Adjusting to our new reality! 
COVID-19

 

Like everyone else, over the last 12 days, our reality has changed quickly and dramatically! To help support our healthcare system as well as to keep Shaun healthy (his asthma diagnosis complicates things a bit), we have taken social distancing very seriously. 

 

Shaun school is closed indefinitely. Per the governor, the earliest Connecticut schools can reopen is April 20th, but today he indicated that it is likely they will remain closed until fall. 

 

John is working from home at least until the end of the month. (But honestly, as the days pass, I feel that he will be home longer.) He is set up in a spare room upstairs, allowing him a semi-quiet space as Shaun and I move about the rest of the house. 

 

I, too, am home, trying to write blog posts and plan podcasts in between the beckoning calls of a five-year-old who is trying to make sense of all the changes.

 

Changes we all are trying to make sense of. How does life look with:
  • No school 
  • Working from home
  • Distance Learning
  • Not seeing family & friends face to face
  • No church or faith formation
  • No playground 
  • No hanging out with neighbor friends 

 

You get the idea, your living it too! 

Except for two trips out to the stores (Grocery & Hardware) for necessities and two trips for John into work to pick up equipment, we have only had social interactions virtually. I can’t imagine if we didn’t have the technology how much more difficult this would all be.    

 

Nothing right now is certain, we don’t know how this is going to continue to play out. I have found myself wondering if it is worth diving deep into a new routine with Shaun only to need to change it again in a few weeks. But could it be months?  

 

I am unsettled, and some moments are harder than others. At the same time, I have experienced gratitude and joy!  

 

We are grateful to be home and healthy; To be together! We have found joy in small moments reading books, puzzling, learning about animals, creating art, cooking together. 

 

We are getting outside every day, no matter the temperature or weather! Playing in the yard and walking around the neighborhood has become a daily occurrence. Fresh air works wonders for all of us. 

 

We are holding up as best we can; Learning as we go. Making the best out of an unprecedented situation.

 

It is no surprise that food allergies and an asthma diagnosis complicate the current Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing to a further degree than most.  

 

Food Allergies 

Around the same time we got word that the schools were going to be closing, I started to see pictures of empty grocery store shelves. And although I am not one to stockpile food, my allergy mom brain did immediately feel worried that if shelves were being cleared, I might not be able to find the safe foods or brands that we often use to feed Shaun. 

 

I used Shaun’s last day of school to get to several stores (because with food allergies, you can’t just get what you need at one store), intending to be stocked for about three weeks. 

 

On this day, I did not pay attention to prices or what I could get on sale. I focused on what Shaun safe options were stocked, use by or sell-by dates, and how much I could store at home. 

 

I was grateful that I had been able to stock up on so much safe food. I did feel a twinge of guilt that as a food allergy mom, I had not been already more prepared for a possible emergency, then I let that feeling pass as best I could.

 

The next day, as the pictures poured on on social media and local news of empty grocery shelves and check-out lines with carts overflowing as people panic shopped, I realized just how close I had come to not finding safe food. 

 

The good news here is that the supply chain is not broken like it might be if there was a natural disaster. The empty shelves are a result of people hoarding and over buying out of panic. 

 

As of today, we are still in good shape for food. But I will tell you that I am nervous about what we will find or what we will not find when we begin to restock next week. Hearing of others in the food allergy community are struggling to find specific products makes me anxious. 

 

But in an effort to focus on what I can control, here is my plan. 
  1. Go to the store open-minded. Maybe it won’t be as bad as I am thinking, 
  2. Talk to customer service if I can’t get a safe product I need for Shaun. Explain his food allergies and see if they know when they will be getting stock or if they would be willing to contact me when they do. 
  3. Ask family and friends to keep an eye out for specific products if I can’t find them. Then I can plan a pick-up or drop off with them. 

 

I am hopeful that taking these steps, we will make it through this with the food we need for Shaun. But once again, food allergies complicated an already complicated new reality.  

 

Asthma 

12 days ago, I began to look for information about covid-19 and asthma. Knowing that sickness can flare Shaun’s asthma, I was curious to find out if there is any link. At that point, there was not that much out there. 

 

I then spoke with Shaun’s allergist (which I recommend you consider doing with your allergist) who told me that there is not enough information yet to answer a lot of the questions I had. She did also remind me that respiratory viruses (Covid-19) flare asthma, which means that the medications and care plan you should already have will be sufficient! 

 

Since then, some information for asthma patients has been released.
  • The CDC & AAAAI  have provided reliable information and recommendations.
  • The American College of Asthma and Immunology has released a statement about the growing albuterol inhaler shortage. (Don’t panic! Remember that each inhaler has 200 inhalations.)

 

Based on the information from Shaun’s doctor and these resources, we are keeping Shaun safe by: 
  1. Take daily asthma maintenance medications as prescribed to make sure asthma controlled. 
  2. Took inventory of all asthma medications in the house. Checking amounts and dates on inhalers and nebulizer medications. (We have the medicine we need at home already – this was more of a double check.)
  3. Review the asthma sick plan. Making sure we have no questions for our doctor.
  4. Coordinate with the school nurse to get back the asthma medication we had provided until distance learning is over. 
  5. Stay Home! 
  6. Wash Hands! 

 

I am taking a pragmatic approach to all this as much as possible. 

 

I am changing my anxious thoughts from what could happen to how I can best prepare. (Or reminding myself that I already am.)

 

Remembering that if Shaun does get sick, we have a plan and medication to help us control the asthma flare, just like with any flare-up caused by a respiratory virus. 

 

Remembering that social distancing is a temporary measure for a much greater good!

 

Remembering that even in all the change and chaos, JOY can be found, often in small moments! 

 

Prepare as best you can. 

 

Stay home. 

 

Be well. Whatever that looks like for you! 

 

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Linda Corning

Linda is one half of the team here at The Art of Allergies. Linda is a child-care provider of over a decade and has been a driving force of allergy advocacy. Not only finding new ways to reinvent how life works with food allergies, but also taking an active role in the allergy community.

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