Corona Virus what does it mean for severe asthma?

Corona virus, COVID-19 or as I like to refer to it as “the virus” is the hot topic just now and rightly so especially as the World Health Organisation has just declared it to be a pandemic.

I have not posted anything on facebook, instagram, twitter or my blog about the virus because everywhere is saturated and there is a lot of different information about what to do and what is best. The only thing that is consistent is that hand washing is essential and that for the hand washing to be effective it must be 20 seconds minimum. There has been some fantastic stuff developed around songs that you can sing while washing your hands. This is a favourite: Bohemian Rhapsody (it is only half a routine so DO NOT use this to wash your hands)

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What does the virus mean for someone like me?

It is a very serious situation. The effect for me could be devastating. A basic chest infection is horrific and puts me in intensive care and that is a condition that has a treatment. This is a new virus that has no vaccine and no treatment. Should you get the virus the medics can support you and support the area of your body that is failing but otherwise you just have to fight it yourself. When you already fight each day to try and stay well this is an added extra that your body really does not need.

There are mixed messages going about for people with respiratory conditions. The issue with asthma is that it is so varied. For someone with mild controlled asthma the virus might not be that big an issue but I am immunocompromised due to long term oral steroids at fairly high doses and I pick up everything.

To be honest I am terrified. The last hospital admission was really hard and the recovery has been super hard. I have had to invest so much time and energy to get myself back on my feet and the thought of potentially having to do this again put the fear in me let alone to do that recovery plus having COVID-19 on top of it.

What steps am I taking to try and keep myself well?

I am just trying to be sensible but have taken a range of measures to try and protect myself apart from hand washing etc.

  • Withdrawn from speaking events including EyeforPharma in Barcelona, Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research Annual Scientific Meeting and various others. Both of which I am gutted about as was really looking forward to them.
  • Withdrawn from giving a lecture to nursing students at Edin Uni on Professionalism
  • Stopping coaching lacrosse in school
  • Have not been accepting invitation to attend events that are hospital based and any events that has been scheduled I have asked to call in remotely if possible especially if there is a large number of people attending
  • I have done all my shopping and meal prep so I don’t need to go to any supermarkets. i won’t have fresh fruit and veg but I have frozen fruit and veg so won’t miss out totally.
  • Finally the biggest one for me is that I am taking myself out of the city for a few weeks or for as long as needed. I am heading up north to my parents place which is in a small village away from any cities and in the countryside. This will minimise my contact with people and hopefully minimise my risk of catching the virus. I am concerned about getting ill when up north but it is safer to be away than staying in the city.

Its tough to know what to do for the best. With advice changing on a daily if not hourly basis everyone is in a state of flux constantly. We seem to have gone from panic buying toilet roll to panic buying everything that you would keep in a store cupboard.

One other thing I have been very conscious of and I have not mentioned is being in touch with your care team. I am taking the advice primarily from my respiratory consultant but then also my asthma nurse and GP as well. I need to consider what they suggest and listen to what they say over the next coming months more so than ever.

For anyone else who is in a situation with their health like I am I know it is a really difficult time. I am fortunate that I don’t have work to juggle as well as that would just be a whole new ball game. I think if I did still have a job I would be speaking to my managers and explaining my situation. On the whole from others who I have spoken to who have health conditions and work their bosses have been pretty accommodating and supportive. Oddly the thing I have been hearing most is that they wish their bosses or workmates would stop going on about how they have to be careful and or how they need to be aware of the news etc because of their situations and being immunocompromised etc. Many know they are just doing it because they care but even Ia have been getting irritated with people telling me to watch out and I don’t work just now and don’t see a huge number of people right now!!

For now we just need to keep up to date with the NHS advice and hope that things do not escalate.

I will continue to prepare for the worst and hope for the best as much as you can with an unknown situation.

The isolation of chronic illness

Someone I follow on Instagram summed up exactly how I feel my asthma has made me. I used to be almost the opposite of myself. I always want to think that chronic illness does not define who I am but then this is not  true at all. I am my chronic illness and I have made myself that way particularly recently. I have been able to embrace having my asthma control my life and have put it too good use. I shave become involved in so much with the new applied research centre for asthma and also the work I do with Asthma UK. If I didnt have the difficult asthma I wouldn’t do any of this.

As much as I appear out going and have a laugh I am almost the polar opposite of who I used to be. 10 years ago I was the one who was out all the time, socialising with friends and had a carefree life. I would be out with friends and not care or worry about getting back to my flat to make sure I had medication etc. I would never hesitate about spending the night on a friends sofa if it was too late to go home. The thought of this now fills me with huge anxieties as I wouldn’t have my inhalers, pills and would worry about keeping people up with my coughing etc.

The app time hop I love to hate. I love it because it brings memories of a carefree life but then I hate t because it is not my life anymore and I envy that life. It would be fantastic to have such a life again.

The person I follow on Instagram I originally started following for the fitness and recipes they post but recently they shared about their friends. It is something I can relate with. Just now I spend a lot of time trying to keep myself well and out of hospital. In doing that it means friends come by the way side. Most of my friends I find I have met them through the work I do with Asthma UK or through support groups and therefore a lot of them are online. I have met them all just about but it means that you can’t just pop round and relax and watch a film, it usually means arranging Skype calls or FaceTime. These friends are ones who you can always rely on. They know exactly how you feel and the right things to say whereas the closest others friends come to knowing how you feel is when they have a cold and even then having a cold is nothing like fighting for your life to breathe!!

It is sad the way illness can change your life so much and leave you with so little control.

I often feel now that I live to work and thats about it. For just now I just want to throw myself into trying to make a change for people with asthma.

This week with my birthday it makes memories creep up and highlight all the bad things that comes with an unstable condition. Not only my birthday but I am also speaking tomorrow about asthma which is filling me with weird emotions as it is bringing up memories from some really hospital admissions. Last time I spoke in public about asthma I ended in tears and made a lot of the audience cry and I really don’t want the same to happen again!