Week 10 of Covid-19 : The ‘Weird as Hell’ Virus and Finding Personal Growth
I get asked, ‘Feeling Better?’ often. I’ve made a choice it is ‘week by week’ and not ‘day by day’, as even within a few hours you can feel a range of minor to very uncomfortable symptoms. Paul Garner, a UK professor of infectious disease, did a short 4 minute video for the BBC describing what it is like from a personal perspective. In other interviews, he likens it to an advent calendar of symptoms and calls it ‘weird as hell’. He says, ‘The virus is causing lots of immunological changes in the body, lots of pathology that we don’t yet understand.’
Here is the news article regarding this. Professor of infectious disease The Guardian News
As I enter week 10, my lung debris is a tiny bit less, along with a minor decrease of other symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath and deep fatigue. I also have my advent calendar of odd other things that come and go. The doctor advised it may be four months for the full recovery. My voice has improved though if I talk throughout the day for concentrated times the hoarseness returns. I feel it is reflective of what is going on in my lungs. As I attempted to make a simple dinner for our family last night, ten minutes into preparation, my lungs had an asthma-like constriction over three times. I called my son in to work with me for the rest of it and took it easy.
This has become my ‘new normal’: breathing exercises, mindfully pausing when I get anxious with constriction, taking small steps of doing things I did as second nature previously, and then discovering when it is too much.
For the last year our family (my husband and two teens) have been going through self-development tools and books. Disclaimer, we are not a ‘perfect’ family rather I call us ‘fabulously imperfect’, especially when we have had to give a little extra in the allowance (aka small bribes) to get our teens to stop the serious eye rolls to do these activities together. Since we have been quarantined we have gone through a mindfulness course and started Michael Hyatt’s, ‘Your Best Year Ever’. Yes, you read that correctly. Considering we all want to send 2020 back to the manufacturer because it has a ‘Virus’, we still feel we can make it a rich year. There are so many things outside of our control, we are choosing to be intentional about the things we can control. It is a work in progress.
A great quote from the book sums it up, “There is a difference between ‘I have not won’ and ‘I cannot win’”. Resilience and perspective make all the difference.
But each week I improve in small increments. I believe, hope and pray for 100% recovery. Regardless of how I feel, hour by hour I choose to be authentic in my emotions but make internal choices to not stay in despair or hopelessness. On my 2020 vision board I have the word (I’m a collector of beautiful words) ‘Wabi-sabi’. It is a Japanese word that means the acceptance of imperfection and the fact that everything changes constantly. Though the word has various interpretations for me in the Covid-19 season, the wabi-sabi keeps me out of a victim mentality and in a place of hope that this too shall pass.
On a lighter note, with a portfolio career in media and health/wellness industries, I self-filmed a follow-up for a documentary piece regarding being a voice artist with Covid-19. Normally when filming I do full make-up and hair, but as I haven’t done that for 10 weeks, I stuck with mascara and a blow dry. I felt like Ms. America for a whole 8 minutes until I realised that my desperate ‘Oh I’ll just take two minutes and cut off an inch’ scissor chop from a few weeks ago was in 40 different lengths on the ends. #LockdownLocks
For this week’s observations, I wanted to give new vocabulary words in our household and in our long haul Covid fighters group. Some words are serious and sobering and I have given simple definitions. I have coined a few however because it is either ‘laugh or cry’ these days, so there is a more humorous bent although still serious.
**SOB—Medical term for Short of Breath
**Cytokine Storm—Medical term for when your immune system goes into overdrive, and the inflammation response that follows. As we have seen in ICUs, it can be deadly. I could literally feel a degree of this on day 9-14 and knew this was a very scary, unknown virus. I’ve never experienced flu or other illness like it.
**Covid Strangle—That horrible strangle feeling that is foreign to anything else you have experienced in your lungs and/or throat. It is probably caused some PTSD for those of us who have gone through it. One (no research available) observation I have regarding especially those of us with lingering symptoms is that this is a ‘mimicking virus’. It mimics asthma, but not exactly. It mimics sleep apnea, but not exactly. The list goes on and I pray it is only temporary while our bodies carry so much viral inflammation and aftermath. I may write more on this in later posts.
**COMO—My teen daughter shortening it when I say, ‘Cutting off my oxygen’. We all get tired of me saying things over 10 weeks.
**Quarencholy—A general low mood that can strike at any time. It’s different from the ‘Lockdown Lows’ we ALL feel as you have the added pressure and trauma of Covid-19 in your household. I came up with that one.
**FCR—Funky Covid Rashes. They are actually in abundance for some Covid sufferers from young to old. This includes ‘Covid Toes’ but are often on the arms, legs, feet, face and back. Despite a mild case of the virus, my teen son had this on one of his arms a few weeks after the initial recovery.
**CULS—Short for ‘Coughing Uppa Lung Sesh’ This is because I tired of saying it several times a day when I needed to get rid of constant lung debris. As my physical therapist friend says, ‘It’s just money in the bank when you get it out’, referring to the lung debris that accumulates which could lead to a secondary infection. Fun times.
**Covid Coaster or Covid Seesaw—This happens with Covid sufferers and symptoms, especially if they ‘push it’ with exercises. Many have had their symptoms come back after feeling ‘fine’ for a few days or even weeks when they have exercised or gone back to work. It surprises all of us and again shows it is not like a linear flu. A healthy (pre-Covid) young dad wrote a daily snippets (it is a shorter read over many days) here. He gave permission for me to share it.
**Covid Brain—The description of a haze, fog, and possible dizziness that occurs often. It is like ‘pregnancy brain’ but with the added crappy virus.
**Boa Constriction—My teen son making a teenager cheeky (kind of cute) remark about lungs when I go on and on. Emphasis on the ‘shuuuunnnn’. Quite an accurate description of how it feels sometimes.
**Covidiot or Covidiocy—We all have seen them. Their t-shirt states, ‘I’m right’ on one side and ‘blame/shame’ on the other. In varying degrees of mild to critical, it is NOT couched in a humble ‘it’s only an opinion and I’m ok with other views’ and often lacks the emotional intelligence to see their words are hurtful and divisive. Another breed is one who ‘had Covid’ for like 2 days or a ‘flu-like cough in November’ and swears by their Vitamin D, natural remedies and their green smoothies. Right. A friend of mine in her 30s, with ongoing lingering symptoms, experienced this publically on her social media. She had to abruptly end fruitless and hurtful dialogue with Covidiot x2 (my name for these lovely ones). Her last response was something like ‘if it were as simple as using a few natural remedies and supplements, a whole lot of people would have not gone through trauma.’ Though pre-Covid health may prevent the ICU, the virus is with us, there is no cure, magic pill or essential oil or Chinese herb, and you do not know how you would respond to it. I share these words as it validates how it can make us feel, not for the purpose of slinging it back to the hurtful individual which can create more endless arguments and offense.
**Quarentini—Sounds nice. One of these days when I am healthy I might have one.
Just to end, many in our Long Haul group have talked about potential PTSD from frightening moments, especially of choking in the worst of the virus, and how we may need counselling in the coming weeks. Even my husband pursued some coaching to work through trauma after a specific event on Day 9 when he balanced talking to emergency services while waiting for paramedics and helping me stay conscious. It was incredibly painful and scary.
Whether we have had losses as a result of lockdown, or added traumatic health experiences with the virus, it is good to acknowledge that it’s ok to need extra help and support. I will pursue some coaching or counselling in the coming weeks, especially after a few harrowing moments of the ‘Covid Strangle’. I also want to have personal growth in this season.
Psychology Today magazine recently published a piece on this subject. The author is an old friend of mine from university days and knowing her experience resonates with what we are going through in this pandemic. This is even more so for those with Covid-19.
As the author puts it, may I become an ‘expert companion’ in the days and weeks to come as we, unfortunately, have not seen the last of this virus.
Your encouragements, prayers, kind words and thoughts have meant the world to us and we still need them. Thank you.
I hope you have found this helpful, if you have questions please contact me on my website on the contact page.