The prospect of catching Covid-19 is unquestionably the most unsettling thing I have ever experienced. If you are like me, you probably have been up and down the scale of anxiety, from worry to concern and maybe even downright panic during this pandemic. So imagine my nerves when I slept outside an urgent care office waiting for my turn to be Covid-19 tested (again). The first time I was tested it was for an employer. I felt fine so there was more curiosity than fear involved with that experience. It was so routine that I never got my negative result. It was business as usual in an unusual world.
That was then, this is now. Normally, I come down with an illness once a year due to allergies. It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to fully recover. I am not big on prescription drugs, so I let my system fight this sickness on its own. These bouts with the common cold can last awhile. I’m used to it. But this is Covid-19 season, and this time something didn’t feel quite right. Since November, I have been battling this thing! It wasn’t bad enough to stop me from my regular activity, nor was it strong enough to force me to turn to a doctor for help. So I soldiered on, thinking this too shall pass.
It didn’t. On Christmas night, I felt it coming on strong. This was my first-time experiencing shortness of breath, but I felt I didn’t need medical attention. I can be a stubborn old Taurus! I got through it. A week later, it happened again. Once again, I let my body figure it out. Again, it’s Covid-19 season, right? On the third occasion, I had one of the worst nights of my life. I could barely breathe. I couldn’t lie down. I coughed uncontrollably. And then it hit me, this might be serious. This might be Covid-19. My life flashed before my eyes! I have never had a panic attack like that before. It’s on now!
All of a sudden, it felt like every “wrong” turn I’ve ever taken in life starting running through my mind like an old, black-and-white movie reel from the 1940s. Back in ‘78, I shouldn’t have hit my brother with that phone. Back in ‘83, I should have bought her an ice cream cone. Back in ‘89, I should have demanded to get that ball. Back in ‘95, I should have bought books for my wall. Back in ’99, I should have gone with Bowling Green. Back in ‘03, I should have bought a limousine. Back in ‘08, I should have stayed with that project. Back in ‘13, I should have never signed that check. Back in ‘18 I should have been a better friend. Because in 2021 is this finally the end?
My Covid-19 scare was real to me. I don’t want to diminish anyone else’s journey here. Obviously, there are millions of people who have contacted the disease, and thousands who have died from it. I can’t imagine what they went though, and I pray that no one else experiences this disease first-hand. Yet there I was, getting worked-up before I knew whether or not it was my time to fight the plague. I woke up got out of the car and went in to the urgent care facility. Here goes everything!
***Don’t laugh at me… as a side note, my son was there too, also sick. He went in to see the doctor first. A group of paramedics hurried in 30 seconds before I did. I could see them administering aid to someone in a red shirt. My son was wearing a red shirt! I literally busted through the door to get to the exam rooms, passed the RN trying to direct me to my room, and turned the corner yelling “is that my son!” It wasn’t him! You’d think I would be embarrassed right? No not the stubborn one! I just took a few short breaths and went to my exam room. I would have fought Covid-19 on the spot if it put its hands on my son…
When your life flashes in front of your eyes, you might question how you chose to live. I did. You know how they give you a few minutes to sit in the exam room, alone, when the staff deals with other patients. Well this was my time to question it all. Did I live a good life? Did I do enough for my family? Will the Knicks ever win a championship? What will they say at my funeral? I wonder if heaven (or hell) has a ghetto? Would my grandmothers be waiting for me on the other side? Enough questions. After God himself, I hoped the first person I see would be my mother. Yes, I was thinking about death right before they gave me my pressure exam.
After 30 minutes and frontal x-rays that make you feel like a convicted felon, I got the news about my illness. I had moderately congested lungs (not good), which causes heavy cough, shortness of breath, and elevated blood pressure. What a relief! I probably lived with lungs filled with slime for a few months, but I handled it. But then the doctor said, we need to take a flu test and a Covid-19 test. Oh snap I forgot about that stuff! So here we go with not one, but two swabs, one up each nostril to get a sample of the goods. By the way, close your eyes when they do these tests. I swear I was looking down inside my head and watching how far that swab was going up my poor nose.
After a reunion with my son and his severe cold, we both learned we didn’t have the flu. The only thing that’s left was the big one, and those results would take 2-3 days. So the waiting game was on. Believe it or not, for the second time in my life I had to take prescription meds. I gladly did! I guess when life flashes in front of your eyes, you’ll try different things. In a few days, I could breathe again. I coughed less and I felt a lot better. With that, my confidence returned, and I no longer questioned every time I thought my life went wrong. I was positive that I should remain positive because I was going to be negative.
My point in all of this is to always remain positive. I know it sounds cliché. I know sometimes it looks like there is no hope. I know life can deal a bad hand or deliver a crushing blow. Been there, done that. Yet I am still here. You are still here. This means we still have a purpose. The only way to fulfill our purpose is to stay positive. Even when you don’t feel your best, stay positive. Even when you don’t do your best, stay positive. Even when you think all hope is lost, stay positive. Even when your life flashes in front of your eyes, stay positive. Stay positive. Stay positive.
As a closing thought, throughout my ordeal I should have stayed positive when my life flashed in front of my eyes. Thank God we were both negative.
Gary A. McAbee, Author and Blogger: JOIN ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
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