How disabled people can be more at risk
COVID 19 and disabilities in Canada

There are a lot of factors that affect the chronically ill and disabled during the pandemic. A lot of issues are coming up. And I for one barely hear about them. 

I am chronically ill and disabled. I am in the high risk category but not as high risk as others I personally know. Mostly it is my asthma which isn’t exactly under control at the moment. Also I worry because I have just been so weak lately, so I worry I wouldn’t be able to fight anything off that well. But I don’t have an autoimmune disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, MS… or many other risk factors. Or Multiple risk factors. 

Many of us with chronic illnesses have 1 or More risk factors. Obviously, this can be intimidating. We want to be extra careful. We want others to take this pandemic seriously. We want people to wear masks to reduce the rate of spread.

But … society doesn’t seem to take it that seriously. Maybe because they just do not see things the same way. We know being chronically ill. We understand adapting and limitations and changing to our circumstances. Many people might not want to adapt. At all. Especially when they feel it is for Other people. The lack of compassion for others is pervasive in society. ‘Doesn’t affect Me, so not a Problem’. However, that is a fallacy in this case… and a very dangerous belief to have. 

The Mask

I hate to say it, but wearing a mask is not a tremendous Ordeal. Here, in Alberta, our numbers of COVID19 are low. It is not mandatory to wear a mask at all. Most people don’t but some do. They are thinking of making it mandatory just so our numbers do stay low. I see no issue with this. I think it is a good precaution.

I wear one with allergies and asthma and have no suffocated to death yet. It sounds so childish and whiny to protest wearing one if it is mandatory in your area or the numbers are high or in an area where you can’t socially distance. And selfish. So very selfish. I mean, grow up already. If you have no valid reason and are perfectly healthy… why not? (There are health reasons not to. To name one, severe anxiety and panic attacks) Why not? How does it hurt you to wear one? Does it hurt you in your feels? Because it will hurt more when you are on a ventilator trying to survive. I feel like if there was a zombie apocalypse these people might be the ones running towards the zombies yelling ‘I have the freedom to be bit if I want to!!!’ So be it.

I think here is will be more and more common and I do hope people don’t freak out about it. It is such a silly thing to freak out about. Such a minor, tiny thing to do.

“It’s all okay… only seniors and chronically ill, or disabled people die from COVID 19… so we can do what we want!”

Gee. Thanks. So my parents lives are disposable. My grandmother’s life is disposable. My life is disposable. All so you can go to a party or to the beach and live it up and spread this virus around all over the place under the False assumption we are the only one’s at risk. Go ahead. Express your freedom to do as you please. Seems to be working out so very well. I am devastated by the number of loses happening around the world. I hear all these personal stories and my empathy hurts so much for them. I cannot fathom how some people do not Feel that pain. When I feel it so much. So much loss. You would think that would make people work together for the betterment of all. Join us all together in this fight. But. Nope. Humanity for the fail again.

  • First of all, it is a false assumption and other age groups and perfectly healthy people are not getting sick and not dying. So my the odd ever be in your favour? Is that a good plan? Gambling with your life? Your friends? Your families?
  • Secondly, what right do you have to say any life is of LESS worth than any other life? SERIOUSLY?! What right do You have to say a seniors life has less value that yours? That a disabled life has less value that yours? What Right do you have to say that? If you do, I’m sorry, but that is vile and repugnant. Something is wrong with your ethical mindset.
Pandemic- disabled voices are not heard

When your life is worth less by society

I knew this before the pandemic. Disabled lives Matter Less. When you are chronically ill or Worse become disabled you figure this out soon enough. From employers, definitely. But from others as well. You have less Value because you do not Contribute to society the way they believe you should. Hell, you must just be lazy. Workplaces do not want to accommodate your needs unless forced to and then they do not like being forced to. Their preference is to try and Not have you there and replace you with someone that isn’t so… complicated.

Unfortunately, any natural anxiety disabled people might have about the COVID-19 outbreak is likely made worse every time news reports and official statements go out of their way to reassure everyone by saying “only” elderly and chronically ill people are at serious risk. It feels awful to hear people reassure each other that coronavirus isn’t that scary because it will mainly hurt and kill “high risk” people. Remember, that’s us you are talking about, and we can hear you.

Forbes

Then the pandemic happens and they say we are at higher risk, with specific conditions, which many of us fall under. And well… then all these stories of people saying how much it doesn’t matter because it doesn’t affect Them and Only Sick People will Die. And you realize your life doesn’t even Matter to these people. You are worth even less than you thought. You are utterly disposable to society. You are worthless to them. And that stings a lot. Yes, we can hear you. Loud and clear. We mean nothing to you. And that is going to really stick with me for a long time. That my friends, family, parents, grandparent, and myself… mean nothing. Our lives mean nothing.

I mean, how Dare you? Bet you are the one’s that say ‘All lives matter’ too. But you don’t even mean that. You mean ‘My life matters the Most and screw anyone else because I don’t want to do a damn thing to adjust my life.’

Hey, as Long As YOU can have some FUN… it all makes it worth while, am I right?

It infuriates me. Our lives matter. And that is also true for other marginalized lives. We also matter and should matter just as much as every Other Life. Some lives shouldn’t be worth less than others. Valued less. Stigmatized More. Discriminated against more. I mean all -isms here. (ageism, sexism, racism, ableism). When I say our lives matter I mean we Should Matter just as Much as Yours. Not, hey, sucks to be you if you die… but you are not worth as much to society… so… whatevs. And when we say that our lives matter we shouldn’t be silenced. Our voices should be actually heard. But, no, that seems to be too much to ask doesn’t it?

“They can just stay home and it will be fine. Isolate themselves so the rest of us do not need to suffer”

Right. Except… that doesn’t quite work does it? Not if you think about the actual reality of seniors and people with disabilities who depend on others and have specific medical needs.

Some quick examples for me before I mention some more obvious overall ones
  1. I can’t drive. I need to get a ride to every appointment I have. So I always will be exposed to a caregiver. And people in the world for those necessary appointments.
  2. My boyfriend works so I will be exposed to whatever he is.
  3. Medications became limited to one month because some People were hoarding so Then I had to go to the pharmacy All the damn time instead of every 3 months. So that was worse, wasn’t it?
  4. I could now do doctor appointments over the phone which really helped. However, I could not get tests or MRIs or specialists issues over the phone, which I had. So I had to go to places that would put me at risk whether I liked it or not.

Otherwise, yes, I did self-isolate better than most can but it is limited in the sense that my boyfriend did have to get groceries and medication and do the errands and that exposes him which exposes me.

Now consider other people and their situations
  1. Some people with disabilities depend on caregivers every day coming into their homes to help with basic tasks and housekeeping. There will always be that risk factors from the people coming into the home.
  2. Some disabled people are unable to wash their hands repeatedly all the time or clean constantly and again need assistance with that.
  3. Many disabled people depend on assistance to get to the grocery store, and remember all that hoarding? well that meant they had to go More to get their fundamental essentials thus increasing their exposure.
  4. Again with the medication issue and more trips to the pharmacy… or delivery. Or worse medication shortages of necessary medications they need has become a potential concern.
  5. Lack of access to resources to manage and treat our conditions
  6. Lack of access to important tests that become delayed
  7. Delaying specific treatments that would be higher risk at this time

Fact is, many of us cannot isolate as much as we would want or need because we depend on others for certain things. But when we try, we often sacrifice things we should be doing. And often resources we need are cancelled due to the pandemic.

No one thinks about the chronically ill and disabled that actually have to work

I can’t work right now but if I was it would be a pretty big issue and my risk factors are not as high as some people I know working with autoimmune diseases. Way higher risk factors than me.

Workplace accommodations and flexibility .. People with disabilities and chronic illnesses regularly struggle to carve out flexible work arrangements, including reasonable accommodations and telecommuting. Such measures are now being looked at in a different light by many employers, in response to a problem affecting all workers, not just those with disabilities and ongoing health conditions.

Forbes

The good thing about the pandemic is ALL of a SUDDEN accommodations that were simply impossible are now possible. Oh, you Can’t possibly work from home. That is impossible. Oh, it affects more than disabled people? I guess we can figure it out and it turns out it is totally possible after all. Oops. Dicks.

But aside from that fact some jobs you cannot work from home and what happens then? Do you go on a leave of absence due to being at high risk and unable to work? Do you work anyway because you need the money? Hope for the best? As the economies in places open up… there is less Choice in the matter. Work or lose your job. And in these economic times no one is going to give up their job. So … many are risking it.

Exposing the risks of long-care facilities

One thing the pandemic has made clear is the lack of staff and even proper care in long-term living care facilities. And also the extremely higher risk in them. We have seen this in many places and certainly here in Canada. The conditions in long-care facilities is not as it should be. They are not staffed as they should be. The staff isn’t even paid well. And this became glaringly apparent. I damn sure hope it leads to massive changes.

Then as the pandemic hit closer to home here in the United States and we heard more details from other countries, it became painfully obvious that for people with disabilities in institutional care … in nursing homes, group homes, and other congregate facilities … simply being in those densely-packed environments put them at much higher risk.

Forbes

And it would be worthy to read that entire article as in the US as things get worse… ableism and discrimination will too.

The fact is, we are at high risk during this time. When things were locked down. Certainly now that the rules are getting… lax. But we matter the least. Our stories are never really even heard. We are barely even mentioned. It isn’t just that People think our lives don’t matter… it is Society that thinks we have less value and our stories and voices don’t matter. We are the disposable segment of society.

It makes me angry I guess because I already knew this. I had a boss once who told me that ‘If layoffs occur you will be laid off first because of your condition’. Thanks. Makes me feel so Needed. I have had accommodations turned down. Repeatedly. I have been demoted ‘for my own good’ more than once. I have been given conditions for raises and promotions based on my health. I have been given ultimatums and threats. So I know being chronically ill is a Problem. Not welcome.

And I know disability payments are below the poverty line because who cares about disabled people anyway. Not like we do not have out of pocket medical needs that we can’t afford because we are disabled. Even with the pandemic here in Canada… workers who got laid off get 2000 a month. I approve of this. People need to financially survive this. I just find it so not funny that people are complaining about it when it is much more than I make on disability. I could use 2000 a month, I’ll tell you that. But I am not important, am I? Not functional. Not productive. I simply do not matter. I can say the Exact same for seniors by the way.

So you know this story. We know stigma. We know discrimination. It is just on a whole new level now. Like shortage of medications for people with Lupus because Trump decided whimsically that medication was a COVID19 treatment (It isn’t according to actual research)… but, hey, why give those medications to those who actually Need it, right? When people can take it for no reason at all, on no research, when they are not even sick, on the slim hope it may do something. And in the beginning of the pandemic… why Not hoard all the necessities so those with limited income can’t get the necessities? Why not, eh?

I mean, why think about the needs of other people at all, ever? Why have empathy? Or compassion? Or common-sense? Why value any life other than your own? But by all means, use your trite ‘all lives matter’ when you just mean your life. And don’t wear a mask because apparently it is so traumatizing for you.

Yeah, maybe I sound cranky at that faction of society that expresses these points of view. But wouldn’t you be angry if you were told you were disposable? And that your loved ones were too? That if you and your loved ones died it wouldn’t even matter? All because it is just so dang inconvenient to make even minor changes in their lives?

See more on the pandemic life

Chronic illness: Pandemic stress
Pandemic life vs. Disability life for me
Effects of social isolation

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2 thoughts on “Pandemic: Disabled voices are not heard

  1. In the U.S. when a person is no longer able to work we lose our healthcare, devastating to chronically ill people. I had to pay $1500.00 per month for health care being told if I let it lapse I would never get covered again due to existing conditions. It takes two years at least to qualify for Social Security disability Medicare. I spent nearly my entire retirement on health care including the deductibles, co-pays, and prescriptions I don’t know how others with more severe disabilities than mine make it. As evidenced in your blog I sense you see other’s disabilities being more demanding than yours which is no dought in my mind worse than mine. Even with chronic illness, your compassion shines through. I’m a disposable senior, service-connected disabled, it’s strange how worthwhile I feel even after being told I’m not. Good post thanks

    Like

    1. That is devastating. The cost alone for that… I wouldn’t be able to afford to Be ill.
      People can say we have less worth all they want. I’m not going to feel worthless for anyone. I am glad you feel worthwhile too.
      Stay safe ❤

      Like

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