Post 31: #Coronavirus and a global perspective

We’re friends and family from around the world, sharing our experiences and thoughts during lockdown, quarantine, and self-isolation. For some of us, it’s DAY 31. WE DON’T ALWAYS AGREE – nor do we have to! We post our opinions, and those of our guest bloggers, with no censorship.

TODAY’S TOPIC: Pre-existing conditions


Suzanne Meriden, Washington, DC

Today I broke down.

For the first time in a long time, I broke down and cried all my quarantine tears out. I am generally calm through a storm, and always look for the silver lining in any difficult situation. Some friends even say I take the positivity to a nauseating level. This pandemic has been no exception: I have looked at this experience as a chance for all of us to stop, reboot, and reconsider. I have been enjoying the solitude (minus the Zoom calls of course), and the time at home to appreciate home. I have also finally been forced not to travel anywhere, which is a good thing, considering that for the 6-8 months prior to the lockdown, I almost never spent more than 2 weeks in any one place. I have been resting and I was dealing perfectly with this 2020 toilet paper-clad crisis. Or so I thought.

Today I was looking forward to waking up to a sunny outlook after a week’s worth of clouds and rain. I was going to have my coffee, catch up on the news, and go to the park to get some sun on my face. I wanted to feel the warmth of the rays on my skin. I took out my favorite cup from the dishwasher, filled it with coffee, plopped myself on the couch, grabbed the remote, went to my news channel, and was ready for a coveted morning period of coming to life after a deep sleep and getting mentally ready for the day. 

And then I saw it. It was a feature story. It wasn’t the part of the news where reporters share #COVID-19 statistics and city lockdown updates. And it wasn’t Dr. Fauci giving us details on the virus or Trump telling us how hugely well he is managing this pandemic in our country. It was none of that.

Instead, it was a story about an elderly woman with Dementia. The report showed her standing in her room at the window in a nursing home, speaking to her daughter and granddaughter, who were outside. She could not understand why her children would not go inside to see her. And to hug her. She kept asking why? And they would explain that it was for her own good. She was asking if it was because they had a dog. They would explain again that it was just best for her health because of the virus. She assured them dogs were allowed in. They would explain it was about social distancing and not about the dog. And this pattern went on today during their visit, but it happens every time they would visit, they said. 

And that was the moment I broke down. At her age, probably in her mid-70s, and with dementia, how was she feeling about her children not coming in to hug her and hold her and love her? Dementia is already difficult. But now her own children could not hold her, not even to comfort her. And the reel began in my head: images of people dying from the virus on their own, with no one by their side. No one to hold them and tell them they will be OK, or even simply to hold them and pray.  Parents quarantining from their children to not hurt them. Doctors staying far from their babies to not infect them. The reel went even further. It went deep into the past 9 years of my life, devoted to free Syria activism. All those people dying, and suffering, and wondering why no one came to save them. How alone they must have felt. Just like this woman behind the window. How terribly lonely. How terribly sad. All these scenes, mind you, were playing in my head to the soundtrack of Queen’s These Are The Days of Our Lives. It was quite the dramatic moment. And then the reel came back to COVID-19 and back to reality and I realized I was crying out loud and with conviction. 

Apparently, I had been wanting to cry for a long time but had held it in to stay calm. I had to remind myself that it is okay to break down. It is good to let it out. It will happen again. I need it to happen again. I don’t want this historic moment to pass me by. I don’t want this to be a crisis that comes and goes. I want to learn from it, and grow from it, for me, for you, for Earth. I need to feel it. Yes, I do need to be strong and hold myself together for those around me, but I also need to feel weak and vulnerable and feel the crisis to learn from it. I hope we all do. I hope that things don’t get back to normal. I hope we work towards a new and better normal.

Don’t let them eat cake

RafifJ, #Malaga, Spain

Oh, for a slice! Or a cupcake!

Under #lockdown, a lot of people turn to comfort foods as they deal with the anxieties and boredom associated with being forced to stay indoors and have minimal social contact. Lucky them!

Imagine having dietary restrictions. Whether they’re caused by allergies or a metabolic disorder, restrictions necessarily mean re-defining “comfort food” or suffering the consequences. For many us who have Type II #Diabetes, comfort foods like mac & cheese or chocolate cake can cause dangerous spikes in our blood sugar levels.

Back when we thought the Coronavirus was “just like the flu,” I threw food caution to the wind. I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to do that – my diabetes is not new – although I have an idea. Being in the land of wine, I allowed the spirit of sangria to move me while delicious paella and heavenly bread fed more than just my soul. At the beginning of CoronaDays, I enjoyed typical comfort foods, and my son and I would help ourselves to a nice dessert after dinner.

One day I was feeling particularly tired AND jittery; the pounding heart and onset of a massive headache are always good indications of really bad food choices. I checked my blood sugar level – and sure enough, it was dangerously high. I realized then that if I needed urgent medical attention, nobody could just rush over like they could in the BC days. My son wouldn’t know what to do or how to get help quickly. And I realized how stupid I was for making these choices – they potentially have really serious and grim consequences – that HE would have to deal with. I can’t put my kid in that position. Fortunately, I was able to lower my blood sugar. Sigh of relief; emergency avoided.

Still…it’s not like broccoli is a comfort food – no matter how I spin it – and spinach is hardly my idea of a midnight snack. Beer just does not go with lettuce! Pairing Champagne with a hard-boiled egg would kill me, and not just because of the sugar content. Between counting carbs and counting calories, my optimal diet should consist of a low-carb whole wheat cracker, a dollop of cream cheese, and a cucumber. WHAT?? I want a drink! Pasta! Dessert!

To be honest, if it were just me in my world I might allow myself to keep up a high-carb, high-sugar, instant-gratification diet and face the consequences. But with two kids, other family, and my sistahs, absolute love and parental responsibility are stronger motivators than wine and chocolate. Wait. Really? YES, YES.

And so I will start making those low-carb, low-sugar foods that I promised myself I’d try years ago. I know diabetes doesn’t have to mean dessert jail, and I’m committing to making a bigger investment in vegetables. Celery stick, welcome home. Mi casa es tu casa.

What condition?

Tina F., Fairfax, Virginia

#Coronavirus can be fatal for people with pre-existing conditions, like high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney, liver, heart, and pulmonary disease. These people are the most susceptible, but all immune-compromised people are at risk. According to my medical records, I fall in the “immune-compromised” section.

I have Ankylosing Spondylitis (a type of autoimmune disease in the arthritis family). I also have reflux, Crohn’s disease, fibromyalgia, neuropathy, iritis, hypothyroidism, allergies, and Raynaud’s syndrome – oh, and depression. Conventional medicine was going to heal me with medications that could potentially kill me.

So about 5 years ago, after many years of struggle with my health, I took control of my own wellness. I lost 20 lbs and cured myself of 90% of my illnesses. I followed a functional medicine routine and changed my diet and took supplements. I began this journey on my own but then sought the supervision of a functional medical doctor who helped me tweak my supplements.

Before you think it was easy, here is a list of food restrictions: No Gluten, no dairy, no sugar, no meat, no processed foods, no alcohol, and no caffeine. People asked what’s left? Well, for 2 years there was plenty. I don’t know how I did it. I was eating mostly salads and never felt like I was missing out on cocktails, bread, or dessert.

And then I fell off the wagon. I wanted my cocktails and desserts. I wanted to be invited to someone’s house for dinner and eat what was put in front of me. I have been on and off my diet like a yo-yo for a couple of years. I indulge and then I go back to being strict. It’s not ideal, but it works.

Then guess what happened to ruin everything ??? Hello Coronavius COVID-19!!! For a month I have only wanted comfort food. Granted, I try to eat gluten-free cake and dairy-free ice cream but it all has sugar. And chocolates too!! No more of that 70% dark vegan chocolate. Nope, the milkier the better! And have I mentioned my son is home from culinary school and is making us amazing buttery, fatty delicious meals? How could I sit in my corner and nibble on carrot sticks ?

But wait…. the important question is …How do I feel?

Like shit! Oh I’m happy whilst consuming the forbidden items, but I’m gaining weight, I have Plantar Fasciitis, and my face is breaking out.

I am looking through the wrong end of the telescope. How do I get back on track after the “quarantine” side effects have left me in a sugar-induced coma? I know what I must do. I’ve done it before and it works. But how do I do it now? I must remember that l am one of the high-risk people. Autoimmune-compromised and susceptible. Healthy organic whole food is my best medicine.

Oldies but goodies

RJD, #Beirut, Lebanon

My husband turned 73 last week. That celebration is for another post. My mother, who is in Virginia, is 75 but looks like a 57 year old! Both are in the danger zone to that germ that has spikes. 

Upon hearing of the lockdown in China, my mother went into personal lockdown and has not left her house since. Mum has been a smoker for a long time and therefore is a higher risk case. The responsible thing to do was to self-quarantine. My husband used to smoke but stopped some 30 years ago. He is active, like mum, but has a weak immune system. 

I worry about both all the time. I am far from my mum but I know she and my sister are doing their utmost to not subject mum to any spikes! 

As for my husband, I have become obsessive. If I go out to run errands, I come home and wash my hands at once, use a gel, remove my mask, wash my hands again and use a gel again. 

Thank goodness the weather is better now so everything I wear goes immediately to the balcony for sunning. I am even sending my husband to sit outdoors to sun himself! Our part of the world always counted on the sun to “disinfect.” Rugs are put out in the sun in the Spring, pillows, mattresses, laundry dries in the sun…there is a reasoning behind this. The sun heat kills germs. 

Airing out one’s home is another thing we do over here. Daily – rain or shine – we open all the windows. This is great now that the pollution element has disappeared! Salt water is another remedy we always use. I make my husband gargle and nebulize with it because it also kills germs. 

There is something to traditional remedies and I am embracing them to help protect those I love. Oldies but goodies! 

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