An Outlier with MS, Coronavirus Nears as I Self-isolate

An Outlier with MS, Coronavirus Nears as I Self-isolate
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“It’s the end of the world as we know it.”R.E.M.

Welcome to the world of COVID-19. Coronaviruses aren’t new: severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) are both coronaviruses. But this uninvited guest, COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, has arrived and changed our world. It has dramatically affected my life. News anchors echo rhetoric and reassurances. Do they know I can hear them assure the masses that only those of us in high-risk categories may die?

Out of an abundance of caution, my neurologist canceled my disease-modifying therapy. My already weakened immunity becomes further compromised with Rituxan (rituximab) due to B-cell depletion. This places me at a higher risk of acquiring coronavirus. Hence, I am to isolate myself at home and wait.

I recall watching this disease devastate the Wuhan province of China. I felt safe as the geographic chasm was huge. That false sense of security is gone. No longer is it “over there.” The chasm has closed. The coronavirus is here. And with it comes an ominous new reality. We are in a state of emergency where fear eclipses logic and hoarding replaces rationale.

As chaos ensues around me, I wait. Never has silence been so deafening. I pray for my husband who will be 70. I pray for my parents who are out of the country. I pray for my kids, colleagues, and friends, many of whom have underlying health issues. I pray for our nation and our world as a whole. I pray that unity overshadows division.

Our world is at war. Each of us, the outliers, are on the front lines. Outliers. We are different from the rest. We are extraordinarily unique. While we may possess physical vulnerability, we embody enviable strength. Our strength lies not in our physical aptitude but our ability to adapt. For we know change well and have come to expect it as the norm.

We do what we have to do without hesitation because that is how we survive. We give freely and without hesitation because nothing material matters as much as another moment. We love deeply and forgive quickly. We understand isolation as we have lived it many times over. In some infinitesimal way, we are the most adept of soldiers.

Perhaps that is our fortitude.

Our past experience leaves us with a unique level of preparedness. As much as the coronavirus frightens me, I am oddly calm. I have taken every measure I can to protect myself and my household. I hand my fear over and pray.

I urge you to take every precaution. Practice social distancing or, if you are high risk, isolation. Ask for help from those in your community. Stress exacerbates MS and this is a very stressful time. Reach out to family and friends to talk through your fears. Call your physician for guidance. Although it may feel otherwise, you are not alone. We are in this as a community. We will endure this as such. You have my prayers.

***

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.

Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. She is also an active advocate in the MS community. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.
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Jennifer Powell is a health writer and weekly columnist on Multiple Sclerosis. She is also an active advocate in the MS community. Jennifer imparts her hopeful optimism into real-life challenges facing the MS community. Prior to writing her column, Jennifer freelanced for several online periodicals including WebMD. When not writing, Jennifer enjoys volunteering with animal rescue, traveling and spending time with her Golden Retriever.
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8 comments

  1. Suebee says:

    Thank you Jennifer, you articulated what I was feeling so beautifully. In this crazy time, your care for family, compassion for others, and faith resonated with me. But you also highlighted something I hadn’t focused on. As an outlier, I am accustomed to isolation. I have honed my strength and ability to adapt. Thank you for that reminder. Peace be with you.

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Hi Suebee,

      I’m grateful this could bring you a measure of comfort during this ominous time.

      Yes you are an outlier. You have innumerable strengths perhaps never thought of as such. I believe in them.

      Stay safe and know you are never alone.

      Kindly,
      Jenn

  2. Elias Mercado says:

    Thank you for the article, Jennifer. Being an MS patient for the last forty years, it seems that COVID-19 is another thing to add to my list. I’ll do what will be necessary to keep myself and my family unit safe.
    Stay healthy.

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Elias,

      Thank you for commenting.

      You have the ability to adapt and modify. Two absolute essentials during this ominous time.

      Sending you my prayers.

      Kindly,
      Jenn

  3. RLC says:

    Thank you for your calming voice telling all that’s in my mind. Thank you for your prayers – right back at you! Namaste

    • Jennifer Powell says:

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my column. Let us each take things one day at a time.

      Thinking of you.
      Kindly,
      Jenn

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