Why Being a Teenager With a Chronic Illness Is Terrifying Right Now

Alana Alexander
A teenage girl leaning on a bench

Being chronically ill right now is terrifying.

With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the world so many of us with chronic illnesses are terrified to leave our houses for fear of getting the virus. Those of us with underlying conditions are at a greater risk for both getting the virus, and the possibility of having dangerous, if not fatal, complications.

For many of us, being stuck inside every day is normal. It’s like nothing ever changed, except for the fact that we know that now, leaving the house to get groceries could be potentially dangerous to our health. We also know that the lifesaving equipment that healthcare professionals could use to keep us alive if we were to contract the virus is being rationed for the people more likely to survive. So, if we were to need a ventilator, we might not receive one because of our underlying condition. We would have to die, so that another, healthier person, could live.

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Right now, the President of the United States is pushing for the country to reopen and return to business as usual, just with some minor changes. He is willing to do this, even knowing that the more at risk may die. That includes the elderly and the immunocompromised. What I don’t think a lot of people realize is that they probably know someone who is at risk, and they don’t even know it. Their neighbor, their teacher, their best friend, is at risk, and they don’t know it. So when they say that, OK, people will die, but we need to reopen the country, they don’t know they are saying that it is OK that their best friend will die because of it. They don’t know that their teacher will die. Some people don’t even care. They call it natural selection.

I am at risk because of my connective tissue disorder and my compromised immune system. If I were to get the virus, I would most likely have very severe complications and possibly even die, and that terrifies me.

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I’m only 16 and I’m already being told my life doesn’t matter as much because I am ill. I am constantly being told by media and even the President of my country that my life is not worth as much as that of a healthy person. Just because my life is different doesn’t mean it is worse. I have a wonderful life, thank you very much. My life may be full of hardships, but it’s also full of happiness. I have a family that loves me and friends who stick by me no matter what. I can do anything anybody who is healthy can do. I might do it a bit differently sometimes, but I do it.

So before you say that we should go back to life as normal, think of all the people like me who would die. And don’t forget the men and women working the front lines right now. Don’t forget about the people working so hard to save lives and keep us safe, while also trying to stay safe themselves.

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