Monica’s Tips for Staying Healthy

One thing I’ve always been proud of is that I rarely got sick. I mean “normie” sick like the flu, colds, and other gross illnesses. I mean, sure, I ended up getting the disease to end all diseases, but I consider myself ill and not sick, per se.

I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the flu, even before I got the flu shot regularly. I even rarely got colds. I did get bronchitis once and an eye infection, but that last one wasn’t my fault. When I was in 2nd grade, a “friend” called "Think fast," but had already thrown one of those small plastic cubes at me. When I turned the cube scratched my cornea! Ouch.

4 healthy habits to practice with RA

I thank my mother for helping me stay healthy as she instilled in me some great, clean habits. And they have worked well for me after my diagnosis and my new immune-compromised self.

Please note, these are not sure-fire ways to stay healthy and ward of sickness. But they do help me stay safe, especially when people are very germy around me.

Don’t wear my outdoor shoes inside

Mom always told me to take my shoes off the second I got through the door and change into house slippers. I grew up in a Hispanic-Asian home, so this was normal. I still remember the shock I felt when I saw my college roommate wear her shoes on her bed! I didn’t even wear shoes inside the house, let alone on the furniture!

The idea is that we have NO idea what is on the bottom of the shoes (though, we can guess). We don’t want to drag all that nastiness through the house!

Change my outdoor clothes when I get home

My mother always took this a step further and instructed me to change out of my outdoor clothes when I got home. Similar to the shoes, we don’t know what has gotten onto our clothes throughout the day. Do I know who sat on that chair before me? What was on that table I leaned my shirt against? What if someone coughed or sneezed around me? Best be safe than sorry and change into different clothes once I am back in my little pod.

Feel that cold coming on? Do something NOW

The second I felt a tickle in the back of my throat, Mom flew into action. She made me gargle with warm salt water and made me warm water with stewed ginger. Now, I regularly take Vitamin C in small amounts. If I feel something coming, I add ginger to my water and eat an extra orange or two. I was usually able to kick whatever bug before it had time to roost.

Wash my hands

This one seems pretty straightforward, but it would surprise you how little everyone washes their hands. Mom made me wash my hands before I ate outside; she made me wash my hands after. I washed my hands immediately after getting home and changing into house clothes. And, many more times after that. Now I wash my hands after I take the dogs out, before I give them pills, or prepare their food.

I always wash my hands if I’ve been working around the house or moving things and I ALWAYS, ALWAYS wash my hands after I handle money, newspapers, or mail. The assumption: someone who didn’t wash their hands handled all those things. Think about that for a second. I’ll wait.

In India, people usually wear sandals outside so when I am there, not only do I wash my hands but we practice washing our feet, as well, when we return home. Pollution is pretty bad, but trust me when I say: you don't want to know what else ends up on your skin...

Continuing to practice these habits

Now I know these all sound like habits I adopted after the pandemic, but I have honestly been doing this all my life. Yes, it takes a little extra time, but I’ve been doing these so long that they are second nature. I don’t even think about it!

It’s very important for me to stay healthy. It was very important for my mom to stay healthy (she had Lupus) and you know what, I think these little practices helped. I can say that generally speaking, I’ve stayed pretty healthy (minus that pesky rheumatoid arthritis!).

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