Leia dragged herself off the couch.
Good grief. She felt soooo tired. She didn’t sleep that well last night…couldn’t get comfortable… maybe that’s why, she guessed. After walking into the kitchen to brew some tea, she decided to just take it easy and read a book on the coffee table. After awhile…she dozed off. Then, her phone beeped and woke her with a start. Shoot. Her tea was cold. She dragged herself up to go make more… uggghhh… what was this burning…? Sort of a weird sensation from her windpipe to her lungs… strange. Surely not, she thought. She hadn’t heard anyone mention this sensation when she read about symptoms of the dreaded coronavirus. Covid-19, they called it. Coronavirus illness and grief was all over the news. But she and her friends never expected it to affect them.
Leia realized she was too tired to wait for hot water for her tea. She slunk back to the couch and collapsed. She needed to go to the bathroom but didn’t know if she could get there without rest first.
What’s the matter with me??
Then, Leia remembered a little test people talked about online to help you see if this was “the virus.” They said to fill your lungs with air, hold it for ten seconds, then let it out.
They said if it hurt to hold it, it might be a sign you’ve contracted the covid-19 virus.
Ok, she thought to herself. I’ll do that.
She filled her lungs and counted…1… 2…3…owww!
She quickly exhaled.
That really hurt. Leia wished she had tried the test when she was well so she could see what it’s supposed to feel like. But it had never been painful to hold her breath. She knew that much.
The Coronavirus Illness and Grief Is Worse Than Imagined
The next morning, Leia woke up feeling desperately worse. The aching all over her body felt like her body was breaking. To call it an ache was far too mild a description. Especially in her back and all her joints.
She had to get to the bathroom. She steadied herself on the side of her bed… then gingerly crept slowly to the bathroom. This is overwhelming…! What was she going to do ? The severity of whatever this was surprised her.
After she awoke from a nap, she let out a little cry from the body pain. It occurred to her to take her temperature. Where was the thermometer…? She pulled herself up from the couch, holding onto the lamp table until she was upright. Her chest hurt… exerting herself a little made her gasp for air.
Inching slowly, she made her way into the bathroom and searched for it. When she thought she couldn’t stay on her feet much longer, she spotted the thermometer, grabbed the alcohol and made her way back to the couch. Her labored breathing alarmed her…
Once near the couch she started coughing…long and hard. She leaned in to get the alcohol bottle and thermometer to the coffee table. Then, holding onto the table she braced herself till she reached the couch and collapsed.
This is terrible! What’s going to happen to me here..? Her thoughts scared her, so she tried to calm herself.
Honestly, she needed someone there with her. Even getting her own fluids was so hard. The simple act of going to the bathroom was terribly difficult.
Leia wondered if she should carry her pillow and blanket with her on her next trip to the bathroom so she could lay down there and not have to walk back to the couch.
She thought about the night she had dinner at a friend’s house with a few other friends. Everyone there was sure they hadn’t been exposed to that virus. These were 20-somethings who’d lived their lives without incident and had come to call this pandemic an “old person’s disease.”
They had even laughed at the thought that they needed to be that careful, locked in their houses, washing hands all the time. Sillyness.
That was six days ago.
Oh dear… how could we all have been so naive..? So wrong??
She needed help, but knew she mustn’t ask anyone to come over. This was an awful illness, and even though she felt scared, she wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
She’d heard about someone in their circle of friends who was staying with his girlfriend’s family while he fought it. She wondered how he could expose them that way. It seemed wrong to her.
She coughed hard again. A dry cough with nothing that came up. But it hurt. Her lungs hurt. She thought to herself that it would be hard to describe to someone what it felt like.
She managed to reach her thermometer from the coffee table, and checked her temperature.
The cough, the aching and weakness, the fever… she’d bet the farm she had “it.” If she had the energy she’d text others who were there that night at the dinner… see who else was sick. But it was too much. Coronavirus illness and grief was a Goliath… She drifted off to sleep again.
Leia woke up drenched in sweat. But she was too weak to move to get dry clothes… This must be COVID-19. She’d never felt anything this severe. Coronavirus illness and grief filled her with sorrow and regret. How she wished she’d stayed home and avoided that dinner.
Her chest felt tight. She tried to take a deep breath but couldn’t. And it hurt so much.
The next time she woke up, she could barely breathe. She could barely move. She could tell her fever was up again but it was too hard to reach the thermometer.
Leia drifted off to sleep, fighting for air…
Avoiding Coronavirus Illness and Grief Justifies Isolation
Is COVID-19 just like the flu? Really?? Is that what you’ve heard? One report after another emerges where you read that someone believed all this caution was part of an elaborate hoax. And then they suffer from this infection themselves… and try to spread the word that this sickness is terrible, so take it seriously.
Worse than anything they’ve experienced before. Unfortunately, some even die.
You know, it’s probably safe to say that our whole country’s population is grieving on some level. Elizabeth Kübler Ross wrote a book decades ago about the stages of grief. It starts with denial, then advances to anger, then bargaining, then depression/resignation …and finally acceptance.
Do you find yourself in any of these stages?
Actually, you may experience more than one stage at the same time…and you may repeat stages, too.
If you’ve heard about “corona parties” where people thumb their noses at quarantine and lockdowns by gathering for a party… Not only are they likely to be cited or arrested, but these people are in the first stage of grief…Denial. It’s really not a river in Egypt, right?
Denial’s about telling yourself something isn’t really happening, and as a result you can sometimes put yourself and others at risk.. and even in grave danger.
So, when you see that going on, don’t adopt that outlook. Leia, in our story above, made that mistake along with her friends. And she paid a dear price.
Even so, you need connections, interactions, exchanges that say you care, and that others care about you, too.
If you have complied with self-quarantine, you may still be grieving. Most are. And that’s ok.
It’s hard to see the changes taking place in the world, and to not know what to expect.
Will life ever return to the way it used to be?
It’s ok to ask the questions, and to ponder the answers. There’s uncertainty for everyone.
Coronavirus Illness and Grief Can Seem Overwhelming
Still, try to reassure yourself that you’re not alone. Most people are grappling with the same questions, and will find answers together.
Even so, just knowing that may not be enough. If you find the questions and uncertainties go around and around in your mind, if you find that you’re weary and losing hope… if it seems insurmountable, call us.
We’re here to help you through times like these. It’s possible you may need treatment beyond what’s been in place up till now for your depression and anxiety or PTSD. Being cooped up and losing your routine can be so unsettling. Possibly frightening.
Our patients find that ketamine treatment can help them balance, restore, and become resilient again in the face of times like these.
If you wonder, call us. We’ll speak with you on the phone to determine if you’re a good candidate for ketamine treatment and to screen you for possible exposure to COVID-19.
You will get through this, and we’re here to help. While non-essential workers are locked in their homes, our medical services are essential for helping you cope with your life now, and to help you get better for your future.
We’re here to help you breathe in life again.
To the reinvigoration of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.