How To Protect Yourself Against Coronavirus If You Have An Underlying Health Condition

by Anne Welsh

According to the NHS, I am an at-risk person. I suffer from the genetic disease, sickle cell anaemia. Having lived my whole life with an underlying condition, I have a unique perspective of protecting oneself from the onslaught of any bacteria or virus and any environmental challenge that may trigger a very painful and possibly life-threatening crisis. 

Within this context, I wanted to share with everyone reading this article how I am doing my best to prevent the coronavirus from visiting me.  To begin with, I have chosen to look at my life through the two different lenses of a pair of glasses. The first lens is through a purely medical viewpoint but the second, which is equally as important, is the mental aspects of how I am treating a 12 week imposed self-isolation requirement. 

I must always insist that each individual remain connected to their doctor and follow their advice. But there are many common-sense actions that can be taken to protect yourself prior to catching an airborne disease that decrease the probability drastically that you will ever need a doctors care.    

The first is to be ruthless and disciplined in avoiding large crowds or close proximity of people.  This is very difficult because it goes against the social nature of being a human being; regardless, you must change your lifestyle to accomplish it. Examples are driving versus public transport, no family gatherings and stop going outside your abode unless absolutely necessary. The second is to maintain an obsessively high level of personal hygiene and this must apply to everyone in the household. Wash your hands thoroughly and with soap, make sure clothes are changed from an outing and then washed and keep going in the shower multiple times a day if you are exposed.  

Eat healthily.  Avoid the urge to order in takeaways. Plan your eating schedule so you don’t overindulge and binge on unnecessary and often unhealthy snacks.  Eat a balanced diet where possible. If you have a routine of taking vitamins, then don’t stop.  

Don’t forget to exercise as this will keep your body and your mind more alert.  This is a big ask as studies have shown that a person will take twice as long to get back in shape as it did to lose that pre-existing level of fitness.  Being fit gives you a much better chance of survival if you have the misfortune of catching the disease. Of course, this assumes that people are able to participate in exercise. 

Avoid a big change in temperature as this is often a common trigger that can lead to colds and degradation in your immune system. As a sickle cell patient, I really want to keep my body warm. 

Okay, so I have covered how protection against a virus disease can be limited; however, one must realise that each action above requires an immense amount of mental focus and the requirement to change totally one’s social interaction in this modern world. People will just not have health concerns but now the full realisation of an economic catastrophe that will be grinding down on everyone’s thought process. Hence, anxiety will impact everyone.

My coping mechanism for this pandemic event is to simply be happy and live day by day. One never knows for certain what is in the future. Be disciplined with your health and personal goals, set a schedule, and keep in touch with people by phone or video calling. It all helps keep the mind from going into a very dark and depressing place. If you were expecting a silver bullet in how to cope you may be sadly disappointed. Usually, the simplest solutions are often the best.  

Look forward to an exciting, new world filled with opportunity, hope and sunshine. 

Stay well!

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