Coronavirus and the NTM Patient

Posted on March 30, 2020   |   
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This blog post was written by Katie Keating, RN, MS, patient advocate

Do you find yourself living in great fear since the outbreak of the corona virus?

Fear can paralyze us and create anxiety when we feel out of control. But we can also find an opportunity to practice letting go of the control we think we have. Awareness of our limits in the here and now is the antidote. I believe that we must accept the things we cannot change. And, we must change the things we can. For example, infection-control procedures in your home, getting involved in diversional activities, helping others, if possible, instead of focusing on all the media and news.

Ask yourself what is of utmost importance at this moment in time, and then prioritize the tasks.

Below are several suggestions to assist you throughout this challenging time:

  • Take one day at a time. If you haven’t been doing airway clearance/diaphragmatic breathing exercise, this might be the time to consider it, if advised by a healthcare provider. I have taken out my flute and am playing it twice a day. I also do basic yoga poses. Walking is a nice way to get exercise, so long as you do not come in contact with others. Practice meditation, mindfulness. Below are links to a few apps/devices that you may find useful during this time.
  • Get up and get dressed as you were going out.
  • Communicate to family and friends how very important it is to you that they work with you to stay well and keep you well; enlist their support. Try to reduce your exposure to the virus-explain your risk to family and friends. Explain to them that there is no cure at the present moment and it can be very dangerous to those with underlying lung conditions like NTM. We must be hyper vigilant since the symptoms may not show up for days after exposure to the coronavirus; it can live on surfaces for hours. Younger people are now getting sick with the coronavirus; it just does not impact people with lung disorders and the elderly.
  • Speak openly and honestly with family about caregiving scenarios and detailed plans in the event that you or one of your family members or you becomes infected. Designate a room for the sick person.
  • Do not touch eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.
  • In public — if you must go out to a store, bring your own hand sanitizer. Purell in a dispenser is no good if the store doesn’t have a box of tissues next to it to push the pump with. Touching the top of the Clorox disinfecting wipes is not good either. Carry tissues with you and use a tissue to open the container. The virus can live for several hours on most surfaces.
  • Pubic bathrooms — Do not touch a public soap dispenser without a tissue or piece of toilet paper. Use a paper towel or piece of toilet paper to flush the toilet, to turn off water, and to get paper towels from the dispenser.
  • Home bathroom — Use your own hand towel in the bathroom as you would if family members were sick with the flu.
  • Home kitchen — Have your own kitchen towel to touch appliances such as the sink, microwave, oven, or refrigerator that other family members use, especially if other family members are still going out to work and or to the grocery or drug store. Be mindful of family community condiments, such as salt/pepper shakers, ketchup. Also, kitchen drawer knobs, light switch, etc.
  • Home doorknobs — Use a paper towel, towel, or Clorox-type disinfecting wipe, Sani-wipes to open them.
  • Clean all other possible contact surface areas regularly.
  • Bedroom — if your husband/wife/significant other is still going to work, ask your partner to wash and sanitize hands and change clothing upon coming home. You may even want to suggest that he/her take a shower upon arriving home from work. Wash clothes in hot water immediately if possible.
  • Order supplies — If possible, consider having on hand a 90-day supply of meds, such as nebulizers, nebulizer tubing, masks, .3%normal saline, alcohol wipes, thermometer, oximeter, mucinex, Tylenol.

If you need to talk, please post on BronchAndNTM360social. Perhaps find a friend on here who you can communicate with on the phone to speak about your concerns and fears.

Social distancing is not social isolation. Social isolation can breed depression, but it doesn’t necessarily have to. Speaking with someone regarding your concerns, even for 10 minutes a day can help ward off depression. Get your fears off your chest. Stay connected to the social fabric in your community. Keep connected via FaceTime, Skype. Start a phone chain at your parish, synagogue, and community group.

Check out online appointments with professionals — your pulmonologist or a psychologist, social worker if needed. Troubles can grow when not shared. Journal daily if you like to write.

Find something to laugh or smile about. I have been going back in time listening to Louie Armstrong, (Over the Rainbow) and the Rolling Stones, (Far Away Eyes). Gloria Gaynor has a new song on handwashing: Watch Here

Explore new things, take an online course if you are up to it, and watch virtual tours from national parks to museums, an example: Keep your mind off worst-case scenarios. Eat well and get adequate sleep to boost immunity; calmness will boost your immunity.

Believe that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Envision enjoying your favorite things.

The COPD Foundation advises that before you make any changes to your medication or therapies that you first consult with your doctor.