COPING WITH COVID

The photo is of the toilet paper aisle at our local supermarket taken on March 3, 2020.

Late January, my entire family went to an all-you-can-eat hot pot restaurant to celebrate Lunar New Year. At the time, the outbreak of Coronavirus had begun to take hold in Wuhan, and Chinese authorities had just closed off its borders. The problem was largely affecting China, so we weren’t concerned about eating out and being in public spaces. The World Health Organisation had yet to declare Coronavirus a global health emergency.

And so, we celebrated with food and drink in the crowded restaurant. Several people sneezed on my sister-in-law as they walked past her to get to the food trays. We joked that she might catch the virus as a result. A few days later, we discovered that an infected man had dined in the same restaurant. Fortunately, for us, the man visited the establishment the next day, so we avoided being exposed to infected staff and surfaces. It was a near miss!

This close experience made me hyperaware and set me on a path. There had only been a handful of confirmed cases in Australia, but I had slowly begun building my pantry supplies, cooking and freezing meat meals, and preparing for the worst. My anxiety was heightened from the close call, and I became a prepper. I had been ready before the pandemic was even announced.

Fast forward two months and what has happened? People are panic buying everything. By the start of March, toilet paper, tissues and hand sanitisers were out of stock. Then canned foods, long-life milk, pasta and rice became hot items. Last week, meat, eggs and potatoes began to run out. Now, it seems people are stockpiling asthma relievers, children’s paracetamol and prescription medicines. These days, it’s not uncommon to see bare shelves in supermarkets, big crowds queueing at opening times, or agitated people yelling at staff.

Our family no longer participates in extra-circular activities like sports, swimming or gym (everything is closed or suspended). We don’t go out to restaurants or cafes. We don’t browse in shopping centres. We don’t go to parks or play centres. We don’t visit friends or extended family. We simply don’t go out, except for short walks for exercise and fresh air.

My husband is working from home. My three-year-old son has been pulled from childcare. I’m no longer volunteering as a classroom helper as the neighbourhood centre has closed to protect the community and staff. The only person exposed to public spaces is my seven-year-old daughter who still attends school as per the government.

The disruption to everyone’s routine is immense. Ever try keeping a three-year-old from barging into the study while his dad is on a video conference? Damn near impossible.

From a mental health perspective, these challenging times have, unsurprisingly, made me more anxious. The constant focus on Coronavirus in the news and social media have heightened my anxiety. I find myself reaching for the phone all the time, scrolling for any news on the pandemic. It is always at the forefront of my mind. There are nights where I can’t sleep, worrying about when schools will be closed. I think about worst-case scenarios – job loss, mortgage stress, maxing credit cards, children getting ill, hospitalisations, death. The list is endless.

Recently, my husband put his foot down and demanded I stop reading news on my phone. He insisted that it did nothing good for my mental health. I was exposing myself to massive amounts of negative information, mostly conjecture, that was making my anxiety spiral out of control. I was wasting all my energy and time on something I had no control over, and not keeping things in perspective. I was making myself miserable by trying to do the impossible – forecasting the future and preparing for unknown variables.

My husband encouraged me to redirect my focus on my health and well-being. That meant eating healthy, drinking more water that didn’t have caffeine, putting down the phone, going to bed early, going out for walks to get fresh air and trying to spend more time with the kids. All sensible and logical advice that I was not doing. We can try to put ourselves in the best health position to battle the virus, should we become infected.

So I’ve started walking instead of driving for school runs and hating every minute of it. I’ve reduced phone time and go to bed early. I started having breakfast that wasn’t just coffee. And whaddya know, I have begun to feel better. The sense of impending doom has lessened, and I’ve stopped feeling so panicky. The sight of bare shelves and people scrambling for toilet paper doesn’t make me want to rush in too for fear of missing out. I put back that pack of toilet paper that I didn’t need so that someone else has the opportunity to get one. I’m stepping away from the herd mentality. I feel like I have my anxiety under control.

Am I still scared about the future? Hell yes, but what can I do? The number of infected people will surely continue to rise. There will be overwhelming strain on our health system. People will die. I can only try to keep calm and live one day at a time. I’ll aim to keep in touch and blog our experience through this pandemic.

Keep safe and well everyone.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

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WAVES OF EMOTIONS

Pre-surgery ramblings:

There are three large frames of dusty landscapes placed strategically around the room. Lines of orange and beige chairs face towards the walkway that leads to the reception desk. It’s unsettling having eyes on you as you walk in.

Two large rugs are hung on the wall behind reception; one striped with brown, green, orange and yellow, and the other with different shaped circles. Perhaps the interior designer used the varying colours of poo as inspiration for the room. It is after all, the specialist rooms for gastroenterology.

I’m sitting here, waiting for my husband to be released post-gastroscopy/colonoscopy. We are here for investigative procedures following complaints of severe stomach pains.

If you ask me, I believe it is due to the stresses of work and life. He is known put aside his own basic needs of food and water to accommodate work issues. He works long hours and rarely takes any leave. He is always on call, awakened at all hours of the night. On days of leave, such as today, his phone still buzzes with calls from work. Having a medical procedure doesn’t give you an out.

It’s got me thinking. Is there such thing as work life balance? Can you pursue and achieve a successful career without it impacting your health, family or life? Conversely, can you have a fulfilling life without some form of work?

Post surgery misery:

As soon as my husband entered the room, I knew there was something amiss. His usually unreadable mask broken, his face shrouded with unease. The news was not positive. He was speaking but the words weren’t computing. I had to read the papers that the specialist had given him, not trusting his words.

‘Four polyps removed. One single 20mm sessile polyp removed. All sent for examination. Repeat colonoscopy in a year.’

For most people, this information wouldn’t elicit extreme emotions. No definitive results other than some polyps. There is no point worrying until the polyps are tested. However, to a person who suffers from anxiety and prone to worst-case scenarios, my mind is having a meltdown.

I’m scared. A train of morbid thoughts plagues my mind; precancerous polyps, bowel cancer, mortality rates, death. Google is fast becoming my unwanted best friend.

What happens if they are precancerous polyps? What does this mean? How can I fix this? What can I do?

I just want to cry. I can’t deal with the unknown. The thought of anything happening to my husband makes me want to break down. He is my strength, my love, my everything. I can’t help but cry as I type this.

So as I enter these next few weeks of uncertainty, I pray that I can be strong for my husband and my children, and that I can put aside my own fears and anxiety to support the man who has always been my rock. For I won’t be the only person riding the waves of emotions.

Update: We found out the polyps were indeed precancerous types, ones that lead to colon cancer if not removed. I’m relieved the outcome was not cancer but I can’t help but feel upset that there is that looming risk. For now, we continue our healthy diet and annual surveillance. Thank you to everyone for your support and kind words during the times I was feeling overwhelmed with fear and anxiety.

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/

NAMASTE

Housing and vacating two babies from the residence of my extended and swollen belly has left me feeling self-conscious of my battle scars and subsequently acquired blubber. Gone are the slim thighs and flat stomach (not that my paunch could ever have been labelled ‘flat’), and replaced by stretch marks and a potbelly (I tell myself that I’m just constantly gassy). Don’t get me wrong, I’m not embarrassed by my body. I just happen to have a penchant for black shapeless outfits that make me look like a nun.

So after loads of needling from my brother (a selfie-loving Instagram gym junkie) and other well-meaning people (not my husband because he knows better!), I decided it was time to exercise. If not to lose weight then at the very least improve my mental health with all those supposed happy endorphins. After making the conscious decision to start exercising, I procrastinated for another week pondering what type.

There was no way I was going to a gym. My last venture ended with my personal trainer, who by sheer coincidence was my neighbour, banging on my front door trying to drag my sorry ass to the gym and me pretending not to be home.

I tried the One-Minute Workout and had the kids join in to keep me motivated, but I’m ashamed to admit that I even found that taxing.

In the end, yoga seemed like the best way of re-introduction to exercise. Not cardio-intensive or sweat-inducing and sympathetic to my sedentary form. So armed with my new mat and some fancy-pants gym wear, I joined a yoga class. To say I was nervous is an understatement.

“Namaste. Welcome to Flo Yoga,” says Judy, the friendly and warm instructor. “Just find a spot on the floor, when you’re ready.”

I give Judy a hesitant smile, put my belongings into the cubicle and find a place. People begin trickling in. It’s a relatively subdued atmosphere.

Suddenly the shrill sound of a phone blares. Mortified, I realise that I had forgotten to turn it off. I clamber towards my phone and turn it to silent, apologising to the group.

“Please make sure you’ve turned your phones on silent if you haven’t already done so,” Judy tells the rest of the group and gives me a reassuring smile.

While everyone is on their mat doing stretches and poses, I sit there feeling awkward and pretending to check out my nails.

The beeping sound of another phone penetrates the silence. I sit up straight listening. That couldn’t possibly be my phone. Feeling insecure I go to check and sure enough, it’s me. My damn alarm for yoga went off. I shut it down.

“I’m so sorry everyone,” I say. I am beyond horrified at being made centre of attention.

The class begins, and I struggle to keep up. There’s a lot of phrases being thrown around; downward facing dog, mountain pose and cat-cow stretch. I am so far out of my comfort zone that I’m in a head spin. I’m sweating like it’s my job and my underwear has lodged uncomfortably between my butt cheeks.

“Now if you want to push yourself a bit more, you can try the Kapotasana,” says Judy as she expertly manoeuvers her body.

I gape at her bent shape. My mind is suffering a nervous breakdown from even contemplating it. I’m no contortionist.

“Listen to your body. You can go into child’s pose when you’re ready.”

I opt for laying flat on my back instead. I call it my ‘Defeated’ pose. My muscles are screaming in pain. I’m gulping in air like a fish out of water.

“Ok, let’s lie on our backs and into Savasana.”

I swing my head to the side and see that everyone is laying down. “Oh good, cos I am NOT moving,” I think to myself.

“Close your eyes. Take deep breaths. Inhale. Exhale. Cleanse your soul.”

Upon leaving, Judy tells me that I did a great job. “Namaste. See you next time.”

As a reward for all my hard work, I head to the bakery next door and grab myself a coffee and roast pork roll. On the way back to the car, I bump into Judy.

“Namaste!” I say awkwardly, giving her a sheepish look.

She glances at my hands.

“Nothing to see here, just cleansing my body,” I blurt out.

Eye roll. Facepalm. Is there a cleanse for verbal diarrhoea?

Copyright © 2019, KN J Tales and Snippets. All rights reserved.

https://knj.home.blog/privacy-policy/