MS Patients Face Additional Barriers Due to the Coronavirus
Well, this is super weird. Being told to stay home and leave our houses only for food, medication, or exercise is bizarre for those of us in England. It’s starting to take a toll on my mental health.
The other day, I stood in line at the end of my road for a half-hour to get into my corner shop for essentials. In the store, tape covered the floor, marking out 2-meter sections to ensure that no one stands too close together. One can only access the aisles if they are empty of other shoppers.
Everyone in the store was wearing a face mask, except for me because I can’t seem to find one anywhere, and the staff were wearing gloves. Shopping baskets and carts in all of the supermarkets are now sanitized by staff before shoppers are allowed into the store.
And there are many other changes to “normal” things, including home schooling and not being allowed to go to the local doctor’s office.
Another thing that’s crazy: Every Thursday at 8 p.m., the whole of England (admittedly minus me, because I’m typically exhausted and in my pajamas by that time) stands in their doorways to clap for our healthcare workers on the front line. It’s a beautiful thing to do, but it’s also weird. I’m sure if our healthcare workers had the choice, they’d prefer the people clapping in a doorway to help them out by staying at home rather than having parties, which several houses near me seem to have done lately.
Our healthcare workers in England are working like crazy and experiencing an increasing number of contagious patients heading into their hospitals. It’s also a scary time for patients with chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis. At least telemedicine is now an option.
Many of the people with multiple sclerosis on my social media feed are having to go to the hospital to receive their infusion treatments. Treatments like Lemtrada (alemtuzumab), Ocrevus (ocrelizumab), and Gilenya (fingolimod) can suppress the immune system, leaving patients more vulnerable to infection. If you receive these treatments, the MS Trust offers some guidance about how to manage them during this pandemic.
If you’re concerned about continuing with your current treatment, it’s essential to talk with your healthcare team.
One thing that currently worries me is the thought of having to have a blood test and to pick up my Tecfidera (dimethyl fumarate) tablets. I’ve mostly remained in my house for weeks, and my anxiety admittedly is rising.
Taking Tecfidera means that every three months, I need to head to a hospital for a blood test. My hospital is over an hour away, which is a long way to go for a blood test. When the test is completed, I then need to revisit the hospital to pick up my medication a week later, exposing myself to possible infection yet again. The pharmacy at the hospital has just changed hands, and the new one won’t deliver. Sigh.
We have a few weeks of tablets left, so let’s see where the world is then.
Have you had to experience an infusion in the hospital or found it difficult to access medication during this pandemic? Please share in the comments below.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today 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 Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.