Okay, I like the rest of the world has been glued to the news watching as the virus has continued to spread and wondering when this will all end. Although, I am a tad bit worried about myself, family, friends, and loved ones many of whom are in hot spot areas of disease outbreak working in the medical field I am confident that God is mighty and will see us all through this. I also realize that I like all of us who live a chronic illness such as PD are at a higher risk particularly if older in age (> 70), have diabetes, high blood pressure (heart disease), respiratory illnesses (lung disease) present an even higher risk. This does not mean however that you will get sick.
First, we are all in this together. You are not alone in the fear of the unknown. I am on a chemo medicine, have a horrible immune system and have 2 risks of the four I just mentioned. But, being a doctor and being married to one not only puts the disease closer to home but also reminds me of my training not to panic in the face of a crisis. We must remain calm, stay informed and take necessary precautions to reduce the risk of infection and going berserk being isolated or home bound.
So, what to do?
Scream if you must and let it all out then focus on staying well.
This means stock up on supplies – enough with the t.p…
We need medications to have enough medications first of all.
- Ask your doctor to write a larger prescription for at least a month. They can do this by increasing either the dose or the times taken if insurance will not cover another month supply. Pharmacies can also help by providing an extra amount for necessary drugs like insulin, diabetic medicines, inhalers and heart and blood pressure medicines.
- Of course, we all need our PD medications – crucial ones are the levodopa compounds to have extra on hand because these are the ones that could cause a life threatening condition if suddenly discontinued especially if been on them for a long time over 3 months. Ask your physicians if have any samples, ask the assistance programs if have extra samples or ways to obtain medications. If your pharmacy delivers, ask them to do so or get mail order.
- If non-essential visits – cancel and reschedule for future time.
- Ask if can be seen via telemedicine, skype etc.
- If must travel to see doctor to endemic areas reconsider and do above- if sick or need to visit, ask if can see other doctors not in high risk areas. I will be avoiding Houston medical center for a while. However, I will talk with my doctors via email etc. to make sure I have enough medications.
- If have symptoms of coronavirus – fever, cough, sore throat, congestion, *breathing problems (shortness of breath), diarrhea, *persistent pain or pressure in the chest, *new confusion or inability to arouse, *bluish lips or face (means lack of oxygen) call doctor or go to ER IMMEDIATELY. (* these symptoms unfortunately can occur in the context of PD as well but even in the absence of a virus these are still emergency symptoms that require prompt medical attention).
Have a plan if you get sick:
- Even before you are sick- if are widowed, single, elderly, live alone- move with a friend, neighbor, relative. (because my mother is a widow and is at higher risk plus lives closer to endemic area, she will now be staying with me.)
- If not an option to have a caregiver – stay in touch by phone, email, social media with others but also with someone nearby that can provide quick assistance in case of an emergency. Staying connected will also help diminish anxiety, depression and isolation.
- Determine before hand who is the best person to care for you should you become ill.
Family and caregiver supporter:
- Take care of yourself to avoid getting infected- wear gloves, mask, use only disposable utensils and paper plates. Do not share drinks, food, disinfect any area touched by sick person and isolate that person to his or her own space if possible and his or her own bathroom. Although it feels terribly lonely, this is only way to spread contamination among members of family if more than one or two people in household. I have first-hand experience of this when I received radiation for my thyroid cancer. This means that person infected unless demented, incapacitated, disabled or bed bound can take his or her own medications which should be kept near patient. And food should be placed at door of room near sick patient. (I never thought that I would have to revisit that experience in my life). When I came home with radiation, I could not touch anyone, prepare food, use anyone’s dishes, same bed or commode. Anything that I wore or touched went immediately into a trash bag and sealed away from everyone. This is the type of drastic measures we must take in order to ensure our protection and best safety through this time of crises.
- If sick person is bed-bound or demented ensure that you know your loved ones medication regimen and have necessary equipment at hand such as oxygen tanks etc. keeping in mind that these may have to be discarded once illness recedes to avoid contagion.
Remember you are strong, and you got this- if like to share any comments or questions feel free to do so – I am hear and I am listening …. I will continue to bring more info in the next few weeks like things to do at home to stay mentally, socially, and physically active.
all rights reserved by Maria De Leon MD ( aka Parkinson’s Diva)