This blog entry is not a substitute for medical advice. This is my personal experience and information received from my own research. This article is not to suggest that any remedies used will absolutely work for you. For any information on COVID-19, please consult your personal physician.
I have been trying to figure out how to talk about this issue for a while. COVID has impacted all of our lives, in so many ways. But perhaps the most troubling thing to me of late is how we are choosing to live with the uncertainty that this disease brings. Yes, we have seen so many people die from it in the past year. It has limited our social interactions and business interactions. Some people are angry at what is, what has been and what could be. For many, hope feels limited. But what is breaking my heart is the level of anger, lack of empathy and divisiveness that has been driven by, what I believe to be, fear based reporting on this topic.
I know what happens to our nervous systems when we function in fear and anger and so, I thought that the best thing I could do is be transparent. Transparent so I can tell you how I am coping with it all and normalize the challenges in making these decisions as we face another surge and, what feels like, more uncertainty with regards to new normals in our lives.
I recently tested positive for COVD-19. Yo, I am someone who wears a mask everywhere I go, I work from home, I get my groceries delivered and I will ask anyone who I come in close contact with who I don’t know to wear a mask as well. Even though I live in Georgia I rarely eat out and have only eaten indoors at a restaurant that was not socially distancing one time in the past two years. My daughter did remote learning until this fall. I have a close pod of friends who I spend time with and we get tested regularly.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN - this was my first thought. I thought back to my recent weeks, who I saw, what I did, how I felt and immediately wanted to know what I could have done differently. My brain, because of my own fear, wanted to blame someone, especially myself because I “know better.” But as I calmed myself down (self soothing, deep breaths, a nap), I realized that I really did everything that I know how to do that makes sense for my life. I am as safe as possible, without engaging in behavior that amplifies my own experiences with anxiety and/or depression. The truth is that with this disease, there is very little known and what is known isn’t as widespread or acknowledged as I think it should be (more on that later). Unfortunately, I did all that I could do and I still tested positive. Fortunately, my daughter tested negative. However, when I look at my functioning for the weeks leading up to the positive test, I had been exhibiting symptoms for over a week.
There is so much talk about coughing and shortness of breath with COVID. Well, I have allergies, asthma and GI challenges which mean that I can have a cough at any time and have had one off and on since I was 19. I had no fever, no physical pains and was still able to work for a while without knowing I had it. But that’s the real challenge here as I see it: we aren’t told that the most consistent symptom of COVID is fatigue. In a society that prioritizes work (as evidenced by this desire to get everyone back in the office as a way of returning to “normal”) fatigue is the thing that most of us live with and believe is a normal state of being. This made it hard for me to know that my body was fighting something when it was. I was valuing “pushing through” to meet the needs of clients instead of honoring my body and it’s cry for rest, and that is a typical state of being for so many of us.
So if there is a piece of advice I have been giving about taking care of self right now, it is to be intentional and aware of the self. Know your patterns and don’t be afraid to get rest and go slower than normal. We know that a well rested body is a key to a healthy immune system. Rest will also allow you to know when your patterns are changing and highlight you to potential clues for illness sooner, which is essential in fighting any illness including COVID.
WHAT DO I DO NEXT- after seeing the positive test on my phone I had no real clue what was next. I had taken several COVID tests up to this point and they had all been negative. So when the test came back positive, I had assumed there would be a follow up. A nurse or doctor to call me to discuss the results, but there was none of that. I am a fairly new GA resident so I do not have a PCP to call and I, for sure, wasn’t going anywhere. So I started doing research and I was so surprised. Most of what you are told, even on the CDC website, is about simply getting rest. Go home and isolate for 10 to 14 days. You must have no fever for at least 24 hours without the aid of medicine. Like that was all! So I knew my daughter would be in a separate part of the home from me, but then what? How do I care for myself? How do I care for her? I am grateful that I am proactive and a researcher because I knew there had to be more. You are telling me that I am diagnosed with a potentially deadly disease and I’m supposed to...wait?
So, after some research and scheduling a telehealth appointment here is what I learned: take a lot of vitamins and water, get a pulse oximeter and a thermometer and practice breathing. Zinc helps stop the virus from replicating in your body. Studies show that people who are hospitalized with COVID have a Vitamin D deficiency (so I resumed taking Vitamin D3 daily). Vitamin C is a natural immune booster. COVID impacts the nervous system (which controls how your body functions and how your brain works) so I started taking Ashwagandha and listening to sound healing to support my nervous system. COVID attacks the lungs so practicing breath helps you to be intentional about knowing when your lungs are limited in capacity since how we breath typically isn’t something we think about unless we are in crisis. Practicing breathing also helps to open the airway to make it less likely for restriction to occur and keep the lungs clear and healthy. Sometimes you don’t know you have a fever so having a thermometer to track it regularly helps. A pulse oximeter allows you to monitor your oxygen levels and heart rate at home. Water cleanses the blood and the major organs. Not all vitamins are made equal so I am grateful that I had most of these things in organic, gluten free versions at home to allow for maximum absorption into the body.
In addition to the above, I ate really clean with mostly fruits and vegetables (I lean towards a mostly vegan gluten free diet anyway) with juicing when able, as well as taking other organic natural supplements. I also allowed myself to get plenty of rest and move around to do things only when I felt able. I was feeling much better less than 7 days after diagnosis. I also continue to take all of my vitamins and supplements daily to keep my immune system strong.
Lastly, I got tested again after feeling better. Yes, they tell you that you do not need another test to resume life when you feel better. But it didn’t sit well with me not knowing. Testing negative after a positive test let’s me know if, for any reason, I am exposed again that a positive test is not a by-product of having COVID before.
NOT ABOUT THE VACCINE - I honestly think that all of this talk that centers a person's choice to take the vaccine is the wrong way to go. The vaccine is A consideration, but not the only one. You can have the vaccine and get, transmit and be sick from COVID. I can understand both why people would and would choose not to get the vaccine. That isn't the point of this discussion. I think that everyone has the RIGHT to make their own decision for themselves and their families. I believe that it is essential that no matter the decision about the vaccine we talk about how we are boosting our immune system, paying attention to our bodies, wearing masks to keep ourselves and others safe and regularly getting tested. I think that vaccines are a healthy part of wellness, but they are not the ONLY part of wellness. After this experience I know that there just isn’t enough education to support people in not contracting COVID, giving it to others or making it out on the other side of it healthy.
My prayer is that we open up the conversation. That more people who have gotten better talk about how they did. That we have continue to have love for each other and operate with compassion so that we may show up for each other in ways that support our wholeness.