Updated: Sep 14, 2022
Last month I wrote a blog regarding my positive test for Covid-19. I am not a fan of writing in first person, but I felt I had a story that needed to be heard. As a counselor, I understand the value of a person's story, and my story somehow reached thousands of people. Almost 40,000 people had read my blog, and over 1,000 had watched my videos on youtube. It was incredible, and it made me realize just how much we are starved for information on this pandemic. Last month, my story was unfinished, I was still sick. However, so many people have reached out to me, to ask questions, check on my well-being, or just say hey, that I thought I should finish the story.
I live in Washington with my significant other, Chuck. He was traveling in Asia and got sick first, but his job didn't have any tests for him. We suspected what it was, so I traveled to see family so he could recover at home without also infecting me. This was early March and we didn't know much at all about this pandemic, they weren't even calling it a pandemic at the time. Social distancing wasn't a thing yet. Ironically, after trying to avoid picking it up from him, I got sick while with family in California. My symptoms started on March 16th. I thought they were only allergies and returned home the next day, wearing a mask, taking all the precautions I could just in case. I had limited my contact in California so I am not sure where I picked it up and no one down there that I had contact with got sick. By the 18th, my symptoms hit hard. I was exhausted, coughing, had a huge headache, and overall just felt crappy. I was able to manage work here and there as a telehealth therapist, a couple hours a week, but they symptoms worsened. My chest was tight, I had a fever, a heavy cough, the headache was unbearable. My feet were sore and felt bruised, and I couldn't stand to touch my face, chew, or wear my glasses. Light, sound, movement were all intolerable, and it felt like my brain was swelling. Everything came in waves; I would feel manageable by morning, thinking I was over the worst of it, and progressively get worse through the day. One of the only things I found to help was putting an ice gel pack directly on my eyelids. It relieved the pressure enough that I could manage some sleep.
We could not find testing in Washington. There was some public testing in Tacoma, but you had to arrange it through your doctor, and you had to be of an "essential job" to get the tests. I strongly suspected I had Covid-19, but had no way to prove it or get help. After more than a week being ill, I called an urgent care on March 25th. They requested I do an online screener and telehealth appointment first before coming in. The screener told me to call 911 or go to an ER immediately. At the ER, there was no wait and I was put in a room immediately. They administered the test, which was horrible, shoved into my already incredibly inflamed nasal passage and told me it would likely take several days to get the results back. I was given an IV with some pain relievers and nausea medicine, but that was all they could do for me. I went home with instructions to come back if anything got worse. Two days later, the health department and ER called me to tell me my test had come back positive for Covid-19. Each department had different instructions for ending quarantine, the health department told me 72 hours after my fever had broken, the ER told me after 2 negative Covid-19 test, but hadn't specified how I would get them and who would need to pay for them. My significant other was able to find a test after I came up positive, but at this time, he was negative, which seemed to confirm our suspicions that he already had it.
The next day, my breathing had gotten worse, and I could hear crackling and popping when I exhaled. The headache was unbearable. I was nauseous all the time. I cried when I told my significant other I was scared, because I wasn't getting better, in fact I was pretty certain I had pneumonia. There is not enough information about what was happening to me. I knew the hospital couldn't do much for me, but they had said to come back if I had gotten worse, so I did. Again, there wasn't much to do. The doctor said I did in fact have viral pneumonia but was not severe enough to be put on a ventilator, and so with nothing else they could do, they sent me home again. My fever broke on April 2nd, but my symptoms, mainly the headache didn't stop until April 11th. I have never been so sick in my life. I have also never been so scared. I like having knowledge at my fingertips, but there is no clear information about this virus. Both myself and my significant other are in our 30's. In the prime of our lives, fit, active, healthy. Both of us were so sick we thought we would die, and I considered updating my will. I suffered confusion so bad, I couldn't remember what happened for nearly a full week. I lost a week! It was as if I had skipped from Tuesday to Saturday. The lasting side effects I have noticed include muscle weakness, irregular periods and digestion issues.
This was an incredibly tough season of my life; I am incredibly lucky to have the support system I do, and have an amazing significant other who was able to take care of most things while I recovered. I was also incredibly lucky to have already transitioned my practice to telelhealth 6 months ago. I had paused my own growth in order to attend a military training that was cancelled due to Covid-19, essentially leaving me with a small and manageable caseload, which I have been able to build up since recovering, and some pretty incredible business opportunities have popped up. I was horribly down on myself while sick, questioning everything, my spirituality, my goals and progress, my mortality, but I was reminded that everything happens for a reason, and I am overwhelmed with the positivity I have surrounded myself with.
I know first hand how hard this pandemic is, so my heart goes out to those who are dealing with it, afraid of it or grieving the aftermath. I am watching as people simultaneously pull together and rip each other apart. I see the increase of fear, anxiety, stress and panic. I had to reach out to my support system, my supervisor, my colleagues, my friends and family to get through this, but I know not everyone has access to this kind of support. So I offer this. If you are a resident of Idaho and need counseling, hit me up, I'll give you a free consultation and we can see how I can help you. If you are a resident of another state and need counseling, I can help you find a referral. If you are another counselor and need support, no matter which state, email me, I would be glad to consult, answer questions or just talk about the profession. If you want some more passive help, I have an anxiety page on facebook, and I post information on stress and anxiety as frequently as I can, feel free to take a look at www.facebook.com/anxietyinidaho Take care of yourselves out there, stay safe! <3