Keep Calm and Carry on Away from Me

Keep Calm and Carry on Away from Me
With the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 spreading to the United States, and as someone living with chronic disease, I’m beginning to feel helpless. At first, I wasn’t too concerned about becoming infected. I’m already pretty cautious about limiting my exposure to sick people, not touching surfaces in public with my bare hands, and using hand sanitizer after touching those surfaces and shaking people’s hands. Then I heard on the news that hand sanitizer was in short supply at stores. I was already running low, so I decided to stop by my neighborhood store to get an extra bottle. When I saw the empty store shelves, I started to panic. I could make homemade sanitizer with isopropyl alcohol and aloe vera gel, but those were out of stock, too. I've been to four stores in the past week with no luck. Fortunately, my mother and sister found a couple of bottles of hand sanitizer for me in their part of town. Both the Remicade (infliximab) I take for Crohn’s and the Prograf (tacrolimus) I take to prevent rejection of my transplanted liver are immunosuppressants. Being immunocompromised, I fall into the high-risk group that needs to be protected from COVID-19. No matter how proactive I am about defending myself, I have to depend on those around me — both loved ones and strangers — to avoid exposing me. Doing so means admitting that I’m not as resilient as I let on. For so long, I’ve felt stuck in limbo between the world of the sick and the world of the healthy. At times, I feel like a poser, living in both worlds but not quite fitting in either. I wouldn’t say I’m in denial about my chronic diseases. I’m just too stubborn to let them define me. Last month, I wrote about not identifying as a "spoonie," a term coined by lupus patient Chri
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