Choose Faith or Choose Fear

It’s a cold, cold night. The winter storm is coming. Tomorrow is supposed to be -35 degrees. I am warm inside the house. I let my dogs out for 5 minutes and then bring them back inside. They whimper because the ice is frigid. It hurts their paws.

The storm is coming.

I could worry about everything. Will my car start? Will I make it through the snow and ice? What about the storms at work? What if someone else gets Covid? What will we do? What about this? What about that?

What if…What if…What if…

2022 is not starting out well. We are stuck in a bad, bad approaching storm. Think about the economy, think about Covid, think about the supply chain shortages, think about this, think about that…..think about all the bad stuff on the news…….get all filled up with anxiety and fear. Get all angry and frustrated and all worked up.

Or…..

choose to stay calm. Choose faith. Not the crazy blinding stupid faith that totally ignores the potential dangers. No the kind of faith that informs the serenity prayer.

Lord, help us to accept the things we cannot change and give us the courage to know the difference between what we can and what we cannot do.

I went to Galilee when I was 21. It was a study abroad for a summer. We took a rickety old metal bus up to the Golan Heights for the day and then on the way back, we stopped at an outside cafe. We got the wild notion to swim in the Sea with our clothes on. I still remember the joy of that moment swimming in the Sea with friends.

It really wasn’t that big, the Sea of Galilee. You could see the other side….much like a big Missouri lake. I wondered then what the disciples were so afraid of when the storms tossed their boat around and the waves threatened to come over the sides. Why did they panic? Jesus was asleep in the boat and they came to him and asked him to save them. Now, I realize that they probably didn’t know how to swim. That would be scary for sure.

Anyway, he got up and told them to have faith and then he calmed the waters to ease their minds.

We’re all kinda stuck in a Galilee boat and we don’t know what to do and we’re worried that this dang disease is gonna drown us. But remember what JFK said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Fear causes anxiety and procrastination and arguing and in-fighting and endless stupid drama which only serves to compound our problems. It causes the blame game and finger pointing. People stop fixing things and looking for solutions. Instead, they just throw shade and throw each other under the bus in an attempt to save their own hide. Every man for himself like we’re on the Titanic and there’s only one lifeboat left.

Admit it. You’ve done this. I’ve done it too. But this time…

Relax. Stay calm. Stay the course.

We’ll get out of this.

The man who wrote the song Amazing Grace was once in a storm too off the coast of England. He tied himself to the boat and he asked for mercy. He came through the storm and gave up his profession of slave trading. He went on to become a prolific preacher and hymn writer and we still sing his songs to this day.

It’s getting colder and colder outside. I could sit here and worry myself to death about the endless possibilities of what could go wrong. Or I could sit here and write something encouraging.

I choose to write.

The Opportunity to Help Heroes

I just work HR. It’s not very glamorous. All day long I help the company process paperwork. Today, I did 3 leave forms, payroll, helped with tuition reimbursement for 2 nurses, put in schedules for traveler nurses, and filled out lots of forms for helping medical staff with work comp in case of Covid quarantining. I help to ensure they get paid and get their benefits to support their families. Sometimes I screw up. But sometimes I am glad I am there to help.

All across America and the world, the medical staff are getting hit hard by the pandemic. It is not just the disease. It is the long hours, the double shifts, the struggles between work and family. It’s working extra to make sure the patients are okay. It’s holding hands. It’s not just meeting medical needs but psychological needs and basic needs like feeding and hygiene for the people they care for. It is wearisome to say the least.

I see it everyday. I see the exhaustion. I see the burnout and frustration. But I also see how hard they are working. I see how much extra they do with no thanks. I see the risks they take every day. I see them gowning up and getting N95 masks on that are really uncomfortable to wear. I see them working together to keep patients safe and bringing food trays to rooms and locking down facilities and screening visitors endlessly to try to keep the covid out. I see them getting through the winter snow to work. I see them playing music for the patients to cheer them up or doing all sorts of activities to keep the patients happy.

It’s not the big things. It’s the little things. It’s the little choices they make every day that make the medical personnel and medical admin heroes. It is getting up in the dark in the morning and getting scrubs on even though you want to call in. It’s showing up and clocking in and going through all the testing requirements from upper management. It’s showing care and compassion when they could easily turn a blind eye because they are overwhelmed. It’s a thousand little decisions made over and over day after day after day after endless day to stick it out for better or in this case, worse and worse and far worse.

It is an endless battle with an invisible enemy that keeps morphing over and over again and again. It would be easy to give up hope….and so many have. But I see in my own workplace, folks that just keep going and keep hoping and keep scheduling and keep administering and keep nursing and keep feeding patients and keep watching over them at night.

In Batman, the Dawn of Justice, there is a scene when Batman runs towards trouble while everyone around him is fleeing. You can watch it here if you want. I think medical people are like that but on a grander scale, a longer time scale. There is no fantastic explosion. Instead, it is decision after decision after decision to treat and maintain and prevent.

The choice to be a medical hero is not that simple. Watching it from the sidelines, it’s way harder than I had any idea of.

It’s countless endless decisions to not give up even through Delta, even through Omicron, even through this new Florina. It’s the internal decision to soldier on. It’s the decision to stay positive amidst adversity, as one of my colleagues said to simply, “Take one day at a time.” He said the key is to not look at the big picture but just focus on the day, getting through the day. That is the best advice I’ve gotten since working this job.

I’m honored to help them. I know I make mistakes sometimes with the paperwork and sometimes the procedures and processes can frustrate or seeing the medical staff burdened can make you feel god awful. But overall, I am glad I took this job.

I work with heroes. Real heroes. Not the kind that wear spandex and capes. And that’s not just rhetoric. It’s true. These are the real kind. I wonder what stories we will tell of them many years from now if we all make it through this pandemic.

Tonight, if you just google hospitals, you will read countless articles about the hospitals and other nursing facilities under siege. My own cousin came down with Covid in Kansas. All the hospitals were full up and they were considering life-flighting him all the way to New Mexico to a hospital there. That is how bad it is for the medical facilities right now.

If there was any time the medical staff in America could use your thoughts and prayers, it’s now.

Heroes run towards trouble even when others run the opposite direction. It’s a gut decision, a split second decision. They just do it. That’s how you know someone is a hero.

As they say in the St. Jude’s hospital commercial, “Hope is when you never give up.”

Remember, the stars shine brightest only on the darkest of nights.

Getting Through the Covid Positive Experience

I’ve been reading some online articles about the experiences of many people that have gone through the physical and emotional symptoms of testing positive for Covid. There is much written about how to avoid exposure. However, I could not find a lot of material written about enduring the experience itself of finding out you or a loved one or your whole family are affected by this disease. I wanted to help out any reader that is looking for some advice on how to deal with it. This is what our family did to get by. Maybe some of these suggestions will work for you. Maybe some won’t. Take what you want and leave anything that doesn’t apply behind.

My husband and I tested positive for Covid with rapid Covid tests about one day after the other. He was showing many symptoms and is older and diabetic. I, on the other hand, was mostly asymptomatic. I waited in my car outside the urgent care clinic after my swab and was surprised when the nurse called me in and said quietly, “Yes, you also are positive. It is a good thing you came in to test yourself, Mrs. Speer.”

Our kids were subsequently tested the next day and were both negative to our happy surprise. However, we were all going to be in quarantine together. We live in a long ranch home. So, the kids stayed on the south side of the ranch house in the bedroom areas and had their own bathroom. My husband and I chose not to sleep in our bed, due to the cough and the phlegm in our respiratory systems. So, we holed up in the living room and kitchen area on the other side of the house for most of the quarantine. The kids put together a makeshift kitchen in their area with plenty of microwaveable food and snacks and bottles of water. They had their video games and books and remote learning school activities set up in their rooms. They could also watch TV or Netflix. We bought them a few Play Station gift cards at the beginning, so they would be happier.

Ok, so here are some things we did that might help if you are in a similar circumstance:

  1. We opened the windows to the house to let in fresh air and circulate the air better. It was November and a little chilly but my husband and I found as we started to get winded from the disease that the fresh outdoor air helped us breathe a whole lot better.
  2. We kept a vaporizer going at all times in the living room to help us breathe better. I added some Clove essential oil to the water.
  3. We rubbed down our upper lips and chests with mentholateum.
  4. We drank lots of water throughout the day and for some reason, neither my husband nor I could stomach acidic drinks much like coffee or soda. We just stuck to water primarily.
  5. You might lose your sense of smell or some of your ability to taste food for a while. Don’t be alarmed. Just the illness running its course.
  6. We ordered groceries using a phone app and had them delivered to the bench outside the front door. It was pretty simple.
  7. We tried ordering via Door Dash some restaurant food but found that it upset our stomachs. I don’t know why. I wouldn’t really recommend it.
  8. We seemed to prefer more alkaline food.
  9. We ate pineapple too because it is supposed to help with respiratory infections.
  10. We slept on the couches at incline positions and NOT on the beds flat on our backs. I highly recommend doing this so you don’t get the phlegm in your lungs because that stuff is like glue and extremely hard to clear out of your system for some reason.
  11. We took Vitamin D3, Vitamin C, Baby Aspirin, and Zinc Tablets every morning along with the medicine the doctors prescribed.
  12. The whole family upped their personal hygiene levels taking showers every morning with lots of soap and washed our hair every day and brushed our teeth.
  13. My husband was dealing with fluctuating blood sugar levels for about a week. When his blood sugar got high, he would drink more water and restrict food intake. When it got low, we kept honey by his Lazy Boy chair to feed him if needed and we purchased glucose tablets. We bought a portable urinal as well because of the dizzy spells. That helped out immensely.
  14. Keep fans close by and cold towels and ice packs ready in case a family member has a bad fever. If the fever goes to 103 degrees, it is recommended to go to the hospital. A little bit of Tylenol also helps with the fever and headaches.
  15. Have a trusty thermometer at hand and for diabetes, the Freestyle Continuous Monitor is definitely helpful.
  16. Coordinate with your workplace and supervisors early on. Make sure they know what your quarantine dates are from the health department. Learn about the CARE Act and how to continue getting paid. Make sure your check is direct deposited.
  17. If you gotta make meals for other family members that are negative for Covid, purchase plastic gloves for meal preparation and wear a mask when cooking. Leave the food trays outside their area of the house. Always keep at least 6 feet distance from the others.
  18. You can communicate a lot with family via texting.
  19. Get some sunshine outside every day. It will make you feel better and calmer.
  20. Try not to worry too much. Just keep taking one day at a time. Rest and relax your body by watching TV or taking naps.
  21. Find positive things to lift your spirits. Find a happy book or funny show to watch. I got through four seasons of Schitt’s Creek on Netflix and it helped a whole lot.
  22. If you find yourself experiencing some sadness or feeling a little alone with this experience, hey……it is SO NORMAL! Don’t be hard on yourself or your family members. You will get through this. We had a lot of neighbors, family, relatives, etc. that sent prayers and asked how we were doing or sent care packages, etc. However, there were still moments when I felt scared about the future. It’s ok. It’s normal to feel that way. Just don’t dwell too much on the negative.

Ok, that’s probably enough advice. Hope some of these ideas will work for you. Just remember, to take it easy on yourself and your family and trust that good things will happen for your family. Keep the faith.

Lots of love,

Janea

The Little Things

If anything, the pandemic has taught you to enjoy the little things. The parks are closed. The theaters are closed. Amusement parks and various forms of entertainment either closed or very restricted. You can’t really travel much. It’s a pain to go to the grocery store now. You’d rather just stay home. Thank god for the internet, right? It is nice to still feel some human connection as you toodle away on your computer looking at endless hours of YouTube video tutorials or maybe watch Netflix movies…..or rather…. the previews to the movies.

Does anyone else do this? You decide to watch a Netflix movie but you can’t really decide for sure which one and you know Netflix films kinda have either a hit or miss ratio……so you scour over endless previews searching for just the right and perfect one. Then, after about fifteen to twenty minutes, you hopelessly give up and switch over to regular cable. You wonder if you are the only one who does this?

So, anyway, back on topic…..enjoy the little things lately. Things like buying a parakeet at the local pet store to keep you company and speculating over whether to call him Sugar Ray, Steve Miller, or your son decides on the name Paco which means in Spanish the word “free.” And, you think to yourself of the Lynrd Skynrd song “Freebird.” Yes, Paco it is. Paco it shall be. Welcome to the family, Paco.

You don’t go out much anymore. Besides, it would be smart to save your earnings…you never know what might happen coming up. The local high school football game gets cancelled cause you hear the other team has half their kids in quarantine for COVID. Then, there’s your co-worker and his wife from work. Their whole family is in lockdown quarantine for having COVID. You heard he had trouble breathing for three days and you worry about them.

And…..

You realize you’re damn lucky to still be here…….to spend your evenings listening to endless hours of Def Leppard or Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin on YouTube. You love to watch the animal videos too. Can’t get enough of the funny cute stuff on social media and the endless corny memes.

You’ve gotten used to the solitude on the weekends. You’re not only enjoying the solitude now….you are extremely grateful for just the opportunity to have it.

So, crack open your favorite drink….whatever it may be. Find some goofy pick a card tarot reading or perhaps a makeup tutorial on how to overline your lips so you too can look like them sexy models (at least at home….your 65 year old mother would still get upset with you if you posted a sexy selfie on social media. Some things never change even during a pandemic.)

Find something at home to make you smile, to make you laugh, to make you feel alive, to make you truly grateful for being here in this moment on this circling planet.

Damn you, COVID. Damn you for what you’ve done to so many heartbroken families. Damn you for your cruelty and brokenness.

But thank you too, COVID. Thank you for making us realize we need to hug and cherish our loved ones as much as possible in this brief time we have here. Thank you for making us finally appreciate all those little, little things.