Crohn’s Disease, Quarantine, and Tele Everything – The New Remote Life

We are going on almost seven weeks since stay at home orders were activated and my husband came home to work. That’s almost seven weeks of running a 24-7 diner, shopping for two households, and sanitizing groceries and supplies as they come in. Not to mention, my regular workload and household responsibilities. And then there are the pink elephants in the room that haunt my life – Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis.

Multitasking has become the name of the game.

Putting my health first during quarantine

My goal when this whole self-quarantine thing started was to make sure my health didn’t tank while taking care of everyone else. Unfortunately, I don’t have the greatest track record with putting my health first (like when I tried to go back to work full-time).

With my mom’s cancer treatment, I’ve written about trying to do better while managing things for our households. Now, with the lingering risk of Covid-19 in the air, literally, it’s an active exercise in not sinking the ship or sinking with it. Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much more pressure to avoid a Crohn’s flare. Not even as our wedding was approaching.

A lot has happened since those early days in March 2020. Two days prior to the issuing of the stay at home order, my mother had her tumor removal surgery. So, thankfully, my father was home for the fourteen-day recovery period. They were, for all intents and purposes, quarantined together and we managed their grocery and supply runs.

Fortunately, neither developed symptoms of the virus. Unfortunately, once my mom’s fourteen-day recovery time concluded, my dad had to physically go back into his office. His employer did not offer a work-from-home option. It was mid-April when they moved the team to work remotely.

Both my husband’s company and father’s company pivoted. One faster than the other, but I think it proves what can be done when it is necessary.

Stress and increased GI symptoms

I would be a liar if I said this whole situation hasn’t stressed me out. And I'd be lying if I said I didn’t obsess over my parents potentially contracting the virus because dad went to work. Lastly, I would be a liar if I said I didn’t have more pronounced GI symptoms lately than I am used to. I am hopeful it’s IBS, not IBD, but the fear of “what if” lingers.

To try to work through that stress and worry, I did a lot of batch cooking for both of our houses and cleaning. I also found myself taking the disinfection of groceries to a new level, which included bathing canned goods and bottles.

Zero regrets from me. But now I have dish-pandemic hands. I really need to copyright that!

New work-from-home challenges during COVID

Freelance work from home has afforded me an empty house during the day. Now, I have a full house with more responsibilities. Interruptions while getting in the groove with work has become a challenge I tango with often.

Ordering from grocery websites before supplies runout has become a game I’m constantly trying to remaster. If it’s not someone asking a question, it’s the dogs needing something (more than normal), or someone who is not me wanting food. Please note, I don’t have children; I live with two adults and two dogs. Did I mention I’m running a diner?

Using telehealth for doctor's appointments

Something new I’ve finally gotten to experience is telehealth. I’ve asked, going on a couple of years, for telehealth appointments. Most of my doctors are anywhere from a 40-minute to two-hour drive. So, I’ve joked with my medical team about how much more productive our 15-minute appointments could become if we teleconferenced. Though, I wasn’t really joking.

Back in early March, I called my local GI’s office to ask if our April appointment would be virtual or in-person. If they weren’t moving to virtual, I planned on canceling. At that point, they hadn’t decided. By April 1, both my local GI and IBD specialist had sent emails that we would conduct appointments via telehealth platforms.

And now for the moral to my story.

The two positives I hope can come from this situation

The first is that telehealth can remain an option for those who may feel or become too ill to make it into an in-office appointment. How many appointments have you missed or nearly missed due to your IBD acting up at the worst possible time?

Second, a new door will open allowing chronic illness community members to return to the workforce remotely and with a decent wage. In the past, I’ve lost job offers because I inquired or listed the requirement of working remotely. I truly hope this will lead to a positive paradigm shift in our community’s favor. Team IBD deserves a win for once.

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