Keeping it ill

It’s everywhere you turn: coronavirus this and coronavirus that. One minute, you read an article about a grieving daughter who suddenly lost her mom to the virus; a few minutes later, you see someone suggesting it’s a hoax and that the fear is manufactured. Another person is upset about an event or trip cancellation because it sucks when life doesn’t go according to plan. Then there’s the person whose decreasing 401(k) is causing more affliction than illness ever could. And lest we forget the person who has enough hand sanitizer to fill a kiddie pool.

The inundation of information is overwhelming, yes, and some media outlets are churning out stories for the heck of it. “The flu kills people every year, and we’re not freaking out about that.” Actually, some of us have been. When flu season peaks, I am constantly mindful of the fact that the flu does not mix well with cystic fibrosis. Also, I get the flu vaccine the moment it comes out – like I’m 15 years old waiting in line to buy NSYNC tickets – because it is the preventative measure I can take to best protect myself. And, in the rare event that I get the flu (I’m looking at you, 2014), I have access to medication specifically formulated to treat the flu. (It still took me a month to recover.)

Chances are you’ve heard that older people are at higher risk, but it’s much broader than that. As I type this, it’s my 23rd day in the hospital. It’s not for my CF, but rather for my husband’s relapsed acute myeloid leukemia. (#soblessed) Right now his neutrophil count is zero, meaning he has no ability to fight off any type of illness. Similar concerns apply to many other cancer patients, transplant recipients, people with HIV/AIDS or autoimmune disorders, and a variety of other chronic diseases. Then consider all the people in contact with these individuals: physicians, nurses, caretakers, family members, friends.

So, to put it simply, this is not about you; it’s about all of us. It may involve making sacrifices, but there’s nothing more precious than life itself. If you’re not worried, that’s fine. I’m not encouraging you to be concerned for your own safety. Instead, it’s important that we are vigilant for the most vulnerable among us. Because each life is equally valuable and should be treated as such.

We are soooo high-risk right now.


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