In latest developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is wearing masks. This creates significant challenges for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, however.
If you know me, you probably know my mother was born profoundly deaf. Having a deaf parent affords me the ability to empathize, at least a little, with people who need inclusive design. Though there remains so much that we can do to be more inclusive for all people, right now I’m worried about my mom.
While my mother is deaf, she can also hear with technology. My mother has two cochlear implants and is able to understand quite a bit of speech due to tenacity and years studying. I spoke(starting at minute 20:23) and wrote about it last year on just how far the technology has come, and that she can now listen to, and enjoy music like never before. All quite hopeful…
The current crisis, however, is creating a new challenge for her.
Firstly, she struggles to understand others without visual cues from their face. Masks create a significant disadvantage for deaf and hard of hearing. As an example, earlier this week a friend hand-delivered a birthday cake (low contact delivery) to my mother, but my mother couldn’t understand the friend because of the mask. Leading my friend to drop her mask. This increases risk of COVID-19 transmission.
The second is she struggles to wear a mask due to her cochlear implants. A deaf or hard-of-hearing person who uses hearing aids or cochlear implants may find that masks that go over the ears or tie around the head can interfere with their hearing assistive devices. The majority of masks work this way, thus finding masks that work, or making their own becomes challenging.
I’m going to break from my norm of keeping my content almost entirely professional here, and talk about something pretty personal.
This is intended to share resources that helped me during my journey. Maybe they will help you too.
I tested positive for COVID in March, and I am now on week 5. It’s been a long road. There were multiple times I thought I was going to die. I didn’t, and I didn’t get admitted to the hospital, so my case is considered mild. From this side of things, it has felt anything but mild. Mild encompasses a wide span – from asymptomatic to the flu, to, “OMG, I might die.” Mild minimizes how much suffering this virus causes. We need new words for it.
I had the symptoms they talk about and a lot more, including significant GI upset. Last week I went to the ER for trouble breathing and was treated for a secondary infection (pnemonia) caused by the virus. I also tested negative for COVID at that time. This was great news because I had agonized over returning to doing things for myself and worried I might get someone sick going to the grocery or pharmacy.
This makes the journey sound small, but it hasn’t been. I’ve been alone for many weeks. COVID has consumed my life the last 5 weeks. I am still not entirely better. I still get short of breath and am not getting enough oxygen consistently. My body is not back to normal by any stretch. It passes, and overall I am getting a little better each day. I need people to know though, it’s not like I woke up one day with everything better again. It’s an arduous process of better and then worse.
I will probably write more about this later. Right now I want to share with you the resources that have made a difference for me over these long weeks.
Last week I wrote this list – things I wish I had known from the start – I add as I learn:
What you can do at home:
if you’re sick, start a symptom log (if you don’t have one, start now!) and log fever readings, symptoms, day by day or hour by hour, whatever makes sense – if there’s one thing I can recommend universally it’s this. You get asked over and over, and having a log will help. Date and timestamp it.
rest AND get up and move, both are important
walk around if you can
stand if you can
try sleeping partially reclined if you can, helps with breathing,
try changing positions
try laying on your belly
if you feel like you can’t breathe, you won’t be getting to read/do as much as you were thinking you would, accept it instead of pushing too hard to get back into things 100%
do the breathing exercises! do all of them
5 deep breaths then cough on 6
hold your breath to count of 10
arms above your head to stretch
pursed lips breathing
lay on your stomach
you can take Tylenol (but check with a doctor just in case)
hot showers help
hot tea helps
a good broth helps
stock up on electrolytes, and get them in every day even if you can’t eat it will help
if experiencing nausea, just eat when you get hungry; hunger may pass too quickly to make a meal, so just find *something*
if you’re experiencing nausea, placing a grocery order for next week thinking your appetite will be back is probably over-optimistic, buy anything that can’t be frozen conservatively
lidocaine patch, cream or roll-on helps covid chest pain
get a pulse oximeter quickly – potential/positive covid cases can self monitor- gives at least a little piece of mind
inhaler prescribed by doctor can help with chest tightness
for GI there are prescriptions from your doctor – antispasmodics or meds for nausea that can really help
medicine to help with cough from your doctor
Ask for help – you will need it:
groceries pick ups
prescription pick ups
taking out your trash to the curb if you are too sick to
now as spring arrives, help with your lawn
gluten exposure for celiacs can make you more susceptible to COVID (or any virus)
in my case, we suspect COVID activated celiac response causing about 2 weeks of gluten exposure symptoms with no gluten exposure