- I consider myself lucky. After 5 months, I’m finally feeling like my old self again, albeit with some limitations. I’ll take em’.
- I consider this a microcosm – one small example – of the vast suffering that has pervaded 2020. In no way do I discount those who’ve suffered other or worse pain, tragedy, and fate.
- I realize there are many that deal with significantly worse over shorter and longer times, with acute and chronic illnesses. I’m humbled with a new appreciation for their plight.
- The below contains a few medical details, though I try not to be overly-TMI. And a warning: it’s long. How to condense a 5+ month journey?
- This article’s a break from ‘normal’ Healthy Anywhere posts – feel free to skip it & peruse the others.
- Couldn’t eat anything. Not even broth. So nauseous.
- Oscillating chills and sweats. When I was chilled, I literally shivered. Later, my hands and feet would exude sweat – along with my chest and neck. A bizarre recurring shift.
- My heart rate was all over the place. One night in bed it hit over 100. The next few nights it dipped below 40! My blood pressure similarly would go high then low.
- At times, my oxygen (SpO2) would hover around 90 – 93, but I could bring it higher through slow controlled breathing.
- My vision blurred. I couldn’t see straight. (I literally tried to buy stocks March 22, but couldn’t make heads or tails of my laptop screen and gave up. Next thing I knew it was 3/29, my birthday)
Afterward, I was able to eat – mostly broth and yogurt. I sat in the backyard to feel the sun, breathe the air, and listen to the birds.
Late March, the chest tightness returned. My breathing felt constrained. And I was coughing. All the time.
And then there was a strange clicking in my right chest when I’d inhale.. a ’stuck’ feeling with audible ‘click(s)’.
A sign of pleurisy or pneumonia the doc said. A common COVID ‘post-viral’ situation.
And a separate fierce pain in my chest – intensified by movements like raising my arms, turning or twisting, bending over, sometimes even just breathing. I couldn’t lie back in bed, it was so painful.
Likely pericarditis. Another ‘post-viral’ condition they were seeing.
The chest pains were consistent. As was the brain fog hovering over me.
Each day was a traipse across eggshells. One misstep could put me right back in bed.
By mid-May, my ability to focus and work was expanding. I had a “window” of near-certain productivity, from 11am – 2pm.
My daily motto was “I’ll run when I can and rest when I can’t”.
And there were well-intentioned family and friends who questioned it all.
“Are you sure there isn’t some sort of psychological thing?”... “I just don’t understand how you can be this ill? Are you bringing this on yourself? And.. “there’s no way you have COVID!”
This sort of “gaslighting” and “patient blaming” is real. I even experienced it from medical professionals early on, until late April when the post-viral syndrome was more widely recognized. Personally, I let the words go past and tried not to mind.
But there is something healing in being validated in your own reality – just as there’s something pernicious in being denied that reality.
(I’ve said nothing of the sheer terror in knowing you might have some new crazy, deadly virus of which much is unknown. I had to get past that early on as well…)
In June, I started questioning my own sanity…
Am I imagining this? Has my body reinforced a new habit of being sick? Is this something I need to bulldoze through?
I resolved to start a garden in the backyard. It would be my own personal victory garden and forcing function to get outside into fresh air most every day.
Slowly but surely, those seedlings and plants emerged – and my energy grew with them. I’d notice a bit more energy as I went up and down our backyard hill to water them.
In July, I found myself bounding up the hill with the full pail of water. I was coming BACK, after all.
I was also able to get back on my bike – albeit indoors on a stationary trainer. While the 30-minute sessions were a slice of what I used to do, I relished every moment.
In mid-August, I had the first long-productive run of work that extended into the next week. It was glorious.
It’s now late August, and I still have some symptoms (phantom nervy tingles, reflux, less frequent fatigue & migraines, etc), but they’re manageable. I still carefully manage my energy, stress, and sleep.
The recent threats of rolling power outages, wildfires, smoke, and air quality have brought some setbacks to my recent comeback.
I’m trying to navigate as calmly as possible and to keep pressing forward.
Here’s to running when you can, for as long as you can.
Stay safe, stay healthy!
A few victory garden photos below…
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