Hi, I’m “Just The Immunocompromised”
As the COVID-19 pandemic drudges on, so does my frustration, as I watch people I once thought to be intelligent make brainless decisions that contribute to the spread. These poor decisions — to see whoever they want, travel for leisure, or ignore other public health guidelines — represent more than lapses in judgement; they represent a disregard for the vulnerable population that I am a part of.
I'm immunocompromised because of my AS medication
I am immunocompromised due to my medication for ankylosing spondylitis, and therefore I’m more fearful of the virus than most people my age. I don’t know what would happen to me if I caught COVID-19 and whether I would survive. It hurts to see so many people, including friends of mine, choosing to prolong a pandemic that disproportionately harms people like me.
I understand that adhering to public health guidelines is a sacrifice. I’ve been stuck at home, working in the same room I sleep in, all day, every day. It’s not easy. But I’m doing this because I want to keep myself safe and because I understand how my choices could harm other people. I feel awful for every family that has lost a parent, grandparent, or child to COVID-19 and had to say goodbye over FaceTime. Shouldn’t that be enough for everyone to take this seriously?
Ever since the infancy of COVID-19, I’ve heard: “It’s fine, the virus just affects the elderly and immunocompromised.” Of course, this is said by people who are neither elderly nor immunocompromised. It’s what they tell themselves to feel okay about ignoring public health guidelines, because at least they wouldn’t die.
It's not ok for vulnerable people to die
“Just the elderly and immunocompromised,” they say, as if those aren’t two very large portions of our population. As if it’s okay for vulnerable people to die so everyone else can live freely. As if my life doesn’t matter the way their social life does. The same goes for: “We should let the virus run its course through the population,” as if that doesn’t imply that you’d be okay with me dying if it meant you could go to the movie theater again. If you’ve ever used this reasoning to justify your behaviors, I want you to know what message it sends to me and the millions of others at-risk. When you say, “it’s just the elderly and immunocompromised,” you are saying it’s just me. It’s just my life at risk. No big deal.
Elderly, immunocompromised, and otherwise vulnerable people don’t deserve to be treated as second-class. It’s disgusting that so many people “aren’t really worried” about COVID-19 because they “aren’t really worried” about themselves. Just because you’d likely survive the virus, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect the people who wouldn’t. I hope one day in the future, when you look back at this pandemic, you can say that the choices you’re making right now did not depend on your ability to disregard my life.
How much about your AS do you share with others?