Does anyone in your family have severe allergies? Do they have a chronic illness? Are they very young or very old? Are they currently in the hospital? Living a life at high risk at this time is difficult, even worse is if you live daily with allergy struggles.
Chances are then that you will be fairly familiar with most of the safety precautions in place for avoiding compromising the respiratory system of all, but particularly those in the high-risk category. With the exception of mask-wearing, except in hospital situations, this is an everyday experience and necessity for all who experience chronic illness daily.
My children have regularly played our made-up game “When do we wash our hands?”:
- When we enter the house
- Before we eat
- After we finish eating
- After we finish in the bathroom
- After playing with our pets
- After playing outside or inside
- If we rub our eyes
- If we touch our face
- If we have not washed our hands in the last 2 hours.
- …. oops, I will stop now!
At our house, we display signs to remind everyone of the most important times to wash our hands. To make it easier for our children we regularly find new and fun ways to wash our hands and keep kids’ hands under the water until they are actually washed not put under the water to claim “clean”.
Our most recent ideas are:
- Sing the song to wash your hands in Mandarin (https://playful-chinese.simplecast.com/episodes/wash-hands-in-chinese-with-miss-panda-X6Cz1UV0 ),
- Sing the song to wash your hands in Arabic (https://youtu.be/fNTRH-7_ZxI ) ,
- Say any alphabet through twice (English then Arabic works well), or
- count backwards in any language from 100.
Even visitors are asked to please remove their shoes and wash their hands before entering our house, partly Arab tradition and partly an attempt at ensuring no allergens enter our home. Many people find it difficult to comprehend just how much strain living with this level of safety precautions really is. And… we have not even left the safety of our home yet.
Leaving home requires ensuring that the emergency first aid kit is packed and anaphylaxis/allergy bracelets are attached to the relevant children. A clearly labelled letter from their doctor is in their pocket or backpack indicating the procedures required to face an emergency and the medication on them that is required if by some chance of fate they are separated from me.
Our allergies ensure that we question and re-question if we really need to go to the hospital or can we go to the doctor?” Or “Do we need to go to the doctors’ surgery or could we ring and get them to prepare the script for the current medication refill and send someone else to collect it and take it to the pharmacy.” Sick people are in hospital and doctor surgery waiting rooms! We do not want to take a child with a compromised respiratory system anywhere near sick people if we can avoid it. A trip to doctors always involves a call ahead and an appointment to minimize the extent of time we need to be sitting near sick people. Most times we are called from a seat outside to come and see the doctor.
I am aware that this is not the normal situation that everyone else negotiates – and it is a struggle! It is very scary, all the things you have to remember even before you get to “Wear your Mask and gloves if you need to make essential trips outside”.
Every person with a chronically ill family member, friend, or neighbour is very grateful for your kindness. We are very grateful that even though you are not in an at-risk category you choose to keep wearing your mask, and to only leave the house for essential trips.
Thank you for washing your hands
Thank you for wearing your mask
Thank you for staying inside and making only essential trips
But mostly, Thank you for caring for your neighbors.