Written Story by Anonymous

In the beginning of COVID, there were two things I feared: the disease itself and the fear of  getting COVID. As a disabled person with multiple medical issues, I listened to the news reports  of the lack of staff, the lack of personal protective equipment, the lack of facilities, and the need  to categorize or prioritize people who became infected by able bodied or disabled. The able  bodied were identified as contributing members of society, less expensive to treat, and more  likely to survive and recover from the disease. I felt fear and anger that should I seek treatment  for COVID as a disabled person, I would be refused admission to the hospital or admitted to the  hospital and then left in a corner to die. 

This fear created an extremely high level of anxiety as I found myself isolating myself from  family members and friends in order to not be infected. Those family members included people  older than me with disabilities as well and serious chronic health conditions. Knowing that if  they tested positive for COVID meant that they would be given a death sentence. How could  their age and their disabilities be considered an inconvenience for the health care system? How  could my disabilities be considered the benchmark for whether or not I would receive care. I  have never felt so unwanted by society as I did during these early days of COVID. When I spoke  out about the ranking of able-bodied people over disabled people to receive treatment, I was  shocked to hear able-bodied people tell me that I was a selfish individual. That if I had done  more to be healthy before COVID, health care providers would not have had to make this  decision. They acted as if my disabilities were my fault and as if my disabilities would simply go  away if I wanted them too. 

I felt like I had to hide myself away to protect myself not only from the disease but from society  itself. I missed my grandson being born and had to view him through the front window of his  living room. A piece of glass between us to protect him and myself. Months later after I was  vaccinated, I was finally able to hold him. I cry writing this now as just picking him up in my arms  felt like the world might be becoming right again. When I was vaccinated, it felt like every part  of my body where I experienced lifelong conditions and chronic health issues was attacked. I  could barely walk and it felt like every nerve was on fire. I had little strength or ability to  complete the smallest tasks. This lasted for weeks. When I brought up my symptoms, I was  ignored initially. I suffered endlessly with no relief in sight. Eventually, those symptoms would  diminish but I still experience pain in my legs and a feeling of constant exhaustion. I can only  hope that our society has learned from COVID to make sure that everyone in the community is  protected and cared for no matter what the crisis, disaster or emergency. No one should feel  isolated and fear seeking medical help as a disabled person.