Multiple Sclerosis & COVID-19

If you didn’t know already, I’ve had Multiple Sclerosis for 18 years. I mention this because so-called news outlets have been downplaying COVID-19 – you know the drill: Democratic plot, the flu is more of a killer (so I guess we should just ignore the hell out of the cornavirus). I am in at “at risk” group because Multiple Sclerosis is an autoimmune disease.

Today, I had my monthly infusion, along with some other masked MS patients – at least 6 feet apart. But there were only 3 of us this time. (I think there are 10 chairs.) I don’t know why, but it was chilling.

Being on a disease modifying therapy (DMT), when I walked into the infusion center this morning, I wondered: is my number up? As the MS Society wrote: “Some disease modifying therapies increase your risk of infections, including COVID-19. This must be weighed against other factors including your MS activity, your age, other medical conditions and other potential factors that could impact your DMT. This is a difficult decision and needs a thorough discussion with your MS provider.” (Unfortunately, they don’t tell me what DMTs could increase your risk. However, NOT taking a DMT could destroy an MS patient.)

People have asked me if I’m afraid being in an “at risk” group. My sort of non-answer is that I’m probably not any more afraid than anyone else. I’m just unlucky!

If for a heartbeat you believe that this pandemic is less that what it is, if you believe that what the medical journals and the legitimate press report is bullshit, then take a walk in my shoes – or the shoes of anyone with a condition or disease that puts them in the “at risk” group. Hell, just put yourself in anyone else’s shoes; your neighbor’s, your priest’s, your girlfriend’s, your mailman’s. I’m not special, and I certainly am not writing this for sympathy. I don’t hide the fact that I have MS, but I don’t like to advertise it.

But I hear again and again excuses for the pandemic, explanations for WHAT IT IS NOT. Yes, a bad bout of the flu could kill me. But I’m not all that fearful of the flu, for there is a flu shot. Not 100% effective, but 50-60% effective (according to John Hopkins and the CDC) is better than nothing. But there is no COVID-19 shot, not yet.

There is a very old woman who lives next door to me. I think she might be in almost every “at risk” category one way or another. I don’t want this woman’s life to end with this virus, to end where she is in an isolated hospital room, NOT surrounded by her loved ones, for they are not allowed in. Yes, yes, we all die alone, but it would be nice to have some company when we go.

I don’t want people to believe that this COVID-19 is some kind of hoax. It’s real, it’s here, deal with it or not.

Don’t congregate, always wear a mask in public, just follow whatever the current rules are. Screw Trump and his paranoia – this is about OUR lives, not his (and his re-election concerns are only important to those who worship him as a false god). Let him walk around without a mask because it would mess up his hair or smear his spray tan. I do not care what those people say; let them stew in their own juices. This is about my life and yours. I’ve read more than once about people who didn’t believe the FACTS, but changed their tune when a person they love was diagnosed. If someone has a gun to your head, and there’s a group of people telling you it’s a water pistol, don’t listen, keep on walking, it’s YOUR life – and if you end up getting wet, so be it.

But, hey, the world is SLOWLY coming back on track, which is good news for everyone. I think of the small businesses that I frequent (Siren Records, Brave New Worlds), and I am glad they’re hanging on. Their time will come – as long as WE don’t treat this virus frivolously.

Be safe. Be cautious. Follow the rules, yes, but more importantly, follow your heart. Being in an “at risk” group or not, I have no plans on departing the planet just yet – and certainly not from COVID-19. I have 2 books coming out this year. I adopted a a Lab named Duke this past December. I’m wearing a mask, baby!

To go back to an earlier question, the truth is – I’m afraid.

But we have the best scientists, the best doctors and nurses, we have the greatest first responders, and, most importantly, we have the greatest thinkers.

When this thought pops into my head, I’m a little less afraid.

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