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COVID…. Negative (My Journey)

I flew out to California on March 10th to deliver our BOLD: Advanced Leadership class March 11-13th.   March 11th was my last day of WIFI or cell service until the evening of March 13th.  In two days, the world changed…. As I was dropping off my car at John Wayne Airport on the 13th, one of the employees at Budget was coughing like crazy and says, “There is nothing like having the flu and a cold at the same time”.   Yikes….  I am within 3 feet of her.  Thoughts of the Coronavirus start racing through my head.

Saturday, I sleep all morning and have my daughter, Amber and her family over for dinner and games.  Sunday, Brigitte (my granddaughter) spends the night and I watch her all day on Monday.  Tuesday, I wake up with a headache, sore throat, chills, extreme fatigue and start coughing.  I have a deep pain in my lungs.  I’ve struggled with sports induced asthma all of my life and had a nasty bout with bronchitis in November and December (two months of steroids and inhalers) and my lungs never felt fully recovered.  The cough gets worse, chills, body aches, headache, sore throat continue, and I am absolutely exhausted.    Amber comes down with a fever on Wednesday, chills, cough, extreme fatigue and can hardly get out of bed for 4-5 days.   I get a “phone interview” with the doctor on Thursday and she says, “Assume you have Covid.  Assume your daughter has Covid.  And I don’t mean to sound insensitive, yet there aren’t enough tests to go around and they won’t test “healthy” people.  If you get worse, call us and quarantine”.

Saturday morning, I wake up at 4:30 a.m. with a sharp shooting pain in my lungs.  Excruciating…. I have some shortness of breath.  I put a hot pad on my chest, grab a hold of my Bible and start praying.   The pain started to subside from the sharp (scale 1-10 about a 9) back to a deep pain of about a 4-5).    We call the doctor and get another “phone interview”.  He orders me a heavy-duty prescription of prednisone.  He also orders a Covid test that I get to take on Monday and says, “It sounds like Covid – assume you have it, assume your husband has it, and if you get worse and have trouble breathing you need to get to the ER”.  I’m coughing a lot, still have headache, body aches, low-grade sore throat, fatigue, moments of sharp shooting pains in my lungs/chest.

Monday morning, I wake up at 4:00 a.m. coughing, with shortness of breath.  I can’t catch my breath… Eric says, “Babe, we need to get you to the hospital”.   The pain in my lungs is about an 8, the shortness of breath elevated and I’m gasping for air – we get to the hospital, they won’t let him come in and I am in hyperventilation mode.   They give me a flu and Covid test, take an x-ray (my lungs are clear) and I have no fever.  My breathing starts to calm down although I still have shortness of breath.  The doctor says, “Assume you have Covid.  You are to quarantine; your husband is to quarantine.  We will have the results in 3-5 days”.  And prescribes me oxycodone for the pain.   I took two doses and said, nope… can’t do that.  It’s masking the pain and I hate the way it makes me feel.  The lung pain stays around a 4-5, yet I can deal with it.  Still exhausted and have no energy to get out of bed/off of the couch.   The chills are gone, so is the body ache and sore throat.

Tuesday, I wake up feeling slightly feverish.  Feel off… oh my gosh, will this never end?

Wednesday, I wake up with more energy.  Still coughing, still pain yet strange things start to happen.  My face starts tingling, I’m dizzy, zoning, almost feel like I am going to pass out, feet and hands are so so so cold, and I almost feel drugged.   Eric gets on the phone with the doctor and he says, “You need to take her to the ER”.   So, second trip to the ER in two days.  The doctor comes in immediately and informs me that the Covid test came back negative and sometimes they are inconclusive, yet they won’t test me again.  My asthma is exasperated which is causing the shortness of breath and my lungs are inflamed.   He orders more x-rays, blood work, and an EKG.  He gives me steroids through an IV and has me do a breathing treatment.  All of my tests come back clear.   The steroids and breathing treatment are allowing more air to flow through my lungs.  He said I have a respiratory virus and wants me to follow up with a Pulmonologist. I get to go home.

While I was in the ER, they brought in a lady who was in the room next to me.  I hear the doctor and nurses talking.  Her oxygen levels are extremely low, they are pretty positive she has Covid and are talking about ventilating her.  I hear a nurse call (what I assume is a family member) to give the update.   First responders are bringing people in and they are in full hazmat gear.  The lower level of the parking garage at the hospital is now set up with tents.  There is medical staff everywhere… waiting.  Waiting for the patients who will be brought in.  Such a scary time….

Thursday (March 26th) – best night of breathing / coughing in a week.  I wake up with a headache, a low-grade sore throat, flushed, still pain in my lungs (about a 4), coughing somewhat yet have a lot more energy and clarity of thought.

Covid or not Covid?  Negative, false negative, or inconclusive, I have no idea.  What I do know is that I am truly scared for people that are high risk, our elderly, people with asthma, compromised immune systems.     If what I’m going through isn’t Covid and Covid is worse, I have to keep my eyes on fighting, healing, staying out of the fear and choosing to take care of myself in any way I can, and feed my mind with faith, positive, and hope.

I implore you to quarantine, to stay home/stay safe until we flatten this curve.  To protect yourselves.  To please not think you’re immune to it or it’s not that bad.  I beg you – don’t take the risk of being infected or infecting others.   It’s not worth it!

The Lesson (because there is always a lesson)

During these last 10 days, I’ve watched more news than I have since 9/11 and when having energy, I look at social media.   While people are posting about their workouts, creating new norms, zoom calls, etc. I struggled…  I am by trait a positive person.  I rally the troops, I put words of inspiration and wisdom out, I help and support, I give.  I am watching people/businesses go from almost a joke, to fear, to innovation.   Human nature craves stability.  Is this really happening?  We want to know – how long, what to expect, when will our lives get back to “normal”, what will be the new normal?  No one knows.

What I do know is that tomorrow is not promised.  We have today.  And what we do TODAY helps with our tomorrows.

Today is DAY ONE!  Tomorrow is DAY ONE!  The next day is DAY ONE!  

Here are some ideas for creating the best DAY ONE today:

  • Focus on what we can do, what we can control that will help ground us – journal, meditate, watch something POSITIVE, play a game, have a dance party, exercise, video/call/text the people you love, CONNECT! Bake cookies with your kids, cook a new recipe, snuggle, write, read, finish your project, create a dream board.  If you’ve had thoughts in the past “if only I had enough time, I would…”, well… for a lot of us, we now have the time.  Some Day Is NOW!
  • Practice gratitude – write down or share with someone at least ONE thing you are grateful for every day. Of course, you can always do more, yet start with ONE thing.   Gratitude unlocks life!
  • Focus on giving versus getting. Giving unlocks a universal law.  The more you give the more you receive.  It’s not giving to get… it’s giving because you really want to add value, help, bless.  It’s the most amazing mind shift when you focus on giving and blessing others.  It creates an abundance mentality versus a “survive/me” mentality.    You can order groceries to be delivered to an elderly person, people who are struggling and lost their jobs.  Be persistent with the online delivery grocery options.
  • Ask for help. If you’re struggling, reach out to your support groups.  Find people who will lift you up instead of feeding into your fears.
  • Change your focus. What voices are you listening to? Pay attention to your morning routines.  What are your routines in the first hour of waking?  What are your routines the last hour before you go to bed?  What you put into motion, stays in motion.   Either you create your day, or the day creates you.   Do you want a productive day, or do you want a day filled with worry and stress?
  • Breathe… take deep calming breathes throughout the day. I use a method called 4x4x8.   Empty your lungs, then take a deep breath in and slowly/silently count to 4, hold for 4 and slowly exhale for 8.  Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat…
  • Use this time to create positive and powerful habits. However, we choose to look at it, we are all in a time of RESET.  We get to reset, refocus and recreate.  Things will be different.  Innovation comes from times like this.
  • Choose faith over fear. Fear and faith live in the same place.  They both ask us to believe in something that hasn’t yet happened.   Fear opens the door to anxiety, doubt, frustration, anger, blaming, negativity, hopelessness.   Faith opens the door to hope, creativity, peace, life, love.
  • Stop wasting today’s strength by fighting tomorrow’s battles. Stop… pause… My job is today.  What can I do TODAY?  This day?  I believe that God is in tomorrow – that’s his job.  Let go, let God.  Today is my job.

I recently heard the analogy of what we are personally facing with dealing with this pandemic to playing basketball.  You have the ball and you get blocked from your forward motion.  You have a choice.  You can pivot.  You can move to the left, to the right, you can pass to a teammate.   The choice is up to you.  Are you stuck or did you stop?  Are you bitter because of the block in your forward motion or will you use this as an opportunity to become better… to pivot, shift and adjust?

We will get through this.  Look for the lesson, what is this teaching you?  How can you reset and recreate?  This is our life.  We get one shot at this…  What will you choose?

I choose being brave, getting back up, creating, pivoting, and continuing in the forward motion.  I choose life!

Mary Belden-McGrath











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