Face masks

A few weeks ago I helped the local NHS hospital by altering some surgical masks for them that had come in but the elastic ear loops were too big. This led to a few of my friends asking if I would be making face masks or would I make them some face masks for them or their friends and family. I know the jury is out on the use of face masks. This post isn’t about that, there are research papers that are for and against the use of face masks by the general population. I think we can all agree that “home made” face masks when worn provide protection to other people more than the wearer – which is why many countries have adopted  the wearing of face masks so that they can all protect each other from Covid-19 and other nasties.

 
Initially I was very much in the camp of home made masks are bad. That they provided a false sense of security and that by having poor mask etiquette that they could cause more harm than good – if someone continually touches the front of the mask when wearing it and doesn’t wash their hands after they are capable of spreading their germs far and wide on every surface they touch. Since then there have been articles in The Guardian,  The New York Times that have shown even home made masks when constructed from the right materials can offer a level of protection that hadn’t been anticipated. Add in a filter to those masks – made of an unwoven material or a special mask filter ( you can buy at various oulets) they can provide as much protection as the surgical masks I was altering the other day. A link to the New York Times article can be found here.  The Daily Mail did an article –here The Guardians Article can be found here. So I am now very much of the opinion that yes we should all be wearing face masks of some description when out in public to help protect each other.
So for the last 20 days when physically able I have been making masks for friends and family to wear. All I have asked for is the cost of materials, being on a tight budget I can’t afford to be giving away material, elastic and pipe cleaners etc as much as I may wish too. With Mr Myasthenia kid at home, he has been able to keep Dembe entertained and do the chores I would normally push myself to do that would wipe out my energy reserves. Even with him doing that I have had a couple of days in that 3 week period where I have crashed hard just due to pushing myself too hard for too long in an effort to keep people supplied with masks and not letting anyone down. I am on an enforced break now as I have run out of elastic – I thought I had ordered enough but apparently not! I am awaiting fresh supplies. 
 
To be honest I am quite glad for the break, I am so tired mentally and physically it hasn’t been until I have stopped that I have realised how far past my reserves I have got. I always find it amazing how knackered I can be doing nothing ( but obviously I am not doing nothing as I am taking care of myself. I just judge myself way too harshly and think I should be as active as the next person even when in reality I know that is an impossibility ). There have been evenings when I have been so tired that I am unable to form a coherent sentence or stand up straight. The rest was long over due.
 
For my mask pattern I used this Youtube tutorial
 
 
Mr Myasthenia Kid has been helping me with cutting, pressing , folding pipe cleaners for the nose bands, going to the post office etc All the things that can take me more time than an able bodied person and things that I can’t do such as a post office run. Without his help and support I would never have been able to make the number of masks I have. 
 

 

 
 

 
I have been running on adrenaline for days, I knew I had. Last weekend I was supposed to be taking some time off for sewing but instead I started several other projects. Today (Tuesday  21st April ) is the first time I have sat and just done nothing. Everything is hurting and I feel zombie tired. Which is why I tend to keep pushing and pushing because I know how incapacitating the crash will be. I have always been a boom and bust merchant. Plus keeping busy stops me worrying about Covid-19 and what would happen if either of us got it. 
 
So due to my lack of elastic I have had to have a day off and it feels strange. I’m so tired though it was very clear that I needed it. I did manage to get Jay to help me highlight my hair as I am having real problems lifting my arms above my head. Within seconds of doing it I am getting awful pain in my shoulder joints. Normally I would battle on through but it is just too sore for that and I am having to put my arms down. He has done a good job and now my roots look far less obvious than they did previously.
 

 
I did have a lovely surprise this morning finding out that Natasha McCarty from Natasha Makes was sending me a gift after hearing about my run in with a pin cushion on Saturday!
 
 
 
On Saturday when I was busy making a baby bib for a friends new baby, I didn’t notice that I had knocked my pin cushion onto the floor. It had gone pin head side down leaving the sharp ends pointing up but hidden by the pin cushion. I use this particular pin cushion as it has sentimental value to me. It was my late paternal grandmothers and I use a lot of her old sewing stuff on a daily basis. It was only when I got up from my sewing machine and I removed my foot from the pedal, that I placed my foot on top of the pin cushion ( I was wearing socks only) and put all my weight through that foot to stand up. To say the air was blue would be an understatement! It took me ages to get all the pins out of my foot as there were around 20 or so on the cushion. I yelped and cried, there was blood and tears. Later when I looked at my sock I realised that the blood had come right through . 3 days on and the sole of my foot is still a little sore, not something I ever want to repeat, especially as a long time ago I stood on a darning needle and had to go to the local minor injuries unit to get it removed whilst using gas and air! I will be making the pin cushion as soon as it arrives and I can’t thank Natasha enough for that. 
 

 

 

 
 
Dembe modelling my creations from last weekend!
 
So for now I am putting my feet up and allowing myself to chill out for a few days!

Covid 19 / Corona Virus

I hate to be one of those people who look like they are jumping on the bandwagon but even I am finding it hard not to get a little anxious about the huge fucking elephant in the room which is the Corona Virus or Covid 19 to give it, it’s official term.

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

People I talk to about it automatically assume that as I go out very little I am effectively self isolating / quarantining myself. What they forget is that Mr Myasthenia Kid works in retail, after healthcare probably one of the worst occupations to be in for exposure to this virus. Why? well because of customers firstly, many of these superstores have customer bases in the tens of thousands not just the 100 people that you may notice whilst you are in store shopping. Then there are the staff, who will drag themselves into work rather than face the indignity of the attendance policy and have a black mark against their names. So we have the 7th circle of hell right there. So whatever Mr Myasthenia Kid is exposed to rest assured he will unwittingly then be sharing with me. And that really concerns me.

Technically I am not in a high risk group, although I have PoTs it isn’t an issue with my heart. It is a problem with the autonomic nervous system, whilst when I get an infection it makes the PoTs symptoms a million times worse ( causing more palpitations, shortness of breath and syncope / fainting) it won’t kill me, unless I happen to faint in a dangerous situation. EDS also doesn’t mean I am at any higher risk, my only issue is that whilst I am used to joint pain etc – it still hurts, I can’t lie around in bed for days without causing myself more pain due to my back. So whilst I may feel like I need to be in bed I will have to get up and sit / lie on the sofa to ease my back. What worries me and is the name of my blog is the possibly seronegative / undiagnosed Myasthenia Gravis that I have been dealing with since 2007.

Myasthenia Gravis can cause a respiratory crisis which means the patients muscles become paralysed and they can no longer move their rib cage or diaphragm and therefore can’t breathe. I have been blue lighted to hospital back in 2008 with such an issue and was very close indeed to being placed on a ventilator so that they could take my breathing over for me. I was taken immediately to resus and placed on oxygen at 15 litres a minute. After a few hours I was doing a lot better but I was exhausted and slept close to 48 hours solid after that little adventure. I still have home Oxygen now a cylinder and a concentrator as I have the super power of suddenly being unable to breathe properly. I also use the oxygen in the treatment of my migraines, when I am not in such a bad way that I can’t remember I have it. So this is my fear, whilst technically I don’t have a diagnosis of Myasthenia ( when I started the blog I did it was removed in 2009/10 ) I respond well to the treatment of Pyridostigmine Bromide also known as Mestinon which resolves my ptosis and weak muscles within 30 minutes of taking it. Maybe it isn’t MG but some other neuromuscular issue whatever it is this is what is scaring me about Covid-19.

My other fear is should I be unlucky enough to end up seriously ill with the virus, a doctor with no idea about my life or the quality of it could ( due to limited resources ) be making decisions about whether or not my life is worth saving. They may not realise that I have lots of friends, a loving husband, a gorgeous doggy, a very happy fulfilled life with my sewing / embroidery / quilting. That I help run the largest PoTs Support Group on Facebook for the UK and ROI ( nearly 5k members) all they will see lying in front of them is a disabled woman who hasn’t worked for 12 years and is my life worth less due to their views on disability? I have actually found those in the medical profession can be the ones with the worst attitude towards the disabled and do see things as black and white as who is economically worth saving. The medical profession like all walks of life hold a variety of views on the disabled some nice and some totally abhorrent. I should imagine their are many other disabled people out there worrying about whether their lives will be deemed worthy enough to save should difficult decisions have to be made because resources within the NHS ( ICU beds, HDU beds and ECMO machines).

In some ways this all feels like we are sat here waiting for the zombie Apocalypse to start. There have been many complaints that the NHS 111 website is potentially missing many thousands of possible Covid-19 sufferers due to the questions it is asking. Basically unless you have been to an area that is now rife with it or have been in contact with a person with a diagnosis of Covid-19 you aren’t being tested. The main issue now is that many people who have this illness very mildly are  now amongst us spreading the virus and there will be those who are super spreaders who show no symptoms themselves but pass it on to everyone around them, latter-day Typhoid Marys if you will. There are so many known unknowns with this new illness that no one is quite sure how badly countries will be affected.

The fact that just this morning ( Wednesday 11th March ) The Bank of England has cut interest rates and they believe that the UK will now be entering a recession just adds to my concern that this is going to be a very scary time. When have you ever heard of the Bank of England cutting interest rates due to a virus?

I know many people who read my blog will have their own health anxieties and I really don’t want to add to them. But I do believe it would be ridiculous not to talk about this. I can’t be the only one that is worrying and I want to let you know it is ok to be concerned and to practice extra hand-washing. Whats not ok is to let your fears take over your life and stop you enjoying life.

So just some practical tips – not encouraging bulk buying in any way

– Ensure that you have all your regular medications and keep on top of your repeat requests. Just so you don’t run out.

– If you were to have to self isolate do you have family members or a friend who can get shopping for you? reach out on local community pages and find out if there is anyone willing to lend a hand should you find yourself in this position and you have no close friends or family nearby.

– Ensure you don’t allow yourself to run out of the basics. Keep a note pad in your kitchen and when you see something is running low write it down. Then next time you go to the shops or have some one go / order online you won’t forget. Again I am not encouraging bulk buying but ensuring you have enough to last a few days so that you aren’t in a situation with nothing at all.

– Wash sheets and towels on a 60 degreeC setting to ensure you kill as many germs as possible. Try and stay on top of these tasks so that at least you have clean towels and bedding should you get sick.

– If you don’t have it set up get internet banking or a mobile banking app set up. So you can pay bills, buy online etc So if you are sick you don’t have to worry about getting to a bank etc 

– Have pets? ensure you have their food in. We did a bulk cooking session for Dembe on Sunday and have frozen it. So if we are sick he will still have food. If you have a dog and they need walked speak to friends and family and see if they will help out should you need it.

– Ask anyone that visits to not come if they are feeling under the weather. If they are bringing stuff to you get them to leave it on the doorstep. I would rather upset someone by saying I would rather they didn’t spread their germs than have them coughing and sneezing all over me.

– If you have prepayment metres and can afford it ensure these are loaded up. If you can’t speak to your supplier and see if they can help at all should you become ill and not be able to top these up. Many people are going to be in the same boat, so I should imagine they will be getting plans in place to ensure customers are supported. The press will have a field day if people are being left without power.

If you can think of any other hints and tips please leave them in the comments.

Stay safe and stay well.