A Coronavirus Cornucopia: Finding Thankfulness in Chaos

A Coronavirus Cornucopia: Finding Thankfulness in Chaos
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A week from today is Thanksgiving in the United States. Because I’ll be taking a holiday from writing my column, I wanted to count my blessings this week.

I’m a liver transplant recipient with Crohn’s in the middle of a pandemic and a contentious presidential election. What do I have to be thankful for?

When I decided to go into self-quarantine at the beginning of March, I didn’t know I would still be homebound almost nine months later. I fondly remember my last week of uninhibited freedom. My husband and I participated in our first 5K to support colon cancer awareness. After the race, we had breakfast at Threadgill’s, a legendary treasure in Austin, Texas, and one of our favorite restaurants.

Except for my weight gain, my transplant hepatologist gave me a clean bill of health at my annual appointment. During my Thursday morning grocery shopping, I was able to find everything on my list. The week ended with dinner with our friends and their teenagers.

Then pandemic pandemonium hit.

People hoarded inflammatory bowel disease essentials like toilet paper and hand sanitizer. I had the worst flare in years. My elevated liver enzymes forced me out of seclusion to get bloodwork. In May, my full-time job cut my salary and hours and then eliminated my position entirely in July. I had to train my husband to shop for groceries my way, comparing prices and using digital coupons. Threadgill’s, along with other Austin institutions, shuttered its doors.

Despite the hand that 2020 has dealt me thus far, I am thankful.

I’m thankful others have walked a mile in my shoes

I don’t consider myself a germaphobe, but Crohn’s and my liver transplant have made me extremely cautious. I sanitize my hands after touching any public surface. I press elevator buttons with my elbow and have learned to open doors without my hands.

People took offense if I didn’t shake hands, or if I did, used sanitizer afterward. Friends rolled their eyes when I wiped down my menu and condiment bottles with a disinfectant cloth at restaurants. Although I carried a face mask in my purse, I often didn’t wear it — even when I wanted to — because I was self-conscious that strangers would label me as a stereotypical Asian.

Thanks to COVID-19, I’m a trendsetter!

Stores disinfect shopping carts between customers. Restaurants have done away with laminated menus and now only offer single-serving condiments. Elbow bumps are the preferred greeting. Face masks have not only become the norm, they’ve become fashion statements.

I’m grateful that for those of us with chronic illnesses, our daily lives have become the new normal.

I’m thankful for changing views about healthcare

Perhaps the biggest blessing to come out of the pandemic is a greater understanding of healthcare in the United States. Although those of us with chronic disease are at higher risk for COVID-19, no one is immune.

Healthy individuals exposed to the coronavirus now realize how difficult finding and obtaining medical care is. People are faced with limited testing. In hard-hit areas, doctors send patients home to fend for themselves because of a lack of hospital beds.

People with and without insurance are discovering how much and how quickly medical bills add up. For those with coverage, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act requires insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid to cover the cost of COVID-19 testing and treatment as well as telehealth appointments. Some companies are waiving all or some of the costs for COVID-19 treatment.

Uninsured individuals, on the other hand, must pay out of pocket or rely on funds from the COVID-19 Claims Reimbursement to Health Care Providers and Facilities for Testing and Treatment of the Uninsured Program. The program reimburses participating providers for testing and treatment costs. However, not only is the onus on the patient to find a participating provider or hospital, but the provider or hospital can bill the patient for payment or request government funding on a case-by-case basis. Furthermore, no one can estimate the availability of funds, especially as the nation continues on its record-breaking case trend.

As I write this, more than 11.1 million people who caught the virus and were fortunate to survive it now have a preexisting condition, along with possible future or lifelong health issues. I’m grateful that the pandemic exposed our broken healthcare system and the inequity of minority healthcare. I hope that changes will be made to guarantee affordable healthcare coverage for everyone.

I’m thankful there are only 42 days and counting

With COVID-19, murder hornets, hurricanes named after the Greek alphabet, racial unrest, and a seemingly endless presidential election, 2020 will live in infamy. We can all be thankful we only have 42 days left in the year. Life may never return to how we once knew it, but I’m thankful I’m still here to live it.

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Note: IBD 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 providers 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 IBD News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to IBD.

Emmeline is a 47-year-old Crohn’s warrior and primary sclerosing cholangitis survivor. Her column encourages patients and caregivers to advocate for better healthcare and educates readers about her rare autoimmune diseases. She also freelances as a communication specialist, offering writing, editing, and graphic design services. Emmeline (an Auburn fan) and her husband Patrick (an Alabama fan) enjoy watching SEC football and spending time with loved ones in Austin, Texas. Thanks to a liver transplant in 2017, Emmeline is training for her third-degree black belt in the Korean martial art Mu Sool Won.
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Emmeline is a 47-year-old Crohn’s warrior and primary sclerosing cholangitis survivor. Her column encourages patients and caregivers to advocate for better healthcare and educates readers about her rare autoimmune diseases. She also freelances as a communication specialist, offering writing, editing, and graphic design services. Emmeline (an Auburn fan) and her husband Patrick (an Alabama fan) enjoy watching SEC football and spending time with loved ones in Austin, Texas. Thanks to a liver transplant in 2017, Emmeline is training for her third-degree black belt in the Korean martial art Mu Sool Won.

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