On Having an Auto-immune Disorder in the Midst of a Pandemic

This is a piece by our intern Kiteara Sinnett. It’s a thoughtful explanation of what it feels like to have an autoimmune condition in 2020. This is a new high school graduate who has missed out on graduation ceremony, prom, band practice, and the general sense of immortality teens are supposed to have. Christiane Marshall 

The COVID-19 epidemic has been a struggle for every creature alive on this dying planet. The spread of fake information and the infestation of utter ignorance has made living through these troubled times even worse. There are those who ignored guidelines, and by doing so, spread this disease even worse. The saddest part is there are some who will never learn from this mistake. The disease they spread will not hurt them, it will only hurt others. 

A year and a half ago, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. My body had suffered for over 16 years, leaving a wartorn remains of my intestines, and many of my vitamins and other nutrients have been critically low for many years. I am lucky, though. In enough time, my intestines should heal, and by taking many supplements, eating better, and following my diet, I will be able to go out in the world with an above-average immune system. You would too if your body’s gotten used to trying to kill itself for so long. 

I am still healing, and I go through many ‘Celiac Attacks’ as I like to call them when my order is messed up or my specific directions of no gluten are ignored. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, well… Imagine you drank a gallon of oil and then swallowed a lit match. 

Now, to the reason, I am mentioning this. There are so many diseases and autoimmune disorders out there. Imagine if you failed to give a diabetic a sugar-free cake. What about someone with high cholesterol — what if they just ate a fried donut hamburger with extra bacon and cheese? That wouldn’t be doing them any good. 

Now, you became a carrier of COVID-19, and you sneeze into your hand, touch a pack of crayons on the shelf. A little girl reaches up for it with her small fingers and snatches it. She carries it to her mother, and they go through the line. Now the grocer has gotten those germs as well, and every item they touch after will have the disease on them. Not only is that little diabetic girl going to be hospitalized for the rash that’s appeared on her skin, later diagnosed with COVID-19… now many more will be able to pinpoint their sickness to a box of Crayola Crayons. 

Do you better understand the severity of the situation? 

Now, there are places that are reopening, and don’t get me wrong, that’s great! That’s essential for economic purposes, especially for how this capitalistic country is run. That being said, caution is still necessary. You may be safe, but what about that little girl? She wore a mask, but you didn’t… and eventually, it hurt her and many, many more. 

The lesson to take from this, is yes, go out, enjoy yourself, put some money out in the economy… but be careful, please. Stay safe, get plenty of vitamins, sleep, and fluids in your body. This isn’t just to protect you — this is to protect us. 

It’s a beautiful thing to be alive, and I am proud of how strong many of us have been throughout this terrible time. Do not falter now. This is just the first of many tests that are still to come. 

SOURCES for other readings:

“Celiac Disease Foundation.” Celiac Disease Foundation, celiac.org/.

“Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.