Written mid December 2020
In Pursuit of Wellness
Possible solutions to lessening, alleviating and potentially eliminating your COVID symptoms.
The initial focus of my blog is targeted towards COVID Long Haulers but these strategies can be applied to anyone who is facing life challenges and searching for more balance.
I want to say again that the healing process is unique to every being. What I am sharing has worked for me but I am very mindful that it may not work for others. I have taken bits and pieces of all kinds or things I have discovered these past months and pieced something together that has worked for my present circumstances. Twenty years ago, I had no idea where to start to work through my anxiety but with experience I am finally living what I have learned and it feels fabulous.
I have the privilege of allowing myself to devote time and energy on exploring different types of interventions and strategies that have helped with my COVID symptoms. I am very grateful that I can access different services such as acupuncture and massage. My children have grown and are now able to look after me when I need looking after. My husband is retired and has evolved into this being that I hardly recognize…the man cooks! Most importantly I have learned to not sweat the small stuff and embrace what feels good when I feel good and to worry less about what tomorrow might bring. There’s a lot to be said for living in the moment and being grateful for what is.
My personal experience with COVID
- Physical Challenges
Initial onset of symptoms consisted of sore throat, chills, headache similar to the flu.
I chose to ignore these symptoms and my runny nose turned into a cough that got worse and worse.
- Listen to your body.
- Rest and restore your energy.
- Don’t fight the symptoms…accept what is.
- For me, the longer I put it off the worse the symptoms got so feel it, experience it and let nature take its course.
- Loss of sense of taste, smell, metallic taste in mouth
- My family and I used to laugh…now is the time to drink cheap wine.
- My senses eventually came back and all is good again. Good coffee, good Chardonnay!
- Tinnitus – a constant ringing in my ears that was super annoying and loud!
- Cleaning your ears out won’t do anything.
- Try listening to music and podcasts to drown out the sound.
- It took weeks but this eventually went away for me.
- Cough and mucous
- This was one of the symptoms that hung on the longest but eventually went away after about 5 months.
- I use a nose spray daily as prescribed by my physician but stopped using my asthma pump as instructed by my internist. Again, this is my personal experience and depends on your unique situation.
- For weeks I started my day off with elderberry syrup and a natural sinus capsules that one of my daughters picked up at the local health food store.
- Breathe Deep herbal Tea by Yogi is soothing if nothing else and tastes wonderful.
- Extreme fatigue
- For a good 4-6 weeks, I went from my bed to the rocking chair on the back porch to my dock back up to the hammock, my couch and then to bed for the night.
- My body needed to rest. I never nap and during this time in my illness that’s all I wanted to do.
- Give in and don’t fight it. Rest and restoration are essential for the healing process.
- When I finally accepted that this wasn’t going to go away in 14 days, and that I needed to start living each day (heck each moment) adapting my activity level accordingly, I really settled into it and let it do its thing.
- Decreased lung capacity
- As the weeks passed after the initial onset of symptoms this feeling of being unwell totally consumed my every waking moment. I felt like crap!
- Breathing became a focal point for me and it took months for the natural flow of my breath to return to normal.
- I started learning more about breathing and discovered that I’d had it all wrong all of these years.
- Breathing is an art and there are many techniques.
- I recommend the book Breath – The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor
“No matter what you eat, how much you exercise, how skinny you are, none of it matters if you’re not breathing properly…there is nothing more essential to our health and wellbeing than breathing.”
- Invest in an Inspirometer Breathing machine.
- Better Breath – yoga class online.
- Mike Dynie is awesome and you don’t have to be a yogi to participate.
- “Enjoy this short, guided breath reset. This practice will focus on releasing areas of restriction in the body that might be inhibiting your breath, specifically the upper spine. Get ready to feel relaxed, centred, and present.”
- Acupuncture – My acupuncturist Bruce has been my saving grace (more to come about this experience in future blogs).
- As I gradually started to feel better I reintroduced cardio into my daily routine and went for short swims up the current of the Gatineau River.
- I listened to my body and the days that I didn’t feel up to it I just didn’t do it or I would go a shorter distance
- I finally put my mountain bike away because it was a constant reminder that I could no longer do the things that I used to do but guess what…I did end up bringing it out of storage before the snow came and was able to get out on my bike. I started off slowly and worked my way back to routes I was doing pre COVID days. Again, there were days that I didn’t feel up to it and I gave myself permission to sit on my couch and rest instead of pushing myself. Rest is essential. Taking time to refuel the engine is strongly recommended and don’t feel guilty about it. Pushing yourself too hard can cause a setback so definitely not recommended!
6. Pain – shifting from Advil to non traditional medicine
- This is the symptom that I still struggle with although some days are worse than others.
- Initially, I experienced pain throughout my body. It started out as the flu-like achy feeling but as time passed it was full – on muscle pain.
- The muscle pain has shifted to nerve pain concentrated in my hands and lower part of my arms. I also wake up with pain in my shoulders and neck. There are times when I experience muscle weakness but not all of the time.
What has worked so far:
- During my first session in late September I experienced a huge sense of relief.
- Number one my acupuncturist Bruce validated how I was feeling and said that he thought that he could help me.
- This was the first time that I felt that there was something I could be doing to help alleviate my pain besides popping Advil every morning. I have learned techniques such as applying pressure to specific points in my body and this helps release the pain.
- Initially I went twice a week for several weeks and by November had reduced it to once a week. Now my next appointment isn’t til early January. My plan is to continue monthly for maintenance purposes.
- Yin and restorative are the two types that I started with to gradually ease back into a higher level of activity. I am a member of Pure Life TV online and this is the best gift I could possibly invest in my self .
- I took up yoga several years ago now and had the pleasure of meeting instructors like Andrea Robertson who inspired me to learn a variety of techniques and challenge myself. I am no yogi but absolutely love it. When COVID hit and I was no longer able to go to my classes, I was devastated but quickly adapted to the online version.
- Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ayya, a Buddhist nun. I participated in her meditation workshop on several occasions but never quite got the hang of it. A working mom of 3, I remember just being content to sit and close my eyes but I was unable to shut off the hamster and would go over my list of things to do and what groceries I needed to get for supper instead of trying to stop thinking. Many years later I have reconnected with her. Ayya has a podcast on Spotify – Sati Saraniya Hermitage.
- Ayyas words of wisdom and wit have been a godsend to me and have become a part of my daily ritual. I highly recommend you take a minute to tap into this amazing resource. Her teachings have given me great insight into accepting what is and living life in the present moment. (more to come in future blogs).
4. Nutritious diet – introduce anti inflammatory foods. Much much more to come on this topic in my future blogs!
5. Essential oils – I have fallen in love with Saje Natural Wellness and the best part is that the company was founded in Canada.
6. Cranial Massage therapy – is a gentle hands on treatment that may provide relief from a variety or symptoms including headaches and neck pain. The intervention uses light touch to examine membranes and movement of fluids in and around the nervous system. My new friend, Sherry Rounds, in Wakefield (is an amazing massage therapist). I have had the pleasure of experiencing (not only) the benefits of her masterful technique. But her calming presence and sense of humour are an added bonus.
Eckhart Tolle – a spiritual teacher and best – selling author of The Power of Now (recently introduced to me by my healing touch practitioner Angele Ritchie whom I will reference later and speak about in future blogs).
I absolutely love this guy. Some people struggle to understand his accent but I find his voice very soothing.
I understand his message and can easily relate to what he talks about. I have started to incorporate his message into my daily ritual. In particular “Transforming Fear and Anxiety” in the process of consciousness manifestation resonates with me.
I believe that my present fear and anxiety are associated with my thoughts that revolve around my symptoms (pain). When is it going to go away? Is it going to be chronic? Will it get worse? Tolle explains how to recognize the futility of the thoughts and suggests replacing these thoughts with awareness. When you become more present in the moment (breathing is a great technique), you have the ability to cut the link between emotions and thoughts and you start to feel this intense energy in the pain but, it’s not flowing – it’s trapped and it feels “like being in a kettle of boiling water with the lid on” – a burning sensation. When you tell yourself you don’t mind being in pain and accept what is happening internally (pain) and externally (pandemic), you are no longer fuelling your thoughts and the vicious cycle stops. In all honesty, I listen to this every morning before I get out of bed. By the end of his program, my pain has dissipated.
The pain still comes back but less and less.
II. Mental challenges
There were times when the mental challenge was almost more than can bear and I still struggle with this on a daily basis. Not getting better faster and the feeling of total helplessness when, after experiencing a day or two of feeling almost symptom free, returning to the all too familiar sensation of unwellness settling back into the body as if it never left.
Here are some coping strategies that I have found helpful:
- Try to keep your sense of humour!
I fell down the stairs one night because I woke up totally disoriented. I was of course very thankful that I somehow managed to land on my feet half way down the stairs but after the realization that I hadn’t broken my neck my family and I had a good laugh and think back to that night often. The Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean is also a good go to on CBC radio 1 archives.
- Escapism works really well!
- Read a good book if you’re feeling up to it or an audiobook if you don’t have the energy to hold a book.
- There are a ton of series to choose from some of which I mentioned in an earlier blog but I have since added to my list. You don’t have to subscribe to all of these networks all at once. Some have a 30 day trial free of charge!
- Killing Eve (Crave) – Not for the faint of heart but the acting is superb.
- Dead to Me (Netflix) – Totally twisted and I absolutely love it.
- Why Women Kill (Apple TV) – One of my favorites. Again , excellent acting and captivating storyline.
- Good Morning America (Apple TV) – I have a whole new appreciaton for Jennifer Anistan and Reese Witherspoon is awesome.
- Emily in Paris (Netflix) – Very light and entertaining.
- Little Fires Everywhere ( Amazon Prime ) – I read the book which I highly recommend and I enjoyed the series.
- The Undoing (Crave) – Riveting!
- I May Destroy You (Crave) – TW – sexual assault
- The Crowne (Netflix) – this is the only series I have managed to get my husband to watch and if you enjoy history and exceptional acting this is an excellent pick
- Looking forward to watching The Queen’s Gambit which many people have recommended to me.
- Meditation and breathing – as I have said so many times these two techniques have changed my life. There were times when I thought this virus was going to be the death of me. My fear and anxiety triggered panic which I am all too familiar with. Unlike years ago, I have learned to recognize what is happening and am, with some assistance from my sister, youngest daughter or husband, depending on who is available at the time it strikes, able to talk myself through it 🙂
- Being vs doing – taking time to live in the present moment and the sense of gratitude that this can bring is very powerful.
- Cry if you need to but not all the time.
There were many times when I just couldn’t take it anymore, and I would cry. Seven months have passed and these moments still happen but not very often.
Additional resources you may be interested in tapping into:
Brene Brown – As I mentioned in an earlier blog I read her book the Gift of Imperfection years ago and have recently started to listen to one of her podcasts “Unlocking Us”.
Tibetan bowls – sound therapy is a source of comfort and healing that can help reduce fear and anxiety. I bought my first bowl from my friend Neree St. Amand, owner of The Garden of Light, in Ottawa and I absolutely love it!
My two latest discoveries:
Healing Touch – the gift of energetic touch
- An energy therapy in which practitioners consciously use their hands in a heart -centred and intentional way to support and facilitate physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health – Healingtouchprogram.com
- I have gone to 3 sessions with Angele Ritchie Healing Touch Practitioner, in Orleans, Ontario and will share my experience in future blogs.
Tapping Therapy – an alternative treatment for physical and emotional distress – People who use this believe that tapping the body in specific spots can create balance in the energy system and treat pain. More to come in future blogs!