The media have spent months talking about COVID-19 and what we as Americans must do to defeat this Invisible Enemy. They advised us to social distance, wear masks, wash our hands, and most importantly had to isolate ourselves from others locked in our homes. Again, We were advised not to leave our home, or we would be at risk of getting COVID-19 and worse, spreading it to our loved ones. What we all learned about those at greater risk with problems such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, elderly, obesity, minorities, and the immune-compromised. We learned of the signs including shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing, fevers, not feeling right, and more. We listened and followed instructions for weeks until it finally looked like the invisible enemy was retreating. However, this has left us exposed to all COVID-19 allies that affect our lives daily before and after COVID-19.
By choosing to limit all activities, this resulted in most of us limiting going to see their Medical Provider. Daily, Providers worry about patients having heart disease, asthma, cancer, diabetes, strokes, and mental illness to name a few. The media chose to highlight the symptoms above for COVID-19 but forgot to emphasize they are also symptoms associated with fatal diseases. In fact, according to the CDC based on 2017 data, heart disease, cancer, asthma, and diabetes combine for about 4000 deaths a day (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/deaths.htm).
A provider’s job is to do everything they can to reduce this number by screenings, follow-ups, and other producers to detect and treat these enemies. Regardless of how much these providers want to help, we cannot help those who don’t make appointments to see us. To just give a rough idea of how the medias’ pushing to stay at home has limited our ability to find and treat life-changing diseases, on average we find 750 new women a day with Breast Cancer (https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/about/how-common-is-breast-cancer.html). For the about 3 months that COVID-19 has been a threat, we should have found about 67,000 Women with Breast Cancer which has gone undiagnosed because people stopped seeking their routine care. While I can’t tell you how many we found during that time I would be surprised if we hit 25% of that number because the medical guidelines during that time were to do almost no testing at all to save us from being exposed to COVID-19.
Right now, is the time for us to remember the fight with the allies of COVID-19. I urge you to schedule your screenings such as mammography and colonoscopy. Schedule your appointments with your provider to follow up on your diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol. The two main things to prevent and control all these diseases are food and exercise, which have limits during the lockdown. If you do have one of the symptoms of COVID-19, rather than isolating yourself, talk to your provider, and get evaluated and treated to help save your life. Lastly, do not forget about your mental health. My job, as well as my colleagues’ across all fields, is to help you deal with the Invisible Enemy and its Allies, but we need to see you in order to help you.