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Mixed Messages Add to Worry and Exhaustion

Marion Charatan

Posted on May 1, 2021 12:15

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Just when you thought it was all over, there's another variant or new restriction right that surfaces, adding to pandemic weariness.

It's hard to believe we are already into May; the year is hurtling by. I remember a conversation I had with my wonderful Dad, a physician, professor, medical writer and brain researcher, about the passage of time. Why does it seem to zip by as we get older? At the time, (and dang, I was only in my 20s,) I didn't quite understand his scholarly explanation, but now I get it. 

When you are 10 years old and think about a year, those memories are within just a tenth of your life. But at 50 or 60, that year of recall represents one-fiftieth or one-sixtieth of living and is more like a blip on the radar screen. Another point is that children's brains beat faster than adults, so they store more information in each minute. Professor Adrian Bejan wrote in 2019 about neural signal processing, part of the neural pacemaker theory that states that we process visual information slower as we age, which makes time seem to go by faster; heady stuff and very interesting! And the size of neural networks increases in older folks, thus slowing down processing. In layman terms, it is the perception of time, rather than an actual change in the dynamic of clock time. 

Regardless, the past year is flying by for me. Maybe that's not an entirely bad thing because it has been such a daunting and difficult period to navigate. Maybe that's the upside to time speeding by. When I enjoy life more, time seems to slow down for me. I've been able to have some pleasant days, but there were more of those pre-pandemic. 

Part of my anxiety is the uncertainty of it all. Remember when the news of the novel coronavirus came out? It was horrifying to see body bags lined up row by row, patients on gurneys in overcrowded hospital hallways and footage of miserable deaths causing people to die alone, gasping for air on ventilators. 

Now that the people I love have been vaccinated, I thought I could breathe a sigh of relief. To some extent, I can, but there are moments when the worry resurfaces and it feels overwhelming. I get scared and anxious all over again.

The CDC informed us that it's safe now to unmask outside if you have been vaccinated, for the most part, aside from crowded events with strangers and travel. But do you remember that same agency said masks were unnecessary? Dr. Anthony Fauci thinks we may never be able to shake hands again. Other physicians, like Dr. Bo Stapler, disagree. Some say why mask and distance if you are vaccinated?

Schools and businesses still go back and forth with opening guidelines, a worldwide phenomenon.

To add to concerns, stories are printed right and left that the vaccines might not be enough to protect us against all variants. Health experts believe they will, but cannot be completely sure; we may need boosters.

Will worry help? Time will tell. 

Marion Charatan

Posted on May 1, 2021 12:15

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