housekeeping tips, musings

Wash… WASH… WASH!!! and dry… DRY… DRY!!!

Bill is really adorable sometimes. He often references the fact that I have a master’s degree in public health when he talks about health topics. One of the biggest mantras among public health professionals is the great importance of washing one’s hands. It’s one of the very best ways to keep at bay communicable diseases that spread on surfaces and through the air.

Thanks to the c-word, Bill and I have been washing our hands a lot. And when you wash your hands a lot, they tend to dry out. The other day, Bill came to me complaining about how dry his skin is. It’s gotten so bad that he’s getting cuts and cracks, which isn’t a good thing, since that provides more openings for germs to invade. The last thing we need is an infection on top of the c-word threat.

Last August, we took a cruise on Hebridean Princess and one of our stops was at the Isle of Harris Distillery. They’re in the process of making whisky, but already offer a really lovely gin. Because I love a good retail haul, I also purchased some skincare products from them. Amanda Saurin, Apothecary, has made a Rose & Honeysuckle hand cream and a Rose & Honeysuckle All Purpose Balm. I keep them by my computer because my hands get dry under normal circumstances. Over the past couple of weeks, they’ve become even dryer. The all purpose balm is a bit greasy and doesn’t absorb that well, but the hand cream is excellent. It’s very light, absorbent, and it smells good. It also really does a great job keeping the skin hydrated.

Since Bill and I are both using it and our supply is depleting, I went to the Isle of Harris’s website to see if they had any more of that hand cream for sale. I didn’t find it offered in their online shop. All they had were gin related products– bottles of Harris gin, glassware, and tinctures designed to enhance the flavor of cocktails. Since we’re in Germany, we have to order from a German vendor anyway. The gin is good, but we need hand cream more than booze!

I just sent them an email to ask about the hand cream. I don’t know why they wouldn’t have it available on their site. It’s a really great product. I wish I’d bought more when we visited. I don’t usually get excited about these kinds of things, but when I find something that works and appeals to both Bill and me, I like to keep buying it. I’m sure I could find something cheaper and more local, and if it comes down to that, I will. But since it’s not too girly smelling, it’s a good unisex option. Bill doesn’t like to use scented things that smell too feminine. ETA: I can’t get more of this wonder drug right now, because the distillery is closed, and so is the apothecary that makes it. Rats.

On another note, Vodafone, here in Germany, has done their part to encourage people to stay home during the pandemic. Check out Bill’s phone…

#StayHome VF.DE

Local businesses are trying to stay afloat by offering delivery and pick up services. We got a flyer for a local bakery yesterday that will do deliveries. We don’t usually buy German breads, but maybe we’ll subscribe. We like to support small businesses whenever possible.

I’m finding my patience with people getting thinner and thinner, too. I may end up socially isolating from social media, too. As I wrote a couple of days ago, I’m probably better off recording music right now. Fewer people pay attention to that, and it brings me joy to do it. Today is also the dreaded vacuum day. I guess I’ll do it… it’ll eat up about a half an hour. I probably could be more thorough and spend more time vacuuming, but I truly hate that chore with a passion, even if I do like the end results.

Arran has been a real comfort to me this week. This morning, after waking us up for an early constitutional, he came back into our bedroom and happily settled himself in my arms. I woke up later holding Arran, who was as contented as a clam. It’s hard to believe someone once adopted him and brought him back to the rescue after nine months. I’m so glad we were the people to give him a forever home. He’s turned into a wonderful companion. I only wish we could have had another companion join us last week. Maybe, when the c-word crisis is over, we’ll try again.

He’s such a blessing to us.

We’re overdue for a good plague…

Over the past 24 hours or so, some of my friends and family members in the United States have posted their dismay at what they see as a gross overreaction to the coronavirus crisis. I’ve seen a lot of comments lamenting that business is going to suffer. Some have written about how people die all the time of things like shootings, car accidents, and chronic diseases and we haven’t “banned” or otherwise avoided guns, cars, or things that we know cause chronic diseases. Some resent the government “telling them what to do” or all the “fear mongering”, when we all “know” this is just going to blow over. In fact, I’ve read posts from people who claim that coronavirus “isn’t even all that deadly compared to some other illnesses”, so why should we watch the economy tank over it? In the past, we’ve been threatened by illnesses like SARS, Ebola, and H1N1 (which I actually did have, and it SUCKED), and most of us are still around to tell the tale. Why are we giving in to yet another virus scare?

I can understand why people are feeling this way. We, who are privileged enough to live in modern day western cultures with advanced healthcare and plenty of hospitals, are pretty spoiled. It’s been a long time since we last had a scary, contagious plague that truly threatened and ended many lives. Plenty of people consider your garden variety flu bug totally harmless. I’ve seen lots of posts comparing the coronavirus to the flu, often by people who have probably never even had the flu. Lots of people confuse a bad cold for the flu, when the common cold and influenza are two distinct illnesses. I have only had flu a handful of times in my lifetime. Every time I’ve had it, I’ve realized that it’s really nothing like a cold. Colds can be truly miserable, but they never lay me out flat with a high fever and a solid week in bed the way a flu bug does. Yet even still, every time I’ve had the flu, I have eventually made a full recovery, even if it’s taken weeks. Unfortunately, coronavirus can cause lasting lung damage or otherwise debilitate a person for life. Many people who get it wind up with terrible complications like pneumonia. They have to be intubated and put on ventilators.

Coronavirus, I fear, isn’t necessarily just like influenza. Some people will get the coronavirus and be somewhat sick, but they’ll recover just fine. Some will be largely asymptomatic and continue going about their business as they spread their germs. Some people will get coronavirus and get so sick that they’ll need life support, but then maybe recover to some extent. Sadly, some folks will get it and die– and probably alone.

I think what some people aren’t understanding is that it’s not just about YOU, and your risk of getting sick. It’s about the people who are tending to the sick, who are now stretched to the limits with exhaustion. Some of those caregivers are also coming down with the virus and winding up in the hospital, which means their colleagues have to work extra hard, weakening their own health. It’s about the people with serious chronic health conditions who might be sent over the edge of life if they also get coronavirus. It’s about the people who’ll have freak accidents and need emergency care, then later being exposed to coronavirus and not surviving their injuries because they also got sick. It’s about the lack of supplies, beds, ventilators, and manpower to properly care for the sick, and what it takes to provide, maintain, and finance those things.

Just this morning, I read an op-ed in the New York Times written by an anesthesiologist in Italy. A couple of weeks ago, he was taking care of an elderly man who needed to have a tumor removed. The anesthesiologist put the man under, and the tumor was successfully excised. Ten days after his surgery, the elderly patient got fever, chills, and developed a cough. His “mild illness” soon turned into pneumonia and he’s now on life support, hooked up to a ventilator. He’s a victim of a nosocomial infection, meaning he developed an illness as a result of being exposed to germs in a healthcare setting. Nosocomial infections cause a lot of morbidity and mortality in people who already have things wrong with them.

I think people often forget that hospitals are hotbeds of infection. Hospitals serve sick people, so even though we might think of them as basically being “clean”, the reality is that there are a lot of exotic germs floating around in hospitals, because there are a lot of sick people there. There are also people laid up in hospitals who are physically weakened due to injuries. Those otherwise healthy people are now more susceptible to picking up illnesses that they wouldn’t have if they weren’t injured. Currently, a lot of beds that would be reserved for someone with, say, a cardiac condition, are now being used by people who are sick with coronavirus. So people with other serious medical problems can’t access care as easily as they should be able to, and they are being taken care of by people who are, in some way, worn down by the coronavirus. Some of those patients are also coming down with iatrogenic illnesses and hospital acquired infections that they wouldn’t have otherwise had if they’d been able to stay out of the hospital.

Staying at home is boring. It’s bad for business. People are worried about how they’re going to pay their bills. But if you get sick from coronavirus and need hospital care, your money problems are bound to be much worse, especially if you’re an American who doesn’t have health insurance. If you die from your illness, you may be leaving behind people who will suffer and struggle because you’re no longer around. Conversely, if you are pretty healthy, but you spread germs to someone who isn’t, you will negatively affect other people. Someone might lose their spouse or child because of your need to see a movie or drink beer in your favorite watering hole. A nurse might have to work a double shift because his or her colleague finally succumbed to the virus and you needed to be admitted to the hospital. Patient number 23 might not get a ventilator because there are only 20 ventilators available. See where I’m going with this?

So please… I know it sounds like an overreaction… but please just stay the hell away from other people. It’s not just about YOUR risk of getting sick. You may be quite willing and physically able to gamble with your own health. But what about other people? What about the doctors and nurses who have to take care of the sick and wind up making heartbreaking decisions about who gets to use that 20th ventilator? What about the guy who had a car accident, because he couldn’t live without his daily Big Mac, then getting coronavirus on top of a fractured skull? What about the diabetic and pregnant mother of three, sick in the hospital, getting exposed to coronavirus, dying, and leaving her children without a mother?

Fulfilling the need to mingle with your friends and spend your money at bars and brothels is just not worth the risk right now. This is a temporary situation, and the sooner we get the virus under control, the sooner you can get back to your favorite watering hole, porn theater, church pew, or cruise ship. Think of this time as a gift… use it to do things that need doing, bond with people in your household, try out new recipes, read a book, or catch up on your sleep. Have sex, but be sure to use birth control if you’re not wanting to expand your family. Find ways to adapt to this situation. Who knows? If you put your mind to it, you might even come up with the next million dollar idea!

Bite the bullet; break out the board games; turn on the Netflix; and stay home. Let’s give the mighty plague warriors a fighting chance at battling this novel public health issue. And, as my friend Lori says…

The life you save may be your own… or maybe it will be your neighbor’s…

Coronavirus is bringing out the worst in people…

Every once in awhile, I have to stop and think about how weird life is compared to what it was like when I was younger. I think the Internet and social media have completely revolutionized the world, and not always in a good way.

Yesterday, someone shared this image, and it wound up on my timeline.

Not true.

I generally try to ignore stupid shit that people post, but given that coronavirus can be deadly to some people, I felt compelled to comment that what’s claimed in the above photo isn’t true. A friend of the original poster asked how I knew it wasn’t factual. Well, for one thing, I’ve studied public health and used to work for the Bureau of Epidemiology before I became the stalwart blogger that I am today, so I have a basic understanding of how diseases spread. For another, I checked a reputable source. In this case, it was Johns Hopkins University’s article on myths vs. facts regarding the virus. Finally, it’s just plain common sense. Gargling salt water might make you feel better, but it’s not going to kill coronavirus. If it were that easy, hospitals in Italy and China wouldn’t be overloaded with critical patients right now.

Next thing I knew, this “friend” had removed me from her friends list. It’s not really a big loss, though. She wasn’t someone I knew personally, although she’s friends with people from my dad’s side of the family and lives in my mom’s hometown. As a matter of fact, I was actually looking at her profile the other day, wondering how and why we ended up “friends” in the first place. In the days before social media, my friends were my friends– people that I actually knew and had spoken to in person. Nowadays, you can be friends with someone you’ll never see offline, and you might wind up connected to someone you don’t even particularly like that much.

I was feeling my oats last night, so I decided to post a general message to people who follow my personal Facebook page.

This got lots of likes and loves… and a couple of laughter reactions. People who know me personally know that I can be painfully blunt sometimes.

For the life of me, I don’t understand why people feel the need to spread stupidity on the Internet, especially when it involves health or safety. I agree that we don’t have to panic in the wake of the coronavirus drama currently going on, but people really do need legitimate facts about how not to spread the disease. You wouldn’t seriously consider going to a random man on the street for healthcare or legal advice, would you? And yet, people do this crap online all the time. They post bullshit like this…

I see it as less of a political issue than people not using their fucking brains.

People are being asked to stay home to lessen the chance that the virus will spread unabated. It’s true that many people who get coronavirus will be fine, even if they’re really sick for awhile. But there are also vulnerable people who will die or become permanently debilitated because of this virus. Healthcare workers are stretched to the limits trying to take care of the sickest people, and some of them are themselves getting sick. So, asking people to stay home isn’t about “government control”, it’s about containing a serious health threat. In some areas, there aren’t enough hospital beds to accommodate the needs of the population, and the more we mingle with others, the more chances the virus has to infect the vulnerable. If you stay home and “nothing bad happens”, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? That’s why you’re being asked to stay home– so you won’t get sick or spread germs to others!

What’s especially sad are the tone deaf comments people have been making about who will suffer the worst from coronavirus. I have a friend who is medically vulnerable due to heart disease. She recently shared this insightful article entitled “Please Stop Treating Me Like I’m Disposable When you Talk About The Coronavirus”. It’s about how the elderly and the chronically ill have to listen to insensitive comments from “healthy” people about how everything will be “fine” because “only” people who are old and already sick will die from this virus. It’s bad enough to have a chronic illness like cancer, diabetes, or an autoimmune disorder, like lupus. But then to have to worry about catching a deadly virus and listen to thoughtless comments from people who are fortunate enough to be healthy– well, it can’t be good for one’s stress levels. Too much stress also lowers the body’s ability to fight off bugs like the coronavirus.

Yesterday, Bill and I went grocery shopping. It was the first time I’d been out of the neighborhood for awhile. In all three stores we visited yesterday, the toilet paper was completely sold out. I later read a news article about some idiots in Tennessee who thought they’d capitalize on the virus by buying up all the hand sanitizer and face masks in a 1200 mile radius and selling them at a huge markup on Amazon and eBay. Happily, the big retailers like Amazon, eBay, and Walmart are shutting down greedy fucks like those guys and not allowing them to price gouge, although it doesn’t change the fact that they have amassed huge stockpiles of items that people need. I read in the article their rationale for stockpiling sanitizers and toilet paper and was left shaking my head… This is the Trump generation, for sure. The guys claim they’re doing a “public service”, buying the hand sanitizer from rural stores and making it available to big cities. What greedy assholes.

The news hasn’t been all bad. My heart was warmed watching Italians making the best of things on their balconies, singing and playing music. And a week ago, Bill was visiting his daughter for the first time in 15 years, meeting his grandchildren and son in law. I got to share that news with people who know our story. I know some of my friends who are second (or third) wives and stepmothers were really gratified to read about Bill’s reunion. I also have a few friends who were estranged from parents when they were growing up who understand how exciting this was for us.

Just this morning over a delicious breakfast of French toast and sausage, I told Bill that this social distancing idea may turn out to be a blessing. People are going to be forced to stay home, so for many people, that means more time with family. I have missed Bill because of his many business trips so far this year. Now, he’s going to have to stay local, and that’s a good thing. It’s also a great time for us to adopt a new dog, which we’re taking the steps to do right now. In fact, we’re scheduled to have a home visit later today, which could lead to a new family member very soon. So, although I’m dismayed to read some of the stupidity on the Internet, I also know there’s always a bright side to things.

Anyway… we have nice weather today, and Bill moved our patio furniture outside and hooked up our lawnmower. Maybe after we visit with the dog rescue lady, we’ll enjoy some sunshine while we social distance. Hope you all enjoy your Sunday, too… and stay away from stupid Facebook posts.