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Day 23 of Corona – The challenges (and positives) of recovery

It’s been a tough 3+ weeks. I’m ‘over’ the actual virus but it will take quite a while and maybe months to recover to 100% from the physical aftermath left by Covid-19. Medical advice is saying that for a moderate/severe case like mine it could take 6 weeks or more for recovery and even longer to build up stamina and fitness levels again.

I’ve had many people tell me they appreciate symptom details as this virus is a mystery. The points below are more ‘recovery’ details. My husband and son did not have the struggles I have had though it has taken longer than anticipated to get over the virus and each of them have had lingering aftermath. Several friends who have suffered with Covid-19 say the aftermath has left the residue of a tight chest, shallow breathing, nosebleeds, fatigue and weakness, weird mouth sores, and taste and smell issues among other things.

But every person is different.

I’ve thought of the analogy of Hurricane Levels – the higher the level, the more recovery time (and probably residue and weird symptoms) you might have in the healing journey.

Here are a few of my recovery challenges followed by positives (because we all crave good news right now):

I haven’t slept past 4 am this entire time. Normally when I’m ill with the flu or a virus I sleep loads but not with this virus. I’m aching for deep, restorative, immune-boosting sleep but even naps are challenging at the moment. **Quick update on this point – I sent a version of this on my Instagram and FB work profile page yesterday and got wonderful kind notes, heartfelt encouragements and promises to pray. I slept until 5:45 this morning. A small step but I celebrated.

I’m still waking up short of breath every morning followed by mild nosebleeds, odd sneezing and a headache. This continues in a mild form throughout the day. However, in the worst of it, I had choking episodes and severe asthma attacks which I feel I’m past so I embrace the fact that I am healing, albeit slowly.

Mindfulness and meditation practices may have helped saved my life a few times – I don’t want to seem overly dramatic but I’m grateful I’ve been doing these consistently for a few years. These incorporate deep breathing exercises. Both my doctor as well as a physio friend who specialises in lung rehabilitation have reinforced my need to continue these exercises numerous times a day for lung restoration. I have a few blog posts in the coming weeks that I hope will be helpful where I will give practicals on this so watch this space.

I have transitioned from a ‘Darth Vader bullfrog croak’ to ‘chain-smoking Kermit’. So at least it’s an improvement. But I’m a voice artist and speaker/trainer and I know this isn’t great for throat health (and I know many natural remedies so don’t worry!). I talk very little as silence and resting is key for my healing.

I also have weak muscles/deep fatigue which is normal after major physical trauma. I can’t bend down to pick things up as it restricts my breathing. I’ve tried to just move my limbs while I sit in an attempt to exercise – it still puts pressure on the lungs. I did walk down the stairs a few times without holding the bannister today, which was a tiny improvement.

This week (and possibly next) I have strict orders of no exertion from my doctor. The one plus from this is that my whole family is getting a MASSIVE upgrade on their cooking and cleaning skills . . . and they are trying not to complain. I’m proud of both my kids, especially my 15-year-old son Aiden, expanding their meal repertoires, as Daniel is delivering academic teaching content or in zoom meetings and almost 17-year-old Madeline is preparing/delivering online tutoring most days.

Let’s just say we will be keeping this newfound routine of everyone cooking even after I am better!

Bottom line. This virus could have killed me.

As I have said before, in normal times I would have been in the hospital. But these aren’t normal times and medical professionals felt I had the support I needed at home. The more I read reports (which I try to limit as they are increasingly dire here in the UK – over 700 died today alone including younger individuals who were ‘healthy’ and its only mid-afternoon as I post), the more I see that in a moment I could have stopped breathing altogether.

But I didn’t.

And I celebrate with my family and embrace this season. Health is a gift.

Yes, I will get frustrated. Yes, I may get bored. Yes, we are all going through the grieving process of no more gym, eating out, having a coffee with friends, going to the park, running errands and having life feel ‘normal’.

We were supposed to be in one of our favourite places in Portugal right now on holiday with vineyards, beaches and sailboats but instead we might clean out our garage (and I may sit and read a book while they work . . not complaining on this one either).

Yet I also will have the chance (as I have seen already) to start writing again, painting again, gardening, and finishing those online courses that I was concerned I wouldn’t have time for this year. I’m already having deeper consistent talks with my teens and husband (ok, maybe more listening right now) and connecting through WhatsApp or Facebook or Instagram or whatever works with old and new relationships.

I have the chance to find an authentic, fulfilling life in this unique season and not squander the time as I’m literally forced to rest. And despite all the trauma of paramedics, long waits for the doctor to call back again, stressing over finding the right medications as pharmacies had run out, it feels rich already in a season where the best thing I can do is sit quietly and let my beat-up body recover.

And I am trying to not think about the loss of part my financial income for the foreseeable future as the media industry has come to a halt – that is for another day and fretting about the future won’t help me to heal any faster. Worry will not help my immune system or recovery.

So for all those who have sent encouragements, cards, surprise flowers, comfort ‘treats’ or fruit tea, recorded videos and audio messages, kind words and peaceful, beautiful prayers – I thank you.

I felt carried by those things as did my family.

And I NEED them in the days ahead. We are still trying to prevent a secondary infection or illness as my immune system has been fighting way too long a deadly virus only recently introduced to the human body.

I have felt so loved, especially in the middle of a few dark nights when my breath was shallow, my fever high and I wondered if we needed to call an ambulance again. I cannot express my appreciation enough.

From here I will still be posting but it may be linked to my blog that I have restarted (I can get a little wordy ). I have at least 5-6 topics where I hope to write about and glean from personal experience, friends who are going through the virus, and a few professionals.

If there is anything that would be helpful about the experience to write about please let me know.

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