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World Arthritis Day COVID-19 Sheryl Singapore

This World Arthritis Day project is presented with CreakyJoints, CreakyJoints Australia, and the Canadian Arthritis Patient Alliance (CAPA).

This COVID-19 Time Capsule is meant to capture a snapshot of what it’s been like to live with a chronic illness during the pandemic among people living all over the globe. The questions are an intentional mix of light and serious.

Everyone’s responses reflect the many ways having a chronic illness is a shared experience that knows no boundaries. At the same time, you’ll find some very distinct differences in how the pandemic has been experienced from place to place.

Respondents answered questions via email and responses may be lightly edited for clarity.

Name: Sheryl Chan
Age: 34
Location: Singapore
Primary health condition: Lupus and many others

Daily Living

What were/are your go-to foods during the pandemic?

Chocolate. Chips. Cheese. Don’t judge.

How many rolls of toilet paper do you currently have?

I didn’t count, but enough! No shortages here in Singapore 🙂

How do you feel about Zoom and digital meetings/events?

Hate them for meetings, but I took a digital marketing strategist course that was conducted via Zoom and enjoyed it.

Do you have a favorite face mask? Tell us about it.

Anything that’s breathable! The white cotton ones that the government hands out here are good, and I also use disposable ones especially if I’m going to the hospital or something. Unfortunately, the masks I’d like to try were/are all sold out for months.

Where do you mainly get your COVID-19 information from?

Online news articles. Also, perspectives from “the ground” on Twitter and Facebook.

Pop Culture

What TV shows and/or movies got you through lockdown/quarantine?

I’ve been watching Ertugrul, a Turkish TV series about the father of Osman who founded the Ottoman Empire (it’s five seasons on Netflix, 100 episodes each so…. perfect for lockdown!). Also been watching whatever fancies my boat for the moment (latest I recall are Enola Holmes, The Old Guard, etc). I’m currently still working through that, and starting on Thieves of the Woods. It’s also great that cinemas are adapting here. We have an art cinema that allows you to “rent” films online for 48 hours. I’ve purchased a couple French, Chinese, and Italian ones.

Share 5 songs from your pandemic playlist.

  • “Come As You Are” (Nirvana)
  • “This Mess We’re In” (PJ Harvey)
  • “Raise Our Hands” (Karsu)
  • “Dance While You Can” (Michelle Gurevich)
  • “To Catch A Thief” (Anneke van Giersbergen)


How has your health generally been during the pandemic?

Almost the same, always up and down. As usual, work stress is more the trigger whether pandemic or not. Although I’d say that my mental health has gone down quite a bit, facing my parents within arms’ distance every single day in the same workspace at home.

Have you used telehealth? Tell us about your best and/or worst appointment.

Yes, here we’ve made non-urgent or more stable patients’ appointments as telehealth. If they feel that you need to be seen in person, they arrange for another date; severely ill or complicated patients are seen as usual. I don’t really have any “best” appointments, as the ones from the hospital have all been great. I love saving on commute time. My worst one, well, I tried to consult a doctor online with these new telehealth apps even before the pandemic and they called me back to tell me I had to go see a doctor in person somewhere else because I was complicated. Too bad, as I knew what meds I needed.

What do you wish other people knew about what it’s like to have arthritis during a pandemic?

Actually, it’s been a bit better during pandemic as the streets are emptier, making it easier to navigate for me. But in general, I think awareness that arthritis goes beyond osteoarthritis, and many patients take immunosuppressants to control the disease. This lowers their immunity and therefore you need to be more careful and considerate around them.

Pandemic Management

How has your country handled social distancing and mask wearing?

Really well actually. We get updates from the government directly to our mobile daily on the status. Now it’s maximum of five people in restaurants, bars, and home visits. They also give out free masks, and it’s compulsory by law to wear them otherwise you get fined, jailed, or sent home if you’re a foreigner.

How has your country handled unemployment or disability/illness caused by COVID-19?

Pretty well for locals. They hand out cash packages and increased the amount. For foreigners less so.

How do you generally feel about your country’s response to the pandemic?

Well Singapore is a very “obedient” country so, so far so good. People are generally cautious, except maybe for the older folks who tend to be more non-compliant.


What has been the most challenging thing about navigating the pandemic for you personally?

Working from home with my parents all day long, too!

Have you experienced anything positive or any surprising upsides during the pandemic?

Increase in work; as a web developer, more businesses are looking to take their businesses online.

If you could go back to January 2020, what would you tell your future self?

Life goes on 🙂 Take precautions but live your life.

Check Out More Patient Perspectives in Our COVID-19 Time Capsule

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