Quarantined in a COVID-19 hot spot: Report from New Orleans

The French Quarter has a surreal feeling; the rats have taken over the streets at night. It’s like a ghost town—not even during Hurricane Katrina have all the restaurants and bars been closed down like this.

Yes, things are bad here. I know someone in their mid-30s who died five hours after being admitted to the hospital. I’ve been wearing a mask and gloves whenever I leave my apartment. I started doing that even before my clinic staff started wearing them. I only leave my apartment when it’s essential. I’m so thankful for a couple of good friends who are helping me survive.

I was sick during Mardi Gras and didn’t get out as much as I wanted. Which turns out to be a good thing, since it helped to limit my exposure in the early stages of the coronavirus spread in New Orleans.

So far, I am staying reasonably healthy. Every day I check my temperature and oxygen levels by pulse oximetry. That, along with a few questions, is how my clinic is screening people. I am wearing a heart monitor for next 30 days because of three syncope (fainting) episodes in the past couple of months.

I dialyze at home and it has been very difficult getting supplies so I have to ration what little I have. Things I use in dialysis, like paper towels and anti-bacterial soap, have been impossible to find for weeks now. I had been ordering them on Amazon every month. I am also struggling financially as my everyday expenses have more than doubled since the lock down started here. The increased costs and lack of supplies has a stressful and anxiety-producing effect.

But I’m living in the moment and trying to appreciate even this experience. I’m writing a lot and have been taking some photos to document this.

All of this has helped me realize how blessed I am and I am very thankful. Stay safe and stay home as much as you can!

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Ryan Bramlett

Ryan Bramlett is an Ambassador in AKF’s Advocacy Network.

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