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The Cost of Working in Public When You're Immunocompromised

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A year ago, my life had changed in every possible way. It changed because I worked hard to change it. I became single, got a job as an in-house seamstress at a wonderful corporate business, and did a lot of growing up along the way. I first want to mention, I am dedicated and love what I do as a seamstress, designer, artist and writer. Within the last few weeks though, I caught a common cold, which I had for about 10 days. It got better. And then, within these last three days, my symptoms took an ugly, ugly turn.

As someone with a compromised immune system amid this terrifying COVID-19 pandemic, I have become aware of the cost of working in and with the public. It’s my job to help others find their personal style, and it’s an honor to assist with such a task. From brides to bridesmaids, to prom and special occasion dresses and outfits, I’ve become a pro at styling and selling these garments.

Unfortunately, I knew my risks for catching COVID-19 were increasingly high.

I also have a genetic disorder known as 22Q11.2 Deletion Syndrome, known as DiGeorge syndrome. Every cold, flu and virus that has circulated, I have caught. I have three underlying conditions: heart disease, lung disease, and this past year, I underwent surgery to repair a splenic artery aneurysm at Northwestern in Chicago. That might have saved my life in more ways than one, despite how life-threatening the surgery and situation had gotten.

I have now just been tested for the coronavirus and am waiting for the results. I am worried COVID-19 is attacking my digestive tract — some of the earliest symptoms are severe diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.

This pandemic has taught many of us that people need to be open and honest about their health and limitations. And now, there is no other options but to do just that. Because for individuals like me who are living with a deficient immune system, this virus can smack me hard to the ground, or my bed, rather. I’ve been bedridden for a few days.

It’s also kicking artists, musicians, designers, small business owners, and anybody who is in a creative field to the ground.

It was difficult for me to divulge my health conditions to my managers at the bridal shop, who have been nothing but wonderful and thoughtful of their employees and guests. I feel lucky to be an employee and seamstress for them.

The reality for me now is ensuring my body and immune system jump on board to combat this. My organs are all overtaxed, and I am emotionally and physically drained of energy. I’m afraid like never before but am doing what I can to be sensible and smart. I’m also not sure what’s in store for how this battle is going to pan out. Another family member of mine, also immune-compromised, may have this virus, too.

Everyone needs to come to grips with the fact that how one person is affected by this virus isn’t going to be the same for the next person. I’m monitoring myself carefully, continuing my supplements, staying as hydrated as I can, and trying to remain calm and positive. I hope I get to continue working my job as a bridal stylist. I love it more than anything and can’t wait to get back to life. Stay safe, everyone. Stay home.

Originally published: March 21, 2020
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