In response to questions about how to prepare for and to provide home care for those who are sick:
First, just know that you probably know more than you might think. Most of us have had a cold or a fever or a respiratory illness. This one might not be any more severe than the ones you have had before. What you have learned in previous illnesses is relevant and applicable.
For the sick: rest is so helpful. Rest for the body, yes, but also rest for the mind. Avoid social media, screens of any kind, disturbing stories, harsh words. Surround the sick with beauty, soft light, quiet, peace, comfort, and of course, drinks and foods to appetite. Speak with a cheerful confidence of their body's healing journey. Soups with lots of onions and garlic, ginger, turmeric, chicken broth, astragalus, and savory herbs are comforting and healing. So many plant medicines can come to our aid when we feel unwell: echinacea, astragalus, olive leaf extract, yarrow, mullein, elder, garlic, . . . Of course each person's reaction to any plant should be considered and adapted.
Sugar and flour, processed foods, alcohol (in excess of what is in herbal extracts--taken in the fractions of ounces), and worry are to be avoided.
Supplements like fish oil, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D support healing. Always customize the regimen to the person.
For the caregivers: Care for yourself first. Sleep is so important, as is being well-nourished in body and soul. Asking for help is hard even in the best of times. Notice if the obstacle to getting help is inside of you or external. Who is your support--both physical and wise guidance? Hygiene is important. Separate the sick person's toothbrush, towel, washcloth, etc from the rest of the household. Can the sick person have their own room and dedicated bathroom? If so, that's the easiest. Of course washing hands and surfaces is important. Soap and water is our oldest and most effective ally for hands and surfaces. Use products that have your confidence and make you happy.
We are asking people to practice social distancing, and once people are sick to practice isolation (for the sick) and quarantine (for the exposed well). It is true connection with people is so important to health. (This applies mostly to the caretakers. The sick are generally internally focused as is right and have little energy or interest in social interaction--this is to be respected) Use technology to communicate as regularly as you can. Stay honest with yourself. Connection with nature and the divine are also health-giving, as is movement.
In an effort to be available to my patients in a way the reduces the chance of spreading COVID19 (and other infections as well), I am asking that my patients who have fever, cough, shortness of breath or otherwise feel unwell call the office rather than coming in. I will be making myself more available by phone and by videoconferencing. In addition, I am making greater efforts to see sick folk at their homes.
I am exploring ways to get testing for COVID19. The state makes that testing available, but due to limited supplies, they are only testing people with symptoms and with high risk exposure (contact with a documented case or travel to an area with documented community spread). Others will need to pay for testing, either themselves or through their health insurance. That testing should be available any day now.
I am fielding questions about the specifics of social distancing. It's new to all of us. Sharing perspectives is so important.
Are there ways I can be more helpful to you?
Social distancing (closing schools, cancelling the gatherings, staying home) only works well if we all do it at the same time. I think it's time. I might be wrong. Folks in charge locally don't agree with me. It won't be coming from the top anytime soon. If people ask me if they should travel, if they should host a large gathering, my answer is no. Most of us will do fine. Some of us won't. If we all get sick at the same time, we can easily overwhelm the hospitals. We have two models already on display for study: In both Wuhan and Italy, officials hesitated and only took drastic action when the hospitals were overwhelmed. Hospital beds full. Ventillators at capacity and the folks who need them next don't get them. Medical personnel working at past their capacity and getting sick. In Wuhan, the government was able to do what democracies so far have not done: built two large hospitals in weeks and shipped in doctors and nurses from the rest of the country. And had people STAY HOME. In Wuhan, they did it--the number of cases has decreased to where it is less in China than in the US. We shall see what will happen in Italy. And the US. We can vote with our behavior. We can keep our children home, stay home ourselves, don't go to the parties, political rallies, and the events. I get it. I went to films at True False. I hope we will act in time.
Based on my own experience and reading Stephen Buhner (an herbalist and author I admire) I have been obtaining some plant medicines to help me and my people through viral illness, most specifically coronaviruses.
Of course, none of us have experience treating COVID19 with herbs, cause it's new to humans. But it's in a family of viruses that we are very familiar with. Coronaviruses cause the common cold and SARS and MERS.
Elder--berries and other parts--show some effectiveness in helping people recover from coronavirus infection. So I stocked up on elderberry juice. I might harvest some stems and leaves later this spring when the plants leaf out to make into medicine.
Ginger--fresh only is recommended. I hope that includes frozen. I am adding a tablespoon or so to my morning smoothies.
Chinese Skullcap for tinctures.
I already have a great supply of Echinacea, Astragalus, and Goldenseal.
I will also be buying a big bag of onions. I have a lot of garlic remaining from the harvest last fall. And greens coming up in the garden.
Reading about Plant Allies
First an update:
105 total cases in the US, 10 hospitalized, 6 deaths. Population-based testing is promised but not yet underway, so there is likely to be a big bump in cases once that starts. It won't mean the disease is suddenly spreading, it will mean we are finally measuring it better.
Here's what I am doing today:
Lived my life
It was a beautiful day with the promise/suggestion of rain in the evening. I know that my absolute favorite experience is hearing rain on my metal roof knowing that I planted seeds in the garden today. I planted seeds in the garden. And then watered them when the rain passed us by. I took a walk with my husband and dog, twice. Got some house holding projects done. I did some yoga. I went to bed early. I ate vegetables. I drank water. I washed my hands. I pondered COVID19 and life. I decided to get a flu shot. I called my mother and we chewed on the question of if I should try to visit her at the end of March. I made some lists of other preparations to make.
GET A FLU SHOT
I am going to head out to get a flu shot and encourage my household to do the same. Why a flu shot? Will that protect me from Coronavirus? No. They are different viruses so will need different vaccines. No coronavirus vaccine exists now. Here are my reasons for a flu shot:
1. Public Health folks who are thinking about this more than I can imagine are recommending it.
2. I have taken and tolerated the flu shot many times.
3. In the years since I stopped, I have gotten influenza (or an influenza-like illness) 4 times. It's miserable and memorable.
4. I expect to be needed to do my work pretty intensely if things unfold as predicted.
5. Part of my confidence that I can survive influenza is that there is a hospital nearby that can offer me supportive care if I need it. That may not be the case if there are lots of folks with COVID 19 already taking up the resources.
UPDATE: I got the flu shot. It was easy.