Monday, October 4, 2021

Pandemic Work Habits: From Lock Down to Overload


"Brain activity" by Cristóbal Cobo Romaní 
is licensed under 
CC BY 2.0

Since the start of August, I have been experiencing anxiety and memory problems. I have considered a number of causes (and consulted some licensed medical professionals).  I will into detail, but the graph above is the most elegant explanation. 

The low part at the left (understimulated) represents the first half of 2021. The low part at the right (overstimulation) represents the second half of 2021. 

A Quick Look at 2020, the Year Living on Cortisol and Adrenalin  

From February 2020 to December 2020, I was very busy preparing for life changes that I saw based on news I was reading out of China, California, New York, and Italy.  Then starting the second week of March 2020, both universities where I taught moved to online only. Thankfully, I had been using Blackboard, an electronic teaching tool, for years. It's a great way to supplement face-to-face instruction. 

But then in Fall of 2020, I learned how to use Zoom. Not only did I teach two classes, I also initiated ways to connect with a variety of people. I filed grades the second week of December then spent time with family who were able to gather together again thanks to testing and physical distancing. 

January to July: Pandemic Fatigue, Winter Blahs, and Hermit Habits

In the Winter of 2021, I only taught one class: Death, Dying and Bereavement with additional material related to deaths caused by COVID-19. That's when I hit a low. I had been in lockdown at home since March of 2020. I was only teaching one class, and it was emotionally demanding because of the topic and because my students were experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression, which made it difficult for them to do the assigned work. I stayed in my pajamas and watched a lot of British Detective shows and, thanks in a large part to the film Dig (2020), I also watched several documentaries about the history of England. 

The spring did bring an uptick in my energy and cognition. I taught a very demanding class online: teaching first-year college writing to 109 engineering students in China. I also was vaccinated (Pfizer, two inoculations).  However it took me two months of hang wringing before I returned to the gym and to church. 

Summer of 2021: Delta Came to SW Indiana

Saturday, July 31, 2021

2021 Mid-American Institute on Aging & Wellness: A Preview


The University of Southern Indiana in partnership with the local Area on Aging (SWIRCA) has organized their 14th Conference on Aging and Wellness.  

AFTER-THE-FACT UPDATE: I enjoyed this conference as a Zoom host, presenter, and audience member.  SAVE THE DATES for 11 & 12 of August 2022.  

In June of 2022, you will find the 2022 brochure and registration materials by visiting the link to MAIA (Mid-America Institute on Aging and Wellness).

MAIA's virtual format in 2020 and 2021 meant that you do not have to be from easy driving distance to attend.  USI and SWIRCA are located in Evansville, Indian, which is part of the Tri-State Region (Southern Illinois, Northwestern Kentucky). There first 12 years were in person with many participants hailing from the tristate or cities within an easy driving distance: St. Louis, Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville. 

The conference program has a variety of topics that include (but are not limited to) the following: diet, exercise, finances, dementia care, mental health care, combating ageism, addressing Parkinson's disease, diabetes care, and MORE! 

Who typically attends? 

  • People 50+
  • Health Care Students and Allied Health Faculty
  • Social Workers
  • Care Partners (aka caregivers): formal and informal
  • Nurses (not just RNs)
  • Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs)
  • Other employees working in health care (PTs, OTs, SLPs, etc.)

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Supernova: Film Review


US release 29 January 2021.

Director Harry McQueen offers Supernova (2020), a quiet film with a heavy topic: how couples respond to a diagnosis of early onset dementia. 

Colin Firth plays Sam opposite Stanley Tucci playing Tusker. The latter is the one with early onset dementia, but clearly such a diagnosis affects Sam as well. 

These two have been a couple for two decades, and now they are taking a road trip through the Lake District of England in a camper van. They are en route to a piano concert featuring Sam. Tusker writes novels, and he has brought some notebooks with him so that he can make progress on his last novel before his memory corrupts any further. 

The film has three sections: establishing their dynamic, conversations with members of Sam's family, and more intense conversations between Sam and Tusker. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

HDL or "Good" Cholesterol: A Biomarker of Health


Image by Wonderland via Creative Commons

Not all cholesterol are created equal. Some types are harmful, and some types are beneficial. Here is a simplified explanation of the difference between LDL and HDL cholesterol: 

Low-density lipoproteins deposit fat into the blood. High-density lipoproteins carry fat out of the blood.

This post is part of a series on biomarkers of health and longevity. 

Note: I am not a medical professional. This post does not offer medical advice; it's only intended to raise awareness. Please see a licensed medical professional if you have any concerns about your diet or health.