Here in Kansas City, we are only at the beginning of a city-wide/statewide stay-at-home order. However, my family has been following our own stay-at-home order well before the official orders were given. We chose to take early precautions because I have CVID (find out more about it here). In addition, my two sons are also immune deficient.
Like most people I talked to, my husband and I were not sure how to process and act on information we were hearing. We were not even sure if what we were hearing on t.v., reading online or hearing from friends was true! Most urgent, my 11-year-old son’s birthday party (a sleepover of course!) was approaching! Did we need to cancel it?
We had many other questions as the COVID-19 situation first unfolded. Could my sons play with friends at the park? Should I risk going to the grocery store? Will I still receive my infusions? Is it alright for family to visit? Can I walk the dog with my friend? Can we ship the kids off to their grandparents house so they stop driving us crazy?
During my last infusion (Friday, March 20th), I asked my immunologist all of these questions and more. I’m going to share our conversation because Dr. K provided definitive answers that need to be shared. (*Note, I’m paraphrasing our conversation.)
Question & Answer Sesh with Dr. K
Q. Can I go to the grocery store or anywhere just to get out of the house?
No. Do not go anywhere unnecessarily. Your husband should do the grocery shopping and other necessary errands right now. Your sons should stay home as well.
Q. Does my husband need to do anything when he comes home from necessary errands?
He should wash his hands immediately. Then, he should put his clothes in the washing machine and take a shower. He should not touch you or the children until he has done so.
Q. Are my children just a susceptible to COVID-19?
Children, immune deficient or not, are as equally susceptible to the virus as adults. Children can also have varying degrees of symptoms just like adults. If your children, who are immune deficient, get the virus they could become severely ill.
Q. Can my 11-year-old son have his birthday sleepover party?
Absolutely not. The CDC is recommending social distancing of at least 6 feet. So, no friends over at all during the stay-at-home order and for the foreseeable future.
Q. What do you mean by foreseeable future? (I’m freaking out inside my head a little now!)
This is not just going to go away. We will see a drop in cases during the summer just like we see with the cold and flu, however cases will spike again around Thanksgiving.
Q. So, the answer is truly a vaccine then. How quickly could we see a vaccine?
Yes, a vaccine is the answer. It could take up to a year for a vaccine to be created, tested and distributed. Although, immune compromised individuals might have access to it earlier than others because of their high vulnerability.
Q. What do I do if I think one of my sons is sick with COVID-19? Jace’s immune deficiency seems to make him highly vulnerable to respiratory illnesses.
You have an inhaler at home right? (Yes, I do.) If he is having respiratory symptoms, use the inhaler and call my office right away. (Note-Obviously, if he is having acute respiratory distress I would call 911 or take him to the emergency room as I have done in the past.) If either son shows symptoms, call my office. We will determine over the phone if he needs to be tested and provide further instructions.
Q. I don’t work, but should someone with an immune deficiency like CVID continue going to work?
Ideally, an immune deficient employee would be allowed to work from home. However, if not, go to your job because otherwise you could lose it. Just practice social distancing, clean everything you touch at work with disinfectant and wash your hands.
Q. How long should someone quarantine if possibly exposed?
A minimum of two weeks. The longest incubation period of COVID-19 has been reported as thirty days. The shortest has been fourteen days.
Q. Can my sons and I go outside?
Yes! You are encouraged to go outside as often as possible for your mental health during this time. Just maintain about 6 feet of distance from others. You can walk the dog, walk with a friend (making sure to practice social distancing), run, bike, hike, etc…
Q. Can we visit the grandparents?
No, I wouldn’t. My family is not because my parents are 93 and 86 and we do not want to take any risk in exposing them.
So, I learned a lot of things from Dr. K. I wasn’t excited to hear about any of it, of course!
Yesterday, I came across a very informational post from the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF). Via video, Kate Sullivan, a doctor and member of the IDF advisory board, provided much insight into COVID-19 treatments, specific concerns for different kinds of PI and vaccine development.
For now, I’m trying to stay calm, stick to a normal routine around the house, and talk long walks with my dog, Gracie Sunshine.
Stay strong my Zebra friends.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Though DIVA as she may be, her path to success was not easy and is always evolving. Go here to read about her journey in “Becoming the CVIDiva.” If you want to send Susan Alynne a quick message, then visit her contact page here.