By Joshua Harrison, Diné citizen, DCAA Advocate, Freelance Designer
I am limited on what I can do during the COVID-19 pandemic. My daily routine consists mainly of doing dialysis treatment due to my End Stage Renal Disease. Every evening, I am required to do at least 11.5 hours of dialysis treatment. Being a kidney failure patient, there are a lot of precautions that need to be taken to avoid infection. Every day before any treatment, I am required to wear a surgical mask, wash my hands with antibacterial soap, use hand sanitizer, clean my catheter and “exit wound” with special solutions called Alcavis and Xsept, set up my dialysis machine, connect to my machine and repeat the cleaning process to disconnect. Throughout the day, I keep myself busy with making homemade masks for our Diné Nation and for those who need them, home improvement projects, rehabbing furniture, and engaging with our DCAA pandemic response and relief efforts for our Diné people including health and food advocacy activities including Slow Food events and opportunities.
Being an End Stage Renal Failure patient during this time can be challenging. Before the pandemic, I was able to go out more without any worry. Taking precautions has become a daily part of my life. I never thought, in my lifetime, I would need someone to get my groceries and supplies for me due to the possibility that I could get COVID-19. One of my main concerns is getting sick with my kidney condition. In my condition, I am at higher risk of contracting COVID-19. I have learned about the dangers and risks of COVID-19 and being at home, I educated myself on implementing critical hygiene practices to protect myself to stay safe. With the government lockdowns, it has given me the opportunity to make homemade masks to help others in hopes of reducing and stopping the spread.
I have lived in South Florida for the last 18 years, so I have a strong support system made up of family and friends who are always there for me. One of the challenges that I have had to face is being away from my New Mexico family. Thankfully, we live in an age of virtual and social media, so it makes it easier to keep in touch with my loved ones. Being away has actually brought me closer to them during this time. I have reassured them several times that what I am going through is temporary and am thankful my situation is not as bad as others out there. I am thankful to have reconnected with loved ones during this time and now am a health advocate.
Living with a disease, it has changed my perspective on many things, such as living a healthy lifestyle and being a better person. Since my diagnosis, I have expressed several times, this is my second chance at life and I will do things differently. I encourage you it is never too late to change your ways and it always starts with the first step to change. As long as you are going forward and not backward, you are making progress! I urge anyone to take that first step and see where your journey takes you. There is no prize without the struggle! One of the many lessons I have learned and am continuing to learn is that life goes on. We all have struggles and especially now and going forward, we have to be strong enough to push through those struggles and not let them keep us down. For the many generations ahead of me, always work on becoming a better version of you, learn something new everyday, take risks and do not be afraid of failure! Failures are lessons learned.
Feel free to follow, tag, or connect with Joshua at facebook.com/JBsJourneytoRecovery
Throughout the pandemic, DCAA Advocates have been creating and distributing homemade social masks to help slow and possibly prevent the spread of COVID-19 in and around the Diné Nation. These masks have been distributed in bags with hygiene supplies, healthful food and snacks, activity books, and other donated items.