Monday, December 19, 2022

Long COVID Journal: Sharing My Coping Strategies

Original graphic by Og Ramos
There's a growing body of testimonials regarding Long COVID and while the cience is still trying to catch up with the virus, it's good to know that there seems to be open acknowledgment that the phenomenon exists and not, as a year or so ago, thought to be just a figment of a fearful imagination.  One of the documentary videos I watched encapsulate a fact about getting this prolonged sickness -- you get sick for a week or two and your relatives and friends will support you.  But if your sickness extend to weeks and months, the scenario changes; being human, your circle of support gets tired and friends and relatives get on with their lives and largely leave you on your own.

People with Long COVID have to cope with it largely on their own.  Every case is different so my experience on initially getting over the symptoms and coping with the persisting effects will differ from somebody else's.  But I write it here in the hope that some of the coping mechanisms and modalities I adopted may be of help to others.

GETTING OVER THE INITIAL SYMPTOMS -- The metallic aftertaste and painful sore throat I had lasted for 2-3 weeks and kept me from ingesting much of anything. 

• To overcome the urge to throw up, I resorted to eating bananas as my only solid food. 

• My first choice for hydration is coconut water. If I can't find a vendor of coconut water, I'd drink liters of Gatorade or Pocari daily. If the two makes me nauseous, I'd drink lots of Del Monte pure pineapple juice which also helps me salivate more to keep my mouth from drying out.

• If my throat is specially painful for ingesting cold fluids, I'd drink hot salabat (powdered ginger tea) to soothe it. I didn't have turmeric at the time but it would be a good alternative, dissolved in hot water and sweetened with honey.  I didn't have Lagundi at that time but would've taken a capsule 2-3x a day to induce phlegm and saliva production. Another locally-available cure would be calamansi (native lemon) used either for juicing or as an acquaintance told me, he heated the rind over an open flame and ate it after it has cooled down. The bitterness will induce salivation.

• I took 1-2 1000mg of Vitamin C with zinc daily.

• Another way to soothe an itchy or painful throat is to gargle with VCO (virgin coconut oil); then ingesting a tablespoon 2-3 times a day. Aside from that, studies have shown that VCO boosts immunity against viral and bacterial infections including COVID-19.

• I'd take paracetamol to ease the muscle aches and pains. Since I weaned myself from Tramadol, I'd use a topical liniment (Efficascent Extra Strength Oil) on sore and tender muscles, especially my back and right thigh.

• I'd take a capsule of melatonin (Sleepasil) to help me sleep (still difficult but it helps).

• Having a cat helped me in having a purpose of waking up in the morning and feeling less alone in this ordeal.

WHEN THE SYMPTOMS EASED UP -  After 2-3 weeks, the metallic taste in and soreness of my throat eased up so I was able to eat a bit more solids.

• I ate a lot of soups in this period which are easier to swallow and the soup base helps keep me hydrated.

• I kept up my juice and fluids intake up to 2 liters a day.

• Since I've always taken VCO before I got Long COVID, I maintained the intake, up to 3 tablespoons a day in addition to gargling with it (more known as oil pulling in Ayurveda) first thing in the morning. 

• To help with sleep, I resort to taking melatonin in capsule form.  Listening to ASMR videos also help.  I also listen to pure tones especially in the 528Hz range to help heal.

• For moral support, I chat with my sister and friends daily through Messenger. I also enlisted the help of my rescue cat, Alvin, to look over me. She dutifully wakes me up every 5am (perchance I'm still alive) by lying next to my head.

• For spiritual support, I meditate everyday, at times twice a day.  I also eschewed reading the mainstream news - no sense adding more things to worry about to an already burdened mind and body.

MONTH 3 UP TO THE PRESENT - I have recovered my appetite at this point though I still have episodes of crashing in the afternoon.

• I take afternoon naps (more of sleep since I can doze off for 1-2 hours).

• I walk a bit more now, take several flights of stairs in the building when I can, walk to the supermarket 3 blocks away instead of riding a jeep.  I also try to do resistance workouts (light to medium weights) using dumbbells or resistance bands every other day to recover a bit of muscular strength.

• I'm back to drinking coffee every morning which I offset by filling up with 2-3 liters of water (pure or with a bit of flavoring) daily.

• My VCO intake is steady at 2-3 tablespoons daily plus oil pulling every morning.

• To help build immunity, I incorporate garlic into the simple meals I prepare like sauteing 4-5 cloves either in olive oil or VCO for mixing with tuna and pasta.

• I went back to taking 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar first thing every morning washed with a glass of water (my bad but I avoid drenching my teeth with the acidic brew).

• I talk to friends openly about my experience as well as thoughts on dying and suicide.  It helps ease up my mind regarding matters that are otherwise not discussed, certainly not on social media or casual banter.

• Meditating daily really helps in easing anxiety.  So does praying. Having a cat to take care of (and talk to) is therapeutic. I keep a gratitude journal and try to write nightly -- it helps to keep things in perspective especially when things are not working the way they ought to be.

Admittedly, I have yet to recover my breathing capacity pre-Long COVID as well as my physical, emotional, and spiritual strength.  I consider myself a work in progress and try to take each day as it comes.  There will be high and low days (or moods that fluctuate from hour to hour). I have to learn to ride out the waves until better times come. There are lingering questions like "will I ever get back to the way I used to be?" Maybe, we'll have to take it one day at a time.

Disclaimer: Post contains coping strategies derived from personal experience and does not constitute an advice for healing/treatment.


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