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Immunocompromised During A Global Pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020, I was one of those young, healthy people. I wasn’t a high risk individual. Experts thought that, if I got sick, I would be able to get over the virus without much problem. I still took precautions to stay healthy, but the threat wasn’t quite as acute.

But within a couple months, I earned membership into the high-risk-individuals club. Chemotherapy weakens my immune system. So, even without a pandemic, I need to be careful to limit exposure to illnesses.

Luckily, the protocols are the same for patients on chemo and COVID-19. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with running water and soap. Use hand sanitizer. Wear a mask. Keep distance between you and other people. Limit exposure by staying home as much as possible. Clean surfaces with disinfectants.

I’ve diligently done those things since the global pandemic started. And I continue to do them to keep myself and others safe. It isn’t fun. It isn’t comfortable. It takes an extra level of awareness. But it’s necessary and it works.

I’m not living in fear. I’ve heard that one a lot. It just isn’t true. We have scientifically proven ways to keep ourselves safe. So I’m going to do those things to the best of my ability. If they ultimately don’t work and I get sick, then we’ll deal with that when it comes. So I’m not living in fear, I’m living my life and taking precautions.

I’ll admit it disappoints me when I see people walking around without masks in public. I understand that certain people don’t wear masks for medical reasons (I have a friend who suffers from PTSD). But I’m willing to bet most of these individuals aren’t going without for medical reasons.

In fact, I saw just how ridiculous people can be when trying to get into the hospital. There’s only one entrance for non-employees. Everyone has to tell staff where they’re going and answer a questionnaire about symptoms. Each person is awarded with a slip of paper that must be with them at all times inside the building.

One woman threw a fit that she had to answer questions. She thought it was ridiculous because she wasn’t a patient. Even after she answered, she refused to take the slip of paper. Eventually, she stormed back outside and yelled “I’ll just find another entrance!” Good luck, lady.

On the other hand, I appreciate all the people who take the protocols seriously. On good days I go to the office for a few hours (I miss it!). My co-workers always wear their masks around me. Visitors wear masks inside and out of my house. My family is being super careful and trying to avoid unnecessary contact with others. Those small actions keep me safe so I can visit my parents, see my niece, and get out of the house (very important for my mental health!).

I can’t control what other people do. I can only control what I do. So I’ll continue to take precautions: washing my hands, wearing a mask, keeping my distance. And I hope you’ll consider all the people like me, who are high risk during a global pandemic, and put on your mask after washing your hands.

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