My Experience Undergoing a DMT for my MS During COVID-19

April 2, 2020 No Comments

Category: Faces of MS, MS, My Story
Tags: COVID-19, Coronavirus, DMT, Disease Modifying Therapy, MS, Mulitple sclerosis, tysabri

What’s worse: risking contracting COVID-19 or going without my monthly MS infusion?

Well, according to my neurologist, that was a no-brainer. I needed my DMT (disease modifying therapy) of Tysabri, especially given the fact I had just overcome a relapse last year developing 6 new lesions, and had finally gotten my body back on track.

With an in-shelter mandate in place in Illinois, it seemed only logical to get my infusion done at home. Safer to have one masked nurse at home than walk into a hospital treating COVID-19, right? Unfortunately, I learned that after several calls to BCBS and my neurologist’s office, that Tysabri is one of DMTs that cannot be infused at home in Illinois. Plus, my neurologist Dr. Dusan Stefoski at Rush University Medical Center, who I trust tremendously, assured me that both the hospital and the professional office building where they administer Tysabri and Ocrevus were taking all necessary precautions to keep patients safe.

(Want to learn more about whether your DMT is safe for COVID-19, head over to my blog “Resources MS Patients Can Trust During the COVID-19 Pandemic”)

So, I decided to move up my infusion by a few days to get in before we “peak” in Chicago and took the proper precautions

  • Wore a mask, gloves, glasses, and brought wipes and sanitizer in my purse.
  • Had my husband drop me off and pick me up to avoid the parking lot and walking through other parts of the hospital
  • I didn’t go into the elevator until it was empty.
  • I avoided using the restroom (which as you MSers know is HARD after an infusion).
  • Once I got outside to the car, I pulled off my top layer of clothing and put them and my gym shoes into a garbage bag which I immediately tossed in the washing machine with hot water when I got home. I then took a shower before engaging with my kids.

My Experience at Rush

I have always been tremendously impressed by Rush as an institution (so much so I joined their Women’s Board 2 years ago to help their efforts) and my experience today only enhanced that. Upon entrance into the front of the building (all other entrances were closed), they checked my temperature and even offered me a mask. Furthermore, security personnel and nurses all wore masks (and most wore gloves). Within the MS infusion center, all patients were very spread out and they closed the curtains surrounding each station for more privacy, with only one nurse coming in to administer the meds. Overall, the building felt eerily empty and quiet, and seemingly everyone was being protected (including the valet parkers who wore masks)

I should also note that the Emergency Room and Hospital area where they have tested 4,000+ patients for COVID-19 (8% or 600+ who have come back as positive as of 4/1/20) is separate from the MS Infusion Area. There is no chance of exposure.

Moral of the story:

✔️If you have to go in for your meds, take all the precautions. Everything I did above may seem like overkill but why risk it? Be smart.

✔️ Nurses, doctors, first-responders, and all of those protecting the safety of the public are total rockstars. I was terrified to go in to get an infusion but was soon reminded that this is their reality EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. They put their lives at risk to take care of YOU so please do your part in making sure you stay home and remain healthy.

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