I am the 1 in 5: At Risk During a Global Pandemic



This month marks month five of our new reality of self-quarantining, following social distancing guidelines, and life as we know it being cancelled until further notice. COVID-19 has been the curve ball none of us saw coming in 2020. But what happens when you find yourself the 1 in 5 people who is at higher risk of contracting COVID-19? What happens when you become a statistic?

I am immunocompromised. This means that I live with a chronic condition that has weakened or compromised my immune system, making me more susceptible to illnesses. I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition about four years ago. Later, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder similar to Lupus (Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease) just weeks before the pandemic hit. I was just learning to cope with my new reality of this new illness when the world stopped turning. To put it bluntly, I was scared.

Right at the start of the shutdown, I was laid off from my job. No one is happy to suddenly lose their job, but it gave me the freedom to stay home and keep myself and my weakened immune system safe. It gave me the freedom to only venture outside my home during the grocery store hours specifically reserved for the vulnerable population. Unfortunately, this wasn't always a cake walk.

The first time I left my home to go grocery shopping on the designated day reserved for vulnerable shoppers, I was anxious and frankly, already not feeling well. I was stopped at the door by the manager and told that this hour was only for the elderly population to shop. I calmly explained through my mask that the vulnerable population didn't just encompass the elderly and that it also included anyone considered immunocompromised. The manager allowed me into the store with an apology, but I was stared at and given dirty looks by other shoppers the entire time I was in the store, and even stopped by other shoppers twice, telling me I shouldn't be there. I was surprised and hurt that so many people had no idea that invisible illnesses exist and that a person could walk around looking perfectly healthy, but inside, be sick, in pain, and suffering. I cried. I haven't been back to the grocery store during vulnerable shopper hours.

Having been laid off from my job, I was applying to anything I could get my hands on. I went on lots of interviews (over the phone, on Zoom, and some in person) and made it to the final round for many of them, but with so many people out of work, the competition has been unreal. I finally stopped my formal job search after being exposed to COVID during an interview. I was told I would need to self-quarantine and get tested as soon as possible. My test results were negative and then still didn't end up getting the job. Needless to say, I was, and am, feeling pretty defeated.

We are in uncharted territory. No one knows what life is going to look like in America in a month, or six months, or even next year. If we have a prayer of getting back to "normal," here are some of the steps I'm personally taking to keep myself as safe and healthy as possible:

1. Wearing a mask in public (ALWAYS)
It's not my favorite thing in the world, but it's the smallest, easiest way you can help to make a difference. Make it your new favorite accessory!

2. Washing my hands thoroughly and often
There are fun dances and songs you can learn online to make sure you're getting those hands squeaky clean! Don't forget to scrub underneath your fingernails!

3. Staying home as much as possible
This doesn't mean I've been a hermit for five months. I see my close family occasionally now that some of the restrictions in my state have loosened. I've seen some friends. I've even gone out to eat at restaurants, but I'm following the rules set forth by my state. My rule of thumb is to stay home much more than I'm out.

4. Being smart about where I do decide to go out
Do I *need* to go browse Target? Probably not. Do I need to run in and pick up a few essential things? Sure. But let's get what we need quickly and get on home.

5. Social Distancing!
Honestly, this six-feet-apart rule should be a thing, no matter what.


Are you facing the same struggles as me as an immunocompromised individual? What steps are you taking to keep you and your family safe during COVID-19? Tell us in the comments or drop us a note on our socials!



2 comments

  1. I am sorry that you are feeling defeated and that you got laid off from your job. I hope that you are capable of staying well and not getting this awful virus. I have been taking every precaution necessary to protect myself and my loved ones. I definitely follow the steps you listed about wearing a mask when out in public, frequently washing my hands, and social distancing. I hope you are able to get a new job soon that won't compromise your health. Best wishes!

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    1. Thank you so much Carolyn! I truly appreciate your kind words and that you're taking the steps to protect yourself. Hopefully we can move forward as a whole very soon from this terrible virus. Take care and stay safe!

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