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My COVID-19 experience; Thankful to be here for my people!

As Thanksgiving approaches, I could not be more thankful for my recovery from COVID-19 and that I am still here on this earth with my beloved children, grandchildren, family and friends.

Today marks 31 days since I was struck by COVID-19 and two weeks that I’ve been home from the hospital. COVID hit me fast and with a vengeance. It knocked me down, wiped me out, dragged me out. It is a horrible, scary virus and illness! Do not underestimate it.

I am fully aware and count my blessings each day that I am one of the fortunate ones. Others have been hit harder, and so many others have lost their lives. Everyone needs to take this seriously. Please do all you can to keep yourself and others safe!

Here is how my experience played out: · Friday, Oct.23 – I woke up feeling awful with a headache, body aches and no energy but I needed to get projects done at work so I willed my way up and made it through the day. By 6 p.m. I was wiped out and went to bed. Little did I know, I would remain in bed for the next four weeks. · Saturday, Oct. 24 – Again, I had brutal body aches, headache and a bone-chilling fever. I couldn’t get warm enough, even with long sleeved and long-pant pajamas, a big fluffy robe, and blankets. I sweated through them and slept most of the day. · Sunday, Oct. 25 – I felt pretty much the same – awful. Clothes that I sweated through started piling up next to the bed. I had people checking in on me – my sister, Becky; my honey, Tom; and bonus son, Nate, but there wasn’t much they could do except bring me water and food; however, I pretty much quit eating, nothing tasted or sounded good. · Monday, Oct. 26 – I knew I needed a COVID test but HealthPartners required a video visit first, so I managed to set one up for Tuesday. Symptoms were the same – headache, body aches, fever, chills. · Tuesday, Oc. 27 – After chatting with a doctor, she said I qualified for the COVID test – no surprise there – but they didn’t make it easy to get. Tom ended up getting me an appointment through his primary care provider. My symptoms expanded to include more intense headaches, nausea and vomiting. · Wednesday, Oct.28 – Tom took me to the drive-through testing site and then straight to Urgent Care. I knew that I was dehydrated; I had zero energy. I needed a wheelchair to get to the appointment room. The doctor was certain I had COVID but didn’t seem alarmed. They gave me IV fluids and prescribed anti-nausea medication and pain pills for headaches. My oxygen level was fine – 98 percent –and an x-ray showed clear lungs. Again, no real concern from people, as well as no direction to monitor oxygen or what to watch for, etc. I was so happy to feel a bit better for about 12 hours after the appointment. I was able to sit up in bed and watch “This is Us” (love this show) and read a bit. I was hopeful when I went to sleep that I would feel even better in the morning. · Thursday, Oct. 29 – My hopes were fleeting. I woke up with intense nausea and so took a pill for that which exacerbated an already bad headache. I was so weak and tired that the simple act of reaching for and drinking water was arduous. I had to do self-talk to get myself to drink: “You can do it. You can do it. Pick up that glass.” · Friday, Oct. 30 – I woke up to violent vomiting just from taking a sip of drinking water and then it would move into more coughing, more vomiting, gagging. I started getting mentally fuzzy. It was particularly scary later that night when Nate popped his head in the room to check on me and I did not recognize him. “Who is that?” I asked with alarm. · Saturday, Oct. 31 – Completely depleted. My brain finally caught up with how sick my body was and when I could not reach for a glass of water or get out of bed, I knew I needed to go the hospital. Tom came over and called an ambulance. When they arrived, my oxygen level was 69 percent and my heartrate was nearing 120. · One of the first things they did when I arrived at the ER was provide plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient and word that I would soon begin treatments of Remdesivir, antibiotics, and steroids for the pneumonia I had developed. Also, within hours of my arrival, the doctor pulled up a chair next to my bed and asked if I’m ok going on a ventilator if needed and if I was ok with chest compressions should I go into cardiac arrest. Yes! And Yes! My children and grandchildren’s faces flashed before me, as well as family and friends. Do what you need to do. I’ve got people; I need and want to be here! · After several hours in the ER, I was moved into a room in the critical care area, where I was closely monitored by the staff. The days from here on out are less distinctive, but involved getting a catheter, a PIC line for providing IV access, and heart and oxygen monitors. When my oxygen level would dip too low, a nurse or two would come into the room or they would call into the speaker system in my room “Christine, take some deep breaths, please.” I would do as I was told and anxiously watch as my oxygen level would slowly move back up. Most of my time was spent dozing in and out of sleep and watching the glowing numbers and charts on the monitor, praying for progress. · On Nov. 4 around 4 a.m., I was awakened by the doctor to tell me they were moving me into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). My oxygen levels were dipping dangerously low. In ICU I could be monitored even more closely and they would be ready to intubate me with a ventilator if needed. I simply shook my head Ok and silently called out to God and the universe to protect me and keep me safe. · In the ICU, I had some intense dreams and also a beautiful visit from my dear mother. My mom came to me and sat on my bedside and put her delicate and soft hand on mine. I told her I missed her every single day, and she said the same and also that “it’s not time to be together yet; you’ve got so much more to do.” I agreed. There is so much more. I will treasure that visit forever. I learned later from Becky that she had two owls in her backyard hooting back and forth on the same night. My mom was there too. (She has come back to me many times as an owl.) · Although I knew that my situation was very serious, overall, I was not that afraid. I knew I was in amazing hands with the nurses and doctors, and with Minnesota having one the best health care systems in the nation. I was also so calm because I could feel the healing energy and love from everyone who was thinking of me, praying for me and sending loving and healing vibes. · Even though I was so sick, I did spend a bit of time Nov. 4 and 5th anxiously watching election results -- but I could only take it in small doses. I was elated on Saturday when it was announced that Biden had won, and the lunatic, want-to-be-dictator would be going away. · By Nov. 6 – Things continued to improve and I was moved back to Critical Care and then a few days later to a regular room. Everything was moving in the right direction. Throughout my stay, I had several nurses and attendants tell me that I was an anomaly. I was young, fit and healthy compared to most of the other COVID patients. I am 55, a regular yoga practitioner, power walker, biker. I had been careful about wearing a mask, washing my hands and social distancing. COVID does not care. It found me anyway. · Nov. 9 – To my surprise and delight, the doctor came in for his morning visit and announced that I could go home that afternoon. I would need to be on oxygen for a few weeks and need to take it easy, but I was good to go. I was excited to hear this and slightly nervous. I had not walked more than six feet – to the bathroom and back – in weeks; I had barely eaten; I was used to someone watching me and making sure I was OK. But I also longed for home and the comfort of my bed. After being assessed for what levels of oxygen needed at home and discharge information, I was wheeled out the door to the warm, loving arms of my sister.

As each day passes, one thing that has not faded is the immense gratitude and respect I have for the nurses, doctors and medical techs who cared for me, as well as those who changed bedding, cleaned my room and other often unrecognized tasks. They were kind and compassionate in addition to being skilled and good at their jobs. God bless them and keep them safe. Keep them and yourself safe by staying home.

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