I know that this is the topic that everyone and no one wants to address. You’ve probably heard about it too much in the past month. I don’t want to talk about the virus itself but rather the conversation around it. Recently, I got into a conversation about the hype the media has brought to the virus. The people I was conversing with believe it’s talked about too much and there is no reason to panic. I don’t think people should panic. People should be concerned and prepared. Having a parent that works in the medical field, I know how serious this is for hospitals. This is cause for concern. Yes, there are tons of people who get the virus and go on with their lives normally after quarantine. However, there are also people who are immunocompromised. These people can pass from getting this virus.
Being a part of the chronic illness community, I know a lot of people on immunosuppressants. Two people in my family are on them. This is an issue that is very near and dear to my heart. When people say that we should not panic they are often from two groups. Some of them are addressing the over hype from the media. The other is a population of people that say “We survived these other illnesses, we’ll survive this one too.” This is my problem. You may have survived, but others didn’t. People die from these panic inducing viruses, hence the panic. It’s not real to people unless it’s someone close to them that passes. I can’t explain how frustrating this is to me.
A large population of those who pass from the coronavirus are elderly individuals. They may have lived long and productive lives but they could’ve lived longer. This goes for those who are immunocompromised by autoimmune diseases as well. Individuals with attitudes like those stated above seem to value human lives differently. It’s as if because they’re healthy and don’t have to worry about themselves they should have no concern. Those who die because they are immunocompromised don’t count. There are precautionary measures everyone should take in order to stay healthy. Those who are already ill with a condition they cannot control should not have to be quarantined. Those who have the virus or potentially have the virus should be following protocol.
This is heavy on my heart because I’ve heard about a lot of discrimination in the chronic illness community. We’re often hidden among healthy individuals. I don’t want to start an argument where it’s not needed but there’s a massive problem with ableism. Unless you’re pointing it out, it’s riddled in conversations and interactions. It’s something that often goes completely unaddressed. This is unfair, at best. The worst part is, when you point it out, people see no problem with it. Healthy individuals don’t understand what it’s like to have chronic illness. It’s like those who don’t suffer from anxiety telling someone with anxiety that they get anxious too. It’s not the same thing.
That’s not to say that healthy individuals don’t have legitimate issues but they are different. Sympathizing is great. That being said, people have a hard time understanding people with chronic conditions. I want to start this dialogue because it’s needed, now more than ever. The coronavirus is starting a conversation. I urge you, no matter what side you’re on, to listen and do your best to understand individuals you’re conversing with.