Column: Social distancing for others

From the first time the headlines announced a new virus, I hoped it wouldn’t make its way into my part of the world.

Apart from not wanting to risk getting sick, I mostly worried about my mom. She had a relatively normal immune system, as normal as someone with lupus can have, prior to her kidney transplant.

Post-transplant we were inundated with medication after medication. It wasn’t anything new for me since it’s all I’ve ever known, but a medication that suppressed her immune system was something that caught my family off-guard.

She was more susceptible to skin cancer and more susceptible to getting sick because of the medication. Instead of getting the “average flu,” she would get something of higher risk. Instead of a paper cut, she would get something we had to keep an eye on since it could get severely infected.

When I heard the first confirmed case of COVID-19 was in the United States I began to get worried. We went from spectators to watchmen overnight.

The closer the virus got, the more alert we became. When the news came out that someone can be a carrier and not know, my whole family became immunocompromised.

Not only was my mom at risk, but all the 20 years of hard work, the constant hospital trips, the surgeries, cancer scares and the endless waitlist for a kidney would be thrown away.

We have to assume we are always infected and maintain ourselves as clean as possible. I now have to second guess going to work and going to school.

While others find it inconvenient to shut down work and school, I find it a blessing. Less exposure for me, less risk for my mom. While she wouldn’t agree, I am more willing to put my education and work on hold for her health as much as I was to give her one of my kidneys.

I am grateful to all of the schools and businesses who “shut down” in the wake of the virus in Los Angeles County. Is it an inconvenience? Absolutely, but it protects those who can’t protect themselves as easily as others.