Episode 27.5: What Covid Taught Me
In this episode, you will learn:
What I mean by getting “stuck” with Covid versus false positive tests
How and why I stayed sick
How giving blood finally released Covid from my body
Episode 27.5: What Covid Taught Me
Katie Wrigley 0:01
This is the pain changer podcast, with a bonus episode I wanted to release this week. This year, I got sick twice…both times around vacation. Yet I hadn’t been sick the previous 5+ years. While I didn’t really like being sick either time, it taught me a lot, it gave me necessary lessons that serve me, and it’s made me stronger. I also got “stuck” with covid, and boy was that a challenge. Stay tuned to hear how and why I got stuck and what I learned.
Before I dive into this, I do want to acknowledge that I haven’t been living under a rock, despite my aversion to regular news outlets. I am fully aware of the chaos and fear this virus has created, as well as the path of destruction and the big death toll in its wake. Does focusing on that do anything to help you though? I really don’t think so. I personally went through just a tiny fraction of the hell I know others have endured, and I am extremely grateful for that, because my experience was challenging due to the amount of time I stayed sick. It has also created a lot more compassion than I already had for anyone suffering with long covid. All that being said…a lot of the extra media attention has made this so much worse for all of us.
Let’s dive in. At this point, I can’t count the times that people have told me “oh yeah, as soon as you slow down, your body will catch up and you’ll get sick” and I can understand why they think that, even if I don’t agree. I imagine there is an element of truth within that mindset, and I must admit that I really don’t like it or adopt it, because it tends to lead you to believe that if you rest, you’ll get sick as hell. Slowing down wasn’t what got me sick either time. On both occasions, and especially with Covid, there were other factors that went into me getting sick. Namely: many days of low sleep and lack of rest.
I’ll be straight with you…covid kicked my fucking ass. No joke. It totally caught me off-guard. I had been on several flights and trips since the start of the pandemic, both with and without a mask, but mostly with a mask. I had been exposed at least 3 times that I was aware of, and I didn’t get it any of those times. It was to the point I was starting to think I may have natural immunity by some grace of God, and it wasn’t even a factor I thought about in my conscious mind. Every time I was cautious, every time I tested myself before I was around my parents again, and every time…I was negative and I stayed healthy.
And then I went to Alaska. Previous to this trip, I had been really clear with how I wanted to handle it when I got covid. Sometime in 2021 I started to accept the fact that its a matter of time until everyone gets it, so part of me thought I was immune and part of me wasn’t really thinking about it at all anymore. I’m not going to go into what I wanted to do, because I don’t want this episode to become a debate about how to treat covid, I just encourage you to follow your intuition for what you feel is the best for you.
We had enjoyed several days in Alaska before I got sick, we were having the time of our lives! Between the animals, the scenery, my absolutely hilarious partner and the awesome people he was chatting with, it couldn’t get any better. The abundance of sunlight made sleep incredibly difficult for me. Later on I would learn that my iron was sky high again, and that leads to insomnia when it gets up where mine was. I’m sure jet lag didn’t help either, but at any rate, I was starting to feel really tired on the trip, and chalked it up to the lack of sleep, again not thinking twice about it.
We were out fishing on a salmon boat, and way too late to be able to reverse my decision, I realized that I may actually be sick. I was so tired that I couldn’t stand up for very long without wanting to sit. Then as I tried to hold my fishing rod, I noticed that my arm and shoulder were fatiguing quickly. Hmm…I didn’t remember that the last few times I fished, how weird. I still figured I was just really stinking tired. I gave up on fishing and decided to take a quick cat nap inside the boat.
That’s when the body aches kicked in and I thought…oh shit. This is more than fatigue. I did my best to separate myself from everyone until we got back, and I was thankful for the airflow to hopefully keep the others safe.
By the time we got back to shore, my whole body was aching to the point I wanted to cry, it felt like all my pain had come back again, plus more. I was exhausted and not thinking clearly…I’m not even sure how we got back to the hotel, it was all a blur. I think I walked, but I may have needed help, I felt so weak. My partner went and grabbed us some covid tests, thermometers and other tools to help me feel better while I slept in some delusional, feverish cloud having no idea of the passage of time. My fever came back at 102 degrees, and the last time I recall having a fever was with the internal bleeding in 2015 when I started to go septic.
When the test came back positive, fear spiked its ugly ass head. I hadn’t brought with me what I had planned to take when I got covid…so it really spiked my fear even more. I felt totally unprepared. In all my planning for covid, not once did I think it would hit when I wasn’t home! Silly me, for reals. I know I can’t control that at all, but again, getting covid wasn’t even on my radar of possible. We had purchased trip insurance though, including medical, “just in case” so we called the nurse assigned to us who suggested I go to the hospital since I do have mild asthma. Despite knowing that fear is huge in allopathic medicine, and that the nurse’s job is to advise you to take the safest path even if it may be overkill…I took her advice and went to the hospital. This made my partner scared too, because they wouldn’t let him come in with me. In reality, despite the very high level of pain and fatigue, I don’t think I had a severe case. My lungs were never really affected, my chest just felt tight during the worst of it but I could still breathe just fine. I’m sure the level of fear I was holding was making everything feel a lot worse.
The fear is a big piece of this experience because it led me to make choices that were not in my best interest. I opted to take the Paxlovid without doing my due diligence into side effects or potential risks. The doctor did her best to tell me but I was so out of it that her words didn’t compute. All I could think was “I need to get well fast so we can go home.” This may be a really great solution for you, and I am super grateful that a drug like that exists for those in true danger of a fatal complication…and it turned out to be a bad idea for me.
Before we get into the downside of Paxlovid, it did help me feel better really quickly. By the next day, I was just tired and emotional, bawling my eyes out to Dr Jeff, Rocky Mountain Vet on the discovery channel. Its a really awesome show when your body isn’t trying to emotionally purge on you one day. We were able to get home just one day late when I was safe to do so, grateful to have trip insurance to recoup our money on activities we were not able to do since I got sick, and before my partner started to feel sick and wound up testing positive too.
I started to feel a lot better although I was still exhausted, and I even tested negative again and I got all excited to be past it in less than a week. Then about 36 hours later…I realized I was starting to feel like shit again. What the hell…and I had a lot of fun grabbing souvenirs and gifts for my loved ones and especially my parents, and I couldn’t wait to give them to them! So I figured I would test again to make sure…and this time it was positive.
Now I was scared again, pissed off and totally confused. I was supposed to be getting better, but thankfully I listened to my gut despite my confusion and opted to stay away from my parents until I was confident I was safe again. Then a friend mentioned something called rebound covid. Since I had opted to stop following covid news in 2020, I hadn’t heard about this particular gem just yet. Rebound covid, in case this is new for you too, is what can happen if the Paxlovid isn’t effective for you. I think other things can create rebound covid too…but again, once I found the answer i needed, I stopped researching since covid data is riddled with fear and I was struggling enough already. At any rate, If the medication doesn’t kill enough of the viral load, covid comes back. Awesome. My partner did NOT get rebound covid…he thankfully remained healthy after his short bout with it. Unlike me, he actually stuck to the plan we both had for when we got sick, and I have asked him to remind me of plans like that in the future, knowing that I make much better decisions for myself when I’m not scared. While there is no way for me to know what would have happened had I stuck to the parts of the plan that I could stick to, my sense is that it would have been vastly easier on me.
Alas…fear won that round. I tested almost daily and finally I had to stop because it was really wreaking havoc on my mental state. I started to do some more research…for whatever reason, the condition I have called hemochromatosis popped into my head. That was strange…its such an uncommon condition, and I barely think about it. I looked ahead on my calendar and saw I had labs scheduled the next to check in on my iron levels. Thinking I was negative and one of those that kept testing positive even though I was no longer sick, I went and did the lab work.By the way, hematology and oncology are often combined, so this means my lab work was at a cancer center with patients who are bravely fighting cancer.
This led to both feeling like a giant asshole when i learned later that day i was still contagious, then also to relief when the lab told me they were not concerned about me exposing anyone. The fever was long gone and everyone was masked, so I let that go. I was also grateful my intuition picked up some complexity between covid and hemochromatosis, because they do not play well together and those who have the genetic marker like I do could have a harder time with the virus due to how both affect your blood.
So at this point, my mental state has taken the hit that i could have gotten others sick, when my purpose in this life is to help people heal. I suspect that anyone would feel guilty at the idea of feeling responsible for someone else’s suffering. But as someone who is actively working to release suffering…holy shit this one really bothered me! Not only that, fear had altered my decisions, I was starting to really miss my parents and my partner, we had decided it was best for me to quarantine from him again as well so I didn’t reinfect him…since now it is possible to do that with covid due to all the variants out there now. Awesome. Plus I was still really frigging exhausted and sleeping a lot more than normal. In short, I was a mess in the mental department. Not to mention, my iron levels were through the roof and I had to delay giving blood for another week to be safe for others. My phlebotomies are given in the chemo room and that is not the place to be with active covid.
I allowed myself to be where I was and feel messy and angry. I didn’t try to push my way through it, make fun of myself for feeling as I felt, or rush my way out of it. Those days sucked, straight up. I was cranky and moody and I let myself feel every bit of how much it sucked. At the same time, I was also still grateful for the work I’ve done for myself so that I didn’t feel worse and I did find something to be grateful for every day, even if it was “I didn’t give anyone covid today, yay”. I was trying to run my class with covid brain…and yes I had serious brain fog. I could temporarily clear it with my cognoball, but it came back again within hours since I still had an active viral load. The isolation was getting to me after almost 3 weeks, especially as I watched my partner go back to life as usual again, almost 2 full weeks before I could. I didn’t resent him, but I really regretted my decision to take paxlovid by then.
Regret gave me nothing…so I shifted my thoughts to what it taught me. It taught me A LOT as it turned out.
1- Fear compounded my experience. The fear that was programmed into us around this virus for the last several years has done nothing to help you or I. I actually did a session around fear of getting covid again when I took another trip just a few weeks later. (PS…I didn’t get covid on that trip!)
2- Create a plan. Its best to stick to any given plan around illness, versus acting from a state of fear…and now I will expand my plans so I will be prepared no matter where I am if I wind up with covid again.
3- Gfits from Covid. Covid gifted me a deeper look into my physical body and immune system. Yes, I said gifted. Part of why I reached out to Magic Barclay to do her root cause analysis was curiosity. I wanted to go through the experience to be able to speak to it to refer others to her. I do highly recommend her by the way. The other reason was that I was baffled that I had gotten sick again so soon after the last time. Magic gave me my answers, and I am now healing the root cause of that.
4- Gratitude helped tremendously. Gratitude is hardwired into my brain now. Hell yes!!!! Every day, part of my gratitude was listening to my gut and keeping my parents safe. As bad as I felt with everything else that had happened, if i had given it to my parents, my stress would have been exceptionally higher than it was.
5- Acceptance. If Covid is inevitable for everyone, meeting others with grace and compassion, rather than anger and blame, is an easier path through this for us all.
6- Cover your ass. Trip insurance is a really good idea…for reals. We would have lost hundreds of dollars each without that coverage that seemed so unnecessary at first. That is hundreds we are saving even after the extra cost of the insurance.
Covid finally left my body when I gave blood. My understanding from various practitioners I spoke with is that the amount of iron I had flowing in my blood, which was at 93% saturated, kept the virus trapped in there. A normal and healthy amount of iron saturation in the bloodstream, just so you know, is 55% or less. It was the strangest phlebotomy I’ve ever had, and I have had a lot of them the past 10 years since I was diagnosed. Normally when iron levels get that high, I experience immediate relief and a burst of energy as I leave the facility. That time though, I felt incredibly sick again and laid back down when I got home. Within a few hours though, I started to feel normal again for the first time, and the next day, I was negative again.
I hope you enjoyed this bonus episode. I would love to hear from you and hear about your own experience with Covid and what it gave you. I know its wreaked havoc and has killed a lot of people who were very loved in this world. That’s very clear. Focusing on the grief and loss doesn’t feel very helpful. I’ve also been surprised at the positivity of others I know who have experienced this and what they got out of it, which is part of what motivated me to do this bonus episode.