COVID-19 is a very strange disease. We are learning more about it and in doing so, understanding how better to treat it. I was recipient of the lessons past experiences had taught medical providers, and study of the COVID-19 virus taught them the dos and don’ts of treatment from which I benefited. One of the lessons learned was that about 12 -14 days following the first indication of symptoms, COVID patients would most often begin to get better. In my case, the treatments seemed to be working and as the medical doctors and nursing staff would remark, all indicators were moving in the right direction. Was this my day? Was it the day that I would round the corner and begin to move towards a COVID-free reality? The medical staff hinted that this may be the case. Was it true? Could the worse be in the past?
This day, my rounding the corner day, came at the end of a few difficult nights. No matter what one does; no matter how disciplined one’s thinking may be, it is difficult to keep thoughts of doom at bay and quiet the anxiety produced when one confronts their mortality. One of these nights, when it seemed that the oxygen saturation levels had once again become a problem, it was easy to become discouraged. The disappointment that sets in when one thinks they are doing better only to be confronted with what yet needs to be accomplished is overwhelming and even in the midst of the nurses’ care, one feels alone—very alone. On that night, in the midst of my despair, I thought about calling Becky, my wife, but I didn’t. Why? I did not want to burden her any more than I already had. So in my loneliness, I rode it out, concentrated on my breathing and my dread was overcome with thankful sleep.
I don’t know for sure if it was the following night, but on this night panic seized me. That is a strange thing. As a mental health professional I was supposed to understand anxiety, I was supposed to be able to deal with panic. But there in the darkness of the room surrounded by loneliness, the panic penetrated any peace I may have had slicing away my calm and filling me with dread. The result was a type of hyperventilation that further cut into my oxygen levels. Fortunately, the night nurse realized what was going on and gave me some Xanax. I took it and it did its job, the panic eventually giving way to blessed sleep.
Was this day to be my rounding the corner day? I certainly welcomed it if it was. I wanted to put the experiences of nights past behind me and hoped that remaining nights in the hospital would only get better. However, thoughts of being better seemed risky. What if I hoped this to be the case only to find out it was not? Shaking my head, I refused to entertain such defeating thoughts. This was my rounding the corner day. From here on out, I would begin to get better; I would begin to walk down the path towards healing.
The hospital room I was in had a large picture window that looked out over the surrounding buildings and trees towards the East. On that morning, there were no clouds and as the sun begin to peer over the trees, I could not help but realize that this was Sunday. My mind drifted back to when as a pastor of the Brush United Methodist Church, I would open the service with the words, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.” This was the day the Lord had made; it was my rounding the corner day and as I watched the rising sun and meditated on those words, I smiled and allowed the brightness of the sunrise to fill me with promise. This is the day the Lord has made and it is my rounding the corner day; things were going to be better.
As I watched the sunrise, the hospital begin to come alive. The medical staff started their regular rounds of poking and probing to see if I was on way to my rounding the corner day. Not too long into his process, the night nurse came in excited. My vital signs were all good, the best they had been for a long time she told me. “I think,” she said, “you have rounded the corner.” This is the day the Lord has made; it is my rounding the corner day; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Not long after that, the attending physician came it. He was a tall, esoteric person whose eccentricity easily gave way to his care and compassion. He repeated the news given by the nurse and indicated that all the blood markers were headed in the right direction signaling that the infection was beginning to fade. As we talked, he began to mess with the oxygen levels, turning them down watching the saturation levels, which did not move. He turned them down again and again, the saturation levels stayed where they should have stayed. He left only to return in a short while, to turn them down yet again. This was a good sign. It was my rounding the corner day and hopefulness of that moment began to define the day that filled me with promise. This is my rounding the corner day. It is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. And from that point, things did start to get better.