Quarantine "Tips" From Someone With Practice
A social distancing experiment
I was thinking about this the other day - that my life since my heart transplant has been a "social distancing experiment," a total challenge for an extrovert like me. A heart transplant requires a lifetime full of immunosuppressant medications, some social restrictions, and constant worry about infections all around you. In a way, I feel like everyone now understands what I went through when I first received my heart transplant.
For one, face masks are difficult to breathe through. They also hurt ears and cause headaches. And yes, being stuck in a home really does suck.
And there is one thought that never goes away: "suddenly, everyone carries every possible deadly infection ever."
So imagine having those thoughts intermittently throughout the last year after getting a heart transplant. I assure you that the excitement around a second chance at life never goes away. I will forever be grateful to my donor, her family, and how beautiful this life is. But the restrictions that I was given made me feel so alone at times. I didn't always have someone to talk to, because there were so few people who truly understood what I was going through on some days, especially at the same time as me.
Ironic, but fascinating
And then, this global pandemic hit.
In a way, I was used to all of the new governmental orders and recommendations that were suddenly thrown at us. In fact, I feel like I have comforted some people around me by telling them about how I lived my life (specifically when I first got my transplant and was initially discharged from the hospital). I find it ironic, but fascinating. I am thrilled to help others with any questions they have...
So, some tips for those who are currently going stir-crazy during these times:
- If you have to wear a mask and the mask is hurting your ears, try pinning the ear loops to your hair instead. This works well only if you have long hair.
- Cook all your vegetables if you are at all worried about "germs" being on those vegetables. No fresh salads for me, ever.
- Practice home exercises without all the fancy gym equipment, even simple things like sit-ups and planks. Get a phone app or watch that forces you to move around the house every hour, even if it's just for one minute or so.
- Write about your experiences throughout this time. You will look back in a year and think, wow, those were some crazy times...
- Take an online course in something random - I listened to free online lectures on the phases of the moon, something I had always been interested in.
It will be unforgettable
Ultimately, remember one thing: that when this is all over, the world is going to be so much more beautiful than you ever remembered it to be. Your first back-to-normal activity will make you cry. It will be unforgettable. You will never take advantage of regular life moments after this - walking down the busy street, going to a restaurant with a friend, dinner with your family. A handshake. You will never take advantage of regular life moments after this.
Have you shared YOUR heart failure story with us yet?