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LINK20 member Katherine Magnoli shares her thoughts on how COVID-19 impacts people with medical conditions.
For as long as I can remember, I have identified with the movie the Wizard of Oz. I felt as if I was Dorothy, always dreaming of a new and different world from the one I was born into. I would make plans to travel and see new things. I would show very little appreciation at times for the little things in life. That is until I got sick with kidney failure and developed many other conditions throughout my 20s and 30s. All of which were taken care of by doctors.
My countless hospitalizations made me value how precious life is and I no longer really longed for another one. However, in the past 2 months, my past prayers have been answered, like Dorothy, in a very backward and disturbing way. Living in a world with COVID-19, has made life very different for all of us but especially those with medical conditions. I know for me, since the beginning of the pandemic, I have had to stop certain treatments that are essential to my overall physical well-being. Instead, I have adjusted to home care with the help of my mother.
One example of this is my development over the years of a condition called lymphedema. This is a condition that creates swelling in my right leg; caused by the lymphatic system no longer working properly. The remedy is a specific form of massage therapy and a gentle wrapping. Over the years, I have gone through this procedure many times. However, I have stopped going because the only clinic I am aware of is in the hospital. Thus, out of precaution, I have decided to have my mom carry these duties out for me and sometimes I even do it to myself. I choose to live this way because I am at a much higher risk of catching this virus in that type of environment.
Another example of how Covid-19 has negatively affected my everyday health care is; about 2 weeks ago I developed symptoms of a UTI. This was something I was eager to take care of and immediately called my doctor’ s office. To my dismay, instead of him simply coming to the phone, to prescribe me an antibiotic that always does the trick, he insisted we speak on Skype so he could see me. Now, though I am a writer I am not very technologically savvy. Therefore, this was quite a struggle. After a full 24 hours of trying to add this app to my phone, I finally was able to speak to my doctor face to face and get the prescription I needed.
My third and final example of how COVID-19 has effective my medical care is at my dialysis center. Now, the procedure is still the same except the atmosphere is far from anything I have known since I started. You see, my kidney’s failed almost 13 years ago, and though it took a while to adjust to my new normal of changing my diet and so forth, I then used my strength to not only accept my situation but help other patients do the same. I would spend 4 hours 3 times a week talking to as many patients as I could, giving them renal diet tips, and methods on how to pass the time while on the machine. Now, since the pandemic, I still do my best to inspire other patience regardless of social distancing. Unfortunately, due to the wearing of masks and the rule of 6ft apart, it is a little more difficult to connect with the other patients. This has been quite an adjustment because for years I have motivated myself to not only accept my situation but help others. Now, no matter how I try the feeling of loneliness has crept back in. A feeling I hope disappears soon along with this “new normal.”
These are just three examples of everyday struggles, people with disabilities, like myself, have faced during this change. In the end, I wish life was in The Wizard of Oz; so, I could click my heels 3 times and life would be back the way that it was. Until then, I will continue to do my best to appreciate every moment and inspire others to do the same even though our lives are different for the foreseeable future.
By Katherine Magnoli