All posts by Marsha Hughes-Johnson

2020 – THE YEAR OF…..BEING GRATEFUL

It’s all in how you view things: This has been one of, if not THE most difficult year for ALL of us we’ve ever faced. This virus, COVID-19, along with political unrest, unprecedented racism and hate – 2020 has changed practically EVERYONE’S life. I’m so grateful for the many blessings and all the challenges that 2020 brought me. You may say, “how” the heck was 2020 filled with blessings with so much calamity happening? For me, here’s how:
Was blessed in early February 2020 to accept a travel assignment job with a 6-month contract to work in beautiful Phoenix, AZ.
– COVID-19 really hit the world and mom’s nursing home (all nursing homes) stopped visitations for fear of the nursing home residents contracting the virus, but as of December 2020, my 99-year-old Queen mother thankfully has NOT contracted the virus! Many around her did, including my aunt, but God kept the family strong with some sense of peace!
Many lost their jobs and many businesses closed their doors because of this virus and the downward economy, BUT GOD kept MY immediate family employed throughout this year. Even my once homeless oldest son who friends and family gave up on, he actually did better than all of us financially during the pandemic!!
This next part really still has be shouting and giving praise: – After my 6 month assignment ended in August, (I was offered the job on a permanent basis in Phoenix, but because of my mom, being so far from her, I sadly declined the offer) I was blessed to STILL find employment, (even at 61 years of age). Accepting this new assignment meant moving back to Atlanta where I previously lived, not in jackson, MS where I was currently residing. This was not only just “a job” but a job at Emory Healthcare! A place I’ve tried getting a job for YEARS back in the day! Not everyone gets to work here, especially during a pandemic and a hiring freeze!!! While Emory itself had a hiring freeze, a different staffing agency WAS hiring to work at Emory and they trusted ME to work at Emory and I’m forever grateful!
While settling residency and employment back in Georgia, life got pretty stressful; worrying about if I made the right decision, being able to afford everything on my own as this assignment at Emory I accepted was a SIGNIFICANT drop in pay from the previous contract job in Phoenix, and worrying about my mom (though Atlanta WAS closer to Jackson than in Phoenix) and her state of mind, feeling alone in the nursing home, not FULLY understanding why family could not see her (5 months into the pandemic and NO visitors allowed!). With all this on my mind DAILY, no longer eating healthy, and not taking my meds as directed, on October 11th, while at work, I had a heart attack. I literally was walking/working and actively having a heart attack AND a heart aneurysm!!
God’s grace – Had I not been working at a hospital (which Emory has ALWAYS been my favorite medical facility in the world), had it not been my assigned weekend to work, had I not listened to the warning signs and had I not gone to the ER to be seen WHEN I did, I WOULD NOT be alive today. Point blank. Period.

God undoubtedly has more work for me to do. Now I know my purpose for still being here. I want my story to be a shining light to someone who may not see the good in this life. Yes, hundreds of thousands have died from this horrible virus in 2020, people are hurting, financially struggling and people are scarred for life by this pandemic and other problems we faced as a country. Think about it, I TOO am scarred (literally my heart for a second time!) from all the stress and hurt and losses 2020 brought me as well, but we ALL are still here, breathing and living! God chose US and gave US another chance to make life better for someone else!! God I’m forever grateful for your grace and mercy.

Let’s all go into 2021 with a new lease on life. Let’s all continue to mask up, social distance and get back to being GRATEFUL for what we have so that we can rid this awful virus from this earth and get back to caring for one another, hugging and embracing each other again!

Shock vs Denial

I’m not quite sure if it was shock or being in complete denial or what was going on with my thinking, during my most recent illness, but I know one thing – my doctor sure put it in perspective when I noticed the note he added to my chart after my first 30-day follow-up appointment I had with him last Thursday. There was one sentence he added to my notes stating, Pt is still in disbelief that she has had a heart attack”

Timeline: October 11th at 7:30 a.m.: I wake up with a burning sensation in my chest. I’m saying to myself why am I feeling like indigestion pain – but I do nothing about it, just basically brush it off.

October 11th around 1:00 p.m.: Preparing to head to work and while riding the train to work, I get a brief pain in my chest which lasted less than a minute. I immediately take a sublingual nitroglycerin I always carry in my purse (red flag #1)

October 11th 2:30-4:00 p.m..: The burning in the chest sensation happens again (red flag #2) and I ask my coworker for an antacid tablet, take it and feel better for a few more hours.

October 11th 8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.: I go and make my usual rounds at my designated pickup locations to pick up patient medical records and boy, do I really feel like the inside of my chest is literally on fire (red flag #3). As I’m pushing the basket, I then begin to feel as if my legs are being electrocuted (only way I can describe it)!. THAT symptom finally got my attention but I’m still determined to complete my rounds. By the time I get to the emergency department (last location to pick up records), I then began feeling really weird, some slight chest pain but that’s it! This is when I decided to go ahead and be checked out in the emergency room…These symptoms were very different than the symptoms I had during my heart attack 10 years ago.

October 11-12 early morning hours: I’m now being taken care of quite swiftly by nurses, lab techs, phlebotomists, etc., upon admission to the emergency room. Without me asking, a tech or nurse says to me in a very calm, quiet voice “your troponin level is 11” (red flag 3, 4, 5). A troponin test measures the levels of troponin T or troponin I proteins in the blood. These proteins are released when the heart muscle has been damaged, such as occurs with a heart attack.  Normal levels are measured at 0.01-0.02.

October 12 at some point (lost track of time): So everything is happening so fast, this is where I guess I just draw a blank mentally. I’m making calls to loved ones, coworkers advising them of my whereabouts telling them ‘no it’s not a heart attack’. Finishing up in the cath lab and one of the techs looks down at me as if he’s so incredibly sad and ready to cry telling me “Ms. Johnson, you have multiple, multiple blockages in your arteries. You’re very lucky you came in when you did” (red flag 6,7 8 I’m having a heart attack).

THAT was the reason for the emergency 3-vessel coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) on October 13th because I had a heart attack because I had multiple blockages (of plaque) in my arteries) and finding out a day AFTER the bypass that I also had a heart aneurysm!!

I think I became so fixated upon learning I had an coronary aneurysm and worrying if I’m going to survive this bypass surgery, I guess I somehow did not connect the dots that ALL of these events were because I DID have a heart attack!

Fast forward to 6 weeks post bypass surgery and aneurysm, I’m so incredibly grateful to be alive and recuperating. Even though for a day or so I felt some kind of way after reading the note that the surgeon put in my record about being in disbelief I had a heart attack, I can really appreciate him being more than a surgeon – being a blunt, upfront doctor who really cares about his patients and recognizing the denial we can be in sometimes….. My point for this blog is to make men and women, be aware of any type of symptoms you may be having, especially regarding chest pains – do not brush it off like I did. Please get seen – do not wait hours or even days to get checked out.

I hope my detailed timeline of symptoms, occurrences can help someone, prevent them from suffering major heart damage.

My heart in 2020

Exactly 30 days ago today, October 13th, I underwent triple bypass surgery (or coronary artery bypass graft/CABG) after doctors found multiple coronary artery blockages AND having a heart aneurysm! After surgery, I was told and read many articles that the first 30 days are very critical to survival. (I was supposed to have a quadruple bypass, but my fourth artery was of “poor quality”). Praise be to MY GOD that I did survive these 30 days! I am overwhelmingly grateful to God first and foremost for having discernment and the medical knowledge and sense to take my butt down to the ER while at work, realizing something was NOT right! ALL of the techs and docs during my catheterization and after the bypass surgery said I TRULY would not have survived had I not come when I did!!

Going forward for me, there is nothing more important to me now than taking great care of myself! No job, no other person’s problems, etc will EVER be at the top of my list, only MY HEALTH, my livelihood takes precedence!

My mantra as many of you know has always been me always caring for others, helping any way I can. That was my sole purpose for moving back to Mississippi 3.5 years ago because my elderly mom asked me to help care for her. Without hesitation, I answered the call, again putting someone else’s needs before my own. I had already had a heart attack with the placement of 2 stents 10 yrs ago (2010). When I told my cardiologist 3.5 yrs ago that I was moving to MS to help caregive for my mom, he actually forewarned me, asked that I do NOT take on such a task, but I didn’t listen. In my mind back then, I’m thinking, ‘doctor, how DARE you say don’t go and care for your mom’!! He actually turned out to be right🤦🏾‍♀️🤦🏾‍♀️.

Even though I did make the move, I can admit and say that all of my downward spiral eating habits and not caring for MARSHA IS all my fault! My life became so consumed with getting settled in a new town, working a new job (after working from home almost 20 years), and all the things that come with caregiving for your parents. All of that I obviously was not mentally prepared for and many different roadblocks and family dynamics that came with it. Over these last 3.5 years, I eventually fell for the temptations of the good ole down-home Mississippi eating, devouring any and everything I could! Forgetting about my previous heart attack and seeing people triple my size and still living with no health issues, I thought well shoot! If they’re not sick, I might as well eat any and everything, they are still here! Dumb thought process, right? Yes it was, but that’s the mindset I “settled” into.

Fast forward to 2020 and its coronavirus, everything changed. Mom is still here at 99 yrs of age (will probably outlast her children) 🤣🤣. Covid-19 halted visitations at nursing homes, caused many of the elderly to become depressed VERY quickly as their usual, sometimes daily visits came to a screeching halt as this unseen, rampant virus was rapidly invading all places. It caused thousands of people to lose jobs, gain jobs, so by this time, all I could think of was me making money, surviving financially, while silently destroying my body by eating anything. Was blessed to take on a great paying traveling assignment in February 2020 in Phoenix, AZ for 6 months! Whoo hooo – what a great opportunity to save money since Covid-19 will no longer allow visitors to see their loved ones in the nursing home.  What a great opportunity, but all good things must come to an end. So with the coronavirus still at its peak across the country causing businesses to fail, my contract job in Phoenix also needed to come to an end. I was contracted for only 6 months, although the staff wanted me to stay on a while longer, the coronavirus had a huge affect on hospitals and other businesses and the hospital could not afford to continue to pay the staffing agency. So again, my quest to find a job goes on in late July. Applied for several jobs back in Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia – anywhere that would hire this 61-year-old woman during a pandemic! Thankfully, everything worked out exactly how it was supposed to by becoming employed (although through another staffing agency) at Emory Healthcare back in Georgia.

During these 3.5 years of horrible eating habits (with an already ‘damaged’ heart), my coronary arteries collected so much plaque around my heart, my heart just could not take it anymore. Eating things like potato chips, lots of peanut butter crackers, fast foods, sweets, and drinking sodas here and there (things with TONS of salt and carbohydrates which elevates your blood pressure). It’s like a balloon when you blow it up. It can only expand so far before it bursts or starts seeping out air (which is what the aneurysm was for me – it was a causing a ‘slow leak’ of blood out of my heart)!!

As I am in my fourth week of recovery, I am uncertain as to what the future holds for me as far as working or not working – my 30-day appointment will be next week and I will have a better understanding and knowledge of what my ‘heart recovery’ dictates (keeping in mind the status of my fourth coronary artery that was of “poor quality”) what the future DOES hold for me!

Thank you Emory, thank you my close-knit friends, DEFINITELY a special thanks to my son, Calvin Johnson for acting so hastily and responding so quickly by coming to Atlanta from Jackson, MS regarding my well being. Thank you, my baby boi, Jeremiah Johnson, for acting so quickly in bringing my bed downstairs at such short notice.

Nothing but positivity and continued healing going forward these next few weeks and months.

A Healthy Father’s Day Gift

 

June 21, 2020 is celebrated as Father’s Day. With so many emotions this Father’s Day mainly because of the many events that have taken place so far this year around the country as well as around the world, I really want to emplore to ALL men this day and that is to empower YOUR life to choose this day going forward to get healthy and remain healthy.

A friend of mines I’ve known for 25+ years texted me, very upset because a dear friend of hers passed away.  That text struck me to my core!  Never did me, her or his friends and family ever expect him to die so young. BUT, he did have underlying health problems that, had he consistently gone to the doctor, he perhaps would be here today!  Over the years, my friend had shared with me their close friendship relationship  and has always shared how she was concerned about his health.  Being a man, he was more engrossed in his daily life of furthering to build his business or always seeking ways to being financially stable, all the while ignoring his health.

Women I ask ALL of you, whether it’s your father, your husband, your brother, your sons – however there is a man that you know and you know that his health is not good, please give him the best Father’s Day gift ever by getting him an appointment for a health and wellness checkup!  I want to emphasize to my people of color as well that it is extremely important to make followup appointments with your physician to get your underlying health problems taken care of.  Yes, men can be stubborn, but we have to be persistent and encouraging.  Women, even if you have to go with him to that appointment, GO with him, give him that support and keep encouraging him to get healthy.

We as women, tend to always want to be taken care of by our man. Don’t just sit on your throne like a bump on a log and expect him to take care of everything!  If you love your partner or friend, you should be in tuned to his needs as well.  God gifted us (women) by having great discernment and when you notice something not quite right with your man, encourage him to get seen and get healthy.

Men often ignore problems such as headaches, hearing problems, problems such as sleep apnea, urinary or bladder problems, heart problems or even mental problems – anytime you have any symptoms, stop brushing it off as if it will ‘go away’.  Headaches can turn into a stroke, hearing problems could turn into disequlibrium or neurologic problems, sleep apnea can turn into congestive heart failure, heart problems can turn into a heart attack, urinary or bladder problems could turn into prostate problems and/or cancer and mental problems (with all of the stress that you’re under) can turn into any number of mental disorders such as bipolar, mania, etc.

Get knowledgeable about your health people.  There are too many men dying unnecessarily, all because of either their stubbornness AND because no one was there to support them or encourage them to get on track to a healthier lifestyle – long before their health issues got bad.  Let’s not wait until the situation has gotten bad.  So many diseases and disorders can be prevented, reversed or cured by caring for yourself in a healthy manner. Become aware and knowledgeable about your community physicians and weed out the bad from the good.  Men, don’t be afraid to ask questions to your friends, family, people who may have been through similar situations as yours.  Ask them who and what places they recommend as well as doing your own research into better health.  If there is just no one in your life (no spouse, partner or loved one you can directly contact), do your research and take control of your own life.  Find your local social worker and/or counselor through your local health department and  they can be of great assistance to you in your journey to a healthier you!!

Whether you are a father or not, let this Father’s Day be a game-changer for you for the rest of your life and for your family’s legacy by caring for YOUR health!

 

Your Mental Health in 2020

There’s no doubt the first half of 2020 came in like a flood.  Me celebrating New Year’s Day with my 98-year-old mother at her nursing home seems like a lifetime ago.  Next thing I know, words like coronavirus and pandemic started to emerge in every day news.  Coronavirus?  COVID-19?  What is that? Contagious?  People dying from this unseen, never before heard of novel coronavirus?

6 months later, hundreds of thousands have recovered from it, but here in the United States, it has killed over 110,000 people, with the majority of people it has killed are African-Americans.

Speaking of African-Americans, there’s been another “pandemic” of sorts that has raised its ugly head – racism.  I will not go into detail here on my blog as we ALL know of the recent events that have taken place and how it has affected the entire world!

With all of these traumatic things going on, it is very, very hard to keep a level head and remain sane.  Seeing all the sadness from patient’s dying of COVID-19, healthcare workers crying and being stretched to the limit trying to save lives, not having enough PPE and ventilators and becoming ill themselves, people not being able to be with their loved ones when they do pass, not being able to communicate, not being able to have a proper funeral for them, people abruptly losing their jobs, some permanently due to the contagiousness of this virus and a plan in place for the whole country to social distance from one another and seeing people die by the hands of police officers who are supposed to be the very ones protecting us – all of that is post-traumatic stress disorder!

Racism – social issues and concepts word cloud illustration. Word collage concept.

I’m no counselor or mental health expert, but I do know that we all must take a break from all of this and somehow get our mental health in check. Being an African-American, I have to find ways to keep a healthy state of mind.  An unhealthy state of mind plays a HUGE role in having an unhealthy body.  Depression sets in, anxiety comes on us and therefore we eat unhealthy foods which causes hypertension or diabetes or obesity or many other health issues.  It is very hard to keep that self control in eating healthy when you’re depressed.  It’s been very hard for me, but the more I tune out the negative distractions, the easier this becomes.  Here are a few things that have helped me to keep a healthy mindset and not allow my body to become sick because it can.

  • I spend time alone, no television no social media of any kind for either several hours or most of that particular day.
  • Do breathing exercises (something I was taught after having my heart attack) which greatly relieves anxiety and clears your mind.
  • Take a nice relaxing bath with aromatic bath salts allowing your body to relax and heal.
  • Use 900 mg droplets of CBD oil before bedtime which really helps slow and almost stop the night terrors I’ve been having.  These night terrors have been going on for 3-5 years now, again due to lots of stressors over the years.  This oil allows me to get a great full nights’ sleep without waking up several times throughout the night.
  • Listen to either calming music or some smooth jazz or a very positive podcast throughout the day.  This is done at least 70% of my day!
  • When I’m ready to have wise discussions, I first have discussions with my African-American sisters and brothers to discuss things we’ve never discussed before as well as checking on each other’s well being.  I feel this is a must in the black community.  We discuss how we feel about current events, our children and how the world sees them now and seeing how we can be a part of the solution.
  • I also allow myself to be open (only a small amount of time) and discuss with my non-black allies how they can also be a part of the solution.  This discussion has to be done in phases because there is so much past hurts and pains that it’s awkward for them and hurtful yet helpful for me.  I agree with the saying that it’s uncomfortable to be comfortable!

I know there are many other things that can be done to relieve the stress and anxiety that seem to be facing us on a daily basis.  The world as we knew it, just 7 months ago, will never ever be the same again.  Once we accept that fact, we can then accept the fact that we all need a mental health checkup, I’d say weekly!  Talk it out with your friends, cry and scream if you have to.  Let’s no longer hold things in of how we feel.  Lets put our frustrations into action by knowing who you are and knowing you CAN be a person of change, whether helping an organization of your choice or whatever positive choice you choose.  After that, always find some quiet time for yourself – your spirit and your soul needs a daily rejuvenation!

 

 

COVID-19 and its Effects on Bodily Organs

From September 1994 to January or February 2017, I had been a medical transcriptionist working from home.  In 2006 through 2007, I did take on a travel assignment (my first assignment as a traveling transcriptionist!) One other time I traveled was in 2013 from one month.  Oh I SO enjoyed being able to go from the bed right to the computer to work, not having to spend money on gasoline, etc.  After about 16 years of working from home, it changed me drastically.  I became a recluse, not really knowing anyone to socialize with other than my fellow transcriptionist colleagues, who also were working remotely! At that time, all I was concerned and happy about was being able to work from home, raise my 3 sons. I became so ‘comfortable’ with working from home, the care and effort in my work was becoming lax (as the transcription industry too was quickly phasing out – lack of work, etc).  Health-wise, I was on a downward spiral – little did I know that at that time.  I was smoking cigarettes at that time (quit in 2008), eating junk food, eating any and everything and going back to the computer to work, not walking, exercising or anything.  Looking back, I now realize that that’s what was literally killing me – working from home, being depressed (life stressors where I did not seek out counseling), no motivation, and having no care to exercise, walk, etc. Therefore, in March 2010, my life changed forever when I suffered a heart attack.  My heart attack is the type (described to me by my doctors at that time)  where a small portion of my heart is “dead’ or irreparable.  Thus, the stents were placed to keep the arteries open and free of plaque and to keep a good blood flow through the remaining “healthy” portion of my heart.  As I go on through life, unfortunately there is a greater risk of me developing PVC’s (heart flutters, which I have had since around 2015-2016), arrhythmias or many other heart-related disorders.

I’m one of those that if something traumatic happens to me once, you do not have to tell me again to get it right!  Now looking back, maybe this was a sign for me.  I was given a second chance at getting myself right!

Though my heart attack was not a ‘massive’ heart attack and thankfully I did not have to undergo bypass surgery, I did have two stents placed I believe in my right and left obtuse marginal branches of the heart (left and right arteries of the heart).    Having this heart attack inspired me as well as gave me a newfound fascination and interest of the cardiovascular system.

The more I read and study about this strain of the coronavirus and its effect on the organs of the body (especially the heart), the more intrigued I am.  Frontline workers in the hospital as well as many reliable health clinicians and scientists are seeing the effects of how COVID-19 is destroying the organs like the heart, the kidneys, the lungs.  One patient was very sick with the virus to where he was placed on a ventilator for a short time, but thankfully recovered and was on air telling how, upon entering the hospital, the doctors decided to do a chest -xray on him to see if he had pneumonia.  What they found was not pneumonia but multiple blood clots in his lungs.  Another case I was reading where a nurse had posted her experience in working in the ICU unit of a hospital in New York where the heart had multiple blood clots.  Then they have to give an anticoagulant to break up the clots, then there’s a rush of bleeding, so they have to reverse and stop the anticoagulants, clots develop again and over and over and over again they are doing what they can to try and save these patients.  Patient’s kidneys are failing – patient’s who have never been a diabetic or on dialysis but yet their kidneys have failed and/or destroyed permanently because of this virus!  This is so unprecedented yet sad to see how this virus is destroying the body!

COVID-19 is an undeniable vicious virus.  Because of my many health issues, this is why I choose to listen and educate myself as to the facts and definitely take the necessary precautions.  Though I am an essential healthcare worker, for the last 3 weeks,  I have been wearing masks whenever I do go out and definitely when I’m in the public portion of the hospital I’m currently working in.  Thankfully, they are checking everyone’s temperature before even entering the hospital. So today, I did a ‘no-no’ – meaning getting out in this Phoenix heat (even though it was 9 a.m.) and when I got back, my heart rate was 116! Unknowingly making decisions like this can put more strain on the heart, thus bringing down your immune system. After coming in, taking my heart medicine and drinking plenty of water, my heart rate did come down to a normal range….. Needless to say, I will NOT be going out any more than necessary, and when I do, it will be 5 or 6 a.m. to do my shopping!

Let’s all stay safe, healthy and educated about our bodies and this virus and/or any other virus, disease, etc that may manifest in the future.  Now, we ALL are aware of the safety precautions – washing your hands for 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer, practicing social distancing, wearing masks and sanitizing your home/office and keeping your immune system pumped with vitamins!  Until next time……

Helping each other in this crises is crucial. I am a believer in helping ALL people of all backgrounds, but I am particularly passionate and concerned with helping my African Americans and all people of color to educate them and share my knowledge to help any way I can, especially during this coronavirus pandemic.

The statistics are true. Though COVID-19 is like a bullet, it has no discrimination as to who, what nationality or what gender it enters, it has the potential to enter into each and every human on this earth. What is also true is that it is potentially more dangerous when it enters into the body of  a health-compromised person, or should I describe it as a person with preexisting conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, obesity, asthma, etc. Unfortunately, not all, but a very large portion of people who are poor and people of color make up these horrible statistics. We too as African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and others of color also genetically make up these disproportionate numbers. When I say genetically, what I mean is when you’ve gone to the doctor and the clinicians ask you for your medical history – did your mother have heart disease, did your father have hypertension, did your grandmother have this or that? According to physicians, some diseases and disorders are genetically inherited from our genetic makeup. One thing we cannot change is what family we were born into – black, white, Asian, tall, short, history of inherited diseases or what – that is something we cannot change and this is why it is very important that we consider these options when choosing a spouse or what family you marry into (that’s a whole different topic I will save for much later). Though genetically inheriting things may be a fact, this does not mean that we are to just settle for that diagnosis or we can’t do anything about it because we can!

Again, from some of my previous blogs, I want to continue to emphasize that while we are continuing the stay-at-home orders in each state, now is the time to begin a new lifestyle, change some things in your life, your habits, take inventory of yourself and begin to rid your body of these preexisting conditions. Start taking inventory on things such as money spent on getting nails done and manicured, money spent on weaves, hair care products, cigarettes, junk food, etc. That’s starting to add up, right? I’m not saying don’t ever get your nails done or pamper your outward body, what I’m saying is to also pamper and heal your inward body as well and I’m just showing you ways to be aware of where your spending is going and where your priorities have been – change your priorities! I too have not had my priorities right, so I can speak to this. We get so busy in life doing for our families, doing for others but not taking care of our own health! Thus, as we get older, we are paying dearly for it health-wise – not caring for ourselves by having all of these health conditions. Staying at home during this time is the perfect time to get it right and keep it right – keep our immune systems strong so we can fight off these vicious viruses.

Sure, we may not like change at first, but now is the time to network with others, whether it’s your neighbor, coworker, etc., and let’s keep each other motivated. A great example, for instance, is that one of my son’s decided that during this pandemic, while continuing to work (now working remotely) has had more time to teach himself by reading and listening at different podcasts regarding healthier living and decided to take the steps of boosting his immune system by simply buying blueberries, limes and lemons and putting it in water and drinking it daily. No one told him, he’s changing his focus and priorities!   

These things are free people!  If you have the ability to have internet, teach yourself these online free services so that you can help your community or those who do not have access to the internet. This is a great way to help your own community.

Now, I’m also noticing a trend where some are going old school – going back to growing their own gardens by purchasing seeds to plant to grow their own fruits and vegetables.  Even if you live in a big city, I am of the belief that if you’ve got property and there’s space to grow a small garden, do it!  

Let’s all do our part by teaching ourselves as well as others and taking responsibility for our own bodies.  This strain of coronavirus is so new, this also has the scientists and doctors still baffled as to the what, how and why.   I’m here to help all communities wherever I can to keep your body and mental state healthy and whole.  Stay healthy and stay home as best you can!

COVID-19 and its Healthcare disparities in America

With well over one million cases of people with COVD-19, global deaths way over 100,000 and United States deaths of over 18,000, there is so much to say about our lifelong ability of becoming healthy and staying healthy.

Mainstream media is just now talking publicly about something that people of color have always known and continue to deal with. Having access to healthy foods and quality healthcare insurance is crucial to people of color and people with lower incomes. In order for us to not be so dependent on the federal government, we must start taking it upon ourselves to empower our own lives and how we live it, instead of searching for the government to fix our problems!

I have lived in both the South and the North. There are many great things I can say about the South; their gracious hospitality, respect, beautiful warm weather, but especially when it comes to the ability of getting healthy foods. I’ve lived in small towns and very large cities such as Atlanta where there is an abundance of fresh foods that can be purchased without going 50+ miles or so to get it. Even in some of the impoverished neighborhoods in Atlanta, there is still access to quality foods you can eat. Those areas may not have a Publix or even a Kroger in those neighborhoods to grocery shop, but you can surely go to a Food Depot, Save-A-Lot or other similar stores to definitely get nourishing, healthy fresh vegetables, fresh produce, etc. Though, for cities like Chicago, Detroit, New York, there is a vast difference in the ability of getting fresh food in any of the African-American or Latino neighborhoods. This inequality has been going on for decades, which brings us to one of the many reasons why there are so many COVID-19 deaths in these cities amongst people of color.

Many African-Americans have become so ‘comfortable’ with just eating what’s convenient for us, what’s “cheap” and not caring or considering the long-term affects this will cause our overall health. We feel like if we don’t get or ribs and pork (especially on holidays), that we’re “missing out”. Over time, that is the actual food that is killing you! I have seen stories, though in the past where a person in Chicago has created a garden in his local community for people to come and purchase some of the food items he has planted in that garden, but I’m sure that is just one person! This is something we as African-Americans in this country should have been doing 20+ years ago for our own community!

Another healthcare disparity in this country are nursing homes and jails/prisons with this coronavirus. The elderly and the long-term sick people are extremely vulnerable to this extremely contagious virus. The elderly already have weakened immune systems. This is why to date, we have over 2200 deaths in nursing homes throughout the country. This is so heartbreaking to me! Many nursing homes were late in following the stay-at-home orders – meaning they did not stop visitors from coming, etc. Either family members were unknowingly having the virus while still entering nursing homes or just didn’t think they could get it and pass it on. One piece of good news that I have heard via the news and its coverage of the coronavirus is that a few weeks ago, they were saying that some nursing homes were implementing that since we are on a stay-at-home order and those family members who are not currently working at this time, if the situation avails itself, you can get your loved one from the nursing home and bring them home with you as a temporary situation! Again, many are not hearing about this, thus causing the elderly to become more depressed not being able to see or speak to their loved ones, thus causing more of a downward spiral for the elderly mentally.

Jails and prisons are also being affected in large numbers by the coronavirus. Being their cells are in close quarters of each other and local county and state officials not heeding the warnings early on to release some of the very minor criminal offenders – not letting those people go free is one of the reason we’re seeing a high population of inmates across the country becoming infected and dying from the coronavirus.

What can we do now? Well, I say that while we do have this time at home, start a new regimen. Come up with ideas on what you can do to better your community:

Exercise: Start off slow, just in your own neighborhood. We do have to get out for fresh air and get out of the house, so while we’re out, take a brisk walk and increase your walk/steps each day or even 3-4 days per week. Challenge your own self and start seeing the positive results you can achieve on these daily walks and also continue to follow the guidelines of being at home.

Eating healthier: I am truly talking to myself as well when I speak about this, but we must begin to eat healthier. The only way to beat any virus is to keep our immune systems up by taking vitamins, eating less red meat, eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. I’ve also spoken about this on my previous blogs on some of the many things we can do for ourselves to maintain and consistent healthy eating habit.

Checking on others: Talk through the windows if you have to – check on your neighbors, the disabled and the elderly . This is not a virus that hits certain people. This virus hits everyone and we must get self out of the way and start being concerned about others. See if they need groceries and toiletries, etc.

Start listening: Folks, this virus is real! It’s very contagious and it is deadly! Stop thinking it cannot happen to you. Stop standing on the corners or during your backyard barbecues that you continue to have and smoking your blunts and drinking alcohol and passing it on to the next person thinking you are not susceptible to this virus. You are! Continue to be diligent about washing your hands, especially when you are out and about, working, etc. Yes, it’s hard for all of us to adapt to change, but we must in order to stay healthy and stay alive. Continue with the physical distancing measures in place. We as people of color can get this, are getting it and are dying from it. Take this stay-at-home time and take inventory on yourself. What can I do to better my health and get rid of my already compromised health issues? What can I change about myself? What can I change about my community? What can I do to help others in my state, in my neighboring states?

I just want to end by saying my Michigan family, my beloved hometown, I am praying for all of you. Like many places you all are really having a tough time with this, but Michigan more so for many of the reasons I spoke of. Do not hesitate to call me if there’s anything I can do to help anyone else in Michigan in stopping the spread of this virus, please let me know! I’m praying for you and with you.

 

 

Social distancing, stupidity and selfishness

Social Distancing – Globally, we have done pretty well when it comes to social distancing during this coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I must also commend the United States for those who HAVE complied with the social distancing efforts in the last 6-12 weeks. Thousands across this country have made major sacrifices when it comes to their families, workplace and their everyday livelihood in order to comply with the social distancing orders put in place. We all are affected by this in some form of fashion. My dear 98 year-old mother is in a nursing home, and this particular nursing home has been sheltered in place with no visitors for the last 4 weeks. It tears me up inside knowing she cannot have visitors and that that nursing home and many other nursing homes may face the reality that the virus could spread to them. There are still too many who have not complied though, even 3-4 months into this raging virus. Please, let us sacrifice a few weeks of our normal disruption of life in order to get this virus contained and so that no more lives will be lost! We are already 2-3 weeks behind – the quicker we comply with the stay-at-home and social distancing orders, the quicker we can ALL get back to some type of normal life and get the economy going strong again.

Stupidity – This is the part of my blog that I have to get really real. I am normally a pretty positive, upbeat and happy person, so not to say that this is negative, I am just going to hit you with the facts -the reality of what is really happening… So there are still many out here, even after 3 months of this pandemic, that believe that this global health crisis isn’t “real”. There are thousands of human lives lost during this crisis!! How is that not real??? There are millions who have actually had the virus and thousands who have recovered. How is this not real??? Then you have state orders that were issued for people to stay at home, but again, all state leaders feel for one stupid reason or other that they do not want to comply with the orders or they “didn’t know that asymptomatic people could also spread the virus”. That person who made that comment is in the same state where the home office of the CDC is located – the very agency who set out that guideline weeks prior…… (sigh).

You have some churches who are just bent and bound on continuing to have church services, even thinking it’s okay to still give hugs and shake hands and “pray it away”. You are still infecting people by doing foolish stuff like this!!! Stop it people, just stop! I am a true believer in God, have had many struggles in my life and know it was no one but God that brought me through each and every trial, but I also have a brain that God gave me to use!! I am one of those who have underlying health issues and there is no way I’d be going to anyone’s church. First, you’re being disobedient. Second, there is a real live pandemic going on and I’d be a straight fool to go harm myself or others by congregating with people, just to say I went to church!!! There are many churches who have live-streaming of their ministers giving you a good sermon, many who are offering online giving as well. Maybe this is God’s way of telling us to SIT DOWN AND STAY HOME!!

Selfishness – Then you have those who are so use to being selfish, arrogant and self-centered who, actually have gone into a state of panic because their lives were disrupted. You have those selfish people who feel this is only happening to me and I shouldn’t have to work or I should hoard everything from the stores. You are not the only one that this is affecting! It is affecting every human life on this globe – whether directly or indirectly.

This is the time, more than ever before, that we need to come together, at a distance, to help stop the spread of this coronavirus. Utilize the tools we now have – the internet, all the different social media platforms, etc to get the word out to stay at home as much as you can to end this pandemic. Follow all of the tips that have been so greatly shared through the various health organizations, federal, state and local governments and the media. If you’re unemployed, follow the steps to file for unemployment, whether online or via phone, no matter how many times you have to repeatedly call to be able to get through! If you do not have health insurance, please – now is the time to get your health insurance. Remember, if you have become separated from your job, you DO qualify for the American Health Act (AHA) health exchange right now – you do NOT have to wait until open enrollment.

When we do go out and about for only the necessary things right now, take all the precautions of washing your hands before you go out, washing when you come back home and sanitizing yourself and your household.

While we are sheltered at home for awhile, find safe ways to help ALL of those working so hard and tirelessly on the front lines to help save livesl Find ways to give back in your community. Stay informed of factual things around you and not panic. Stay healthy yourself – keep your immune system strong and stay at home!!

Stay Home!

As of today’s writing, the global confirmed cases of COVID-19 is 660,173. Unfortunately, the United States leads the way of confirmed cases with 121,489. Why? Because we cannot STAY HOME!

I understand the need to get out, I get it – we ALL get it. But, in order to quickly resolve the contagion and get back to normalcy, the better off we’ll be.

What I’m more upset about is the fact that this country, supposedly the richest country in the nation, hospitals across the nation are scrambling to find masks, PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and even Tylenol I heard one nurse say! This is totally unacceptable. This just shows how we are NOT prepared for any type of disaster or pandemic.

Right now is not the time to blame or get upset. Now is the time to empower ourselves and help one another. When you do go out to the stores, think of others – the elderly, the hospital workers, EMTs. Show your appreciation by saying thank you to all the truck drivers, store clerks, stockers, etc who continue to work hard and long hours by trying to keep us stocked with needed supplies. Find creative ways to help others who are in need. Check on others as well, via phone calls, internet, etc. Once you’re done shopping, listen and take heed to what your local Governors and Mayors are saying – if they have orders, please abide by them and stay inside! We ALL want to and are tempted to go out and about, but actually, where are you going? Most businesses and offices are closed – there is no need to GO anywhere!

I hope everyone have their sanitizers as well as your vitamins to keep your immune systems healthy. This I feel will at least help you from having a weak immune system and becoming sick, especially those of us with already underlying health issues. Take your vitamins, drink hot liquids, get some vitamin D and C. I am not speaking for everyone but for myself, I have also found that even taking allergy meds (I have been taking since at least 2015 while living in Georgia with their extreme pollen count in the Spring, and continue to take even while temporarily working here in Arizona) to clear the mucus from your lungs/respiratory area, since this version of the coronavirus hits the lungs/respiratory area very hard. Stay, healthy, stay safe and stay at home!