it has been almost three months since my last blog post. i wish i could say it was due to being on a luxurious vacation, preferably one with beautiful beaches and delicious cocktails. unfortunately, that was not the case.
back in august, i was making the transition to a new job that i was (and still am) incredibly excited about, i was working out with my amazing trainer four days per week (and one day a week outside of that) and spending quality time with friends to enjoy the last bit of summer. all of that came to a screeching halt on august 15th. when i woke up in the hospital on august 31st, to say i was confused would be a gross understatement.
the week of august 9th, i had back pain one day. i linked it to moving a ton of boxes into my new office and figured i may have moved incorrectly while weightlifting. having a slight headache that same week was not alarming after being in 100+ degree weather and as someone that has suffered from migraines since 9th grade, i slept it off. thursday of that week, after leaving personal training, i had to pull over because it no longer felt safe to drive. it felt like i had been hit over the head. that scared me a bit. i called twin (anjelica, for those of you that are new here) and she helped to calm me down, stayed on the line with me until i got to a safe location and continued to listen to my breathing while i slept in the car for about 30 minutes. once i woke up, i drove to my office. initially, my plan was to unpack my office but i figured it could be beneficial to nap on the couch in my office before driving 20+ miles home. i did just that. i did not feel 100% better when i woke up but my head was not throbbing and there was no dizziness so i drove home. it comforted me to be on the phone (first, with twin and then with jaclyn) – i knew i would not fall asleep and if something went wrong, either of them could place an emergency call for me. thankfully, i had that friday off from work. my friends ck and melissa were both arriving that day to attend our friend jose’s wedding on saturday. i did not leave my house friday – rest was definitely needed. on saturday, we got ready for the wedding. i felt myself moving slower than normal but did not have a headache or back pain that day. even still, i should have known something was wrong when i only consumed half a glass of wine and a beer at a wedding with an open bar. after the beautiful ceremony, a stellar cocktail hour and a moving dinner/set of speeches, i asked ck to take me home. fortunately, the wedding was only five miles from my house so it was not too much of an inconvenience. on the way short ride home, i fell asleep. because of how long ck and i have known one another and the countless nights he has seen me fall asleep, he was able to notice that my breathing sounded labored. with my mom already feeling sick that day, he called twin to ask what he should do. twin called my brother and my brother woke up my dad. i was fast asleep in bed when those calls were made and when my dad arrived. he took my temperature and asked a number of questions. i had no fever and was able to answer all of his questions coherently. even though he had to trek across town, he was sure to mention how grateful i should be to have such great friends and that it was better to be safe than sorry. that is the last thing i remember – the night of august 14th. when i woke up in the hospital, it was august 31st.
after coming off of sedation, i was still intubated. i knew that i was in a hospital based on my hospital bracelet, my surroundings and certain conversations i remembered overhearing while sedated. but how long i had been there or why i was there was a mystery. since i could not move my legs when i woke up and had no recollection of getting to the hospital, i thought that maybe i might have been in a bad car accident (which could explain not being able to move my legs and the memory loss). once i noticed the whiteboard across the room, it had a bunch of information. shout out to my perfect vision because it helped me to read everything from my name to the names of my nursing staff for that particular shift to my mom’s information (which at least let me know that she knew where i was) to the date to the reason for hospitalization. the date read 8.31.21 which i assumed was an error. there was no way that i had been unconscious for 16 days. upon seeing the reason for hospitalization, it said covid. i was floored.
not only had i been tested regularly and wearing masks whenever indoors, but the symptoms most of us had been told to look out for were not present. i never had a fever, lost my sense of taste or smell or had any symptoms that resembled the flu. the next couple of days in icu were bizarre. so many doctors and nurses were grateful that i made it. i found out that my blood oxygen level was at 41 the sunday that i was transported. if it had not been for melissa reaching out to my mom (paired with my mother’s intuition), i may not have made it to the hospital to receive the care i needed. one of the conversations that stood out the most to me in icu was with a doctor who has been working in the icu during the entire pandemic. he talked to me about seeing more covid cases than he could count with patients from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, ages, body types and of course, both vaccinated and unvaccinated. something he had noticed amongst the people that have the highest recovery rate is that they had one thing in common – the overwhelming majority of them had been physically active for at least the previous 90 days. something about being physically active seems to increase the lung capacity – that is crucial in beating covid. the doctor had been in touch with my mother while i was sedated and found out that i had been consistently working out for five months before being hospitalized.
when the doctor asked me what inspired a change in my lifestyle back in march, i told him that the only two things in life i have ever been completely sure about are being a therapist (which i am already doing) and being a mom. when i thought about what it would take to have a healthy pregnancy, especially with my medical history, dropping weight and just taking better care of myself was not something that was negotiable. since i tend to get ultra contemplative around my birthday, when i thought about what i wanted to accomplish in the next year, five years and 20 years, family was on the five and 10 year lists – that was in february. by mid march, i was seeing angel from grit and gratitude fitness regularly. as soon as i was strong enough to use my phone, i called her and i wept. hearing the doctor say that i probably would not have made it if not for the work i had been putting in with her made me incredibly emotional. i could not have been more grateful. the time, money and effort were all worth it. as the doctor said, i was “preparing my body for a war i did not know i would be fighting.”
i came across this quote during my recovery process and it stuck with me.
“self care is not an expense, it’s an investment” -courtesy of poosh
if you poll 10 people, you will probably get 10 different answers on how each of them defines self care. for me, especially in my 30s, self care looks like self prioritization. when figuring out how to incorporate personal training into my monthly budget, i reminded myself that if i am willing to spend money on wine club memberships, music festivals and various items from nordstrom, i could and SHOULD be willing to spend money on my health. after waking up from a terrible case of covid with absolutely no respiratory issues, it truly proved to me that choosing to train with angel was not an expense, it was an investment. i would not be telling this story otherwise.
the start of september was a whirlwind. after leaving icu, i was transferred to the covid wing. once there, i started physical therapy – well, i attempted to. with the help of three physical therapists, i could not stand up. i was devastated. i allowed myself to mope for exactly one day then it was time to saddle up. i requested as much physical and occupational therapy as they would give me and did hours worth of exercises on my own each day, especially once transferred to the recovery wing. in less than two weeks, i was standing without assistance, using my walker to get around my room and the hallways and overall, needing less assistance. while being discharged was next up, there was no way i could go to my apartment – there are too many steep stairs. my mother was gracious enough to host me in her home for the last 12 days of september and the start of october. by october 5th, i was able to conquer my stairs during physical therapy without assistance and returned home shortly thereafter.
while i am still moving more slowly than what i was previously accustomed to, i have retired my walker and use my cane from time to time. i go back to work for the first time later today and am anxiously anticipating meeting my new students.
one thing is for certain: i have absolutely no regrets when it comes to investing in self care.
how are you taking care of yourself?
p.s. it feels good to be back!