By Assunta Ng
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
When Covid-19 erupted into Washington state in 2020, I wondered with anxiety, “Will I get it?” After 26 months, the question remains. But the difference is, I am no longer anxious or afraid…even though someone in my orbit did get Covid.
Is it because of the vaccines and medicine curing Covid? Is it because of low death rates, as well as hospitalization rates? Does it have to do with those who got Covid, only having mild symptoms? All of the above. However, the most important lesson I learned during the last two years is from Americans who didn’t prioritize their health, and hence, died from Covid.
It’s hard for me to fathom why so many are anti-vaccine. Without health and vitality, you can do nothing. Without health, you can’t fulfill your dreams, you can’t make wise decisions, you can’t take care of yourself or your loved ones.
Before Covid, I understood the significance of my health only in theory. I didn’t do everything to support a healthy body. My mind was so stressed and my body so exhausted and depleted even after I took a trip to South America to recharge. It didn’t help much.
The goal I set during Covid was to regain my health. What does a healthy mind and body entail? Exercise, sleep, rest, hydration, and good nutrition. Accomplished in all five areas, I feel a monumental difference in my mind and body in 2020 and now. It’s as if I have a totally different body and mindset. I feel wholesome now, physically and mentally.
Covid doesn’t scare me now. We all have to evaluate what we should do to enhance our overall health and I did. Covid will last for a while. People who are in my circle got infected with Covid, including two employees, my friends, and loved ones, but their symptoms were mild and they have since recovered. Just take a look at Covid-19 rates. It’s still high, although hospitalization is down compared to last year. It doesn’t matter what age group you are in, the virus doesn’t discriminate. They attack and infect you anytime and anywhere. What’s worse, most people got infected and had few clues how and where they got it. The symptoms don’t appear immediately, which means they could infect other people before symptoms arrive.
Restaurants are crowded. No one checks proof of vaccination cards or negative testing anymore. Airlines and the airports are often packed. People are not wearing their masks. The public environment is more dangerous than in 2021. But temptations keep invading us, telling us to go out in crowded areas, eat in congested places, and doing things we know will pose risks to make up for what we have lost in 2020 and 2021. What do we do now?
Here are what I do to ensure my safety and protect my health:
Vitamin C or salt water
Always have vitamin C at home. A constant ally, it boosts your immunity. Sometimes, I take it with me when I go out. Not taking chances is a valuable practice. There were times when I came home with my head heavy, and I didn’t feel well. After taking vitamin C, I would stay home until the next day. Make sure you sleep well that night. Rest well. A good night’s sleep is the body’s best defense.
If you don’t have vitamin C, rinse your mouth with salt water. Covid tends to stay around your throat and nose as you breathe in the air. Salt water kills germs and to some extent the virus. Don’t wait until the next day. After you rinse with salt, rinse out your mouth with fresh water so you don’t get cavities.
Some of my relatives are more paranoid. They instantly wash the clothes they wear after they go out every time. Then they take a shower to make sure the potential virus is washed out.
For the last two years, I took only one trip, despite my love for travel. If a restaurant is packed, I cut my visit short or choose another restaurant.
I prefer venues like the Seattle Symphony Orchestra at the Benaroya Hall, which still checks vaccine cards or negative testing, and requires masks.
Father’s Day was a popular day for restaurants. We arranged with our son to celebrate Father’s Day in a restaurant the following week instead of the actual day, so we could avoid crowds.
Watch your diet
During the earliest part of Covid, people with pre-existing conditions such as obesity and diabetes were at great risk, and still are. Why not use Covid as an incentive to reset your health! I did. In fact, it was the best gift Covid could have given me. Living longer shouldn’t be the goal; living longer with a full life, no pain or sickness should.
If you need to lose weight, do it now. Exercise and eat less, especially carbohydrates and sugar. Better yet, cut out sugar completely. It’s hard the first few days, but it will get easier as time goes by. You may even train your taste buds to taste food with less sweetness. If you need a substitute to replace sweets, have a bowl of your favorite soup instead. Soup is filling and satisfying. It will decrease your craving. Start now, it’s not too late.
Eat healthy. Try a plant-based diet and eat less meat. Eat more seafood instead. I recently prepared boiled purple yam; onions stir-fried with shrimp with garlic and ginger; boiled two kinds of vegetables with bone broth, garlic, and ginger; and stir-fried three kinds of mushrooms with garlic and ginger. That’s our dinner.
Whatever I cook, ginger and garlic are necessary ingredients to add immunity to my body. They are my essential ingredients every day as they have anti-inflammatory properties.
In contrast to 2020, when everything on my calendar was canceled, now, it has been filling up fast with many events, including dining out. Now that most businesses have reopened and events are in full swing, we are tempted to enjoy and participate in everything. Pick and choose, don’t overdo it or be greedy. No need to do it all at once. I try to limit myself to two events a week. At most, three. The reasonable thing to do is to reschedule. Think of it this way, we have been waiting for over two years to play or have fun enjoying activities we want. What’s one more week of waiting!
In many events, I am the rare creature with a mask on. I don’t worry what people think. I couldn’t care less if they say I am weird. It’s not that I am afraid to get sick, it’s the consequence of affecting the publications of both Northwest Asian Weekly and Seattle Chinese Post. Nor do I want to burden anyone in my family.
I have seen people make one tiny mistake and they can get seriously ill. So wearing a mask is worth it.
Whenever I meet with strangers now, they often extend their hand. What happened to the elbow bump during the pandemic? People have forgotten so soon that handshakes and touching are one way to pass the virus.
We have also forgotten to wash our hands before we eat. Whenever you go to restaurants, remember to do so before your meal. When you go home, the first thing you should do is to wash your hands.
I appreciate that many restaurants and events have rearranged a new way of dining.
The University of Washington’s in-person celebration dinner, honoring Frank Irigon, had pre-set their 8-course meal on their table, except desserts, for guests to serve themselves. This eliminates the number of times the waiter had to come to our table.
The waiter who goes from table to table will pose a risk of passing any types of germs. The Nisei Vets Hall’s Chow Mein fundraising dinner changed to a drive-up service to protect the Hall, volunteers, and guests. Fighting Covid is a long battle. We can’t control Covid, but we can exercise the art of patience. As George Savile, an English politician said, “A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.”
Assunta can be reached at email@example.com.