Tag Archives: health

This is not the time to be careless

REQUIRING MEDICAL CARE DURING A PANDEMIC

is not a good idea.

This is a time to be extra-careful, if you’re older, not to fall.

It is a good time to lower your stress and eat right, and possibly not need that trip to a hospital for chest pains.

It is a time to watch your rage (while at the same time creating it – nice quandary), so you don’t, literally, blow a gasket.

It is a good time to think things through and take the safest course, to process the information from the outside world with more care.

You can see where this is going, right?

Yesterday, on my way back from the swimming pool (with its inconvenient limited hours), I was sitting on my walker (because standing and walking hurt), scooting backward as I do, when I needed to push the big metal pushbutton that opens the automatic doors.

I didn’t give it much though, but had to reach slightly behind me, and had to push that button harder than I expected, and something popped – and hurt a lot – on my right upper arm/shoulder/biceps area.

I have injured myself, and I’m irritated at how the stiffness of the button, and the need to get through the door after it swings open, made this go bad. But I’m the one injured, and right now the thought of going to the doctor, and possibly needing some attention, scares me.

So I’ve been babying it, trying not to use my right arm at all.

Nothing appears to be broken or torn

I used ibuprofen, and I sat with the cold-pack for a while.

Nothing is visibly swollen, and this morning it wasn’t actually hurting unless I moved it (not going to do that if I can help it).

And I can type – the important part.

But in ordinary circumstances I’d call the doctor, go see him, maybe get an X-ray, end up in PT, but right now, while we’re waiting for the first big wave of COVID-19 cases to hit the local hospitals, I don’t want to go to a doctor’s office. I don’t want to risk not being able to come back (retirement communities are looking askance at those who go out into the big bad world and then come back). I don’t want to possibly need surgical intervention – not even sure I could get it!

And I don’t want to go to a place where I might pick something up!

I just feel stupid

even though it was probably truly accidental, and I could never have foreseen the combination of circumstances that would result in an injury – from a seated position!

If you’ve read my blog for a while, you might remember that when I dislocated my finger, I pulled it back into position, and iced it myself – because I was hosting a picnic, and knew what going to an ER or Urgent Care facility would do, timewise, and that the best time to fix a problem like that is immediately, before the joint has a chance to swell.

It made sleeping tricky.

I had to ask my husband to load the washing machine for me.

It was very awkward taking a shower – and I had to be very careful – but our pools have chlorine and salt water in them, and I was decidedly not going to bed that way.

And it doesn’t hurt yet today, though I dare not move it much.

My advice?

Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t be upset, as I was, at petty rules not allowing us for the present to take a shower in the dressing room by the pool.

Be more careful out there than you think – this is not the time to require medical attention – if you can avoid it. Stay safe – just in case.


 

The national safety depends on cooperators

Woman on balcony talking to family members two stories down

Family visit during coronavirus scare

HOW TO VISIT OLDER RELATIVES SAFELY

Almost looks like Italy, doesn’t it?

No reason you can’t visit – but you can’t come in. My neighbor across the entrance court caught my eye because she was out on her balcony. I thought she was getting some fresh air, and was about to go out and yell Hello! when I noticed the pickup truck and the younger women below.

There is NO substitute for face-to-face human contact, preferably with hugs and touching (many aging people never get touched except by caretakers), but this will do right now.

Video conferences are next best – but I love to see her people making the effort to come see her.

I don’t want my daughter in San Francisco to come do this – it was a SHORT visit – but I’m guessing these visitors came from Davis itself, or somewhere close, and thought to stop and cheer our resident up on their way around town for errands. Very thoughtful.

Social connection in the age of social distancing

I hope to be able to use the indoor therapy pool in the times they’ve selected (during which we recalcitrant disobedient old people will be supervised by staff to ensure proper social distancing). I’ve sent an email off to the staff member who will be the enforcer.

The people here brought this on ourselves! We got a frantic memo yesterday from the director saying residents AND staff have been ignoring the 6 ft. rule. Shame on us!

So now we will be supervised – better than nothing, by far.

I’ve been telling other people for over a week to maintain their distance, but others have not. Sigh.

It will be nice to talk to someone other than the spouse in person.

I think they want us not the use the restrooms or the dressing rooms by the pools (if I’m quoting the memo right), which is just doable. I’m wondering if they’ll allow people into the hot tub one at a time!

That’s the news from Lake URC

Where all the women are strong, the men are nice, and there are no children (points for getting the reference).


Stay well! Stay away from other people, but not too far.


Writing time!


 

Small comforts big in stressful times

Pond with the sign University Retirement Community in the background.

The burbling pond by our entrance

MENTAL HEALTH REQUIRES GETTING OUT!

For the first time in a month, I got over being scared of everything, and went out for a short trike ride.

I rode around the greenway in Davis, near our complex, and stopped to admire how gorgeous California is right now, after a bit of rain, and in springtime.

There were flowers everywhere, and the backdrop of the water-saving yucca and succulents were beautified by trees, rocks, and inventive gardening.

Six feet apart to not become six feet under

Saw a few people inside our community, and a few outside. We stayed apart, carefully.

One kid was running a remote control car around his court.

I didn’t have much energy, so I pedaled very slowly, resting and sitting (which you can’t do on a bike) frequently. I kept my hands on MY handlebars the entire time – and washed everything very thoroughly when I came back.

I didn’t touch my face while out or before washing. I didn’t get off the trike. I didn’t touch the elevator buttons.

But I did have to touch my own trike to get the lock off. Unlikely anyone else has touched it, off on the side where it is locked to a bike rack in the basement.

Dinner had nothing I could/would eat

I hope they figure out their system. I’m a picky eater at the best of times, and I don’t eat most carbs (they fog my brain even worse). But we seem to be getting almost random food selections – tiny milk cartons one day, tiny cans of juice the next day, large glasses of milk with fitted lids the next, then back to tiny milk cartons. The large glasses had no indication what kind of milk was in them.

The protein was lamb; I don’t eat lamb.

Last night all I could eat from the delivery was the small container of salad greens – one for the both of us.

We have food. We have backups. We are used to being in charge of breakfast and lunch, anyway. This is not a complaint – it is an observation. Their system is still getting itself organized, but the logic is odd.

It’s been less than a week since total lockdown.

Groceries

This morning at 6 am the husband set out on foot for the local grocery store pulling our wheeled cart from Staples. And hour and a half later, he was back with supplies.

The store had a time for seniors and disabled people – and they all stayed 6 ft. apart. He wore disposable plastic gloves until he was out – and then trashed them.

He is my HERO!

We ALL worry that if we get too low on basics, the stores will not be back to providing them the next time we need to go. We try not to hoard. We have TP, but never bought an unconscionable amount.

And we hate wasting food.

Exercise

They have closed the indoor and outdoor pools.

And both gyms. The gyms, I understand, because in the best of conditions, there are people who don’t wipe off equipment, and they can’t have an attendant all the time. However, we have a number of people whose disease management REQUIRES them to get exercise – or they deteriorate even faster. They are unhappy.

We just got a memo that there will be a supervised swim period MWF from 8-noon – with the Wellness Center director supervising we stay apart – because the director freaked out (as he probably should have) when people were too close to each other in the mail-room.

They have installed no-touch gel stations in mail-room and library.

We will wash our hands on top of that.

I have my trike. A few people here have recumbents of their own. Husband decided to walk to the grocery store rather than trust that the facility’s bikes are safe to touch. Fortunately, it is a 15 min. walk.

Social life

I called several people this morning – they seemed surprised to have me ask about their well-being. I figure if we all check on our closest friends and neighbors, most people will have someone here giving a call.

Next door neighbor and I realized that our balconies provide privacy – but no way to communicate – the building makes it impossible.

I ran into people walking their dogs, or going from the main building to a cottage (there are a few garden apartments in a separate building, and a small number of detached small houses). We stayed apart – didn’t chat too long – didn’t sit down.

Still doable.

Communication within and without

The newsletter group is getting Zoom ready to have their meetings that way. You can download it for computers and phones, and it’s free up to a certain size. Thank you, Zoom. We will be using it for family meetings from four different cities.

The main problem at URC is that our average age is mid-eighties, and some people are not really computer literate. And those of us who are can’t go in to their apartments to set them up.

And their kids and grandkids can’t come in to show them how to use technology.

There are still telephones.

Staying busy

There are MANY options, from free opera to paid books.

I’m writing again – it’s hard work more because of the hiatus than anything else, but I did choose to do something new and different with how the scene is organized – and that took some figuring out. I hope it is a much stronger scene as a result.

One lovely person took Pride’s Children PURGATORY out of Kindle Unlimited, and read 304 pages. Hmmm. Don’t know if they had read the rest before, or were able to or forced to stop before the end (around 385pp). I may never find out who it was, unless they leave a review.

When I reread it, I can’t stop that close to the end, but then, I wrote the book I wanted to read and couldn’t find.

There’s plenty else to do – Tai Chi will be meeting via Zoom – but I have no excuse for not doing what I moved here to do – finish the two remaining novels in the trilogy. And it felt so good to get back into Andrew’s head to write.


Signing out for now – hope we can keep this up for many months!

Stay well – drop a line as to how YOU’re doing.


 

Social connections in isolation time

Fully open purple tulip in glass vase on windowsill

Many days later – still hanging in there

PATIENCE AND BEAUTY FROM A FRIEND

This isn’t new for those of us who, because of chronic illness and/or disability, don’t get out much, but social connections (even more precious to us) are necessary.

This community has gone from a vibrant group with many things going on every day, so many that it is often hard to pick which to go to, to a group of individuals and couples spending all day long in their apartment, mostly without communicating in person with others.

Including the staff who now bring our food, and leave it on the ledge outside our door sometime in the dinner hour. We open the door after waiting a bit (so they have moved on), and yell, “Thanks!” down the hall.

They’re still sorting the details out

The little things matter a lot. Last night was the first time they have picked dinner and left it outside our door – and it was the St. Patrick’s Day party dinner – and the corned beef was so salty I could not eat it. That’s exactly the kind of thing you might not think of, but if you look forward to it all day, and it’s inedible, your one tiny social contact for the day is tainted (I had a cookie from the freezer and some leftovers to compensate).

Tonight the selections were a wee bit odd, and they didn’t bring the milk – I wonder if they’re having trouble figuring out a system, since they asked about 200 apartments for a card with preferences.

Once we have a better understanding of their part, we can get a few outside supplies. We feel strongly about not throwing away food, always have, so before I eat a meal, I ask the husband what is oldest or needs eating first – and feed myself from those choices.

We have set up zoom for family meetings

We missed the family vacation last year, and will miss it again this year, but it is important for us to do the kind of gabbing we do when we get together.

We have downloaded and tested Zoom, which is used for meetings in businesses, and will let you do short home versions for free. Three of us tested it out today because the husband is on the newsletter staff, and they’re going to use it here instead of meeting in person.

Find a way to talk to family and friends, and, if you can do technology (Facetime, Whatsup, Skype, Messages…), do the video versions. It is a huge leap from text to audio, and a bigger one to video, for nuance, expression, body language, and everything except smell and touch. I have always preferred video – so I could really tell how the kids were.

Connect and reconnect

Those friends you’ve been meaning to send a Christmas letter to for years? Call.

The ones you never get around to in your family? Email.

The birthday person turning 21 who can’t go celebrate at a bar? Commiserate with a card and a promise for later.

It doesn’t take much to make someone happy – and now you have the time if you’re sheltering in place.

Especially important to have done this if for some reason, you are the one who doesn’t make it.

And thanks to all my old friends who are reaching out to comment – love you all.

Thanks for the tulip, Diane.


 

Lockdown with food delivery CCRC style

OTHERS ARE KEEPING US SAFE

When we moved here, it was for life.

A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is the last place you will live. Once you buy in, you are promising, like some medieval monks, to stay in one place, one community – for literally the rest of your life.

This is the first serious test of the concept that we’ve dealt with: we have put our health and welfare into the hands of management – and they are doing everything in their power to keep us safe.

Even our tiny folksinging group – fewer than 10 people – was canceled.

And fed

We are now on total lockdown in our apartments. There will be no community events, no gatherings of people, no groups coming from outside, no family or friend visits (except for the terminal).

And the food – one of the good things about a place like this with several venues for dinner or lunch and a fair number of choices about what you may choose for those meals – is about to get very different.

We have been given a tiny number of choices (so you can tell them you’re vegetarian or don’t eat fish or dairy), and they will decide what to bring you – and deposit on the ledge outside your door!

Choice seems a minor casualty

I’m sure they will be trying to keep it as interesting as possible, and we will make do, and we have things in our freezer and pantry to supplement or replace.

We will have ways of continuing to get staples from local grocery stores.

But the ability to choose from different entrees, sides, and desserts – a big part of gracious living at a CCRC that justifies the entry and monthly fees – will be gone. For MONTHS.

We’ve never bought the 5* restaurant boast (though occasional meals are superb, the ordinary is not), but we’re about to find out what happens when they decide what we eat. And how much.

Meal TIME and TEMPERATURE will compensate a bit

We don’t have to eat dinner between 4:45 and 7pm if we choose to set the delivery aside and eat at a more normal 8-9 PM; and we DO have a microwave oven and a regular over to heat buffet food that is usually not all that hot by the time we get it to the dining room table and eat it (for me, because I bring my plates to the table on my walker’s seat, and prefer to make only one trip, cold dinner entrees are the norm).

It’s going to be institutional. It’s going to be weird.

And it’s going to be a struggle for me, the picky eater who doesn’t eat many carbohydrates.

We’ll survive – and this is the only way staff time can be used to both deal with food and  the safety precautions, too.

We will continue to be fed, like the passengers on the cruise ships, and it will be someone else’s problem as long as they are handling it.

We are lucky – it could be far worse

As it is going to be far worse for so many people out there.

We don’t have an easy way to make a change in our living arrangements – the house in New Jersey is long gone, and this is our home.

And we’re all grownups here, and will adjust, and keep the proverbial stiff upper lip.

Please note: I’m documenting and commenting, not complaining.


Meanwhile, some lovely person is reading Pride’s Children PURGATORY from Kindle Unlimited, and I’m delighted to watch their progress through the author tools we have.

If it’s you, please consider leaving a review on Amazon!


 

Riding out the storm in a CCRC

A Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) is a giant bubble.

I went swimming (okay, floating around) in the indoor pool for the first time in almost a month, since I got the flu.

Not another soul around.

On the way back, I went outside for a short bit – and we had dinner with friends.

This is as normal as it’s going to get. Our hatches are battened down. We are in a virtual lock-down – no one in from the outside who isn’t necessary.

Food selections are far fewer – but still someone else’s job. The servers, many of them high school kids and college kids, are doing a lot to keep us clean, and counter and door knobs wiped – and we’re going hard doing the same.

It’s going to be long – we were estimating it will take at least a couple of months. So we are cautiously supporting each other, and happy we moved here – this would have been soul-killing in NJ, even though there are so many more potentially infectious people here.

I don’t know what will happen – apparently this is Level 2 – and they have plans up to Level 5!

I wonder if the service was as good on the deck of the Titanic.

Outside people – staff

First, our staff. For 350 or so people, we have 200 staff.

TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE who go home every night and come back the next day.

All of our staff live in Davis and the surrounding communities, including Sacramento.

Outside people – family and friends

A very large percentage of our residents come from the city of Davis (where the University of California, Davis, is located). Many taught at UCD, reared children in Davis, and/or still have a child or grandchild in the city.

For Sunday brunches and holiday meals like Thanksgiving and Easter and others, we have to make reservations in advance because so many family members come here. For a quite competitive price, it is easy to have your whole family come here for the holidays. After, while the grownups are talking, it is easy for a few of the parents to take the more wiggly kids swimming to tire them out.

So the connection to Davis is strong – and large.

We have been asked not to have any nonessential visitors – INCLUDING family members. No restrictions on going out – yet. Our oldest from San Francisco will not be coming.

Outside people – everyone else

Firefighters and ambulances are common here – they respond to all kinds of 911 calls, from falls to potential fatalities.

Outside workmen are here all the time, involved in ongoing maintenance and refurbishing the 10% of apartments that turn over in a typical year. There was a guy walking on the roof on the other side of the building this morning. Our roofs have just been replaced – possibly some kind of inspector.

Delivery personnel, including post office employees, are here daily – the front desk handles a mass of packages from all over. These people are now being asked to stop at the front desk and take a temperature scan, and their entry into the building is being minimized.

Staying occupied and involved will be up to us, individually.

All other groups – and we have concerts, lectures, trips, movies – from the outside are being canceled. We are mostly staying in our apartments – not congregating in groups of more than 20 has been requested by management.

We’re trying to ‘flatten the curve’

All we can really hope for is slowing the contagion. The concept is well delineated in a graph from various sources; FastCompany has the story AND several versions of the graph, including one that emphasizes what place like our CCRC are trying to do.

The idea is simple – even for those with a limited science/math background: our healthcare system (NOT uniformly spread over the whole USA) has a certain number of beds in intensive care (under a million), of which about 10% can support critical patients who need help with breathing (about 90,000 beds).

If we have too many people getting to the critical point where they need breathing support (like currently in Italy), then there literally will not be enough of these hospital beds to go around, and doctors will have to make tough choices about who gets one, AND THEY’RE ALREADY PLANNING ON THROWING OLDER PEOPLE AND PEOPLE WHO ARE ALREADY DISABLED or ILL WITH OTHER PROBLEMS (like ME/CFS) UNDER THE BUS – BY DENYING THEM ACCESS TO THE LIMITED BEDS.

So it is crucial to have people get sick at a slower rate.

Because we have no tools to STOP the virus yet. No vaccine, no immunity.

Slowing contagion is done by increasing the distance between people beyond 6 ft. (droplets from coughs make it about that far). Not going out. Not bringing people in.

And by proper cleaning techniques for surfaces (the CCRC staff plus residents are decontaminating surfaces frequently).

And by not transferring any virus particles to ourselves: proper hand-washing, and NOT touching our faces with hands which might be contaminated.

By letting medical personnel know if we have any of the symptoms: fever, cough, headaches… so a sick person can be further isolated if appropriate – and helped to get better.

It still takes SEVERAL WEEKS in intensive care to recover, if you’re one of the critically ill. During that time, you will be occupying a bed and having a lot of help with breathing, and taking a LOT of time from medical personnel.


That’s it for the current state of our waiting, quietly trying to conserve resources and delay the onset of the inevitable as long as possible.


Be sure you have books to read, ahem – long fat complex books – while waiting out the storm.

Someone out there gave me the flu

Before you get started, yes, I had my flu shot. In October.

The four-times stronger version for older adults.

And had enough of a sore arm to be sure it challenged my immune system.

This should be a safe place

There are about 350 of us, most in Independent Living apartments in the main building; fewer than a third in Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and Memory Support (downstairs, in the same building).

Most of the 200 staff or so have had the flu shot for a while – if they don’t get it, they have to wear the inconvenient ‘mask of shame’ until they do get it. Visitors like the Fed Ex man wear a mask the entire time they are here if they don’t have the shot.

Because a lot of the people here also came from UC Davis and Davis originally, there are a fair number of guests, though, and I’ve never seen a mask on a guest. OTOH, those are the people who are interested in keeping mom and dad or grandma around.

But we’re not locked in here, not in any way.

There is an ‘out there’

Healthy people can be carriers, even with washing our hands more than we used to.

We go to St. James on Sundays.

Husband rides the bike to the grocery store.

People here go to doctors’ offices.

And somewhere in that mass of people we’re all connected to, someone gave me the flu.

Because I didn’t create this.

I can’t remember

anyone in particular coughing and sneezing a lot, but there was the old lady in church, and the altar boy I didn’t shake hands with for the Kiss of Peace – even though he had a sniffling/sneezing even right before putting his cute little hand out.

And I’ve heard sneezes in the dining venues.

It’s inevitable. And random.

And very hard to avoid coming in contact with someone who is about to come down with the flu tomorrow.

This is practice for the coronavirus pandemic – and also shows how hard it is to prevent contagion.

Milder flu?

‘They’ say the flu shot makes you more likely to have a milder flu.

I think that’s true in my case – I’ve had two days of misery, fever, headaches – the works. But I’m definitely not as sick as I could get.

There is also, because your flu is shorter, a smaller window to pass the flu on – which reduces the spread.

So I’m glad I got the shot. And worried about what is going to happen next in the world.

Do what you can to reduce your chances of getting and passing on the flu – you can still get the shot (and unless you have a documented medical reason not to) this year, and in the future.

Immunocompromised people like me, new babies and youngsters, people too old to tolerate the shot, people who have other illnesses – we would all rather not get sick.

Thank you.