Keeping Perspective during a Pandemic
It’s now several weeks that I have been staying at home to protect my immunocompromised self from exposure to COVID-19. As rheumatoid arthritis patients, we’re accustomed to worrying about our health, trying to manage co-occurring conditions, juggling the side effects of treatment, and working to protect our weakened immune systems from infections because we are more susceptible to serious illness.
As much as I miss my usual activities outside the home, I know I am doing the right thing for my health. It helps to keep things in perspective, to weigh the serious impacts of getting ill versus the temporary discomfort of staying home. I know with my 40 plus years of complex grappling with RA that I don’t need to add anything else into the mix. Just last year I landed in the hospital for a couple days because of a skin infection. I really don’t want to know what happens if I should catch a serious respiratory illness.
RA health challenges and isolation
In a way, I am lucky to have had really challenging surgery and recovery experiences resulting in lengthy rehabilitation hospital and home stays. I know that sounds crazy, but bear with me as I explain.
Surgery, hospitals, and rehabs
As a teenager I had both my knees and hips replaced months apart, then an additional scar tissue removal surgery on my knees. Within a year and a half period (or longer), I was in hospitals, rehabs, and homebound for recovery. It was hard. It was physically painful. It was isolating and lonely. It was emotionally frustrating and challenging.
I was challenged with isolation during recovery
Then about seven years ago, I had a knee replacement revision and again had a lengthy hospital stay, six weeks in rehab, and then a few months at home recovering. Again it was painful, lonely, and difficult.
I had great support both times—family helping me through, friends providing encouragement. But it was still a difficult time to be home, feeling isolated, and struggling with regaining my physical strength.
Distancing feels easier given my health experiences
The reason why I say I am lucky to have had these experiences, is that physical distancing now during the pandemic feels so much easier in comparison. I may be “stuck” at home, but I can still do many things.
I can work. I can connect with family and friends with video calls. I can get some fresh air on the patio. There’s plenty of TV and movies to watch. My Kindle is stocked with ebooks. My phone is stocked with hours of music. Perhaps most of all, I’m not in significant physical discomfort from a recent surgical procedure!
Feeling fortunate to be comfortable
I’m very fortunate that my home is comfortable, that I have plenty to keep me occupied. (In fact, I am feeling busier than ever and look forward to things slowing down a little.) I’m so fortunate to be able to continue working and that I truly have all the essentials I need at home. Many people are not so lucky during this pandemic.
Helping others during social distancing
So again, I shift my perspective to consider, how can I help others through since I am doing OK? How can I reach out to show support? How can I care for my fellow humans during this challenging time?
It’s as simple as sending texts, making a phone call, writing an email, setting up a video chat. It can be that easy to check in with someone else and show some caring. When I can, I have been ordering from favorite businesses to keep them financially afloat, or buying gift cards to use at a later date. I just want to do what I can to help us keep a little balance and get through these challenging times.
Has having RA put a hold on your ambitions?