Who is behind the scrubs and mask? Is it really Chaplain Amy? You look like one of us now. Yes, I did look like one of the team.
This blog is manifested from my professional and personal journey with Covid -19. Professionally, I was up close with the heavy emotions and grief of patients and families brought on with Covid-19. Personally, I contracted Covid-19 and am still struggling with long covid symptoms of brain fog and physical fatigue.
When I awoke June 4th, I knew I had been hit with covid. I had escaped contracting this virus since it hit our island in March 2020. I wore mask after mask from surgical to N95’s, goggles to face shields, and even dressed up in scrubs for extra precautions. The first day I walked into the ICU in scrubs topped off with a scrub cap, N95 and a face shield. Staff looked at me wondering who I was until I began to speak to them. One nurse thought I was a new surgeon on staff. And that is how the name Spiritual Surgeon stuck.
I created 5 outfits to wear to and from work to the point that my preschool age daughter at the time thought my favorite color was black. Upon arrival to my office, I would change into my blue scrubs, scrub cap, and PPE. I wore pink for the day but it really did seem bright so I stuck the neutral blue uniform. Mother’s Day 2021 was memorable in that my family gifted me Hawaiian print scrub caps. These scrub caps will always a hold special place in my heart. I used to choose which scrub cap to what kind of day it may be or what image I wanted to give as I was entering into a case. I think back to the families I ministered to and how they had no idea what I looked like under this hospital uniform. My hair length and color hid - all in protecting my family. Many staff shared how they went home to scrub their bodies before walking into their homes to protect their families. I too found my own ways to keep the germs out of the house. For example, I kept one pair of shoes for work. I also would go home and take a hot shower washing away the junk that stuck on me. My hair grew long just to keep it up easily under the scrub caps. A closet of 'work clothes' and jewelry sat dormant for the 2 plus years. Working in this pandemic has been unlike anything else.
There I was Saturday, June 4th (5 months ago today 11/5), awoken by my 5:00 am alarm to walk my dogs feeling dizzy with my throat congested. I knew I was hit with covid and began isolating immediately to reduce my family from catching it at this time. These first symptoms took me down into a deep fog that I had never been in before. The day after, I tested positive. I cried and grieved remembering all those patients I cared for during this pandemic knowing each of them had this same moment of seeing the double lines or receiving the call. What next?
On day 3 I got a hold of Paxlovid and noticed a difference within a day. I was feeling better and started organizing some things in my room while isolating. I figured I might as well make good use of my days of isolation. The next day I was down, and I mean down with debilitating fatigue. The plan of reorganizing my closets was just the beginning of having to slow down my endeavors. After 10 days I found myself very fatigued, 10 pounds less, no appetite, and hardly able to walk up the stairs. When I was trying to figure out how to manage, 3 days later the covid symptoms returned at a fuller force of congestion and fever for 7 days. So back into my isolated hotel room as my son called it and back to feeling miserable. I lived off mixed nuts, pretzels, and peanut butter graham crackers with Chicken soup for my meals. And the most important of all was my water! I recall my treat at night a small amount of chocolate ice cream with peanut butter. I laid there some nights wondering when will this end. Many nights I struggled with falling asleep as I was never tired. The fogginess in my brain lingered on. I am grateful for dear friends who sent me meditations and music to aid in guiding me to sleep. More on those gifts in another blog.
I continue to recover as I navigate through brain fog and physical fatigue. One day I may awake clear in my mind while after some basic house chore my brain and body begin to go down. Saty tuned for more here. ....
If you have been here or know someone who is still struggling with long covid call them give them an ear. Listen to their story and really listen. It is not about fixing it for them but hearing the journey they have been on. Feel free to share this blog with folks as we all can find support from someone's journey. Each person has their experience, and some are still on it wondering will it ever end.