contraction due to clenching and grinding).
I’ve learned through trial and error that one 75-minute session provides relief (sometimes tremendous relief, as in experiencing a pain-free and spacious feeling around the TMJs), but it will probably not last.
That’s often the issue with bodywork: the soft tissues tend to revert toward their previous tension until we change that muscle tension pattern through timely repetition.
For longer-lasting relief, 5 sessions in 4-6 weeks with support for habit change and self-care homework can retrain the jaw muscles to lengthen and relax.
If jaw tension or pain resulting from jaw tension is your major complaint, and you’d like a sense of spaciousness in your TMJs (if you can even imagine how great that would feel), please seek a practitioner that works intraorally on the pterygoid muscles.