Here are this week’s 5 Things You Should Know.
01. If you’re an adult without a record of a childhood measles vaccine, there’s a blood test that can check your immunity
The anti-vaccine people are helping the measles make a comeback in the US. A lot of adults have no idea if they ever got the vaccine for measles. You can get screened for immunity on mumps, rubella, measles and some others too. They screen the presence of antibodies for a whole list of infections. Even if you’ve gotten the vaccine before, you may not necessarily be immune. Only the test for antibodies will tell you whether or not you’re immune.
If you are really concerned about your immunity just get the MMR booster. It generally will cost about $100 (depending on where you get it). Checking your titer levels will probably cost you more than that. Also the CDC has great information about who might be at risk and therefore would need an additional booster. People born between 1970-1975 are least likely to have immunity and so should get a booster if they are worried. People born before 1957 have natural immunity because of all their childhood exposure and therefore do not need boosters. Just ask your doctor if you have any concerns.
02. Progressive Muscle Relaxation to relieve stress, tension and anxiety
PMR is an easy, medically sound technique to provide thorough relief for stress, tension, anxiety and similar problems. Invented in the beginning of the 20th century, it is still in widespread use by psychotherapists and other health professionals all over the world.
The principle is that when a muscle is contracted and relaxed with a certain rhythm (relax ~2x as long as tighten), it will keep a lower tension after being relaxed than before the contraction. Based on that and combined with meditation techniques, a program was devised where you let your mind wander through your body, contract and release single muscles and intensely observe the effects of that contrast on body and mind. This allows you to very clearly feel the difference between the relaxed and tense part of your body as a whole, and you can literally feel the relaxation expanding bit by bit. Here is an audio guide in English whose methodology I liked that doesn’t feature any spiritual influences.
Here is my personal method because the guides are quite different, to give you an idea what can be adapted:
5-10 seconds of tension / 10-20 seconds of relaxation, sitting, closed eyes, very high tension. (Being in the bathtub is great as well). Contraction with inhaling, relaxation with exhaling. Focus on breathing with stomach, not chest (yoga technique). Progress through the sections of a limb, focus on that section after relaxation. Progress limb by limb, focus on the limb as a whole when all sections are relaxed, then focus on the difference between all relaxed and non-relaxed body parts. 5min of meditation, feel your body, quiet your thoughts, etc. Right arm: Make a fist, then squeeze lower arm against biceps and upper arm against torso. Left arm: same. Forehead and ears, then eyes, then nose, then lips, then jaws and tongue. Bow neck right, then left, then back, then forwards, then pull up your shoulders. Arch whole back and pull shoulder blades together, then inhale deeply and hold, then clench your stomach. Right leg: Upper thigh and buttock, then pull tip of toes up, then stretch out your foot and clench it. Left leg: same. Let the mind wander through the body in the order it was approached before, inhale at each section and relax even deeper when exhaling. 5min of meditation – you will be very far gone by then. Inhale and exhale deeply, move limb by limb with inhaling. Open eyes. ~20-25 min total.
Two warnings beforehand:
- Be careful about the way you contract and relax your muscles. For instance, dropping your shoulders sharply or contracting your neck heavily can have negative effects. Furthermore, everyone has a personal amount of tension with maximum effects, so experiment to find your own. Be mindful of what your body tells you.
- If you experience any psychological distress at all, immediately terminate the session. Everyone feels different effects of the relaxation, for instance I feel my limbs “disappear” – I think that is very pleasant, to others it may cause distress. If you are in therapy, ask your therapist beforehand – they may well be able to give you an introductory session and general advice. If you’re not and experiencing severe mental health problems, get a therapist.
03. Microwave Your Sponges
According to this study, microwaving soaked sponges for just 4 minutes killed 100% of the tested microbes, which included E. coli (dead at 30 seconds) and Bacillus cereus (dead at the 4 minute mark). This means instead of tossing every sponge that’s been left in the sink overnight, you can safely and quickly revitalize them.
Please be careful when you try this for the first time. If you don’t soak the sponge first it can catch fire or shrivel up. Also, some sponges may not tolerate microwave use period, so keep an eye on them for the first run to gauge how long they can be put in safely. Even if they can’t tolerate the full 4 minutes, that’s okay, you’re still killing most of the nastier bugs in half or less that time.
04. About Google Opinion Surveys
Using the Google Opinion Rewards app you can fill out short surveys and receive Google Play credit. All for free. You can use the credit to buy Playstore apps, buy/rent films, music and books.
Just make sure that you’re not lying about your answers. They actively try to trick you with false questions and if they catch you, you will kill your ability to get anymore surveys in the future.
05. How to help EMS respond to an emergency for your elderly loved one
Access: If your loved one is non-ambulatory (needs a chair or can’t move on their own), be prepared to provide easy access to them. If you can possibly build a ramp for a gurney, do so. If you can widen your driveway, or fix potholes, do so. At the very least, de-clutter things like plants, furniture, etc.
Make it easy for a group of fire/EMS to easily move them from their bed to the ambulance. If you’re in a very cramped space, it may be time to consider a move, perhaps to a better space, or even a care home. Have a sturdy blanket under them at all times that will make it easy for responders to lift them onto their gurney. If they’re extra heavy or suffer from a lot of pain, you can get a flexible stretcher with handles for ~$30 online, and keep it under them.
Information: Print some pamphlets with information about your loved one. Their name, age, date of birth, address, phone number, their doctor, etc. EMS will want to know their allergies, medications, and pertinent medical history. Put these categories in bold underline, and list them, very clearly. If you have to call 911, have a script ready to read the dispatcher.
E.g.: “My name is (blank), and I’m at (address), I have a (blank) year old male/female who is currently having (difficulty breathing, stroke like symptoms, is unresponsive, had a ground level fall, etc)” When an ambulance is dispatched, the above information is all they will get/need.
Barriers to Care: : It is very common for family to want to jump in and help the responders, but you are better off with providing the pamphlet, giving a short/concise description of what happened leading up to you calling 911, and then stepping aside and letting them work. You’ve already provided them easy access to the patient and back to the ambulance, so don’t become another obstacle.
Resist the temptation to overdress your loved ones in dresses or bulky clothing, as EMS will need access to their body to take blood pressure on their upper arm, apply electrodes on their chest, or put a pulse ox on their finger.
DO NOT PAINT THEIR NAILS. It makes it very difficult to get a reading with the pulse ox. In fact, keep their nails clean. Keep them well groomed in general. Sometimes EMS has to shave their chest to apply pads, or their beard to get a good fit with a bag valve mask. That is valuable time lost.
Other Notes: Other than the above, other things you can do to help aid prior to the arrival of EMS is purchasing and familiarizing yourself with equipment to take vital signs. An electronic blood pressure reader ~$30, a pulse ox ~$20, etc. Write down the blood pressure, pulse rate, and oxygen saturation with a date and time. Perhaps write it on your pamphlet that you give to the paramedic on scene.
Take a CPR class. In the event of a pulseless patient, immediate high-quality compressions are going to be their only chance of survival. After 4 minutes with no pulse, they are as good as dead.
Last thing, if your loved one DOES have a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, have the paperwork available, right then and there. For your loved one who wishes to go peacefully, if EMS don’t see their DNR paperwork in front, by law, they are going to go to work on them, doing CPR and busting their sternum and ribs, thus denying them of their peaceful passing.