It usually takes me six months or longer to land an appointment with my neurologist. In October, I met virtually with him just a week after calling to schedule one. It was the same with other specialists: little to no wait time. But while this change benefits me, it may signal trouble for others.
A dozen of my scheduled examinations were postponed when the pandemic began. By the time I was able to resume in-person healthcare in June, other issues had crept in, requiring face time with even more doctors. I went, despite concerns about the novel coronavirus. But not everyone is doing the same.
The Commonwealth Fund reported in October that after falling nearly 60% in April, outpatient care visits had rebounded overall to pre-pandemic levels. What’s concerning is that trips to some healthcare providers that are important for treating and monitoring sarcoidosis haven’t bounced back.
Weekly visits are still substantially below the baseline for pulmonology (-20%), cardiology (-10%), and neurology (-8%), the report said. My pulmonologist warned me of the importance of being seen annually, even when in remission. Readers cautioned me about cardiac sarcoidosis, a condition that is not as rare as once believed. Like many others with sarcoidosis, my small fiber neuropathy went undiagnosed for a long time.
I also make my overall health a priority to help in my rare disease battle. So, even the up close and personal procedures I dread most, such as a colonoscopy, got tackled this year. But many people are delaying needed care because of COVID-19. In the Physicians Foundation’s 2020 Survey of America’s Physicians, 72% of physicians believe that these delays will have serious consequences.
Outbreaks have pushed infection risk to the highest level possible in nearly every state in the U.S., according to NPR’s case counts. I barreled through appointments and finished in October because I expected cases to soar when temperatures got cooler. Following are the keys ways I tried to keep myself safe while doing so.
Be on guard
I stuck to practices with the most preventive measures in place. Overall, I found physician offices within hospitals were the strictest. They did temperature checks and verbally screened for COVID-19 symptoms before examinations, and all but one required me to call before entering and to come alone.
When I had to undergo physical therapy, I made use of idle chatter to gauge the threat of spending over an hour in close contact with the person treating me. Simply asking how my therapist’s weekend was gave me insight into how careful she was being in the midst of the crisis. Her decisions to virtually school her kids, avoid large gatherings, and stick to takeout dining all meant lower risk to me.
Limiting the time we spend with others also reduces our potential exposure. Before you go, jot down the issues you need to discuss. Bring new test results and a list of the medications, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. It’s quicker and easier to hand over the information for review. It also ensures you don’t forget anything.
Don’t get lax
Wear a mask properly covering your nose and mouth, and keep it on. Make sanitizing a priority while you’re there and when you leave. I’m no medical professional, but I clean up like one after visiting them. I immediately toss whatever I wore into the hamper and then shower.
Focusing on our well-being now is more important than ever. Before skipping or postponing care, consider alternatives, such as telemedicine. Also consult with your doctor, because the decision could impact your health.
Brighter side: We all could use a break from bad news right now. So, I’ll be closing my columns with a roundup of positivity until we are able to say goodbye to masks, hug our loved ones, and leave our homes without fear.
- Lighting up the holidays: Dazzling light displays are part of Christmas festivities worldwide. You can find the most stunning by checking out the following. Americans, we do love our Christmas lights. For the best-lit neighborhoods in every state, read USA Today’s roundup. If you are setting out for Christmas light trails in the U.K., don’t leave without the Daily Mirror’s top picks. Draping 220,000 bulbs along Oxford Street put London on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of the world’s 22 best light displays. Read about the other glowing standouts here.
- A mini-me for all: There’s a new option at Funko’s Washington headquarters and Hollywood location: custom Funko Pops. The stores launched Pop People earlier this month, which gives customers thousands of choices for hair, apparel, and accessories to create a figurine likeness of themself or others, Gizmodo reported. They cost $25 and aren’t available online. But you can create and download a custom Pop! avatar on Funko’s website.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to sarcoidosis.
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