Healing from Covid’s Collateral Damage

I spent August 7, 2022–August 10, 2022, at the hospital after waking Sunday morning at 4:30am gasping for air due to heart rate at 112BPM and BP 157/98. I hadn’t felt right before going to sleep, so I asked God to wake me should I stop breathing. My husband, Lee, was gone on a business trip regarding constituency meetings across the state of Florida, so I knew no one would be around to hear my distress once my eyes closed. On my own. Alone. If I wanted to sleep, I knew I was going to have to place my trust in a higher power. So, I prayed, “God, please don’t let me die in my sleep. I know that’s a real possibility. Barbara (my mother-in-law) died in her sleep June 15. I can’t believe that’s what you want for me, or that you’d do that to Lee. No mother. No wife.” God answered my prayer by jolting me awake. I sputtered over the CPAP mask on my face, struggling to take it off. Feeling immediate impending doom, but knowing I had been spared, I called my dad and had him drive me to the emergency room at 5:00am. Hurdle number one successfully jumped!

Doctors observed me in the ER for six hours, during which time my hypertension remained high, so they decided to send me up to the observation floor. There, over the next three days, I ended up having an echocardiogram, cardio stress test, and repeated lab work every three hours to rule out a heart attack. I mentioned to several doctors and nurses, “Since having Covid August 1, 2021, I haven’t been able to sleep on my left side, back, or stomach. I can literally only lay on my right side, or I feel like I’m suffocating.” When all the tests ruled out any heart issue, the hospital started talking about discharging me. I broke down in tears when I heard this news. My BP hit 184/93 as I told the nurse overseeing my care, “You’ve ruled out what it isn’t, but you haven’t told me yet what it is. I don’t want to be here in the hospital, but I don’t want to be sent home to die.” If it wasn’t my heart, pulmonary became the next logical culprit. Doctors finally appeased me and decided to do a CT scan of my lungs before discharging me, mainly because no one had looked closely at them since my initial Covid infection.

As if getting to the root of my problem wasn’t difficult enough, I somehow contracted a nasty infection in my left thumb through open skin around my cuticle while in the hospital during this visit. It took the medical staff more than 12 hours to get me antibiotic ointment to prevent what looked like staph from turning into sepsis as it crept down my thumb and into my hand. This is what prompted the need for Rosefin and Doxycycline to be administered through an IV. The evening before my CT scan, my IV started causing much pain. When the respiratory team came in to hook me up to a CPAP machine for sleep purposes, I asked for them to come back, because I couldn’t handle something over my face while I fought off the crazy sensations from the antibiotics being pumped through the IV in my hand. They never did return before my CT scan that took place at 3:00am. Later, I would find out that this oversight might have actually aided in revealing the source of my problem, however—God, once again, working everything for good.

Stressed lungs showed up in my scans. In fact, they looked “mosaic” and indicated air trapping, which is what happens when you can’t get all the air out of your lungs. Never a day in my life had I had lung problems prior to Covid, and now I’m staring in the face of obstructive sleep apnea with dyspnea and asthma, being told that if the hyperextension in the alveoli continues, cells could start dying and my condition could become permanent. If that happens, I will literally suffocate to death. The devil knows how to scare me. I watched one of my best friends die of COPD in 2014.

This is where I remembered hearing another friend say, “If it’s not true, don’t own it.” My brain likes arguing reality, though, and of course I had a legitimate comeback: “Well, what if it is true? What if my lungs are permanently damaged? What if they don’t heal and can’t be fixed? Then what? I don’t want to suffocate to death.” Typing this out, the answer came to me, “Then look back on the past year of your life and see how far God has brought you. He’s keeping you alive. Remind yourself of what is true. You’re still breathing. You still have a purpose. God has made living a reality for you. For whatever reason, you’re still here. You’re not dying. You’re living. Remember your go-to verses? Read them again. Psalm 118:5,17: ‘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.’” If this wasn’t enough encouragement for my day, God plastered a meme across my Facebook wall that read: “Don’t let fear tell you what is possible.” With God, ALL THINGS are possible! 1 Corinthians 15:28, Revelation 4:11.

I’ve decided not to “own it.” You know? All that negative stuff. God is in the healing business. I now have hope, because God has provided me with a pulmonologist and a team of experts to help me regain my health—even if it took 12 whole months to get me here, and even if it takes 12 months or more to get me to my goal. Even if He chooses not to restore me to full health, He’s still got this! I choose to trust Him.

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