Let me start by saying that I am no longer in the ER. I was for several hours last night and began writing this post in my mind. My body too tired and taxed from working to breathe, I couldn’t find the energy to type it on my phone as I sat alone in my room… So here we are.
Yesterday, I woke up out of breath. And it persisted throughout the day. My breathing was rapid. My heart rate was rapid. My coughing was out of control. And yet, my oxygen levels were doing okay. It was the strangest thing. So I called my PTP and followed up in the afternoon. After a steroid injection, prescribed oral steroids, and a stern discussion about going to the ER for any worsening symptoms, I went home around 4:30pm. A couple hours later and my breathing was still struggling. My rescue inhaler was doing nothing. I’ll be honest, I was a bit worried. But with oxygen levels still above 90, I was quite hesitant to go in. But then my provider stalked me. She sent me a message after hours to see check in. And then she promptly told me to go to the ER.
Gabe and Olivia drove me to the ER around 7pm. My heart really hurt for him because I know he was so unhappy and concerned about having to leave me. But nobody is allowed into the waiting area, let alone the actual ED. So in I went… “I have covid”, pause, breathe, “and I have”, pause, breath, “worsening shortness of breath”. A few other words were exchanged and I was asked to wait in the isolation waiting area. Thankfully, the ED was empty and I was taken into a room within 10 minutes. A flurry of things happened over the next few hours. IV fluids, labs, EKG, chest CT, more labs, breathing treatment, and then an arterial blood gas draw. I’ll skip to the end and say that my right lung still has patchy areas of fluid, my airways are swollen and inflamed (thus why my inhaler and breathing treatment didn’t help), my heart is working to keep up but not having any of my arrhythmia issues, my labs are a mess, and yet, my oxygen levels are stable. We were all dumbfounded because my symptoms, and even tests, don’t match up. But! It was a blessing to know that despite how I was feeling, I was getting enough oxygen, which meant I wouldn’t have to be admitted. Apparently covid does weird things like this. There isn’t much of a rhyme or reason to how the virus attacks. So more steroids, more antibiotics, and back to my doctor next week to figure out what is going on with my labs and to schedule follow up chest imaging in a few weeks. And of course, another stern discussion about returning to the ER for any worsening of symptoms. I was released around 12:30 this morning.
So there is the snapshot of my visit. But what I really wanted to talk about, and what my mind was writing last night, was the full circle of events this year. You see, last night, I should have been absolutely terrified and afraid of enduring the unknown alone. I should have been scared, and anxious, and lonely. But I was none of those things. I was concerned, of course, for my condition and praying for some relief. But I wasn’t freaked out like I would have been a year and half ago. And I never felt alone. I was alone, obviously. I was in an isolation room with the door shut because of my covid status. I was completely closed off from the goings-on of the ED. But I had so much peace. And I know God was right there in that room with me. My peace and sense of calm could come from nowhere else. “Emmanuel”, God with us. What a blessing that Jesus was born into flesh all those years ago to be with us, to save us, and to bear our sin and shame so that we might always be with Him. He clings on, even when you don’t realize it. He never leaves.
So I was sitting there, focusing on my breathing, and just pondering the year. I had prayed earlier that He would allow me to let go of my fears because I know He is there. And He did that tenfold, as He has done all year. I was so alone when I checked myself into that inpatient psychiatric unit. For 11 days, the loneliness and hopelessness were all-consuming. But on that night when it all changed, it really all changed. I have had a daily sense of peace within my soul (and if you’ve known me long, you know I used to be a nonstop worrier) as I recognized God’s presence. I knew He was there before… At least, I said I knew. But I never felt Him like I did at that time. And like I still do. And I firmly believe that if my family had not endured those two weeks in February – yesterday would have been much more difficult. God prepared us for entering the unknown separately yesterday. It wasn’t the first time Gabe had to leave me alone at the hospital, and it certainly wasn’t my first time being alone and having to advocate for myself. This might not seem like a huge thing to some, but Gabe and I truly do everything together. We do life together always. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders and supports. So to not be able to have him there when I was so ill, and vice versa, for him to have to leave me when he could see I was really struggling, was not ideal. But we have done it before, many times. At least this time I had access to my phone and could give him constant updates! Lol. Kidding aside, I really think I likely would have had serious anxiety/panic about going alone because I tend to get panicky when I can’t breathe well. And I think that he would have been a complete mess. But God washed over us. I didn’t break down in tears. Gabe came home and put Olivia to bed, and we stayed in contact through texting.
I am so grateful for the strength that the experiences this year has given us. Not just as individuals, but as a family. I am so grateful that God helped us draw closer to Him, as well as to one another during all the hardship, and not the opposite. I am grateful for the opportunity to “lean in” every single day. I am so grateful for the birth of Jesus! And as we celebrate that tomorrow, I just want to really remember and embrace His goodness. There is nobody more deserving of my praise and worship – especially on His birthday. When I see Olivia’s face light up in the morning – I will know that the joy she is sharing with us is really a gift from God to us. Even on His birthday, He will uplift us! He is so good. Even when things in this physical life seem otherwise, God is still good.
Merry Christmas, friends. I know things look different this year, but the one thing that never changes is God’s love for you. Come on, He sent his only son to earth on this day… For us!! Rejoice, friends, and may you have an incredibly blessed day.
*Bonus picture I took today of Gabe napping with Olivia. This man is barely getting over covid himself, and again, he is caring for Olivia the majority of the last few days so I could rest. He truly is the best Daddy and husband. To me, he personifies Christ’s love and is such a blessing in our lives. Thank you, handsome, for being our rock.