Seven Things I Wish I Had Done to Better Prepare for Getting COVID

IMG_3215 2

Hi, friends! I’m back with more information to share on our family’s experience with Covid-19. If you’re new to this series and wondering where we got it and what the first signs were, check out my first post here. If you’re interested in what items I found to be really helpful when we had it, check out this post here. Today, I want to share with you a few tips that I think might help you be better prepared for Covid, should you get it. Unfortunately, this virus looks like it is here to stay and because of that, I feel like most people are going to encounter it at some point. There are a few things that you can do today to be ready and hopefully make your time with it a little easier, if you do get it.

The first thing that I would do to prepare is to purchase the items that you might need to feel better if you get it. These days, things seem to be selling out so quickly and while I’ve always depended on Amazon Prime’s overnight shipping (which I love!) with the current situation, I’ve found that my ability to get things quickly via Amazon and in stores, for that matter, is diminished. For that reason, I would look through my Covid + Me List on my Amazon page – or read more about the items on my blog post – and decide what you think would be most helpful to you and/or what seems like a good investment even if you don’t end up getting Covid. None of the items on my list are over $50. It will give you peace of mind to have them on hand now and they can be hard to get when you are sick with Covid, since you’re quarantining at home (so, not going to the store to buy things) and may feel so awful that you can’t think straight (I’m looking at you, Covid headache.)

The second thing that I would do is think through what items you’ll need for daily life and stock up on those a little as well. I’m not talking about crazy hoarding of toilet paper here, but rather having an extra month or two worth of the supplies you need on a daily basis. What I didn’t realize until I had Covid is that this is a long game. While you may be one of the people who is completely asymptomatic or gets over it in 5-7 days, that was definitely not my experience. Not only that, if you have multiple people in your family (especially kids) and you end up getting it staggered, your time dealing with it will be all the longer. For some reason, I had pictured all six of us getting it together and hunkering down for 14 days. That was not the case. First, our nanny got it, so I was on my own with the kids for a week before we even got symptoms. I do not take my four children out right now very often and I haven’t taken them into a store of any kind since things began in March, so I was grateful that I had plenty of diapers, wipes, medicines and food on hand so that I didn’t have to take them out during that week before we knew that we had been exposed but my nanny was out sick. Then, the baby and I got sick and my symptoms lasted longer than the 14 days. So, that was well over three weeks (and really closer to five) that we were self-quarantining at home and again, I was glad to have extra supplies on hand. Early on, I got one or two month’s worth of shampoo, toothpaste, medicines (over the counter and prescription), diapers, wipes, food (frozen, non-perishable and lots of kids’ snacks!) and I was grateful to have it when we were in the middle of our ordeal. I would think through what you use and need daily and keep a little extra on hand. Again, no crazy apocalypse hoarding here. Just a little planning ahead for what you and your children would need in case the unexpected occurs and you can’t get to the store.

If you’re a mom of littles like me, you might also want to consider buying some toys and stashing them for a rainy day or if you need the kids to be entertained while you’re not feeling well. Just think through what you’ll need to entertain your children if you’re sick and feeling awful and they feel just fine. (Easier said than done, I know!) Mine had a LOT of screen time and a LOT of prepackaged snack food. This is survival mode and I will not feel guilty about either! It did help that I had a couple of fun, new toys hidden away for them that I pulled out when I needed them most. It kept them busy for a day or two! If you aren’t up for buying toys ahead of time, maybe create a “wish list” on Amazon of things that you would buy them if needed so that you can quickly add to cart and ship. Amazon delivery days are the most fun, after all! If you need an idea list for fun toys and games that my boys loved (several of which we utilized during our Covid home quarantine!) check out my Amazon Kid Items list here. New books are always fun for my boys as well. You can find a list of some of our favorite kids books here. Aside from toys, you might also considering subscribing to a new streaming service (we are loving Disney+ so far!) or an e-book subscription service like Epic or trying out a new educational game like Kahn Academy (which is free!), Dreambox or Reflex. Anything to keep them occupied!

The next thing I would do is to create a plan for if your family gets it. As I said above, I really pictured all of us getting it at the same time and hunkering down together. But, we didn’t all get it at the same time (or at all – my husband is still completely asymptomatic and has tested negative twice.) And not all of us experienced our first symptoms on the same day. My guess for this is that one or two of us got it and then others got it from the first person who got it. When the virus has a 6-7 day incubation process, as it did for us, that extends your time with it by a full week if you don’t all get it at the same time. All that is to say, I would spend some real time thinking it through, trying to imagine what would happen in various situations. What if only one parent gets it and the other doesn’t? Do you want to quarantine that healthy parent? If so, where will you do that and what will it look like? For us, that included my husband staying in the guest room and using only the guest bathroom, wearing an N95 mask at all times in our house except when he was asleep, and not eating with us or snuggling the kids at all. Oh, and washing his hands 1,892 times an hour! If only one child gets it, will you quarantine them? If so, with which parent and where? What if your parents get it? How will you take care of them? What if your nanny or housekeeper or children’s daycare worker or teacher gets it? What are the childcare plans in those scenarios? I think it’s helpful to think it through and make some of those decisions in advance and make whatever plans are necessary. It’s not hard and doesn’t cost anything and may save you some stress in the future. For us, our home quarantining of my husband meant clearing out some extras that tend to live in our guest room so that he could use that room comfortably and setting him up with a small television in there. At the beginning of the stay at home orders, we also purchased a television for our bedroom, which we’ve never had before, but proved to be super helpful when I was sick and weak and had to watch the boys by myself. I was able to put the toddler in our bed with me and ply him with lots of Daniel Tiger so I could rest a bit. All that is to say, it would be wise to think through what your plan will be in various situations and do a little planning ahead while you still feel good. We have always had really great help from family and friends when we need it, but with Covid, no one wants to come near you, for very good reason. So, we couldn’t just call in my mom or a babysitter for reinforcements. When I was home alone with the boys, I was VERY worried that if things turned worse and I needed to go to the hospital, I wouldn’t have anyone to watch them and wasn’t sure what I would do. Again, I think if I had thought that through a little better, maybe I could have come up with a plan of some sort and I wouldn’t have been so stressed about it.

Another note is planning before you take any trips. As I was talking to a friend today who will be traveling soon, she mentioned that she hadn’t thought through what would happen if someone in her family got Covid while they were on vacation. I think that’s an easy oversight when you’re living in a hotspot and headed to a relatively safe place, but you should still think it through, because with global and national travel, this virus is everywhere. If you get it on a trip, will you quarantine family members and if so, how? If you’re in a remote location, what will the plan be for medical access and testing? If you plan to pack up and come home, how will you get home? Air travel will likely be limited if you have a fever and driving long distances with Covid would be miserable (not to mention expose everyone in the car with you.) If you had to extend your stay while you recover, where would that be? And do you want to pay for trip insurance to cover any money you might be out if you do end up canceling your trip at the last minute because someone in your immediate family gets Covid? What are the refund policies for what you book? These are just a few questions to think through to help you plan and not be unnecessarily surprised.

Maybe the most thing to do is to be sure that you have a good doctor. I cannot stress this one enough. I know that sometimes throughout our lives, we may end up without a good primary care doctor. For me, it was because I had babies for 7 years straight, so I was always in the care of an OB, rather than a general practitioner or internist. For men, sometimes it’s that they don’t really get sick much and just manage with urgent care visits or the like when needed. For some of us, we just rely on our specialists for whatever ails us. But, in our family’s experience with Covid, I have learned that you really need a professional relationship with a good doctor if you end up getting this. If you’re the type of person who really needs someone to hold your hand and be available if you were to get Covid and you can afford it, you may want to consider signing up with a concierge doctor, especially if you do get Covid. One of my friends signed up with one at the beginning of his Covid experience and he said that the doctor called him every single day to check in. I, on the other hand, have been going to the same internal medicine doctor for twenty years and he never called me once himself even after I sent a message that I had tested positive for Covid. Another woman that I spoke with called her doctor asking for help so many times that they dropped her as a patient. (I was floored by this!) I have realized that our medical system is really not set up to deal with pandemics like this. They tend to operate at two ends of the spectrum with Covid – deal with it on your own by treating symptoms at home with over the counter medicines with very little guidance or check-ins, if at all – or, come to the hospital if you’re desperate or dying and we will do our best to save your life. You can argue the reasons for this as much as you’d like, but the end result is that you’re going to have to take initiative and manage your own health and that includes finding a good doctor who you trust. I think that’s easier done before you actually get Covid. It seems that different doctors are using very different approaches to treatments, so it may make sense to ask about that up front as well so you’ll know in advance. For my children, I was so grateful that we have a wonderful pediatrician and trust him fully. For myself, I was really glad that I had an established relationship with a nutritionist who had been studying up on Covid and had lots of ideas on supplements that might help. Again, just make sure you have the necessary medical and health relationships in place well in advance.

Another thing that I really wish I had done differently is to talk to my children more about Covid-19. As a mom of young children, I’ve more or less tried to shield them throughout this ordeal. We haven’t talked to them much about it except to explain that it is an unknown illness and some people have died from it and that’s why their school, little league, swim team, after school activities, etc. have closed or been cancelled and we can no longer do playdates or walk to the playground in our neighborhood or hug our grandmothers or go visit family. And in all honesty, there wasn’t much that we knew in March and April to tell them. But, the more I look back on it, I wish I had explained things just a little more now that we do know a bit more. While this is a scary virus, partly because it is so unknown, the majority of people who get it will not die, but some will still get very sick. My boys have likely been pretty scared of Covid for months now. (Haven’t we all?) Since the world has shut down and nothing about “normal life” feels normal, they know that something is very wrong. And they pick up on their parents’ conversations and stress levels more than we give them credit for. We’ve been praying together every morning and night for months for protection from his virus. So, what were they to think when we actually got it, including them? To be honest, I was dealing with my own mental state over having it and even worse, my children having it, and so I wasn’t really in a place where I could stop and think about what they must be thinking and feeling. Instead, in another attempt to shield them, I quickly did a complete about-face and told them that it wasn’t that big of a deal and it wasn’t actually a really bad virus for most people and that they were going to be fine and so was I. Except that was NOT the message they had been receiving for the past four months as more and more things close and masks are required and they aren’t allowed to do the Summer things they want to do, so I’m sure that was a mixed message. And then, once I had convinced them it was no big deal, I had a bad shortness of breath attack in the car WITH them. And what they saw was their mother sobbing in fear and gasping for air and let me tell you – that is an image of me that I wish they didn’t have. They also saw their mom lying in bed nonstop for nearly two weeks and then unable to do much for the week after that as well and I’m sure that all of that was confusing after I had convinced them that this was no big deal. Ugh. All that is to say, I wish I had sat them down and prepared them better in advance. It might be worthwhile for you to think through what you want to say to your children.

Lastly, I wish that I had realized that the effects of this virus can last for a month or longer and often does. Somehow, I thought that the 14 days of self-quarantine were the typical life of the virus – and maybe that is true. But, it wasn’t true for me. I had symptoms longer than that. While I was MUCH better by about day 18, I wasn’t “back to normal” by any means. For me, that has meant getting winded while doing little tasks (which limits what I can do and drives me crazy!), pretty extreme fatigue and the occasional headache. All of those things have limited what I can do. And it seems that some people have what can be referred to as “Long Covid” and experience symptoms for many months after catching it. On that front, I it would probably be wise to realize that it could take you down for a month or more and plan accordingly. As a small business owner, I wish that I had thought through my plan for my business while I was sick. That looks different for everyone, but again, it’s worth thinking that through in advance and making any necessary preparations. Lesson learned.

All in all, our family did pretty well with the virus, but there were definitely some scary times, some low moments and a lot of frustration for various reasons. We got it relatively early in this second wave spike in Texas so we were pretty caught off guard by it and I think that had I know more, a little extra planning would have helped even more. So, there you have it! My list of planning tips in case your family has a run-in with Covid. If you’ve had it and want to add any ideas or thoughts, please comment below. I would love to know your tips as well!