1.Wear a Mask. I’m not being political and I’m not interested in debating this statement. After being exposed to my son who tested positive for COVID, and getting sick myself, I realized that wearing a mask would not only have perhaps prevented me from becoming sick, it would have protected the many others I saw that week. Now, when I think about wearing a mask or not, I think about how it isn’t about me — it is about those families, those individuals, who can catch this virus and die. Before COVID came to my home, I celebrated places where I didn’t have to wear my mask, couldn’t wait to get out of CA. so I could be “free” from all of these restrictions. But now, I see that this mask may help someone else stay healthy, enable a person to continue to go to work to support their family, aid someone in caring for their children, and possibly keep someone alive to love and be loved.
2.Results Aren’t Always The Full Story: My son’s symptoms were typical of COVID: he had a fever, a cough, lost his sense of taste and smell for a week. I tested the day after he had symptoms and tested negative. I was told to go back to retest, but didn’t because in the end, it didn’t matter what the results said, I knew how I felt. I began to get terrible migraines – the world was spinning and at night especially, my body suffered from the migraines, pain and achiness in my joints. I lost my sense of taste for only a day, whereas my son lost his taste and smell for over a week. As the days wore on, my son, who had tested positive, began to get stronger, but I, who had tested negative, began to get weaker. I had shortness of breath, fatigue, and continued to have migraines and pain that came like a shadowy cloak over my body as soon as it became evening. By the second week, my heart began to feel like I was being given a huge bear hug inside my chest – squeezing and tightening. It was difficult to sleep, it was difficult to breath.
3.Hospitals Really ARE Full: One night, when I could not sleep from the pain, I called the on-call doctor. Because of my prior history (I had a heart attack when I was 38 – but that is another story, another condition that Thank GOD I recovered from), my doctor told me to go to the ER. It was midnight, and I knew what it would be like to be in the hospital waiting room – at least I could see it in my mind. Sitting in a hard chair, then on a bed in a room with a curtain, hooked up to IV’s, waiting for hours for someone to finally discharge me after saying, “Looks like all is okay.” I opted to take some pain medicine and pray I could sleep. But by Monday, when I labored for each breath, I told my doctor that yes, I would go and get checked out. My husband took me to the hospital near our home around 4:30 in the afternoon. That day it was freezing cold, the wind a piercing chill, but we had to stay outside and check in at various tents, moving from one to another to fill out papers and talk to someone through a small flap (a window?) about my symptoms. Finally, I was admitted into another tent that was “a waiting room,” that did have a heater. After a nurse took my temperature and again asked me my symtoms, I was taken to the back tent where I was told to put on a hospital gown. There was no way, I was taking off my clothes in this tent – the heat didn’t even feel on, so I put it on over my clothing. For the next6 hours I stayed in that little curtained off segment on a bed with 3 thin white blankets and 3 jackets on me, with nurses coming in and out, and others around me moaning or complaining of the temperature and condition of our environment. Inside these little quadrants, we can all hear each other’s business – there isn’t any such thing as confidentiality. Like me, almost everyone in the COVID tent was there because we were complaining of heart pain and shortness of breath. One man next to me said he had COVID 3 months prior, but his heart, he said, had begun to feel pain again. He was certain he had COVID again – but the nurse told him no, he had tested negative and his blood work didn’t show any problems. I’m not crazy, he told her. I don’t know whether she believed him or not, but I did because I felt that same way — no one could see on the outside what we felt inside. While there, I had to go to the restroom and was taken outside to a portapotty. It was dark and my hospital gown was whipping in the wind around me. I went inside the portapotty, but the lock was not working. I felt like I was in another country. Was this for real? I didn’t even know where the sanitizer was for my hands. The nurse who took me outside, left and when I tried to get back inside, the tent door was locked. What if I lost my balance and fallen, what if I got dizzy and collapsed. No one was there. I kept banging on the door and was about to cry, seriously, when a man from the heated area of the waiting room came and opened the door for me. He was another patient. I felt like I was in a 3rd world country. When I talked to the nurse and asked her why this is where we had to be rather than inside a heated hospital with real bathrooms, I was told this was the reality. No room at the inn, not a hospital bed to spare.
4. Prayer is Powerful and Effective: When I first was admitted, they asked me my pain level. It was 6-7. I’ve had 3 children, a heart attack, and broken my back. I’ve felt some serious, serious pain so this was definitely still manageable. My heart was laboring to breathe, and talking was not easy for me to do, but I knew it could be worse. They asked me again and again about my symptoms, about when I was exposed, what I was feeling, and it made my chest hurt even more to repeat myself. They tried to take samples of my blood, but my blood was clotting and slow -very unusual for me – so they had to keep poking different veins to try and get one that would pump enough blood to evaluate. I wanted to leave – I was about to tell them, forget this, I’m out of here. During this time, my son called me and told me he was praying. Then, I received a text from someone from his church who said that many from the whole church were interceding for me at that time. I received text message after text message from those who were praying. Iclosed my eyes, and I put down my phone and then I too began to pray. I asked God to take the prayers of His people, and use them like a healing ointment over my body, that they would wash me, and touch my heart and that He would bring me back to health. And I envisioned that in my mind, the flood of prayer going through my body, inside my veins and flowing over me. An hour later, the nurse came back and asked about my pain level. I looked up and realized that I was breathing without so much effort, and that instead of feeling weaker, I felt stronger, stronger than I’d felt in many days. That night, after I left the ER, my parting gift was a referral to a cardiologist and a nebulous comment to me about my trying to increase my sodium level. But, that night, I slept for the first time in a week without pain, and realized I had gained a greater appreciation of something no hospital or doctor or nurse could give me, God’s healing touch. The next morning, I awoke and could breath. Some may say that perhaps the virus just needed to work through my system, but I believe in God’s power, through the prayers of His people, that restored me to health. I also believe that God wanted me to cry out for myself in a sincere way – and ask for healing with my own lips – trusting not in hospitals or doctors, not in what I read online, or other’s anecdotes, but in Him, and what He would and could do to make me well.
5.COVID Affects All of Us: Before COVID came to our home, I heard stories, felt sympathy for those who had suffered, for those who had experienced family members who were sick, and even for those who knew of someone who had passed away. But now, I feel deep empathy and sadness. I hear about those young and old who have been affected and realize that this disease is unpredictable, hard to explain, and one that affects or will affect each of us in some way. My neighbor dropped off food last night and talked with me about someone from her church who died recently of complications due to COVId. He was only 29. He became ill from the virus, but seemed like he was getting better when he had a heart attack. He had 3 children; his youngest was only a month old. I can see – truly understand and feel inside my own heart – how that could happen. I’ve heard so many stories – I know each of you have too – your own personal ones and those passed down from others. There are emotional effects from this virus too that impact all of us – within our families and in our communities. My husband left for several days to stay in a hotel, one of my sons lived in his car so he could still be able to go to work, go to church. At first, I felt so abandoned and rejected – especially when I was very sick and my husband was gone. It was painful to be seen as a “virus” and a threat. When my son who’d gotten COVID first found out that I was in the ER, he became defensive and angry – feeling he was somehow to blame. Blame is often where we turn, but blaming is not the answer – not the government, not each other, not other countries or people groups, not God. I think that empathy and compassion is the path to healing. I saw and experienced this first-hand through those who gave us gift certificates for Door Dash, egift cards to Panera for soup, or through our neighbors who brought over food or sanitizing wipes and masks, along with a bag of staple items from Costco. One of these neighbors ended up housing the son who lived in his car, quarantining him in their garage so hewould have a place to stay. I think of those who sent me text messages and prayed, those who knew that I needed emotional support as well as physical healing and help. Perhaps the greatest lasting affect for me has been in seeing that it is much easier to have opinions about COVID, about what others should or shouldn’t do, about schools reopening or staying closed, whether hospitals are really overloaded, when that isn’t my life or my reality. I am careful now, even as I write this, to remember that we all experience this pandemic differently, and that my experience now is personal, Now, I want to speak less and listen more, I want to simply ask, “How can I help? How can I support you, our community, each other during this time?” Then, I want to be love, be those virtual, physical or emotional arms that embrace. When all of this is over, my prayer is that what will remain from the virus’ effects Love. Love for ONE ANOTHER will be our lasting memories, the last effect of this disease.
Submitted by Jennifer Clymer, Monterey County – Salinas.