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Letters from the Homefront: Battling Immune Deficiencies

The following “Letters from the Homefront” account is part of our new initiative, Collecting in Quarantine. Inspired by the poignant letters in the Maryland Historical Society collection documenting past adversities from the Spanish flu of 1918, to the Annapolis yellow fever epidemics of 1793 and 1800, MdHS is calling on Marylanders to send their personal stories of how the pandemic is impacting their lives.

Hospital ward with staff and patients
Hospital ward with staff and patients at U.S. General Hospital No. 2, Fort McHenry, Baltimore, photograph by Eugene McFee, 1919, PP32.966. McFee Photograph Collection, PP32, H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society.

March 21, 2020 – On this day, Linda from Baltimore writes:


I am chronically ill with autoimmune, neurological disorders, and immune deficiencies. The immune conditions mean my body doesn’t make antibodies to infections such as pneumonia. Due to the president’s declaration that hydroxychloroquine, a medicine prescribed for connective tissue autoimmune illnesses like I have, I cannot get my medicine. I’m concerned that without it, my disease will progress more rapidly.

I’m trying not to live in fear of being infected by my partner, who has to go into work to maintain a remote network so coworkers can work at home. He also goes shopping, further exposing himself to risk. He sees his elderly parents who are both ill, and I’m afraid he might infect them.

I cannot work due to my illnesses. My partner doesn’t live with me. I am living off savings invested in the stock market. I am now in fear of losing my home. My parents are dead and I have no family to turn to. Talking to friends on the phone is difficult for me due to neurological issues. I already lived a lonely existence. This pandemic makes it lonelier — yet I feel a connection with others who are suffering and will suffer for some time to come.

I used to live in Europe (Netherlands) for 12 years. I was a semi-pro 1960s-style dancer. I performed all over Europe. One of my favorite places to dance was in a small town in Emilio Romagna province, north of Bologna. I am getting reports from Italian friends about family members and friends who have died. One friend’s father is a doctor in Bergamo. It is horrific, the stories coming from there.

I am concerned about my friends who are health care workers. I am concerned for all of us around the world.

Please note: The views, information, and opinions expressed and shared on the underbelly through the Collecting in Quarantine project do not necessarily represent those of the Maryland Historical Society. Our staff does not verify for accuracy the information contained within these submissions or edit the content beyond minor modifications for formatting. Just like the historic letters in our collection, each letter presents the writer’s own perspective. The primary purpose of this series, with the permission of contributors, is to share and collect the experiences of Marylanders living through the COVID-19 crisis at this moment in time.

To learn more about the Collecting in Quarantine project and how to share a story of your own, click here.