Sharing Our Strategies Could Be Helpful
It is worthy to note that during these chaotic and uncertain times related to the COVID-19 pandemic, those of us with compromised immune systems are being looked to for advice. I have had a number of family and friends ask me what precautions work(ed) for me over the years. It occurs to me that we can all do out part to share our strategies with the rest of the world. It has not escaped me that there is an irony here as well.
Protecting myself from germs
For years, I have faced a degree of skepticism about my precautions. For instance, if a family member was even slightly ill, I would often decline to attend a gathering. Or, I would forego a visit to the hospital to see a friend, not because I did not want to offer comfort and support, but because it is a petri dish of germs and not a place anyone with a compromised immune system should go.
I have always been precautious
For instance, I have explained to a number of people that social distancing, disinfecting, etc., has been a part of my life for many years. I rarely shake hands, not just because it is often painful, but also it is a germ spreader! The same for hugs, which I reserve for special times for the most part.
I've never shared these precautions before
The snickers and doubters that I have encountered over the years would surprise people. But for those of us who know the danger that lingers long after the hug or handshake ends, the fear is based on a reality we have to deal with day in and day out, year after year.
I actually have not ever acknowledged this in a public way prior to this article for several reasons. One, I don’t want to deal with the challenges that come with such choices. There is always someone who asks why and doubts that it is necessary. I don’t need to defend my choice. I know the value of it.
Secondly, it is no one else’s business what decisions I make for my health. I like to keep that private, for the most part. Those who need to know will be told.
Third, it has been my sad experience that, once told, people treat me differently. They either think I am being dramatic, exaggerating, etc. or they simply do not care and dismiss my concerns.
Avoiding germs with my RA
All of this has led me to the point I am at today. I am self-isolating because it is the right thing to do for my health and my family's and friends' health. I cannot control what others do, and when I try, it becomes a stressor that can only lead to trouble for my RA.
Managing my disease the best way I know how
I will voice my opinion and happily offer advice that is requested. I will post about precautions that I believe will be best for all of us but, beyond that, I have to turn inward a bit. This is not something I like. In fact, it is one of the many things I detest about having an autoimmune disease. But, with 25+ years under my belt, it becomes a matter of mental and physical well-being. I will not apologize for managing my disease in the best way possible.
Do you find the pain scale is an effective tool?