Well dear friends, I’m back – and my latest news is that I got Covid for the first (and hopefully only) time. I tested positive on 5th October and have since had negative tests, but it seems that I’m suffering from a form of long-covid, and I hope and trust that in time it will pass and I’ll be back to strength again. But it has been somewhat of a rough ride at times with the exhaustion, shakiness, fatigue, breathlessness, inability to do much at home and the ‘brain fog’ and mental stress, emotions and anxiety and confusion in sleeping and waking hours. I know people have different symptoms but in addition to the cough and cold like symptoms earlier on these have been some of mine and in the early stages they were quite severe and I was unable to get out of bed for long and had restless sleep or attempts to sleep. I’m finally sitting up and able to blog, so that is progress. Perhaps writing will help me to shed some light on what I’ve learned.
There is Light
Being unwell can be a scary place to be, especially when our bodies and minds feel like they are vulnerable, weak and not doing what they were created to do in being healthy and able. We feel the value and fragility of life. I’m feeling much more myself now, but I’m not there yet. I’m sitting up or able to rest in bed and do a few more tasks at home without as much fatigue as before, which is wonderful, but I still need to conserve a lot of energy as I fully recover. For the most part I’ve been on my own during this time, with a bit of time staying with family in between, and am on my own today again. In the early stages I was on my own (I don’t say alone), but so thankful for regular phone conversations and emails with family and friends and doctors, even though I couldn’t speak for long.
Being unwell with Covid has made me grateful for the things that give life and that are easily taken for granted on ‘normal’ days. As many of you know who read my blog for mental health encouragement, I have had many struggles with anxiety and panic attacks over the years, and in the past, c-PTSD, so I know what it is like to struggle to breathe or to experience mental distress. However, with Covid I’ve been reminded of just how precious something so simple and profound as our breath is. I wrote previously about how our lives are like a breath, a vapour, and when we can’t breathe properly, we are reminded of our frailty, our vulnerability, our need. I’m reminded of the things I have at times taken for granted (although I’ve been more aware of being grateful for them since seeing a good friend suffer for a while in hospital and with long term health conditions) like being able to walk for long periods of time, or being able to walk at all, to sit up and eat and do things for myself, of feeling young and healthy and alive.
Despite the distressing side of those experiences, I have also been held and lifted and drawn closer to Christ and felt the reality of God’s Peace and Presence with me at times of need. I know this may seem strange to some of you reading this, but there Is a Real and Living God Who we can have relationship with through Jesus Christ and He was there for me, counselling me and carrying me through. I’ve been able to receive this in this season as I digest the truth of His Word in Romans that I have received the Spirit of adoption (not the spirit of bondage again to fear) by Whom I can call out to God as His child. This reality has been precious to me, even as I wrestle and struggle with my broken humanity of weakness, distress and fear, there is a Peace in Christ that transcends that and all understanding, and it was made real to me afresh that beyond ‘religion’ there is something so much more, and that nothing can separate me from the Love of God in Christ Jesus. Often we (or perhaps I) feel better about ourselves when we are fit and able (although as I mentioned I have ongoing battles with anxiety and an overactive brain that can be distressing at times), when able to connect with and interact with other people, when able to look nice and go outside and enjoy walks, or lunches with friends, when we’re able to help other people, or are looked upon favourably and complimented and feel healthy and well. When we’re unwell, we’re not at our best and our bodies and minds can make us vulnerable physically, mentally, emotionally. It has been a huge source of comfort to know that I’m known and completely loved even when I’m struggling or not feeling my best, and that this goes beyond human opinion. I know there will be brighter days ahead when once again I’ll feel and look good and healthy and vibrant and able to go out and connect with others, but none of us know how long these things last, and for anyone no matter what health or circumstances may take we can know a love that will never leave, and that has been my Light in this, as well as the care of friends and family. But to be known and valued at the depths of who we are….that can only be found in Christ, and I have that greatest treasure…in sickness, and in health….ultimately in life and in death.
And that is where our unique value and worth is found. No matter what people may have said or done, no matter what age or health may do, there is a perfect love that is boundless for those who are in Christ Jesus, one that comforts us in the night watches, one that will last beyond the grave and usher in eternal life where there will be no more sickness, sorrow, pain or death. This knowing, this relationship, this love is the greatest treasure of life and sometimes we find it in times of weakness or fear. He Is Real, He knows you….
I’m thankful for the strength and health to be able to write a blog post again. I realise that having the cognitive functions to be able to do so, to be able to remember things, to be able to touch type and form words and sentences with meaning that might actually help or encourage another precious soul are gifts and blessings far beyond my ability to appreciate. I’m so blessed with all the things I can ‘normally’ do without thinking about them, and maybe sometimes we realise this only when we see our vulnerability to not having them. Perhaps recovery will take time, but I hope it will be a full one.
I have become more mindful of people who have longer term health conditions, and who physically have to deal with things without the chance of restoration that I have. I have no doubt I’ll be back to health even if it takes a few more weeks, but I have friends who may have life long conditions now who once were extremely fit and healthy and active. While I will recover and be able to tidy up again without getting tired, or go for walks and breathe normally again, there are dear friends of mine, and many more who I don’t know and perhaps some of you reading this who will not be able to do so. And the insight of the weakness, fear and vulnerability of not being able to do simple things for oneself has been humbling. While I am optimistic and hopeful and feeling certain that I’m slowly but surely going to get better, there have been times when it has been worrying and I’ve not known how to manage, but there are people who will have to live with life long conditions and need care and help from others. I can’t imagine that and my heart goes out to you / them as I’ve gained this little bit of insight.
May whatever lesson life is showing you just now lead you to the deepest, purest most sacrificial love of the One Who identified completely with our weakness, frailty, sin and death so that we can go free. May it help you to grow in compassion for those who are suffering and to grow in depths of enjoyment for all those little things you have in life that are in fact the big things – like being able to see these words on a screen, to understand them and not forget or be confused, like being able to be present in this moment, to feed yourself and go outside for a walk if you can walk, to breathe and feel your lungs working, to go through your day even with its pressures and not collapse with fatigue. May these as well as the other many wonderful things we have like friendships, family, sunsets, community, love, faith, good food, health, homes, jobs, encouragement from people who care for us, bring even greater joy to your soul even in this troubled world.
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”