Woops,…or things found out the hard way

I think most of us can have a bit of that kid-like rebellion when someone gives advice. Don’t tell me what to do, our brains scream. Especially if the person might be right – that’s way worse. But…if a friend turns to you and says hey, listen to what happened to that guy, we perk up our ears. Yeah, don’t want to be that guy! This section could be called, all the stories I’ve heard about what happened to that guy.

Most people were doing things we all do: multi-tasking, distracted, angry, hungry, etc. But, certain things come up again and again, so I’ve made changes based on what I’ve seen. For instance, I used to think “I’m young and active; I don’t need to hang onto a hand rail when using stairs. That’s so old person.” Now, I do. People of all ages slip and fall down one or multiple steps. Some sustain an ankle sprain. For others, it’s multiple injuries, breaks or SCI (spinal cord injury). Some require years of rehab. Same fall – different outcomes.

On a different note, I’m not talking about people scaling mountains unharnessed or other intense stuff. You can live your life and experience neat stuff but do the prep. Check out the TED talk: “How I climbed a 3,000 foot vertical — without ropes” by Alex Honnold. It’s an amazing story of solo climbing and excellent example of the importance of preparation. In short, get your thrill on but learn from those who’ve done it successfully first.

The first time I realized that medical work involved seeing the outcomes of people’s decisions, concerned a man and a poodle. Those standard poodles are big and she just had babies. All were snuggled on bedding behind a thin curtain. Being a naturally inquisitive person, he slowly & gently pulled the curtain to one side to look at the sweet pups and promptly got a third of his index finger chomped clean off. My next immediate thought was a reminder to myself stating: Don’t Do This! Here are a couple of my don’t do this moments.

Speaking again of animals, I’ve seen time and again nasty bite wounds from hands getting in the middle of a dog fight. The person comes in with a gnawed limb because they used that hand to discourage an oncoming dog from attacking their own. It usually involves a dog on or off leash and sometimes a size discrepancy. Your furrbaby could get hurt and your brain screams: protect, protect. I get it. I have small creatures. But, I have told myself repeatedly: use something else – not my hand. I’ve taken off my shoe and put that in between if that’s all I have. Then again, I wear 15yr old sneakers and not Manolo Blahnik’s (had to look that up ;))

This leads to infections. You want to clean that nasty bite, so what do you do? If dousing the wound in alcohol or hydrogen peroxide is your go to, rethink that. I’ve seen hands blow up in size and turn bright red …The.. Next.. Day after treatment with overly strong cleansers. Those agents are not recommended in the medical literature because they can worsen healing. So, it’s boring gentle soap and lots of water. Irrigate, irrigate, irrigate. If you’re uncomfortable with the way a wound looks then wrap in a dressing and be seen at a medical facility for further treatment. Especially if it’s popping open with continued bleeding. You also might need a tetanus shot.

What I do if something is in the early stages and just beginning to look like it may become infected (warm, tender and reddish) is to put heat on the area. This is counter intuitive because the area is already hot. A heating pad* is best, because it stays at gentle heat longer than a warm compress. That heat essentially brings your blood to the area that needs it., and in the blood, lives your immune cells which fight off infection. You may still need antibiotics, but sometimes you don’t. If I get to something quick enough, just the heat and my body’s immune system can do the trick.

I have lots more of these, but will start there. Here’s wishing you fun and safety which are the two things that I request from my cat whenever I leave him.

*Could you use an electric blanket in a pinch…….yes.

COVID-19: The New Invisible Man

Creating Safety.

In theaters recently was an updated version of the Invisible Man. It was impressive with superb acting, effects and reasonably explained tech that satisfied this life-long science fiction reader. Horror is not my bag, a comment which reveals my late 70’s upbringing. You get two options and both involve death.

I stopped watching anything with a hint of scary after a short time period of sibling bonding over early Godzilla and other gory flicks. The images left me panicked at night for months. To be fair, my Mother had five children within a seven year span and was reasonably unaware of the oldest two watching early morning tv on the weekend.

Recently, after a day of much productivity, my spouse and I decided to check out available movies. Action tropes make me skittish like I need to simultaneously be on a treadmill alongside the running heroine and romantic stories’ unremitting tension and longing is a strain. Nothing else looked interesting at the local theater. That leads me back to the Invisible Man.

sibling bonding over early Godzilla flicks.

The characters fight against an unseen enemy which involves wild punching and lashing out into apparent emptiness, usually with a knife. The fear is palpable and attempts at self-protection seem ineffectual. This beast of a virus, Covid-19 works similarly. It is unseen, hiding in plain sight, and kills people. So, how do I stay sane and safe in this universe?

I recognized that creating a safe haven started in my mind. Below is my plan of action. Yours will be different based on your specific circumstances. My goal: make decisions that decrease stress. It’s about honoring what you need to feel safe. I review daily up to date information from trusted sources, like the CDC, but I limit the time spent. I look for useful information that changes my plan of action, not inundate myself with repetitious and stressful images.

Viruses are tiny, replicating and mutating quickly, but they have their weaknesses. You have to be exposed to a certain amount of viral particles to cause disease and have a body that is susceptible to that particular virus. Many live on surfaces for 72 hours and their entry into bodies is through orifices: eyes, nose, mouth and hands as the freeway delivery system. So, I guard my entry points. I consider my hands “contaminated” until they’re washed and face unsafe until it’s covered. You also wear a mask as a courtesy to others, so you won’t spread your stuff around. Don’t be the carrier that makes the susceptible person sick.

I’ve decided to make my body stronger so it can protect itself better by using with the data that is known: add veggies and greens. All around the world multiple studies show this, but how? I hide my veggies. Dr. Wahl’s (Wahl’s Protocol,TM) cooks amazing skillet meals with onions, garlic, oil and handfuls of greens and veggies. Yum. I put handfuls of spinach leaves in my coffee smoothie – can’t taste the greens. I can’t stand squash but after heated and pureed into spaghetti sauce, I don’t notice a thing. I make hearty, easy meals. Check out online Powerhouse Foods, by Jennifer DiNoia. Add in the good stuff. Yes, I have cravings and I tell myself, “don’t stop and get something you’ll regret”. You can find a healthy version online.

Complicated systems create stress. During a conversation about how best to protect yourself, a friend was nitpicking about all the choices she makes in deciding when and where she should wear a mask or wash her hands. I simplified things. I leave the house; I wear a mask. I make sure my mask is comfortable and secure, so that I don’t have to fuss with it. I don’t move the mask unless I wash or sanitize my hands before & after. I wash my hands (front, back, in between fingers and nails) regularly with soap that is gentle, so it doesn’t rip up my skin. You get into a routine, then don’t have to think about it. It’s a good practice anyway.

You may ask: everything is opening up; is it safe? I personally still wear a mask and practice the same precautions until we are truly in the clear. I will review new cases to determine when I am comfortable not wearing “gear.”

This pandemic also got me thinking. What if we all wore masks and religiously hand washed every winter (Flu Season)? Perhaps the thousands that die from the flu yearly wouldn’t need to, because the carrier to susceptible transmission rate, us, was blocked. What do you think?

COVID-19 may seem like the frightening Invisible Man lurking silently in plain sight, but we don’t need to be consumed with fear of it. A cloth mask and some plain old soap and water are proven weapons in defeating this tiny foe. Healthy eating provides that extra layer of armor.