School closing was hard. Being unable to attend a family funeral was hard. Being stuck in my house for weeks on end was hard. Honestly, being an introvert who covets quiet time at home, you would think I would have enjoyed it more. Of course, there wasn’t much quiet about that time. My house was full. My whole family was restless, and apparently Mom is the boredom cure. I clung to my exercising and running to maintain my sanity, but underneath the surface, my anxiety grew. I struggled.
I struggled with fear of the unknown. Fear of the virus. Fear of the long term effects. It was like going on vacation after finding out a medical test was abnormal. It could be nothing, or it could be something serious and deadly. Not knowing kinda ruins the relaxation and fun of vacation.
So many voices, who do we listen to? I don’t really mean about masks, social distancing and closures. We chose science over politics. My husband is a doctor. We based our information on what he knows about the human body and how novel viruses work. We did what we needed to do. I just mean about everything. Everybody talking at once. There has been zero continuity throughout this whole thing, and that has weighed on me.
We live in one of the first states to open back up. That was both nice and terrifying at the same time. It was exhausting keeping up with all the different recommendations from school, church, my husband’s hospital and office, sports and activities. It was hard. It was nice to be back out with other people, but I was still scared. Scared our governor was wrong. Scared we were headed for another shut down. Scared it would ruin school. And, well, it kinda did ruin school.
We knew people who had died from COVID, and we knew people who had it and had practically no symptoms. It was like this cloud of uncertainty covering every possible activity we were involved in, and then it hit home.
We got it. My husband was patient zero. Then I got it. My youngest child, who is my shadow, got sick right about the same time I did. My other two children had zero symptoms, and we chose not to have them tested. We’re still not sure if they had it and were asymptomatic or if they somehow avoided getting it from us. We are planning to get them antibody tested to see.
My husband got very, very sick. We have an oximeter, and checked our oxygen levels multiple times a day after our positive tests. His oxygen dropped considerably. Never reaching hypoxemia levels, but it was concerning. He had a fever, chills, night sweats. He would cough like he was hacking up a lung. He blew his nose constantly, and had stomach flu symptoms. He lost his appetite completely and got dehydrated. I was certain a few times I would have to figure out how to get him to the hospital by myself, and I was terrified of what that would mean.
My symptoms were mild. I was tired. I had a horrible headache. I felt like I couldn’t get a full breath, and I lost my sense of taste and smell. Other than that, I was fine. No fever. No cough. My nose was a little runny, but I have seasonal allergies, too. So, it’s always runny in September.
We both recovered fine. My husband never had to go to the hospital, and the one child that got symptoms never really progressed beyond feeling icky. My fear of having the virus faded because we had gotten through it, but it was strange rejoining life. Some people were weird. Some avoided us even after the quarantine time had ended. Some used our positive outcome to blow off the seriousness of the virus. And, I returned to running.
It was rough getting back to it. Before we got COVID, I was struggling with my plantar fasciitis and had injured my shoulder. I was just getting back in the game when I got sick. My VO2 Max (via Garmin) had dropped 4 points. I just finished the first full week working out and running. I’m exhausted, but not much more than I would be if I was returning from another illness or an injury. The thing about this return to running is not knowing if this illness caused lung damage, clotting or any of the other dangerous things it could possibly cause because it’s a virus we know little about. I’m no longer afraid of getting the virus, but I’m now afraid of what it did to me that I can’t see.
My brain doesn’t really need a good reason to turn on the anxiety switch, but this whole international health crisis is a bear. I’m looking forward to making progress on my fitness and continuing to beat the effects of this virus proving my anxiety wrong. I’m not sure if that will offer any real relief. Probably not, but I live in a perpetual state of “this next thing will make it all better.” I know that running and exercise is one of the keys to my mental health, and at least I’ll have that.
My heart goes out to all those who are struggling to beat this virus, those who beat the virus but are now living with long term effects, and the families of those who lost their battle. My gratitude goes out to those who are still working in and around this virus, especially those who work to care for the sick and recovering.
I don’t like this new normal, but who does. Acceptance is the first step to change. I will be working on letting this be what it is, so I can move forward to what is next with gratitude and love.