In May 2020, in the middle of a global pandemic, I became very sick. At first I got severe fever and chills for about 10 days, weeks of unbearable body aches, and what felt like debilitating numbness and weakness in my arms, legs and neck. My eyes had inflammation and lymph nodes were swollen, and at its worse, I would go to sleep and wake up choking for air, unable to sleep on my back for fear of not waking up. I had to prop myself into a sitting position for days, place food next to me as I lay in bed hardly able to move, use my arms, or much less walk.
My doctor ordered blood tests which revealed nothing. I was tested for the obvious, covid, twice. Both tests were negative. She finally referred me to a specialist, telling me she had no idea what it was. The specialist took on a “wait and see” attitude which meant I’d be suffering for weeks in between appointments. I frequently sought advice from Dr google and a handful of my friends who work in health care. Most people suggested I rest, hydrate, and try to get moving again.
After about 5 weeks, the fever, chills and night sweats began to disappeared. My walking and arm use began to improve. I began taking short walks near the river behind my home, meditating, breathing deeply, and reflecting on why life had thrown me this curveball right in at the end of my PhD program. I was also in the middle of pivoting my business away from consulting towards life coaching. I was so excited about my future and yet I had just been stopped in my tracks, not just by my illness but also by this pandemic. It felt symbolic. I was being told by the universe to slow down.
I began to speak with family daily, reconnecting with people I’d lost touch with. I reached out to friends too as I waited for a diagnosis. For the first time in my life, I was extremely open about what I was experiencing. I felt I had nothing to lose and was willing to try anything: visualisations, supplements, exercises, mantras, diet changes, sleep positions. By month three, some of my symptoms were improving, others not.
That diagnosis would never come, my specialist finally announcing that I had an “unknown virus” of which dozens of potential culprits were possible. He noted that some of my symptoms had improved and continuing to test was moot at this point. He suggested I focus on reconditioning my body and wait it out.
That day something changed for me. I went from wanting to know at any cost what was wrong with me, to focusing on getting getter. By changing my mindset about this illness, I was able to change my story and give my life new purpose. Getting better and healing have become my main goal. I follow a strict regiment of socializing with positive people, going for walks when I feel tired, drinking loads of water and smoothies, and stopping work when my arms get tired. I am now going on month four of my mystery virus. There are days when I do nothing but sleep, and others when I’m able to function at 50%.
What’s important though, is that this illness forced me to do something for myself that I was never willing to do before: to be compassionate, patient, and forgiving of my own limits; and to always be listening to my body and the ways it tells me I’ve done enough for one day.
My unknown virus changed my perspective and allowed me to be okay with not being able to do everything. I’m still dealing with a frozen shoulder as a result of being in bed for so long, but every day I feel stronger, and I wake up with a clear intention of putting my energy only on the things that truly matter.
Have you ever had a life changing experience that forced you to examine yourself and change the way you do things? I want to hear about it!