By Chaplain Debbie Walker, BSN, RN, OCN, Texas Metro News Contributor
Take a seat, take a breath, and let me walk you through a straightforward and truthful perspective on this new entity that is the topic of our conversations nowadays, Coronavirus, or COVID-19 which is now a part of everyday conversation. For the next few minutes, I will give some helpful insight for self-preservation, and some care tips for your family, your neighbors, and your community circles so that we can get through this together. I have divided this into seven (7) Action Plans for each day of the week.
My prayer is that we shall get through this together, and that you and your family stay safe.
Action Plan I
Self-Care: Take care of yourself and prevent yourself from being infected so you can take care of others. Simply stated, proper handwashing is your best protection. Wash your hands frequently and after touching common areas, follow shelter-in-place orders and travel restrictions, cough in the crook of your elbow, keep your hands away from your face, and call your health care provider if you feel ill.
Invest in a digital thermometer, take your temperature if it is 99.6f orally, and you have a cough and/or feel sick, call your physician, get tested at a testing site directed by your health care professional. Many areas have drive thru testing sites with certain criteria.
Until you are tested, stay away from others. A six-foot social distance is important when you go outside for food, gas, exercise, and if you are and essential business or employee. Please pay attention to ever changing instructions.
Toss away the worries about not having hand sanitizer or paper towels, the medical community prefers that you wash your hands with soap and water for 20 to 30 seconds. You may dry with a clean washcloth.
Low on toilet paper? Well there is nothing wrong with a good old-fashioned bath of a shower for complete cleansing. It is not necessary to purchase expensive bodywash, a bar of soap still does the job.
Our basic instincts of hygiene should kick in. I am attaching a great guide and link for effective hand washing from the World Health Organization (WHO): Feel free to attach this to all sink areas as a reminder. Sing “Happy Birthday” twice to make sure it is at least 20 seconds.
When you go out, use your knuckles to press elevator buttons, commonly used pin pads, open doors with your elbow, use your back if possible, and use hand sanitizer if you have it. If you do not have hand sanitizer, take your bar of soap in a plastic baggie with you and wash your hands (if there is no soap).
Never dry your hands on your shirt or pants.
I make it a practice of making hand hygiene the first thing I do when I enter my home, and or touch a common surface. Many will spray commonly touched areas with disinfectant spray such as doorknobs, keypads and handles.
Remember, keep a social distance of at least 6 feet when you are out. I have chosen to use self-check-out and take my own bag into the store.
Action Plan II
Community Care: Consider for a moment who on your street, in your building, in your family, in your circles are disadvantaged by age (65 years or older), disability (physical and mental), and/or social (food insecure, laid off, or homeless), and reach out to them. If you have, share. If you need, ask.
There is a well-known proverb of the monkey trap that shows how the monkey holds on tightly to the rice through a small hole in the coconut and is thus trapped by the idea of “what has worked in the past works now.” (The Book of Awakening, 2018)
Only through generosity and care for one another, sharing as we are taught in grade school can we make it through this together. Bartering is an old way of economics that may very well be a survival techniques for a collective community.
Many of us have hidden artistic talents that in the absence of money may be our new business venture. Time is on our side. With many ecommerce sites, assisting others with $5.00 can go a long way with meal planning. A bag of rice, pinto beans, and a pound of ground beef can feed a family of 4 dinner for about $5.00.
We must become creative with how we shop, perhaps spending an extra $5.00 at the store can buy a loaf of bread, a dozen eggs, and peanut butter for your neighbor. This puts everything in perspective now. Blessings will abound when they can return the favor.
Action Plan III
Faith in Humanity: Be anxious for nothing, talk with one another. We are in this together, become creative with ways to connect with your circle. Make the old-school telephone calls to check on one another.
Use video conferencing mediums such as Zoom to create groups to have a fun evening out, to share your musical talents, and/or to share family events, prayer, stories, games. Sign up is FREE, attached is the link https://zoom.us/signup
Go into your hallways, your porches, your balcony, your stoops (6-foot distances) and introduce yourself. Be creative, have talent shows, share cooking tips (not the food), play guessing games. Group chat texts with humor can see you through. Do not be embarrassed to admit that you are struggling, share your tears and joys. Lift one another up.
If you are a faith community leader, check on your membership via way of a phone call, a text, a drop by their home (with social distance), to let them know they are not alone. This is the time to get a pet if you live alone, and/or a plant to have something depend on you.
Many animals are suffering during this outbreak, and many studies show how being a pet parent can help with loneliness. Many programs will give you free pet food.
Action Plan IV
Healthy Cells: Keeping your immune system healthy by maintaining a balance between rest, activity, and nutrition. The cells charged in building our immunity must be cared for. It is recommended to get about 7 or 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep daily to fight off infection according to Healthy Sleep 2020.
Take a moment to browse this link which also states that healthy sleep keeps blood sugar levels stable in diabetics as well. https://www.healthypeople. gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/sleep-health. In addition, daily exercise outdoors is great for your mental and physical health.
When was the last time you threw a baseball in the park, or rode your bicycle? A simple walk around the block does not cost anything. Drink 6-to-8 glasses of water (three to four 480 ml water bottles) daily unless you are on a fluid restriction. I like to add a wedge of lemon or lime for the vitamin C.
If you are like me, and prefer tea, I make a mint tea with a little honey and lemon. Green tea is also an excellent choice as well. I avoid sugar, if possible and opt for honey. A list of inexpensive foods that I add to my pantry to keep me in good health are onions, garlic, greens, fresh ginger root, turmeric, tomatoes, oranges, pineapple (rich in Vitamin C and Zinc), Cinnamon, and red pepper flakes.
I have made an adjustment to purchase frozen fruits and vegetables which keep and store better. Wash your fresh produce prior to cooking, and try to shop during non-peak time, or during senior citizen/disabled times if you fall in this category.
Taking a brisk shower/bath daily will boost your circulation and help you to feel better. Remember your skin is an organ and keeping clean is very important, not just washing your hands. Try to reduce your stress levels by adding music if you are also struggling with difficult diagnoses such as cancer. (The Effects of Music Therapy on Anxiety and Depression of Cancer Patients, 2016).
Follow your provider’s directives for treatments, and make sure you have a 30 to 90-day supply of medications.
Many drug companies will assist with co-pays or reach out to the essential social workers to help you if you need assistance with your medications. Some pharmacies offer more cost-effective alternatives why you physician approval. Reading, prayer, journaling, painting, are also other therapies, and can pass the time.
Action Plan V
If you have credible information share it. Please do not share information that has not been verified, and/or is from untrusted news sites. Believe the responsible journalists and news sites. Make the adjustments with the most updated information.
If you have a degreed health care professional in your family, get updates from them if possible, and support them emotionally. We must flatten the curve so that our health care communities can take great care of those who must be hospitalized.
This is an excellent time to talk frankly with your loved ones regarding what their Advanced Directives to Physicians and Family or Surrogates, Medical Power of Attorney, and Out-of-Hospital Do Not Resuscitate(DNR) Information forms filled out for your state. Be aware that most medical facilities will not allow visitors due to concerns for community spread, thus these documents are very important. I am attaching a link for Texas available in English and Spanish. https://hhs.texas.gov/laws-regulations/forms/ advance-directives.
Action Plan VI
Routine for Sanity: Set a Routine and stick to it. It is very important to get out daily and smell the air, listen to the sounds, stretch your arms up to the sky. Is it sunny today? Are the clouds out? Is it raining? Life will continue.
If you can, dig into the earth and plant something that you can eat. Teach your children about gardening, even a small tomato plant on a balcony has powerful messages of sustaining one’s self. Watching a flower bloom for the first time is healing. Nurture one another, really listen. You may not agree with the other opinion, but allow the person to talk, two ears, one mouth is what our Creator gave us.
Play some old board games such as checkers, dominoes, truth or dare, or spades inside your home. Have the kids put on a talentshow. Have your own church service, share it with streaming.
Do you have a sewing machine? Make something together from a favorite clothing item, or T-shirt. See who comes up with the best idea. This is a time for families to reconnect. Put the cell phones down during this time.
Limit your intake of the news to just 1 to 2 hours per day and sit down and have a what is “news” in your life conversation. Cook together at home, sit at a table together, make meal prep stations, assign a Chef, and Sous-Chef, add music, make it fun, post a menu for the night.
Action Plan VII
Illness/Recovery: What if you are sick and test positive? Notify your employer, circle, community that you have come into contact with so that they may get tested. Strictly follow your health care professional’s advice. Know when to seek emergency medical attention. Look up your local municipality’s coronavirus support hotline, call them and tell the person answering that you think that you have COVID-19. Put a mask on to limit your potential to infect others that may be nearby.
When to Seek Medical Attention: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include*:
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion or inability to arouse
- Bluish lips or face
*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.
Chaplain Debbie Walker, BSN, RN, OCN is the Executive Director of The American Black Cross, a 501(c)(3) NonProfit based in the Dallas, TX area. She is married to Ernest Walker, is a mother, an ordained minister and delivers community through print, radio and television since 1998, under 411Mag Ministries.