Mon | Jul 13, 2020

Be cautious! - Lupus warrior encourages others to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2020 | 8:19 AMVanessa James/Gleaner Writer

As Jamaica enters another month battling the coronavirus pandemic, the Government continues to caution those with underlying conditions to stay home and safe to lower the risk of contracting the virus.

One of the underlying conditions that could exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms is lupus, and with May being observed as Lupus Awareness Month, The Gleaner reached out to lupus warrior Danielle Hall to see how she has been managing during the pandemic.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus) is an autoimmune disease that usually results in a life of pain for the person carrying the disease. With this disease, the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells and can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, brain and other organs.

Add coronavirus to this, and many would express fear, but Hall explained that she is not very concerned.

“When I looked at the symptoms of coronavirus versus the autoimmune conditions that I have already been battling for years, almost all the symptoms are the same, so I wasn’t very worried, but I was concerned about how quickly it transfers from person to person.”

Hall’s composition in the face of danger is because it feels like a regular day for her; she lives with a disease where she has to be extremely careful about what enters her body as it can have adverse repercussions.

“Sometimes when we talk in our lupus group, it’s almost like we want to say, ‘Oh! Now people understand what it is like to have lupus’,” said Hall. “Because when I see how people are reacting, like they don’t want people close to them or cough or sneeze; people are just now putting focus on these things, when my everyday life is, ‘please do not cough near me’ or ‘please do not touch me unnecessarily’, all the things that the Government is warning people about now.”

Due to her compromised immune system, Hall has made some adjustments, along with the guidelines set by the Government, to ensure that she is protected from the coronavirus.

“I don’t leave my house without a mask, I don’t interact with others without a mask, I don’t go anywhere unnecessarily,” explained Hall, “Throughout all of this, if it’s not food or a medical appointment, I really just stay inside.”

When she has to go on the road, Hall shares that the shoes she wears outside is not brought inside so as to keep germs from entering her personal space. In addition to this, the clothes she wears is changed and put into the wash, and usually she takes a shower for added precaution.

She explained that taking things in her stride is what helps her to cope amid the coronavirus pandemic, and encourages others to do the same.

“One of my coping mechanisms is just taking it one day at a time; not to panic and not become overwhelmed by news and social media,” shared Hall.

She offered a word of advice to those with autoimmune conditions. “While it is important for everybody to take precaution, the lupus patients or persons with autoimmune conditions need to be extra careful because our bodies will not be able to recover the same way another person’s own will; we might not even recover. With lupus, any organ can be damaged or become affected from contracting the virus, so we have to extremely careful,” she cautioned.

Hall also emphasised that being considerate of others will only help each of us stay healthy and safe during this pandemic.

vanessa.james@gleanerjm.com