In 2009, I caught the H1N1 virus, commonly referred to as Swine Flu. I’m not going to sugarcoat it; I was really sick.
I had a false-negative reading at the doctor’s office, and by the time the hospital called me back for quarantine, I had already crawled back into my bed. They told me to stay there.
We were still living in a small house in Sydney, sharing a single bathroom with our two young children, and I was scared. And sick. So sick, I started writing letters to my boys because I was pretty sure I was going to die. My Father-in-Law was still practicing medicine, and my Mother-in-Law (a retired Nurse) came to look after me. The boys stayed downstairs while I was exiled to our bedroom. I struggled through several feverish days and agonizing, sleepless nights. But after a week, I slowly began to get better.
What seemed like a death sentence was actually just a terrible flu. It was the hysteria around the word “pandemic” that got to me. They say that “nothing spreads as quickly as fear,” and I get it. The Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19, looks pretty scary.
Still, I don’t believe in being worried. I believe in being prepared. This is what I’m doing to prepare for an eventual coronavirus outbreak:
- I’m washing my hands like it’s my job. We make hand soap, so we’re pretty good about this already. But I get lazy and don't always do it the right way. Washing your hands well and often is the most effective way to prevent infection, period.
- Resorting to bleach, ammonia and other harsh chemicals. While I was sick at home, I was very careful to clean every surface with our own Plant Based bathroom cleaner. I sprayed the seat (top and bottom) the flush handle and the faucet every time I used it. I even sprayed the mirror with our alcohol-based glass cleaner. I had a stack of fresh cleaning cloths in there and took them out with me after cleaning, along with my own towel to avoid transfer.
- I’m keeping our surfaces extra clean. That includes all “high touch” things like the fridge door handle, light switches, remotes, and all of our devices. I’m also the Mom that makes everyone take off shoes in the house, since this is how most germs follow us home.
- I’m sticking to a healthier routine. For me, that means eating well, exercising, and getting plenty of sleep.
- I made everyone get a flu shot. There’s no bulletproof vaccine for any virus, but the latest science says that getting a flu shot will at least minimize your risk of infection and also decrease the severity of your symptoms if you do get sick.
- I finally figured out how to use my doctor’s online portal to access our family health and vaccine records, just in case.
- I’m stocking up on essential household supplies. I bought water, canned goods, toilet paper, paper towels, tissue, feminine hygiene products and cleaning products. I’ve been meaning to do this anyway for earthquake preparedness. Better safe than sorry, right?
- I refreshed our Emergency Kit. Ours includes: solar flashlights, a small radio, space blankets, eye goggles, disposable gloves, batteries, and a travel charger for devices.
- I renewed our prescription medications and also bought some OTC medications like ibuprofen, cold medicine and, electrolyte drinks, in case anyone gets sick.
- I stocked up on our supply of supplements and adaptogens.
Here's what I’m Not doing…
- Hoarding facemasks. This is a mostly pointless exercise. Loose-fitting facemasks do little to protect you from airborne germs. They are meant for people who are already sick to avoid infecting others. And healthcare workers who desperately need them. Wash your hands often and buy these instead…
- Dieting. Guess what? Now is not the time to start an elimination diet. If the poop really hits the fan, you might actually want an extra pound (or three). It may actually be safer for you to be carrying around a few extra pounds as a protective barrier when there is a risk of becoming ill. Pass the guacamole!
- Touching my eyes, nose and face. Well, I’m trying not to! It’s surprising to me how often we all do this, but this is exactly how we get sick.
- Going out when I’m not feeling well. I’m a dedicated Homebody, so this is an easy one for me. I’m still shopping and going out occasionally, but I’m avoiding crowds and staying home if I feel even slightly tired or headachy.
I’ve been to this rodeo before and I can promise you that it’s not the end of the world. A cool head, a little shopping, and plain old common sense should see you through this just fine. Don’t panic. Just stock up the pantry and cleaning cupboard and prepare for this pandemic like you would any other emergency. It’s like the old saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Wise words indeed.