Getting back to practice — 6 of 7: Personal Health Log
For this idea of taking responsibility for our own health and keeping track of it, I can think of 2 moments in movie/tv viewing that really spoke to me. The first is a ‘cris du couer’ –a heart cry– at how challenging it can be; the second is a bit more fun.
First: in season 3, episode 9 of Elementary, Sherlock–here a sober heroin addict–explains to Watson (big shout out Lucy Liu!) about the tedium of tending one’s sobriety day in, day out. It resonates strongly with what I can feel at times about tending my health.
Do the little things–personal health log and self care
I have been tracking my own vitals, especially on days I’m seeing clients:
• pulse rate
• blood oxygen saturation
• blood pressure
Changes in the first three vital signs can be linked with COVID-19 activity. (See earlier post and/or Ninja Nerd Science’s excellent videos about COVID-19 pathophysiology.) I’ve heard of a practitioner who posts these stats in her office on practice days to reassure her clients that she is okay to be in the room. Nice idea.
I track my blood pressure because I have hypertension–one of the risk factors. It’s well managed; even so, it’s comforting to me to have a daily reminder that I’m doing well on that front.
I put them in my on-going health log which I started back when my health was really challenged. I track unusual symptoms, colds, medical visits, prescriptions and dosage levels. This way, when I see my providers for our quarterly to yearly check ups, I can remember what all has been going on. While I could cobble together this information if needed from each provider, I like the experience of being at the center of this conversation.
Other simple things:
• Stay hydrated! This is particularly important on practice days. Wearing a mask means we don’t drink as much through the course of a session. Remember to replenish your fluids in between (as your room airs out).
• Take care of your skin! It’s the simplest, biggest immune barrier you have. Think of how often you’re washing your hands — try to match that with lotion.
• While spreading the lotion, take time for some self massage. We know how good it feels to have our body map ‘filled in’ with good sensation.
• Self-hugs, self-squeezing all on the menu. In Iceland, the government has encouraged its citizens to go out and hug trees! (I can feel the eye-roll of some.) But really–getting to hug and feel the firmness of another living being is great. Especially if you’re sheltering alone. Don’t miss out.
• Colleague Bonnie Wong, DO suggests managing inflammation in our systems by “eating the right foods (lots of veggies/fruit), avoiding foods that cause inflammation (gluten, dairy, sugar/alcohol, etc.), exercising mild to moderately and getting good sleep.”
• On his Facebook feed, Dr. Fernado Vega, MD suggested a daily course of vitamin supplements “to mitigate the oxidative stress in our cells.” I’m passing this along as something you can check out with your own care provider to get the daily levels that are appropriate for you: Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Zinc, NAC and Quercitin. Again, this is immune and stress support — not itself a treatment for COVID-19.
• As we understand the relative risks of inside/outside, meeting up with friends outside (keeping 6′ apart, wearing masks) has been big medicine for us. Taking garden tours, giving garden tours, sometimes just checking out a new park in our area.
Taking good care of ourselves is always important–these days, as we get back into practice, it’s non-negotiable. We have the chance to reimagine our practices and begin again toward our best practice. One that supports us as we support others.
To celebrate the practice of keeping a log, watch the first Incredible Hulk movie. (Shout out Edward Norton! Much as I love Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk too.) Bottom right hand corner: # of days since last incident. Excellent.