Monday 16 March 2020

A HYPOCHONDRIAC's guide for coping with the CORONAVIRUS

The  CORONAVIRUS is all around us, but we can't see it. - a hypochondriac's nightmare. Some tips that might help.

DISCIPLINE and sticking-with-it are two of your best weapons. Taking care of yourself and your family in a pandemic can be boring and repetitive. It's easy to forget and let up your guard. Don't.

WASH-YOUR-HANDS is a no-brainer but so easy to forget. The rule is,  when you come home, after using the toilet, before you prepare food wash thoroughly on both sides, between your fingers, under fingernails for at least 20 seconds. Or count to 60 (watch how on CDC video).

, another no-brainer. But almost impossible not to do. Keep a tissue handy. I now, say out loud, 'I touched my face', to make me more aware.

Korona: the game is on.
Image from
SOCIAL DISTANCING at least two meters apart - another 'easy to forget'.  When I got some good news I threw my arms around the guy. What a dumb thing to do but totally natural.

SCHEDULE YOUR DAY, if you're hanging out, or working,  at home. It makes the surreal seem more normal. If possible, get outside at least a couple of times a day in the fresh air and sunshine. Vitamin D boosts the immune system.

STOCK UP, if possible, only once a week. The scenes in the US of people with baskets chockablock with toilet paper and other stuff make you lose your faith in civilization.

WORK-AT-HOME has turned out not to be not all that much fun. Eki is used to it. But the Shark says she misses her friends, lunches together and the camaraderie. It's worse when so many public places are closed.

STERILIZE YOUR HOUSE with sterile wipes or alcohol. Clean your phones, doorknobs, light switches, and anything you touch all the time. The Convid-19 virus lasts on surfaces for a long time. And if you're like me, you've never done this before.

SLEEP is one of the most important tools for fighting off illnesses. Go to bed at the same time  (before midnight) and wake up at the same time. Get six to eight hours of solid sleep. Note to EKI: stop pulling those all-days and all-nighters.

EXERCISE and fresh air are medicinal. Get out for a walk or a bike ride at least twice a day. Love my collapsable, titanium Nordic walking sticks. Give up the gym. Lift weights at home.

TALKING (and texting) to family and friends and having some laugh is therapy. Eki knows, if it's Monday it must be Maggy.

BOREDOM is a big, bugaboo of social isolation. A good time to play board games, if the kids are home, read that 875-page book you got for Christmas, throw out junk, take a 10-20 min. nap after lunch, write a real letter and shock someone when they get the mail. Anything to keep the bid, bad B at bay.

PENICILLIUM SOUP, a recipe from Marianne Hovi, ENT doctor at AAVA in Helsinki: three sweet potatoes, lots of garlic, one onion, a couple of stalks of celery, three TBLs olive oil, red hot pepper to taste (be careful, it's easy to put in too much), half tsp turmeric, grated fresh ginger, salt, and pepper.

GARGLE a couple of times a day with boiled water and salt. HONEY is healing.

Sources: Washington Post, New York Times, internet, personal experience

Next week: SANNA MARIN: the new, glamorous face of FINLAND 


I rarely say this, but Maggy is right. This is the real deal and should be encountered with the appropriate seriousness. And no, that does not mean hoarding the stores. True food shortages are unlikely. Shopping for a few days or a week at one go may be smart, it reduces the number of social contacts, shopping for months is not. And what's up with the toilet paper? I tried to find the origin of that lunacy, couldn't really find it - there's apparently no reason whatsoever for this global craze.

Anyway, the above instructions seem to be pretty wise overall, i'd say perhaps the most important of those are the wash-your-hands thing, and social distancing.

In my case, social distancing is pretty easy - i already work mostly from home. The future gigs may be on hold indefinitely - after the currently open jobs are done, i have no idea whether there will be work or not. Which is a bit scary for a freelancer with no permanent employer. My guess is, there won't be many shoots in the coming weeks or months. Hopefully, some of the desktop gigs will still flow in.

My wife works as a practical nurse, in-home care. She still needs to get to work and back using the subway. This is not optimal, as the commute increases the risk both for her (she's in a higher risk group due to diabetes), as well as her patient. During the day, they have been instructed to practice social distancing, for example avoiding malls and other public venues. Yet, the elderly need to eat too, so they need to do the groceries, and staying indoors indefinitely is not healthy either.

My mom is 80, and has a suppressed immune system due to her arthritis medication, so she's in a voluntary, indefinite quarantine for now. We'll do the necessary shopping etc. between myself and my brother, so she doesn't have to. Luckily, she lives in a place where she can take walks in the nearby woods without risking social contacts, so she's not completely tied to indoor life.

Hobby wise, we've put our band on hiatus for now. Perhaps i'll have more time to concentrate on learning new techniques, stuff like 3D virtual reality and coding. I've wanted to dive into that for quite some while but never had the time. I'll try to make the best of this new situation, and the possible involuntary vacation that looms in the horizon.


PS: Korona (pictured) is a desktop game that's like the poor man's billiard. Dunno whether it's a thing anywhere outside Finland. When i was a kid, we used to play it. A lot.

PS2: Right after writing the above, pretty drastic measures were put in place here in Finland. The country is now shut down - people over 70 are in mandatory quarantine at their homes, schools and borders will be closed, gatherings of over 10 people are forbidden, people are encouraged to avoid public places. And so on.