I’m chronically ill and I’m also on #teamopenup

So, crazy times right? I have always had an affinity for virus movies – never for a minute did I think I would be living in one, but here we are.

This is pandemic living and I didn’t think it, or I, would be like this.

To be quite frank, I am not coping with the stay at home orders. Not at all. As soon as they announced the closure of restaurants and cafes I felt instantly claustrophobic – like I could breathe. Things have pretty much gone down hill from there.

Things for me in particular changed quickly during March and April. As an essential supplier to the emergency services sector I was confident that my job would survive through the evolving situation, I also knew many would not. At the end of March, however, everything changed, seemingly overnight. Our major business partner, located in New Zealand, did not receive an operating exemption during their alert level 4. Our supply chain broke and basically, you can’t sell stock you don’t have – even if first responders are screaming for it. All of the staff at my current work place agreed on a deal – 65% of pay for 65% of work. As we entered the first week of working from home and the new deal I realised that while I could do the 65% of pay I couldn’t do the 65% of work. To keep my anxiety under control I worked as much as I could and to be honest when a tender project came up, I was rather glad.

Let’s put cards on the table. While I have not been on active immunosuppression for over 12 months, I am still considered medically frail, or “at risk” if your sensibilities prefer.

I now fall under the term “immunomodified”. Basically that means they blasted my Crohn’s Disease with a whole slew of immunosuppressants while I was at my sickest and while I’m not on active treatment now, my immune system is damaged beyond the point of repair. So – when I get a virus I usually get it more severally, it lasts for longer and occasionally medical intervention is required especially if secondary infections are involved.

Breaking it down, it sucks anytime someone gets sick – but medically, it sucks more for me.

The question on everyones lips, particularly my bosses who is mortified that I still turn up the office when working from home is an option, is “will I die if I catch Coronavirus”. While it can never be known as a matter of certainty, I would most likely survive the infection, but it would probably result in some hospital time and we all know how much I love that.

With all that being said – as the title suggests, I’m still on #teamopenup. In response to my stance I have been called a murderer. I’m going to go ahead and say it – I’m pretty sure that’s over the top.

I don’t want to die, and I don’t want the people around me to die either. I have acted with community interest and I’ve followed all the directions from the government and medical experts regardless of whether they conflicted with my own stand point.

I feel like some medically relevant information has been swept aside over the last 12 weeks and we are now aiming for something that’s ultimately unsustainable – eradication.

The message was always “flatten the curve” not “eradicate coronavirus”, mainly because one is possible, the other is pure fantasy. Coronavirus can not be eradicated now – it’s out and ingrained in the population. It will keep cycling the globe until a vaccine is found or until the virus looses potency.

If we were still on the “flatten the curve” path we’d now be trying to to build some sort of herd immunity among the young and healthy so we could insulate those at risk. Basically we’d be letting the virus circulate amongst the young and the youth so they develop anti-bodies. The more people with anti-bodies the more insulated a community becomes. We’re not doing that. Instead we’re aiming for the coveted ‘zero cases’ which New Zealand has proved is attainable, but let’s be honest it’s not sustainable.

Our economy and many others around the world cannot sustain the current demands on social welfare – in fact some, particularly in South America can not provide social welfare any longer at all. Am I putting money before lives? No, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m saying it’s time we start looking at the lesser of two evils. With welfare payments in Australia being scaled back from July 1, without a functioning economy we’re going to start seeing a whole lot of new problems including exponential increases in self harm, suicide, domestic violence, theft and other serious consequences of the new societal norm. This is going to add up, we stand at 102 lives lost due to Corona, death due to the fall out from Corona is set to exceed that by some multiplier.

We have the tools to combat the virus now – and the focus needs to be shifted from “acting in the best interest of the at risk” to protecting yourself – and thereby protecting those around you.

When you have a busted immune system – they teach you skills that keep you out of the hospital. Funny enough, they are: wash your hands, don’t touch people, stay in your bubble, don’t spread it round if you’re sick. They also insist that you keep living your life regardless of the fact the seasonal flu could kill you. Most of us do indeed get on with our lives even though the simple act of shaking a business partners hand can land us in the hospital for an untold amount of time.

People are scared – and I get it. I probably get it better than most. I have been hospitalised several times from the flu virus, I’ve had Whooping Cough twice even though I’m fully immunised with the appropriate boosters, the list goes on and on and on… you better believe I get it. But I also get that if lock yourself away and stop doing all the things that bring you joy out of fear you have missed the point of all this.

I can’t speak for all chronically ill people, but I can speak from my own experience. In 2010 when I was sat down and told that I almost died a lot changed for me. My focus switched from saving for a rainy day to buying an umbrella and learning how to make the best of it. Since that time we have systematically spent every cent we’ve ever made in the pursuit of sucking every sweet drop out of life… and even though we don’t have three investment properties – we have a house full of photos which each represent a moment where we decided not to take life for granted.

So #openup, go out, see your friends, watch a movie, go for a drive. Live. Do the things that bring meaning to what we are protecting. Stimulate the economy, help others. Do all the things that make you a human. But add a few extra steps into your routine that protect you.

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