lean in to the quiet moments

Greetings! I truly hope that this post finds you healthy and safe. We are all learning how to manage life in a world where sheltering in place, wearing face coverings, and working from home has become the norm. The news is scary, tragic, and heartbreaking. COVID-19 has affected all of our lives. My heart goes out to friends who have loved ones fighting for their lives at this very moment and to those who have tragically lost loved ones to this horrible virus.

My husband and I are finally recovering from what we suspect was coronavirus. We were not able to be tested, as our symptoms were considered mild, and we were told repeatedly by doctors to stay at home and self-isolate, treat symptoms with over-the counter medications, rest, and call 911 if symptoms worsened. It started out as a scratchy throat, fatigue, and general sense of feeling unwell. Initially, I thought I had the flu; however, symptoms quickly worsened including fever, weakness, fatigue and coughing. Eventually, I lost my sense of smell and taste, which lasted about four to five days. I had no appetite. The shortness of breath didn’t occur until later, and it was never extreme for us. The coughing and weakness were the worst part, as well as not having our daughter home for spring break. She stayed in her dorm to prevent us from passing anything on to her. But, my husband and I are very lucky that our illness wasn’t worse. Last weekend, I thought I was feeling better. I spent a couple of hours in the morning catching up on work. I missed a couple of days due to the virus. At least, I tried to work those weeks I was sick, although much of the time I was more annoyed by all the emails and had a really difficult time focusing for too long. We’ve all been working remotely due to COVID-19 since early March.

So last Saturday, I was sweeping our back porch when I was suddenly hit with a huge wave of nausea and dizziness. I went to lie down, and things just got worse. My husband eventually called the paramedics because I was having difficulty breathing, could barely talk, and lost feeling in my legs, arms and hands. I wasn’t sure if I was experiencing a panic attack or was just sick from overdoing it. In any case, I felt scared, and I didn’t know what was happening. My vitals were fine, and the paramedics/firemen, who were dressed head to toe in personal protective equipment, attributed the episode to overexerting myself while recovering. I spent the rest of the day and evening feeling nauseous and just wanted it all to go away. I tried desperately to fall asleep, but the nausea and headache were awful, and I was unable to. Any noise, light or smell worsened the symptoms. All I could do was stay very, very still. So, I laid in bed waiting for it all to disappear.

My husband slept out on the couch that night, and eventually I was able to get up to go to the bathroom without “tossing my cookies” again. The afternoon light turned into evening. I grabbed my phone, which my husband left on the bed, and went directly to Spotify. I chose a playlist called Acoustic to listen to and to pacify the nausea. It’s one of my favorites. In those quiet, dark moments I was soothed. The nausea and headache actually subsided, and I listened to this beautiful playlist, eyes closed, just enjoying as best I could the music, the dark and the aloneness. I know this may sound really, really silly, but it was such a profound moment. I’m a board-certified music therapist and appreciate deeply the power of music to heal. We rely upon the gate control theory of pain to bring healing to those who are suffering. The gate control theory of pain describes how non-painful sensations, like music, can override and reduce painful sensations. In those moments, I was able to tolerate the stimulation. Further, knowing that things could have been so much worse brought some amount of peace. I was not in a hospital, on a ventilator, nor was my husband, but was healing, slowly. My body was just telling me something, despite my mind telling me something else, and I needed to listen.

It’s now been about three weeks since my husband and I first started feeling ill. The cough and weakness linger still, yet we feel a lot better. I’m trying to ease back into work and life slowly and to listen to my body. I will return to my yoga practice and get outdoors for walks, maybe even some bike rides, soon. Thank you so much to those Long Beach paramedics who visited our home last Saturday to provide care, whoever and wherever you are. May you stay safe and healthy.

I hope that in the coming days, weeks, and months, you will find peace and comfort in the small things. That you will take care of yourself and others by social distancing, sheltering in at home, wearing a face mask if you need to go out, and follow all of the other health and safety guidelines set forth by the CDC. Don’t risk getting sick. Don’t risk getting others sick. I know this is a challenging time for all. May you use this time to draw closer to family, to a beloved pet, to listen to more music, to do more of what you love, and to stay connected to others in safe ways. May you find quiet moments and lean into them.

If you’d like to check out the playlist I mentioned, see a sample below, and check out the full playlist on Spotify. Take good care.

Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “lean in to the quiet moments

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