DISCLAIMER: THIS IS A STORY BASED SOLELY ON MY EXPERIENCE. I AM NOT A DOCTOR OR LICENSED HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL. I WILL NOT BE GIVING ANY KIND OF MEDICAL OR HEALTH ADVICE. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE COVID-19 CONTACT A HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL AND ISOLATE. LASTLY, PLEASE ADHERE TO ALL COIVD-19 AND STATE POLICIES. PLEASE STOP THE SPREAD AND CONTRIBUTE TO THE SOLUTION.
February 1, 2021: Entry 1
One month into 2021, and I’m finally starting to write this series. I’m listening to a song titled Happy Tears by a small artist named Natalie Lauren. The song is about a moment of transformation, gratitude, and healing and the happy tears that poured over her at that moment. It reminded me of the moment the clock struck midnight and I spent the first minutes of 2021 crying happy tears. I was taken aback by the miracle of surviving 2020 and making it to this year. I had prayed and hoped but in the midst of crisis and trauma, it often doesn’t feel like you’ll survive. The visceral response to the new year speaks volumes to what 2020 was for me, but specifically what Sars-COV-2 was for me. (I will be using the scientific reference to avoid being shadowed on social media platforms doing a good job to try and remove misinformation, and stupid conspiracy theories. I appreciate their work and therefore will attempt to give them less work.)
Where to begin is difficult. There’s no easy start and finish to this story. It’s actually still ongoing, and therefore I’m having a lot of difficulties pinpointing where to begin. Why don’t we start from the very beginning, and if you have read my post titled, “Good News” you will have heard some of this. But the moment I knew the pandemic wasn’t going away was March 13th. And what is wild is that on the last day of my global health class before spring break I asked, “Do you think Sar-COV-2 will cause shutdowns in the United States?” And 7 days later the U.S. began to shut down. That Friday the 13th was what I thought would be the most ominous, and anxiety-filled day of 2020, sadly I was wrong. I worked in healthcare at that time and walking into the hospital on the 14th felt like walking into a whole new level of anxiety. Luckily for us, we only began to experience widespread viral infections after June, but we’ll get there. Between the months of March-June, I was experiencing what most people did, anxiety, depression, and a little bit of disappointment from the entire thing. But I hadn’t had exposure to Sar-COV-2 and was floating by. During this time, I was in school and staying home, and of course, taking it seriously. I was doing everything right.
The summer was spent in working and fighting for racial justice, and in being an orientation leader at Shenandoah University where I attend school. I was nervous and scared but was assured from the beginning that SU would keep me and everyone safe. And they did a great job with Summer Orientations. They followed all state guidelines, and every student wore a mask and followed the rules, and it gave me hope. It was one of the highlights of my year. Therefore, going into August I felt hopeful about the upcoming fall semester, and school, but at work, the numbers kept rising and rising.
The semester started and right from the go there wasn’t something right about the fall semester. The first day of class resulted in me becoming so stressed that I went home early and cried my eyes out. There was this building pressure. It had started building in March and was now compounding with the fresh wounds of seeing more and more people with the virus, and the numbers rising everywhere I looked, and the wounds and exhaustion from the summer filled with fighting for justice. It was compounding. I was now working 36 hours a week at the hospital, and going to school full time, and I was carrying this weight.
On the morning of September 17th, I was working, and a patient started crashing. We called a code and ran through it fast. The patient was not in isolation, nor did we suspect the patient of having the virus. At the time, my work environment was requiring mask-wearing, and eye gear when in contact with patients. But the code was rapid, and no one looked to double-check eye gear, or get gloves. I was serving in an axillary support staff role. So, I did not come into contact with the patient but did all the necessary paperwork and all after the code. I did often interact with the doctors, nurses, and nursing aides who did serve the patients. I remember thinking how odd the entire situation was, but I went along with my day.
I went to work Saturday and Sunday after that. I went to school in person that Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I even went by a professor’s office on Monday, and we talked, socially distanced with masks on, for 15 minutes. I, through this entire time, ALWAYS followed the guidelines. Always had my mask on, stayed six feet away, and minimized contact. Wednesday afternoon, I had an hour between classes and ended up napping in my car. I was exhausted. I truly felt as though I was just burnt out from all the working, and the weight, and the anxiety. I later on in the day developed a runny nose. I called work and was told to still plan on coming in.
Little did I know, those five days between Thursday and Wednesday would be the last days of my old life. My life before Sars-COV-2. Those days would be my last days in class in-person. Those days would be the last days of my old reality. Thursday, I woke up and instantly knew something was wrong. I felt like I had been in an accident or thrown down the stairs. My gut knew before this, and I had spent those days ignoring it but now, I had no choice but to listen because my body was now confirming it for me…
Stay tuned for entry 2.