Finding Grace During the Pandemic
It was Wednesday March 11th, when I knew that something was wrong. Three days earlier, I had returned from a trip between two major cities—and probably more relevant, two major airports. I was out on my usual walk, when I realized that I didn’t feel right. Putting one foot in front of the other felt harder than it normally did. “I don’t want to do this,” I said aloud, two thirds of the way through. “I want to go home.” By then, my stomach felt strange. By that night, I had sharp stabbing pains in my abdomen and felt nauseous.
The GI symptoms continued the next day, and that evening I felt something begin to take hold at the top of my throat and in my lymph nodes. It was a familiar feeling—you know, the one that tells you you’re definitely getting sick, but maybe, if you go to bed early, you’ll wake up okay.
I didn’t wake up ok. By Friday morning there was no mistaking it: I was sick. Naturally, I thought I might have COVID-19—but I wasn’t experiencing the classic signs…yet. By Monday, a dry cough and tightness in my chest made their debut, and by then I was convinced—I was the latest victim of coronavirus. The doctor I spoke to on the phone said he couldn’t confirm that I had it, but he also couldn’t confirm that I didn’t. (Don’t let my name fool you—being a “Kate Hudson” doesn’t mean I get access to the magical store of COVID-19 tests available to celebrities.)
As if being ill wasn’t enough, the day I woke up with the cough, my boss furloughed me indefinitely, due to cash flow issues. Now I was sick, I’d lost my source of income; and because I was being responsible and self-isolating, I’d been without human contact for almost a week. I gave myself the day to lick my wounds and be miserable, and to feel very sorry for myself,
Two weeks on, however, I’m actually very grateful for the way my situation has played out. After experiencing all the classic symptoms (including a dry cough I still can’t shake), I’m convinced that I was infected with COVID-19. So the uncertainty that most people currently face is gone for me, as is the looming threat of finding myself among the minority of infected people who must be hospitalized, or admitted to the ICU.
I no longer have to work at a job that might not exist tomorrow, since I’ve already lost it. And given how difficult I’m finding it to concentrate these days, even on movies, I probably wouldn’t be able to focus for an entire work day, anyway, engaging with co-workers and trying to be productive while processing what it means to live in a community on complete lock down because of an invisible threat.
Experiencing the one-two punch of being sick and losing my job in the same week taught me that there is grace in taking things day by day, or barring that, hour by hour. Things can change in a matter of moments, but if I’m doing okay right now, that’s enough. It’s an oddly freeing attitude—because there are always rough waters ahead, just as calm waters are always in the distance, too. The important thing is to deal with each set of circumstances as they come. But during a time of world-wide crisis, it’s less important to wear ourselves out by worrying about what’s to come, and more important to focus on being kind to ourselves and others.
More than two weeks after becoming sick, I still don’t meet the criteria for a test. It’s frustrating, but I understand. Los Angeles has been hit severely, and I’m not a high-risk patient; tests must to be prioritized for people who really need them. Eventually, I’m sure I will be able to get tested for antibodies.
By the time this pandemic is over (and eventually it will end) few people will be unaffected by COVID-19, whether physically, financially, or emotionally. Being impacted by all those things early on taught me that we’re all in this together, that we must find ways to be kind with ourselves and others, because we’re all struggling at the moment. Find your daily victories, let them give you strength... and tomorrow? Wake up and do it all over again, my friend.
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