After more than a year and half of living with COVID around us, some have started to feel like it is just time to return to normal life (whatever that may be). You may have 20-somethings in your life like I do that say “COVID has been cancelled”. Sadly, my friends, I can tell you that it is still very much here and I got a front row seat to the main event.
Without getting into debates, I will share that I am fully vaccinated and have gone months at a time that I have not been around people outside my household – and I have COVID. Others in my household tested negative when they were in close contact with me. Where did I get it? How did they not? Such a fickle beast she is…
Some people are extremely sick in ICU, others are only tired for a day or may have no symptoms at all. However, I have learned that there are far more people experiencing what I did but we aren’t hearing about them as much as those that sailed right through or those in ICU. There is huge group in-between that are dealing with this weird and still mostly unknown beast.
So, what was it?
I called it a beast, that is the best word I have come up with so far. As it started, I was just a bit tired, not thinking COVID at all. The weather was turning. Perhaps a fall cold, the beginning of bronchitis, allergies – still too early to tell but something was brewing. Within 24 hours, my breathing became harder. Doctor Tina determined it was classic bronchitis and time to nip it in the bud. So happy, I played doctor and knew that if that was the case, I would need some meds.
My actual doctor thought bronchitis too but needed to “follow protocol” and test for covid. She gave me steroids to help with the coughing and open my bronchial tubes and told me to use albuterol as well. Later than evening, the nurse called letting me know that it was actually COVID not bronchitis. We still treated the symptoms the same way. At that point, nothing changed.
Beyond that, everything changed. I was running a fever, exhausted, having difficulty taking a deep breath. The good news is I knew how to shallow breath fast to keep my oxygen levels up. However, shallow breathing exhausts your body. From the day after testing positive, nine days passed by with lots of sleeping, loss of taste, loss of appetite, loss of smell, shallow breathing and exhaustion. I was beyond foggy and could not concentrate. When I say foggy, I would be holding a medicine bottle in my hand and could not remember what I had just done – had I taken it or had I not. Complete fog.
A Happy Discovery
Lots of fluids, lots of rest, lots and lots of stuff, then came a blessing I had no idea existed. On day 7, I was able to get the Monoclonal Infusion. I’d never heard of it. All I knew was that I was not in good place and needed help. Others asked, “were you afraid of what it would do to your body?” No, in my mind it was not any worse than anything else that was already in my body. For me, I felt way worse afterward. Some say that an hour later or later the same day they were back to normal. That didn’t happen for me.
Days passed without me really knowing. It all seemed like one really long day to me. My body’s whole circadian rhythm was gone. Sleeping 16, 18 or more hours a day was the norm. I would be awake talking and just drop off fast asleep in mid-sentence. Was it Monday or Thursday, I didn’t know but I was certain that I was reallllllllly tired.
Building Up Allies Against the Beast
Without my sense of taste and smell and loss of appetite, food choice was really irrelevant. It just didn’t matter. So we choose to go with everything I ate (or drank) as protein to help my body make the energy it needed. I tried to respond to messages from people checking on me. Sorry friends, I just couldn’t keep up. Even sending my extended family updates took hours and energy leaving me sleeping again afterward. What would have taken seconds now took so – much – more.
This is day 12 of symptoms and day 10 of struggling. I turned a corner two days ago and am at least heading in the right direction. I still tire very easily (and have actually fallen asleep several times already just writing this) and still am foggy but am so, so, so much better. When will I be back to me? I don’t know but I am heading in the right direction, making progress … and I know I will.
The Thing That Stands Out Most To Me Is …
… how many people have reached out to me about their on-going concerns that they haven’t been talking about. There are a TON of people dealing with this, having longer lasting setbacks than a small blip in the road or a few days of tiredness. Some have said that they are afraid to share because their doctors have not believed them, or they don’t want to be labeled or judged as not being okay. Business owners, scientists, athletes, professors, veterinarians and so many others have all shared that they are silently dealing with this being more than a day or two. Some have been dealing with it for days while others are weeks or even months.
Yes, I understand that there is a fear of being seen as vulnerable or not on top of your game. Yes, it strikes panic in the heart of many high achievers and those that work in competitive worlds. But do you really understand, Tina? Oh, yes, I faced this head on after a serious accident years ago and have coached many leaders facing this same fear. I see you and I understand. It is not easy – but the truth is our story helps others.
To be completely honest, I did not think this would impact me hard. After all, I was fully vaccinated. Dang, I was wrong! This beast knocked me down hard. I am not on top of my game and barely on the sidelines watching the game right now, I am still weak but I am getting stronger every day but I will be back. If anyone wants to judge or label this, let them. I label it too. I call it tenacity, strength, even badassery, and will proudly wear that label and hope you do too. If you are dealing with this beast more than those around you, you are NOT alone. There are many like you, like us, even if you are not hearing their stories. Not everyone is a blip on the road, or God forbid, in an ICU.
Stop and Listen …
The best advice from my wonderful medical friends is: eat and drink protein, lots of immunity building vitamins (C, D, Zinc), more water than the Great Lakes, rest when your body needs it, and stay in touch with your doctor. This is not the time to try to push through (can you believe I typed those words?), rest heals. My personal advice to you my friends is to know that this hits people in a lot of varied way, give yourself space and grace to get to a better place (so you can punch the beast in the face).
The other thing that came with this experience is a clear and convicting determination to make more bold moves in my life – for my health, joy, and impact. If you have known me for long, you know that I am a go-getter, a do-er, and make stuff happen but this is bigger, more, deeper. I’d already stepped out more boldly when I left my executive corporate career, of 30 years, going full-time in my own business. That was just the tip of the iceberg. Most of you know that I have become quite the expert at overcoming adversity – and this will be no different. This beast is yet another shake-up and wake-up. I am focused on finding the silver lining in it all, harnessing the power that is and is to come. I’m coming back, stronger and fiercer than ever – and would love you to come along with me …
I’ve determined that I will fit in my mermaid wedding dress again on my 30th Anniversary in less than a year. I will be in the best shape of my life at 55. I am also going to start my personal and professional development book club membership program I have wanted to do for years. Expanding my speaking events and so much more is also on the horizon.
What about you?
What about you? Drop me a comment and let me know what your next big thing will be. Can’t wait to hear! Until next time, Let’s Do This …