It has taken me a while to sit down and write out this post. The past year has been hard on everyone; the past few weeks have been hitting harder than usual. Being a type 1 parent during a pandemic is probably one of the scariest things I have had to do. What compounds this fear is the fact that I work at an urgent care… one that swabs dozens of potential COVID patients every day. I have knowingly been in contact with confirmed positive cases daily because of my line of work. Since this third national wave has ramped up positive cases I have been living in full blown anxiety land.
One of the first pediatric COVID cases I heard about, where a child passed away, he had a comorbidity of type 1 diabetes. That hit home and struck hard. In all my years as a type 1 parent, I have not felt constant fear and worry like this since diagnosis back in 2015. So what do we do when an autoimmune disease my son has had since before he was 2 years old puts him at such amazingly high risk of COVID being fatal for him? We keep him home as much as possible.
Since March he has not gone to school in person and has been home with his stepdad every single day. This transition has been hard mentally on all of us. From never having that down time when he was in school, to never being apart from one another and Henry missing real interaction with his peers; we have all felt the depression this new normal has brought. It has made us more reliant on tech to keep us connected and navigate this scary time. Even for his doctor visits we have been doing everything virtually whenever possible. Henry has a few friends that we consider safe enough, but even then he is not truly safe. Balancing the fear with our sanity has been a near impossible daily task.
Every day I come home and am afraid of bringing home COVID to my high risk family. I live with my type 1 son and my type 2 husband. What happens if I am asymptomatic, as so many of my positive patients have been? If anything happens to my family I will never recover from the guilt I will feel – all for having to go to work and do my job.
NHS, the UK’s national healthcare system, has done a study that I read about on the Guardian website. In that article these words really haunt me:
People with type 1 diabetes are more likely to die of Covid-19 than those with type 2, according to NHS research confirming that diabetes significantly increases coronavirus sufferers’ risk of dying.
Almost one in three of all deaths from coronavirus among people in hospital in England during the pandemic have been associated with diabetes, according to the study.The Guardian, May 20th, 2020
People with type 1 diabetes – the autoimmune form of the disease – are three-and-a-half times more likely to die if they catch Covid-19 than non-diabetics, while type 2 diabetics – those with the form closely linked to being overweight – are twice as likely to die as non-diabetics. Nine out of 10 diabetics have type 2, and many are obese.
As a type 1 parent, and one who is on the “front lines” of a pandemic, I live in fear every day. I get panic attacks far more than I think I ever have. Even sitting here writing this, my chest is tight thanks to good old fashioned anxiety.
To those who are also living in fear, parenting in fear, and working in fear – you are not alone. Many of us are right here feeling the same. I just am doing what I do best, saying the quiet part out loud.