LETTER TO THE WORLD: Worried, Pragmatic, and Above All, Committed to Connection
BY LINDA KASER, VECTRA AMBASSADOR
I have rheumatoid arthritis, also called RA. It’s an autoimmune disease. It means my own body will attack my joints, damaging them to the point where eventually I could not be able to use them. It means I take a lot of medications, most of which suppress my immune system, leaving me more vulnerable to catching colds and viruses. At 67, I’m considered elderly which is another risk for “catching” things. And I have asthma. Yippee for me—I’m a trifecta for COVID-19.
Those of us in this situation are working to make the best of social distancing and self-imposed isolation. We are staying home and trying not to worry about every sniffle, sneeze, and cough. We are reaching out to each other via social media. We are reading everything we can about this virus.
We are also worrying about our families and friends. I’m worried about my daughter-in-law who is a nurse. She said they have a shortage of needed items, specifically masks. My two daughters, son-in-law, and grandkids were due to be at my home today, but I won’t be seeing them. I won’t even see my son and daughter-in-law who live 40 minutes away from me. I might miss my other son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law as their trip planned for May could be canceled. Not being able to be physically together is hard, we want to draw together during times like these.
As an RA patient, I also have other worries. Since moving to Florida, I haven’t connected with a doctor. It takes months to get an appointment, and I was scheduled for my first appointment with a new rheumatologist on March 31. I worry it will get canceled and wonder who I would call if I get sick? I worry about getting my infusion—I’m already 8 weeks overdue for it. I worry I will get a bad flare I can’t manage. I worry if I do have my infusion, I could get sick. There is too much going on in my head.
And yet, over these worries, my pragmatic side sees the positives in my situation. I’m retired. I don’t have to worry about working and getting a paycheck. Spending time 24/7 with my hubby isn’t a chore. We have 47 years of togetherness under our belts, and it just keeps getting better. In the Sunshine State, we can ride our bikes and take walks to keep our bodies moving. I can get involved in projects I’ve wanted to do. I am connecting with my family via social media. I’m able to listen to my grandsons read me a story and I can read them a story. I know my family is doing everything they can to stay safe. I’m grateful for what we have.
I also believe this is truly a time when we can think of others. How can I help someone? How can I show compassion? Call your grandma. Offer to pick up groceries or medication for someone who can’t get out. Send a card to a neighbor. Wave to people as you walk past them. Keep yourself healthy. Put up something funny on Facebook so we can all laugh.
These are uncertain times, and we don’t know what’s ahead. We can, however, keep up the human connection, even as we are socially distanced, to encourage those around us.