Writing with a Positive COVID Diagnosis

Well, friends, I've been a little out of the loop lately, and it's because I've been ill as a result of COVID exposure. I was exposed on Sunday, September 27th. He had been at a gig the night before that they thought would be "safe" since they had low numbers of people. I didn't have symptoms until Tuesday, the 29th.

At first, it was like bad allergies. It started with a sore throat and congestion and a little bit of nausea, so I went to my doctor and he diagnosed me as having allergies. All the signs were there, including my ears being full of fluid. He prescribed me Claritin and Flonase, and I went home and tried to get back to work. I have so many projects: planner projects, writing projects, marketing projects, house projects, family projects, health projects, and so much more.

On the 1st of October, the lead singer for my husband's band confirmed that his test result for COVID came back positive. My husband had been a little sniffly and congested but overall, he felt fine. Regardless, he suspected the entire band was exposed at the gig on Saturday night, so he went through the CVS drive-through for a test. Testing doesn't happen on the weekends, I guess, so we didn't get the result back until Monday.

Over the weekend, I started getting severe stiffness in the back of my neck and it was both painful and frustrating. I also started getting pains in my lower back and hips, and it was eerily similar to 2nd/3rd trimester pain, so much so that I took a pregnancy test to ensure I wasn't pregnant (I'm not).

When Monday evening rolled around, my husband's test results finally came back.

It was positive.

My five-year-old son was also feeling ill that day, with severe fatigue and a temperature over 101, so my husband immediately took him to get tested. Knowing I still had congestion and a sore throat, I knew that due to my husband's positive diagnosis, I likely had contracted it as well. It was scary, to say the least.

I made an appointment for myself and the rest of the children in my house (three more), and we all went to get tested. My six-year-old's sample was insufficient to test, the twenty-year-old came back negative (she prefers to spend her time away from us and we were finally thankful for that), but the thirteen-year-old and myself came back positive.

My son and daughter (five and six, respectively) both had fever and headaches for a few days but were fine thereafter, and I am so grateful for that. The thirteen-year-old was congested and had headaches and a low-grade fever for a few days, but then she was fine.

My forty-eight-year-old husband had a suspected fever (but the thermometer we had at the time wasn't working right because the battery was dying and we didn't realize it) and had the sniffles and congestion with a little bit of a sore throat, but that was it.

I don't know if it's my stress levels or generally sub-par health, but in my household, I have the worst case of it. I thought I would get out easy and be able to work through it. For the first week, that was mostly true, but I tried to guard my energy just in case -- as much as I could anyway, with publishing projects in the pipeline and three kids in virtual school.

At about Day 9, I started battling a fever that wouldn't go away even with Tylenol. I was told by three different care providers to absolutely not take Ibuprofen, so I refrained, even though I was tempted by the growing pain in my head and the constant fever. By Day 16, I was in the ER because of chest pain and feeling faint.

I am so thankful that my oxygen turned out to be great and they said my heart is strong. Upon reviewing my chest x-ray, they found that I contracted pneumonia from my COVID illness, and there was a spot in my right lung. It's scary, but because it's not bacterial they did not give me antibiotics. Instead, they prescribed my prednisone (steroids) and told me to rest, drink lots of fluids, take my medicine on time, and come back if I feel worse. Being the weirdo I am, I asked for parameters since "worse" is so subjective. The doctor told me that if my oximeter read that I was 92% or below on spO2, then I was to return immediately.

The lowest I've seen it so far is 95%, but most days I'm at 97% and I am beyond grateful. I hope that means that the prednisone is working and that I'm going to come through this with flying colors, that everything is going to be okay.

But it's difficult to have confidence when I know that people who are healthier than me and younger than me are dying from contracting the novel coronavirus. I am on edge, I am nervous, and I'm taking every opportunity my children will allow to play with them and hug them and dote on them. My breathing is better today, but over the past week, everything has exhausted me and made me winded.

Walking into the kitchen, trying to stand at the stove and cook, talking too fast, sitting the wrong way on the couch--all of it winded me and left me exhausted.

What I thought I would do while sick: finish three more planner projects.

What I actually did while I was sick: rested as much as my busybody (and mind) was able.

And let me share, the brain fog issue is a real and debilitating issue. It's worse than "mom-brain" or simply zoning out or even just forgetting why you walked into the kitchen. I can't tell you how many times I got up to get myself something or to do something for the kids, and I wouldn't remember why I was there. I would get a drink, sit back down again, then remember what I was supposed to do. When I returned to the kitchen, it was the same problem: What am I supposed to be doing?

It was incredibly frustrating, and I am still having some cognitive problems. Throughout the duration of my illness, I had to make about 10 revisions and re-upload my 2021 Author's Planner MS multiple times. It was simple stuff, easy stuff that I should have caught at least by the twentieth time I proofed the planner, but I didn't. Something that was there for me was missing while I was sick, and I still haven't got it all back.

After I finish writing this blog post, I'll need to rest. I'll probably lay down on the couch and close my eyes for a while. The prednisone makes me jittery, so I may not sleep, but I'm too tired to actually do something, and my brain doesn't have enough attention span right now to worry overly about anything but my health.

I'm hoping that I can write fiction today for the Author Transformation Alliance's first anthology today, but I'm almost afraid of trying to write fiction again. Will my cognitive function be improved enough to focus and do it? Or will I get frustrated and scared and lose faith in myself?

Writing is an integral piece of who I am, and I don't want to think that maybe I've lost some part of my brain that allows me to fulfill that life vision for myself. What if it's lost and I can't get it back? Still, I'm going to rest, and then I'm going to sit down with the blank document I've been staring at this morning and tap out words.

I won't worry about whether I write fast or slow. I won't worry about my word count, for now. I won't worry about whether it's any good right now (besides, that's what editing is for). I will only concern myself with trying to get words on the page and see if I can complete a thought in story form. See if I can take this premise in my head and turn it into a short story, like I've done so many times before. I love short stories, and how this story turns out for me is important to my vision of myself and how I feel about what the recovery process will be like for me.

I won't give up if I can help it, but sometimes the body needs a break.

Frankly, I hope this break is over soon because I have a looming preorder deadline and a lot of work today.

Thank you so much for reading this today. I hope that in some small way it can help you too if you're dealing with COVID, chronic illness, depression, or other illnesses that steal away your ambition, energy, and focus.

I'll be sending all the good vibes out to all of you, hoping that you're taking care of yourselves and your families and your communities during this difficult time. Safeguard your health to safeguard to your writing life.

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