Relapsing polychondritis is a rare disease which causes damage to the cartilage, trachea, and lungs. It’s an autoimmune condition meaning an overzealous immune response causes the body to attack its own healthy cells.
Candace Palmer is one of the individuals fighting this disease. She takes two different medications which work to suppress her own immune system. In addition, she has to take extreme precautions to avoid getting sick. Diagnosed just a year ago, Candace has had to adjust to a new way of living. She avoids touching door handles and tries to use her elbow instead of her hands as much as she can.
Now, she and other rare patients are seeing society begin to act as they do. The public is getting a taste for the world of precautions rare disease patients live in.
Unfortunately, Candace has recently tested positive for COVID-19, but she is already through the worst of it. Though she has been diligently social isolating, her kids were in school until just recently, and so she thinks she must have picked it up from them. This shows just how important it is for everyone to follow the rules right now.
The World of the Immunocompromised
There are actually millions of people with some sort of autoimmune diagnosis living in the United States. Additionally, chemotherapy for cancer patients, certain medications (like those for Rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn’s disease, and psoriasis), HIV/AIDS, and aging can suppress a patient’s immune system.
What is especially dangerous is that some of the people in these categories may not even know they are on a medication that is affecting their immune system in this way.
Those with multiple conditions face even more hurdles. For instance, Chip Supanich has pulmonary issues, is HIV positive, and is currently undergoing chemotherapy for Kaposi’s sarcoma. Chip explains that his routine has changed drastically since COVID-19 and that the social isolation can be challenging. He’s asked his friends to call him regularly to help with the mental challenges of distancing. Chip also encourages others to reach out to their immunocomprised friends to see if they need assistance running errands or getting prescriptions.
Autoimmune Conditions and COVID-19
Since we know that the coronavirus is more dangerous for those who are immunocompromised, its even more important for these individuals to self-isolate. That said, if everyone adheres to social distancing, assuming they have the condition and could be affecting others, our entire nation will be much better off.
It’s not so much that those who are immunocompromised are more at risk for getting the novel corona virus, but the effects of this virus could be much worse for them.
If you’re not immunocompromised, think about your loved ones who might be. Think about the people living with multiple conditions. Think about the world, and not just yourself, and we will move through this pandemic much more quickly. We’re all awaiting the day things will go back to normal. This will happen much faster if we all adhere to social distancing protocol.
You can read more about this issue here.