Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

As older and less-healthy adults, what are we to do?

On Tuesday, we looked at the coronavirus in terms of facts versus myths. Now, we offer coronavirus thoughts from a high-risk perspective.

As those of you who read Living Well While Surviving Cancer already know, the author of this blog (Joel Evans) is a pancreatic cancer survivor with a compromised immune system. As well as a Type I diabetic. And a senior citizen. That puts me in the highest-risk category if I contract COVID-19.

Something else to worry about. Or not. After all, what am I supposed to do now? I refuse to lock myself in my house. But what smart things should I do?

Psychologically, I was fine until the CDC issued an advisory for older adults. According to a CNN report:

[On Thursday March 5, 2020] “Amid a coronavirus outbreak in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging older people and people with severe chronic medical conditions to stay at home as much as possible.'”

“This advice is on a CDC Web site, according to a CDC spokeswoman. Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious illness from the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC.”

“The CDC guidance comes as two top infectious disease experts with ties to the federal government have advised people over 60 and those with underlying health problems to strongly consider avoiding activities that involve large crowds. Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime adviser to the CDC, said these two groups should consider avoiding activities such as traveling by airplane, going to movie theaters, attending family events, shopping at crowded malls, and going to religious services.”

Also, check out the CNN video.

My Advice to Myself

In light of the CDC’s warning and my health status, what am I to do? My answer for ME (which may be different than your advice for YOU) is to BOTH be smart and live life every day.

I will go out to restaurants, but not to movie theaters. Linda and are rethinking our vacation plans and not going on the cruise we were planning. Also, the thought of air travel does not excite me. I will wash my hands more often and more thoroughly.  I will continue my volunteer work at United Cerebral. I guess I will fist pump rather than shake hands, even though this seems somewhat silly to me.

When I started thinking about doing this post, I looked for information from AARP. And as expected, it has a terrific section of its Web site devoted to COVID-19:

“Older Americans and adults who take routine medications to manage chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, should make sure they have ‘adequate supplies’ on hand as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to climb in the U.S.”

“Avoiding sick people and washing your hands often are two preventive strategies public health experts have been pushing to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Older Americans living in areas that are experiencing spikes in coronavirus cases may also need to think about the actions they take to reduce exposure to the virus.  This may include social distancing strategies, such as teleworking and avoiding large public gatherings.”

“Health officials also advise taking everyday steps that can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses. Wash your hands often with soap and water (scrub for at least 20 seconds), and use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap is not an option. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. And cover your coughs and sneezes. “

Click the image to read a lot more from AARP.

Coronavirus Thoughts from a High-Risk Perspective

Patient Rating of Hospitals Declined in 2019

How do YOU rate the hospitals caring for YOU?

As we know, the quality of in-hospital care greatly contributes to our health. Thus, it’s important for us to have confidence in the quality of the hospitals that care for us.

Unfortunately, in 2019 Americans’ views toward hospitals showed a decline.

According to Paige Minemyer, writing for FierceHealthCare:

“Consumer satisfaction with hospitals took a tumble this year (2019) while approval of health insurers improved. The American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released its annual report examining the financial and insurance sectors and found that hospitals earned a score of 72 on their indicator,  based on a survey of more than 30,000 consumers and reflecting their perceptions of the quality of products they use.”

“That’s a notable drop from hospitals’ 2018 score on the index, which was 76. The decline is driven by a substantial drop in consumers’ rankings for emergency department care, from 73 in 2018 to a 67 for 2019. “

“By contrast, patient satisfaction with outpatient care settings continues to climb — ambulatory care earned a 77 score for the second year in a row. Outpatient care provided by hospitals earned a lower score, a 75, which dropped from a 78 score in 2018.”

“The report flags the wait times in the emergency department as a key factor in declining patient satisfaction with emergency care.”

Patient Rating of Hospitals Declined in 2019

A new report examines consumer satisfaction with hospitals and health plans. (Studio 642/Getty Images)
 

I Am Now a Five-Year Cancer Survivor

Hope is a precious commodity.

 

Amazing. Unbelievable. Lucky. Blessed. I am now a five-year cancer survivor.  Although some define the 5-year period as beginning at the date of diagnosis, I prefer to use the date of my Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer. February 12, 2015. So, exactly five years ago today.

I am kind of melancholy about reaching this point. But I don’t feel the euphoria about beating the less than 10 percent survival rate for PC that I expected. I just learned this is not uncommon. According to Dr. SP, a leading psychologist, my melancholy reflects a lot of subconscious feelings about the traumatic events during my journey. Even though I try as hard as possible to be upbeat on a daily basis. Also, it relates to my profound sorrow about others with cancer who have not been so lucky. And my own continuing challenges.

Live life every day. Live as long as you can, as well as you can.

Observations about Surviving Cancer

From Cancer.Net:

“A person who has had cancer is commonly called a cancer survivor. ‘Co-survivor’ is sometimes used to describe a person who has cared for a loved one with cancer.”

“Not everyone who has had cancer likes the word ‘survivor.’ The reasons for this may vary. For instance, they may simply identify more with being ‘a person who has had cancer.’ Or if they are dealing with cancer every day they may describe themselves as ‘living with cancer.’ Therefore, they may not think of themselves as a survivor. Living with a history of cancer is different for each person. But most people have the common belief that life is different after cancer.”

“Other common reactions that people have after cancer include:

              • Appreciating life more.
              • Being more accepting of themselves.
              • Feeling more anxious about their health.
              • Not knowing how to cope after treatment ends.”

           

        • Now, check out this video.

       

My Latest Adventures — Part Two

Hail to the caregivers. 🙂

On Tuesday, we presented part one. Today, we offer my latest adventures — part two. It is dedicated to my wife Linda, the LOML (love of my life).

Here we are together, as highlighted from my Facebook page.

My Latest Adventures — Part Two

Linda as Caregiver

Throughout my journey from pancreatic cancer patient until the present, Linda has been GREAT. Both physically and emotionally. Hail to the caregivers, who are often underappreciated. People always ask how the patient is doing, but fewer show concern for the caregiver. But I do, I appreciate Linda and all she does; and I realize the strain my condition places one her. 

For my latest adventures — involving knee replacement surgery, these are just some of the activities which Linda has done:

    • Drove me everywhere we needed to go. That included multiple trips to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan, which is 50 miles from our home.
    • Stayed in a hotel by herself for the days I was in the hospital after the surgery. This meant using Uber to get around.
    • Shopping and lifting groceries, cat litter, and other heavy items that I could not help with post surgery.
    • Going up and downstairs at our home multiple times daily to help me after I was discharged from the hospital. 
    • Worrying about me going up and downstairs, being overly tired, etc.
    • And MUCH more.

Linda, you are appreciated.

 

A New Book of Poetry to Start 2020

Food for thought!

Once again, it is my honor to assist David Fox in publishing a new free book of poetry.  This is yet another example of what we can do regardless of our limitations.

As we said last November:

David is a true inspiration. Despite being born with Cerebral Palsy and having suffered from mental illness in his 20’s, David has written poems for children and adults for over 20 years. His poetry has appeared in Bell’s Letters, Ceremony, Great South Bay Magazine, Humoresque, The Oak, Opossum Holler Tarot, Performance Poet’s Association Literary Review, Poetic Expressions, Poets’ Roundtable, Reflections, SMILE, Tale Spinners (Canada), Visions, Wanton Words, Whispers of Poetry and Write On!! Poetry Magazette. He is still a participant at UCP Long Island.

Click the image to access the new book. Note: A free, simple login is required. 🙂

A New Book of Poetry to Start 2020

 

The Value of Kindness

Being kind benefits YOU.

Kindness not only benefits the  recipient. It also is beneficial  to the provider. Including health-wise.

Consider this podcast from Knowledge@Wharton:

Can kindness, love, and a strong sense of community actually make you healthier and happier? Research says that it does. A 1978 study looking at the link between high cholesterol and heart health in rabbits determined that kindness made the difference between a healthy heart and a heart attack.

Kelli Harding, a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center, revisits that research and other ground-breaking discoveries in her new book, The Rabbit Effect: Live Longer, Happier, and Healthier with the Groundbreaking Science of Kindness. She joined the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on Sirius XM to talk about the intangible factors behind good health and how a little kindness can go a long way. 


 

Giving Back on Giving Tuesday

PLEASE give back.

In this blog, giving back is an important topic. For example, see Giving Back to Whom? Volunteering and LOVING It. And Embarking on the Next Stage of Life. Now we look at giving back on Giving Thursday. IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY to give back.

To honest, until recently, I was not familiar with Giving Tuesday. After learning about, I think it’s a great idea. And one that encourages giving back.

According to its Web site:

“Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.”

“One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. We’ve created a directory to help you find organizations, charities, events and more in your own community. “

Click the image to visit the site and learn more

Giving Back on Giving Tuesday