Saturday, March 28, 2020

Resources: Health

How I hang out with friends now...

Hey, you.

How are you doing?  But, I mean, really... how are you doing?

I get it- right now NOBODY is answering that question with, "Great! Never better!" These are tough times, and never in my life have I seen tough times THIS universal.  I know that in my house it comes in waves, and fortunately nobody's bad times have aligned as of this post.  I had a really bad day the other day and my husband was uber-productive and peppy and the morale leader of our little family.  The next day he was having a rougher day and I was doing better.  My son is in grade school and currently has no discernible bedtime and more lax screen rules (and we're doing our best to shield him from the news and our own fears), so aside from missing his friends his mental outlook has been between a 7 and a 10 at any given time. We're luckier than most on the whole.  The most positive aspect is that as a family unit? We're rocking it.  The together time has been the best part of this, and we're being respectful of reading the room and meeting needs as they arise.  But the hard fact of the matter is that this quarantine/homeschool/apocalyptic SITUATION is HARD.  It's hard and it's different and WE NEED RESOURCES.  There are a lot out there- the plus side of social media right now (we'll discuss the down side as well later).  The problem is that these resources are scattered all over the Interwebs, so I thought I'd divvy this up by specific worry over the next few days so that there's a single place to find stuff.  If you have anything to add, by all means, comment below.  I do ask that it come from a verifiable, legitimate source, though, because some homespun miracle cure that you read about on some site of dubious origin isn't going to do anyone any favors.  Which brings me to my first point:
Let's start with a quiz.

1. Are you a practicing doctor?
2. Are you a practicing nurse?
3. Do you live with either of the above?

Did you answer no to all 3? Then, I adore you and I'm sure you are an expert in your given field, but you need to stop self-diagnosing and self-prescribing.  

Look.  I worked in clinical research for over a decade.  Those people testing vaccines and treatments right now? That was my world.  I've had a lot of training and a lot of on-site experience in the medical field, and my biggest takeaway is that I AM NOT A DOCTOR.  And the fact of the matter is that, unless I get tested I will not know at any given time if I for sure catch this.  And I am not equipped to know if xyz medication is going to be helpful.  And neither are you.  So if you are feeling symptoms that you are positive are ominous and Covid-19 and can't possibly be anything else,  here is what you should do:

Call your doctor.


You don't know squat until you do.

There is as much stuff circulating out there as there are idiots self-medicating with aquarium cleaner and their spouse's expired azithromycin.  None of it is reliable until you call your doctor and then go from there.  Your neighborhood Facebook group cannot diagnose you.  Your Aunt Sally with the crystals and the third eye cannot diagnose you.  Call your doctor.

Is there anything you can do preventatively?  Sure! Wash your hands.  Social distancing.  Shelter in place if that's been mandated by your area.  Above all, follow the rules, because those people having block parties right the heck next to each other are ruining it for the rest of us who can follow instructions like your average first-grader.  You will not die if you have to sit on your couch and watch Netflix.  You can still go for walks.  Get to know your family.  Catch up on your reading.  I swear you can do this.  This interview with Dr. Fauci, our apocalyptic MVP, is helpful:

Let's talk mental health, too.  Guys, it's okay to be afraid.  It's okay to be afraid, angry, lonely, worried.  You are in good company, and its hard when you have to isolate, especially if you were socially active before.  Please take advantage of video chatting, conferencing, phone calls, any way that you can stay connected to people.  I have a standing weekly happy hour with friends that is such a balm for my spirit.  Group texts with family and friends are amazing.  My kiddo is able to still do his Scout meetings and piano lessons via Zoom, which I find terribly cool.  And if it gets harder than your tribe can handle? Most therapists will do appointments via phone or video conference, and if you are out of work like a lot of us are, many will work with you in terms of deferred payments or a sliding scale.  Your insurance might cover more than you think.  But please, please, take advantage of all of these resources.  I thank God this happened in 2020 as opposed to the days of no cell phones and no internet.  If things get really, really bad, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.  You can make it through this.  You are loved.  The sun will rise on a new day and it will get better.

If therapy is just not in the cards for you, a really good resource is "Feeling Good" by David Burns, MD, who is a cognitive behavioral therapist and knows his stuff.  It can be found on Amazon and an audio version is available as well:  

Bear in mind that this book is geared more towards generalized depression; this pandemic is a very specific situation that is very new and scary to so many people.  The good news is that it is NOT forever.  I really am confident that this, too, shall pass, and in the meantime we need to find good coping mechanisms and utilize the resources we have, as well as reaching out to the people we love more than ever. Don't expect too much from yourself.  It's okay. We're all in survival mode right now. There's nothing wrong with keeping the bar a bit lower for the time being. I feel you.

I would also caution you to maybe not do the every-virus-apocalypse-movie-ever-made binge that I started the week with because I CANNOT RESIST A THEME.  Find some escapist television.  Go online to your local library and download an ebook- you can read them on your phone if you don't have a Kindle.  Take care of those outstanding house projects we never seem to have the time for.  Attend an online church service- my church has Mass on Facebook daily.  Watch every Marvel movie ever made.  Guys, we have time for all of that now.  Register for your city's disaster alert system in case anything changes and then STEP AWAY.  

I was saddened to read that child abuse cases have increased dramatically.  It's a predictable statistic given how fragile people are right now, but my gosh, our kids need our protection from the scary stuff and a sense of stability more than ever now that the world's turned topsy.  If you are having those impulses even a little bit, I implore you to get help.  If you know of a child who is being abused, please call 911 or the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.  Also, is a resource for both kids and parents.  Let's protect those little ones.

Please take care of yourselves.  We are in this together even when we are apart.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


A throwback to simpler times (eg ten days ago)

Well. This has certainly been a week, hasn't it? Let's recap: we were enjoying an idyllic Spring Break- my husband, son and I rented an RV and drove across Texas to Big Bend National Park. On the whole we had a lovely time; the scenery in Big Bend was spectacular and we had lots of laughs in the RV. I was pleasantly surprised by the RV parks where we stayed; the people there were absolutely lovely, and everybody looks out for each other there. We felt completely safe the entire time. We ran into some snafus: some elements of the rig weren't working, particularly the shower. I'm a girly-girl. I'm not the one you want as your guide on a rugged mountain hike. A hot shower every day is a must. After one small-to-middling meltdown, I resigned myself to "bathing" with the packets of wipes I brought with me on the trip (former Girl Scout- be prepared!). While we had a great time RV camping, I couldn't wait to get home to a long, hot bath and civilization.

That is not what we came home to.

I mean, the bath- yes. Still having plenty of those, and thank God for 'em. You see, while we were gone, it seems that the dang apocalypse was hitting back home. Yup- the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020. We've been home for a week and a half now, and it's becoming jarringly clear that life as we knew it? O-v-e-r. At least for the time being. School has come to a halt and we are HOMESCHOOLING NOW OMG (more on that later). There is a run on pretty much everything. Toilet paper? Ha. Eggs? If you get to the right store on a good day. Bread? Hope you have yeast and flour. Disinfecting spray? Don't even think about it. The world has been through this before. Not in our lifetime, not to this extent, but it has. That should be a consolation, but when I think about the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918, it's a small comfort because that was also in medias res with two world wars and the Great Depression, so that doesn't exactly inspire confidence in a return to normalcy any time soon. And now they are talking about springing us all from house arrest in a couple of weeks, before this thing has even totally ramped up. God help us all.

We like to read and study history. We learn from it- some more than others. But, for better or worse, we are living history Right. At. This. Moment. As someone who needs to get things out on paper, I think it's important to make a record of this experience, hence the blog. I'm not sure what this will comprise, exactly, but it will be my experience and it will be real. Good days and bad days. If I happen to catch the virus (which experts are saying has a 40-70% likelihood of happening), I'll do my best to write about the reality of it, so that people know what to REALLY expect and what REALLY helped (and didn't). If I don't, and my loved ones don't (praying that this is the case), then consider it an historical snapshot into the era. After all, the internet is forever.