The Emotional Side of COVID: Part I

There are eight letters in the word "positive." Those eight letters glowed red on my screen

in the email: "Please see your attached, positive COVID-19 test result. I hope you're feeling well." I hope you're feeling well?! I'm feeling a lot of things. "Well" is not one of them. All I could do was stare at those eight red letters, my head spinning. My husband, who was sitting at the table with me, turned to my voice, "FUCK! I have COVID." That was the first wave: fear.

I had so many questions going through my head. Am I going to be one of the rare ones; double vaccinated and boosted, but sick in the hospital? Will my insurance cover this? Will my absence from work hurt my professional career? What will my coworkers think? Will they

be mad at me? Is my husband mad at me? Why didn't my chronic mask-wearing make a difference? How did I get this even though I'm careful even when outside? Did washing my hands every two seconds even make a difference? Who else have I gotten sick? My spiral was interrupted by banging downstairs. Holy shit! I forgot we had contractors downstairs demolishing the floors to put down a new one. My husband and I looked at each other before he put on a mask and went downstairs. "Stop! We just found out my wife has COVID." My face got hot and I felt a pit in my stomach. They're definitely going to hate me. The contractors huddled up to talk, gathered their things, and drove drove off without shutting the door. I felt dirty. The second wave: shame and disgust.

I sat at the kitchen table staring at the email on the phone in my hand as tears began streaming down my face. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and my mom was supposed to fly in on Sunday for the holiday week. I looked at my husband, "We have to cancel her trip." At that point my already stuffy nose was completely blocked and I could barely breathe through my sobs. I get to see my mom twice a year if I'm lucky and this was to be her first visit since we moved to San Diego. All I could think was, "I ruined Christmas." So many of my emotions were the opposite of how I learned to treat myself. There was no compassion. Just fear, shame, and now sadness.

Next up, anger knocked on the door for a visit. "Fucking pandemic! I do all the things; the

hand washing, the limiting visits, postponing time with friends until things die down, wearing these damn masks....ALL.THE.TIME, hand sanitizer until my hands are ashy and raw, social distancing on walks.... WHAT THE FUCK!" My head hurt, my chest was tight, I felt weak, foggy, and tired, my throat was on fire, and I was fucking pissed! My phone vibrated on the table as friends checked in on me. "What do you need? I can bring soup." I had no idea what I needed. I needed this to not be happening.

It wasn't long before I connected with my mentor, who offered a session next week to explore what this was teaching me. I began to snap out of it. "Ok. Focus on the facts: My husband is showing no symptoms. My symptoms have improved since yesterday. Thank goodness I knew enough to call in to work and get tested the minute I felt sick. I've stayed in the house since then. I have to stay home for two weeks, but can go back to work in the new

year with a documented reason for my absence. This won't eat into my PTO (Thank you CORTICA!) I have a fridge full of groceries and I can have medicine delivered. We couldn't get a refund, but my mom's flight can be rescheduled." My tears began to slow down. This was the wave of gratitude.

Last night I barely slept. Between it being hard to breathe lying down and my head spinning with what the hell I'm going to do for the next ten days, my brain was too busy to fall asleep. I got up before the sun and watched the rain outside. No one talks about the emotional side of this journey. I knew I wanted to document this, just not how. Well, here is Part I.

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