Diabetes Adds Risk in Coronavirus Age

Living with diabetes, Michael Fulcher’s compromised immune system puts him at greater risk if he gets sick with COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Michael Fulcher

Many people are being affected by this current pandemic, and some are being more affected than others. We all know the problems that the elderly and the medically fragile are facing during this crisis, but we tend not to think about another group that is at risk, which is older and former foster youth. Since we are considered to either already be adults or to be close to being adults, we tend to get overlooked. But this crisis is hitting us hard as well. Schools are closing their dorms, causing housing instability, reduced work hours and jobs not scheduling people are causing economic stress. That’s not even mentioning academic or health concerns.

My name is Michael Fulcher. For my spring semester, I switched to completely online classes, so COVID-19 hasn’t affected the way I do my regular school work much. One thing that has been affected, though, is testing. We are required to take two proctored exams for each class every semester when you use E-Core. The standard procedure is that you have to go to a testing site in person and take the test under the watchful eye of a proctor, but that recently became impossible with all the testing sites closing because of COVID-19. So, an online option became available, but it could only run on Windows 10 and it soon became overworked. The good news is that the university system of Georgia stepped in and suspended the proctored exam requirement until this crisis is over.

I usually work with a group called GA Empowerment. They are a foster youth advocacy group housed at the Multi-Agency Alliance for Children. I serve as an events coordinator, but due to COVID-19, all events have been canceled until further notice, causing me to go without work. I’m sure that this is similar for most of the youth my age, as a lot of businesses aren’t scheduling anyone. There are some companies that are still hiring during these times, but as someone who is medically fragile, I can’t afford to be out and about during a pandemic.

On top of being an Independent Living Program age foster youth, I am a Type 1 diabetic, which means that I have a compromised immune system. Something as simple as the flu can be fatal for a diabetic if not treated properly and quickly. That makes times such as now especially difficult. We get sick easier, it affects us more, and it takes us longer to recover. Just by going out and looking for a job, youth in similar situations could be putting their very lives at risk.

Another thing that the coronavirus has done is make a lot of people look at their chosen career path and secondguess it. I am currently in school and pursuing a degree in history so that I can become a history teacher. While teaching history is an important profession, the coronavirus has shown that it may not be stable, as even teachers aren’t working right now.

Michael Fulcher, a freshman at Georgia Gwinnett College, is pursuing a major in history and a minor in religious studies. He lives in Atlanta with his fiance and cat. After college, he plans to teach history in high school.

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