In the midst of COVID-19, the general population is getting a front row seat and a firsthand glance at how cystic fibrosis patients feel every day. Cystic fibrosis patients are part of the population who are most at risk during this pandemic because we have an underlying respiratory condition, but although we may be some of the most at risk, we are also some of the most prepared to live in quarantine and isolation.
Isolation: The complete separation from others or a person suffering from contagious or infectious disease (Dictionary.com). Sounds pretty miserable, right?
Isolation is not a term that is so distant to the CF community.
Saying no to plans when people are sick, being extra careful around flu season or sick people, being cautious using public transportation, carrying around mini Purell bottles with us at all times, wearing masks when we travel on airplanes -- these are all aspects of “social distancing” that CF patients have been practicing and employing long before this pandemic (I mean they even made a movie about staying six feet apart).
For all of us in the CF community, we are always trying to raise awareness of what this disease is like and what it feels like to live this way day after day. Now with the rest of the country and the globe jumping on the bandwagon of social distancing and careful community gathering, they may have a small appreciation for what it is like to live with this illness day after day. These are things that CF patients have been doing for years.
We are champion social distancers, and I would stretch as far to say experts on how to stay healthy and careful during this challenging time.
What Isolation Is Like With CF
As CF patients, we have lived for days, weeks -- some of us even months -- on end in a single hospital room. Some have spent holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries at home alone, not able to be with the people or in the environments they love the most. This is incredibly difficult, and the rest of the world is experiencing what that is like during COVID-19.
A quote from Desmond Tutu states: “A person is a person through other persons. None of us comes into the world fully formed. We would not know how to think, or walk, or speak, or behave as human beings unless we learned it from other human beings. We need other human beings in order to be human.” A person can only feel truly alive through relationships. We as human beings, CF or not, were not meant to tackle this life alone.
Now more than ever, we must recognize the importance of staying connected, especially in light of COVID-19. Here are some tips on how to get through quarantine, isolation, and difficult times of being alone:
- Reach out to people! Human connection is incredibly important, especially at times like these when we may not be able to be physically with the people we love the most.
- Instead of texting, use Facetime or make video calls. Send letters or pictures.
- Read a book.
- Color, draw, paint.
- Get outside, get fresh air, and take a walk (while maintaining social distancing).
Please stay safe, stay smart, stay connected, and stay home!
Interested in sharing your story? The CF Community Blog wants to hear from you.