I'm a Scientist With Chronic Illnesses. Here's How I'm Handling My Worry About Coronavirus

Take this perspective on how I personally approach my health and mental health in the midst of an impending global disaster, my prescription bottles and stacks of peer-reviewed materials. Before diving into all of these statistics, please take a deep breath and remember: people with all risk factors can still recover. This virus can also be nasty for a young and healthy person.

1. I am worried enough to take good precautions, but not so worried that I am paralyzed.

I try to worry in a way that I take proper precautions, but not in a way that I spend all of my time going through a Twitter spiral or throwing in the towel to manage my mental and physical health. Even with high risk conditions, we can try to reduce our overall risk of getting sick or having complications. Follow the CDC Recommendations to protect you. This includes frequent hand washing for 20 seconds, disinfecting surfaces, practicing social distancing, etc. What we don’t want to do is go too far with worry and “security” that we forget to do things like go for walks, get some fresh air, connect with your loved ones, etc.

2. I make a plan with my doctor to find out how I will manage my condition (s) during all of this.

In general, I think that anyone with chronic or immunocompromised health problems should have a conversation with their doctor. When I spoke to mine (on the phone, of course), we discussed regular checkups of my liver and kidneys, as my medications can tax these systems over time. We talked about continuing to exercise because exercise can improve lung capacity. In the absence of the climbing gym, my dog ​​goes on many walks approved for social distancing in the neighborhood.

The thing is, when you have a complicated disease to treat, you have to balance a lot of different factors. Perhaps a drug treats one symptom but causes another. At times like this, there are even more factors to consider. For example, should I continue to take medication that puts me at increased risk of respiratory infection? Weighing all of this is a delicate balancing act and a deeply personal decision that you can only make in consultation with your doctors. In other words, talk to your doctor (s) now if you haven’t already.

Call your doctor (and any specialist you work with to manage specific conditions) and ask them to tell you about your current situation. Review all of your medications with them to find out if any of them are immunosuppressants. Ask them for a 90-day supply of prescription drugs so they can leave your home less frequently or in case you need quarantine.

For example, people with asthma probably already have a “asthma action plan“That includes avoiding triggers, checking the correct use of your inhaler, and practicing vigilant infection control. Talk to your doctor about similar plans you can put in place based on your conditions.

Also ask your doctor, depending on your condition, if you need to take additional quarantine precautions. If you have high-risk conditions that can be improved with lifestyle adjustments – such as reducing or quitting smoking – it’s worth having a discussion on how to approach this, especially while we’re all socially distanced.

3. I am looking for options to outsource my shopping.

Especially if you are at an increased risk of developing serious new coronavirus symptoms, now is the time to limit how often you leave the house. After all, the best way to minimize the risk of getting a new coronavirus is to reduce your chances of getting in touch with it. Seek someone to run errands through apps like Instacart.

4. I remember that we currently only have so much data.

Someone else has like four health problems (“but you look good!”) And a bucket of medication that you take daily and no firm answer on the complications you might have if you did get the new coronavirus? Same. We are in unknown territory.

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