About a week and a half ago, I was struggling. Like really struggling. Not just because I couldn’t go out to eat, or run errands, or go to the gym, or hug a friend, but because I was beginning to feel incapacitated with fear and anxiety. I had watched the first Coronavirus press conference and I was starting to realize this virus was a very serious threat. In a matter of days, I became overwhelmed with the onslaught of Coronavirus updates, the shortage of cleaning supplies and groceries, the news articles comparing the situation in the United States to the situation in Italy, the shortage of masks, gloves, and ventilators, the ever-increasing number of positive Coronavirus patients by state, by city, and by county, the morbidity rate of those that are high risk, the postings and cavalier attitudes of those that weren’t high risk, the doctors and nurses who were now testing positive for COVID-19. Did I mention the shortage of ventilators? A ventilator that I would more than likely need if I caught the virus. It all swirled in my mind 24/7.
To add perspective, at this point schools were cancelling but restaurants were still open, and social distancing was under a 250-person limit. I could see the writing on the wall. This was bad, and it was getting worse.
I started scolding myself for hanging out with friends and neighbors that past weekend. I recounted my every move. Had I washed my hands enough? Did I use sanitizer at the right times? Did I wash the clothes yet that I wore to my friend’s house? Why didn’t we go to sleep at 10pm instead of 1am? Stupid, stupid, stupid. I was feeling run down. I had a runny nose. Oh my gosh, do I have a fever? We did spend a lot of time outside over the weekend and my cedar allergies are always bad during this time of the year. Oh geez, what if it is my allergies and they turn into a sinus infection? I can’t go to a doctor’s office… how will I get antibiotics? I always get antibiotics for sinus infections because of my heart problem. Ugh, was that a chest pain? OMG! What if it was a chest pain? I’m having a hard time breathing. What if I have the virus? I wish I knew what my oxygen saturation was at this moment. 90% is my normal level aka 10% less than a healthy person, but what is it now? I can’t breathe. I need to get on Amazon and buy a finger pulse oximeter. It’s delayed four days. So much for Prime. I need to suspend my gym membership. I can’t go to the gym. I can’t be around people. What am I going to do?
The next day gyms closed and social distancing rules changed about every other day.
I was in a dark place. A very dark place. I felt vulnerable because I AM VULNERABLE. I don’t talk about this a lot because honestly, it’s depressing but the fact of the matter is that there are very limited Cardiologists that understand my congenital heart defect. Let alone, know how to treat it. That’s my reality and has nothing to do with the Coronavirus and everything to do with my complex Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) diagnosis.
Now, with the Coronavirus rapidly spreading in the United States, I found myself feeling like a sitting duck, just waiting to be exposed. Not only am I dependent on skilled Cardiologists for care, but now I found myself dependent on other people to stop its spread. People I didn’t even know were in charge of my fate. I’ve spent my whole life fighting to live and it’s going to come down to some random virus that I could catch from a stranger?
What was my plan if I did get the virus? I couldn’t go to an Austin hospital because from what I understood at the time, only two hospitals were treating COVID-19 patients and I didn’t think my emergency contact cardiologist had permissions at those hospitals. Never mind that I knew from a past experience that one of the hospitals had no clue how to handle my congenital heart defect (CHD).
My parents and sisters were worried about me. John was worried about me. I’m pretty sure none of them had ever seen me so panic-stricken and depressed. I was angry at people for not staying home, for being on the beach during spring break, for making comments that they didn’t need to worry because they weren’t in a high risk category. All the while, I’m thinking of and praying for anyone that is high risk, regardless of their age. These people are important people. Facebook profile pictures said it best. These people are “someone’s everything.”
I wasn’t sleeping and could tell I was making myself sick with how stressed out I was which ironically, was stressing me out even more. I spent a day watching tv, chugging water, and praying. I eventually came to the conclusion that God has already written my story. That’s right, God’s already written my story. He knew this virus was going to happen and he knows how it’s going to affect me. People aren’t in charge of my fate, He is. Now, is that a green light for people to be irresponsible, including me? Not at all. Levels of responsibility exists for everyone but what I finally found peace in, is Jesus. He’s been by my side through the ups and downs of my entire life and he will continue to be- virus or no virus.
That night, I slept through the night for the first time in what felt like an eternity. Since then, I have to literally make an effort, an EFFORT, to stay positive or I will do more damage than the Coronavirus will ever do to me. I’m baffled with this new found challenge of choosing to be positive. I usually have a positive attitude effortlessly. However, if I need to make a conscious, significant effort multiple times a day to overcome the fear, anxiety and paranoia that crippled me, then that’s exactly what I’ll do. I want to live and living in fear, isn’t living at all.