12 Ways to Help Those with Corona Virus both Practically and Remotely so They Don’t Feel Alone
In mid-March my family of four came down with Covid-19. We were quarantined for almost three weeks and between us, our symptoms ranged from asymptomatic to moderate/severe. I personally ended up needing urgent medical care several times. As I write this, I am on Day 28 and only just getting over a secondary chest infection. We believe we have caught it early with antibiotics but I have a long road of recovery ahead of lung rehabilitation, support during the summer allergy season and preventing future infections.
For those interested in symptoms of Covid-19 aftermath, I have still have lingering fatigue and weakness, nasal issues like nose bleeds and weird sneezing along with residue lung inflammation which is especially bad in the mornings. Sleep is still a challenge as well with shortness of breath, shaking due to inhaler side effects and a strange insomnia. But I am grateful I’ve made it to recovery. Doctors have advised me to treat this as a ‘bad pneumonia’ in terms of the weeks and months to full recovery and normal fitness levels.
I plan on writing about our journey soon complete with bizarre symptoms BUT this is more about the others who helped us practically and remotely; a few of them were ‘angels’ in a time of great need. I’ve also been in contact with a few individuals with Covid-19 who live on their own and added their input.
What is amazing is how much support we have received from friends, neighbours, co-workers and strangers. Just a side note, we are American/British dual citizens who have lived in the UK for over 15 years. All of our family are in the US so that was not an option for them to help in a practical sense.
We were quarantined and stuck in our house which included my asymptomatic 17-year-old daughter who I would have sent out to pick up necessities if the quarantine was not in place.
Our family had to completely rely on others to help us.
I literally feel like a few of those who helped us contributed to saving my life by getting urgent medication when I developed severe asthma for a week. We also got a bit of ‘advice’ from well-meaning people. Most people want to help if they can, but sometimes ‘well-meaning’ advice can be a barrage or even detrimental for This Virus that doesn’t follow the common cold or flu patterns we are all used to in life. I thought I would mention one or two because everyone wants to help but hopefully this will lead towards ‘real’ help.
For those who like to just skim, I have put the list first and then put it again with an explanation.
12 WAYS TO HELP THOSE WITH COVID-19
- Send recorded short, peaceful encouragements with no expectation that people have to reply
- Find out peoples’ ‘comfort treat’ if they are ill and deliver as a surprise
- Offer to pick up prescriptions, medical supplies, and food necessities
- Drop off notes or mail a card
- Stop giving any medical advice unless you are a qualified medical professional
- Be a bearer of peace, calm, and hope
- Refrain from using the question, ‘Feeling better today??’
- Reach out especially to the ones who live alone
- Messages via text or online are great but don’t barrage . . .
- If you are healthy, appreciate that gift and try to focus on any positives versus complaining about your life
- Throw in sensible humour (timing is key!)
- Persevere, be consistent and follow-through
So one more time with an explanation:
- Send recorded short, peaceful encouragements with no expectation that people have to reply.I’ve been so ill, and can’t get to things right away or reply to each one. But I have been able to play short videos of encouragements or prayers from people all over the world numerous times. Maybe no longer than 10 minutes. 1-2 minutes personally has been ideal. We all are missing that personal connection and it’s wonderful to hear a voice or see a face. I have also loved written notes that have a disclaimer that I don’t have to reply, as I can as respond when or if I am able.
- Find out peoples’ ‘comfort treat’ if they are ill and deliver as a surprise. We’ve had this happen about 5 times over the quarantine period . . just as we are running out. I have an incredibly healthy diet but one or two ‘guilty pleasures’. During the virus, my comfort food has weirdly been root vegetable crisps/chips that are hard to find. It doesn’t have to be food but it’s challenging when you run out of your favourite coffee and you can’t order online as it is backlogged. I’ve also had those who hardly know me send small, meaningful non-food gifts. Things I can use or appreciate like flowers.
- Offer to pick up prescriptions, medical supplies, and food necessities. We have felt helpless a few times while being literally stuck at home, with online shopping overloaded nationally and not having the ability to just run to the pharmacy. We have had a few genuine offers which have spared us having to ask. Some were at the store and picked up a few extra things, some offered to add us to their online delivery and some made an extra effort to pick up (and persevere when it was complicated) medicine that I feel kept me breathing for a week. Keep offering as no one wants to really have to rely on help. They may be fine one day, but not the next. AND throw in extra paracetamol/acetaminophen in as it helps with the fever and aches and it’s easy to run out.
- Drop off notes or send mail a card (but maybe use gloves when writing and mention you did – it mitigates fear, though honestly I am way past that as we have had the virus) to your neighbours. ‘Barbara’ down the street did this with a short, kind note offering to help with her phone number. I texted back with thanks and connected on FB. Since then we have had a lot of exchanges and she has been checking up on me, especially as they saw ambulances at our house. Our family will do the same with our neighbours when I am able to help others. Also, unexpected get well cards in the post have made my day.
- Stop giving any medical advice unless you are a qualified medical professional. First I want to give the disclaimer that with my wellness and nutrition background, I would have given people advice before this virus. So if you have with me, please don’t feel bad but this virus is very different than what we are used to with illnesses. This one is big and probably needs a blog post on its own later down the line. I am seeing it more and more as individuals post their health tips and advice online when someone says they have come down with this. After my own experience, and especially after seeing friends who have the virus (and are public on social media about it), I’ve gotten quite passionate about this topic. I had very well-meaning people post on my social media their remedies for colds, flu, pneumonia, taking antibiotics, essential oils, herbs and so forth.
Hear me out on this. People can do their own remedies that they know might work for them that they have TRIED BEFORE. I am the queen of the amazing essential oils, grapefruit seed extract benefits, high-grade supplements, etc. But I have done a trial and error and I know what works and what doesn’t, what reactions I have to things and what may benefit but has side effects. Personally, during the actual virus, I used only a few supplements and stuck to natural healthy foods as I was so ill and I also knew there is currently great debate among professionals in the wellness arena right now about supplementation.
DURING the virus is NOT the time to try a NEW remedy, supplement, extra vitamins, funky green smoothie, or whatever that lady wrote of her suggestions in ALL CAPS FOR A FULL PARAGRAPH on someone’s (not mine) FB wall of her cures that you have never tried before – bless this poor soul who feels she has to write in all caps.
We just don’t know how our bodies will respond. That essential oil, extra Vitamin C or even herbal remedies could potentially backfire. With this new, foreign virus that hits everyone slightly differently and even ‘healthy’ people in extreme ways it’s best to be incredibly cautious. AND you can’t just pop down to the local health food store, supplement companies have had a back log of orders in the season (at least in the UK) and most natural remedies are ones that an average person wouldn’t keep in the cupboard. So it could be days before you could get it anyhow if you ordered it.
Here are two examples.
I cannot tell you how many comments I’ve seen on taking high vitamin C doses. It’s all over the media (erm – just an FYI the media isn’t always reliable and if they use it in hospitals it is probably an IV form prescribed by medical professionals). I personally use top-grade vitamin C in high doses to curb a cold. Tried and tested, it works for me. But a side effect can be GI distress. During the horrible days of the virus, when I knew my immune system was in overdrive, GI distress was the absolute last thing I wanted. And the virus is so weird and foreign; I didn’t want to add fuel to the fire. I stuck with my normal recommended dose. Please leave it to an individual to decide what they want to do if they have used something before and it worked for them.
Another simple example is that steam has always helped me during chest colds, congestion, and mild asthma. Steam was terrible (and scarily made it worse) for some of the horrible days of Corona when I had a dry cough but no secondary infection but worked a bit better when it was an infection and the actual virus was gone. Please leave any advice to qualified medical professionals, though even medical professionals have given me conflicting advice as I have talked to five different doctors in the last month. Several have said there isn’t enough research on the impact both short and long term with this virus for more moderate to severe Covid-19 sufferers.
On a positive note, I am beginning to implement my favourite natural remedies and supplements POST VIRUS to normalise my immune system and be proactive in preventing infections. Also, I have gotten excellent help through a lung rehabilitation specialist (a friend of my husband) – it was accurate and science-based and incredibly helpful through several stages of the virus and now with rehabilitation. I have asked his permission and will be writing a blog in the coming weeks on those tips.
A recap on this so you don’t misunderstand. BEFORE Corona – try it out and see how you do, especially now as we need to promote a healthy immune system. DURING Corona – don’t try anything you haven’t done before and use wisdom on the things you have tried and tested. AFTER Corona – give yourself a bit of recovery time and try out those things that promote immune health. And please, don’t give any medical advice (no matter how small) to someone during the virus unless they specifically ask you (and then please use caution).
- Be a bearer of peace, calm, & hope.We are all scared. News is dreadful and is getting worse every day. We all need a little peace and hope. One example of how this worked was on Day 9 when I was choking and could not breathe with a high fever. My husband was terrified as he spoke to the woman on the urgent British emergencies services (999). She was calm and reassuring which helped him get calm and reassuring with me as I started to lose consciousness. His job was to keep me awake until the paramedics came. I needed him to be peaceful and positive – I was starting to panic which only hurt the situation. It was a domino effect of the woman being peaceful, which helped my husband be peaceful, which led to me being peaceful. One of the paramedics who stayed with me until I stabilised was actually lively, wonderful, and full of hope (she was also a crazy cat lady with 8 cats??). Her atmosphere was contagious to my traumatised husband and teens but especially to me. We can be sober and concerned, but freaking out with anxiety doesn’t help the ill person at all.
- Refrain from using the question, ‘Feeling better today??’.I get asked about five times or more a day on my phone and online. I love that people care and it means so much. BUT that actual question ‘Feeling better TODAY?’ can be really demoralising after 4 or 5 days. Imagine day 12, 13, 14 when you are feeling worse. What has helped me? ‘Just checking in, I’m thinking of you?’ ‘What’s going on – if you want to vent on how you are feeling please do?’ Or even the simple., ‘How are you doing?’ Those statements don’t imply that you should be feeling better but again, if you have done this, please don’t feel badly – I’ve done it too.
- Reach out especially to the ones who live alone.My friend Gemma who has had quite a rough time (on day 21 now and it’s still hard) explains how it has been for her. She said, ‘I’ve never felt so ill in my life. I’ve been surprised at lack of communication from some friends but also it has surprised me the people I hardly knew who have been in touch the most. I’ve called them selfless, earth angels who have been dropping bags of food on my doorstep, leaving me consistent cooked meals, driving across town to get a prescription and waiting in the freezing cold queue outside for it, and even someone else ordering a vapour inhaler on Amazon as a gift to help me breathe. I’m just blown away of how many have stepped in to help, especially those who hardly know me, when I have never felt so ill and alone.’
- Messages via text or online are great but don’t barrage . . . I know this sounds like a contradiction but when people find out you’re ill with Corona they are curious and probably personally scared about their own situation so they may have questions. This is coupled with a genuine desire to help or see how you are doing. But as I mentioned before, sometimes I couldn’t (and still can’t) reply. I’m also one of those personalities that feels guilty when I have an unanswered email or text. And when there are 10 texts or messages or more, I get overwhelmed. So I have appreciated when someone contacts me with the disclaimer I didn’t need to respond back.
- If you are healthy, appreciate that gift and try to focus on any positives versus complaining about your life. I want to risk being a little edgy here BUT… many people say they are ‘climbing the walls’ with boredom, imagine trying to climb the stairs and starting to cough, get short of breath and feel chest pain for weeks and wonder again if you need to call a doctor. Health is a gift. It is hard for everyone in this season. Enough said.
- Throw in sensible humour (timing is key though!). It can help. I made a family chat group with my relatives in the States. It got a little dire in my worst days with my updates. I decided I needed a little humour so I gave the challenge to send simple memes, tweets, short videos, etc to make me smile. It did. ‘As soap is to the body, so laughter is to the soul.’ — A Jewish Proverb
- Last one – Persevere, be consistent and follow through. I’ve had a few people who really genuinely are rooting for me and my family right now. They offer to help and actually follow through, ask for updates and want to hear my laundry list of symptoms, tell me they are thinking and praying and cheering me on. Day after day. On a sad note, one of my friends going through this has had amazing support from a few people but from a few ‘closer’ friends a lack of communication (let alone support) or maybe who offered once then stopped responding or some who never even asked how she was doing. I am sure right now that could be very painful and hurtful. So consistent following through is very meaningful.
All this aid and support have been a beacon of hope and life for me in the middle of dark nights and sleep-deprived days. I hope this helps.
In the coming weeks I have several posts I have already started writing, ranging from breathing to using mindfulness while I had the virus to our own family’s journey with symptoms. If you have any suggestions for topics that you would like to know more about, please contact me on my contact page via my website.