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As any self-respecting blogger would do, I have to jump on the Coronavirus avoidance advice bandwagon. First, remember that I am not a medical professional, and certainly not someone you should be taking medical (or investment) advice from. That said, keeping my family free from serious illness is a constant concern, and I hope I can cut through the hysteria and offer some constructive suggestions.

Keep Calm and Carry On

When in trouble, when in doubt,
run in circles, scream and shout.

Popularized by Herman WoukThe Caine Mutiny (1951),
which describes it as an ancient adage.

No, I’m definitely not suggesting this as a preferred course of action. In fact, I suggest exactly the opposite — stay calm! Panic is the enemy of common sense, and common sense is what I primarily rely on to keep us safe. Now your situation may vary depending on the chronic conditions you’re dealing with, but in our case, we have a variety of situations to deal with:

  1. J, aside from the stroke, is basically healthy and not at high risk. However, her ability to tell me how she is feeling, to help diagnose and treat herself, and to deal with the difficulties of illness are problematic. When she does get sick, it can be difficult to treat her and overly exhausting for her.
  2. I am usually in a high risk group as a 60+ year old male with a history of respiratory problems and more. Thankfully (knock on wood), I’m generally healthy but always vigilant about risks and developing illnesses.
  3. We have middle school aged daughter who is a likely transmitter of anything contagious. Trying to enforce good hygiene practices can be more life threatening than the illness. So, I talk to her often about what”s spreading around school, and hope for the best.

Treat Your Home Like a Hospital

Our home is certainly not a germ free environment but we do try to live by some common sense rules that help to keep us safe:

  1. Hand washing and use of hand sanitizer is encouraged. There are wall mounted PURELL dispensers in each bathroom, in addition to regularly refilled hand soap dispensers. One thing I struggle with is whether paper hand towels or regular bath towels are more hygienic.
  2. There are a variety of wipes around the house — some just baby wipes and some are for surfaces. I tend to wipe up often used areas regularly.
  3. An “if you’re sick, don’t come visit” rule is enforced, at least as best we can. There’s no sense in exposing ourselves to whatever is floating around, so we discourage visitors when they are not feeling well. Most of our friends now take it upon themselves to note when a visit might not be well timed.

Build a Medical Provider Support Network

I have worked hard to develop and maintain a varied network of medical providers who I can easily and quickly reach when I have questions. Some are family, friends and neighbors who are physicians or nurses, and some are our traditional providers who have offered me direct access via email or text messages. This way, I can reach out at the first sign of an issue and take early steps versus the usual approach of waiting too long to go to the doctor. I try to not abuse this privilege and most professionals are willing to cooperate when asked. I learned the need for and value of this approach when J developed a urinary tract infection (UTI) that I ignored for too long (out of ignorance) until it appeared she had suffered another stroke. Then I learned the warning signs of UTI and the impact it can have on brain injury and elder patients.

Minimize Use of Internet & Television News

I realize this piece of advice might be a stretch, but seriously, looking for medical advice on the internet can make you crazy. If you’re careful and stick to well respected websites such as The John Hopkins Medical Health Library or Medlineplus.gov then you can find reliable advice. Trying to make sense of the latest thing TV doctors or random individuals on chat boards say can be dangerous to your health and mental well-being. Oh, and the same goes for friends who are not medical professionals and for well-meaning bloggers.

The Last Word

Finally, keep in mind that even if you do everything suggested to maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can still get sick — it just happens. So, most importantly, try not so stress about it. Stress saps your immune system and disrupts the people around you, leaving you more susceptible to catching the latest, greatest bug. Practice mindful meditation, have a glass of wine with dinner, take a walk, read a book, do whatever you can to relieve stress, enjoy life, and be thankful for all you have — that’s the best recommendation for staying healthy! Share with me any tips you use to keep yourself and your family healthy.

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