Now I have your attention, this article won’t be offering the usually expected cures. No plant extracts, nutraceuticals, or big bad pharma products. No magnets around the head and no manipulation of the spine. That said, I’ll wager my austere cure, like all cures, will apply to some and not all. The bonus is that comes free of side effects. But first a story.
Back in 1997 I caught the flu. Influenza or not influenza, back in more sane times people seldom concerned themselves with identifying the virus. It began with the usual couple days of general viremia before an almost total recovery. What I was left with was fatigue and (for the first and last time) the experience of what it is like to live as an asthmatic. For three months my airways would spasm at the slightest provocation of exercise and cold and leave me gasping. Then just as swiftly as I became ill, I spontaneously recovered. Before and since the usual pattern of upper respiratory viral illness consists of those few days or few hours of frank viremia or sore throat. Then the whole constellation of symptoms gives way to a much more protracted period of a painless throat remaining reactive and irritable for weeks after the last virus had its last gasp. Often the throat feels completely normal and only announces its displeasure come bedtime. Then that small sensation of the scratch from a tetchy airway leads to coughing, frequent wakening, and poor sleep. With opiates comes cough suppression along with paradoxical insomnia and daytime fatigue from sleep debt. With sedative hypnotics comes next day hangover. With stimulants we are on a merry go round of ups and downs, the makings of checked boxes on a symptomatic score card. I’m hardly unique in these or similar experiences, having for years heard from countless others the stories of post viral this and that and “the bad flu that knocked me around for months”.
But then along came a “novel coronavirus” in 2020 to wash clean our brains and our memories of normality of the years BC (before covid). As I type this and survey google, the search engine informs me that the term “novel coronavirus” can be linked with just under 49 million results. Assuming no overlap and no expansion to the reference pool, if I explored each linked website for 1 minute of 8 hours each day without vacations, I would need live another 280 years to complete the job. From this I think we can conclude that if there is anything “novel” it is the avalanche of propaganda as to just how novel this virus was and is. Google is a sign of an anchor that stopped us in our stacks in 2020. From this anchor, whatever logic the mind possesses will perceive any post viral symptoms as similarly novel. And from this in turn “long covid” as a novel disease is off to the races. Incidentally, a search for “long covid” returns just in excess of 32 million results.
This is not to suggest I’m denying the reality of long covid. But that’s the point isn’t it. “Long upper respiratory virus” or to invent a neologism “LURV” has always been real. What I do question is the discriminative validity of long covid as truly novel and more real than the rest. Put another way, how is a given patient’s long covid different to that they might have developed as part and parcel of any garden variety LURV. And further still, we might ask ourselves how many elderly fragile bodies succumbed in the context of common colds before 2020. In the BC era, death would have been recorded as caused by other significant comorbidities in a brittle old body, whether they had a common cold or not. In the covid era all has changed. It’s covid or long covid and nothing but covid. The death “with covid” vs “of covid” debate has also been done to death and another wave of the same debate is likely not to help its resolution. On this question the forensic pathologist will be of little use and was little used when it mattered. At the time in 2020 and 2021 all we could do was look at crude measures of aggregate excess deaths for a clue to the answer.
Now if we are going to get into the “what is real” question, let’s go there for real. Let’s deconstruct the use of the word in itself and all its affective accompaniments. Long covid exists certainly as a tool of propaganda. Just as long covid placed its indelible stamp on google, no other virus has in such a short period of time become such an obsession eclipsing all else. Even HIV/AIDS in the 80’s wasn’t remotely in the same league and was still possible for other illnesses to co-exist in statistical and psychological space. Consequently, now in 2023 statistics of long covid will hardly be helpful. Shall I dignify the covid cultist with what they say is real or more real by critiquing the numbers they give me when their eyes are ideologically blurred and incapable of counting? Enough to agree some people have suffered the SARS-COV2 variant of LURV, probably severely. The best way to evaluate such a possibility is doctor to patient on a case-by-case basis. How well were they before the virus? How unwell are they after? What confounders can be identified? How weird and severe are the lingering symptoms? How does this compare with their response to, and behaviours arising from, encounters with viruses in the past? How does all this fit within their personality structure, their set of neuroses and their exposure to propaganda. But the atomized critical thinking of an n=1 encounter isn’t real either, or so they say. In the age of evidence based medicine (EBM), theory superimposes itself on the patient and the reality of the patient vanishes. And so one cult (EBM) left the soil ripe for the coming of the covid cult.
Returning to long covid, when the unreflective consumer of information creates a hyperreal virus, one wonders how many cases derive from the sheer weight of expectation. What happens when 49 million doses of viral propaganda infect a mind amply capable of inventing signs and symptoms of long covid which would never have arisen otherwise? I expect now to have a tetchy throat after a virus on account of historical experience. This is a kind of behavioural programming for sure, though my working hypothesis is that it tells me something of my own constitutive biological vulnerabilities. We can’t win them all. All the same, belief and the propagandized weight of the psychosocial part of the biopsychosocial trinity is at least a possible cause, is it not? Throw in the incentive of special extended leave from work or other compensations and long covid is off to the races with a turbo charge. The question I have for those believing in, or suffering from, long covid is this: how do you know you have not been psychologically programmed?
What of “long vaccine”? Today on google, “long vaccine” returns a paltry 12 thousand results and “long jab” only 90 thousand, the latter we can discard as a boxing term of art. “Long Pfizer” returns only 6 thousand results, mostly unrelated to our concern. Testament to the power of propaganda, a long covid:long vaccine ratio of >4000:1 is a roaring success for the establishment. Were I to factor in variant search terms such as “covid vaccine side effects” I still can only add another 330 thousand results to the count. Enough to say the penetrance of the pro vax and “long covid is always real” mind virus is far greater than its competitors.
In 2020 we heard no end of talk around the pathogenic nastiness of the spike protein. Until very late 2020 the vaccine was a twinkle in Fauci’s eye. None of us really knew whether it would or would not be safe and effective. Still, many of us argued on first principles for more caution. Alas Newton’s third law and all that, the same thrust from the rocket taking BoJo’s rocket on its moonshot to Trumps warp speed was the same force that crushed the voice of the critical thinker. Our medical licenses were soon stripped for wrong speak and worse still for orthodox medicos, we were labelled “antivaxxer”. But all was warranted, or so the establishment said. After all, us dissidents hardly had a strong prima facie argument now did we? Injecting into the shoulder a potentially systemically circulating nanomolecular spike protein factory to the vascular endothelium of most if not all organs everywhere! Administered to everyone! What could possibly go wrong?! At least the virus appeared to restrict the expression of spike to the airway. Still, we were assured the covid “vaccines” were safe and effective even when they weren’t and when people ought to have known what they could not know. I knew what I did not know. The establishment didn’t, many ignorant in bad faith.
It would hardly be sporting for me to cast shade on claims of rampant long covid without also seeing the speck (or log) in the eye of the “antivaxxers” of whom I am one (apparently). Reading doom and gloom about the covid vax as “mass murder”, “genocide”, a “clot shot”, a “depopulation device” and causing all manner of neurological and cardiac calamities is enough to seed the mind with all it needs to create psychosomatic illness. No, I’m not denying the reality of covid vaccine side effects either, some severe and even fatal. And I’m very much aware that your doctor might be psychologically programmed to dismiss any post vax symptoms and signs you experience as coincidental or hysterical. In the BC era I’ve had my fair share of physicians telling me the patient is a definitely a psychiatric case only to be diagnosed later as having multiple sclerosis, with paraneoplastic syndromes etc. I’m simply suggesting that not every ambulance siren is a “vaccident” or covid vax cardiac arrest. I’m simply suggesting that without objective diagnostic referents we must be critical and cautious not to over include as just as covid cultists are prone to exclude the real in their jump to dismiss it. I’ve had a career of seeing neurotic suggestible people whose psyche is as much in the body as in the mind. They have fits, faints and funny turns every bit as “real” as epilepsy without having bone fide epilepsy. They have crushing chest pain and perfectly healthy hearts. The question I have for my own side is this; how do you know a post vax set of symptoms and/or signs is caused by the vax as a biological event?
It’s here that things get a little bit tricky. That shaking body in the tiktok video might just be a genuine vax effect. Or it might not. I have no idea. But even if we could conclude that shaking body in the tiktok video is not a covid vax reaction on a biological axis, does this let the vax off the hook? Not at all. The body in the cinema reacts to a suspenseful scene. This is an event in the mind and body, both, yet also in the relationship of both to the drama in a virtual world. Likewise, the hyperreality of the virus and the vaccine as dramatic events in biopolitical and propaganda space leaves its impression on the body. Much greater is the impression when the jab is foisted upon us as an act of coercion. The body expresses trauma in mental and physical forms according to templates fed to us from conventional and alternate media. The granular question is to ask in what sense we can claim to have a vax adverse effect, the biological or the psychological? Insomuch as the Covid vaccine is a biopolitical object, does it even matter? Someone has to pay, and it ought be the one who coerced.
We have been down this road many times before enough to know better. Here in Australia our indigenous people have the kurdaitcha man, a shaman like figure who acts as crime detective and psychic executioner. When he hunts you down, he confronts you with a chant and the pointing of a ritual bone. No contact is made between the bone and the body, it is like a gun with no physical trigger and no bullet. Supernaturalist explanations aside, so strong is the belief in the power of the bone that it leads to death just as effective as a slow acting poison.
If this example is too remote for urban post European sensibilities, I have another. In the 1970s, wrists were held in hours of extension and fingers clunked away on heavy typewriters. No one thought anything of it. Writers cramp and tenosynovitis of the wrist were not unheard of, yet far from common either. But then at the turn of the decade a Sydney doctor collected and published a series of case reports of occupational wrist injury, and the unions took notice. Given secretarial pools continued to be female dominated, women’s and feminist groups took notice also. The Australian Council of Trade Unions bulletin gave this injury a name and acronym “repetitive strain injury” or RSI. Rhetoric quickly began to nucleate around themes of workplace reform, monetary compensation and how universal the injury might be. People noticed (and rightly so) that the same wrist that works a typewriter or word processor keyboard opens a jar and drives the factory machine. The claims race was on, and the diagnostic case (and claim) numbers rose and rose some more with a bell shape every bit as similar as a covid death wave. In a single company alone cases rose from a mere half dozen annually in 1981 to peak in the hundreds by the summer of ’84. Whole industries of wrist brace makers and ergonomic experts came to fill newly created markets.
But then in the latter half of the decade the same establishment who embraced RSI began casting a jaundice eye. Like the much lower lethality of covid in Africa, people began asking questions why Australians have a particular proclivity to RSI and why the contagion spread from here to some other centres of the anglo world without co-occurring simultaneously. After all, aren’t all wrists more or less equal? Some figured it was the fluoride in the water or even a new virus, these being fanciful hypotheses without evidence. But the claims were irritating the big capital end of town and the political class weren’t keen on a growing class of workers incapable of paying the taxation harvest. The medical class saw they had taken an idea way too far. Their elitist egos needed save face and walk it back, changing rhetoric to what “the science” told them was the case, though the science never stopped talking to them. The amoral media as usual just ran the wave and reflected establishment agenda without any sincere belief in what havoc they wreak. One day they sensationalised the epidemic of RSI and the next they turned off the tap. By the late 80s we were well down the slope of the other side of the bell curve and by the early 90s RSI was over. When there was no more money in it and attention to it and the consumer could not locate the diagnosis on the shelves, patients stopped complaining of wrist pain. They stopped feeling wrist pain also. And that was that. Medicine, the media and industry were off inventing the next big thing and we were well on our way up the SSRI ramp. Food for thought when thinking about the era in which we live and what we take to be “real”.