March 20, 2020 — Pandemics such as the new coronavirus outbreak can breed anxiety and fear, as shown by hoarding shoppers with overflowing carts and long lines of tense people outside gun and ammo shops. But they can also fuel kindness, with neighbors helping neighbors and complete strangers lending a hand to those in need.
When Jeff Kaplan, 58, began working from home in mid-March instead of going to the office for his software sales job, he decided he needed to “repurpose” his commute time to help others. “We have a pretty tight neighborhood page on Facebook,” says Kaplan, who lives in Indianapolis. He posted about the possibility of helping around the neighborhood to cope with the need for groceries and other supplies. The response from others was instant — Ping! Ping! “I want to help.”
On his Facebook page, Help in the Hood, Kaplan directs those interested to the community he built with an online tool. Within a day after he posed the idea, 30 people had signed up. Other neighborhoods wanted in. As of March 19, more than 100 members in more than 20 different neighborhoods are involved.
Members report things like, “I’m at Costco, there’s no chicken,” so other members can stay informed. Kaplan got a request from one neighbor whose husband was traveling, and she had one sick child and another with special needs. He ran to the market to get her groceries. One member is “the store reporter,” telling others that the milk has come in at Kroger, for instance. The group uses Venmo and PayPal to pay for purchases — with no problems, Kaplan says.
Jaquelin Spong, 60, a physicist who lives near Woodstock, VA, in the Shenandoah Valley, was concerned about her neighbors and the potential for the epidemic to grow if people didn’t stay home more. “We are pretty isolated [here] and we don’t have any cases [of COVID-19]. People go to Walmart and say ‘What is the problem?’ “
As a physicist, she understands and tries to explain to people that the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, is exponential. “If we don’t do something really soon [to slow the spread], we are going to be in a world of hurt.”
With others, she co-founded a Facebook group for community help. “It is not religious, not political, we are simply trying to solve the near-term problems.” So far, 22 members are on board.
“In the morning, someone says, ‘I’m going to Walmart,’ and people who need supplies can post. The group is relying on Venmo for payments; for meetings, they use Zoom so they can keep their social distance.
Melissa Marten, 69, of Los Osos, CA, is a Pilates devotee and was dismayed when her teacher, Peggy Jern, had to stop classes when the studio she teaches at closed. With another student, she came up with a plan to relieve at least some stress. “We usually pay at the first of the month, but we went ahead and paid for April,” Marten says. “We wanted her to know we appreciate her, we love her. She was overwhelmed.”
Jern, 61, had already offered students private lessons at home to make up for the last 2 weeks of missed March classes. Some took her up on it. Getting paid ahead for April, she says, “was a total surprise. It was great.”
Canadians have responded to community need by setting up Facebook groups and dubbing it as “caremongering” — the opposite of fearmongering. Sue Wilkins, 67, of Dunnville, a town of about 6,000 people 2 hours south of Toronto, is one of the people behind a group called CareMongering Haldimand Ontario Response to COVID19, now with 398 members.
“I have some disabilities, I’m immunosuppressed,” says Wilkins, a retired registered nurse. “I’m working behind the scenes, mostly.” She’s called the pharmacists in town to see if they are delivering free of charge or offering curbside pickup, and she posted those details, plus useful information about medications. Members can post requests of all kinds for help; other posts supply ongoing information about the outbreak.
Explaining the Outreach
“In a pandemic, we have more of an opportunity and more of a need to reach out,” says Danna Markson, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist in group private practice in Livingston, NJ. “I think the sharing and the generosity comes from an abundance mindset. More than likely, the person thinks, ‘There is enough of everything to go around, and the universe will reward me down the road.’ ” The abundance mindset, she says, is the opposite of what she calls the scarcity mindset, held by people not likely to be generous.
During this pandemic, with social isolation encouraged, and sometimes ordered, to slow the spread of the virus, reaching out is also a way to make connections. “Reaching out and helping people give you a sense of social connection, which is a basic human need,” Markson says.
A few days earlier, she says, “I was coming out of the supermarket and witnessed people sharing toilet paper out of the trunks of their cars. I thought that was really cool.” No money exchanged hands that she saw.
Fighting for a common cause — a stop to the crisis — “obviously brings people together,” says Talya Steinberg, PsyD, a psychologist in private practice in Santa Fe, NM, and an adjunct professor of counseling at Southwestern College there. Because the pandemic is global, she says, “we actually are all facing the same catastrophe. This is unprecedented. If we are all in the same boat, we want to help each other.”
Let’s Talk Menopause with Lorraine Keane
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I have after all suffered with my hormones my whole life. Most recently irritability, tiredness, disturbed sleep, decreased sex drive – but I thought that was normal. Aren’t we all busy, therefore tired? It’s my ‘To Do’ list for tomorrow that keeps me awake and then of course the ‘lack of sleep’ will make you irritable and naturally less inclined to feel ‘romantic’.
Well now I know that it’s not ok to just put up with these symptoms, not when there is something out there that will help. Since I started taking Cleanmarine MenoMin I am sleeping better and therefore I am less irritable and tired and just feeling better in myself and about myself. It’s natural so you don’t have to worry about taking it long term. I just wish I had discovered Cleanmarine MenoMin earlier. For our health and wellbeing we should consider taking it from as early as 35. I am so glad I’ll be ahead of the possy.
Menopause is inevitable but I know by balancing my hormones at this stage of my life, Cleanmarine MenoMin will only make the transition easier AND it has all the vitamins and Omega 3 oils I need to maintain a healthy body at the same time. It’s a win-win!”
– Lorraine Keane
About Cleanmarine MenoMin
The key active nutrients found in MenoMin have been carefully selected for their unique applications in hormone balance, skin health and energy production since these are the area in which most menopausal women need support.
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– B-vitamins are essential for energy production, metabolism and even help balance brain chemicals responsible for our mood. MenoMin contains B6 for hormone balance, B2 for energy production and skin health, B3 for health mucus membranes, B12 for the nervous system and folic acid for heart health.
– Vitamin D is an essential nutrient used by the body to regulate calcium absorption and bone maintenance. Regardless of whether you experience menopausal symptoms or not all menopausal women are at increased risk of osteoporosis making vitamin D a priority nutrients.
Crohn’s was ruining my life… but manuka honey has saved me
FOR years Rebecca Jenkins could not take a sip of water without running to the
Food also ran straight through her — and she had to dash to the ladies’ up to
ten times a day.
Humiliatingly, sometimes she could not reach a bathroom in time, and the fear
of horrible accidents made social situations a nightmare to be avoided.
This was the grim reality of her life with Crohn’s disease and no
treatments worked — until she found manuka honey.
Rebecca, now 34, began taking two daily teaspoons of the posh spread made by
bees fed on highly anti-bacterial nectar from the manuka plant. And within a
month, it appeared to have cured her.
Now she is looking forward to her wedding next week — wearing the white dress
she once would have been far too scared to even contemplate.
Rebecca — who weighed just 6½st and wore a tiny dress size four when she tried
the honey out of desperation — is still symptom-free 18 months later.
She said: “I was sick of feeling terrible. I lost so much weight I couldn’t
keep anything down. I’d regularly soil myself and have to carry extra
clothes in case I had an accident when I was out.
“I read that a footballer who had a similar condition to mine had used manuka
honey to ease his symptoms. But I didn’t have much hope.”
But within a week, the symptoms that had crippled her life had subsided.
She said: “I’d gone from spending my days sat on the loo and resting in bed to
having energy for the first time in years.
“My skin had cleared up, my periods returned and I felt normal again.”
Rebecca is one of 90,000 people in the UK with Crohn’s disease — a
debilitating inflammatory condition.
According to Crohn’s And Colitis UK, the number of people being diagnosed or
hospitalised by the condition has soared in the past decade by as much as
300 per cent.
Freelance television executive Rebecca, from Long Stratton in Norfolk, first
showed symptoms in 2009.
She recalled: “I started getting intense stomach cramps and diarrhoea.
“I thought it was stress-related but when it didn’t go away, I knew there must
have been another reason.
“A week after symptoms started, I went to my doctor. He didn’t seem concerned
but things got worse.”
When Rebecca was referred to a specialist at the Norfolk and Norwich
University Hospital, she was spending so much time on the toilet she had to
turn down work.
She said: “My job is really physical and I spend a lot of time on my feet so
it was impossible to do it properly when I needed so much time in the
“I ended up losing thousands and thousands of pounds in wages.”
Stool samples did not show anything wrong with Rebecca but a further six
months of tests eventually showed that inflammatory markers in her blood
were sky-high, indicating Crohn’s.
She said: “Some of the tests were agony. Having tubes put down your throat and
up your bum wasn’t a nice experience at all.
“I had so much blood taken out of me I was surprised I had any left.But I was
desperate to know what was wrong with me.”
But the news she had Crohn’s disease came as a terrible shock. She said: “At
just 30 years old, it was devastating to be told I had this life-changing,
“While I had faith in my doctors, I also knew there was little they could do
other than help me manage the symptoms.”
But Rebecca soon realised how things could be far worse.
She said: “I was lucky that I didn’t need any surgery to have my bowel removed
and get fitted with a colostomy bag like lots of other Crohn’s sufferers —
although I was warned this could happen in the future.”
Between courses of steroids, Rebecca was given various autoimmune medications
in a bid to stop her immune system attacking itself — but they had
She said: “Some made me feel like I was dying. Some gave me migraines, others
stomach ache, and I was once whisked to A&E because I got such bad joint
pain I couldn’t move.
“At my worst my mum would have to shower me after I’d soiled myself because
I was so weak.
“I always had to keep a spare pair of knickers on me. I couldn’t eat or drink
water without problems, or go out.
“I was desperate to find something to help me — and that’s when I read about
At her worst, Rebecca was spending a week in hospital every month. The rest of
the time she was in bed or on the loo.
But taking two teaspoons of manuka honey — bought from online supplier the
Honey Doctor — before breakfast each day helped straight away. She said: “My
bowel movements were far less regular, the pain was easing and I felt I
could cope for the first time in years.
“Whereas before I would always have to dash to the loo mid-meal, now I wasn’t
even having to go after a meal.” Her hospital consultant was also amazed.
She said: “He was over the moon for me, and told me to carry on doing
whatever was helping.
“Tests confirmed my suspicions — my digestive system was back to normal.
“Although I have the occasional flare-up, if I take an extra dose of manuka
honey in the evening the symptoms quickly subside.”
She said: “Now I can drive long distances without panicking, I can socialise
with friends, I’m not in pain and even have the occasional alcoholic drink.
IBS trial to test amitriptyline as potential common treatment
A medical trial is being held to see if a drug developed as an anti-depressant could become a common treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).
Amitriptyline has sometimes been prescribed to people with IBS when other treatments have been ineffective.
But experts said they needed to know more about why the drug helps before it can become more widely used.
A group of 500 volunteers is now being recruited from GP surgeries around Bristol, Leeds and Southampton.
According to charity the IBS Network, the condition affects about 12 million people in the UK.
There is no cure and patients can experience abdominal pain, bloating and constipation, among other symptoms.
Experts at the University of Bristol are leading the medical trial, which is called Atlantis.
The 500 test patients will be given either amitriptyline or a placebo tablet for six months and their symptoms and mood checked regularly.
Dr Matthew Ridd, a GP and a senior researcher at the University of Bristol, is co-ordinating the research.
He said: “I have prescribed it [amitriptyline] occasionally in my practice but there continues to be uncertainty about it as a treatment. There just isn’t the research to be sure.
“Our exact understanding of the biological mechanism of how it works is imperfect.
“We need this research to know if it can be another tool in our toolbox as a first line of treatment.”
Dr Rudd said the Atlantis trial, which also involves the University of Leeds and the University of Southampton, would be the biggest of its type.
The volunteers will be recruited through a network of 75 GP surgeries in Bristol, Leeds and Southampton and will need to be signed off by their doctor before taking part.
IBS ‘felt like being stabbed’
Jeff Finnie began suffering from IBS after losing weight when he took up running.
The 52-year-old from Swindon said his problems started when he dropped from 14 to 11 stone (89kg to 70kg).
He said: “It was around that time that I started getting really bad eczema on my elbows and scalp and also bad stomach cramps and bloating on a regular basis.
“The cramps felt as if someone had a knife sticking in me and they were turning the blade, it was really bad.”
Mr Finnie said his doctor was baffled and eventually he was sent for a colonoscopy.
To his relief, any form of cancer was ruled out and he was told he had IBS. But, he said, he was told he needed to learn to live with the condition.
He eventually managed to ease the symptoms by changing his diet, cutting out dairy products in particular.
Mr Finnie now runs marathons and uses his sponsorship money to raise awareness of IBS.
“People need to speak up more about the condition we face day in day out,” he said.
“It’s never going to go away and you are going to have to deal with it yourself and get to grips with your body and work out your triggers and relief.”
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