Managing Sarcoidosis and Mental Health During the COVID-19 Crisis
This has been a rough week, to say the least. Last week, I lost one of my oldest aunts. She was my mother’s oldest sister and she meant a lot to me. She lived in Washington, D.C., and she let me live with her when I took a job there. Two days after her death, I lost my oldest uncle in Virginia. He was my aunt’s brother-in-law. When those two got together, the fireworks started. They were great people and their deaths have left multiple holes in our family.
Then COVID-19 hit the scene
Initially, I was somewhat in a panic. Having pulmonary sarcoidosis means I have severe lung issues and should remain indoors until this pandemic passes. I had two doctors’ appointments last week, one with my pulmonologist and the other with a gastroenterologist.
Upon arriving at my pulmonologist’s office, I was handed a face mask and asked to wear it. I quickly noticed that everyone in the waiting area was wearing one. So much for feeling out of place. But I totally understood and was happy to oblige.
The next day, I returned to the hospital for my second appointment. As soon as I entered the building, I saw that there weren’t a lot of people mulling around. The security guard was asking folks if they knew where they were going and was handing them face masks.
When I arrived at my appointment, surprisingly, not one patient or staff member was wearing a mask. Once I finished my appointment, I asked the nurse for a mask and she gave me the rest from a box on the counter. I left feeling properly equipped to enter the real world.
Remain calm and proceed
The next few days were very stressful. Having serious lung issues, watching all the news coverage about voluntary quarantining and social distancing brought back memories of the two months I spent in the hospital during summer 2017. Spending an excessive amount of time alone can affect a person’s mental health, especially when it seems as if there’s no answer in sight.
I started getting our household in order. My mother-in-law and I went to a few supermarkets. We wanted to make sure each of our households had plenty of groceries and staples in the event we were housebound for more than the recommended 15 days. We even made sure we had enough “adult” beverages on hand to enjoy while quarantined.
My mother-in-law is like my personal bodyguard. I usually take her shopping with me because she makes sure people stay away from me when I’m wearing my oxygen.
Control the situation before it controls you
This past Sunday, my wife and I shopped for a few more needed items that were on sale. When we arrived at the market, I put on my oxygen, plastic gloves, and a face mask from my doctor’s appointment. Inside the store, some people looked at me oddly. Truth be told, wearing all of this ensures me peace of mind because no one dares come near me — social distancing at its best.
Surprisingly, the other shoppers were very pleasant considering we’re in the middle of a health crisis. I even saw one employee wearing a mask and plastic gloves like me. She was exercising social distance, too! We got our groceries and made our way home, laughing at my social distancing skills.
Later that evening, my family and I discussed my health concerns in relation to the global health crisis. I asked them to limit their time out of the house, especially if they’re around other people, because that could have a negative effect on me. I also suggested we periodically disconnect ourselves from the news and social media because of the amount of information being shared. Too much is never a good thing, especially information with a lot of mixed messages.
Having a chronic health condition is serious. You always have to be on top of both your physical and mental health because a crisis like this can escalate your stress level. During this time, your mental health plays a huge part in your ability to physically adjust to this “new” and hopefully short normal. Remember, you’re not alone. There’s safety in numbers and we all have to stick together, figuratively.
Note: Sarcoidosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Sarcoidosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are