I have now had a chronic autoimmune disease — ulcerative colitis — for almost half of my life. Although the disease is not technically “active” for me right now, it’s still something I live with everyday.
Having an autoimmune disease means that your immune system is confused and attacks your body, thinking it is somehow a foreign invader. For ulcerative colitis specifically, this means, as the name would suggest, ulcers in the colon.
There are lots of theories as to why this happens, including a disrupted gut microbiota, or the possibility of parasites or other nasties hiding out in the gut. Either way, the bottom line is that since 70–80% of the immune system lives in the gut, and my gut doesn’t function properly, my immune system is compromised.
Colds, flu, and germs in general are things I tend to be more aware of avoiding than the average person, because I know it will take me at least twice as long as the average person to fight it off.
I’ve had colds that have hung around for weeks turning into months because my immune system couldn’t get it’s shit together.
Not to mention that even when I’m “well,” I still feel a general sense of fatigue dragging me down as the day goes on; I’m usually ready for a two-hour nap by 2pm.
So how do I feel about COVID-19? Pretty chill, actually.
The most basic instructions for containing the virus include washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water every time you use the bathroom and several times a day besides, staying hydrated, and isolating yourself from others where possible, particularly from large groups of people or those who have recently travelled.
Um yeah, that’s just everyday life for me and anyone else who’s immunocompromised.
Quick PSA: If you don’t regularly wash your damn hands after you do the do, ya nasty. WASH YOUR HANDS PEOPLE! Please and thank you.
Other basic things I do on the reg to protect my very confused immune system:
- Take vitamin C, D, and zinc every day
- Drink purified water with lemon and added trace minerals/electrolytes
- Eat whole foods and avoid junk
- Get as much sleep as my body needs, including naps if necessary
- Wear a mask when traveling
- Avoid sick people like they’re zombies out to get my brains.
Feel free to take any of these strategies and adapt them to your coronavirus protection plan. Honestly, as long as you take care of yourself and maybe up your vitamin C intake, you’ll be fine. Your real responsibility lies in not spreading the virus to others who are compromised, so social distance the heck out of my way.
And remember not to panic (stress compromises your immune system too!), practice breathing exercises, and be grateful that your body is strong enough to handle this threat. This too shall pass.
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