Weekly Update from the Bellingen Covid-19 Clinic: Dr Trevor Cheney

Dr Trevor Cheney gives his weekly report from the Bellingen Shire Covid-19 Clinic

Dear Bellinger Shire, 12 October 2021.


Some days, y’know, the juices just don’t rise, and the best advice is to walk away to go get some catch up sleep. For decades we used to tell people that sleep is not a bank – you can’t store it up and then draw down on days when you feel like going hard at it for long hours.  Apparently that was wrong.

Lack of sleep is associated with a range of disorders from yawning too much and insulting people, to increased frequency of cancers, heart disease, and psychosis.  It is interesting to see the impact of a head injury – like a stroke – on the need for sleep.

The deep phase of sleep is the time when by-products of metabolism, injury or toxins are removed from the brain by tiny little vessels and cell cleaners. So we have had interesting conversations of late with some people who have had cerebrovascular accidents (clots or bleeding on the brain) at a relatively young age, about how vital it is to get that sleep, to allow the garbage trucks in to clean out the waste.

Interesting irony is how society mimics that very real biological process by usually organising garbage collection  – not the middle of the day but more when much of society is sleeping.

So, also of late I have read articles suggesting that you can actually bank sleep a little, and then catch up, paying off the “debt”, so long as it is soon and adequate.

So, despite the honoured tradition of Doctors not heeding their own advice and commonly dying young, of undertreated conditions, I am keeping this short and going to bed/bank early.

Your health services are in a cautious transition this week as we feel our way through Covid19 endemicity. It is trickling very slowly into our region.  We still have a bit to work out.  Please be patient.

If you claim a reason for not wearing a mask, please do not walk into our medical practices – phone ahead and we can arrange to ensure that medical care is available to all.  And please respect the fact that shop attendants are trying to get their heads around how the State government wants us to manage the easing of restrictions, with people protected by double vaccines being unrestricted first.  There is a bit to get through and this phase won’t last too long.  We just don’t want our hospitals overwhelmed as happened in Sydney (and everywhere else around the world.)

Please check in with the Neighbourhood Care network who are doing a great job of interpreting the changing rules.

And check with your own GP practice trying again to juggle, bat, dodge, deflect something entirely invisible.  Remember when we quote statistics – like that the vaccines protect over 90% of people from dangerous disease – we too may be in that 5-10% who statistically will luck out, on the wrong side.  We won’t know until in retrospect.   But we are more likely to be exposed to a bigger load of virus up front, and there is evidence that the bigger the load of viral particles the more likely it is to bring on a serious disease before your immune response mobilises.

That is, even with the Delta strain being very infectious and reports of people catching it with minimal proximity, it is more dangerous to be in  the room with someone coughing on you than be walking past in a corridor or shop.

Both may get the illness but the passing stranger is more likely to have a milder episode.

Like all medicine the dose is the decider.


Just one perspective, OK?


Dr T Cheney


  • Elaine South says:

    Thankyou for your perspective on Covid, a nice rational explanation on dealing with an invisible disease. Obviously it’s still a learning issue and hopefully more people now acknowledge how serious this is and realise how necessary vaccination is.

  • Helen Mower says:

    Thank you for your thoughts on sleep and its healing properties…..our mothers were right after all……the beauty sleep idea….good for the whole body!

  • Leigh says:

    Thanks Trevor, I knew I needed more sleep I hope you get plenty and you and your family stay well

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