It is much more serious than it could have ever been iforeseen. We are fighting against an invisible enemy, Covid-19, we are experiencing something we could not even be able to imagine just a few months ago. What can we do? What does social distancing mean? What does staying in for weeks (for months, maybe) mean?
Here in Italy, it has been spreading for a few weeks, so I can tell you exactly what is happening here. It might be an anticipation your future (even if I hope all this won’t happens the you live).
It started spreading here a few months earlier than in the US or in Australia (but if you live in the UK, unfortunately you know well what I am talking about).
A lot of us used to think it was just an ordinary flu: a cold, some cough, a little temperature …nothing more! But then, the number of infected people started to grow dramatically, the news on TV got more and more worrying. All in a sudden we have found ourselves in one of those science fiction films where some experiments go wrong and everything gets out of hand. Unlucky, this is not a film. Not at all!
First all the schools and university closed, then the sports centers, almost all the stores have been shut down exception for grocery stores and pharmacies. We have asked not to leave our houses unless strictly necessary. We have started to wash our hands over and over again with plenty of soap or disinfectant until itchiness; if we leave our homes we have to protect ourselves with masks and gloves.
We look at each other suspiciously. We are afraid, we don’t speak, but our eyes do it for us: stay afar! Don’t get near! The Italian used to be very friendly, we used to kiss, to hug, to shake hands all the time. Now, we are afraid of touching lightly or talking to anyone.
The matter is that you can’t see your enemy.
If you could see “it”, it think everything would be different. You would have something to fight against, something to take your anger out! But nothing, there is nothing “material”, nothing you can slap, nothing you can hit and squash with a fly swatter.
Moreover, social distancing is needed to protect the weaker and older ones: our parents and grandparents. If you say Italy, you mean family: grandparents who grow they grandchildren up while parents are at work; Italy means big Sunday lunches (sometimes too big) dinner parties, kitchens full of delicious smells. Now, we are keeping in touch through the cold screens of our technological devices, our kitchens are empty, sad, our warmth has gone.
Those who got infected are often hospitalized, they can’t see their families. In case of death, they pass away alone with a lot of other coffins, sadly, without funeral.
When will it be over? When will start working again? When will we get our freedom back?
Who knows? This is the only answer. This is the point: uncertainty makes us feel deeply disturbed. There seems to be a lack of certainty over our lives: we are not making any plans about our future. What will be like when everything is over? Stronger? More dismayed? I don’t know!
I just can tell you that you can handle it! You may turn this gloom hard period into a chance of personal growth, self-examination, analysis, and re-birth.
What am I writing this for?
Because I am afraid too, because I would like to get back to my ordinary life, the same routine I used to complain about! I used to say I was too stressed, too tired, too hectic, now I miss the whole thing!
On the firsts days of quarantine, I felt disoriented; long hours, I could not say what day I was living in; I could not focus on anything. I used to see about 13-14 patients a day, I used to listen to their stories, to help and sustain them. Nothing! I was not on vacation. I felt empty!
Good news! This bad feeling has gone. I have looked deep inside myself and I have found the energy, the talents everyone has got. They help you when you are in trouble. Sometimes they must be created, sometimes they just need to be woken up.
So, I haven’t worked recently, but I have learnt a lot. I have been focused on my hobbies, those I have real passion for, cooking and photography. To be honest, I have never had such good time! Well, I love my job, yet I really appreciate what I am doing now. Most of all, I am wondering about the time we will start working again: frightening and challenging at the same time! Well, it is a way to stay young, isn’t it?
What do I want to say here? Give you a little information about your near strange film-like future. Although you are not full aware of that, you may save your life, and other people’s lives if you have the correct behavior.
What is COVID-19, why is it so dangerous?
As a scientist, I am going to describe what this mysterious enemy is like. It is a very underhand virus which spreads very fast via respiratory droplets when someone coughs or sneezes. It is very quick, invisible, and strong.
It is highly contagious and its shows an exponential epidemic curve.
Quarantine is the only way to guarantee social distancing which may lead to “flatten the curve” of the new contagions. “Flattening the curve” means not much to reduce the total number of people getting sick, but to slow down the rate. In this way, any Health Care Systems will be able to provide everyone with suitable assistance. In Northern Italy, hospitals are heading fast towards the collapse.
The virus changes quite fast as well: it adapts itself to the microclimate, and gets more virulent. Here, it is very virulent, unfortunately. As a consequence interstitial pneumonia may occur, which is very dangerous especially for people who suffer from other pathologies such as hypertension, asthma, cancer, serious obesity. They will need intensive care for at least 10 days artificial ventilation, and very strong pharmacological therapy.
Symptoms may be serious or mild. A person who has contracted the virus, may be able to pass on the virus even without showing any symptoms.
A person who has contracted the virus, but doesn’t show any symptoms, could transmit it to 10 people without being aware of it.
So respect the rules:
- Carefully clean all surfaces of your hands very often with soap and water for at least 40 seconds, because you may touch a lot of things which may be contaminated;
- Use only disposable tissues;
- Avoid touching your nose, mouth, eyes, and hair because unwashed hands may pass the virus;
- Do not give your cellphone to other people, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces with suitable detergents and disinfectants;
- Put distance between you and the other people, at least 1 meter and a half, because infected droplets may be transmitted when a person speaks, coughs, or sneezes, and they may “fly” over 2 meters and a half in the air;
- Stay home if you are sick and call your doctor;
- Stay home, always, because if you go running, for instance, you may release particles which remain in the air and may infect other people.
Do not underestimate the virus, as it may put your life and your family’s life at risk.
Don’t be careless, it is a dangerous virus. All our lives have been changing since it was considered just a kind of flu. At the beginning, I thought myself it was just like the flu. Esteemed and skilled scientists in our researcher centers had never heard of this powerful new enemy before it was too late to stop it. The emergency had already arisen and Italy stopped, all in a sudden! Now, we are hanging in a kind of bubble; we are just looking forward to getting back to our everyday routine as soon as possible.
Don’t be worried, don’t panic: follow the authorities’ instructions to protect your life and the life of those you love.
What does staying at home mean?
You can’t get in close contact with other people. You must stay in, so you spend your day on using the computer, surfing the net, reading a book. On the way from the sofa to the bed, you find yourself in the kitchen, the most dangerous place to be! You feel like nibbling just something tasty: you are not hungry, you are bored!
You will feel like eating plenty of delicious things to cheat the time and cheer you up, and look for those inner talents you need to carry on. Inadvertently, you may get completely overwhelmed by this new “unordinary” routine.
Days may seem very short or very long. You will do just a little of what you would like to do; everything will get tiring and boring.
Sometimes isolation may be good for you, but if it is not of your own choice, it is not so!
Help yourself not to surrender to bad thoughts: a few pieces of advice.
First, make a plan, set up a target; quarantine has suspended a lot of things, but your mind is still working, and it must work well. Be positive, don’t give up planing your future: be propositional.
- Arrange your new routine: set your alarm clock (maybe not too early) every morning; look after yourself, get dressed (choose comfortable clothes, but take off your pajamas) and put some make up on;
- Set your meal times and always follow them- don’t break your “routine”: have regular breakfast, lunch, dinner and a couple go light snacks.
- Carefully write down your shopping list: don’t buy anything “dangerous” you can’t control.
- Do exercise! If you can still exercise outside, have walks or go running; do the sport you like even twice a day. Otherwise, do exercise at home, don’t miss your workouts: take care of your body and mind as well. Exercise keeps you away from unhealthy temptations and helps you to manage stress and be more positive. Following your workout program regularly means that you are able to take care of yourself: be proud of that!
- You like cooking, don’t you? Bear in mind that you have to eat what you cook, so carefully plan your menus. For instance, if you make a cake or a dessert, cut out the other carbs of your meal in order to keep the sugar intake under control;
- Focus on the quality of your cooking; write down your recipes, look for old ones, maybe those your grannies used to make. Cook moderate servings and don’t waste any food. Always lay the table, sit down and switch off every device: tablet, TV, and cellphone too;
- If you take notes of what you eat and what you do during the day, you will get aware of your routine more easily; your life has temporarily changed, you have to get used to the new one;
- When you feel like eating something, it is not hunger, it is boredom, so drink plenty of water, or some herbal tea without sugar or other sweeteners. Be careful: if you drink something very tasty, you may get addicted to it;
- Give yourself a budget: some people have lost their jobs; do the shopping wisely, and write down you much you earn and spend. It will help you to keep your expenses under control.
- Cut down the time you spend in front of the TV, and don’t watch too much news; it will be quite distressing. Get informed but try not to be overwhelmed by absolutely negative news;
- Then, keep away from social media, and any kinds of online communications. It may be useful, but you may risk being trapped into the toxic mechanism of mental frustration, negativity, and wickedness, which will make you unable to face this situation;
- Keep your own balance; don’t care about all the people who pretend to be smart new life-coaches; don’t listen to their unlikely recipes. If you are asked, help the others: it is therapeutic;
- Cuddle yourself: have a long hot bath, read a book, or watch a nice film, set your mind free, focus on something flippant (for instance, I like the films by Bradley Copper, because I think he is the most handsome man in the world, … with Patrick Dempsey, of course! If I were his neighbor I would be really pleased to lend him something, … a lemon, some yeast, or anything else…).
Write down your shopping list and stick to it
Keep away from the aisles where you could be tempted by something toothsome and succulent. You don’t need it!
If you go to the supermarket once a week, this is what you should buy:
- Some organic flour, you never know…;
- 1 bag of sugar (no more!) or stevia;
- Frozen fish (not seasoned, read the facts);
- 1 serving of mozzarella or Parmesan cheese;
- 1 serving of Parma or 2 servings of Turkey;
- Sliced smoked salmon;
- Red and white meat to store in the freezer;
- High quality tomato purée;
- Fresh vegetables to eat in a few days and frozen (not seasoned) ones to have later on, as you should go out as least as possible to guarantee social distancing;
- Seasonal fruit, apples and pears, pineapples, kiwis, for instance;
- Extra virgin olive oil (butter just in case you have to bake something goods);
- Fresh organic lemons;
- Garlic, onions
- Celery and parsley
- High quality organic pasta and rice, potatoes;
- Dry pulses, cereal and pulses soups;
- Salt, pepper, spices, dry aromatic herbs or fresh ones to grown on your balcony;
- No more than 60-80g of dry unsalted fruit;
- Tea and herbal tea without sugar;
What will we be like after all that?
We will become what we have decided to be. We will be the result of what we are planning now! So, use the time you have now wisely!
When all this is over, don’t take anything for grated.
Thanks doctors and nurses who are working very very hard in the hospitals all around the world . Of course, it is their job, but they are making huge sacrifices to save as many lives as they can!
Pay homage to those who have gone: carry them in your heart and never forget their teachings.
Be grateful to your country, to the previous generations’ resistance which built our present. Bring all their values and memories; they will lead you along the path of your future life.