STORIES FROM THE 44TH PARALLEL

Freelance Writer & Photographer in Michigan

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  • Marianne Kuzimski

Be Brave!

Updated: Mar 31

Once upon a time, when life seemed impossible to continue as it was going… when I felt lost and alone, a friend once encouraged me to keep on going with these simple words…

“Be brave.”


As the Coronavirus rips across the globe leaving fear in its place, we must all “Be Brave.”

It has been months since we first heard of the virus tearing through China. As it continued its destruction, running rampant through Italy and gradually affecting the entire world, it is amazing that people are choosing to err on the side of stupidity by not taking precautions.

I am astounded there are so many who still feel this pandemic is a hoax. They might as well sign up with the group that still believes the earth is flat, in my opinion.

I am tired of hearing things like, “It’s only a little worse than the flu, so what’s the big deal?”

This virus is killing people who should have been able to fight off the flu. This is serious!

I am tired of people using peer pressure to try to shame others into acting against the precautions given. It reminds me of those high school years of being shamed for not taking a dare.

“Oh come on,” someone recently charged, “are you that scared?”

“Yes,” I said, unable to believe what I was hearing when I knew the world was on its knees. “I think you need to be taking this seriously, too!”

I have to admit that I knuckled under this pressure at the beginning of the epidemic thinking there was no way this virus would reach our little town in northern Michigan. After seeing the devastation it’s leaving in its path, it is well past the time to act.

Even if I caught the virus and survived doesn’t mean that someone I loved would have the same luck if I unintentionally infected them. Don’t people understand the consequences of their actions? Are they so willing to put others lives at risk because they feel it is just a bad case of the flu?

Even if you don’t believe the virus will ever strike you down, don’t impose your will onto others. It’s YOUR choice to do what you will, but respect other people’s choices and leave them their 6-feet distance if they wish it.

Even if you DO think COVID-19 is a silly worry that the world is taking way to far out of context, I would implore you to PLEASE respect other’s wishes by following the protocol we know for certain.

Keep your social distance.

Wash your hands and frequently touched surfaces OFTEN.

Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

Stay out of crowded spaces.

As Michiganders face 2 more weeks on confinement to help slow the spread of this virus and buy time for a crippled healthcare system, know that after 2 weeks, this is NOT going to be over. In 2 weeks, we can’t go back to life as we once knew it.

Instead of weakening yourself with worry, arm yourself with the knowing how to keep yourself and others safe. Control the things you know you can control.

Will it protect you 100%? It all depends on how often you forget to wash your hands before itching your nose.

The incubation period for Covid-19 is 1 to 14 days, but the median is 5.1 days. 1 person can infect 2.5 others, and the fatality rate of the disease is 3.4%.

According to CDC statistics dated March 16, 2020, here is what is known in the United States as far as the fatality rate.

Persons age 85 and over = 10%-27%

Persons aged 65-84 years = 3%-11%

Persons aged 55-64 years = 1%-3%

Persons aged 20-54 years = less than 1%

Persons ages 19 and less = no fatalities

… so far.

Fever is the number one symptom as well as dry cough and shortness of breath. Some patients in China also experienced diarrhea, nausea and vomiting sometimes before the respiratory symptoms began.

Although many may read these facts as evidence that we are getting ourselves all freaked out for no reason, I ask once again how willing you are to contract this virus?

Yes, you may very well only contract a mild case, but do you really want to see how well you cope?

Bruce Aylward from the World Health Organization stated, “a “mild” case of COVID-19 is not equivalent to a mild cold. Expect it to be much worse: fever and coughing, sometimes pneumonia—anything short of requiring oxygen.”

For those of you doing your best to stay healthy, I hope you continue to BE BRAVE.

Try not to lose your mind with worry. It does no good, and only makes you less capable of staying healthy.

Instead of filling your time with worry, work on things you can control. Keep yourself healthy and in top condition to beat the odds if the time arises that you must face this THING.


Eat Healthy

I feel a bit hypocritical for saying this after stress eating a half of a bag of chocolate covered donuts, but stress does awful things to our control… like binge eating and drinking too much alcohol. Too much of a bad thing and your body becomes a haven of weakness.

Moments of weakness will happen, but try not to let it get out of hand. Instead, fill your body with all the good vitamins and minerals you can to keep it running in tip-top condition.

A diet filled with fruits and vegetables is a start towards building a healthy immune system. As mentioned in The Forgotten 5th Rule, try to eat 4 colors per day.

Besides fruits and veggies, Healthline.com offers 15 foods that boost your immune system including: citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, garlic, ginger, spinach, yogurt, almonds, turmeric, green tea, papaya, kiwi, poultry, sunflower seeds, and shellfish. Find ways to include more of these items in your daily diet.


Drink lots of water

Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day helps to carry oxygen to all the cells in your body and helps to eliminate toxins that could compromise your immune system. Keeping your body well hydrated to flush all the bad junk out of your system is important to your overall health.

Drinking enough water every day helps:

Remove toxins from your blood.

Keep your mouth and eyes clear of germs.

Digest your food.

Your brain produce melatonin so you can sleep.

To produce enough white blood cells and immune cells circulating through your body.

Lubricate your joints.

Produce enough serotonin to ward off depression.


Exercise

I know, I know… that’s all I seem to holler about these days but it’s REALLY important! Exercise does more than you may have ever realized to keep you healthy.

Harvard Medical School writes, “Regular exercise is one of the pillars of healthy living. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, helps control body weight, and protects against a variety of diseases. Just like a healthy diet, exercise can contribute to general good health and therefore to a healthy immune system. It may contribute even more directly by promoting good circulation, which allows the cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently.

So there you have it…

Get outside! Go for a walk, pick up some sticks, rake your lawn… rake your neighbor’s lawn for crying out loud! Do something other than make yourself crazy with worry.


Get Good Sleep

If you don’t get enough exercise through the day, it’s hard to get a good night’s sleep. And a good night’s sleep is paramount to keeping your stress levels down and your immune system charged.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, getting good sleep is important to your mental health, physical wellbeing, overall quality of life, and safety.

If you are stressing over this virus, then it’s probably going to start affecting how well you are sleeping and gradually wear you down to the point of a meltdown. So here are some ideas from the NIH on how to get good sleep.

· Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. For children, have a set bedtime and a bedtime routine. Don't use the child's bedroom for timeouts or punishment.

· Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock's sleep–wake rhythm.

· Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid strenuous exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it's time to be awake.

· Avoid heavy and/or large meals within a couple hours of bedtime. (Having a light snack is okay.) Also, avoid alcoholic drinks before bed.

· Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last as long as 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.

· Spend time outside every day (when possible) and be physically active.

· Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark (a dim night light is fine, if needed).

· Take a hot bath or use relaxation techniques before bed.



Stay Connected

It’s harder than ever to keep connected to those you love when you’re self-quarantined by an executive order. But it is even more important, now, to know there are people that care about you!

Emotional support is vital at this time… especially if you are home by yourself, so find ways to stay connected.

In this age of texting, look for clever ways to have fun with it. Group texts are great so long as everyone in the group is on board. Give it a try, and get creative with group scavenger hunts, adding photos and video clips, or better yet… share your ideas in the comments section below.

Hearing someone’s voice is a little more important, so call someone up on the phone, or better yet, try a video call like FaceTime or Skype so you can see a happy face.

You don’t have to limit yourself to family and friends, either. Remember, we are all in this together!

Be a good neighbor and help those around you if you can. Offer to pick up necessities if you are going out. Share some of your horded toilet paper if you have a bunch. Even the simple act of saying “hello, be safe” can offer a complete stranger a life raft in weathering this storm.

A friend at work said, “This event is going to change our lives as we know it,” and I believe he is correct.

The question is, how are we going to let it affect us in the end?

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

We all need purpose.

It is my hope that the world comes out of this more united than ever. Let us all Be Brave, put our worries aside, and work toward that purpose.

#COVID-19 #Coronavirus #coping #selfquarantine #tips #mentalhealth #purpose #recommendations #symptoms

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you will add your own coping ideas in the comments below so everyone can benefit.

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References:

Fitday, 5 Immune System Benefits Of Drinking Water, https://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/fitness/feeling-nauseous-these-tips-may-help-alleviate-the-symptoms.html

Goodreads, Purpose of Life Quotes, https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/purpose-of-life

Harvard Health Publishing, September 2014, How to boost your immune system, https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/how-to-boost-your-immune-system

National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency, https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency

Parshley, Lois, March 18, 2020, 11 things everyone should know about getting the novel coronavirus https://www.vox.com/2020/3/16/21181560/coronavirus-tips-symptoms-us-covid-19-testing-immunity-reinfection

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