I have diabetes…and mild asthma…and I’m living and traveling full-time in an RV. I know there are a lot of you out there in a similar situation. How can we, as people with diabetes or other illnesses that create a higher risk for us, survive and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic – especially when we’re living on the road? Let’s talk about it and I’ll even give you a list of resources and recipes at the end of this article.
Living with Diabetes – The COVID-19 Pandemic
As a diabetic with mild asthma, I do my best to support my immune system and protect myself against whatever viruses are going around when I’m at gatherings or when I used to work in an office; but it doesn’t always work. I also have an arsenal of natural remedies on standby in case I do get sick. One year, I ended up with pneumonia and was able to kick it out with oregano oil after the full round of antibiotics didn’t help. This year’s early flu hung around for what seemed like forever; but I luckily staved off any serious lung issues.
Whenever a strong or highly-contagious flu goes around, my stress levels increase. Imagine my stress meter right now not just with COVID-19 spreading like wildfire, but also because I’m already dealing with irritated lungs from the local spring bloom. I’ve been coughing pretty on and off for several weeks now having had a month-long cough from an early flu and now the allergies. That makes me nervous.
As I sit here in Nevada after the official declaration of a national emergency, I wonder what the next couple of months holds for us. I also know that I’ve done a lot to protect myself from COVID-19 and to support my body.
Disclaimer: I am not a member of any medical profession and am an amateur herbalist. The information I’m providing here is based on my own experiences and reading. Please be sure to talk with you doctor about anything that might impact current medications and your health.
COVID-19 Protection and Prevention
CDC and WHO Recommendations
Absolutely, we should all follow the recommendations from the CDC and WHO about COVID-19. Stay away from other people as much as possible. If you do go out, try to keep at least three feet from others.
Carry hand sanitizer and use it often if you’re having to touch things a lot (like at the grocery store or the gas station.) Can’t find hand sanitizer? I’ve included a recipe below from my doctor to make it yourself using alcohol and aloe vera gel.
Wash your hands often with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds – count, sing the alphabet song, or sing the chorus from Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive”.
Remember, even if you don’t go out but are getting supplies delivered to your home or RV, wash your hands after receiving and opening the package. In fact, I even spray my packages with a light dose of my vinegar cleaning solution or you can use Four Thieves Vinegar (see both recipes below.) You might think that’s a little overboard, but a recent article from MIT says testing has shown that it could stay on cardboard boxes for at least a day.
What Else Can We Do?
Support Your Body
There’s so much more we can do to protect ourselves during the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily by supporting your body.
Be as healthy as you can be. As a diabetic? Eat right (no cheating), exercise, and take your meds. Keep those blood sugars down. There are a lot of supplements that help lower blood sugars too. Talk with your doctor to ensure they won’t conflict with medicine you’re already taking. If they don’t know or refuse to discuss it, talk with a Master Herbalist or Naturopath.
Do you have asthma? There’s that exercise word again, but be careful not to trigger your asthma. Do deep breathing, which also helps with stress. There’s this thing called ‘box breathing’ – breathe in deep for a count of 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, and hold for 4. Personally, I hold for longer; but at least start with a count of 4.
Think about what makes you a higher risk? What else can you do to protect your body? Talk to your doctor or a support group about what more you can do if you’re stumped.
Support Your Immune System
Most of us know that vitamin c and zinc are huge helpers when preventing or battling viruses such as COVID-19 and I’ve upped my intake of both. Here’s something cool though…
My friend, Rebecca, is a Physician Assistant and has been keeping up to date on all this. (See her article and video below in the list.) Her research found that medical facilities are using IV vitamin c to help patients diagnosed with COVID-19. It’s suggested that people use chewable vitamin c and zinc lozenges.
This keeps the active ingredients in your mouth and throat longer, which apparently helps fight the bug better than just swallowing a capsule. I never would have thought about that!
Other things that are reported to help your immune system include oregano oil, elderberry, Four Thieves Vinegar, water with lemon juice, ginger, rose hips, pau d’arco, echinacea, and so many more.
A note on the water…you should be making sure you’re hydrated. Remember, if you’re feeling thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Support Your Respiratory System
Besides keeping your lungs physically healthy, supporting them in other ways can be beneficial.
I’ve used mullein when we had really bad smoke from wildfires as well as when I’ve had respiratory bugs such as the flu. It comes in capsules, teas, tinctures, etc. Boswelia Root is also recommended because of its anti-inflammatory benefits. Neither will cure what you’ve got, but they’ll help your lungs deal with whatever’s going on.
An air purifier is a great way to de-stress your lungs. It’s not going to remove COVID-19 from your RV or house if you’ve caught it, but it helps. We’ve had an air purifier since about our third month on the road. We bought it because of the smoke from wildfires and have used it a number of times since during high winds, dust storms, and illness.
Ask for Support
I know it’s not easy to admit you have an illness and that you need others’ help with it, but most people realize now that COVID-19 is serious. Tell people close to you (physically) that you’re a higher risk person. Explain that you need them to take certain precautions to help you stay healthy.
This is even true for the people you live with. If things have been going well for your health, they may have pushed your illness to the back of their minds. Remind them, and ask them to do the shopping, sanitize their hands before coming back inside your RV or house, and wash their hands properly once they’ve returned. If they care, this won’t be a burden. It’ll be something they want to do to ensure you remain in their lives.
Have what you need on hand before something like this happens again. If you were prepared ahead of time…awesome. Good for you! If not, think of this article as your checklist for once supplies are back on the shelves and we’re able to get out and about more.
Make the homemade items late this summer, so they’re ready for cold and flu season. Same with purchasing extra supplements, hand sanitizer, first aid supplies including alcohol, and medicines.
What do you need to support your body and mind if this happens again? What do you need in case you do get sick or isolated and can’t run to the store? Do you have enough food to get you, your family, and your pets through 2-4 weeks?
For small spaces, I suggest keeping things like bouillon (instead of pre-made broth), canned chicken, jarred garlic, ginger powder or tea, freeze some quartered lemons (they make great ice cubes), frozen vegetables and ground meats, canned foods. You want to have things on hand that don’t expire quickly and are easily digestible and supportive to your body.
If you have space, grab some freeze-dried foods and store them under your bed or where ever you have space that stays fairly cool. I don’t recommend buying backpacking foods because they are typically high-calorie and high-salt. Look for emergency food storage. Amazon has tons and you can even find some that are natural or even organic. If you get one or two soup bases and a couple of meats, you’re good. Toss in some scrambled egg mix? Even better. Got space for containers of vegetables and strawberries? Awesome.
Okay. You’re protected. You’re taking care of yourself and have added a few supplements. And now you’re practicing social distancing by staying in your RV… Oh, yes. Cabin fever is real.
First. Do you have to stay inside? Are you somewhere that you can get outside and go for a walk? Even if you’re in an RV park, walking around should be fine as long as you stay three or more feet from others and stay out of the office. You should also be okay swimming in the pool according to the CDC – as long as its being properly maintained.
Support Your Mind
Second. I don’t know about you, but I could spend months inside and still have things to do even in my RV. Besides a part-time remote VA job, I have about six Udemy courses I need to finish, plus dozens more I’d love to take if I had time. We have games and decks of cards, Kindle, Audible, Netflix, Roku, and Amazon Prime. We could play with our cats more. I’m sure they’d love that. We have RV projects to work on and I have tons of ideas for articles to write.
What can you do? All of the above plus… Are you crafty or creative? Start making your holiday gifts. Call the friends you haven’t talked to for a while. Start a journal. Learn to draw or juggle or how to fix your leaky faucet. Do a puzzle, begin a new yoga or exercise routine. Reorganize. Post silly pics on your social media. Catch up on your email. Find a fun new YouTube channel to watch. Seriously, there’s so much to do!
The key is to keep your mind active and at least get in a little bit of physical activity. Focus on everything you get to do!
If You Have Symptoms of COVID-19
Follow the advice of the CDC and WHO if you have symptoms or think you might have been infected but aren’t yet showing symptoms. Most importantly, isolate yourself, wear a mask if you must go out into the world, and please, PLEASE, don’t go into a clinic or emergency room. Do you really want to give COVID-19 to a pregnant woman or someone receiving chemo treatments?
Beyond talking with your doctor, all the things mentioned above about supporting your body and immune and respiratory systems work for being sick too. Keep them going along with whatever your doctor is doing for you (of course, making sure there are no conflicts.)
COVID-19 Resources and Recipes
- The Benefits of Elderberry and a recipe for Elderberry Syrup
- Hand Sanitizer recipe
- Four Thieves Vinegar
- What I’ve Told Our Parents About COVID-19 by Outliers Overland
- CDC’s People at Risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19
- CDC’s About Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- National Geographic’s These underlying conditions make coronavirus more severe
- Vinegar Cleaning Solution
- 1 or 2 quart jars, depending on how much you want to make
- Fresh thyme or rosemary – enough to fill each jar at least half full
- 1 to 2 quarts white vinegar
- Fresh lemon or orange zest (optional)
- Coarsely chop the fresh herbs (or cut up with scissors) and fill a quart jar at least half full. Add optional zest. Fill jar with white vinegar and screw the lid on tightly. (If you’re using a metal lid, place parchment paper underneath to prevent the vinegar from corroding the lid.) Let infuse for at least 2 weeks, preferably 4 to 6 weeks, shaking once every day or two. To use, fill a spray bottle about 1/3 to 1/2 full of the vinegar and top with water. The ratio depends on how strong you want the solution. We use this to clean our counters, sanitize our cutting boards, and now to spray any delivery boxes. I wouldn’t use it to clean windows or mirrors because the oils from the herbs and zest can cause streaks.
Yes, as higher-risk people, we can have a more difficult time recovering from viruses such as COVID-19; but there is so much we can do to protect and support our bodies and minds. Even just doing some of the above things is helpful. Something is better than nothing. Right?
Stay safe and healthy out there, friends. Be well.