Quarantine. Social distancing. Isolation. These words are very familiar to those of us living with chronic illnesses.
I am 63-years-old, eight years post double lung transplant, and immunosuppressed. Living my life regularly can be daunting, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been especially stressful. I live in New York City and have been quarantined for almost 4 weeks now – avoiding people, places, pretty much everything. As many others have as well, I have found it extremely challenging physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I have been feeling like I won a bad game of BINGO with everything I have been hearing in the news about who is high risk – immunosuppressed, over 60, chronic illness, respiratory issues. I keep asking myself… What if I get COVID-19? What will I do? Will I make it?
Realistically, I have two choices. I can go into hiding and drown in the worries and questions, or I can stay safely engaged and positive. And I am choosing the latter.
How am I doing that?
First and most importantly for me, I am staying in touch with my entire support team via text, phone calls, Facetimes, anything really! From my telehealth appointments with my medical team to calls with my family and friends… and even my coworkers checking in, helping me get groceries – I feel lucky that I have so many people in my life who care.
Second, I am staying focused on my nutrition. I hate to say, but I usually eat out or order in a lot; now that I have been cooking at home, I sort of feel like a chef. I have been making homemade sauce and pasta, burgers, scrambled eggs, pancakes… cooking for myself has felt like getting back to basics, and I am loving it!
Third for me is maintaining my exercise routine. I ride my Peloton, do kettlebell workouts in my apartment, stretch, do pushups, ab work… anything to keep me busy and in top physical condition.
Fourth, I am keeping my mind active and not focusing on the “what if’s.”
I am continuing my volunteer work for the Boomer Esiason Foundation, staying active on social media, and purging my apartment. I have been able to get rid of so many chachkies and simplify things!
Fifth… NETFLIX. I have never watched so many things, but I have to admit, I became addicted to a show called All American. I watched two seasons in a week!!
So, as you can tell, I am staying busy. I feel great physically – continuously monitoring my vitals like lung function and oxygen saturation. Mentally and emotionally, I am doing okay. I am not going to try and be a cheerleader and say it’s easy, because it isn’t. I am absolutely scared of what could happen, but I am working really hard to stay positive by staying active.
What is working for me is staying in touch with all of the important people in my life. I have never been more grateful for technology. And I hope you are all able to do the same – stay in touch with those you love; try to stay positive. When you do have a down moment, realize that it is okay to get sad or scared… just don’t stay in that place. Take a walk. Make a phone call. Or lose yourself in a tv show (maybe All American ☺).
We can get through this difficult time if we stick together.