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Coronavirus and My Chronic Illness

I remember when I first heard of the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Everyone seemed to not be making a big deal about it and most just laughed it off. In the back of my head, I was trying not to worry about it myself. In my personal life, I already have enough things to worry about and things I struggle with. I do not have the energy to be stressed over something called the Coronavirus. But of course, being who I am, a 32-year-old female with a chronic illness called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, in the back of my head I was constantly wondering if maybe I should be at least a little worried. 

SMA is a genetic mutation in my SMN 1 gene, because of this I have a compromised immune system and body, which actually puts me at a higher risk for this new strain of virus so sadistically going around. I also thought about how my boyfriend has type 1 diabetes and how my mom has lived with hypertension since the age of 20. We are all at a higher risk of becoming infected.

As news about COVID-19 starts becoming more frequent and more frightening because of how quickly this thing is spreading, I started to sense panic in the air. I could tell my mom was starting to freak out, and I am doing my best to keep her calm, but in reality, I did not know enough about what was actually going on. So, I decided to start doing some research about the virus online. I wanted to see what was really going on. I came across a podcast on YouTube, Joe Rogan Experience #1439 – Michael Osterholm. In this podcast, Rogan interviewed Michael Osterholm, who is an expert in infectious disease epidemiology, which is the branch of medicine dealing with the incidence, distribution, and possible control of diseases and other factors relating to health. Watching this and listening to what this man had to say was honestly bone-chilling. It was a true eye-opener of what this pandemic could really mean for everyone, especially those of us living with a chronic disease.                                         

I wonder what will happen if this thing doesn’t go away soon and if I got infected with COVID-19. Even with my compromised immune system, I have always been a healthy individual, but I have no idea if I could come out of this alive. Who would take care of me? I am assuming I would need to be taken and isolated in a hospital. How scary? Would the nurses and doctors even be prepared to take care of a patient like me who needs around the clock assistance? I am also on a treatment for my condition and I get this medication every four months. My next dose is in May. Will I be able to get my medicine that helps me stay in motion? I have so many questions and concerns, but all I can really do at this time is stay inside and keep myself well informed about what is going on with the virus. When I learned the information the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was generating, I changed my view on this situation. For my personal health and my loved ones, I went on the CDC website because I wanted to know what we were really up against and what I could do to prepare myself for what could be coming. 

Here are some of the things I learned. According to the CDC, those at a higher risk of getting this Coronavirus are older adults, anyone with a serious chronic medical issue like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease. Now I know that my mom, my boyfriend and I are at the top of the list when it comes to those at a high risk of getting sick. I am trying to stay as calm as possible. I know that panicking in these types of situations never helps. My family and I are staying indoors as much as possible. Staying inside is starting to drive me a bit crazy, I am definitely an extrovert and I love being out in public with people. But since that is a big no no right now, I’m focusing on the positive and am getting to spend a lot more time doing the things I appreciate about being at home. I am spending more time watching movies with my mom and my boyfriend. I have more time to cuddle with my fur babies. I even got back into journaling again.

This time we are living in can seem scary, but we have to continue to keep going on with life and handle each one of our situations accordingly. If you think you might be at a higher risk of getting sick from COVID-19, the CDC states:

  •  Stock up on supplies
  • Take everyday precautions to keep space between yourself and others.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds as much as possible.
  • Avoid cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • During a COVID-19 outbreak in your community, stay home as much as possible to further reduce your risk of being exposed.

For more information and more about the Coronavirus or suggestions on “how to get ready for COVID-19” now or “What to do if you get sick” visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications.html.

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