Suffering from Autoimmune Disease doesn’t automatically put you at the top of the COVID-19 severely vulnerable list. However, certain medications prescribed to autoimmune sufferers might. None-the-less, receiving a letter this week, four months after Lockdown, telling me I was on the severely vulnerable list – I wasn’t before – came as a bit of a shock.
I have a few autoimmune diseases. I’ve suffered from psoriasis and scleroderma most of my life. Yet I never knew what autoimmune disease was until I was diagnosed with collagenous colitis and osteoarthritis in my forties. It seems to me if you have one autoimmune disease, there is a very high chance that another will manifest itself at some stage.
Before Lockdown, I was due a repeat prescription for the various medications I am taking. I emailed my GP with my ‘shopping list’, asking him to top up the supply to see me through Lockdown. Among other pills and potions, I take Sulfasalazine, which reduces the symptoms and slows the progress of arthritis, and Budesonide, a steroid widely used for the treatment of ulcerative colitis.
My GP rang me to confirm he had sent my prescription to my local pharmacy. So, with the COVID-19 crisis looming over us, I took the opportunity to ask him how vulnerable I actually was. He confirmed that because I was taking Sulfasalazine and Budesonide, I would be considered to be moderately vulnerable.
I have been careful. I was locking-down before Lockdown, and I am incredibly fortunate to live with someone who throughout the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak, kept us both fed and watered. I only started masking-up and venturing out three weeks ago. So receiving a letter telling me I am severely vulnerable at this juncture was not something I wanted to hear.
I trust my GP absolutely, so I sensed wires may have been crossed somewhere. But I was alarmed none-the-less, especially as family members are about to return to their workplaces. So what flagged the change in my vulnerability status?
In September 2019, I was experiencing a great deal of joint pain. I was sent to see a consultant rheumatologist as there was a question mark whether I had psoriatic arthritis. While waiting for my x-ray results, the consultant prescribed a drug used specifically for the treatment of psoriatic arthritis. We discussed the drug in some depth. Not least its rather unpleasant side effects, and agreed I would delay taking it until after I had received my x-ray results. My x-ray results confirmed that I did not have psoriatic arthritis, so I never took the drug.
Ten months after my appointment with the consultant rheumatologist and four months after Lockdown, the hospital flagged my file. They assumed I was still taking the psoriatic arthritis drug and, if I had been taking it with Sulfasalazine and Budesonide, it would have put me in the severely vulnerable category.
After a reassuring chat with my GP, I am still in the same boat as I was before Lockdown, moderately vulnerable, although my age too, apparently, makes me more susceptible. On the severely vulnerable list for COVID-19, or not, I’m not taking any chances.
- This damned virus is here to stay until a vaccine is found.
- Lockdown is easing, and the populace is relaxing into the new normal.
- Jersey’s borders reopened on 3rd July 2020, and the number of COVID-19 has risen from 0 to 6.
- During my most recent forays into town, I seem to be the only person wearing a mask.
COVID-19 does not discriminate. It doesn’t give a damn how old you are or what category you fall into.