I Am One of the Vulnerable

I Am One of the Vulnerable

Many of you reading this already live with extreme physical vulnerability, due to your medical issues. We all work daily to keep our spirits up and hold on to hope in an attempt to cope with levels of stress which at times, can prove overwhelming. Now we are adding COVID-19 to our lives and somehow need to include this to our list of threats to our wellbeing. It truly all feels surrealistic to be learning how to attempt to stay safe. But for many, we are in that age bracket which makes this virus life-threatening. This is another potential circumstance that diminishes the hope we so desperately attempt to hold on to. This is a true danger we must prevent.

In a weird way, I realize that despite how overwhelming and frightening this is. Those of us who cope with serious medical issues have had to learn how to persevere. This is a new virus, but not a new circumstance to face. Every day of my life I already understand one simple car accident, fall, or even a tight hug puts my life in danger living with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. I know you understand.

Ellen Lenox Smith

Those of us living with chronic and often disabling medical conditions have had to cope with pain and loss in many areas of our lives. We have had to adjust, but often still lose much of what we love, experience isolation, and have had been forgotten.

I don’t like what is happening and the fact that we have even more unknown to endure, but we also are perhaps more prepared to learn how to the coronavirus challenge than the average, healthy person. But how strange is it to realize that for me, now nearly 70, that I am one of those that would not be chosen for that limited respirator supply, like many do.

I should be frightened to death and stressed by this thought but I am strangely at peace.It is clear that those younger than me deserve the chance I have had to live life to the fullest. I have had a wonderful life with few major regrets and want others younger than me to be able to say this as they age too.

So, if I contract COVID-19, I understand and accept that life will be rough at the end, isolated, and coming to closure. I would love to live on to continue to watch my four sons, wives and five grandchildren’s lives unfold. But we all have our beginning and our ending and none get to carry on forever. So, this may take me sooner, but the fact I am still here at all is a gift I never expected. So, I have to put this in perspective and find what I am grateful for.

My sister just sent this link me called:https://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2020/03/a-covid-19-coronavirus-update-from-concerned-physicians.html

A COVID-19 coronavirus update from concerned physicians


They stated this which is why I decided to write about this topic:

“The elderly and those with medical issues such as hypertension and diabetes appear to be at higher risk of a severe disease course and death. Children may be spared the consequences of severe disease, though they can be asymptomatic to minimally-symptomatic carriers of the virus – placing those who are vulnerable at higher risk.” I did understand this but reading it makes it even more, my new reality.

So much is out of our hands, but they do list some very helpful suggestion to consider activating:

Mitigation measures for COVID-19

  • Support your schools’ decisions to close: Proactive school closings save more lives than reactive school closings. Your schools should close now … before infections are present. Closed schools do not mean playdates for children – this counteracts the social distancing the school closures are meant to create in the first place.
  • 6 feet: The COVID-19 virus spreads through droplets. They can move 6 feet before gravity brings them to earth. Stay 6 feet away from people if you need to go outside.
  • Meticulous hand washing: Wash thoroughly and wash often. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer works well if your hands are otherwise clean.
  • Do not touch your face. This is hard. This is a learned skill: Practice often.
  • Clean doorknobs, toilets, cellphones, countertops, refrigerator handles, and so on many times each day. The virus could live on certain surfaces for 4-72 hours.
  • If you can work from home, work from home.
  • No tournaments, no sports events, no soccer, baseball, dance, volleyball, softball, gymnastics, concerts, martial arts, etc. We don’t care how much they claim they will clean the equipment.
  • Cancel vacation travel. We know you planned this for a long time. You will be saving many lives by doing so … perhaps someone you know.
  • Cancel weddings/ bar/bat mitzvahs, birthday parties, and so on. Help other people live so they can celebrate future events too.
  • If you are over 60 years old, you should stay home. You should only go out if there is a critical need.
  • If you have parents/grandparents in a nursing home, you should consider moving them home for now.
  • Do not congregate in a restaurant, bar, etc. Again, you will save the lives of people you will never meet.
  • If you feel sick, stay home. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel too sick. Going to work will put countless other people at risk of suffering or dying.
  • Cancel all business travel. Your life and the lives of others are more important.
  • Expect supply chain issues: Work with your doctor to try to get a three-month supply of medication.
  • Many grocery stores have order ahead options with either pick up or delivery. There are online grocery delivery services available in many areas. Wash your hands thoroughly after unpacking groceries.

Let’s take those skills we have learned to cope with our chronic pain and medical complications and try once again to muster the emotional resiliency necessary to stay safe. Since so much is out of our hands and control, I find this a bit easier to take on. I spend a significant portion of my day attempting to stay safe and I realize this is all I can do. Please try to be sensible, please reach out and stay in touch with those you care about and those you know are alone and need support, keep your distance, ask for help when needed and try hard to find what you are appreciative and grateful for. It is time more than ever to help and care for others, even if we are compromised. We still think, feel, care and can offer support to others.

May life be kind to you,

Ellen Lenox Smith

Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.

Featured Image: ID 173108606 © Sergeyacros | Dreamstime.com

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Authored by: Ellen Lenox Smith

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website. https://ellenandstuartsmith.squarespace.com/

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CICI Hannah

Thank you for your article.

On another note, let us all be reminded of the importance of this

Turn to ROMANS 3:23; PSALMS 37:8 (for the accuser/name calling;)

May God bless us all in these times of trials.

Thomas Wayne Kidd

I will be contacting my pain doctor about a 90 day supply of opioid medication. I certainly hope that they have come to terms with this true crisis and work around all their imaginary fears of the DEA and the other misguided government policies that caused this terrible suffering. The law of cause and effect much be addressed. The ungodly suffering caused by the so-called opioid prescription drug crisis had made this epidemic much worse. Perhaps the fact that this unnecessary suffering the divided government has brought upon the whole nation is behind the worldwide epidemic/pandemic. The unstoppable LAW OF SOWING AND REAPING is taking place and sadly not many people here and around the world think about or understand this spiritual law. I have found during my life of soon to be 68 years, that is is becoming more and more difficult to reach people about this. I have found since coming to social media in April of 2016 that people appear to agree to things but really don’t agree whatsoever. This is especially going on in the faith-based community. People say, “Amen” and promise to pray for everyone and everything, but when someone tries to teach about the law of “praying and receiving answers” they almost always close their hearts and minds, to the fact that our Creator and Redeemer never rewards disobedience, infact many people become angry and shut you out. I learned some time ago that everytime I pray about our nation and the world and the things taking place that I personally must include myself in these things. We are all to some degree part of the sins that causes these things. But with millions of people who refuse to acknowledge sin and responsible to a Creator let a lone a Redeemer, it only causes the world and those of faith to sink deeper into the darkness of this world. I am mostly speaking of those who profess to be Christian. Today most people have come to believe that “the heathen” ceased to exist or something to that effect.

Thomas Wayne Kidd

Thanks very much Ellen. You are much appreciated. Your articles are important and you and your family are in my prayers.

Stacie Wagner

For those who still have to go out Target stores will have store hours for the elderly and anyone with compromised health to shop. Check with your local store for details. God bless you all 🙏💙

Janet S Flowers

Lynne Mathis: I saw my PM Doc yesterday. They are only taking one pt up @ a time & cleaning the “meeting” area between each pt. We checked in with staff @ the front door of the bldg then waited in our cars to be called up to meet with the Doctor. The Doc met with pts n a hallway, not in the office.
I too asked if they were giving 3 mth Rx’s of pain meds (opioids)- or if they had considered TeleMed. The PA said that they had ‘just’ discussed that that morning. So, hopefully they won’t leave us to wither in torment without our meds but will at least adopt TeleMed…

Cindy too

I’ve seen CDC Guidelines about underlying conditions and they don’t mention hypertension. I;ve also not seen hypertension mentioned anywhere but here.

And, I have read — and not on CDC and not above — that opioid patients may be high risk due to some of the meds that can cause respiratroy distress — and esp if taken along with a benzo.

Lynne Mathis

Hi there fellow chronic pain patients ….. Had anyone else thought about the government telling us to ensure a 90 supply of meds and then hamstringing my very qualified pain management specialist to writing only a 28 day supply s if we were in normal circumstances and if his practice is forced to close or suspend his practice for any length of time ….. What happens to us it’s hard enough in a regular basis to ensure we have the medication that allows me to walk as minimally as that is but what do we do and where do we go ? Any answers or suggestions are so greatly appreciated 🙏🙏🙏


Ellen thank-you so much for your words of comfort and encouragement. I was at first hesitant to read your column having prejudged that it was going to be far too gloomy and negative or impossibly positive. Instead what I read was real and up lifting. You are correct that despite our challenges as CPP we have much to offer in the way of support through emails and telephone calls to others at the very least. Surprisingly that is where I find myself in Alberta as the restrictions on our day to day life are more and more strict and confining. As many of us are already house bound we have much to offer in terms of encouragement and knowledge about coping in such circumstances as we have become experts at this in our own lives. Stay well all and as Ellen so eloquently states, we have so much to offer others if only we would stop and see it.

Peggy A Davis

I’m like you, if it is my time so be it. What is funny to me is I have to go to the MD office to renew my hydrocodone. People are told to stay home but due to the government we have to get out.