You knew I couldn’t resist, right?

I watched the final debate on Thursday night, and I can’t resist a few comments.

You know that would happen, didn’t you? I am a feminista, and a woman who believes in racial justice and equity for all.

I want to encourage you to vote early if you can in Minnesota. This is an option for us, and because we are in a pandemic, extending the ability cast ballots safely is an important consideration.

I want to ask you to consider, no matter what party you are in, please VOTE. You know which way I am voting. I can’t hide it. I vote pro-choice, pro-woman, pro-family.

This 4-button pack is available at the Team Joe website.
I’m partial to the Kamala shirt.
Anything you can do to help would be appreciated, I am sure.

The harasser in chief has called Mexicans rapists and drug dealers (and some of them are good people, he conceded). I’ll let you guess which one I am.

I am a Mexican American woman. Women are shouldering a much higher burden during this pandemic. Latina women are facing unprecedented levels of job loss.

This pandemic is not showing any signs of slowing in this country. In fact, the infection rates are spiking in many states. Our economy needs support, and the President is intent on getting a Supreme Court nominee in place rather than committing to helping the American people.

This 4-year nightmare needs to end. It is bad enough that this presidency continues into January, even if the American people win in November. And he must be defeated. Biden has the good sense to steer us into better days. His experience, empathy and judgment have never been more crucial.

The ultimate “mute” button for those of us who are tired a constant stream of lies is to vote for Joe Biden.

End of PSA/rant. Love you all.

cristy@meximinnesotan.com

I am not convinced

There are a few vaccine trials that have started in the United States in the Phase 3 stage. I tried to find out more about one of them that was covered by NPR about the COVID-19 Prevention Network. To be honest, I hoped to see some reports on the preliminary results of the Phase I and II parts of the trial.

I could not find any such reports on the website, or any indications of possible adverse effects that could occur in the phase III trial. I signed up to be part of the screening for the trial (and did not receive a confirmation email). There is not a research site near me, so that is probably why. I could not find relevant scientific information, even on the Clinical Trials.gov site where such reports are required to be posted.

COVID-19 prevention network

Quite frankly, I am skeptical. I believe that the only way we can get back to a “new normal” and something like a post-COVID-vulnerable era is to be sure that a vaccine is developed. And at the same time, I would not recommend that friends or family members sign up for a trial conducted by Moderna. According to my sources (which include Wikipedia), Moderna has has mostly unsuccessful trials. In addition, it has been criticized for being secretive and not publishing peer-reviewed papers for its trials.

This is a warning flag to me. It seems like a company that is good at raising a lot of funds, without a lot of results. Science takes time to advance, and it also requires collaboration, not secrecy, in order to work well.

What troubles me is that science that is rushed is not subject to peer review. In fact, I learned of a study in the Lancet that was completely suspect due to the methodology was retracted, and that was shocking given their reputation. I remember reading it and wondering how the data were compiled so quickly given the difficulties in aggregating  from different instances of EPIC and other health data systems. As it turns out, Surgisphere, the company that provided the data was not able to “show their work” and methodology to validate their conclusions.

If you plan to sign up for a trial, my advice is this: be wary. Ask a lot of questions. Make sure you have time to think it over before signing up. Do research on the company and their background. If you are not convinced, do not sign up. Have your own “friendly clinical researcher”* reviewer take a look at the materials you are provided. I am very sad to say that in this era of misinformation and disinformation being published, the public needs to be even more careful.

Wear your masks when in public spaces, wash your hands and take good care, friends.

-cristy@meximinnesotana.com

*And if I do have fellow clinical research colleagues reading these studies and coming up with different conclusions, I would love to hear your feedback as well. 

 

Why did it happen this way?

It did not have to happen this way. But a lack of competent leadership will do that. The U.S. has about a quarter of the worldwide COVID-19 cases. This puts “we’re number one” in a new light, no?

Daily cases July 16, 2020
Snapshot from Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center 7/16/2020

Don’t do it for yourself. Masks are not worn to protect you. Masks are worn to protect your community from small micro droplets that are released when you talk, cough or sneeze.

They don’t protect people completely, but they do slow the spread. And the main reason we want to slow the spread is so that hospitals are able to deal with the influx of cases. Also, maybe some of us care about human life and dignity.

My sister is a nurse. I don’t want her to have to deal with the results (y)our carelessness. Rural hospitals do not have the supplies that leaders claimed they would have. They must reuse the supplies they have. This is not a good situation.

Humans have difficulty with exponents. We think in linear ways, so these “hockey stick” curves work are not easily grasped. We saw this with the last big recession in 2008-2009. One minute it seemed things were fine: everyone was making money on flipping houses. And the next minute: financial disaster. Some saw the signs and warned us. But most people partied until they got laid off.

I get it. Or I try to be patient anyway.

Things don’t become serious until they are, well, SERIOUS. 

With nearly 14 million cases as of this writing, and almost 600,000 deaths so far attributed to this virus, one might think we could get a clue.

I know this is a rant.

I try to be more measured than this most days. My anger and disgust at the self-centered behavior I keep seeing, particularly in national leadership, is usually something I control. I’m a yoga teacher, for cripes sake. I meditate daily.

And yet.

My rage at incompetent leaders. Cannot. Be. Contained. Some days.

Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distances when possible. 

Your community thanks you for thinking beyond yourself.

***

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trials and tribulations

Hi Friends,

I have been wondering how best to use my expertise and skills to be of service during the COVID-19 situation, and brainstorming ways to put my experience to good use in a new job.

Offering yoga online has been very fulfilling, and it has allowed me to contribute to keeping a small business running that had to close acupuncture operations for 2.5 months. I love getting to know my students better and the Sunday (Re)treats have been my favorite.

It has also occurred to me that clinical trials are running for treatments and for vaccines to help save lives and stop the spread of this infection. I have 12+ years of experience as a clinical researcher, and I am good at explaining technical concepts to non-scientists in a way that makes sense. Mission taking shape…

Web MD coronavirus picture
Photo credit – WebMD (COVID-19: What You Should Know)

I have noticed that Universities have difficulty explaining clinical trials to potential participants in ways they understand. Many of their resources are text-heavy and use a lot of technical terms. It is a chronic problem for the informed consent process as well, which is required before volunteering to participate in a trial.

In service to helping people understand which trials might be the best fit, I am considering a series on de-mystifying the clinical trial process. It may be a matter of curating the best content that is available and sharing it. I am strongly committed to advocating for participants who may be confused and want clarification of their questions.

The ACRP (Association of Clinical Research Professionals) explains that with the pandemic looming large at hospitals, many trial sites are not recruiting participants and face the danger of not completing their enrollments. This could have devastating effects on the development of other life-saving therapies outside of this virus.

My questions are these:

  • Have you ever thought about volunteering for a clinical trial?
  • What are your reservations about participating in a trial?

For now, since the biggest question people seem to have for the news media on vaccines and trials is: why will this take so long? I am posting an info-graphic from St. Luke’s which nicely summarizes the process. I’ll be back later this week or next to follow further in bite-sized stories if there is interest in this topic.

phases of a clinical trial
Credit to St. Luke’s Cancer Clinical Trials Center for this graphic

Stay well and safe. Wash your hands. Wear your mask. Be kind.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Yoga is not about fitness

As a new yoga teacher, I am surprised sometimes to learn how many people have misconceptions about yoga. Many are scared to try it – “it looks too hard!” they claim. Or “I’m not flexible enough!”

Because of the way yoga is marketed typically, I can understand where these misconceptions arise. Look at most covers of Yoga Journal or even ads in your Instagram feed that feature yoga and you will see taut bodies in shapes that may not look possible for you.

In truth, yoga is about “union” of mind and body (and some say spirit). It is a practice that allows us to realize our true nature. And perhaps most importantly, it is a practice to calm your nervous system. For me, that latter part is especially important. I find that, with all of the available “feeds” coming in, it is far too easy for me to become over-stimulated. A good yoga practice brings me back to my body, my breath and the present moment.

Yoga is preparation for meditation practice, for a process of getting still and looking inward. Generally meditation calls for an upright spine and focused attention. It is awfully hard to sit for very long if you have tight hips or a sore back. So yes, there is an aspect of physicality that is important. And, with an attitude of play and curiosity, yoga becomes an exploration of oneself and our inner being.

The more I teach, the deeper I go into the traditions and into the vast layers of this ancient practice. It is a science and also an art. I’m so grateful to have this tool for calming my nervous system, especially in times of great change and upheaval globally.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

P.S. If you want to try an accessible practice, our next online Sunday (re)Treat is SomaRestore for Gardening and features guest teacher Grant Foster. Register at this link by choosing “Sunday (re)Treat” from the drop-down menu. Hope to see you there! 

SomaRestore ticket for Instagram in JPG format