Preparing for Illness in the COVID-19 World
My symptoms for the suspected COVID-19 illness began three weeks ago with a fever, fatigue, nausea, and a loss of my sense of smell and taste. While I was one of the extremely fortunate patients who ultimately did not struggle with shortness of breath, the fear that I could become short of breath at any moment was real and the anxiety almost crippling at times. Now that I am finally feeling better, I have been thinking about ways to help those of you who are living on a daily basis with the fear of developing symptoms.
Prepare for the COVID-19 Illness
I’d like to say that I have words of wisdom that can help lessen your anxiety but other than limiting watching the news, finding a show on TV or a book that can distract you for periods of time (thank you, Succession!), and trying to take it one day at a time, I don’t have much advice. One thing you can do, however, to add a sense of control, is to be as ready as possible if you do develop serious symptoms. Here are some suggestions:
Organize Your Medical Information
One of the things we recommend to all our clients is to prepare for a medical emergency. If you must call 911 and go to the emergency room, having a written summary of your personal and medical information will be invaluable for medical personnel. Here is the form we give to our clients. You should attach copies of your insurance cards, recent blood work results, health care proxy, and other advanced directive documents.
Complete a Health Care Proxy
- If you become ill and are not able to communicate, it is essential that you designate someone who can communicate with medical personnel and make medical decisions that align with your wishes for you. This can be done with an attorney or you can use this online form.
- Keep in mind the following when choosing your proxy:
- Your proxy does not have to be a relative.
- Will the person make the decisions you would want even if his or her wishes are different?
- Are they assertive?
- Are they comfortable talking about death?
- Do they live nearby?
- Will the person be good at making decisions in changing circumstances?
- Who will speak for you?
Discuss Your End-of-Life Wishes
Make sure your health care proxy and loved ones know how you define quality of life and what your wishes would be for various medical interventions if you become seriously ill. The following are recommended to serve as guides for documenting your wishes:
- Become familiar with the definitions of terms related to end-of-life decision-making
- Check out the Quality Institute website, which contains extensive information and resources
- Download this form from the NJ Department of Health
- Complete Five Wishes
- Attend a zoom webinar called “Five Wishes Made Easy”
- Fill out the New Jersey Practitioner’s Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST)
If you have any questions about this post or any other related matters, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. For other topics related to the COVID-19 illness, visit our Coronavirus Thought Leadership Connection.
The information contained in this post may not reflect the most current developments, as the subject matter is extremely fluid and constantly changing. Please continue to monitor this site for ongoing developments. Readers are also cautioned against taking any action based on information contained herein without first seeking advice from professional legal counsel.