Living with a Compromised Immune System
Finding the right treatment for my chronic hives has been quite the challenge. I have a very severe case of chronic hives and it has been very difficult to get them under control. Back in January my doctor and I decided to try immunosuppressive therapy since an autoimmune disorder causes my hives. I’m happy to say that the medication has worked wonders in controlling my hives, but it hasn’t come without its problems.
The very nature of an immunosuppressive drug is to suppress the immune system so that it doesn’t work so hard attacking itself. In an autoimmune disorder, the immune system is on overdrive and starts to attack its own cells, in my case, masts cells. Mast cells are the root of hives and angioedema, so keeping my body from attacking those cells is what’s important.
Unfortunately, immunosuppressive drugs are not selective. Not only do they keep my immune system from attacking itself, but it also keeps my immune system from attacking other intruders, like viruses and bacteria. Essentially, it renders my body helpless from fighting off infections.
There is a lot of inherent danger in being on these kinds of medications and I've had to make some lifestyle changes as a result. Thankfully the pandemic has made a lot of these changes more manageable. Access to virtual visits, grocery and shopping delivery, and general efforts for cleanliness, masking, and the like, have made living with a compromised immune system a lot easier.
Take out or delivery?
Before the pandemic, there were certainly resources for having groceries and other goods available for pick-up or delivery. But the availability of a wide variety of products and goods has certainly exploded in the last couple of years. I am limited on where I can go, and often choose to not go anywhere. Thankfully I have access to pretty much everything I need from the comfort of my home. The downside is that I often cannot choose the specific products I want, the upside is that I don’t spend money on impulse purchases!
The world is an oyster
Practically everything can be done virtually now. Wow! Hasn’t this been a game changer for the chronic illness community? There are so many things available on a virtual platform now, that the world is pretty much your oyster, you only need a computer! Many doctors' offices still offer virtual appointments and even urgent care visits. Many conferences are available on a virtual platform, some even offering hybrid options for people to attend in person or virtually. There are even religious institutions that have virtual options for people who cannot attend in person.
The term “germaphobe” definitely existed before the spread of a super-virus, but now that we have all been faced with the realities of superbugs, a lot more people are conscientious about germs and how they are spread. Many health systems still require everyone to wear a mask, some stores offer special shopping hours for those with a weakened immune system. And you can hardly go anywhere now without finding a bottle of hand sanitizer as soon as you walk in the door. People are much more aware of the spread of germs and how to avoid spreading them.
Being on an immunosuppressant has definitely changed how I function day to day. I have to be much more careful about the things I do and the places I go. Lucky me (?) the worldwide challenges from the last few years have made living with a compromised immune system much more palatable.
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