For Us: Helping the Immunocompromised Through Covid-19

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immunocompromisedBeing immunocompromised (from here on out will be abbreviated with IC) during this season of Covid-19 is a challenging time. I have been on immune suppressants for about 2 1/2 years now. It seems like I catch everything coming my way, even though I choose to get vaccinations, wash my hands often, and limit my exposure to people who have any type of infection. I just recently got through a bout of Influenza A and it took two rounds of Tamiflu to get through the worst of it. I’m still battling Uveitis (a type of inflammation in the eyes) from going off my medications during the influenza. Any time I have an infection, I have to go off my immune suppressants so that my immune system can fight off what it needs to. However, going off the medication causes another slew of issues, such as my autoimmune disorder rearing its ugly head in the form of arthritis, migraines, tummy issues, inflammation, etc. It’s a lose-lose battle, and it feels like I’m always riding this neverending merry-go-round.

While we go through this time together, there are a few things I want you to know about helping your IC family and friends and, quite frankly, those who you don’t know.

First, don’t spend in-person time with them if you have been exposed to sickness or have what you think is just “allergies.” It is too dangerous to your friend/family member. Call them on the phone instead. Or video chat. The person will appreciate your thoughtfulness and would love the conversation via phone or video. We get lonely when we can’t go out and now, most of you, understand.

Second, during Covid-19, make sure that you limit your exposure to anyone outside of your family unit. Stay 6 feet distance, don’t touch your face, and wash, wash, wash your hands. Sure, you may not get super sick from this but I will, your IC friend/family member will, and could even die from it.

Third, for goodness sake, please don’t tell your friend/family member that the media is blowing this out of proportion or that it really isn’t as bad as it seems. For us, the IC, it is terrible and it is scary. Allow your IC friend/family member to vent. Just listen to us. It is something we need to talk about.

Fourth, offer to pick something up for your friend. Go the extra mile because going into a grocery store will not work for us. We pick up germs way too fast and cannot fight them off.

For those who are IC, please seek out an IC online group who will understand exactly what you’re going through. Continue to educate those around you about how serious this is. Don’t allow anyone to talk down to you or invalidate your fears. Your fears are very real. If your anxiety feels like too much, try online therapy. There are many companies now offering this. Take care of yourself. Take walks outside, go for a bike ride, get sleep, and eat well. This can apply to every one of us, IC or not. Exercise, sleeping, and eating right are the first steps to good mental health.

We are all in this together, friends. Let’s be a community and help each other during this unreal, unsure time. This is new territory for all of us. Take care, social distance, and try to find peace. Think of others as you would yourself. Don’t put our lives on the line just because you want to go out. Make wise choices during this time because your choices could save the life of someone who is IC. It could save mine.

 

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