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I am Scared of My Next Treatment

By Matt Cavallo
I-m-scared-of-my-next-MS-treatment_1.jpegAs the clock turns to August, I know I am due for my next infusion. My last infusion was in February before I knew what COVID-19 was or what the world was going to look like just a few short weeks after my last treatment. Since then, I have hunkered down. I don’t go outside my house unless I have to. When I do, I take social distancing and mask-wearing very seriously. I work from home, get curbside pickup on my groceries, and prepare most of my meals at home. I decided early on during this pandemic that I was going to be extra vigilant and do everything I can to not contract Coronavirus.

My wife and my family have also taken the kid gloves approach with me. It isn’t only because of my MS. From what I have researched and what my neurologist told me, people with MS don’t have a higher risk than the general population. 

According to the CDC, pre-existing conditions that are an increased risk of severe disease from COVID-19 include cancer, COPD, organ transplants, chronic kidney disease, and type II diabetes. Now, thankfully, MS does not fall into those risk categories. However, people living with MS may have other factors which put them at an increased risk of a severe COVID-19 case. One of these risk factors is asthma. I had asthma as a kid and grew out of it. However, I keep a rescue inhaler. I also typically get bronchitis, pneumonia, or walking pneumonia once a year. With my history of lung infections, I want to take every precaution to ensure that I don’t end up with coronavirus.

Guidance is available online regarding MS disease-modifying therapies and COVID-19. My treatment was on that list twice as being at risk and cautioning that people on the treatment need to be extra vigilant if they live in a COVID-19 hot spot. I live in Arizona and I’m sure most of you have read or heard about how my state is managing the pandemic (that’s a story for another day though). 

So, here I am two weeks away from my next infusion and I am scared. I’ll have to sit in an infusion center for around four hours. I’ll have to wear a mask and hope that the infusion chairs are at least six feet away from each other. On the flip side of the coin, I know what happens to me when I don’t get my MS medication. Not only am I a high rate of relapse, but my last relapse was directly related to me not getting my medication on time. That was back in 2016 and I still have lingering deficits to this day that I have to live with as a result of that relapse. 

So, I stand at a crossroads of needing to make a difficult decision. Do I take my MS medication even though I am at a higher risk to contract COVID-19? Or, do I not take my MS medication and run the risk of having a potentially devastating MS relapse?

In the end, I am going to roll the dice and get my infusion. I can control things, such as wearing a mask, washing my hands, and keeping my distance. I also trust the facility where I will get my medication is kept clean and germ-free. 

If you have similar concerns or questions, I would suggest that you talk to your neurologist. I expressed my concerns to my neurologist and he listened. When I told him that I was scared, we discussed my worries and came up with a plan together. By having a plan in place, I am a little less scared but will remain vigilant in taking safety precautions at my infusion. In the end, I will not let the fear of COVID-19 affect how I manage my MS.