Sickle Cell and Coronavirus (COVID 19): Steps to Take to Protect Yourself.

The world as we know it has today been in a state of semi and permanent lockdown in many countries and cities. We all have the Novel Coronavirus 19 (COVID19) to thank for that.

In December 2019, while majority of the world’s population was busy relaxing and taking stock of what they have been able to accomplish the year over and why and where they need to be grateful as they wait for the long anticipated new decade of 2020, China was busy fighting the Coronavirus 19 where it first broke out in Wuhan Province.

The speed at which the virus has spread to the rest of the world has left the world with all its scientific and technological advancement grappling for breathe.  Thousands have died. Many more have been infected and even thousands more are at risk of infection. Medical facilities and staffs have been overworked and overstretched, with some unfortunately, falling victims to the deadly fangs of the virus. Everyone around the world is affected in one way or the other.

Media is having a field day with the breaking news of daily causalities, sending fear running down the spines of a huge number of the world’s populace. As scientists and researchers get into their labs trying hard to find a vaccine or cure to this virus now declared a global pandemic by the world health watchdog World Health Organization (W.H.O.), the virus has remained relentless in its spread.

Three months after it was first discovered the world as we know it has grounded to a standstill. Countries have shut down their borders and many have declared lockdowns in highly affected areas in an attempt to stem down its spread.

Due to the fact that it is a relatively new virus, little is known about how it affects people living with sickle cell. However, it has been stated that people with Sickle Cell, Diabetes, HIV, Kidney disease and the aged and elderly, because of their immuno-compromised system ( weak immune system) due to their  age and pre- existing conditions are at higher risk of getting sick with the Coronavirus.  This shouldn’t make us fret unnecessarily. Rather, it should make us consciously aware to take the threat serious and do the needful to protect ourselves.
I am not medical personnel, so I am not here dishing out any medical advice or coming in to replace your health care provider. I am as always, trying to write things from the perspective of a sickle cell warrior who has done her possibly best to stay updated and educate herself as much as possible on steps to take to avoid being in harm’s way as far as this COVID19 is concerned. And yes, there have actually been confirmed cases of people with sickle cell being affected with the virus. So, you see, we are not immune. Everyone is at risk. Let’s do the needful.

What then are some of the things we can do?  Reading and talking to some public health experts has helped me to practice the following:

1. Social Distancing is very important at this point. Yes, nobody likes to be confined, especially when dealing with pain episodes does enough of its own confinement. However, this should be a very welcomed confinement for our own safety and protection. STAY AT HOME as much as you possibly can. Avoid unnecessary and non-essential travels, events which bring you around crowded areas and exposure to sick people.  If you live in an area where work from home is an easy option, opt for that and stay at home. If you have to still get out and go to work, do all you can to protect yourself.

2. In the face of panic buying and all that fear of running out of stock, prioritize. Stock up on important supplies you will need. Make sure you have all your essential drugs and water to last you a while. I understand it is a challenge for many of us, but getting these essentials are worth the sacrifice, so do it. Next, try to stock up on some necessary food items.

3. Do what you can to boost your immune system. We cannot be too sure how this work against the COVID 19 but we all do know one thing: A healthy body and immune system is a protection against diseases and infections. At this time when medical personnel are focused on fighting this pandemic, we do not want to land in the hospital and risk being ignored. So, boost up that system with vitamins, eat healthy, keep up drinking lots of water and stay safe.

4. Anxiety and stress are two huge triggers for crisis in sickle cell. And to be sure, these are quite stressful and anxious times. We can do our best to minimize our stress and anxiety levels. So do your best to avoid triggers. Treat symptoms so as not to end up in the hospital.  Contact your Doctor for advice if need be before you go into the hospital.

5. Self-isolate yourself if need be. We have to be intentional in taking care to avoid the risk of infection by all means possible. You can learn a new skill online, read an interesting book or two, and keep yourself updated on useful updates concerning warriors from reputable websites like Sickle Cell 101.

6. Follow religiously, the prescribed rules given by experts.  Practicing basic hygiene never killed anyone. Wash your hands regularly. Use hand sanitizers when going out. Wear Facemasks when going out. To avoid buying fake ones, it is advisable to buy from a reputable place like a pharmacy. Clean the surface areas of your home (kitchen, toilet, fridge, cell phones etc), avoid handshakes, touching your face, nose and mouth.  I repeat, keep the basic hygiene rules religiously. Yes, I know many will say in places like Cameroon, water is a luxury. Nevertheless, be proactive and intentional in maintaining basic hygiene with what you have.

The government can only put rules and regulations in place. They will not come and hold our hands and force us to obey. Do your bit to stay safe.  It is also understandable that media hype and information over kill would cause more fear than it is necessary. Fake news spreads faster. Be mindful of the sites you get your updates from so as to reduce anxiety and fear. Nevertheless, the scourge of the coronavirus is no joke. It is as real as the air we breathe, so we all need to take it very SERIOUS and do all what we can to stay safe.

7. Lastly, if you are one to pray, draw close to your God and PRAY. Within the confines of your home, he sees your heart and hears you. So, PRAY. After doing all that you can humanly do, let him do the rest. Keep the FAITH.

Like I said above, I am not medical personnel. Let us leave the diagnosis, treatment and medical advice to them. May I use this opportunity to thank ALL the front liners doing their best, at great sacrifice to keep us all healthy and safe against this menacing virus? If this Sango Coro no kee we all or end the world, we sure shall rise again. In the meantime, let’s continue to take care and remember to check on your love ones and send some positive messages and vibes out.  Social distancing does not mean end to communications. Call, text whatever works for you and spread the positive vibes.

P.S: All Pictures used here with credits.

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