No matter how strictly you follow the rules, those with firsthand experience know that anyone can get COVID-19.
“Given my role helping shape COVID-19 policies and procedures since the pandemic surfaced, I know the rules better than most: wear a mask, limit social gatherings, stay six feet apart and so on,” says Dr. Gina Conflitti, chief medical officer for Medicare products at Cigna, one of the nation’s largest health care insurers. “Like many others, I did my best to follow the safety guidance. Yet, in late November 2020, I contracted the virus and faced months of recovery.”
While Dr. Conflitti hopes this doesn’t happen to others, she offers the following advice to those who do contract COVID-19:
• COVID-19 impacts everyone differently. There are those who cruise through COVID-19 with no symptoms while others have mild symptoms. Some people literally fight for their lives. Don’t expect to have the same experience as others, and be sure to communicate with your doctor about the best treatment approach.
• Don’t get caught in the blame game. Once you contract COVID-19, there’s a tendency to blame yourself. Or you might blame others for infecting you. Many never find out how they were exposed. While contact tracing is important, don’t waste time blaming yourself or others. Save your energy for recovery.
• Don’t be afraid to ask for help. COVID-19 is humbling, and even active, independent people may suddenly need help with normal daily activities, like getting groceries and medicines. People want to help, so don’t hesitate to ask so you can concentrate on recovering.
• Take care of your mental health. COVID-19 is isolating and can cause depression and anxiety. Stay connected with friends and family safely via phone or video calls. Talk to a professional if things become too difficult to manage on your own. You may have access to behavioral health support through your medical insurance or Medicare plan.
• Listen to your body. There’s no good time to get sick. Nevertheless, it’s important to listen to your body before returning to work, school and daily activities. Don’t rush it. Prepare by eating healthy, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, taking vitamins or supplements if your doctor recommends and reducing stress.
• Pay it forward. Even with all the bad things COVID-19 brings, it’s also revealed some of the best aspects of humanity. Pay kindness forward by showing gratitude to clinicians, teachers, restaurant and grocery store workers and others who courageously give their best so our lives are better during this pandemic.
• Get the vaccine. Take control of your health by getting vaccinated. Follow your local health department news, and get your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as medically approved. It’s available at no cost and critical to ensuring your safety and the safety of others.
For Cigna’s COVID-19 resources, visit cigna.com/coronavirus.
“It’s been a difficult time for all of us, but I’m confident the most challenging days are behind us. Stay safe, follow safety procedures and get vaccinated. The only way we can move forward is if we do it together,” says Dr. Conflitti.