But I’m short of breath. Just talking. During and after any activity too. I do activities in stages now. Cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, writing, computer work etc. – even dressing – is all done in stages. It’s like I felt when I had a toxic mold infection – the fatigue is overwhelming. It’s like after my spinal surgery, a double discectomy in my neck, with a resultant severe spinal cord compression, two and a half years after an accident when I finally got the health insurance required, I felt like I was partially paralyzed through my whole body.
- Prior to being tested for COVID, four times walking up a small hill with groceries in tow I had to stop to catch my breath. Never happened before. I’m a fast walker, groceries or no groceries, been walking all my life. Many times we didn’t have a car so situated ourselves on public transportation routes just in case. Stores are within walking distance.
What startled me to a sudden stop was I had no breath to catch. Half way into my breath my lungs froze, couldn’t open any further. It felt like a total block. I exhaled a teeny amount, then with much discipline I inhaled that same teeny amount. Then did it again and again, thinking slow, but such a teeny breath could only be done fast, so I accepted fast, with longer intervals. I’m looking ahead, judging how long I have to walk, then bent over, pulled my chest muscles inward, then rose and stretched slowly open, drew my shoulders down all the while calming my inners to inhale a little larger breath, repeat, repeat. My toes were numb as they often are, but I fixated on moving them, which automatically put me in motion, one foot in front of the other. I made it home.
That night I woke with a fever of 100.2. For me whose normal temperature is in the 95-97 range no matter the time of day or night, that’s high.
The next day Steve made an appointment at the Cleveland Clinic main campus for a COVID TEST – for me. I didn’t like the idea of taking two buses to get there if I was contagious. The practitioner told me to just be careful and wear enough protection. What else could she say; not everybody has a car. I indicated something like that, and she understood, but also understood that I needed a test, especially since Steve tested positive a few days before.
- Further truth be told, I wasn’t sure I could navigate a bus transfer, feeling so sick and out of breath, and since I wasn’t particularly familiar with the routes, and since my toxic mold infection years prior I’ve had trouble with travel directions. When on a street if I’m not familiar with landmarks, I won’t know what side to stand on to catch the bus. For someone without that deficit, they don’t understand. It’s a bus, just go catch the bus. Downtown, then the med line to the main campus. Well, you might as well be talking a foreign language. You know, I travel all over the world in my mind and have many gifts; one was taken away by a toxic mold infection – one that no one would consider a gift till they lose it.
The next day, on 1-2-2021, I made an appointment at CVS for the test, which is within walking distance. The people there were difficult to reach and told me I couldn’t walk up in a drive-thru; I had to be in a car. Another said I could indeed walk up. I absolutely couldn’t walk into the store. Who was telling the truth? I didn’t know. And I was in no state to argue.
So I made another appointment for the same test a block away at URGENT CARE. I walked in to make the appointment and they told me to sign in, go back to my car, and they’d call me when ready.
This time I said, you mean I need a car to get tested? No she said. Where do you live? Across the street. Go home and we’ll call you when we’re ready.
She called, I saw the practitioner, and I tested negative. He didn’t believe the test, since I reported a fever, fatigue, head and chest pain and was having a hard time breathing. Again, no phlegm, very dry cough, persistent. He thought maybe I had an arterial obstruction since upon coughing I had sharp pain in the center of my chest, always in the same place, right underneath my breast bone. He asked if I had ever had an arterial catheter and I replied no.
Given that Steve tested positive he disregarded the results of the test, which was a 10 minute rapid response test, and said he was going to treat me for COVID.
He sent me home with a prescription for a steroid and a Z-Pack antibiotic and instructed to take Tylenol for the fever with a letter stating if not better or if worse in a day or so to go to emergency room for further evaluation.
- During subsequent days when that particular stabbing chest pain began worsening I took some of Steve’s vitamin K, which thins the blood and a couple days later it resolved itself. Maybe it was the medication, maybe the vitamin K, maybe all three together, I don’t know, but the pain to date 1-29-2021 has not returned.
I’ve done breathing exercises, and meditation-my-way, along with skeletal muscular stretching my entire adult life. In addition to a ‘direction deficit’ residual from a toxic mold infection, I also developed a mild asthma condition for which I’ve taken no meds now for several years, except an emergency inhaler, which I choose not to use unless absolutely necessary – it makes me dizzy is why. That day when my lungs froze, I had one in my purse and never thought to use it or even visualized it. It might as well have not been there. Looking back, one would have to empty their lungs, spray, and take a deep breath in for it to be effective. Evidently, instinctively, emptying my lungs of air was not under consideration.
Having the discipline to stay calm while in that state of breathlessness is what’s most important in bringing your breath back to normal. So although all those years of attention to my breath did not stop an attack; it helped me to cope with it and strategize my breathing back to where I could continue my walk home.
The same thing happened to Steve when leaving Walgreen’s to pick up my prescriptions a few days later. His lungs froze and he called an ambulance. He couldn’t take another step without extreme difficulty. I received a call from a Cleveland Fire Fighter telling me Steve was with him and they were taking him to the hospital. He forgot his phone. I just asked him now how he called an ambulance without a phone. Walgreen’s called for him.