Hello, from Joshua Adam Awesome Oberle in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada.
I spent Tuesday morning bawling giant-hulking-man-baby sobs; I hit bottom and just didn't' have the strength to get up. I couldn't fight the irresistible nature of gravity anymore. I turned into a snotty mess that my wife flew to when she came home and found me. My first thought was that I was going to give my wife a concussion as she tried desperately to hold me, my hyperventilating heaves bouncing her like a leaf in the ocean.
I was forced to close my 4-year Registered Massage Therapy (RMT) practice. Yes, I could have stayed open. It was my choice - but for the safety of my family, clients, and community I shut down. My one-year-old son can't fend for himself. He counts on my decisions. I was left with no clear direction.
The second thought was that I have felt that overwhelming tidal wave of despair before, the one that comes when you are drowning. Countless times I have encountered that split-second, the one where you finally stop struggling and accept what is happening. Actually, I lost to this despair at the age of 12.
My third thought was "I got this". I'm not giving up. The 12-year-old boy who took 500 extra-strength Tylenol has had 27 years to learn how to adapt and overcome what life will chaotically throw at you. I have built a reputation, a client base, and a community that will ensure that my family will survive this to the end.
We are in a war. A war along several fronts. We have been routed and a rout continues until someone stops, raises the flag and screams defiantly at the enemy - creating a rally point. Their actions trigger the rest of us, still in full fight-or-flight to snap out of it. If a rout doesn't stop, the battle is lost.
Whether it's a General, or the lowest cadet - someone has to raise the flag. Someone has to hold the line.
If I still have your attention, I'm truly sorry for what you are experiencing, and with some time on my hands, I want to speak up. I want to have my say.
To my clients: If you are able to, I am selling gift certificates on my website (https://awesomermt.schedulista.com/), redeemable when I do reopen. I will be suspending home-visits for the foreseeable future, until I can protect the safety of all my clients. My practice, as it is now, is not essential compared to stopping the spread of this. It is not the virus but the underlying pneumonia and unproductive mucus production. Below, I have a few tips to help you and your family recover faster. Please understand this is NOT a cure, your doctors, your pharmacists and your own ability to recover from attacks on the immune system are what will cure this.
To my community: My first job was when I was 11. I have 4 years of RMT experience. I have 5 years of respite work experience. I have 10 years of factory experience and 20 years of retail experience. I can swing a hammer or use a shovel. I grew up on a farm, I've obtained a black belt in taekwon-do and many of you can vouch for my work ethic. If I can't treat as a RMT, then someone in a better position please find me something. All that I ask is that you finish reading this first.
To the rest of you 8 billion people: the day after I had lost all hope, I received a call on my phone from a phishing-scheme trying to con me out of the last dregs of what I have earned so far. Because I called them despicable and dishonorable, they called me back repeatedly just to annoy me.
I am going out on a limb that some of you are interested in what I have to say, that my experiences and what little wisdom I have accumulated is worth something. I hope that I can sow a few seeds of ideas; Ideas that will find purchase and sprout along the rally points forming. I hope that those with infinitely more resources than I can find use with someone like me, deemed non-essential. My practice is as it is, maybe, but not my knowledge.
First - This was caused by poor hygiene. This isn't the first time, nor the last. Anthropologically or medically, if you add overcrowding to poor hygiene we ourselves create the perfect breeding grounds for viral adaption and evolution.
Second - This was exacerbated because humanity has this underlying conviction that we are entitled to our beliefs. Many people and corporations believe their lifestyle, or profits, are more important than those that will suffer. We, as a whole, have forgotten how to treat those we deem below us.
Third - The problem I see, is not the virus itself, but the pneumonia it causes. Placing too much stress on a body will deteriorate our abilities to recover. A steady build up of unproductive mucus in your lungs until you feel like you are drowning. That is what is killing people. The inability to breathe and the lack of medical equipment to alleviate this.
Fourth - Louis Pasteur and those that have continued his research didn't start on vaccines. Vaccines are a vital but SMALL contribution to our overall immune systems. The research started with bacteria and virus cultures and shows that they cannot survive in certain environments. Developing a fever is our body's way of changing the environment in hopes that the infection cannot adapt. I am sure several of you have a better grasp of this work. I'm not educated further than this.
Fifth - Most of you have the tools to speed recovery in your own homes. Hydrotherapy and home remedies have not been studied as well as they should since they lack profit generation. At this point with vaccines several months out, I'll take anecdotal evidence.
If you are SICK, but not high risk, more than likely you will be left to your own devices or left in the care of a family member. If that's the case, keep these suggestions in mind.
A hot, steamy shower or bath will help loosen stubborn mucus.
Contrast showers or baths will increase circulation
Cold supposedly boosts the immune system (but evidence does show it to at least calm the fight-or-flight response)
Food not only sustains us, but may contribute to our immune system or create an environment less conductive to the virus. Slow or long-cooked foods tend to be easier to digest (grain gruels, or Grandma's chicken soup!) Fresh fruit & veggies provide vital building blocks. Personally, I find a broth heavy in ginger, garlic and hot peppers clears my airways pretty well.
Again, Others know more, and research on these is lacking, though one aspect studied well is that refined sugar increases inflammation and as a result will exacerbate symptoms.
Home remedies such as mustard plasters can help clear mucus. I'm sure there are other cultural equivalents out there, but my grandmother swore by these:
4 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons dry mustard
Cheesecloth or really any fabric or material that you don't plan on keeping. Save yourself some effort and measure surface area to be covered before applying mustard paste.
- Mix the dry ingredients together and then add water to make a paste. The paste should be smooth & easily spreadable - but not so thin that it runs or is watery.
- Take your fabric and spread the paste evenly across half of one side. Fold up the bottom half of the fabric and apply to the chest. DO NOT APPLY PASTE DIRECTLY TO THE SKIN or it may cause blistering.
- Cover with a fresh towel, then top with a heavy blanket to encourage sweating (the fresh towel protects the blanket from any staining).
- Leave plaster on for up to 20 minutes. REMOVE IF SKIN TURNS DEEP RED AND IS IN DANGER OF BLISTERING. IF USING ON A CHILD, WATCH TENDER SKIN CAREFULLY (this is not to be used on children under school age unless directed by a doctor). Some reddening is normal as heat and circulation is being drawn to the surface.
- Remove poultice, wash skin with a warm cloth to remove any traces that may have seeped through. Apply Vaseline or an oil to help calm the angry skin afterwards.
- Next, apply to the back for the same amount of time (OR UNTIL DANGER OF BLISTERING APPEARS), again covering with a heavy blanket and following the procedure above.
- This can be reapplied every 4-6 hours as needed.
Sixth - I want to remind you that those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.
Before we learned of vaccines, we as a world had established infrastructure that contained and provided recovery for contagious disease. The problem is that it was costly, and deemed non-essential compared to profits elsewhere. THe infrastructure continued to be eroded until this current crisis. Sanitoriums devolved into pampering spas, geared to the rich and providing a relaxing experience. We forgot fresh air and exercise are just as important to our recovery as modern medicines.
We need a push to re-establish this infrastructure and we have several professions that could contribute during emergencies. I personally believe that my professions both as an RMT and a respite worker are essential to this. I lack the facility to create clean room conditions that would contain the contagion and lack the resources to create an environment where the virus can't live nor mutate.
We need to push for education and medical funding over one person (or one company's) profits.
We need to establish world-wide quarantine protocols that do not rely on the uneducated.
We need to rebuild the secondary and tertiary defence lines that support the front line. Those that have isolated themselves should be focusing on aiding in the recovery of the healthy population so that those that need immediate health care can receive it.
I'm only one insignificant person, I speak up and very few tend to listen. If we all speak up then we can recover and adapt better for the next battle. There will ALWAYS be another battle.
If after all this blah blah blah you are still here, thank you for listening. I appreciate that you took this time, and I hope I planted a seed or two that will help you flourish after this.
If you decide I'm not worth the effort, then maybe give resources to the WHO
Or, look around you. Find something in your community where you can lend a hand. Many hands make light work.
Finally, to the front line. Those that deal with stressful situations for a living. THANK YOU. I want to thank you personally too. When I went into the hospital after my first suicide attempt, it was a no nonsense nurse that told me that since I had thrown away my life, she and everyone involved in saving me laid claim to it.
It has been 27 years and I hope that they can say I was worth it.