The Big Decision

Most of our day-to-day decisions are pretty low risk: what to have for breakfast, what to wear for work, whether to have a glass or a bottle of wine?  But even deciding on our wine consumption isn’t going to change the course of our life (unless we down more than our recommended units 😊).  So, it makes a lot of sense to me that big, higher-risk decisions can be stressful, like the one I am contemplating at the moment. 

I don’t generally shy away from making decisions and during the course of my career I have had to make many, some very difficult.  I admit, my decisions have not always been right, but at least I made them and “hopefully” learnt by my mistakes.  There’s a lot of research to suggest that wise decision makers can be more successful in life, but I think people who don’t procrastinate and who make relatively quick, informed decisions are the most successful, even if their road to success is a bit bumpy.   Sometimes you can overthink and lose an opportunity.

So, here I am today,  faced with a big decision involving Coronavirus.  As you can imagine, my good friend Dr. Google is having a field day with this one and, through this blog I will explain my dilemma and bring you up to date on where I am now.

I am not someone who would normally worry about media hype and a stock market crash, but I have had to put my “sensible” hat on for this decision and consider the implications more carefully. 

My disease is currently active, and readers of my blog will know that 2 years ago, after securing funding for a biological drug I suffered an allergic reaction.  This was a huge setback for me as the biological drugs can slow down the progress of my ankylosing spondylitis.   However, my Rheumatologist has now secured funding for me to try a different biological, Secukinumab, which I can’t pronounce that either.

I am nervous about the prospect of another allergic reaction and don’t particularly relish the thought of visiting A&E again, but I’ve been assured the risk of this happening is very low and it’s not my main concern.

A main side effect of taking biologic medications is that they suppress your immune system and you put yourself at risk of infection.  Biologic medications change the way our immune system works and whilst it will help to control my inflammatory disease it will affect my natural ability to fight off an infection. 

I also suffer with asthma; people with AS are at a higher risk of developing it.  Ankylosing spondylitis can also cause pulmonary problems which include lung disease and ventilatory impairment due to chest wall restriction.  So, taking all this into account, it’s not the lower immunity itself that’s my main concern, it’s more a combination of my pulmonary issues and what we know about Coronavirus causing respiratory tract infections. 

In order to understand Coronavirus better, I decided that reading most of the media hype was pointless.  Jamie reads New Scientist which has been a good source of information for us.  I have also taken advice from my Rheumatologist and NAAS (The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society).  There appears to be a relatively high risk of developing serious complications in people with underlying conditions such as asthma.  That coupled with my age and a lower immunity due to the biological is somewhat concerning.  Having worked all my life and saved for retirement I would be pretty miffed it I got really ill before I could enjoy it.

That said, after careful consideration, I have made a decision to start on the biological as soon as I receive it.  Living with chronic pain is challenging and I don’t want to procrastinate and lose the funding.

However, after my week of contemplation, I received a phone call from the hospital a couple of days ago and it looks likely there may be a delay in receiving my biological medication after all.   It appears my baseline blood tests may have got lost 😊.  Under normal circumstances this would be frustrating, but I actually don’t feel too upset about it or, indeed, the prospect of another round of blood tests.  I’d had enough blood taken to fill 20 little test tubes last time and I can’t help wondering where they are.

On the plus side of the debate, there is evidence to suggest that people who are HLA-B27 positive (like me) demonstrate increased natural immunity toward a number of viral infections, such as HIV-1, hepatitis C and influenza, although whether this natural immunity carries over to coronavirus has not been studied so perhaps its not all doom and gloom.

In terms of the Coronavirus, I am fascinated about the panic buying of toilet rolls in Australia.  Here in the UK it appears that chicken is very important in our fight against Coronavirus; Sainsbury’s have been out of stock for days.  The shelves are also completely decimated of pizza dough and pasta.  There was no Nurofen and you can’t buy hand gel for love or money. 

So, is it all media hype and panic or will this be an event we will only see once in our lifetime?  Will I get my biological drug soon and will the biological affect my ability to avoid Coronavirus?  Will I suffer another allergic reaction and more importantly, will Jamie and I be able to go on our holiday to France in July?  

Only time will tell.

Keep safe and thank you for reading my blog, until next time xxxx

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