Dr. Dorie’s COVID-19 Story:
How I Survived & Hoping This Helps YOU!
Grocery Store List for April 22, 2020:
- Mask on – check
- Sanitize shopping cart handle – check
- Stay 6-feet away from others – check
- Avoid touching face or eyes – check
- Select a few essential items – check
- Go to self-checkout – check
- Get sneezed on – wait, what?
That’s right. I did everything right – but being sneezed on by someone as I went into the self-checkout was not part of my COVID-19 prevention plan. As I ventured through the 4-foot wide entry into the self-checkout area, a man at the first checkout station turned away from the person next to him, and sneezed. Right. At. Me. Not into his elbow. Right. At Me. He was wearing a bandanna tied across his face, but we were only about a foot away from each other when he turned towards me. I don’t think he knew I was entering the self-checkout area, but he could have sneezed into his elbow anyway. Instead, I have no doubt that the nano-meter-sized-droplets from his sneeze easily came through the thin material of his bandanna. Right. At. Me.
“I’m in trouble,” I thought, although my self-talk was a bit more colorful than that! Despite my concerns that I’d already been exposed to the coronavirus and all the hand-washing and sanitizing wouldn’t change that, I proceeded with…
Post-Shopping Grocery Store List:
- Sanitize hands before unlocking car – check
- Load groceries into back of car – check
- Sanitize hands again – check
- Get into car and remove mask – check
- Sanitize hands again – check
- Sanitize wallet and credit card – check
- Sanitize phone (even though I didn’t touch it) – check
- Sanitize exterior snd interior of handbag – check
- Unload groceries and sanitize packaging – check
- Wash produce – check
- Wash hands – check
- Take a shower – wait, what?
A shower following grocery shopping wasn’t part of my usual protocol. But I figured it wouldn’t hurt. Unfortunately, there was no way I could “clean inside” (I’ll pass on drinking or injecting bleach, thank you). I’d had a cough before the “Grocery Store Incident,” as I now call it, but my cough started getting worse a few days later. Next came sneezing and a runny nose. “Maybe it’s allergies,” I tried to reassure myself. When I suddenly lost my sense of smell and taste, and felt extremely fatigued, I was bordering on panic. I’m not usually an anxious person – as a Mental Health Clinician, I can look at my own “worry thoughts” and be curious about their basis in fact, which usually results in my realization that I’m thinking of a “worst-case scenario” and I can let the worry thoughts go. However, in this case, my worry thoughts were based in fact: I had several of the symptoms associated with COVID-19.
I eased my worry by staying rooted in other facts: I had a few but not all of the COVID-19 symptoms; I did not have more serious symptoms such as a fever or shortness of breath. While realizing that I was feeling out of control over my own body and what the coronavirus might do to me, I focused on what I could control: drinking lots of fluids, resting, and scheduling a telemedicine call with my physician. She indicated that it did sound like I’d been exposed to COVID-19 at the grocery store, and that I was displaying enough symptoms that she recommended home quarantine for at least another 2 weeks. She also said to track my oxygen saturation levels with a Pulse Oximeter.
Medicine Cabinet Checklist:
- BandAids – check
- Antibacterial Ointment – check
- Ace Bandage – check
- Aspirin – check
- Ibuprofen (Advil) – check
- Acetaminophin (Tylenol) – check
- Thermometer – check
- Blood Pressure Reader – check
- Pulse Oximeter – wait, what?
“It’s the device they put on your finger when you come in for an office visit,” my doctor said. “It measures your heart rate, and the oxygen levels in your blood.” She continued, “The normal oxygen saturation is 98-99% and if yours drops below 90% you need to get to the hospital for supplemental oxygen.” I could feel my anxiety rising. “I don’t have a Pulse Oximeter,” I said, “so what am I supposed to do? Can I just pay attention to my breathing and if it becomes difficult, then come to the hospital?” She explained that the decrease in oxygen saturation can sometimes be unnoticeable, until it is dangerously low. As we finished the call, I began to realize why this virus can be so deadly – you might not even know that it’s literally taking your breath away until it’s too late.
I was determined to get a Pulse Oximeter ASAP. I went online and found that the earliest delivery to my home was at least a week away. I ordered one, hoping that it might arrive sooner. I live in a small mountain community outside of Denver, where we as neighbors look out for each other. I reached out to my community to let them know that I was presumed positive for COVID-19, and asked if anyone had a Pulse Oximeter I could borrow. I am so grateful that one of my neighbors dropped one off at my front porch right away!
When I first checked, my oxygen saturation (I’ll say O-sat for short) was between 95-97%. However, it was gradually decreasing, and two days later it was between 92-94% when I went to bed. In the middle of the night, I was shocked to see my O-sat was only 85%! I could hear my doctor’s voice in my head, “if yours drops below 90% you need to get to the hospital” – “but I don’t want to go to the hospital!” I thought, in a panic. I remembered something that Chris Cuomo had said on his show “Cuomo Prime Time” broadcast by CNN. He got COVID-19 and was quarantining in his basement, and stated that his doctor recommended doing “breathing exercises.” Chris would take deep breaths (as deep as he could), and then hold his breath (as long as he could), as a way to fight back against shortness of breath and as an attempt to improve his lung function. Even though it hurt to breathe deeply, and I couldn’t hold my breath long, I tried a few rounds of this. I also remembered hearing that patients in the hospital were being turned onto their bellies to improve lung function. I tried laying on my belly, too. I was able to get my O-sat up to 87-88% doing this. I didn’t sleep much that night, concerned that if I slept my O-sat would drop too low and I wouldn’t know it. I said an affirmative prayer that my body had healing wisdom, and I called forth all of this healing wisdom to help me through the night. By the morning, my O-sat was between 91-93%! Later that day, it was up to 95%. The following day, and ever since then, it has stayed between 98-99%, and I am very grateful for this respiratory healing!
But I wasn’t “out of the woods” – not even close. My fatigue became even more extreme. I forced myself to get out of bed and go to the kitchen for water. Then, I’d walk to the sofa and lay there for a while. I also forced myself to get some nutrition in my body. Thankfully, I had stocked up on soup, with pull-top lids. That’s all the energy I had – opening a can, pouring it in a bowl, heating it in the microwave for a minute, eating what I could. Next, the headaches began. Ibuprofen didn’t help at all. A friend suggested essential oils which help her clients with migraines, but to no avail for me. I couldn’t read anything, so my emails piled up in my inbox, unregarded. Even listening to television hurt my head. I remembered something that one of my neighbors had said, “Get outside for fresh air and sunshine if you can!” I had a mild fever, 99.8º, and being in the sun made me feel more feverish, but I sat on my back deck most of the afternoon anyway. Another friend who works in the medical field suggested that I take Aspirin, because researchers were discovering that the virus alters how blood clots, with some people having strokes and pulmonary embolisms; Aspirin can thin the blood somewhat and might address the clotting issue. I tossed and turned in bed that night, going from sweating and throwing all of the covers off, to freezing and turning my electric blanket on.
The next morning, I had no fever, although my headache and cough persisted. Another new symptom arose – a sore throat, and I started losing my voice by the end of the day. I wondered, “When will this end?” I’d heard others report that their symptoms, even though not hospitalized, lasted about a month. With hospitalization, especially if a ventilator becomes necessary, the recovery time is much, much longer. Many people never come out of the medically-induced coma , nor off of the ventilator, ultimately resulting in a tragic death. I felt extremely grateful to be recovering from this deadly virus, so what if it would take a month or more! I started noticing little improvements every day. In my morning meditations, I could feel a connection with people suffering from COVID-19, and would send some of my recovery energy their way. Then, the fatigue would return with a vengeance, for about a day. Then it would wane for 2 or 3 days, then return for half a day. It’s been almost a week now since I’be been blindsided by fatigue again – hooray!
The only residual symptom is pain when I breathe deeply. I’m doing some easy movement now (walking my dog, about a mile). I’ve observed that my “inner critic” has been showing up with judgments, “Really? Only a mile? That’s pathetic!” Fortunately, I can gently notice that voice, and let it float on by. Most people are aware that I’ve been sick, and they have been very supportive. However, some people keep saying, “You mean you’re not better yet?” Instead of internalizing unhelpful comments (from myself or others), I affirm my progress. I’ve gone from getting out of breath just getting out of bed, to moving a little in my house and then needing to rest, to being able to walk my dog for a hundred or so yards, to walking a quarter mile but having to stop to catch my breath, to walking a half a mile without stopping, and now walking a mile without stopping. I used to be able to run for 3 miles (my lungs hurt just at the thought of that), or hike for 3 miles (ditto). I live in the beautiful wilderness of Evergreen, Colorado, which I can still enjoy taking my mile walks, or just sitting on my back deck. I am trusting my healing wisdom within, not trying to “force” my recovery with the progress my inner critic dictates I “should” be making, nor in the timing that others may think “should” be happening.
This reminds me of my eating disorder recovery, which I wanted to control – what I was going to do and how quickly I was going to do it. But it was only in letting go, and trusting my inner healing wisdom (which I call my Intuitive Therapist, or the Voice of God), that I finally found freedom from ED. Who was I to think that I knew more than the Omniscient Voice of God? Whatever healing that you may be seeking, your answers are within. Eating disorders, addictions, or COVID 19 – your Inner Wisdom, Spirit Guide, Intuitive Therapist (IT) – or whatever you wish to call IT, is here for you. As the Creator of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ I AM here for you, to help you hear IT within yourself. So are all of the EDIT™ Certified Professionals you can access through the EDIT™ Directory
. We are all in this together!
To summarize, here are a few essential things that I did, which kept me out of the hospital, and may have saved my life:
- I borrowed a Pulse Oximeter to monitor my oxygen saturation (O-sat) levels (below 90% is getting dangerous)
- I laid on my belly when my O-sat dropped to 85% since this has helped patients in the hospital
- I did “breathing exercises” (deepest inhale possible, holding as long as possible) as recommended on CNN
- I took one Aspirin a day, as suggested by my friend in the medical field, to possibly prevent clotting issues
- I got out of bed and moved around the house a little, even though I didn’t feel like it, to improve blood flow
- I sat outside in the sunshine, and wonder whether extra Vitamin D was helpful, since some research shows this
- I didn’t “push myself” too hard, allowing my body to heal in its own way, honoring my Wisdom Within
- I gently noticed any judgment from others (or my inner critic) and affirmed my awesome healing progress
- I continue to share my recovery energy with those in need through meditation and prayer
- I ordered a Pulse Oximeter and now have one in my medicine cabinet if I ever need one again!
Article may be reprinted with the author bio below.
©2020 by Dr. Dorie McCubbrey. Dr. Dorie is a Certified Eating Disorder Specialist and Licensed Addiction Counselor who is passionate about training professionals to effectively guide clients in recovery from eating disorders. She is the President of the EDIT™ Training Institute LLC, which provides training and certification in her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™. She also provides sessions for clients who struggle with these issues, either in person or by phone. Learn more at: https://www.drdorie.com
Want more that this “taste” of EDIT™? Dr. Dorie is passionate about her method of Eating Disorder Intuitive Therapy (EDIT)™ to help people overcome eating disorders and addictions. She provides customized programs for people in recovery from eating disorders and who struggle with weight issues, and EDIT™ eating disorder training and certification for coaches and clinicians worldwide. CALL 303-494-1975 – EMAIL DR. DORIE – GET CERTIFIED