By Rebecca Gillett, MS OTR/L – Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast Co-Host
It has been a really hard year. We have all dealt with increased stress and anxiety over the fear of the unknown when it comes to the pandemic and COVID-19. We have spent so much time washing hands, social distancing and wearing masks to keep from contracting and spreading COVID-19, learning a little more as we moved along the way. For those of us living with arthritis, the fear has been palpable and has surrounded every aspect of our daily lives.
Since before it was even called a “pandemic,” I had spent my days gathering as much information as possible to help disseminate it to our arthritis community in my staff role at the Arthritis Foundation. How do you stay safe from something you do not know anything about? A novel virus? How do you treat it? How do you navigate your arthritis care in a pandemic? We had so many questions and it has taken time and science to help get us the answers.
For my family of three, we erred on the side of extreme caution in the beginning. I was truly fearful of being someone who does not survive this virus or has a very severe case. Since I have rheumatoid arthritis, which I treat with a biologic drug that suppresses my immune system, I was scared. When you add my other comorbidities – asthma and high blood pressure – that put me at even higher risk. I was terrified. We stayed home. We wiped down the groceries and I did not step foot into a public place for several months. Thank goodness for delivery, contactless pick-up and my husband.
Amazingly, vaccines were developed quickly. New treatments and research helped to provide answers about COVID-19, and they continue to come out every day. We learned more about how to keep ourselves safe. People were starting to get their first shot of the vaccine.
Fast forward to 2021 and we were fortunate to stay free and clear of COVID-19. Until we were not. After almost a year of avoiding the virus, it hit our family and we do not know exactly how we contracted it. I recall reading my test results and my heart sinking and the extreme anxiety setting in. Just that day, I had gotten an email letting me know I was eligible to get my first vaccine shot in the next couple of weeks. Just my luck.
In this episode of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast, I share my personal story of battling the coronavirus, along with a guest speaker and osteoarthritis patient who also had the virus, Kayla Amodeo. The road to recovery for both of us has been challenging and painfully slow, however, we are both grateful to not have had as severe cases as we both feared. This conversation highlighted so many parallels for how surviving COVID-19 draws many similarities to navigating a life with arthritis and chronic pain.
Listen now to the Arthritis Patient Experiences With COVID-19 episode to hear real talk of what it was like having this coronavirus and what post-COVID life and recovery is like.