How Covid-19 Is Making Me and the Planet Healthier

I donated blood yesterday. No big deal, I’ve done that every time there is a national emergency because there are always blood shortages during those times. September 11th? Donate. Katrina? Go donate. Covid-19? Yep… except… how?

As a cancer survivor who is caring for an elderly mom, I am not playing games with my immune system. So while I wanted to donate, I wasn’t sure if there was a way to safely do so.

Then my church sent out an email letting members know there would be a mobile blood van in the parking lot this week and we could go online and make an appointment to donate blood. Due to Covid-19, there would be extreme safety procedures in place. Appointments were spread farther apart than normal to minimize the chance of contact between donors. We’d all need to wear our masks and wait in our cars until cleared to go inside via temperature readings.

The medical staff were superbly professional and very kind.

Nevertheless, later that afternoon, I started to feel sick.

I’m not sure if it was that I picked up something from donating blood or from when I ran errands right after. I suspect it was the latter.

Normally, I might have ignored my symptoms. But in the Age of Coronavirus… not happening.

I sprang into action as soon as I started to cough. I sprayed my throat with a holistic produce that I’ve found effective, took a couple of grams of vitamin C powder in juice and sucked on a zinc tablet. After that, I had some Echinacea tea and another zinc tablet.

I woke up this morning feeling fine.

I suspect I am not the only one who is being more proactive these days, to the benefit of our overall health.

In an odd way I think Covid-19 is making a lot of us healthier.

Some of the changes we are making as a society might be involuntary. For example, more people are being forced to cook and home-made food tends to be healthier. There are less ingredients with names we can’t pronounce.

Others are eating more veggies due to shortages of meat. This is good for us too. As Michael Pollan says in his book In Defense of Food, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

One fascinating fact I discovered years ago — while under food rationing during WWII, British health improved. According to this site, “Most people ate less meat, fat, eggs and sugar….infant mortality rates declined and the average age at which people died from natural causes increased.”

Dietary changes are not the only reason I think many of us will be healthier due to Covid-19.

This disease is making us more proactive. We are more aware of safe habits such as washing our hands when we return from the store. I know many friends, like myself, are being more careful to get enough sleep, drink enough water and eat less junk. We used to allow ourselves to get run down, but we don’t anymore because letting our immune system flag could be fatal.

Good habits that we ignored in normal times become essential during a pandemic. Is this what it takes to force us to change our lives?

On a less personal level — the pandemic has forced us to really look at the damage we’ve done to the environment.

When I first visited Los Angeles in the late 1980s, there were still days you could see the sky without the smog. But in recent memory — how often has that happened? There is a generation of Angelenos who might never have seen a clear day in the City of Angels. Now they see what that’s like.

There are dolphins in the canals in Venice. In New Delhi and Bombay, Indians can breathe clean air. There are deer grazing on lawns in towns in Wales and also here where I live in Texas.

Will this pandemic finally force us to realize how much we affect the health of our planet? Will it help us make choices that will lower the stress we put on the environment?

Hopefully this pandemic will force lasting changes for good. Hopefully it will help all of us and our planet to become healthier in the long run.

Previously Published on Medium

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