This is my Week 35 update and a story about how Long Covid feels (expect lots of fish-references), how a ‘normal’ illness unexpectedly became a huge relief for my body and….well, yes: the US elections.
Phil Mattingly, CNN’s magic wall-guy, is wearing a blue bracelet on his left wrist and I’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole that I can’t stop wondering if there’s something written on it, what that is and why he wears it. Since election day in the US I have had a hard time being away from CNN and I don’t even live in the States?! I have learned a lot (I can now point out Maricopa county on a map just as fast as Phil) and watched the unfolding of events in the US with wonder and interest but also frustration and disbelief.
Somehow, I have connected the outcome of this election to The Fate Of The World and it seems I’m not the only one. This is quite problematic for my health, I have noticed. My body has been filled with election-related stress on top of a stomach-flu-like-condition probably caused by me eating something wrong (my son got the same symptoms so I’m quite convinced this has nothing to do with covid-19 or stress).
Covid-19 and its long-term effects on my body have dominated the sensations in my body for almost 8 months now. I’ve gotten used to waking up covid-style: my heart beats fast, I feel tingling in my arms and legs and experience a general feeling of anxiety. I know that I just need to take some time and fortunately this goes away pretty quickly nowadays after which I can continue my day more or less symptom-free. I’ve said for months that I am dreading the day when I get sick with something else, like a cold for example. I’m just so fed up with being ill that the mere thought of my body dealing with other illnesses has been overwhelming. But then came a stomach flu, timely together with the US election.
You want to know the strange thing? Completely unexpected, my body actually felt RELIEVED by this new illness! I know this sounds totally crazy and really weird because honestly, I was feeling really crappy. But it was a normal kind of crappy and that made all the difference! Somehow my body recognized this type of illness and knew how to deal with it. This is such a sharp contrast to the reaction of my body to covid-19 which has been confusion, constant fighting and being off-balance.
For eight months my body has felt utterly confused. Here came a new virus that entered my system and my body just did not know what to do with it and how to get rid of it. Like presenting a fish with a piece of land and ask it to walk on it (while constantly whispering in its ear that its survival depends on mastering the skill of walking on land). Also, covid-19 put my body in fight-mode 24/7, without a stop. Day in, day out, month after month and it has taken all of my abilities to manage lots of strange symptoms and sensations. Now that my body finally is out of this state, no wonder I still feel tired! Off-balance is also a key description for Long Covid: it’s difficult to describe it if you haven’t experienced it yourself but Long Covid feels like my body is (why not use a fish analogy again) like a fish trying to get into a stream of other fish who are happily and peacefully swimming along but constantly being thrown aside by a current. It wants to get in balance, in flow, again but it is just not succeeding. This is how covid-19 and Long Covid feels, and has felt, for me.
The day before the US election I watched a documentary on Swedish television on Long Covid (for Swedish people: check out Vetenskapens Värld on SVT). It surprised me how affected I felt by watching this documentary! I feel such relief that finally, FINALLY, people in my country are talking about my reality and what my life has been like. It feels validating somehow. I’ve felt so incredibly alone in this country, especially in the first months back in March/April. I got sick before online support groups were created. When I called the Swedish national health service covid-19 hotline a few days after it had opened in the middle of the night because I could hardly breathe I was met by weariness of the nurse on the phone who told me I should stay at home. There was no testing available for me. All of these factors have affected me deeper than I thought, which became clear to me when I watched the Swedish documentary. As with everything else that has been part of my Long Covid-experience, this is totally OK. I can sit with my feeling of relief but also with my feelings of the incredible challenges I have faced both mentally and physically. For me, the keys remain: awareness, acceptance and resilience.
Will I ever find out the details around CNN’s Phil Mattingly’s blue bracelet? It’d be very cool but probably not. Will Joe Biden win the US election? Everything fortunately (for all of us humans and our planet) points to the fact that he will. I will continue to watch CNN also because I want to witness the historic event of the first female vice president and a woman of color to get elected to this office. There is hope for the world and there is hope for full recovery from Long Covid. I’m almost fully recovered now, I hope this writing can be of inspiration to all of you out there who are in the middle of covid-chaos and for those of you who haven’t been affected: I hope you will stay safe in the middle of this second wave many of us in different countries currently find ourselves in.
To be continued!
Photo: QUI – unsplash.com