Category Archives: COVID-19

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.