Updated: Sep 26, 2020
Sometimes I have a hard time pausing. From the day to day. Raising a 7 year old in the year of COVID. Doing everything we are supposed to do. Hand sanitizing 20 times daily, bleaching the counters, wiping down the food from the grocery store, socially distancing. Border line isolating. Out of safety for myself, my family, for others. Most playdates have dwindled to face time or distancing outside. Wearing masks. Staying informed, alert. When we walk outside, we step off the curb to give any passerby a 6 feet.
I have felt myself grow tired. More and more. Each day feeling like I’m walking in deeper mud. Assuming everyone has felt the same. I have powered though and kept going. Step after step. Moment after moment.
Until last Wednesday. When I woke up extremely tired. Achy. Barely able to make it out of bed to help my son log in to virtual second grade over zoom. I was cold. Shivering. I took a bath to warm, but couldn’t. I buried myself in sheets and covers assuming I needed rest. But nothing worked. I finally took my temp. 103.3.
Dread consumed my tired, weary body, but with a child and a husband, I knew I had to act. I phoned the doctor, naively hoping he would tell me to take a couple Tylenol and lay down. But fearing and intimately knowing he wouldn’t.
“Shit”. He accidentally muttered under his breath. “You need to go to the ER.” His voice was stoic. Stern.
“I have to?” I heard my own voice shake with a spine-chilling realism. The last place I wanted to be. The hospital in the middle of a pandemic. A place I had desperately tried to avoid. But now knew I had no choice. Through fighting back tears and a cracked voice, I said, “I’ll do whatever you tell me to.”
Within minutes we were in a car heading to the emergency room. Where I made my family drop me off at the curb outside. Not wanting them exposed to what I assumed I had been. Tears absorbing into my mask as I walk into the waiting room. Alone. Sickness filled the non distant seats. Body aching, feverish, listening to the echos of the dry coughs and pale faces resonating throughout the waiting room. Repeating to myself, “I’m ok. I’m ok."
I check in. The nurse takes my vitals. Her eyes widen as she looks at me, “We can tell by your eyes... That’s how we tell.”
“Tell what?” I pretended not to know. Feeling safer in my denial. “I’ve been crying.” I hear my voice defensively say.
Her head tilts in pity.
I am brought back immediately into an isolated room. A man is waiting to take a chest x-ray as I enter. He’s covered with a mask, shield, barriers. Another man is waiting in the doorway, equally covered, to wheel my gurney off for some sort of scan. The only thing being asked is if I have a will or living trust. “It’s ok if you don’t,” they said.
I'm pushed down a hallway where gurneys line the walls with unconscious people or people wishing they were. All sick. Realizing I am in the eye of the storm. The storm that I have tried so desperately to avoid. Yet, here I am. Surrounded. Powerless. But desperately trying to hold my aching, tired body together. Telling myself not to break down. Repeating, “I’m ok. I’m ok.”
They take the scan and I am rolled back through the gurney filled hallways to my isolated room. They give me the rapid COVID test. A bristle up my nose. “We’ll have the results in 24 hours. But you are being admitted based on your vitals.”
They close the door. Where I am left isolated. Alone. Pondering what else I could have done. Begging this is not it. Thinking of my son and leaving him without a mother. My body so weak I can hardly shift. I ask whatever is out there for strength. Another shot, to not be prey to a virus I have fought so hard to keep away from.
I black out. Sleep for god knows how long. I am awakened by a nurse looking at the IVs that drip next to me. “We’re taking you upstairs,” she says.
Once again, I am wheeled through the hallways filled with sick people on gurneys. This time, accepting I am one of them. Summoning the strength from the depths of my soul to fight. When my entire body feels like it is succumbing.
If this is the beginning of COVID, I don’t know what chance I have left. I feel my eyes fill with tears as I picture the smile on my son’s face. The brightness of sunshine. The days taken for granted. Thinking of the possibility of leaving him. Devastating him, like the loss of my mother devastated me.
I’m wheeled into the next isolated room. The nurse brings the IV next to me. She covers me with a blanket, and as she walks out of the room, she says, “You’re COVID negative, but you have a wicked infection.”
She closes the door. Once again, isolated. I emotionally collapse. Crying again. But this time out of relief. Repeating to myself, “I’m ok. I’m ok.”