This is a stressful time.
As COVID-19 spreads rampantly, everyone is urged to wash their hands and socially distance themselves in an attempt to protect the most vulnerable. We’ve all been told that those who are elderly and immunocompromised are most at risk. Visiting my parents recently, they let me know how worried they are for me due to my autoimmune disease, juvenile-onset arthritis. But I’m far more concerned for them because of their ages and underlying medical conditions!
Right now, we’re all concerned for our loved ones — so much so that we may forget our personal health risks. But parents, please remember to put on your oxygen masks first.
Safety is No. 1
Naturally, your child is your first priority. You need to learn the best measures to take for your child’s safety. Juvenile arthritis is a disease that affects the immune system and makes it attack the body, and many kids are treated with medicines that suppress the immune system to keep it from attacking joints and tissues.
Even though this is a scary time for people with weakened immune systems, many doctors are recommending their patients stay on DMARDs and biologic therapy, and only recommend discontinuing if you have symptoms of an infection. It may seem like a confusing thing to do, but for many, preventing a flare and keeping the immune system in check is the best thing to do right now. That said, it’s important to chat with your child’s doctor over the phone to discuss what they feel is best.
Regardless of whether your child stays on their treatment or not, it’s important to protect them. That may mean transitioning to homeschool, limiting contact with the outside world, and taking extra precautions when you do need to leave the house. Anything you can do to help them avoid illness is key right now.
You may fear endlessly for your child, but remember to take good care of yourself, too. Do you have enough medications to last a few weeks? Did you stock up on your favorite snacks and coffee creamer? Did you allow yourself a moment to breathe today? Allow yourself whatever it takes to get through this.
As important as your physical health is, try to care for your mental health, too. Put down your phone and turn off the news. Stressing out won’t do you any good: Stress lowers the immune system. Your child also can sense your stress, and that won’t help them. Distract yourself from the news when you need a break. Spend time with loved ones, exercise, read, meditate, or dive into a favorite hobby.
Remember, spring is coming. I’ve been stuck at home during many blizzards, but this is different. The fresh air may do us good. Sit outdoors, take in some vitamin D, and breathe in the crisp air. On some recent walks, being in nature and seeing the flowers bloom has given me comfort. It helped me to remember that the world is still turning.
You are not alone in this
We all play a role in stopping the spread of COVID-19. For some of us, these measures are vital in protecting our loved ones and ourselves. During this time, don’t hesitate to reach out to loved ones and neighbors. Many people understand the severity of what’s going on and want to help. Having someone to help grab groceries or prescriptions while you stay at home with your child can be a huge help.
And don’t forget, there’s a massive community on social media who understands what you’re going through. You can find me on Instagram (@girlwitharthritis) or Facebook. Using hashtags such as #kidsgetarthritistoo, #juvenilearthritis, and #juvenilearthritiswarrior can help connect you to other JA families, too. Having a virtual community by your side can make this time of social distancing a lot less lonely.
Note: Juvenile Arthritis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Juvenile Arthritis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to juvenile arthritis.
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