First Person: Why I’m Still Playing it Safe in Quarantine

By: Beth Gillem
On Behalf of Nick Wells
| May 28, 2020 |

I wanted to put some info out there to counter a lot of misinformation I’ve been seeing about Covid-19 on social media. Also, I’ll share why I made the decisions that I have made and even why some others might be doing the same. 

Some History About Me

I’m a 33 year old half Korean, quarter Japanese, quarter white male. I’m fairly healthy, workout 4-5 days a week, and eat pretty well most of the time. However, I’m high risk for coronavirus. 

When I was 15 my right lung collapsed (60% collapse) 3 times in a month and almost exactly a year later my left lung collapsed (40% collapse). Both required major surgeries and 24-48 hours of recovery with a literal rigid tube in my chest the whole time to pull blood and fluid out that had filled the space my lungs had left when they collapsed. This left me with permanent damage to my lungs. 

Last year I had Pneumonia and starting this year I had the flu for the first time which required 3 rounds of antibiotics and about 10 days to kick (my wife recovered after 3 days) which left me with a bad cough for 2 months (sorry co-workers). I’ve spoken with 2 doctors about it and they told me that I’m really high-risk and my chances of survival if I caught coronavirus were very low. I would probably die.

Being healthy doesn’t mean I will survive if I get it. So I take precautions. I’ve been blessed enough to be able to work from home. I wear a mask when I have to go out. I sanitize my hands a lot. I don’t see as many friends or family as I would like.

Masks

A lot of what I see about wearing a mask is that they are not effective in keeping the virus out. That is a partial truth. It’s not 100% going to keep the virus out but it does decrease the chances of catching Covid-19. 

If I were to throw paint at your face with your hand in front of your face and then again with no cover you’ll probably have less paint on your face when it was covered. Now back me up about 6 feet (social distancing). The probability goes down. Back me up farther and the probability goes down more. It’s not about whether or not it works or doesn’t work. It’s decreasing the probability to catch it.

Also, the mask isn’t necessarily for you; it’s for the people around you. If someone is infected but doesn’t know it they could be potentially spreading it for weeks before showing symptoms. But if they wear a mask those water droplets (spit) that are expelled by coughs, sneezes, talking, mouth-breathing, etc. will get caught by the mask (again maybe not 100% but definitely more than without a mask). Again it is about decreasing the probability of spreading the disease.

The mask covers the mouth and nose. Yes you can probably catch Covid-19 through orifices like eyes but your mouth and nose are one-way direct tickets to the respiratory system. Again not 100% protection but most people need their eyes to safely function out in the open. Covering the mouth and nose does not make day to day functions dangerous. It would also require increased contact with the virus to contract it through the eyes instead of the mouth or nose. One particle of the virus through the eyes isn’t enough to infect the lungs.

Social Distancing

The MINIMUM recommendation is 6 feet. It can be 8 feet or 12 feet or even 15 feet but the minimum recommendation is a 6-foot distance. This in itself is not a 100% guarantee but it decreases the chances. Pair the distancing with the mask and the probabilities go way down. Pair this with everyone wearing a mask and the probability decreases even more.

Death Rate

This is not the flu. The death rate for the flu is =<0.01%. Right now we are sitting at a little over 6%. That is 600 times deadlier than the flu. The reason this is significant is that we’re not even halfway through the year yet. 

We have the luxury of not seeing how bad things are but if you checked the hospitals you’d see the damage. Baptist South in Montgomery has overflowed patients to other floors of the hospital. Even though Montgomery missed the initial wave, it’s catching up with us now because everyone feels safe.

The Consequences

Now, let’s talk about the consequences.

If I’m wrong the consequences are that I wore a mask out in public, sanitized often, and didn’t get to see as many friends and family. These are fairly minor inconveniences.

If the people on the other side are wrong then I literally die. I widow my wife. I don’t get to have kids. I’m dead. I don’t get a second chance.

So, I will continue to take precautions. I’ll wear a mask and distance myself from people. I’ll limit my time in public, sanitizing more often, etc. 

That doesn’t mean I’m living in fear or I’m a sheep or dumb. It just means I’m aware of the consequences of both sides and I’m taking precautions.

Just because others that aren’t as high risk make the same decisions doesn’t mean they are living in fear or are sheep or dumb either. Even though they might not be high risk they could still pass the virus to others and even walk away with permanent lung damage or other long term health issues.

I don’t share this to start a debate or argue with anyone. I just wanted to share my thoughts as someone who is high-risk and possibly open someone’s mind to a different point of view. I hope that we can begin to encourage and support each other rather than shame people who have differing opinions and have made different choices. God bless you.

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One Response

  1. Thanks for that very informative story of what can happen if you get exposed, I’m sorry for the the kidney disease you have. I hope that many people will learn from your story! Some of us have to take more precautions than others. God bless you 🙏

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