Happy New Year from this imaginary nurse that the Deep Dream Generator AI dreamed up!


Happy New Year!

Well, we made it through another year. Yay, and congratulations, I say!

Let’s celebrate. But first, we can take a moment and recognize the hot dumpster fire of the last few years and really appreciate where we are at, and all we have achieved and learned. This time of reflection hopefully brings everyone joy and happiness, and not despair or regret. Looking back at the timeline of this whole virus thing is traumatizing to say the least — I’m getting a headache just thinking about it. (UGH, should I test?)

Shout out to those who have been able to stick with the ever-changing recommendations and guidelines, those who have been able to roll with the punches, and to those who have adjusted their lives to bring some sense of normalcy to the absolutely NOT NORMAL.

OK, COVID is still here, so what’s new with that? Not a whole lot that we can do much about that I haven’t already discussed in prior months, but there is this:

If you still use antigen (at-home) tests to check your symptoms, there are a couple of resources from the FDA that may be helpful for you. One is a page with expiration date extensions that you can check if you have a stash of them at home that are set to expire.

The other is the page that talks about the best ways to use your antigen tests. Those tests are not as sensitive as the PCR tests that you can get at testing sites, and sometimes you need to test more than once to know for sure that you don’t have COVID. Reduce false negatives to see if you need to seek medical help.

COVID isn’t just hanging out alone anymore, ruining our day. In fact, the so-called triple-demic has hit the area, with the flu kicking a lot of people. Hard.

Do we need to talk about the flu? Influenza is a common seasonal respiratory virus that a vaccine is available for every single year. Since we are out of respiratory virus “shape”, from lack of exposure to the flu, because of COVID, people are really struggling with it.

The vaccine is available, and importantly, it looks like a good match this year to the circulating virus. Although the flu vaccine may not 100% prevent you from getting the flu, it can work to reduce the amount of misery you may experience with the flu. I still hear “it’s just a flu,” but I gotta tell you, I still remember the two times I had the flu like they were traumatizing events in my life. I remember the dates and everything. It’s not the miserable stuffy, runny nose, nagging cough, sleepy, want-to-take-a-nap cold that people sometimes think it is — it’s also not the 24-hour foodborne illness of vomiting and diarrhea that people say is “the stomach flu”.

It is a nightmare. “Felt like I was hit by a truck,” “wiped out,” “thought I was dying.” It’s definitely not something someone will be posting about on Facebook. If you are able to get onto Facebook, it’s probably not the flu.

I’ve also heard “the flu vaccine always gives you the flu.”

No. No it doesn’t. It could leave you with a mild fever, fatigue and headache, because your body is trying to get you ready for the real thing, but that usually only lasts 24 hours. No time to be sick? I hear ya. But I definitely don’t want to get the flu again. EVER.

Way back at the beginning of this article I promised you a celebration. And for me personally, I am going to celebrate a commitment to myself in the new year. But to make it joyous, instead of a chore, we need to be honest about our resolutions. Are they really healthy promises to ourselves, or anxiety-producing torture-bombs of more work and less fun?

For me, I’d like to learn more about this beautiful area I have lived in for 35 years or so. I think I’ll grab one of those “101 Things to do in Humboldt County,” go to the visitor’s center websites for Humboldt and Del Norte Counties, and make a plan to check out our area this year.

Exercise? Diet? Read a book? All of these are things I am open to and may explore, but I still tend to stay in my comfort zone. I want my resolutions to be attainable and emotionally satisfying. If joining the gym is your jam, I support you! If you want to plan a nice vacation, or more trips to the beach to relax and enjoy the beauty around us instead? I think that is truly a goal to be celebrated.


Michelle Lewis-Lusso (she/her) is an Infection Prevention and Control nurse at United Indian Health Services, serving the 11,000+ clients and staff at their seven area clinics. She wishes you a Happy New Year and may see you on local trails in 2023, if the weather is nice.