Covid-19, You Really Got Me Now

Mayo Clinic, Cannon Falls, MN, 11.30.21

After over a year of severe anxiety, paranoia, frantic hand-washing and sanitizing, masking, social distancing, lockdowns, self-quarantining, and three vaccinations–Covid-19 finally got me. I’m on Day 11 of being sick with symptoms: a strange constant throbbing headache, low-grade fever, major congestion in my nose and head, scratchy/sore throat, fatigue, body aches, junk running down the back of my throat. Luckily, I’m not coughing so I think (hope) my lungs are OK. I have a little cough here and there due to all of the drainage in my throat, but it’s barely anything. And I’m not having any problems breathing. But this awful throbbing, full, sickish feeling in my head is driving me crazy. Tylenol isn’t doing much to help it.

I still can’t believe that I finally got it, even though I know I shouldn’t be that surprised. Minnesota’s cases and hospitalizations right now are shockingly high. Thanksgiving week and maybe the week before, I believe, we were the worst state in the entire country, which blows my mind. I asked a doctor recently why, and she said it’s because of all of the unvaccinated people who are mostly outside of the Twin Cities metro area. I looked at the case numbers and statistics again today for Minnesota, and only 62% of all people here are fully vaccinated. That’s ridiculous and not nearly enough. This infuriates me, but I won’t go into that right now.

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Affordable Healthcare, Now!

Minnesota senator (my senator) Amy Klobuchar posted this on her Twitter feed two days ago. I just reposted it on my RA Instagram page (@inflamed.ra) with this comment:

Thank you to my senator for saying this! It’s not just medication but ALL medical care that needs to be affordable yet still of high quality: doctor’s visits, lab work, diagnostic tests, ER care, surgeries, mental health care, dental care, vision care, preventative care, physical therapy, integrative/functional medicine care…and anything else that the patient needs to be as healthy as possible and live a normal life as much as possible.

I stand by these statements.

Chronic Anemia

I’ve suffered from anemia for a long time–ever since getting RA, I believe. During these 20+ years of having RA and struggling with anemia, I’ve tried just about everything to raise my hemoglobin and other iron labs, including oral iron supplements and I.V. infusions. Taking iron supplements and receiving iron infusions helped somewhat in the past, although only temporarily. Sometime during the pandemic, I think I may have accidentally figured out the “cure” for my chronic anemia and iron deficiency. I wrote an article about this for RheumatoidArthritis.net, which was published last month.

“Anemia, Chronically Gone?”

Check out the article to read how vitamin B12 helped my iron labs return to normal and remain stable! Covid-19 has really wreaked havoc on my life, and continues to do so in many ways, however I’m grateful for the surprisingly good things that have come from this devastating pandemic. This small “victory” (or maybe it’s a large one?) is one of those things.

Covid-19 Vaccination #3!

August 18, 2021

I got my third Pfizer vaccination two weeks ago yesterday at a local CVS. It was super fast and easy and I was relieved to get it. My first set of vaccinations were back in March, and with the nasty Delta variant that’s causing an explosion of cases and hospitalizations, I had been growing more and more nervous about if or how much I was still protected. I’ve also been holding off on going back on my Humira until after getting a third vaccination (plus a two-week wait). I just really do not want to be on any immunosuppressant medications right now with Delta running rampant and there are still so many people who refuse to get vaccinated or follow safety protocols.

Speaking of the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers, I am furious with them. I’m disgusted at their stubborn selfishness and unwillingness to DO WHAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO DO to protect the health, safety, and well-being of us all. I’m so tired of listening to people, grown adults, yelling about their “rights being taken away,” and spouting off about ridiculous conspiracy theories and dangerous disinformation. If you live in a society, rights are shared. And nobody has the “right” to make me or anyone else sick or dead from Covid-19.

I’ve been saying this since Day 1: Covid-19 is a PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE and NOT a political one. It shouldn’t be a political issue at all, but it’s too late. It’s become heavily politicized. So while people continue to refuse getting vaccinated, burn masks, and protest against schools trying to keep their students and staff safe, people are continuing to suffer terribly and die. And now it’s not just older people or those with underlying health conditions. No, it’s young healthy people. It’s kids. My mind is constantly blown by all of this; nothing makes sense. And Covid-19 is DEADLY. It’s nothing to play around with. Why don’t people get this?

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Always Fight!

Minneapolis, MN, July 28, 2021

Always fight for your health and care.
Always fight for your rights as a patient and a human being.
Always fight to be listened to and taken seriously.
Always fight to be treated with respect and dignity.

I constantly have to remind myself of these things, because I know that nobody can advocate for me better than I can.

YOUR health and life matter! Don’t ever forget it. ❤️

The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain

Photo: TWOMEOWS/GETTY IMAGES

I was recently interviewed for Marie Claire magazine about living with chronic pain and what a heavy financial toll it can take on a person. The article was just published yesterday! It’s a bit embarrassing (ok, a lot) having my personal debt and financial information flung into the open for all to see, but I think it’s an important issue to recognize and talk about.

Here’s the article if you’d like to check it out. My friend Leslie is also featured in it!

“The High Price of Living With Chronic Pain” by Alice Oglethorpe

Too many people who live with chronic illnesses are staggering under the stress and weight of years of outrageously expensive medical bills. It’s ridiculous and frankly unethical, in my opinion, that we live in a country where you have to decide between caring for your health or sinking into debt. I didn’t ask or choose to have this disease. I did nothing wrong to deserve it. So why am I and countless others constantly being punished by an unfair healthcare system? It’s more wealth care than health care, if you ask me.

Sadly, for the most part, sickness is an expensive, lucrative business in the United States. And we desperately and urgently need to change that.

P.S. I have paid off even more debt since I was interviewed for this article 😊

An International Pandemic Treaty and Human Rights

This is an interesting and important read via Human Rights Watch.

An International Pandemic Treaty Should Center on Human Rights

“The right to health—Most of the world lacks covid-19 diagnostics, medicines, and vaccines. A new treaty should uphold the right to physical and mental health, and acknowledge the right of everyone to the benefits of scientific progress and its applications, including through intellectual property waivers.”

“The covid-19 pandemic starkly widened inequalities. We must seize this opportunity to reassert the principle of human equality, which must never be compromised; draw on lessons learned from the past year, and chart a better future.” 

Darkness Into Light

Photo: Kinsale, Ireland by Thérèse O’Leary-Dinneen

My good, old friend Thérèse sent me a video of Pieta’s “Darkness Into Light” annual charity event a bit ago from Ireland (link is at the bottom of this post). Pieta House is an Irish organization that helps with the prevention of suicide and self-harm and provides free mental health counseling to people in need. Thérèse was there in Kinsale last night with all of the beautiful lights in the dark. I wish I could’ve been there. I’m crying a bit after watching the video. I should have lit a candle myself last night, too.

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RA in the Time of Covid-19

I know I haven’t posted anything about the current COVID-19 pandemic, but I suppose it’s because I’ve been trying hard to control my anxiety, which seems to always be at some level of panicky these days. Being a high-risk and immunocompromised person right now is making my “normal” anxiety and paranoia 100 times worse. So, basically, I’ve just been trying to distract myself with different things: books, TV, movies, cleaning, laundry, junk food, social media, dumb Internet stuff. It’s not working that great, honestly.

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