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As A Doctor, Some Words Of Advice About Self-Quarantine

Other than cleaning the house, which can itself cause some boredom, how about doing things you would not usually do?

I will start off by acknowledging that I am a very social person. This medical/social experiment of self-quarantine in order to flatten the curve of new cases of COVID-19 has been very difficult for me. It has made me consider and value my relationships with others and think about new ways to use my time while quarantined. I am learning to adjust my day to prevent boredom and social isolation.

On a daily basis we are given new information about COVID-19. What we first thought was a disease that was only lethal to the elderly we are now finding out is also very dangerous to those in their 20s and 30s. At this point, we do not know the long-term side effects that one might have who survives COVID-19 pneumonia. I have a close friend who barely survived SARS pneumonia who is faced with a lifetime of difficulty breathing and recurring medical difficulties. I expect this will be the same for those who survive COVID-19 pneumonia.

The good news is that this is not nuclear radiation which would prevent us from going outside for years and damage our food and water supply.

When I see pictures of large groups on a beach, in a bar or restaurant, I can only imagine that they either have no idea about the serious nature of this world wide pandemic, do not understand how easily it is spread, are so egocentric that they do not care if they might infect others or deny the fact that they might indeed suffer a severe consequence of this disease.

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This is a perfect time for social influencers to consider social responsibility. We know that many people look to leaders in their own generation for guidance about political and social thinking. I implore social influencers to think about the effect they can have on people in their own generation. They might look beyond promoting products and for a month and encourage people to self-quarantine. They will never get the feedback that what they have done has helped, but by doing this, if they truly have an impact on the people they influence, they might each save 10, 100, 1000 or even 100,000 lives from either death or severe complications upon surviving his disease.

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My daughter and her friends have taught me a technique they call “Our Pod”. In this they have multiple friends who are completely self-quarantining independent from each other. After two weeks of self-quarantining, they feel it is safe to get together since the presumption is that none have virus. If after that time there is any break in quarantine from the “pod”, the person who broke the quarantine must restart the process independent of the rest of the group for two weeks before they can rejoin. Apparently, this was started during the Ebola crisis.

This is not a perfect plan and is probably more suitable for apartment dwellers, however, it is something to consider as this crisis unfolds.

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So how do we keep from going crazy/bored? Other than cleaning the house, which can itself cause some boredom, how about doing things you would not usually do? Things that I can think of off hand are:

Writing to people who were important in your past that you have not been in touch with for years, video chat with friends over coffee, do things you have put off, reading a book, start playing the musical instrument you put away for a rainy day, write in a journal, do some artwork. Then we get to cannabis and alcohol. These can both be used socially in person, but also on a video chat with social interaction.

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I caution people from using cannabis or alcohol to relieve boredom. This would be a temporary fix. It will not really improve the boredom and increase the chance of needing the effects rather than just enjoying the moment.

Over time in my surgical practice I have noted that kind people become kinder and more giving during stressful situations and mean people become meaner and more selfish.

I personally am grateful to those of you who are self-quarantining or performing active social distancing. These are quite difficult to do on an ongoing basis. What you are doing is for the benefit of the community and keeping your loved ones at a lower risk.

Please be safe out there.

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