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Words by Julie - Living Life With Paralysis

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Why does you staying home matters to me?

I didn’t realize how much I was doing until I was forced to stop it all. I was just getting going, hitting my stride, so to speak. And now? Well, no one’s going anywhere – at least they shouldn’t be. 

I know you have heard of this idea of ‘flattening the curve’? Indulge my geeky biology brain for minute and let me explain it this way. “Flattening the curve” means taking what could be an exponential growth of the number of cases of Covid19 in our community/country and instead reducing the number of cases at any given time – even if they might still happen later

Image result for flattening the curve

Why does this matter? I know that I’ve heard some say that they’d rather just get sick and get in over with? Well, if you lived in isolation that would be fine. But you don’t. You take your germs with you wherever you go and you leave them behind well after you are gone. 

That means leaving them behind, for what could be days, for someone like me or my Mom to come along and bring home and get sick.

If we look back to that exponential growth curve for a minute, we know that Covid19 is causing the hospitalization of some people. The age of those needing medical care has varied, but many of those who end up needing it also require specialized equipment like ventilators. For the protection of the healthcare workers and other patients, those with Covid19 should also be in isolation, which requires space. We don’t have enough of either. 

As we flatten the curve, by not being out and about and ending up picking up the virus, the space and equipment in hospitals can be used for people like me and my Mom, if we do happen to get sick. 

What I know about the illness that Covid19 causes is that it affects the respiratory system. I’ll tell you about my Mom first, and then I’ll tell you about me. 

My Mom is in her mid-70’s, has survived breast cancer and more significantly, many bouts of lung-related illness like pleurisy and pneumonia. Even though her immune system may be strong, her lungs are not. If she gets Covid19 then she might be one of those people who needs a ventilator to support her breathing. 

As for me? I have a spinal cord injury at the level T4. That means that all the muscles below my “nipple-line” injury (which caused paralysis) do not work. Those are coughing muscles. For example, if I get a fleck of pepper caught in the back of my throat I can not very easily expel enough air to set it free. It takes a lot of work. What would Covid19 do to me? It would fill up my lungs with mucus that I would not be able to expel, and I’d end up being one of those people who needs hospitalization too. Research shows that people with a spinal cord injury are 38% more likely to die from pneumonia than the average population. 

We can not hide forever, but we can delay the interaction that we have with this ruthless virus, and maybe that will be enough time for more equipment to be made, and new treatments to be realized. 

So although the title of this post may have led you to believe I care about you and your well-being (which I do, buy the way) it’s really about me – and others like me. There are more vulnerable people out there than you think. Do your part to keep them safe too.

 Have a listen to this, while you are dancing around at home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DHEOF_rcND8

Stay home.

Stay well. 

Julie

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