How One Man With COPD Suffered Through COVID-19

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Jaime Barba
Jaime Barba

Jaime Barba, from Mexico, developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) after smoking for 32 years. When COVID-19 struck, the country converted the hospital at which Barba received treatment into a COVID facility, leaving him no place to be treated if his COPD worsened.

Eventually, he and his wife both tested positive for the virus.

“Although our symptoms were mild and my respiratory system did not affect me, I had other affectations, mainly kidneys and prostate that are still under treatment,” Barba wrote in his NCD Diary. “When we were positively diagnosed, it was distressing not to have guaranteed care in case it became complicated and hospitalization was necessary.”

But the hardest part was the mental battle, he explained.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, we have been on the razor’s edge between remaining confined and trying to generate resources to survive,” wrote Barba. “I have suffered insomnia, sometimes even panic attacks with chest pain and shortness of breath, and gastritis and colitis are normal.”

People with lung diseases are among the most likely to develop serious cases of COVID-19. Some of Barba’s ex-smoker friends or people with other NCDs died during the pandemic, some of them from COVID-19 and others due to lack of care and medicines for their chronic diseases.

While the fear was high, he said the pandemic also brought him closer to other people with NCDs. They shared video calls and chats and served as a support network – emotionally and sometimes physically.

“Someone needed an oxygen tank and another had an unused one, so lent it to them,” Barba gave as an example. “The need of some and the disposition of others leads us to get what is necessary and optimize the use of the available equipment and drugs that have risen in price or are out of stock. WhatsApp groups are the main channel for exchanging inputs and information quickly. We do video conferences and promote participation in some that seem relevant, we see each other there, we talk. Many times, they serve as therapy since we need to keep in touch and seeing each other through virtual channels is comforting.”

He said there is one message that he still feels the need to get across, even as the pandemic has become less bold: “As people with non‑communicable diseases, we must say loudly: ENOUGH! No more! We want sufficient health care for all!”

Read Jaime Barba’s full NCD Diary.
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Image Credits: Courtesy of NCD Alliance.

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