Quarantine "Tips" From Someone With Practice

If you are a heart failure patient who happened to need a heart transplant at any point in your life, don't you feel like your life hasn't changed much with this COVID-19 quarantine?

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Cook all your vegetables if you are at all worried about "germs" being on those vegetables. No fresh salads for me, ever.
  3. 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.
  4. Write about your experiences throughout this time. You will look back in a year and think, wow, those were some crazy times...
  5. 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.

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