To everyone who suddenly feels like the world is one giant infectious monster, to those holding their breath as they pass oncoming humans on the sidewalk, to the people cancelling plane tickets, locking themselves indoors and clutching the Lysol wipes as if they were the only hope, welcome to our daily life… the tribulations of the immunocompromised.
If something positive could be gleaned from the mass hysteria plaguing our country right now, maybe it could be an understanding that the current isolation and hyper-vigilance in which we dwell, is an ongoing way of life for many.
The daily landscape of those living the medically fragile life, looks eerily similar to what the rest of the world is experiencing right now. Medical families always have hand sanitizer attached in small containers to our backpacks. Vitamin C and elderberry are a regular part of our kid’s daily diets. And when a person near us coughs, we silently panic, wondering what awful germs have just been spewed our way. And even when no one else around us is thinking about disaster, we remain vigilant with back-up supplies of life-sustaining medications and medical equipment.
Most of us never thought we’d be the person wiping down the shopping carts with disinfectant. Before having our fragile kiddos, we didn’t see ball pits as giant cesspools of disease. We envisioned our children running free and building strong immune systems through exposure. But in the world of a child who is immunocompromised, that just isn’t an option.
We have, in the backs of our minds, a continuous concern for what would happen if the power went out, preventing us from blenderizing feeds or giving breathing treatments and oxygen. We think about a shortage of drugs on the pharmacy shelves and count the days our kids are likely to survive if the infrastructure of our world fails. As much of the country is realizing right now, this state of hyper-vigilance takes a toll. There’s a fine line between living in a bubble and experiencing life and often it’s one that’s difficult to navigate.
For most people, these limitations are manageable in the short term, but I wonder if this experience will increase understanding for those who will continue to live like this, long after the current threat is gone.
Maybe people will better understand why we cancel play dates when there is a ‘little sniffle’. Or why we ask our friends, maybe too many times, if they’re totally well before we meet for coffee. Maybe now people will understand why we miss family parties and seem to be flaky on a whole other level. We just can’t take the risk.
So, when this all dies down, and the toilet paper returns to the shelves, along with the Vit C, face masks and bottled water, please remember… for many people the fight continues.
Please keep washing your hands frequently. Stay home when you’re sick and cover your mouth when you sneeze. And realize that, for a medically fragile person, a ‘little cold’ can be every bit as life-threatening as the Corona Virus can be for us all.