Just last week, LabCorp made available antibody testing for Covid-19. LabCorp states that this type of COVID-19 antibody test is for individuals who think they may have had COVID-19, and do not have symptoms. Neither Selina or myself have had symptoms, but with all the exposure I've received in our Houston office, I was curious to know my status.
So last Friday, we both went to LabCorp and got tested for the Covid-19 IgG antibody. We had the results the next day. We both tested negative and we both were disappointed.
An interesting experience, to feel disappointment when you discover that..... you are free of a potentially deadly disease.
This coronavirus is called novel because it is a new form of the virus. To me, it is novel in a different aspect than what is currently portrayed. It is a disease that we may not want to avoid. I guess you could say it is a novel, novel disease.
You see, typical lab-work lingo uses "negative" to indicate a finding that is positive for the patient. "Hey Mrs. Jones, we have good news, your lab tests came back negative for uterine cancer." Conversely, labeling lab-work results with the term "positive" is not positive; instead, it signifies a negative outcome. "Mr. Jones, your lab results showed positive for lung cancer."
As we enter the medical world, our terms, positive and negative, get reversed 180 degrees. Why is that? I think it stems from the adversarial nature embedded within and around the realm of mainstream medicine. Where the core concept of health says you're either sick or not sick, and the depth of disease is distilled down to disease is bad and no disease is good. More on that later.
With Covid-19, the results of these tests have an interesting twist. Either outcome, positive or negative, can be interpreted as a positive or negative outcome. This is determined by how the individual decides to interpret what the interpretation means. Our defined terms of positive and negative are no longer standardized. So the result, negative or positive, is ambiguous. It is determined by how I decide to spin my story of what the results mean, and of course how the other person hears my story, filtered through their position on this pandemic.
For example, I can proudly proclaim to my patients, and other individuals I come in contact with, that I tested negative for Covid-19 IgG antibodies. For some people, it will comfort them to know that I am safe to be within six feet. But...what about the elephant in the room? What if I get infected shortly after writing this sentence?
If, on the other hand, I had tested positive for the antibody, I could celebrate my achievement of successfully developing an immunity to this infectious disease. Hopefully this would comfort those individuals by signaling them that I am safe to be within six feet. We can have both ways! How many diseases gives us this flexibility? Truly novel.
I believe this pandemic has given us the opportunity to reflect upon our core beliefs on health and disease, and revisit what wellness truly means. But first we need to explore a bit more on what drives our current healthcare model.
Allopathic medicine is our nation's primary approach to maintaining health. Dictionary.com defines allopathic medicine as a method of treating disease with remedies that produce effects antagonistic to those caused by the disease itself. There is no mention of restoring health; rather, the primary focus is on treating disease.
The Surgeon General is our Nation's Doctor. Also referred to as Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. It's origin by the way, was the Marine Hospital Service. A division of the Department of Health and Human Services of which also includes the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Indian Health Service, and other federal level health programs. Reading this gives the appearance that our healthcare system is really a part of the military.
You may read the previous few paragraphs and think I am judging our nation's healthcare system. Please know that I am not disparaging the medical system. I am merely stating the facts that on the surface, do not appear obvious. On the contrary, I greatly appreciate this form of healthcare and acknowledge there is certainly a time and place when we need to fight for our lives. And in those times, we want our healthcare providers to fight like warriors. I do think it should more appropriately be called diseasecare. That's not a judgment, it is just a more accurate use of terms.
So why even test for Covid -19 IgG? My reason is because I would like to visit my mother who is almost 95 years old. It is my position that if everyone that surrounds her has shown positive for this IgG antibody, she will then be in a safe space due to herd immunity. That's my story based on what I currently believe to be true.
So again, Covid-19 presents to us a novel approach to staying healthy by getting sick. If I want to test positive, should I throw caution to the wind and intentionally risk exposure? Should I hang out in a nursing home in New York state?
Here is another novel aspect to this novel virus. It's presence has given each of us the opportunity to feel the fear to live or the courage to trust your immune system.
The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is a medical classification system that lists over 70,000 codes. On April 1st, not fooling you, Covid-19 got assigned it's very own diagnostic code: it is U07.1. It has now joined the ranks of thousands of other diseases.
Here's the deal, there are thousands of diseases but only one illness. I see a society of disease-free individuals, developing an illness behavior to a disease they do not have. To quote Dr. Eric Cassell, "Disease, then, is something an organ has, illness is something a man has.”
Whether you decide to stay locked down, wait for the vaccine, venture into the world with wild abandonment, or go with a hybrid approach, I suggest we all try to feel okay about everyone's decision. We should try to feel good about our decisions. It's healthy.
Whatever you choose, you can hedge your bet with the decision to improve your health and wellness. October is when the next flu season begins and now would be a great time to get some lab-work. That gives you about four months to restore your metabolic efficiency which of course is the absolute best way to optimize your immune system.
Covid-19 IgG antibody test? If it makes sense to you, I can provide you a LabCorp requisition for $50. But why think so small? For about $200, we can run you well over $2000 worth of some very awesome lab-work and I'll even provide a full interpretation.
PS. Blood work is great for detecting disease, but even better for optimizing health when you know what to look for.