This morning I wrote about how shockingly well I am handling all of this. Tonight, I’m crying about it. I think this is kind of typical of everyone right now.
I’m sick of being stuck inside and am dying to go on a normal date, missing my family and friends, and would love to be able to look forward to the beach this summer — or even just spending some time outside. I am scared for the health and well-being of loved ones and strangers alike. I am dying to go to Trader Joe’s to get my usual favorite snacks, and I don’t want to keep seeing how different life is by watching the news. It all feels like a weird dream. The beginning of this feels so long ago now.
All of this is incredibly confusing. Like, how did we get to a point where people can’t go outside? Anyway, this morning I wrote a much more lighthearted draft, and want to still offer some of that sentiment, even as a comfort to myself right now.
First, I have done the whole quarantine thing before — or at least it felt similar to me. When I first got sick with POTS I could barely sit upright, much less go do my normal activities. I created a new normal that gave me as much joy as I had in my 22 years before getting sick. It wasn’t always easy and I often missed things about having a healthy body, but I was still able to be happy, despite the earth-shattering change. This change was actually even bigger than the pandemic feels because I was so used to being an athlete and out in the world, but literally could not leave the couch or go from floor to floor in the house more than once in a day. Now I at least can stand up to cook, go to the basement to exercise, and play hide and seek with my dog. Lesson one, you can have joy in the face of adversity.
Another thing POTS taught me is that circumstances change. That’s lesson two of learning to deal with a life-shattering change. The first year I was so sick even going to the grocery chore was a difficult to impossible task (read: me lying on the aisle floor until I could stand again without passing out). Over time I was able to run errands. Then I could go out to dinner. Then I worked my way up to doing things like trips with friends or walking around the beautiful city of DC. I still can’t run or anything, but I can walk for an incredibly long time without feeling dizzy, my pain is decreasing astronomically, and I can drive for an hour at a time! I’ve really come a long way. My new normal did keep changing, and I’ve been able to work with it every step of the way. Things change, and even if they’re slower than you’d like, you learn a lot of lessons along the way and can still be joyful.
Finally, the most important thing in life will always be your loved ones. For this I am sure (Insert Nunzio voice here, Robert).
I’ve always known this, but having any kind of health scare definitely changes your outlook. It’s funny because I do definitely think taking things for granted is in our nature. When I was really sick I always thought I would never take little things for granted if I was lucky enough to get better, but sure enough, things like going out on walks with my dog weren’t aren’t appreciated and I haven’t taken advantage of the fact that I can do yoga now. It’s weird being so separated from everyone, and I think this experience will change the way we spend time with others. I hope we are more present and cut more time out of the day to be with people, and take the time out of the year to travel and visit our long distance friends and family.
Anyway, I think we all need to remember that this is going to ultimately be just a blip in our lives if we can all come together and support each other. I pray that we can get things under control sooner rather than later, and that we can all be tough together. I know this isn’t easy, but I feel like it will be similar to my past experience in that we will appreciate more in life, worry less about trivial things, and learn to be joyful through every stage in life. There are a few things I’m incredibly grateful for right now, and I know I’m being looked out for and taken care of, which is really comforting in this strange time. I hope you can find some things you’re thankful for in this transition time, too!