2_Personal thoughts/Experiences of COVID 19-2 (Mar 31, 2020)

Personal thoughts/Experiences of COVID 19(Mar 28 2020)

Personal thoughts/Experiences of COVID 19 (continuing thread and updated daily)
The availability of experiences can help others to understand, what they are experiencing, and not feel that they are alone in this situation. It will also help the learn from other individuals experiences.
Further, it will also build an understanding the INDIANS response to the pandemic.
Please note that this is a compilation of experiences and opinions.
Please feel to share your thoughts/experiences through my email: smurthy030@gmail.com Your contributions will be added to the thread.

11.Challenges of being a medical professionalin an epidemic

Thank you for, always, searching for and sharing experiences that could enrich others.
Samson (my husband) and I have been struggling, tremendously, with this. We retired, almost a year and a half ago and have been working for 3 month stints in different places where they are in desperate need of psychiatrists.
In November, just as we were getting ready for a 3 month break, I had a call from the hospital where I had worked for 38 years. They had a critical need and wondered if we would help. We agreed.
Fast forward to now, when we are the only physicians on the Eating Disorders Service. Our daughters are urging us, several times a day, sometimes tearfully, to avoid going out of the home at all, reminding us that we have children and grandkids who need us and that, at over 70, if we get sick, we are EXTREMELY vulnerable and NOT anyone’s highest priority in an acute care situation.
We asked if we could work telemetrically and see our patients remotely, we were asked if we could do that from anywhere within the hospital so that staff know that there is a physical presence of a physician in the setting.

Tough balance that we are trying to figure out. It is physically and emotionally exhausting and that is not even the work part of our lives.

Chatting with our girls, which we have always looked forward to, has become so incredibly stressful. They are not asking us to abandon our patients but to manage them remotely, as many thousands of physicians are doing during this crisis.
We need to convince the hospital that patients will not suffer, staff will not feel abandoned. That is hard because Nurses don’t have those same options.
Love the poem of Kalidasa, you shared.
-Meena Vimalananda, Consultant Psychiatrist, USA.
12. HELPLINE EXPERIENCE from Ratnagiri
Thank you so much for including my name and our helpline facility in your latest blog.

I may add that our cases residing in remote places, have found our helpline much more helpful in this time of lockdown.

They can now talk to me on phone while my database is in front of me in my office, where I can open the patient’s file on a click and then guide about continuation of medicines, adjusting the dosages or visiting a nearby physician who can then talk to me and brief me some examination findings and prescribe the medication.
-Dr. Shashvat Shere. Senior Psychiatrist, Ratnagiri.
13. Meditation
Meditation is becoming _aware_ of thoughts _every moment_ and _transforming_ them.
There are four types of thoughts:
1) *Positive* e.g. welfare of self and others etc. — These should be fostered;
2) *Negative* e.g. anger, jealousy, greed, etc. — These need to be stopped
3) *Of Action* e.g. Things to do immediately — These should be implemented but not turned into negative ;
4) *Wasteful* e.g. About past or future which is not in control — These should be curtailed.
Prof. Manoj Kumar, USA.
14.Poor people are especially stressed
Families living in 1 room accommodation , addicts , alcoholics constantly at home fighting ,screaming at each other.Addicts being troublesome as they may not be able to get their daily quota of drug. Fights due to marital .problems at least 1 partner is away on job this during the lockdown problems. Families living with chronic physical and mentally ill family member.
It should be One Day At A Time. Plan activities for everyday. Live day to day. What ever comes your way one has to deal with it.Try to focus on every activity. If you are having biscuits focus on its taste how crunchy is it, see the packet , where it was manufactured, date, company, ingredients etc. This is just one example.What actually one needs is a good listener and now a days this quality is rare to find.
-SUMAN GUPTA, Social Work, Chandigarh,
15.My Experience with COVID 19

Pandemic hit me quite late because I was with a birdwatching group in Assam at Manas National Park and Nuera valley, isolated with temperamental Wifi!
I was very impressed with health workers at Delhi airport and at the national park who checked our temperatures daily and checked us out. More than what happened in Heathrow . I was appalled to see the crowds at the airport oblivious to the pandemic going about their business , some from the far east of course had masks which they use quite often anyway.
My experience in Assam watching the beautiful colourful birds of various sizes and habitat has energised me no end.I am highly endorphinised because of being in nature for. Couple of weeks.
From my personal experience so far, I could say these are a few things that keep me focused , thinking positive free from any sort of fear or anxiety.

1 Start the day by being thankful for being in good health this morning!

2 Update on the news just enough to keep us well informed. Too much information and hear say stuff could sometimes do more harm than good.

3 Since you are on your own listen to the radio to current affairs, not just to know about Covid 19 news. Listen to how people in different parts of the country and the world are living through this crisis .It might help us to put our lives into perspective.

4 Think of how you can help others less fortunate than yourself. May be telephone friends for a chat !

5 Exercise, walking alone once a day for about an hour maximum.
Yoga , Zumba etc. Challenge yourself to do just a little more each day.

6 The best one is getting our house clean and tidy. Spring clean and declutter.You realise how little one can live on. Our needs are really minimal.

7 Cooking time . Make it exciting Cook healthy meals with lots of vegetables . This is possible if you have a young friendly neighbour who can shop for you and bring you fresh vegetables and fruits!

8 Have some leisure time Read a book , a book from the shelf you never had time to read! Watch some TV for entertainment.

9 Last of all and most important time is your time for meditation. It keeps you grounded, make you feel grateful for the blessings received and gives you strength to accept the present situation without being complacent.

Be positive, accept and be safe.
-Dr.Usha Benjamin, Anaesthesiologist, Manchester, England.
16. A poem for the times

Blessed are ye that don’t toss jokes aside
Vid-eo sharing too ‘We will Covid overcome’
Oh ye that sing ,cracking jokes make us laugh
Hahaha ahahaha corona is easily broken in half

Covid19 rules out of school…don’t be April fool
When you sing eat or laugh., use clean tools
Please learn to cower your mouth
Don’t forget to fold your hands
Before you say Namaste please pray
BTW Is the Covernment giving away
Free soap and water till the end of May⁉️
Someone said that’s the day Covid is going away

Stay healthy happy and well cowered
Louv…. happy week ahead
Keith and Madhu, USA.
17. Self -Management

Thanks for sharing the tips on self management.
For spiritually inclined retirees, here is a YouTube presentation by my favourite Swami in the NY Vedanta Society, the first ever Ramakrishna Mission Society establish in 1894 (or a out) by Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Sarvapriananda’ s erudition is great, most heard and YouTube popular Monk in the English speaking world.

You have to listen to believe.
-V.Muthuswami/ Chennai

Murthy: This is one of the best 45 minute video combining high philosophy and practical living. I would say it is a MUST SEE.
********************************************************************************18. BROKEN FOR THE BROKEN WORLD

COVID 19 has emerged as a springboard for shocking news and a torrent of emotional upheaval.
Looking artistic with a colourful floral pattern, one wonders how this microscopic virus could create a war zone and such havoc in the world, marching steadily on.
The news paralyses us with fear.
• 2000 dead in US and on the rise.
• Millions have lost their jobs.
• Stock markets have crashed and your hard earned savings gone.
• Health workers are exhausted with work overload.
• Shortage of masks and ventilators.
• Routine elective surgeries postponed, and the list goes on and on.
Having migrated to the US recently after 40 years of active life in India as an Anaesthesiologist I would frequently turn to WhatsApp to my class group in India on my mobile.
They made me laugh, taking me back to the days of sweet sixteen.
Though all of them held high profile jobs in various parts of the world, here we would drop all our portfolios and turn into the teenagers of yester years.

Strangely with the advent of Corona even they sent shock waves through me. I saw the crowded streets of Chennai, Bombay unbelievably empty bearing a deserted look.
• Where have all the roadside vendors gone?
• What would they do for a living?
I saw the news of the migrant workers returning to their homes walking miles, with no public transport, for days. I thought of a village I had visited where they would collect worms and sell them as fish food and with the earnings of a few rupees per day, feed their family.
• What would they do now?
• A sinking feeling of despair and helplessness gripped me.
• Could all this have been averted?
In minutes my classmates pulled me out of my depression.
They shared positive facts and pointed out the rations and financial help Government was giving them. The Internet centers even in remote villages of India flashed before my eyes. Surely the tech savvy India would be able to reach every nook and corner that needed help.
I learnt a major lesson.
When you sink into despair and hopelessness look at positive facts.
A positive view boosts our immune system too, as an added advantage.

Concerns over health of the family is another major issue in many homes.
The fear of the younger generation for their elders and vice versa is palpable as the infection rate
and mortality rate climb in a country. Videos of patients coughing, struggling to breathe and maintain oxygen saturation, warning us to take care and not sink into that horrific state, triggers the panic button in our brain.

So how does one avoid the Panic mode?
• By looking at the beneficial effects of Social Distancing.
• It has brought the family together
• In Israel the political leaders came together to manage the covid crisis, setting an example for other world leaders to follow.
• Communities in Italy cheered the health workers from their balconies at a specific time for their sacrificial service.
• The wealthy are continuing to contribute liberally for the cause.
• Every Government is helping the poor financially.
• The unskilled workers who were never recognized before are now applauded for their labour.
• The hard work of Researchers and the paramount importance of Research is brought to the fore front.
• Through technological advancements we now have virtual meetings.
• Though Church doors are closed one cannot close our virtual meetings and fellowship!
• We still meet over Zoom and have many hours of Bible study sitting in the comfort of our homes.
• This boosts our faith and plays a major role in enabling us to face the pandemic.

What should we do to decrease our anxiety?
• Do not underestimate or laugh down the virus nor be terrorized by it
• Follow the instructions strictly.
• Keep yourself updated scientifically over the disease process and the treatment plan.
• Be on the alert for Fake news. Test the news.
• Release the anxiety through creative writing, art and painting or through poems, songs, or blogging..
A powerful video sent by my classmate filled me with immense peace.
Its about a hen with her chickens strolling in a peaceful field. There is an evil looking hawk on a tree watching them very intently. Suddenly with no notice the hawk pounces on the chicken. The mother hen strikes back fiercely at the hawk and for a few seconds there is an intense battle between them till mother hen chases away the hawk.
If our Creator could put such a sense of responsibility and protective love into a hen for her chicken how much more concern and love would God have for us the humans .
Above all let us turn to the Creator in brokenness, repentance and prayer, for the only one who created the world would know how to set it right.
Under His wings we are safely abiding—-
As our heart bleeds for the broken world, only pain will make us look up and pray for each other.
Though socially the virus has distanced us from each other, strangely it has brought our hearts and minds closer to each other breaking all barriers of religion, region, or race.

Corona have you beaten us, or have we conquered you?
Oh yes, we have, through the power and love of our Creator.
-Dr. Hansa Jayakumar MD DA Bethesda, Maryland USA
19.Coping with Fear- Guidelines for the caregiver
Last evening received a call for help about a family member with excessive fear.
Here is what I adviced-Do’s and Don’t’s.

QUESTION: When a member of my family gets excessively fearful, how should we react…in the sense should we tell him to be strong and not get scared since these are part of life?
Suggested actions:

Answer: Caregiver responses when a family member is under ‘stress’ and ‘fear’:
What to do and what not to do:

1. Stay with the person, preferably alone rather the whole family crowding around the person;
2. Encourage the person to sit or lie down and take deep breaths;
3. Give psychological space for the person to share what is happening, especially the feelings and thoughts, without interrupting the person’s talking;
4. Reaffirm your love and commitment to his/her welfare;
5. Following the episode, initiate emotional health promoting activities like regular exercise, 8 hours of sleep, yoga, fun activities daily and spiritual practices. These will strengthen the individual emotional health.
6. Do not say that there is nothing is wrong with you.
7. Do not threaten the person, like saying I will leave you;
8. Do not make fun of him/ her;
9. Do not leave the person alone;
10. Do not say he or she is weak
In addition, address/solve anything, that is changeable like providing space for privacy, reducing volume of the TV/ radio, linking with a family member, doing puja or reciting religious texts, decreasing your critical comments etc

20. Books useful for Mental Health Professionals on Disaster mental Health:

1. ADVANCES IN DISASTER MENTAL HEALTH AND PSYCHOLOGICAL SUPPORT. Edited by J.O.P.Diaz, R.Srinivasa Murthy, Rashmi Lakshminarayana. Indian Red Cross-VHAI.2006..
2. Psychiatry of Pandemics A Mental Health Response to Infection Outbreak, Damir Huremović Editor, SPRINGER, 2019.
3. Disaster Psychiatry,-Readiness, Evolution and Treatment. Edited by F.J.Stoddard, Anand Pandya, C.L.Katz. American Psychiatric Association . 2011.
4. Disasters: Mental Health Context and Responses. Edited by G.N. Christodoulou, J.E.Mezzich, N.G. Christodoulou, and D.Lecic-Tosevski. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2015.
5. Psychosocial Perspectives on Peacebuilding. Editors B.Hamber and E.Gallagher. Springer. 2015.
6. Scarred Communities- Psychosocial Impact of man-made and natural disasters on Sri Lankan Society. Daya Somasundaram, Sage Publications. 2014.
7. Trauma,War, and Violence. Edited by Joop de Jong,Kluwer Academic. 2002.
8. Disasters and Mental Health, Edited by J.J.Lopez -Ibor, G.N. Christodoulou, M.Maj, N.Sartorius, A.Okasha. Wiley. 2005.
9. Intervenmtions following mass violence and disasters. Edited by E.C.Ritchie, P.J.Watson, M.J.Friedman. Guilford Press. 2006.
10. Psychiatric in Society. Edited by N.Sartorius, W.Gaebel, J.J.Lopz-Ibor, M.Maj. Wiley. 2002.
11. Coping with Catastrophe. P.E.Hodgkinson, and M.Stewart. Routledge. 1991.
12. On disasters in India. Anu Kapur. Foundation. 2009.
13. Introspective meditations for complete contentment(Santosha) by Manoj Sharma, Health for All, Inc,2018.
14. Everybody loves a drought. P.Sainath. Penguin. 1996.
15. Social suffering. Edited by A.Klienman, V.Das, M.Lock. Oxford University Press. 1998.
16. Positive Psychiatry. Edited by D.V.Jeste and B.W.Palmer, American Psychiatric Association,2015.
17. The Secrets of people who never get sick. G. Stone. Workmen Publishing. 2011.
18. Children of “THE TROUBLES” -our lives in the Crossfire of Northern Ireland. L..Holliday. Washington Square Press. 1997.

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