Category Archives: Coronavirus COVID-19

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and Post COVID-19 Illness

A recently published article by Dr. Lawrence Afrin, the author of Never Bet Against Occum: Mast Cell Disease and the Modern Epidemics of Chronic Illness and Medical Complexity, and two other mast cell doctors, have found a consistency of symptoms of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and those of “long-haul COVID-19”. They also postulate that those patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms of hyperinflammatory cytokine storms may in fact have undiagnosed MCAS, a chronic multisystem inflammatory disease.

If you are not familiar with the illness of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, it is a beast of an illness to live with and to diagnose, mainly because the symptoms can look like so many other illnesses. (I have written a series of informational articles about MCAS here. )

For some people, the symptoms of MCAS aren’t enough to actually seek medical care. They may have an occasional stomach ache, or rash, and have never needed to become a detective to determine why they were able to eat blueberries, for example, last month and this month their stomach hurt horribly after eating them. Or the few hives that they get in the autumn season aren’t enough to bother them. Yet underlying these symptoms and others, the body’s mast cells are overreactive, while the person will declare themselves perfectly healthy. Then, when the body begins to fight off a virus such as COVID-19, the body overcompensates its response to the viral load and releases thousands of chemicals (cue the cytokine storm) that end up doing more damage to the body than the virus itself.


SARS-CoV-2-Reactive T Cells Found in Patients with Severe COVID-19

Recent statistics regarding COVID-19 suggest that only 15-20% of patients will experience a severe form of the illness. It is interesting to note that previous research on the prevalence of MCAS in the developed world is 17%, with the abundance of individuals unaware that the symptoms they are experiencing are in fact from mast cells acting abnormally.

Any virus would call forth a response by mast cells in order to heal the body. The problem with MCAS individuals who remain undiagnosed and therefore untreated, is that their mast cells are dysfunctional and react inappropriately to COVID-19 causing thousands of chemicals to be released into the body.

Fatal cases of COVID-19 are frequently caused by cardiovascular conditions, and heart damage has been one of the frequently cited long-term affects of the illness. Mast cells play a significant role in cardiovascular complications seen with COVID-19 such as pulmonary embolisms. Additionally, mast cells patients frequently cite “brain fog” as one of their symptoms, a common complaint of long-haulers with COVID-19.

Fatigue is a classic symptom of MCAS, frequently made worse by insomnia. Once again, these are common complaints of individuals who are still experiencing symptoms months after being diagnosed with COVID-19. In the research report, the doctors provide a table of symptoms by organ/system comparing MCAS with COVID-19 patients. The similarities are striking.

For individuals in the midst of the virus, doctors are finding that medications used to mitigate the symptoms of MCAS, inhibiting mast cell activation, are also helping COVID-19 patients: cromolyn; leukotriene inhibitors, dexamethasone, low-dose naltrexone, quercetin, and H1 and H2 blockers (antihistamines such as Zyrtec and Pepcid). These drugs might mitigate the severity of the illness, helping patients to not progress to the severest form of the disease.

An interesting note in the article concerned MCAS patients who had been previously diagnosed and were being treated for their mast cell activation. When these patients tested positive for a COVID-19 infection, all fared well enough that the doctors stated that “none have required mechanical ventilation, let alone died”. Their conclusion was that the patients had their mast cells at least partially controlled so that they did not suffer the most severe courses of the disease, but that they were still at increased risk for suffering from the post-COVID-19 illness.

For those of us with a diagnosis of MCAS, the volume of research that is currently occurring on COVID-19 will undoubtedly help us to have more understanding of our illness. And hopefully, a cure!

You can read the full article, Covid-19 hyperinflammation and post-Covid-19 illness may be rooted in mast cell activation syndrome in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Food Lessons Learned (So Far) in the Pandemic

I don’t know about you, but some days I definitely am suffering from Covid-19 fatigue. When we were under “Safe at Home” orders in Colorado back in March, and for the subsequent 6 weeks, each day felt like an eternity! I couldn’t keep track of what day it was because every day felt like it lasted a week, and I just kept hoping for some good news and an ability to go back to “normal.” Normal was being able to find the foods I needed to purchase without having to visit five grocery stores! Normal was being able to go out to the movies, go to the gym, and get together with my Qigong practice group in person. I’ve come to the conclusion that whatever we get back to won’t be like the previous normal but maybe we can get to a new normal. The Covid-19 pandemic has become a dividing line of a life before and after.

This is similar to how I felt when our son, Morgan, was diagnosed with life threatening peanut allergies. There was life before peanut allergies, when we could eat anywhere and eat anything. And then there was life after, when every bite had to be monitored and every label read. It was a demarcating line in our lives. Adding each new food allergy diagnosis didn’t make as much of an impact on our daily lives as that first allergy.

This kind of understanding helped our family to roll along with the pandemic a little easier in some ways, and we had a little bit of rough roads in other ways. We aren’t yet to the after the pandemic. It’s the during stage that we’re currently experiencing. And who knows how long this stage is going to last. We’ve learned some lessons that I want to share with you, and maybe you’ll have a few lessons you can also share with me!

Lesson #1: Have safe foods on hand always!

My husband, Robert, and I tried to get N95 masks in local stores and on the internet in February 2020 to no avail. Everywhere we checked was sold out. We finally found a few masks through Ebay, but this sparked my husband to suggest that I’d better get a stockpile of my safe foods, since it was clear to him that people were fearful and that makes for interesting buying choices!

With my diagnoses for Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) and Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE), I am currently eating just four foods (all organic) – chicken breast, turkey breast, broccoli, and frozen Cascadian Farms hash browns (for some reason I can tolerate these but not fresh russet potatoes). I’m so grateful that Robert suggested that I get more of my foods on hand before others began to hoard food products. I was able to purchase a month’s worth of these groceries for myself, which allowed me to continue to eat when limits on the numbers of chicken packages, for example, were placed in most grocery stores in our area. Since February, I have kept a constant supply of one month’s worth of groceries in the freezer. I rotate the foods each week as I purchase new items. I will continue to keep this stockpile of safe foods for as long as the pandemic continues, just in case there is more hoarding or limitations on purchases in the future.

Lesson #2: Befriend your grocery clerks when you have special food needs!

For the last several years, I have been purchasing the frozen hash browns at my local Natural Grocers. I became good friends with the purchasing manager and the receiving manager since I had a standing special order of 2 cases that they ordered for me weekly. By late March, their corporate headquarters was no longer allowing special orders, which was very disappointing.

Despite my explanation to the store manager, and my years of purchases, he was unable to guarantee that I’d be able to purchase 2 cases at a time and unable to even know if they would be receiving hash browns on a weekly basis anymore. However, the receiving manager was willing to put aside every and any case of hash browns that were received and hold them for me, unbeknownst to his manager. Having a good relationship with him, and explaining my medical condition, allowed him to better understand what I was managing.

At one point, I called in to the store to see if the receiving manager had any potatoes set aside, and when he said yes, I told him I was so thrilled that I’d ask him to marry me if I wasn’t already married! He said, “I’m married too, but you can still ask me!” And I did! We laughed and laughed at the absurdity of the situation, and it took months for him to regularly received these potatoes again, forcing me to scour stores from Colorado Springs to Denver to try to purchase as many frozen hash browns as the store clerks would allow me to purchase.

Lesson #3: In a pandemic, don’t expect special treatment!

Many times I would head to a grocery store register only to have a checkout clerk tell me that I wasn’t allowed to purchase so many packages of the same product. Despite having a letter from my allergist explaining the few items that I can eat, and his request to please allow me to purchase what I needed for one week, the clerks and even store managers , would say no.

One time, I received a special order for the turkey breast that I had purchased for years at a local King Soopers, again on special order. I would generally pick up 12 packages at a time every two weeks. Again, I had two meat department employees who were so good to me, and we had become friends. They knew what I was experiencing trying to get my safe food, and would continue to make special order requests for me. Yet, when I got to the front of the store to pay, the self-checkout clerk began screaming, “You can’t buy that much meat. Don’t you know there’s a pandemic going on?” Again, no amount of explanation or doctor’s letter was going to cease her yelling. So, I purchased the two small packages that she would allow me to purchase, and went home.

When I told my husband what happened, he was incensed and went back to the store. He spoke with the meat department manager who said to take the other 10 packages to the front of the store to purchase them, and tell the clerk that if they had a problem to contact him. Wouldn’t you know that he had no trouble purchasing all the meat without any issues!

Lesson #4: Be willing to break some rules!

I can’t count the number of times that I left the grocery store to go to the parking lot with my allotted amount of chicken or frozen hash browns and put them in the car, only to change my jacket and mask and head back inside the store to purchase more of the same items up to the limit allowed.

Many times I’d go to my regular stores and find no supply. I’d end up driving to numerous stores around the city just to get enough food to refill my stash for the week, if I could even find the items. I wasn’t willing to eat down all of the food I had in the freezer for fear that the distribution issues could continue long after my supply ran out. Those “safe at home” orders suggesting that we only grocery shop once a week weren’t going to work for me.

I generally am a rule follower, and I understand not purchasing massive quantities of toilet paper, for example, so that everyone can have their fair share. However, when you’re talking about being able to eat at all, there were some rules that were going to be broken in order for me to stay alive!

Lesson #5: Be willing to ask for help finding your special foods

There were a few weeks where I couldn’t find my potatoes anywhere in Colorado Springs. I asked my daughter, Michaela, who at the time lived in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver, to check around for me. She graciously searched and found a case worth, but then had to take the packages to our son, Morgan’s apartment since her freezer wasn’t large enough to accommodate this grand prize!

Michaela also has a diagnosis of MCAS and eats only organic fruits and vegetables. She was having difficulty finding foods at one time in Lakewood, so we found some safe foods in Colorado Springs and made a rendezvous midway to exchange foods.

I also had wonderful neighbors who were willing to pick up 2 packages of organic chicken for me when they went to the grocery store if they found any. People who don’t have such strict diets are free to eat a variety of items, and were so helpful in offering to make purchases to keep me fed.

At this point, I’m flush with all of my foods and haven’t had any difficulty recently being able to purchase everything that I need.

I continue to express gratitude every time I’m able to easily find the foods that I eat, and I’m especially appreciative to no longer have to be sneaky in order to keep myself fed!

Having COVID-19 With and Without Asthma

My son, Morgan, and his boyfriend, Quinn, returned from their vacation in London on Monday, March 16. If you haven’t read about that challenging return to the US, you can read about it here.

Both young men went home to self-quarantine after their return. During the trip, for a few days Quinn had been experiencing symptoms of fatigue, muscle aches, and a very low-grade fever, then he’d feel better. Since there was no way to get a COVID-19 test in England or Scotland during their trip, he just continued to enjoy the trip.

Morgan lives alone in an apartment in Westminster, a suburb of Denver, CO, while Quinn lives alone in Arvada, another suburb. Morgan felt sure that they had been exposed to the COVID-19 virus during their travels since they had been in planes, trains, automobiles and the Tube in London! They did their best to wash their hands and use the hand sanitizers available in many locations, however the nature of travel ends up with frequently being in crowds.

Morgan’s boss at the Longmont Economic Development Partnership had a baby while he was in London, and he returned to work early Tuesday morning handling not only his workload but hers also. His days were very long that first week back at work with numerous online meetings on the impact of the coronavirus on the local economy.

On Tuesday, March 24, he awoke with body aches, especially in his legs. At first he thought it could be from the yoga he did the previous day. Then, when he spoke with Quinn, he discovered that Quinn had been experiencing not only a stuffy nose but also a sensation of not being able to taste his food, which come to find out is apparently a strange symptom that many people with COVID-19 are experiencing. At that point, they were both convinced that they had the virus.

Day 2 of the virus, Wednesday, brought more of a tight chest for Morgan. He had been taking his inhaled steroid, Qvar, once per day but decided that he needed to check in with his primary care doctor to see what his next step should be and how to obtain COVID-19 testing. UC (University of Colorado) Health is a large network of hospitals and doctors in Colorado. They are providing telemedicine information and appointments for anyone with symptoms of the virus, in order to keep patients at home. Morgan called in to see where he could be tested for the virus and what he should do about the tight chest since he is diagnosed with mild asthma. He was told that there was no testing available in Denver unless he was hospitalized. As for the tight chest, the nurse with whom he spoke suggested that he increase his Qvar to twice a day. She also discussed what he should do if his breathing got more labored or he experienced wheezing, which was for him to call in for a telemedicine appointment with a doctor, who would likely prescribe Albuterol for his nebulizer. He was still working from home during all of this, trying to balance his need to rest with the workload.

As for Quinn, he didn’t have any new symptoms. He has no underlying health conditions, having outgrown asthma during puberty. He never has any issues with breathing troubles with a cold or illness. His strangest symptom was not being able to really taste his food. He was able to continue working from home all week without any fatigue or other symptoms.

Day 3 brought on a fever for Morgan who awoke with a general malaise, and a cough. When we spoke with him that evening, he sounded thoroughly exhausted. He had called back in to UC Health, in the middle of managing meetings for work, to request another telemedicine appointment for the next day, Friday. My husband and I hung up the phone quite concerned that the virus was really affecting him, and still clinging to the hope that he’d be able to stay in the “moderate” area of the illness. I posted on Facebook about both Morgan and Quinn having the illness and was pleasantly overwhelmed by the loving response of so many friends and family members concerned and sending prayers.

Day 4, March 27, was a lovely surprise to find Morgan feeling better. (My husband and I have a routine going where we talk with him every morning and evening!) He had decided to take the entire day off from work to rest, which in Mama Bear’s mind was a very good decision! He refrained from taking Tylenol the previous night, which he says upsets his stomach, and allowed his fever to spike through the night. He was up at 3 am taking a shower from sweating so much. But all that sweating helped him to feel much better on Friday morning. His cough was more productive sounding, and his energy was certainly better. I’m convinced all the positive energy coming from everyone also helped! His conversation with the doctor later in the day via telemedicine did not yield a prescription for Albuterol for the nebulizer. Instead, she suggested using a spacer and upping the Albuterol to 2 puffs, every 4 hours as a first step. It appears that doctors are trying to take small steps in fighting this illness to still have more available actions to tackle a worsening condition. We breathed a sigh of relief that his body was fighting off the virus, and by the evening he was feeling about the same, which we took as a good sign.

Day 5 is today, and his condition appears to have stabilized. He continues to say that he feels about the same. He is planning on resting all day today and tomorrow since it’s the weekend. Morgan hasn’t had to use the Albuterol inhaler at maximum dose because he has gotten relief from using it just a few times daily. The chest tightness has dissipated, and his cough didn’t even keep him up at night. He still has a slight fever that comes and goes. By the evening, however his cough was to the point where Morgan was having trouble talking without being interrupted with a coughing fit. We could hear him wheezing, which was really scary. He had been sitting in the bathroom of his apartment creating a steam bath for himself with hot water from the shower. He was also taking the Albuterol more frequently that day. We got off the phone that evening really concerned. In the middle of the night, I found myself awake wondering how EMTs would be able to get into Morgan’s apartment building since it is locked with no door person in attendance. I was in a very fearful place emotionally, and barely slept all night.

When we spoke to Morgan the next morning, Day 6, we decided to do so on FaceTime so we could see what he looked like. The telephone doesn’t provide as much information, we discovered, as being able to look into his eyes and to see how he was feeling. And thankfully he seemed to have turned a corner for the better. It was frightening how quickly the illness could turn from being stable to being really sick. And from what I read online, people who end up hospitalized for the illness, have on average been at Day 7. With that in mind, we continued to call him every morning and evening on FaceTime to check in over the next several days.

Morgan had several friends offer to get him food, however he only felt comfortable asking his sister, Michaela, to do so because she understands how to read a label for his food allergies (which are peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish and shellfish). She was able to get him groceries, dropped them off at the front door of the building while he gloved and masked up and picked them up.

Each day has brought him a little bit more energy, as he started back to work for a few hours building up to working all day by Thursday, April 2, Day 10. As of today, Day 11, he still has a cough, but the fatigue is finally gone. He’s also staying inside his apartment until he is completely free of all symptoms. One of the doctors he spoke to said that he should be free of symptoms for 72 hours before going out in public, and that he should be isolated for 14 days after the symptoms start. At this point, he still has several days to go to reach that milestone.

This weekend, we plan on having a virtual family dinner since we can’t get together in person! My husband’s birthday occurred while Morgan was in London, so we’d like to celebrate that. And we are certainly celebrating Morgan and Quinn both recovering from this illness!

As of now, I would say that Morgan experienced the “moderate” symptoms of the illness, while Quinn has enjoyed a “mild” illness. From what I’ve read, the mild or moderate illness will likely last 2-3 weeks, which doesn’t sound mild to me! And honestly, without either of them having access to a COVID-19 test, we are just assuming that they have that virus and not another influenza or cold-type virus. This is a very small sample size, but there does appear to be a difference in Morgan’s symptoms of chest tightness and coughing than what Quinn has experienced. Maybe that’s the difference in having asthma, since Morgan is prone to having asthma exacerbations with any type of upper respiratory illness.

I am so appreciative for all your wonderful energy in the form of thoughts and prayers for Morgan and Quinn! Stay home and stay healthy!!

Traveling with Food Allergies When Coronavirus is In the News

If you read this blog frequently, you know that my son has had a planned trip to London since last year. I wrote about this in my last blog post here.

After many discussions, research and the existing environment on March 7th, Morgan and Quinn decided to go ahead with their trip carrying hand wipes and masks along with two backpacks of clothes and traveling “stuff”, and flew to London on Icelandair.

Morgan has flown on this airline several times overseas, and very much appreciates that they do not serve peanuts. This time, he and Quinn had no seatmates because of so many people altering their travel plans. They flew through Reykjavik and got on another flight into London without any problems, and started sight seeing immediately.

Quinn and Morgan In front of Westminster Abbey

They continued sightseeing around London and enjoyed each day, visiting a Botanical garden, a cheese factory and walking the city. Then, on Wednesday evening in the USA, President Trump instituted a travel ban from European countries to be effective 48 hours later, on Friday, March 13 at midnight.

My husband and I almost fell off the couch when we read this notification! We knew that Morgan’s flight home from London went back through Reykjavik, and wondered what that was going to mean for him. We quickly messaged Morgan, knowing that he was likely asleep, and asked for a quick chat in about 6 hours when he would be awake Thursday morning. We got up at 3am to discuss options with him.

By then, it had been announced that US citizens weren’t included in the travel ban, which helped our anxiety calm down a little. Both Quinn and Morgan had been receiving multiple text messages from friends and other family members warning them about this travel ban. Quinn had been trying to get through to Icelandair since they had awakened, however all the phone lines were busy. At this point in England, there weren’t any travel bans; nothing had been closed; and there were less than 500 cases of the virus in the UK as a whole. So, Morgan and Quinn couldn’t quite understand why we were so nervous.

Meanwhile in the US, grocery stores were experiencing people purchasing food and toilet paper as if Armageddon was forthcoming. K-12 schools and school districts and colleges were shutting down, and/or going to online classes. Workforces were being told to telecommute. Every hour there was some new information to digest and to adjust to. We tried to explain all of this to them, and that we’ve never been at this place before with a pandemic affecting not just the US but the world. Given that they are grown men, and paid for the trip themselves, we didn’t feel it was appropriate to pull a “parent directive” to get home now! We believe in supporting our now grown children, and loving them through their choices and decisions. We agreed to talk later in the day before they went to bed Thursday evening.

About 12 hours went by and we spoke again. They still hadn’t been able to reach Icelandair. We began to talk about what other airlines could get them home to Denver if they never were able to reach the airline. What was a safe airline for peanut allergies? Who flies the route directly from London to Denver? We knew we didn’t want them going through a European country if they were traveling after Saturday at midnight ET because of the port of entry issues. Denver’s International Airport was not one of the airports receiving passengers from Europe, and ending up in another US city where they would need to find another flight home to Denver was just too much to contemplate with additional fees, food allergies to manage and potential overnight accommodations needed. They had looked into other airlines’ flight schedules, but many of the seats had been booked at exorbitant prices, and they really wanted to reach Icelandair before paying for another flight. We agreed that they would go to Heathrow airport Friday morning to see if they could get information directly from the Icelandair ticketing agents.

On our Friday morning, which was already after lunch London time, we texted with them. Morgan said the ticket agents were of no help. They had been given no information to pass on to customers, and had no idea if their original return flight going through Reykjavik would be able to land in Denver on Tuesday, March 17. Then as we were texting, Quinn was finally able to get through on the phone to Icelandair. Their flight had not been cancelled even though most other flights flying on March 14-16 had been. This sounded suspicious to my husband and me. How would they have a flight of all Americans and be able to fly directly to Denver? We were ready for them to give up on Icelandair, book a flight with another airline, and get out of London that day! We decided to continue to ask more questions. What happens if the UK is included in the travel ban in the near future? Do you have a backup plan? What happens if you end up in New York or Chicago? We knew that was going to cost money for them to then find a way home to Denver, and to find a safe, food allergy accommodating airline to do so. In the end, they decided to leave Heathrow and keep their reservation on Icelandair to fly home on March 17.

We were really concerned at this point, especially when they said that they were going to continue their trip schedule and travel to Scotland via train, a 4 hour ride, on Saturday morning, March 14 and spend the weekend there. They planned on returning to London on Monday to spend one night in the city before boarding the plane to come home. My husband and I were taking this one day at a time, and that day sure felt like about 48 hours in length. There was so much going on in the news, and our reality was so different from our son’s and Quinn’s.

Then, on Saturday, March 14, President Trump extended the travel ban to the UK and Ireland. My husband has a way of seeing some things that are coming, and he had a feeling this was going to occur. We just didn’t expect it so soon. The travel ban would go into effect on Monday, March 16 at midnight.

We texted with Morgan, who had already seen this information on the BBC. He said, “We will be continuing as planned but know potential changes are in store. Icelandair is posting a full flight list at least a day in advance so we will know, and they will keep us updated. More excitement to come! But we are having a blast in Scotland.” My husband and I are really worried. Their Tuesday flight is after the UK ban goes into effect, and we know they will be landing in a city other than Denver. And likely their flight is going to be cancelled altogether, because you can’t just change the destination city on a whim when flying an airplane.

There have been numerous times in our children’s lives when we have had to let go, and let them “do their life” even when we don’t agree with their decisions. This was one of those times. We were really concerned how Morgan was going to manage his food allergies, how the coronavirus screening was going to be managed, what airport he was going to be sent to, and what the cost was going to be for him to get himself home to Denver.

And then we awoke Sunday morning, March 15, to this message:

My husband and I were jumping up and down in tears, we were so happy! After seeing this message, we saw the pictures online of the enormous lines at the various US airports who were receiving the European flights after the European travel ban had gone into effect. Hundreds of people all crowded together in these long, snaking lines to have their temperature checked. We knew it would be a hassle to be sent to one of these 13 airports upon arrival in the US, but we had no idea it would also put all of these passengers at risk for the virus with a complete lack of social distancing. We were so glad that Morgan and Quinn wouldn’t be subject to that.

The British Airways flight was full when it took off from London 45 minutes late. Mama bear checked the online status to know when to expect his arrival in Denver. We were not going to meet him at the airport since we live 90 minutes away, and with the social distancing requirements that had been decreed in Colorado, we decided to follow the rules and await his text message.

As you can see, my husband and I were more than a little excited to have him back in Denver! In Colorado on Monday, March 16th, all restaurants were closed except for takeout and delivery. Most employers had gone to telecommuting workforces, and the Governor has asked for no meetings of people in excess of 10 persons in addition to shutting down all gyms and movie theaters. Morgan is working from home, and will be self-quarantining for the next week or two since he has been traveling abroad, but currently has no symptoms of the virus.

It was quite an experience to watch our world change so drastically within a week, and to have our son across the world in the middle of a pandemic. I’m very grateful to have him back in Denver!

I’m sure that Morgan will be providing a blog post about his travels and all that he has learned from this BIG adventure. Stay tuned for that in the near future!

Here’s the Conversation I just had with my son about Coronavirus

The news of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) has begun to get my attention these past few days.

In general, I am not overly worried about the virus and its impact on my son with his well-managed asthma; however, he has been planning to go to London on vacation in less than two weeks. It’s a wonderful opportunity for him to share the city that he loves with his boyfriend, Quinn.

My son, Morgan, is now 24 years old, has mild asthma and multiple food allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish and shellfish. With the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official today stating that “It’s not so much a question of if this (coronavirus) will happen any more, but rather more a question of when this will happen and how many people in this country will become infected and how many of those will develop severe or more complicated disease,” I realized that it’s time to have a conversation with Morgan.

Morgan and Quinn have plans to go to Britain for 10 days in March, and everything is planned, paid for and reserved. Waiting for the day to leave was the only thing left do do until this Coronavirus outbreak occurred. Now there are a few more things to prepare for just in case there is an outbreak of the virus in Britain while he is in the country.

Since Morgan is a young man now, Mama Bear here can no longer dictate his life…and truthfully, I never really had that power even when he was young! I thought it would be beneficial for the two of us to have a conversation about the virus, and so I asked him “What have you thought about the Coronavirus and your plans for going to London?”

I must say that I was impressed that he said that he and Quinn have been having conversations about how to stay healthy with hand washing, bringing wipes, and probably wearing a mask especially in the Tube in London where they will be near so many people. Morgan said, “I am nervous to travel. I don’t want to be stupid.” The two are closely monitoring any travel bans, and keeping up with the WHO recommendations and with the BBC for news on the virus in Britain. He recognizes that just like with influenza, his asthma is a health condition that can be exacerbated with the virus and is a cause for concern.

But, it’s now his decision as to whether or not he wants to reschedule his vacation. There are no travel warnings as of this writing for Americans going to Britain, and both of our countries have individuals who have been diagnosed with the virus. Thankfully both countries also have very good medical systems, which from what I have read, has helped those patients who do have a more severe form of the virus requiring hospitalization. And good medical care also keeps the virus from spreading to other individuals.

I have two N95 respirator masks to give to him for their trip. Two days ago, I tried to purchase more of these types of masks, which are rated the best for keeping out small particles including virus germs, and there aren’t any available in my local stores. Every Home Depot, Ace Hardware and Lowe’s is sold out already! I managed to find the masks online only through an individual seller on Ebay and purchased several more for the entire family at a reasonable price. Sadly, many sellers on Amazon.com have increased their prices to double or triple the regular price of a mask, if you can find any in stock.

Morgan has been taking Qvar daily, and has a prescription also to Albuterol. I suggested that he contact his allergist to find out if the doctor has any other suggestions for him especially if he ends up getting the virus here or abroad.

Another item we talked about was what he should do if he were to be quarantined in Britain. These quarantines have begun to hit various cities in numerous countries when an individual gets sick with the virus. People have been quarantined in China, but also in various other countries, and have lasted anywhere from 14 days to a month. With food allergies, not having access to safe foods is a serious issue, and one that requires some forethought as to how that situation would be negotiated in a hotel, for example. Morgan is putting together an action plan on how to manage such a plight. He and Quinn will be staying in an Airbnb for part of their stay and in a hotel for the remainder. It would be a real mess if they spent their vacation locked in a hotel room!

Morgan is going to check into the National Health Service (NHS) to see how an American can access these services should he need to. From his recollection with studying abroad at the University of Lancaster in Britain three years ago, it was fairly easy and inexpensive, unlike the US healthcare system!

There are a few pieces of good news in all of this. First, thankfully the mortality rate is fairly low for this virus versus previous coronaviruses like SARS or MERS. No one enjoys getting sick, but most people are surviving this virus. And secondly, Morgan has another 10 days to gather more information and to watch the spread of the virus to determine whether he will be heading to London or rescheduling his trip!