[OPINION] Paranoia, 'praning': The fate of the immunocompromised
They say we are paranoid.
They say we are OA.
They say we are praning.
True, we are paranoid, OA, and praning.
When the president announced last Monday night that classes in Metro Manila in all levels will be suspended from March 10 to 14 because of the novel coronavirus, we thought, "They must know something that the public is not yet informed of."
So, the next day, I did not allow my husband Roel to go to work.
We asked our daughter, who insisted on staying in her rented place near her med school until she completed all her online academic requirements, to lock herself in.
We asked our oldest son, who works in Alabang, to take stringent precautionary measures.
We asked our second son, a fitness buff, to refrain from going to the gym.
We asked my husband's nephrologist for medical advice, and she then issued a medical certificate "strongly" recommending that Roel be allowed to work from home.
Then when the president announced last Thursday night that NCR would be placed under community quarantine or lockdown from March 15 to April 12, we got more paranoid. More OA. More praning. (READ: LOOK: Scenes across Metro Manila as Luzon lockdown begins)
We immediately fetched our daughter from QC and took her home to Malolos.
We asked our oldest son to limit his activities within two areas only, their office and his dorm, and discouraged him from going home.
We told our second son that he would be allowed to visit his girlfriend, but they should not leave the girl's house.
We canceled our planned trip to Bataan for my father’s 75th birthday.
We stocked up on Roel's medicines.
So why are we paranoid, OA, and praning?
For those who don't understand – or obstinately refuse to understand – my husband's health condition, let me explain this in the simplest way I can manage.
As a kidney transplant patient, my husband has to take anti-rejection drugs. These drugs weaken my husband’s immune system, because if his immune system is in tip-top condition (like that of those people who are physically healthy), his body will sense and reject his transplanted kidney. (It’s our body’s knee-jerk reaction.)
And since his immune system is weak, he is considered immunocompromised. He has a greatly reduced ability to fight infections and other diseases. He may also lack the ability to respond appropriately to vaccination. (Aside from organ transplant patients, others who are immunocompromised are the elderly; those with HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, malnutrition, and certain genetic disorders; and those who are taking certain medicines or undergoing certain treatments, such as anticancer drugs, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, steroids, and stem cell transplants.)
It is easy to dismiss a group of people you don’t know much about. It is easy to claim that they are merely making excuses to receive "special treatment." Sometimes, it is even easy to discredit a professional's medical recommendation.
My husband, and other immunocompromised people like him, may look strong and healthy. They may be doing the same things that perfectly fit people are doing – things that could inadvertently put them at risk. They may even be crossing the line by engaging in activities considered to be risky, yet they feel the need to do so because a particular situation calls for it.
Shouldn't we be happy for them because, instead of sulking in a corner and wallowing in self-pity, they are trying to beat the odds? By trying to appear normal. By carrying their own weight. By being productive members of society.
And today that the world is worried sick, is afraid, and is even panicking over the threats posed by the coronavirus, let us pause for a while and put ourselves in the shoes of the people who are immunocompromised – they who know that they are the most likely to die if they contract the virus.
Only then can we fully understand them and their families' fears.
Only then can we be truly capable of that thing called compassion.
And only then can we possibly win this fight against the virus. – Rappler.com
Lorelei Aquino is a freelance writer whose blog article, The 44-year-old Kolehiyala, became viral when she graduated from the University of the Philippines in 2018, alongside her two cum laude children. She is an active member of Team Pilipinas.