I know we’re all facing a frightening and uncertain future. However, for the first time that I can remember, I’m feeling like “one of the guys.”
The prevention measures recommended for older adults and people with chronic illness to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are a great equalizer. For once, I’m not concerned that my fibromyalgia symptoms might lead to my having to cancel an event. That event likely already has been canceled!
Far from being upset that I must spend days on end in my house, I’m feeling quite content. It’s not that different from my usual life. I’m quite adept at entertaining myself. I have several activities that require no human interaction. Writing this column is one of them.
If I get lonely, I can use my phone or computer to email or text a friend or visit a chat group (my favorite being PatientsLikeMe). If none of these are appealing, I’m glad to take a nap. Given my constant state of sleep deprivation, a pillow and a blanket are near certain guarantees for a couple of hours of daytime bliss.
For once in my life, I don’t feel deprived. I’m missing nothing because the rest of the world is staying home as well!
Of course, we all have reasons to go out. Buying food and medication are the two most pressing. For the first time, the general population is being warned to pay attention to illness prevention when they go out. Even if they’ve never given it much thought in the past, people are being advised to avoid strangers, especially those who are sick or even appear to be sick. Two days ago, several people stopped walking in my direction when my allergies caused a bout of sneezing as I was getting into my car in an outdoor parking lot.
As a general rule, if you have a cold or you’ve been with a child who has a cold, you’re not welcome in my home. It sounds harsh, but there’s good reason for my policy. I had the misfortune of developing the flu two years ago. As with most illnesses in people with fibromyalgia, my symptoms were far more severe than those of other flu sufferers I knew. After a bad reaction to the Tamiflu (oseltamivir) prescribed by my doctor, I wound up in the hospital and was treated for dehydration. It was the sickest I’d ever been.
Since then, I’ve become hypervigilant. I’m constantly scanning the horizon when out in public. If I see people coughing or blowing their noses, I immediately go the other way. Once I left a store without buying what I went in there for because I’d encountered so many people who were obviously sick. For that aspect of coronavirus prevention, I need no coaching.
The aspect of the current guidelines that I find most difficult to remember is hand-washing. And yes, I know it’s the most necessary. It just doesn’t come naturally to me. To be safe, when in public I must assume that a sick person has previously touched any surface or thing and then act accordingly. This means a thorough hand-washing as soon as I return home. Failure to do so could be my ticket to the virus.
Due to the importance of this measure and my difficulty with adhering to it, I’ve adopted a new strategy. I happen to have a box of disposable rubber gloves in the house. I’m keeping them by my front door and putting them on when I leave for any reason, other than to walk my dog. I may look a bit strange, but I think it’s improving my odds of prevention. Once home, I dispose of the gloves in my outside trash can, then go inside and wash my hands. Not only is it a fail-safe reminder, but it may be providing double protection. One can only hope.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.