Dealing with COVID

Swami Gulagulaananda quoted:

"Only the paranoid survive"

'In these unprecedented times' may sound like a cliche, but it appears to be true in the context of this pandemic. Every single day, we are bombarded with statistical data quoting the number of deaths and active cases, infographics that discuss the spread of the disease, posts shared by people lamenting the deaths of their loved ones and how the healthcare and associated services are overwhelmed by the sheer scale of afflicted people, in addition to multiple forwards that discuss cures - some useful while others balderdash.

Considering that a large number of my near and dear ones came in contact with the disease, I thought of putting together a note that may benefit others. It is important to continuously educate ourselves and make sure that we are protecting ourselves and those around us.

As the old adage goes, 'Prevention is better than cure'. Intellectually, we understand this; and though a few people continue to wear masks below their noses, a vast majority seems to properly cover themselves in public. However, I observed that we tend to be more careful when dealing with strangers and we drop our guards when we interact with our close friends and relatives. It may seem like common sense, but the virus doesn't discriminate - We should be careful across the board, and never drop our guards.

If someone at home starts showing symptoms, it is important that you start taking extra care of yourself by practising social distancing at home and following standard protocol like double-masking, washing hands after interactions (or regularly) and using sanitisers - both for hands and for surfaces. You don't need to panic, but you should be careful. You may have to be the person who takes care of things like getting food, medicines and organising things, and taking care of yourself becomes important.

In the spirit of prevention, we should also ensure that our immunity is at the level required to fight back infections. In some complicated cases, I saw that the conditions of a few patients worsened due to an additional bacterial attack at the same time. Most of us are deficient in Vitamin D, and Vitamin C seems to be the primary requirement along with Zinc for good immunity. While there are multiple tablets and capsules that can help  (consult a doctor for the right medicines/supplements), one that seems to be popular is Ceeplus - an Immunity Booster that contains Vitamin C, Zinc and D3. The recommended dosage is 1 per day after a meal, and it costs Rs 360 (Apollo Pharmacy gives a discount). Of course, there are other natural alternatives like Indian Gooseberries, lemons and their citrous cousins that are super-rich in Vitamin C.

It is recommended to have an Oximeter, Thermometer and a Sphygmomanometer (Blood Pressure machine) at home. There are decent affordable electronic units available on Amazon or at your local pharmacy. One way of strengthening your lungs is using a Respirometer, and there are several great respiratory exercises like Anulom Vilom Pranayama. If you have a patient or a potential patient, ensure that you regularly check Oximeter readings of everyone at home (once in 2 hours). The readings should be above 95 (98-99 is normal). If you see the number is consistently dropping below 95, please consult a doctor. Some techniques like 'Prone Breathing' may help. Things can rapidly go from bad to worse, and being a step ahead will always give you a fighting chance.

I would also suggest maintaining a document containing important information like phone numbers and addresses of things that you may need. These include doctors, ambulances, hospitals, companies that vend out oxygen, medical insurance details, etc. After all, the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. Keeping this document handy (use Google Docs) can help in case of emergencies. Given the concerns around shortage of hospital beds, considering home ICUs may be another way to go. There are also various organisations that help in delivering food and other necessities. I would suggest adding these details to your document.

Your people connection will also play a vital role during this period. Keep your friends and relatives informed about your situation so that they can step up and help in case of emergencies. Relying on others can help manage your situation. Remember, it is not just about help for getting things. Emotional support plays a vital role. In the same way, make sure that you don't treat patients like lepers. Talk to them regularly, make sure that you check on them continuously and make them feel comfortable. Treat others the way you would want them to treat you. At the same time, exercise caution by maintaining social distance and ensuring everyone is masked. Regularly wash hands and follow other best practices.

RT-PCR tests are a great way of confirming COVID, and there are agencies that have home visits. Their representative will visit your home in a PPE kit and take samples from you. However, know that they are not 100% accurate. There have been cases of false negatives, and a few concerns about newer variants not getting detected. Some have recommended getting a CT scan. In either case, please make sure that you consult your family physician if you observe COVID symptoms. Some have found using remote consulting using mFine and Practo to be useful. The bottom line is to always err on the side of caution.

A few younger folks tend to be cocky that their immune system is great and that they are like teflon to the virus. Make sure that you are educating yourself and keep yourself apprised of the situation. A lot of people in their prime, even aged 22 years, have fallen to the disease. COVID is not to be trifled with. However, the media projects a lot of negativity to create sensationalism - So, don't become too negative. It is important to retain a healthy, positive attitude in life. Don't get too bogged down, and don't get too cocky - Be positive in the Goldilocks zone.

To summarise, educate yourself and be prepared. I hope this helped. Stay safe, stay positive and take care.

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