Dealing with a COVID-19 Scare

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By Vectra Patient Ambassador Stephanie Aleite

Like many Rheumatoid Arthritis patients, Vectra® Ambassador Stephanie is used to dealing with germs. “I’m always very careful – especially during flu season. I take a lot of precautions, try to stay away from people who might be sick, and actively avoid surfaces at the doctor’s office, but this virus is next-level.”

As careful as Stephanie was, she found herself facing a big scare of having been potentially exposed to the COVID-19 virus and waking up one morning with a fever. “Once I heard about my potential exposure, I called my doctor immediately,” said Stephanie.

“Assume COVID-19 until proven otherwise,” were the words Stephanie heard from her doctor, her heart sinking. She was directed to her local hospital for testing.

“The waiting (for the test results) was horrible. Every day, I felt worse, and I had such difficulty breathing, like I never have had before. It was hard to move, hard to do anything, and then my son, Santi, came down with the same illness I had. He’s only one year old, and you can imagine how difficult and frightening it was to see him miserable having the same respiratory issues I was.”

The results finally came back a few weeks later. They showed that Stephanie and her family were negative for COVID-19. “In some ways it was a relief to know that we didn’t have the virus, but what we experienced was pretty difficult,” said Stephanie. “Although the coronavirus is different from a normal flu season, in some ways, RA patients deal with this level of caution all the time.”

Fortunately, the family has recovered and are continuing to stay safe, spending as much time at home as possible, social distancing when out, and following other recommended guidelines. “Even though things have begun to open in our state, we are still being very cautious. We use our judgment and try to take advantage of the off hours, when there aren’t as many people at stores. As an RA patient, I have to take extra precautions, but as a mom, I need to as well. Being cautious isn’t just for me—it’s for those around me as well. I need to be safe so the people around me can be safe.”

Stephanie has stayed in close touch with her physician and is working with her rheumatologist to determine when she can get her next Vectra test. “With or without a pandemic, it’s important to have my RA under control,” she said. “Over the past several months, I’ve been on, then off a new medication, started, then stopped a clinical trial, and now on another new medication. It’s important to my doctor and me to understand how my body is dealing with this right now. The pandemic has made the situation more complicated, but I am hopeful that I can see a lower Vectra Score soon.”

Here at Vectra, we know it can be scary and confusing to live with RA during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to provide support and resources to our Vectra community. One resource is our fantastic patient ambassadors, like Stephanie, who are willing to share their experiences and stories of living with RA.

Another resource we’ve recently updated is the myVectra™ Patient Portal. Create or access your account at VectraScore.com by going to the myVectra link on the top right corner of the home page.

Using myVectra, you can view your past and most recent Vectra Scores, track daily pain and symptoms, and find other resources, including information and resources from our partners at CreakyJoints®.

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