“When I got a call from contract tracers, I was completely shocked…” Ebony has spent 2020 in isolation.
For 29–year–old Sydney resident Ebony Wightman, a combination of last summer’s bushfire smoke and the Coronavirus pandemic has posed her with life–threatening challenges and significant hurdles to continuing her healthcare – not what you’d consider a great sequence of events, but she has found a way.
Ebony, who lives with autism, severe eosinophilic asthma, bronchiectasis, and non-allergic rhinitis, has watched the world go by from the four walls of her Sydney apartment since November 2019.
She’s been admitted to hospital, her respiratory specialist health care services stopped, she’s missed weddings and funerals, forgone family gatherings, given up on a social life, and had an unlikely brush with COVID-19.
“Off the back of the bushfire season I was sent into hospital after a severe asthma attack and I have been trying to avoid hospitalisation ever since. My interaction with the outside world has been incredibly limited.”
Throughout the summer bushfires, the smoke arrested her ability to breathe, isolating her to the indoors. A lifeline, Ebony purchased an air purifier to combat smoke leaking into their apartment. Then with no time to recover between crises, Ebony faced the hurdle of the Coronavirus pandemic and everything that comes with having multiple health conditions.
“I have spent a lot of money on masks, hand sanitiser, and avoiding public transport. This has made a noticeable dent in my already tight budget. Socialising was a hurdle for me usually, and now it’s just been impossible.”
“My respiratory health care is really important. My specialist appointments were deferred ‘indefinitely’ at the beginning of lockdown, this meant I went without specialist treatment for a long time before my partner called and insisted that I be seen. My specialist has since been treating me at his private rooms and bulk billing me, for which I am very grateful.”
Despite all efforts to resume regular health care appointments and avoid any contact with COVID-19, it found its way near Ebony but in the most unlikely place.
“As luck would have it, the one person who came into our home this year – a smoke alarm inspector – tested positive for COVID-19,” she said.
“When I got a call from contract tracers, I was completely shocked. But I thought, geez if it’s going to happen to someone, it’d be me!”
“I know that if I were to contract COVID–19 I would most likely die. This is something I contemplate each time I get a severe chest infection, so this isn’t exactly new territory for me.
“Luckily, he wore a mask and I didn’t catch it, but it just goes to show that you aren’t safe anywhere. I just hope that there is a vaccine soon.”
Ebony continues to be resilient in the face of 2020. But like all of us, she’s looking forward to a break and resuming normal life again. Asthma Australia would like to acknowledge her partner who has supported Ebony and advocated for the continuation of her healthcare. To all those exceptional partners out there, keeping your loved ones protected, you have saved lives! If Ebony can get through this, we all can. #dontwaitmate
Asthma Australia would like to thank Ebony for sharing her story. Your story will inspire others to share theirs. Thank you.