With the world currently in the grips of a global health crisis, information is evolving at such a pace that it can often feel hard to keep up. But one thing that has remained generally accepted throughout is that the young needn’t worry as much as the elderly. Unfortunately for 27-year-old Emma, she is proof that Coronavirus is a very real threat to people of all age groups. Here is her first-person account of dealing with the outbreak, and her plea to you all to listen to the governmental advice to stay inside.
Every day we are reading that the elderly are at the highest risk from Coronavirus, predominantly because of underlying health conditions. But while it is true that the elderly tend to be the most severely affected by Covid-19, there is another area of the population who are also at a very high risk, and that is the young who are already sick with pre-existing health conditions. I am in this group.
My name is Emma, I’m 27-years-old and I live with Chronic Lyme Disease, an infectious disease picked up when I was bitten by a tick as a child. I developed multiple serious symptoms and became extremely sick, and those symptoms never went away due to complications of not realising at the time that I’d been bitten. I wasn’t tested for Lyme Disease – nor did I receive the correct treatment – until 10 years later.
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Most of us with Chronic Lyme Disease have compromised immune systems which means if we catch a ‘normal’ infection like a cold or the flu it can leave us very, very sick. I caught a cold just before Christmas which left me unable to get out of bed for 4 weeks and struggling to leave the house for three months. You can therefore imagine what catching something as aggressive as Coronavirus may result in for someone like myself.
Coincidentally, at around the same time I started to develop symptoms of Lyme Disease, I caught Swine Flu and was off school and bedridden for weeks. I was relatively healthy up until that time but sadly my body never recovered from, leaving me with constant flu-like symptoms and chronic fatigue. Even now, 10 years later, I’m still experiencing what I encountered with swine flu every single day.
One of the most terrifying concerns about Coronavirus is the potential number of people who are carrying it with no symptoms at all, as well as its ability to be transmitted via surfaces. This means that anyone at any time could be carrying it and transmitting the virus to others every single time they leave the house. So to those of you who ‘feel fine’ – and the number of times I’ve read this in the last few weeks is very concerning – please, please think about those of us who are more vulnerable.
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I remember what my life was like before Lyme Disease and Swine Flu had its life changing consequences; not having a worry in the world, having the ability to go about life feeling so free and invincible even against infectious diseases. All of that was taken away from me, along with my education, my career, my social life, friendships and relationships. If I had known then what I know now about the potential long term effects of infectious diseases I would have done things differently.
During a very difficult point whilst having treatment for Lyme Disease, I was receiving infusions as treatment via a port-a-cath (a metal device that’s placed under the skin in the chest that’s attached to a catheter, a thin-flexible tube that is threaded into a large vein above the heart); this was necessary because the veins in the rest of my body were unusable from already having so much treatment for Lyme. The port-a-cath was a direct line from my body to the outside world, it was high risk, dangerous and it became infected. I contracted sepsis.
I was rushed to the nearest hospital and spent 12 days on a respiratory ward, 24 hours a day on an oxygen machine unable to breathe.
You’ve likely seen the images and the videos by now of the patients with Coronavirus in the hospitals, on ventilators and oxygen machines because they are unable to breathe by themselves, not knowing whether they’ll survive. I have lived it, I have been there, not knowing. You do not want to end up in that position. You also don’t want to be responsible for another person ending up in that situation.
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You have a wealth of information about Coronavirus. The government has provided us with advice for all of our safety; the healthy, the sick, the elderly and the young. It applies to us all.
The only way to put an end to this suffering is to STAY INSIDE. Please, let’s take it upon ourselves to work together and sacrifice our own wishes and desires for the short term to ensure that in the long term fewer of us will have to suffer. It is about the bigger picture; your future, your family’s future, and the future of our entire population.
Follow Emma’s journey on Instagram @emmablondevoyage