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Why It’s Especially Weird Being Chronically Ill in 2020

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It’s almost always isolating to have a chronic illness. Most people don’t understand, and many of us look very “normal” on the outside. In any given year, we hold secret pain and hidden fears. But 2020 has amped up the weird factor, at least for me.

As a person at high risk, it’s been weird watching the entire world fuss about a mask to stave off a virus that likely won’t hurt some, but would probably kill me.

It’s weird witnessing life returning to normal without me as another wave surges, and wondering if everyone else is irrational, or if I am.

It’s weird seeing friends’ vacation photos, knowing they have decided to take the chance of catching the virus, and realizing that means our society has become an “every person for themselves” situation. And it’s doubly weird to be sad over this: in so many ways, concern for the most vulnerable has been abandoned. Which forces me to be even more careful.

It’s weird hearing one of the lingering effects of COVID is heart inflammation, and remembering that a much gentler, recognized, everyday virus nearly stretched my own heart to death. That much-less-lethal virus caused my Cleveland Clinic cardiologist to call mine one of the largest hearts she’d ever seen.

It’s weird cheering for the quick approval of a vaccine, yet doubting whether I’ll ever be 100% comfortable letting even the genetic code of that monster virus into my body.

It’s weird deliberating whether to get health screenings for diseases that run in my family, and wondering if postponing them puts me more at risk than COVID itself.

Whether chronically ill or not, it’s weird to still be talking about all of this as the year slogs to a close.

But more than anything, it’s weird being in the eye of a lingering mask/vaccine/social distancing controversy, recognizing that the person everyone is debating about protecting is me.

A banner promoting The Mighty's new Navigating Coronavirus Together group on The Mighty mobile app. Click to join.

Getty image by Jnemchinova.

Originally published: November 16, 2020
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