Immunocompromised in a world of Covid-19 Part 1: Melissa

Let's face it, this Coronavirus is everywhere. We can't get away from it. God knows I've tried. What bothers me in the midst of this pandemic is that some people either simply fail or refuse to understand that the measures implemented, though somewhat of an inconvenience, have been put in place to protect not just them, but all of us. 

And by all of us, I want to place special emphasis on those who are immunocompromised. Due to their health issues, if they were to contract Covid-19, their bodies could have an even harder time fighting it off than someone who doesn't have a weakened immune system. I have a few friends who are immunocompromised, and in touching base with them over the past few weeks, they've shared with me not only more on their disorder, but also their thoughts on this pandemic. This is the first post of several to come. 

My girlfriend Melissa, 27, is a Banker as well as a Jewellery Designer, based in Trinidad. 

What is your autoimmune disorder and how long have you been living with it?
Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) diagnosed September 2015.
Lupus is an autoimmune disorder in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks the healthy tissue in various parts of the body. This abnormal activity leads to tissue damage and illness. Symptoms differ from one person to another. In some, symptoms are mild and in others it may be severe. Lupus can be difficult to diagnose, as symptoms mimic those of other disorders. Common symptoms include painful joints, unexplained fevers, skin rashes, hair loss, 
seizures, sensitivity to sunlight and extreme fatigue, to name a few. 

What type of medication/treatment do you have to take and how often? 
Plaquenil/ Hydroxycholoroquine

What's the hardest part about living with your disorder? Can you recall the worst experience that you've had?
While (thankfully) my case is mild in comparison to many other Lupus patients, I struggle a lot with painful/swollen joints, weakness/tiredness and sun sensitivity.
With the diagnosis came severe anxiety and frustration that it took so long (almost ten years) to be diagnosed. Things like the common cold or a kidney infection, have to be monitored closely and treated quickly, to ensure that no further infection to the lungs or kidneys take place.
There's always the fear that my condition would worsen and become fatal.

Being immunocompromised and knowing that your may not be able to fight off the virus if your get it, how worried are you about contracting Covid-19?
With that said, there is greater concern with the current Covid-19 pandemic. Just as Lupus can affect the respiratory system, Covid-19 symptoms mimic that of the flu and lead to serious respiratory issues and even death.
The scarcity of the Hydroxychloroquine drug is also a major concern. This is already difficult to source locally, even at the best of times.
Now, ill-informed persons who do NOT need the drug are rushing to buy it, because they think it will protect them against the virus.
Those of us who actually need it to survive, are unable to purchase the drug and have to ration what little we have. 

Any message for those persons who are not adhering to your area's guidelines to flatten to curve?
Too many people are still not complying with the ‘stay at home’ directives in place.
Many immunocompromised persons, like myself are considered essential workers and have to put ourselves at risk every day.
Likewise, a lot of people are immunocompromised but do not even know it.
Therefore, please consider the well being of others too, at this time. Please do not buy medication you do not need because someone else does need it. For us, it's not as simple as ''taking more vitamins to boost the immune system''. We need this medication to stay alive.
Thank you for understanding. Stay Home. Stay Safe everyone.


What stood out for me in what Melissa said, was that many people may be immunocompromised and not know. My take away from her is that I should probably get a health check up done. It has been a while. And I'd encourage you to do the same. So many of us walk around assuming that we are healthy because we "look healthy" when that may not be the case. Ain't nothing wrong in getting checked out. Also, I really wish people would stop panic buying medication they do not need, depriving others who actually do need them. We need to do better. 

Stay home and stay safe guys,  
Tshenelle aka Nelly B.