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10 Things I Tell Myself to Get Through Pandemic Stress as an Immunocompromised Person

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This pandemic is harder than the brain surgery I had five years ago. Seriously, I am just exhausted from the ugly politics, widespread disease, suffering, dying, and general disdain and lack of empathy for each other as human beings.

The stress created for primary immune-deficient patients is mind-blowing.  More now than ever I can see the lack of tolerance for other diseases and preexisting conditions. Nonexistent is a better term. I feel I have to weave more cautiously in and out of situations now, knowing some people just do not care if I get sick. Their decisions affect my health and quality of life. That. Is. Not. OK.

Hey, I get it. I miss my old life too. My small world just got a lot smaller.  I am truly sorry you have to know what it’s like to be at risk for disease and be “immunocompromised.” We know our time here is truly valuable and now possibly shorter. I hope we all make it. This whole thing just makes me “sick.”

I am constantly trying to find some clarity in all of the misinformation, judgment, and general chaos during these pandemic times. Here’s my list as always (because lists are my thing) to help me focus on what’s ahead.

1. Keep listening and communicating with medical experts on basic precautions to keep you safe and others well.

2. People will do whatever they want to regardless — throw the large party, big groups, non-masking. I can’t control that. But I can control my actions and choices. I want to know I did everything I could to not get sick and inadvertently infect others.

3. Understand I am collateral damage in an over-stressed, broken yet honestly amazing medical system. It is pushed beyond the limit. Do not tax it further by getting sick with COVID, so your ICU colleagues can get a well-deserved break.   Advocate for your basic medical needs during these times.  You deserve medical care if you have COVID or not.

5. We will always disagree on something. Healthcare. Politics. Medicine. Ponytails.

6. When friends ghost you or stop contacting you for no reason, stop taking it personally. Maybe God heard things you didn’t and it is a blessing in disguise. You’re not for everyone.

7. Make time for mental health, journaling and meditation.

8. Do the right thing. Always.

9. Be OK with being misunderstood. (Nope, it’s still hard.)

10. There is no normal anymore, just today. Enjoy it.

Never forget there is still good in this world. People still care. They donate blood and plasma. Food drives. They vaccinate. Love unconditionally. I have to look harder on some days, but it’s there. Let it keep life meaningful on the hard days. I am hoping soon we will be on the other side of this pandemic and on to brighter times. I’m looking forward to it. In the meantime, help each other and be kind. Always do the right thing and help as much as you can. Learn what this time is trying to teach us — and there is always hope for the future.

Getty image by Buket Topal.

Originally published: March 30, 2021
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