COVID and God’s Medical Reveal
August 15, 2021
Most people keep their medical history private for a number of reasons, and that’s their prerogative; but I can’t hide behind mine if I want you to see God working wonders and leading in 2021—not in Bible times, but right now. Take special note as you read this story: His ways are not our ways, and Romans 8:28 is not a verse to placate those dealing with the unknown. God working all things together for our best interest is real, and He is very present. You can depend on Him!
Catching COVID-19 in July of this year literally almost cost me my life; but, at the same time, it gave me answers I had begged God to reveal to me a few years ago—ones I would have never discovered any other way. I hear ya. COVID, an answer to prayer? Let me tell you, God has used stranger methods! But, where do I begin in this particular narrative?
Maybe I should start 11 years ago in 2010. A contentious divorce and custody battle consumed my life and suppressed my immune system due to me living in constant fight or flight. This finally caused my heart to go into supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) December 2019. No idea why. Just got up one morning and BAM! 200 beats per minute for 90 minutes until the ER doctor shocked it back into rhythm with Adenosine. Pretty scary event—especially only being 44 years old at the time. “Why, God?” The typical go-to question, right?
A few months later, COVID-19 invaded the globe, and I found myself in the category of high-risk people who could easily die from this unknown disease. I know most people chose to vaccinate when a vaccine became available; but after much reading, educating myself, and knowing my extreme sensitivity to anything put into my body, the risk of vaccination seemed just as great a danger as not vaccinating. I also knew that catching the virus could mean a death sentence for me; but with much prayer, I decided to allow my body to do what God created it to do if, indeed, I got infected with COVID. Fight. Due to my condition and being overweight from my heart medications, I also knew strict quarantining would be my best and only real line of defense against falling prey to the virus.
Except for doctor visits and a rare masked run to the grocery store, I stayed home most of March 2020-June 2021. During this time of isolation, a couple people questioned my faith in God and dared to say I followed Him blindly, claiming I couldn’t possibly know God if I hadn’t read my Bible. So, morning and night in quarantine, I started reading through God’s Word cover to cover, along with a group of church friends, who I corresponded with through a Bible app. One particular day, I asked the question: “Why doesn’t God speak to us audibly now like He did back in Bible times?” That prompted another participant in our group to mention a book by John Eldridge, titled, Walking With God. From this inquiry, a book group formed, and about seven of us spent the end of 2020 reading through the book’s chapters, having Zoom meetings every other week to discuss our thoughts and feelings. The special bond formed with this group will play into my story in just a moment, so keep reading.
On October 28, 2020, I masked up and gave myself permission to patronize ONE STORE, as long as I could stay distanced from everyone while shopping. I had birthdays, anniversaries, and family Christmas presents to purchase before the end of the year, and it all had to happen during this one excursion. (I’ve always preferred in-person buying versus on-line purchasing. Anyway….) I spent three hours safely collecting my items then paying for them. When I got to the car, I found myself dealing with a quick-onset headache at the base of my skull. A migraine possibly? I knew I needed meds soon, but that meant getting home, first. God allowed me to hit every light green—and in rush-hour traffic! Arriving at our house, I immediately downed ibuprofen then forced myself to chill the rest of the evening. When I went to bed, I felt normal again. The next morning, however, I woke to vertigo, not able to lift my head off the pillow. Feeling like I could be flung into outer space at any moment caused great alarm! And, what made the situation worse, my husband had already left for work. Uhg.
Several specialists and many tests later, visual-vestibular dysfunction became my diagnosis, though no one could truly say why my eyes and ears insisted on sending mixed signals to my brain. What frustrated matters more, I couldn’t drive myself anywhere due to ongoing dizziness, making getting to and from therapy sessions a challenge—not to mention the location created an hour drive for whoever ended up taking me. “Why, God? What’s the purpose of this?” There’s that go-to question again. Still, God remained silent.
As if my life didn’t feel restricted enough at this point, December 10, 2020, came around. While my husband and I sat at a complete stop, waiting for our red light to turn green, the lady behind us rear ended us with her car. Instant pain shot up and over the right side of my skull, and a headache ensued within 10-15 minutes of the whiplash. Cue the emergency room, x-ray techs, chiropractor, spine specialist, and physical therapists. The accident crippled any chances I had left for driving the next seven months. So, stuck at home, I fought the classic poor-me feelings.
Did I forget to tell you? While skimming through my online medical chart one evening during all of this, I came across a piece of information the hospital had failed to disclose. Apparently, images dating back to my December 2019 SVT ER visit showed a nodule on my thyroid. Interesting, as I had been having issues swallowing certain foods, wondered if my airway may become blocked while eating, and had voiced this concern to my doctor more than once. He had just dismissed it and suggested I “take smaller bites.” That’s advice you give someone who is eating normally, not inhaling her food? Staring at the new thyroid data, I immediately requested a thyroid ultrasound. Good thing I did. The ultrasound didn’t show one nodule. It showed four nodules—one of them big enough for my endocrinologist to highly recommend I have it biopsied. May 2021 results: “Not cancer, but we’re going to keep an eye on it.” This will play into my COVID story in just a moment, so remember this detail.
Now, where were we? SVT, vertigo, car accident that caused two herniations in my neck, 100 percent dependent on others to get around (not that going anywhere seemed to be an option), officially becoming a high-risk patient, plus still having to quarantine while the rest of the world started acting normal again, going on vacations, and posting pics on Facebook from all their fun adventures away from home. Woe is me! Bummed about my plight? An understatement. Being spared from something? Even at this point, I believed this to be quite possible.
Stepping outside of my protective bubble July 15, 2021, I reserved a hotel room, boarded a plane, and attended my uncle’s funeral in Texas on July 17, 2021. Where did I catch COVID? I don’t know for certain—somewhere between Orlando and Dallas—but our first hotel room smelled like sewage, so that’s where I’d be willing to place a bet. Whatever the case, Thursday, July 29, 2021, I woke to a tickle in my throat early in the day. By Saturday morning, I knew I needed a doctor to rule out bronchitis. Actually, I feared COVID, as my trip fell between the 2- to 14-day incubation period for coronavirus. Either way, I had to be certain. Try as I might, I couldn’t find urgent care anywhere where I could be seen same day, but something told me I needed to be seen now. My sister finally found a clinic 45 minutes from my home that would see me same day, so my husband and I took a drive. When I got to my appointment, the receptionist informed me, “It’s going to be a three-hour wait past your scheduled appointment time.” I knew I would know my results within 15 minutes of having my nose swabbed, so I waited.
“Positive.” As much as you think you’re ready to hear those words, I guarantee you you’re not. Main questions that immediately entered my mind: will I be one who gets off easy with minor sniffles, confined to two weeks of boredom at home? Or will I be one who ends up being on a vent battling for her life? I don’t know why, but something deep inside me echoed back, “Be prepared. Something bad is about to happen.” How I wish I had been wrong!
Within about 11 hours of my diagnosis, I woke from a restful night’s sleep on the couch, where I had isolated myself from my husband. No noticeable itchy throat like the day before, and it appeared I could swallow. “Great! I worried for nothing. It was just a bad dream,” I chided my inner voice. Then the devil entered the room. Two minutes of thinking “I’m good” rapidly turned to gasping, wheezing, choking, suffocating, wondering why I couldn’t find air. Terror filled every fiber of my being. COVID! Never having lung issues or asthma, I didn’t have an inhaler. I had no back-up plan. Hopelessness started seeping in. Then the mucus started—like a nonstop faucet down the back of my throat. I couldn’t swallow past this imaginary lump that couldn’t be detected by touch, but I sensed blockage. Stumbling to our bedroom, I threw open the door and banged on the wall, yelling between gasps and gagging, “I can’t breathe!” I would later find out, the beast being battled in that moment is called acute respiratory distress. My life stood two seconds away from being snuffed out, and I knew it. Had God not intervened and allowed me to clear my airways when He did, a rescue team wouldn’t have reached me in time. Of this, I am certain!
Please forgive me for not remembering what happened next. Two weeks fell off the calendar like being in a coma. Things I do remember, though: one hot/cold shower after another. Hours wrapped in a thermophore for moist heat to kill bacteria in my chest and lungs. Sitting under a cool mist humidifier so it wouldn’t ache to inhale. Crying out to God, begging for Him to be enough if He chose not to remove the pain wracking my body. Wondering how I could possibly endure one more night sitting straight up in a recliner, because lying down would drop my oxygen saturation into the low 90s. (I knew if they dropped any lower I would be looking at hospitalization.) Trying to wrap my mind around the sensations flooding every nerve ending head to toe. Struggling to drink enough water, tea, or broth, knowing I needed to flush out the toxins and prevent dehydration. Somewhere amidst all this, I also had my husband help me write up a supplement and medication schedule to make sure I didn’t miss a dose of anything vital, and to be sure to prevent negative interactions with my heart meds. Truly, most of this is a blur—except for how God’s miracles manifested themselves in the middle of my battle.
Remember how I told you about my Walking With God group? Well, after barely surviving my first encounter with acute respiratory distress, I knew I wouldn’t survive another day without intervention, so I texted the group, asking for prayer coverage. I didn’t have a clue what to do next. That’s when the leader of our group spoke up and said something to the effect of, “Have you heard of monoclonal antibody infusion? It’s being offered by AdventHealth. It’s for high-risk patients, trying to keep them out of the hospital and off vents. I hear they’ve been having really good success rates, too, and it gets you feeling better sooner.” He gave me the phone number for AdventHealth’s coronavirus headquarters, a link to look up details about the infusion treatment, and then encouraged me to give them a call.
Only one problem: if I wouldn’t put a vaccine in my body, why would I infuse myself with antibodies? Not remembering anything about science class from twenty-some years ago or how the body works in fighting infection, I reached out to my aunt who I knew had knowledge about immune and autoimmune issues. She refreshed my understanding, using laymen’s terms: COVID monoclonal antibody infusion is NOT a vaccine. It’s a process where they inject you with COVID antibodies from somebody who has already had COVID. Since this person has already battled the virus, they have warriors (AKA: antibodies) that are trained to recognize COVID and take it out. The infusion sends in reinforcements (antibodies that your body doesn’t have to create on its own) to give your weak battalion of fighters an infinitely greater chance of winning the war by backing up the antibodies your body has already started to make. Ok. That much made sense.
The importance of getting treatment ASAP came via a phone call a short while later from a trusted friend I hadn’t heard from in a while. “Lori, you’re already on Day 4 of symptoms. Whatever you decide to do, you need to do it now. COVID has a way of rapidly replicating and going berserk inside your body around days 7-10 after symptoms appear. Look it up. It’s called a cytokine storm. You want to get as much of COVID as you can out of your system before it starts replicating and spreading throughout your body. If it’s not there on days 7-10, it can’t replicate. Make sense?” It did.
Following that phone call, I felt impressed to call the infusion center. Miraculously, they had an appointment available first thing the following morning. I took it. As the day progressed, I started stressing. I honestly didn’t know how I would survive another night without being hospitalized, so I called the infusion center back and shared this information with them, including that my oxygen stats kept dipping into the low 90s—and not just when sleeping. My question: “Can another location see me sooner? I’d really like to stay out of the hospital.”
I waited on hold a couple minutes, then heard, “How far do you live from our Orlando infusion center?”
My response: “Roughly 30-40 minutes.”
“Can you be here at 11:30am?” (It was 10:50am.)
My answer: “I will be there as close to 11:30 as possible. Is that all right? We’re leaving RIGHT NOW!!” I walked in around 11:32am. How’s that for timing?
Please sit with me a moment at the infusion center, because this is where God’s medical reveal becomes phenomenal. Within 1.5 hours of REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab) entering my body, COVID antibodies lit up EVERY LOCATION where serious inflammation existed. As they stood me up from my chair, the entire right side of my skull (lower into greater occipital nerves aggravated by the car accident), right eye socket and both inner ears (vertigo/visual-vestibular dysfunction), upper part of neck (two herniations), and base of skull (same place I had headache the night before my first vertigo spell), along with the area around my thyroid nodules ACHED like you wouldn’t believe. And, remember that “imaginary” lump in my throat? Yeah. Not so imaginary!
As I shivered, sensations scattered ALL OVER my body, but intensified across my shoulders, in my upper back, and down both arms, causing me to dry heave over extreme anxiety, which then caused numbness to shoot down my left shoulder into my left elbow and thumb, spiking my blood pressure. “Oh, Lord, am I having a heart attack?” The nurses in the room must’ve wondered the same thing, because a few minutes later, EMTs arrived wearing gas masks to take me across the street to the ER. All the while, I could hear my aunt’s voice in the back of my head reminding me of the infusion’s job: “It’s going to go where the infection is—like garbage men taking out the trash. You want it to take out the bad stuff.”
Every. Serious. Issue. I have contended with over the past two years received a major hit with this infusion. Is it God’s way of healing more than just COVID? I don’t know. What I do know: options at the beginning of COVID-19 didn’t include monoclonal antibody infusion. (In my condition, my body needed extra fighters. I couldn’t have fought this off alone, and God knew this. That’s why He found a way to prevent me from being exposed to COVID sooner. Yes, I am eternally grateful He made me quarantine.) The doctor in the ER told me this treatment is only given if you are NOT in the hospital. Had I gone against my gut instinct, received the vaccine, and reacted to it like I had originally feared, I would’ve been hospitalized and not qualified to receive the infusion that very likely saved my life. So, had I waited one more day, let’s just say…I am so thankful I don’t have to think about that outcome!
I don’t know how many more days God will grant me to serve Him, but I will continue telling of His goodness, as long as I have breath!
“In my distress I prayed to the Lord, and the Lord answered me and set me free. I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the Lord has done.” Psalms 118:5, 17 NLT
A very special thank you:
- To every single medical worker fighting the front lines, getting those of us with COVID the time-sensitive care and attention we need.
- To my Walking With God support group who stepped in and LITERALLY saved my life—you have been Jesus in real life!
- To my aunt who has spent hours on the phone helping me understand my health issues so I would be able to make informed and educated decisions regarding my care.
- To every single friend who has texted, private messaged, or called to check in on me, giving me courage to hold on.
- To every prayer warrior who has been on their knees storming the gates of Heaven on my behalf…I have felt your prayers sustaining me. He hears you! Don’t stop praying and interceding for others!!
What else can I say? From the bottom of my heart, I am eternally grateful! Thank you Jesus for this breath, and the one after that, and the one after that…. To Him be the glory!