7 lessons I learned from fighting COVID-19
Have you ever woken up massively hungover? You know that feeling you have waking up after a night out where you drank way too much wine and smoked 2 packs of cigarettes… Well that’s how it’s been for me to have COVID-19. +10 days of non-stop hangover, overall malaise, nauseousness, headaches and constant exhaustion. I choose my words carefully as COVID doesn’t leave you tired, but exhausted and nothing, not even sleep, can make you feel any better. It’s a strange sickness and there is absolutely nothing to recommend about COVID-19.
That being said, I hate to be recovering feeling like I wasted 2 weeks of my life. Therefore today, I started recalling the things I have learned and discovered while being sick. I guess you can call that my attempt to turn two weeks of torture into a positive experience with a good outcome. Here are the things I have learned while fighting COVID-19.
14 months of mass media leads to massive discomfort: On the day I learned I was positive with COVID-19, I felt totally fine and had no symptoms. I had also received a negative test result 48h before so the news that I was carrying the infamous virus came as a complete shock. To this day, I still don't know where I caught it. That being said, as I went to bed that night feeling completely fine (something that wouldn’t last I assure you), I found myself laying in bed petrified, incapable of falling asleep. When you spend 14 months in and out of lockdown, listening to terrifying news about a disease that takes people’s lives, that puts healthy people on respirators, that leaves people with what’s now known as long-COVID, you lay in bed knowing you have the virus and you wonder if you won’t become one of those anecdotal cases that make it on the news. The first night, I couldn’t sleep and I laid there wondering if the mass media coverage had not affected my sense of judgement. Would I be super sick, would I be one of those rare 39 years old cases that goes from bad to worse in hours? My anxiety prevented me from sleeping well that night and I promised myself that once I’d recovered, I’d pay a lot less attention to the news. I realized that night that the overload of COVID information from the last 14 months has really impacted me and that I had no idea of the stress build-up it had created in me until I tested positive myself. Lesson learned: don’t ingest everything you hear and see online. It creates stress, even if you can’t see or feel it.
Being sick with 2 small kids at home and a sick partner is a form of extreme sport: Although I isolated myself from my family, both my wife and my kids caught the virus and this meant that we all stayed home together for days on end. My kids were the typical COVID children and showed absolutely no symptoms while my wife and I both got sick. As COVID is highly contagious, the problem when you and your kids have it is that you can't ask anyone to take care of your kids… You are on your own. There is nothing to recommend about being sick with COVID and having a 2 years old and a 4 years old in isolation at home. Although one should be resting and sleeping as much as possible, it is simply impossible to rest properly with small children who are as energetic as their usual self. Although my wife and I took turns caring for our kids, I can’t stress enough how being sick with small kids is an extreme sport I don’t think anyone should have to try. That being said, now that I am better, my wife and I feel like superheroes for having managed to both be sick and recover while taking care of our kids and there is a great self-confidence boost in knowing that we are strong enough to take care of them, even when we are very sick.
My brain is my favorite asset: COVID hits people in many different ways and for me, its biggest impact has been on my head. For 14 days I have been battling headaches, brain fog, short-term memory loss and concentration difficulties. It is getting better everyday and the fact that I can write this, which I wouldn’t have been able to 4-5 days ago, is proof of it. That being said, when my mind was partly gone and I felt like I was struggling with dementia, I missed my head terribly. Having COVID made me realize that my most prized and beloved asset is my brain and that my ability to think the thoughts I think makes me who I am. When losing that, I feel completely lost and completely disconnected with who I am. I am so grateful for having found myself again in this recovery phase and I am extremely grateful for realizing how much I love who I am.
Life is better when things taste of something: I have always taken taste for granted and as soon as I get mine back, I will enjoy it and forever be grateful that things taste. There is something really frustrating about the lack of smell and taste in life. Although we don’t realize it, when everything tastes bland, a huge part of pleasure in life is taken away from us. You might not realize it now, but imagine if everything you ate tasted bland, everyday… Somehow this impacts your overall mood and ability to sense pleasure in life as things are bland and over time it does impact your appetite and your endorphins production. Let’s just say that losing sense of taste and smell is not painful but way more frustrating than one can imagine. For those of you who can taste and smell today, please savour whatever you’ll eat on my behalf!
Physical exercise used to be a chore, now it’s part of who I am: When you are sick, you should rest and so I did as much as I could. That being said, after days of laying down, trying to rest and feeling miserable, I started to miss training. I missed moving, I missed feeling muscles exertion, I missed feeling out of breath from a good run. Although I was very sick at that point, I realized that physical exercise, which had been my most hated chore for years, was now something I truly missed and couldn’t wait to resume. By having COVID, I have now realized that this chore I use to dislike has now become part of my health ritual, it is a hobby and I love it. This means that the next time I don’t feel like training, I will be able to remember the 14 days I had to rest and how I couldn’t wait to be healthy enough to train again. Health and training are gifts I am very thankful for.
People are so caring: Family, friends and colleagues have reached out daily to check-in on my family and I. There hasn’t been a day without multiple text messages or emails just to check-in on us and so many have offered to come drop off food. I knew people around me cared, but being sick in isolation gave me the rare opportunity to actually see how many people will be there when we need them. This was a beautiful unforeseen gift from COVID.
My wife is a saint: Like everyone else (or almost everyone), being sick really doesn’t bring the best out of me… to the contrary. When I am sick, I am intolerant, impatient, I complain, I am moody and simply difficult to be with. Being sick with the kids and my wife, I have learned that my wife and I are fantastic partners who truly support each other when we are at our worst and that my wife can handle all of who I am and care for me regardless. There is something beautiful in recovering from a sickness and realizing how lucky you are to have the partner you have. Thank you Maja!
Now that I am recovering, I urge all of you to continue to keep your distance, wash your hands, be safe and get vaccinated! No one should get COVID-19, there is nothing to recommend about this virus. Stay safe!