If you have chronic lymphocytic leukemia, you may be able to handle many of your regular health care visits with telemedicine. But there may be times when you have to go into the office for treatment. Protecting yourself -- especially during the COVID-19 pandemic -- can be challenging.
There are some things that can help you stay safe and ease your stress.
Call the Doctor’s Office
Before you make the trip, make sure that your CLL appointment has to happen at that time. Some doctors are rescheduling any routine or non-urgent appointments, so confirm that you should still go in for your visit.
Don’t assume that you can postpone or skip a treatment. With CLL, as with any cancer, it’s important that you get all the care you need in the right timeframe.
If you’re in a clinical trial for CLL, check with the trial’s organizer to see if there have been any changes that affect your in-person attendance. That might save you a trip.
If you can drive to your doctor’s office, try to go alone. That way, you won't pass the virus back and forth to anyone else in the car. If you’re getting a ride from someone who doesn’t live in your house, you should wear a face mask.
Make sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before and after your appointment. Keep your hands away from your face, both in the car and in the office.
Taking Mass Transit
If you're taking a bus or train to your appointment, use these tips to stay safe:
Schedule your visit for CLL for non-peak times. In the midst of the pandemic, rush hours are nowhere near as crowded as normal. But it’s still best to try to avoid morning and late-afternoon peak times when it's likely that more people will be commuting. Choose a seat far away from other travelers. Remember, the goal is to be at least 6 feet apart from anyone.
Wipe down surfaces. If you have disinfectant wipes with you, clean seats, handles, and any other surfaces you might be in contact with before you touch them. You won’t get them all, so be sure to keep your hands away from your face.
Wash your hands as soon as possible. Head to the restroom right away once you get to the doctor’s office. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you have alcohol-based hand sanitizer, it’s OK to use that as soon as you get off the bus or train. Either way, you should still wash your hands as soon as you get to the office.
Wear a face mask. Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face mask whenever you’re around others.
Taking a Rideshare or Taxi
See if you can order and pay for your ride with contactless pickup. Always sit in the back seat. Most taxis also have partitions between the driver and passenger.
Major ride-sharing services have suspended the feature that lets you split a ride with someone you don’t know. So you’ll be in the car with only the driver. But you don’t know if the driver is sick or if any riders before you were sick. As with other public transportation, touch as few surfaces as you can and use disinfectant wipes if you have them.
It’s also a good idea to open the window if it’s not already open. You should also suggest to the driver to turn on fresh air instead of recirculated air.
As with other transportation, sanitize your hands as soon you get out of the car and then wash them for at least 20 seconds when you get to the doctor’s office.