COVID-19: OMG! A compassionate memoir by an Anxiety Disorder & Health Psychologist.

Author: Dr. Manju

Legal disclaimer: My blog is not a subsititue for or an agreement to particpate in medical and/or mental health treatment. My content is for educational purposes only. Should you need or continue to need professional care from a health practitioner of any type, please consult with or seek them.

3/15/2020

Oh my God! Eyebrows rose after learning about COVID-19 in China, then we hear about a national lockdown in Italy— “We don’t have any time. The numbers are showing that there has been a significant growth in infections, people in intensive care and deaths,” announced Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy in his national lockdown speech. “Our habits have to change right now. We must give things up for Italy.” Huh? Whispers are turning into confusion and escalate into intense anxiety, preparation, some panicing intermittently when Cristina Higgins, an American who currently lives in Italy, painted a daunting picture of the devastating spread of COVID-19 infection spread among the Italian population, the hospital healthcare system with its triage, nurses collapsing at work with their masks on during the national lockdown in Italy.

So, a little about me: I’m a health and gerospsychologist in NYC. Upon entering the long and short term care facility at work, I’m screened with questions and for a fever before going beyong security. My patients and their families and friends have strong, mixed reactions to the visitor ban. OMG. My patients are lonely and do not know when and in some cases, IF they will ever see their loved ones again. In my 10 years of geropsychological work, I have NEVER seen such drastic and severe changes in such a short amount of time. With older parents who have underlying health conditions, I’m qite concerned. Heck, I have underlying health conditions and will be 50 in less than a month. Holy moly. Is this real?

An escalation of scientific articles online, some questionable “is this sensational or fake news” articles (such as China claiming that COVID-19 is “airborne”, date Sept 2, 2020 and posted on about March 14, 2020 haha wink wink), a barrage of updates from Mayors, Senators, and Federal officials concerning the ramifications of the virus in every aspect of our lives that is removing ourselves from our benchmark of normalcy at pace with which we can barely keep up! One day Mayor De Blasio of NYC insists that the ppublic schools will NOT close with his reasons, people demanding he reverse his stance, Governor Cuomo of New York insisting that the schools close and voila! Today, at about 5:41pm Sundnay night, the Mayor announces that the public school system will be shut town starting MMonday March 16th 2020 until at LEAST April 20th, 2020. Also, tonight at around 10:15, bars and restaruants and cafes will only be able to offer take out and delivery services while nightclubs, movie theaters, small thereater houses and concert venues will be shut down by his Executive Order on Tuesday March 17th! Unprecedented and unfamomable not only to those born after the H1N1 influenza post 1918-1919, but to all of us just about 4-5 days prior. What a humbling experience not only for the public, but given the conflicting, falllse and undetermined factors that coincide with COVID-19, humbling to the medical and scientific communities, political and overall health care industries as well. Which leads me to my next point…..

This gives each and every one of us to push the “reset” button for the greater good on every level as we know it. Be safe and well everyone. Let’s take care of ourselves, each other, and the planet.

When an apocalypse feels like it’s at the tip of your fingertips, waiting to usurp you and those you care about, remember this: informed decisions and preparation help regulate the nervous system. Panic mode is a train wreck waiting to happen. #frazzleandfrenzyfreeamidcovid19/20!

3/16/20

When there are more unknowns than knowns in an emerging public health crisis, self-care for all is critical. Bilateral stimulation and behavioral activation helps induce calm, combats flight-fight-freeze-faint so we can make informed decisions. Create a meaningful routine in solitude or with virtual or distant connection.

Know that many of us are thinking aloud in emergency situation mode, particulary since we engage in shallow chest breathing, which makes it even more conducive to do so. Diaphragmatic breathing exercises, on an as needed basis for prevention of escalating anxiety symptoms. When there are more unknowns than knowns in an emerging public health crisis, self-care for all is critical. Some who are prone to escalating anxiety, panic or related distress may need to work harder through extra self-care. Some of us are more easily “hijacked” by the amydala when anxious, so it is most preferable to make informed decisions, engage in a routine that will feel increasingly normal when alone, more distant or online to stay connected with your purpose. Regulate media exposure and screen for only reputable news sources, including scientific ones that publish on COVID-19. Bilateral stimulation (tapping on both sides of the body), and behavioral activation helps induce calm, combats flight-fight-freeze-faint so we can make informed decisions. Create a meaningful daily/weekly/monthly routine in solitude or with virtual or distant connection.

A wise shaman wrote that during this public health crisis, we are learning through paradoxes. To add to that, remember, many public venues, services and facilities are closed or working on limited hours FOR NOW to best serve us, the public. 🙂

Later this evening:
So a cousin of mine in China wrote the following in our vitual correspondence re: easing up on lockdown requirements from what I’ve been reading online. I don’t know what’s real, sensational or fake news these days. Upon my inquiry, the following is an excerpt of what he wrote:

“In Hangzhou, where I live, the local government required businesses to apply for restarting work and permits were issued based on priority of business – starting with essential services. Number of staffs allowed to return was limited as well and gradually released in batches – don’t have exact figures but was about 30% for first 2 weeks.

On top of that, they issued a “green code” – a QR code for the citizens. This allowed “safe” people to move around. The code was based on AI research- encroached privacy but was efficient and brought convenience to safe population rather than a blanket quarantine during the early days.

So …. privacy is a double edged sword.”

Thoughts on govt. issued QR codes to maximize public health safety based on AI research? Oh boy. How do you think that would work in the “free” states of the West?


It was reviewed and got back my green code though in like half and hour.”

Wow, codes for citizens to move around in their country. Thoughts?

3/27/20

Ok, so we panic with the rest of the world already in distress, whether the COVID pandemic has hit their countries hard or in anticipation for the worst. The conflicting news out there and distractions about hoarding toilet paper makes pandemic even more stressful. Good thing for me, I have a cousin who is a pulmonologist and she gave me a quick crash course on sars-cov-2 and COVID-19 to assuage my growing fears. Currently under self-quarantine, I learned earlier this week on Tuesday that one of my patients who coughed in my face about 3 ft. away from me despite my attempts at social distancing was tested COVID +. She was so sure that she didn’t have anything—at 94 years old with a history of pneumonia but a robust presentation, I believed her at the time. How ridiculously naive. And, I have a patient who is COVID + in the hospital. Apparently, he can return to the nursing home in which I work if he tests negative twice within 24 hours. And so on…just like the unrelenting viral spread itself.

So according to my cousin, you can test negative for sars-cov-2 but positive for COVID if you have developed antibodies to the virus but still present with symptoms from the disease. Currently, the most critical COVID cases are being medically treated with plasma from those who have recovered. Underlying health conditions do cause complications despite age bracket, but it is less of a concern if controlled (for example, controlled hypertension). When one shows symptoms, they are most infectious. Of course, there are asymptomatic and presymptomatic carriers, so who knows when they’re most infectious?
What I’ve learned from youtube:
reproduction naught is about 2..3 people. Serial interval is 5-7.5 days, the number of days it takes for a newly infected person to exhibit symptoms. That is a wide enough spread, wider than the flu. The reproduction naught however, is higher than the flu. That makes it even more worth the while to stay home and practice physical distancing with social connection to those whom you care about.

There are some very good youtube videos that logically explain the importance of precautions and how the virus works to lead into a life threatening illness. Keep in mind, it has been voiced by doctors that even those without shortness of breath but other symptoms such as abdominal ppain have shown what looks like the virus infiltrating in lung CTs and X-rays.



Thank God for youtube education. ❤
Be well and informed.
Physical distancing with social connnection

3/28/19

Let’s not panic. It’s not only about underlying health conditions, it’s also about immunity.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-03-28/dutch-hospital-workers-show-insidious-nature-of-coronavirus?utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_content=business&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&cmpid=socialflow-facebook-business&fbclid=IwAR2PbMsrSjR-gvEmS4prJ_TKa4t2tsmAQVxmoWV1jcjeM9J-kMeyINvLs_E&fbclid=IwAR3ghj8ubouhU4N_iTbw-JDqGp2-H4EuJzkBbPxsBlOSvriPqwgObQ5EoV8

Morsels of information on a daily basis to overcome and push through the greatest perils of this COVID-19 pandemic. What are you doing to maintain or boost your immunity?