Our nation is in a public health crisis and some people are at a higher risk for serious complications than others, like the immunocompromised and elderly.
Very common chronic conditions that compromise the immune system are heart disease, lupus, diabetes, and lung disease. Not so common diseases that also compromise the immune system are cancer and rare diseases that involve a form of chemotherapy or steroids, which can lower immunity by destroying immune cells or affecting their ability to spot bacteria and kill it.
My immune system hasn’t functioned properly since I was diagnosed with lupus in 2013, and now, a rare disease that attacks my central nervous system. My treatment includes bi-weekly chemotherapy infusions that suppress my immune system’s ability to fight off infections.
To be someone with a chronic illness and a compromised immune system during the spread of coronavirus is alarming. We and the elderly are at the most risk of dying. Call it dramatic or what you will, but it’s not a laughing matter anymore. There are over 5,800 deaths due to coronavirus, and it’s growing on the hour. Just refresh this page of COVID-19 statistics and you’ll feel the sobering effect I did when the number of deaths rises in two minutes.
Statistics are also showing that people with pre-existing health conditions are at a higher risk of death. Most of these health issues involve patients with suppressed immune systems due to treatment or the disease in general. The elderly and people with health conditions cannot handle the virus in a way a healthy human being can.
People, political leaders, or social influencers who are telling people not to panic unless you’re in the vulnerable or elderly category, are not taking into consideration our worry or feelings as sick people.
People who think getting this disease is cool (article here) because they had a mild form of the virus, clearly aren’t thinking about those of us who it will not be so cool for.
No one’s talking about how to protect the immunocompromised, and no one is giving limits in stores to people who are hoarding all of the things that would make those of us who are at the higher risk of dying – feel safe.
I’m a part of the estimated 9 million immunocompromised people in the U.S. I think it’s safe to say, we’re trying not to panic, but we really are relying on the non-sick community’s eagerness to follow the CDC’s recommendations.
Maybe if you’re not at a higher risk of dying, try asking a sick friend if they have what they need. Be there for them, even if it means mailing something.
Healthy people have a low risk of dying and a high risk of transmitting the virus. I understand everyone’s need to want to protect themselves. Trust me. But in that need, please don’t forget that there are people who are statistically at a higher risk of dying than you are. Instead of taking ten bottles of disinfectant wipes, maybe try refraining to two, so that the chronically ill person that goes to the store can get at least one – like me.
I know this pandemic is crazy, scary, and unpredictable while schools and universities shut down and flights are turned around mid-air, but let’s not forget to be there for each other in a time when it’s tempting not to be.