March 2020 – The Quarantine File
Please, STAY HOME.
I BEG YOU.
This is not a short story, but the start of my writing about the life of being a disabled person in quarantine. At first, I will admit that the quarantine did not bother me. Basically, because of my severe allergies, asthma, and fibromyalgia (which affects the immune system adversely), I was already living life as a hermit. March is the time of year that I’ve started getting sick with asthma for the past fifteen years. I used to be able to make it to Easter or April. Yet, it’s been over twenty years that spring stopped being my favorite season.
Don’t get me wrong. I still love flowers, the sounds of birds, gardening. I love how the world seems to come back to life after the blue-gray of winter. Just as the sap rises in the trees, I can also feel the sap of my own life rise to look towards living and life and being outside. I want to see flowers, the buds of trees, the small sprouts as seeds transform from their shells below the cold earth.
My lungs have had different plans for me. I don’t blame my lungs. It is a precious gift to breathe. I must confess; however, this spring is the first spring that I’ve given thanks for allergies. Though I had allergies all of my life, they have gotten worse as I aged. It’s been over thirty years that I learn that I cannot be outside in April in NC. My friend, Stephen, calls it tree sex. It is in a sense, but it’s also every tree, flower, grass, every blooming living thing that makes me sick. I don’t wish for it to make me sick; it is merely something that my temple of a body deals with.
Why was I glad for the allergies this year? Once I was so sick in 2010, I set up pollen notifications at www.pollen.com so that I would get notifications in my emails as soon as anything began to pollinate. This allowed me the freedom and ability to keep watch and have days outside but also be careful on high pollen count days to stay inside. It has been hard for my loved ones (friends and family included) to understand why I don’t get outside and play on those spring days. Some of my loved ones, those who have seen how bad it is when I can’t breathe, do get it. They don’t pressure me, and they are kind.
The pollen alerts had already risen to a high level of 8 out of 12 a few weeks ago. 2020 has actually started out as a healthy year for me because Resort Area Ministry (R.A.M.) of Boone helped get rid of the carpet in my condo. The dust and mold didn’t help me remain well in the winter before. In the hope of staying well through the spring, I was remaining inside. I didn’t go to church because Easter Lilies were already appearing in flower arrangements. Though I love Easter, I can no longer go to any church that has lilies. With those, it’s not merely the pollen, but the perfume of the flower. For some of us asthmatics, strong smells such as perfume or chemicals trigger asthma attacks.
In short, an asthma attack is like suffocating.
We want to breathe, take a breath, but we can’t because our air passageways have made it impossible. Yes, we can “take a deep breath” but because of what happens, our air passages cannot retain the oxygen. That’s why all asthmatics carry inhalers. Inhalers are medicines that help our lungs calm down (in essence) and be able to process oxygen again. It usually takes 15-30 minutes for albuterol to do its work and it is only used in emergencies. If you see an asthmatic use an inhaler, give them space and quiet. Touching them does not help even though they are afraid. It causes panic to not be able to breathe. I don’t know of any asthmatic who doesn’t have those panic times when an attack as been triggered.
I’m only writing all of this out so that you will hopefully better understand why there are some of us who want you to stay home, in your own town, in your own home. We are already at risk because of health problems beyond our natural ability to control it and so we have to use inhalers. This is the first time since 2010 that I’ve not had to use my nebulizer even to breathe inside my own home. Yes, there are some people who tell me I should never go outside or live in a bubble. But I love nature. I love the outdoors. My body simply can’t handle it naturally anymore.
For those of you who don’t know me. If you pass me while in church, in a store, or while I’m walking my dog, Birdie, you will never know about my physical challenges. Though I limp sometimes, that is not the health challenge that always endangers my life. Asthma that has developed because my body is so allergic to so many things is what endangers my life. In addition to being allergic to airborne particles, I am also allergic to copious foods. When I was younger, the food allergies merely upset my stomach. However, because my physical body has worn down in these 58 years, the reaction now is that some food allergies cause asthma or anaphylactic shock.
This is a plea.
Please stay home.
I am NOT the only person with asthma. I am not the only person with an immune system that is compromised. There are some who have not even gotten this diagnosis yet because it takes a LONG time and a heck of a lot of doctors before such diagnoses are recognized.
Those are the people that YOU WILL KILL if you are not taking this seriously.
No, it may not be me that you will endanger. But what if it’s your parent who is over 60? Do you want to worry about that if this virus kills them?
What if it is your brother, sister, your friend who has an immune system that is compromised and dies because of the carelessness of your decisions? Please listen to the warnings. Stay in your own home, please.
I have lived an excellent life. I want to say to you, my family and friends that should this virus kill me, I have lived a good life. I am 58 going on 59 if I make it to May. In truth, I want to make it until May. Whether I make it and whether your neighbor, the grocery store clerk, the janitor, the truck driver, the CNA/nurse/doctor, etc. makes it is up to YOU.
Whether YOU make it is up to me. Whether I make it is up to me. I don’t want to be responsible for my early death and I would not be able to stand it if I endangered you.
For more information about Primary immunodeficiency disorders, Mayo Clinic can offer more understanding.
Lists of Immune System Diseases & Disorders
Allergies: Allergies can be defined as an aggravated immune system response to a normally harmless substance. There are myriad allergens such as pollen grains, mold spores, latex rubber, and certain food items like peanuts or drugs like penicillin which can cause allergies. In many cases, there is more than one allergen responsible for inducing an allergic reaction. While allergy symptoms are often a mild consequence, medical intervention is advised to diagnose the underlying problem.
Anaphylaxis: Anaphylaxis is a serious and extreme form of allergies. In this condition, the allergen such as food, medication, or an insect bite, acts as a trigger and causes a series of physical discomforting symptoms in a person. Itchy rashes, a swollen throat, and a drop in blood pressure, are some of the common symptoms of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis may lead to an emergency situation if not diagnosed and treated on time.
Asthma: Asthma, a chronic lung disorder, is caused due to an inflammation of the air passage. Allergens, irritants or even stimulants such as physical activity can trigger the inflammation and induce variety of discomforts in a person. The symptoms of asthma include wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, etc.