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  • Brenda Hershey

We Are Not, In Fact, Invincible... My COVID Story

So apparently, you can still get COVID.


You may be thinking, Well, duh! And that’s a justified response.


But if you’re anything like me, even though I’m logically aware of the science and risks with this hyper aggressive virus, admittedly, there was a part of me that felt somewhat untouchable by it. Silly, I know. But I think more of us can relate ~ in our own ways ~ than it may initially seem.


Let me paint you a picture.


I’m in my late 20’s.

I exercise and meditate daily.

Vegetarian diet with daily nutritional supplements.

I’m conscious about my sleep.

Essentially, I’m freakin’ healthy and falling ill is a very rare occurrence.


Moreover, I’d been exposed to at least 3 people with COVID in the last year without contracting it myself, which I had proudly attributed to my strong immune system.


Although I understand the risks involved with COVID and I abide by recommended guidelines, it's clear to me now that somewhere in my subconscious I felt invincible. Silly human, so naïve.


It started with strange flu-like systems. Fever, body aches, a terrible ongoing headache, night sweats and exhaustion. Three days in, I received my positive test result.


From there, my taste and smell quickly faded into nothingness (for a little over a week).

The body aches turned into joint aches – my knees and hips screaming at me, especially at night. The fever and exhaustion lingered for a few days.


Then, one morning about a week in, I woke up and quickly realized that my lung capacity felt like it had significantly decreased. I couldn’t take deep breaths and when I tried, I would have a coughing fit. This led to being able to breathe even less, which perpetuated this cycle of shallow breathing and anxiousness. It was in my lungs.


My mind quickly tried to justify why this shouldn’t be happening to me: “But, I regularly practice kundalini yoga (kriyas) and breathing exercises! I’m a runner! I'm so healthy! How could this be??"

This was my wounded ego trying to make sense of it all.


But that’s the thing. The virus doesn’t discriminate. It knows no bounds… well, beyond a mask.


The shortness of breath peaked after about 3 days and lasted another 3 or so, getting noticeably and progressively better in the latter period. In the thick of it, I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs (even super slowly) without feeling sick and unable to catch my breath. Fortunately, though, I was able to breathe fine when sitting or strolling around the apartment.


I consider myself pretty mentally tough. I have a variety of daily mindfulness rituals that have helped me develop a general sense of grounding and connectedness. But I’ll be honest – this situation had me feeling incredibly scared and anxious for a couple days. At its peak, I also watched some videos and did a little research on what exactly happens when the virus enters your lungs, and it took me down a terrifying rabbit hole. And worse yet, if I did need to go to the hospital, it would be here in Iraq where the health care system is simply not what I’m used to. (Let’s be real - when it comes to life or death, it does matter.)


Seeking advice from my wise nurse-sister, I was told that as long as I could complete full sentences (among some other things) without feeling short of breath, I didn’t need to go to the hospital. I was also reassured that it would improve within a few days, which it did. “Alhamdulillah” or “Thanks be to God” in Arabic.


Along with the shortness of breath, the other symptoms eased up and I found myself feeling energized and healthy again nearing the two-week mark. Yeah, that rollercoaster ride happened in just a two-week timeframe. Wild!


Use me as a lesson in these regards. Anyone can get it. And it will affect everyone differently! Even though my colleagues didn’t have any shortness of breath (Alhamdulillah) when they had it, I did ~ me, the one who regularly runs, does breathing exercises, etc. This virus can leave the very human need to understand things logically highly unsatisfied in many cases.


Today is my first day back at work since contracting the virus, and the first thing I learned was that one of our colleague’s father passed away yesterday from COVID. Ugh. I felt that news in my body.


I was so fortunate to have recovered, and frankly to have only had symptoms at this level of severity. It could've been SO much worse. I will not forget the heightened sense of mortality I felt and the shift in perspective it left me with… along with maybe a few battle scars on my beautiful set of lungs.


My goal isn’t for this article to sound “dark” but to instead genuinely reflect the wake-up call I had and the severity of the situation. I promise you, you do not want to get this virus. If you do get it, be gentle and loving with yourself, and listen to your body.


And let me be clear: living in fear isn’t what’s going to help us. Rather, be smart with the information available to you. Get vaccinated. Wear your mask. Follow the science. Do it for yourself and for your loved ones.

Stay safe, healthy and elevated!


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