Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Immune System? What's that?

I don’t know about any of you, but when it comes to avoiding illness my immune system acts as a net with no goalie – as in, I catch EVERYTHING. No, that’s not an exaggeration in the slightest. I understand flu season is probably nobody’s favourite time of the year, but I will avoid illness like the black plague when flu season rolls around. If I so much as hear you sniffle a little, I automatically go into escape mode. To a healthy person, this probably seems incredibly conceited and downright rude. To anyone else who experiences a compromised immune system – well, you probably know what I’m talking about.

See, having a chronic illness literally means you are sick all of the time. Day in, day out. Even when you tell people you’re feeling good, you’re probably experiencing multiple symptoms that you’ve just learned to go with. So when somebody comes around complaining about the cold they’ve experienced for three days, avoiding that person seems almost necessary. Being sick is hard enough, but getting sick on top of being sick? That just shouldn’t be allowed.

Unfortunately, a huge part of having a compromised immune system is exactly that – your body cannot fight off illness as well as a healthy person. For me, this not only means I catch everything, it also means I usually get hit harder than others, and it generally lasts 2-3x as long. Often, I try to fight it off for a week before just caving and going to the hospital. So needless to say, being so crazy about what should be a simple infection does not seem so crazy after all, does it?

I know some of you are probably thinking – why don’t you just get the flu shot? Stock up on vitamins and minerals? Change your diet? Etc. To begin, flu shots have shown evidence of making chronic illness worse, and no, I’ve personally never tried it. I also have no plans currently to do so, and here’s why: the flu shot only protects against certain kinds of flu’s, and I am not brave enough to test it out with the possibility I spend an undetermined amount of time sicker than I already am. Somebody else may find that worth the risk, but I do not.

In terms of vitamins and minerals, my body has been tested multiple times and has proven I am fully loaded with everything I need. For the few that are low or borderline, I take those in supplement form. Diet is a fairly tricky thing for those with POTS. Many have other underlying disorders affecting their appetites and diets; IBS, Celiac, allergies, Crohns, etc. Basically, most of us eat whatever we know we can tolerate easiest, and whenever we feel like we can. It’s a well known fact that eating smaller, more frequent meals helps ease the digestion process. However, eating small amounts more frequently is kind of necessary for most with POTS. Between the bouts of severe nausea and loss of appetite, food isn’t always on top of the list of necessary things. In short, if some magical diet existed that ensured you wouldn’t catch a single infection while following it, it would probably still cause other POTS symptoms to rear their ugly heads.

One more thing I’d like to briefly discuss, about flu season especially. One thing I have noticed, possibly more than usual, or possibly just because I am now more aware of it, is the amount of people who insist on continuing on with their daily lives while fighting off infections. Now, I realize a lot of these people have important places to be and important things to do, and to a lot of them a simple cold or flu seems like not that huge of a deal. However, this is something that can quickly become panic inducing for someone like me. If I so much as sit beside you on a bus, by the time one of us gets off, I could already have the infectious germs you have now so kindly shared with the public. This means I will now spend the next multiple weeks stuck in my bed, and possibly a hospital bed, because you thought you could not sacrifice one day to rest up for yourself. So please, next time you think you have to be somewhere, consider what you could be risking at the cost of other people, if not yourself. One day of resting will only benefit the both of us.

With all of that being said, there are so many things I could just go on and on about and probably will in another post at some later date, but for now I will leave you all with this. I hope each and everyone of you are managing well despite this insane winter we are experiencing, and I hope the majority of you have avoided flu’s this winter. 
As always, rest easy spoonies. 

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog! It's always comforting to know that others are going through similar things to me :) I have started a blog as well if you'd like to check it out!

    I hope you have started feeling better!