A Useful Tool for our COVID-19 Toolbox

Oxygen Saturation Measurement from the Samsung Health App.

So far, I still haven’t smoked during the month of April. No doubt, for me, fear of COVID-19 was a contributing motivation to quit. I’m not delusional enough to think that a few weeks of being smoke-free is going to counteract a lifetime of abusing my lungs but hey, quitting can’t hurt & every little helps, right? And if I find myself without income during these turbulent times, it will certainly help if I’m not financing a smoking addiction too. That said, I know I’ll always be a smoker. Long term abstention is the best I can hope for. Even right now, writing about it, I’d kill for a smoke with my cup of coffee! 😁

A COVID-19 article in yesterday’s New York Times (article link) really caught my attention. SpO2? A pulse oximeter? What’s that & who’s got one of them?

I do! Or at least I had … until an update took it away!

I’m a big Samsung phone fan & I also love the Samsung Health app. Doesn’t every obese smoker want to know how screwed up he is!?! Along with monitoring heart rate, steps, & my lack of exercise (😜), my Samsung Note devices have a built-in pulse oximeter. That sensor used to measure my oxygen saturation & that is what the New York Times article is talking about. Unfortunately, some time back, the function vanished. I don’t know why but a new version of the Samsung Health app overwrote the old & the ability to measure oxygen saturation was gone.

Yesterday, after reading that article, I knew I needed it back. And at the risk of giving my phone a dose of a digital virus, I downloaded an older version of the Samsung Health app from a 3rd party website & I’m now measuring my SpO2 levels on my Samsung Note again. Woohoo!

The pic above shows my current O2 level & that number looks pretty good, well into the green zone. After only 3 weeks of not smoking, my heart rate is down & my oxygen saturation is better than my old “normal”. I’m a lifelong data gatherer. I’m not all that scientific with most of it, I just like to know where things are at, typically, & as a baseline. That way I can see when things are running adrift. If Dr. Levitan is right, this simple little tool on my phone might help me to decide when to call that emergency COVID-19 number to schedule a test. I sometimes worry whether I should, or should not, call to see if I need to get tested. Normally, I try to stay away for the doctor’s office & I run the risk of doing that for too long. Now, if my SpO2 numbers go lower than I’ve historically seen them, even when smoking, I think I’ll be motivated to make the call. I will be keeping my eyes open for further insights on what constitutes a low oxygen saturation number with respect to COVID-19.

Of course, this isn’t the only symptom we need to pay attention to. But monitoring oxygen saturation levels might be one more factor behind getting some of those more stubborn individuals in your life to see their doctor in a timely manner. And it might be useful data to share with your physician. It is just one more tool in our COVID-19 Toolbox.

I don’t want anyone to ruin their phone by going back to an old version of the Samsung Health app from a 3rd party website so please be careful & do your research before you decide to take that route. As an alternative, you can also buy the little finger pulse oximeter gadgets online & at your local drugstores & healthcare outlets. They are relatively inexpensive & they may help you establish a baseline for everyone in your household. No sharing outside the home would be recommended, I’m guessing! Should those baseline numbers change, you’ll know you’re doing the right thing when you call the doctor’s office. Or when you make the call on behalf of that stubborn member of your household!

Just to finish off on a dietary note … how’s that whole weight-loss thing going anyway? Especially now that I’m not smoking since the beginning of the month?

In a word … brutal! LOL

Needless to say, not having the opportunity to stuff a cigarette into my face twenty or more times a day, I’m stuffing all sorts of other things into my mouth instead. I’m like an eating machine & the scale is giving out a loud shriek every morning when I crush it! And to make matters worse, I read a few reports on obesity being a big contributing factor to some folk not fending off the bug well.

Oh well, one thing at a time. And we’ll see what the official weight damage is on the first of May!

Stay safe, all!

PS … if any of you learn anything more about the oxygen saturation thing, as it relates to COVID-19, please let me know.

Results … Month #21

I got to recycle last month’s graphic, no change for the month. I’m relieved! Almost can’t believe it, in fact. I won’t go on about it, we’re all on lockdown, so you know that it’s a little easier to spend some of that time eating. And my food choices weren’t always the best.

Think I’ll spend today behaving foolishly & then see if I can put some kind of thought into a plan of action tomorrow. Or maybe the day after.

I’d better watch out … if I just let things drift freely for another month of this, they’ll probably just drift in all the wrong directions. And that includes my weight.

As if weight loss wasn’t challenging enough!

Hope you’re all keeping safe & that you have figured out how to thrive under whatever restricted conditions you find yourself living in at the moment.

It’s an ill wind …

A little milk-chocolate-chip banana bread with my butter!

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good!

Now I’m of an age, a size, & a level of fitness that the coronavirus going viral causes me moments of anxiety. And I’m a smoker, so that’s another strike against me. But I’m generally pretty optimistic. At the moment, I’m looking for any sliver of a silver lining in this whole coronavirus thing. Say what!?!

Yeah, I know how terrible it is. I have older friends & family too. Indeed, I may be part of someone else’s “older friends & family” group! πŸ€ͺ😁

Yes, I would really like it to just go away. But, sadly, that’s probably not going to happen. Is there anything positive to be taken from the situation?

Well, looking on the bright side, it might be an excuse to ignore my diet temporarily. In one such moment, I succumbed to the temptation of the comfort food in the pic above! However, I recovered my resolve a day later so I haven’t totally washed out the month.

Yet!

It might also be time to hunt through the sofa cushions for any spare change that might be put to work in a beaten down stock market. No!?! Yeah, you’re probably right, that might get a little worse before it gets better. But still, there is some long-term positivity potential there.

Another bright spot is that my day job requires me to travel. Sometimes at pretty short notice. But, & in rapidly increasing numbers, fewer people want me to visit them at the moment. I like visiting people but the bright side of not being able to means that I can now get some stuff done that I usually put off. There’s that minor foot procedure I’ve been putting off, for years, for example. Not having to travel means I don’t have to worry about it taking a few weeks to heal. Of course, I have to go to a medical establishment. Where there are people with potentially communicable diseases, so that’s a factor. Ferreting out those little silver linings can be challenging, eh!

It’s also a positive thing that I can go to my favourite big box store & not feel guilty about us having to go back for 2nd cart! Though I’m doing it now too, I’m not sure why we need so much toilet tissue. I know, I know, I’m such a sheep! What I’m not doing is buying antibacterial products. The coronavirus is a virus so I think good ole soap is probably the best virus killer. And I’m a little dubious about that 20 seconds being enough time for handwashing to work. Would you want your chef just doing the 20 second handwashing thing before continuing to plate your breakfast toast? No, me neither! I’ll stick to my 2 minute ritual, as an absolute minimum, thank you.

We can but pray that we, & all those we hold dear, will make it through this whole mess okay. First from the health perspective, but also from the financial point of view. I wish you all all the best for getting through it.

With my Saturday soccer matches cancelled, I’m going out shopping. Again. I’m kinda hoping I will make some diet-friendly decisions. And I’m committing to try to be patient if the lineups are long today. Might as well get a head start on practicing trying to spread some extra ripples of kindness. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Enjoy your weekend. And if you have any little points of positivity to add, please do pass them along.

Meditation & Diet?

Ponder the Puffy Clouds!

Lying on a beach, under the shade of a palm tree, cold one within reach … now that’s calm-inducing, stress-alleviating & the best kind of meditation, & medication, I can think of. Can’t do that, in Canada, during the Canadian winter, without some serious risk of frostbite!

But there must be an app for that, right?

I tried a few meditation apps & they just didn’t work for me. Worse, I actually found them stressful to listen to. First one I tried starts out counting a breath in on one, out on two, in on three & then this soothing voice tells me to carry on doing that up to twenty. On my own! Is she kidding me or what? Am I going at the right pace? Maybe she counts more quickly than I do? Will I get all my breaths in before she’s back with the next activity? What if she’s slower? Do I have to hold my breath ’til she catches up? OMG, I’m hyperventilating, this is driving me nuts!

I was a trembling wreck by the time I got to twenty. Enough of that nonsense, let’s try another one.

This time it’s a guy. Great voice. Calm, soothing, very relaxed & reassuring. We’re going to do this body thing, a routine that goes from the head to the toes. With some pretty peculiar internal organ stops along the way, I might add! But this turns out to be even more excruciating. First, he tells me to get comfortable & relax. Next he’s telling me it’s okay to move uncomfortable body parts. Pick one for cryin’ out loud! I know it’s really not okay though, & I’m just screwing up, am I not? And he’s just saying all that to make me feel better about it. Right out of the gate, he knows that I’m no Zen master & that I’ll almost certainly have to move. Maybe even all the time. That’s exactly what I did, of course. I just kept squirming. And I hated every second of that little medication exercise. Next!

Then I tried this one with an irritating little bell chime thing. I’m sure if you had a real bell, while sitting cross-legged in the Himalayas, it would work far better. You know what I mean, you’d have the right atmosphere for meditation all the way up there. With the monks & robes & whatnot. But the mind-numbing consistency of a mathematically accurate & repeatable digital ding just did my head in.

I know, I know … I’m probably doing it incorrectly. I know I should probably chill out & just try it again. But my heart rate is up, I’m sure my blood pressure is too, so I’m going to resort to something I have more practice with. Something I know works.

A slice of deep dish cheesecake. With a big blob of whipped cream.

And afterwards, when I’m cheesecake-calm, maybe I’ll try that meditation thing with the sound of the waves lapping on the beach. 😜😁

PS … Happy International Women’s Day to all the ladies out there. And to the National ladies too! πŸ€ͺ😁

Grey Day? No … it’s Blue Monday!

I doubt it’s really true that the 3rd Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year for everyone. But it sure felt like it when I went outside for my predawn coffee & saw the ridge of icebergs that the snowplough left at the end of my driveway!

Blue Monday … Grey or Great?

I was aching from the shovelling activities of the previous day & I made the mistake of “treating” myself to some starch selections for dinner last night. Followed by sugary choices for dessert! I love cramming that junk into my face but there is always a price attached to it. Indigestion, poor sleep &, for me, some sugars & starches are mind altering substances. They bring my weight up & my mood down.

Since that terrible week of eating on the road at the beginning of the year, I’ve been doing reasonably well. I wouldn’t pretend that my head has been 100% in the game, but I’ve probably been around the 80% mark. I’m not checking in with my scale, that thing is heartless, merciless, so I’m going to leave that ’til the first of the month to come.

A little later, I went for predawn coffee number two. Taking my cigarettes with me, not even a sliver of guilt attached to it, I went out to soak up some additional angst. I was trying to perk myself up with the thought of those lucky folk living in the southern hemisphere at this time of year. I bet they are enjoying the January temperatures at that end of the planet.

Imagine my elation at seeing the end of driveway clear! Good neighbours can be mind-altering too. Thank you, kind neighbour.

Bring it on Blue Monday, there are people that have my back. And I’m betting that’s true for you too.

Happy Blue Monday!