The fall of 2013 is a season I will never forget. But if it weren’t for coronavirus (Covid-19), the memories of that time would feel far away and almost insignificant. Now I think back about that time nearly seven years ago almost every day. What happened to my family that year is the reason we are staying at home today.
Why I Stay Home During the Coronavirus Quarantine
My husband had few signs that would have placed him at risk for lung disease. He was healthy and active, a runner, and not a smoker. So when he spiked a high fever and was struggling to breathe, I didn’t panic. We eventually went to the ER when he began coughing up blood, but I was still in complete denial that anything serious was wrong.
Even after being told they were admitting him to the ICU for double pneumonia and his lungs were filling rapidly, I was still so oblivious to what lay ahead of us. I didn’t realize the weight of what we were dealing with for several more days, when he was clearly getting worse rather than better. Somehow, my husband had an infection of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in his lungs, and they were being torn apart.
A week after being admitted, we were transferred to UAB’s MICU where he quickly was placed on a ventilator. For the next two and a half weeks, I watched and wondered if he would make it. Those days were long and frequently terrifying. I can’t describe how grateful I was when he finally woke up, even if it meant a tracheotomy was in place.
I still periodically watch a video of him re-learning to walk, because it was such a hard-fought milestone. The sound of him saying my name for the first time in a month will never leave me. My husband is a fighter, evident from his determination to recover fully after six weeks of hospitalization. Today I am grateful he is healthy and only carries a handful of scars to remind us of the ordeal. But the thought of walking down this road again occasionally paralyzes us both with fear.
Why I Share Our Story
Reminders to help people take the recommended precautions seriously has a place. Being young, healthy, and active are protective factors, certainly, but they didn’t prevent my husband’s infection. And they may not prevent coronavirus complications. Thankfully, he was immediately treated with the exact medication necessary to save his life. But we aren’t sure what that medication would be with this virus.
Please hear this: I would not wish our experience on anyone. If you can take steps to protect yourself, please do so to the best of your ability.
I also share our experience to offer hope and encouragement for the road ahead. There were days I felt so overwhelmed and unsure of any path forward. And yet, I reflect back on that season and immediately feel so supported. I can’t begin to list the ways people showed up for me in such a dark time. We still keep in touch with the incredible medical staff that cared for us both. Most of all, I saw strength in myself, my husband, and my marriage that I never knew was there. Those reminders still guide me today. We never know what we are capable of doing until we face challenges.
Listen to Fear But Lean into Love
The fear of witnessing my husband get sick with coronavirus keeps me home. It makes me sanitize the groceries I have delivered. It makes me yell, “Six feet!” at my three year old every time we see a neighbor on a walk. It’s what kept me from visiting my family on Easter. The risk was too great.
Remembering I’m surrounded by love keeps me breathing deeply. The truth that I can walk through dark seasons and come out on the other side intact–perhaps even stronger–keeps me grounded. Daily, I have to practice leaning into faith, hope, and love rather than letting all my fear run the show.
Meditation Exercise :: Learn to Breathe
If your fear is feeling a bit too much lately, here’s a mindfulness practice that has helped me during the uncertain coronavirus quarantine.
Sitting in a relaxed and peaceful place, allow yourself to “breathe in” fear, repeating the word to yourself over and over until you have an image, feeling, or word of how your fear shows up. Then breathe that away and begin to “breathe in” love. Breathe love in until you are completely filled to the brim, and identify any images, feelings, or words that come to mind. I find it helpful to write or draw what I feel after the exercise. This practice helps me remember that while fear is not my enemy, love is its anecdote.
What practices are helping you stay grounded in all of this fear? I’d love to hear in the comments below!