COVID-19, say what now?

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COVID-19. Despite being a nurse who cares for COVID-19 positive patients, I never in a million years thought that I would receive a phone call stating that I have COVID-19. I had not been feeling well for about a week, but hey, I didn’t have a fever, so it must have simply been a cold, right? I had just returned from Charleston, SC for a family vacation with my children, which is the first time we have left the house together since the pandemic started. I always get a sore throat first whenever I get sick, so I didn’t really think much of it. I had horrible headache, cough, would breakout in sweat, and just didn’t feel well.  Again, no fever, so no big deal. I still went to work that as scheduled. I even called the COVID hotline, explained that I had recently traveled and what my symptoms were. I was told since I didn’t have a fever, I did not need to be tested.  Cool. I went to Starbucks and ordered a chai tea latter and got mad because it tasted watered down. Later that day, I ordered a cherry limeade from Sonic which didn’t taste right either, but their drinks are not consistent, so I didn’t trip out too much. 

I went to work, reported my symptoms, but was told I could work, just wear a mask (as if I don’t already wear one), since I do not have a fever. I was eating a Reese’s peanut butter cup – my all-time favorite food – and I couldn’t taste it! What the hell?! I worked the remainder of my shifts that weekend. I got off work Monday morning, attempted to get tested through employee health to no avail. I eventually went to the drive-thru testing site. I was still fully expecting not to receive a call – they only call if it is positive. Tuesday afternoon, the phone rang. Looking at the number, I already knew what the call was about – my test came back positive. On one hand, I now had a better understanding as to why I felt so bad and was not getting any better. On the other hand, I have COVID-19! I don’t typically go a lot of places or interact with a lot of people – which made contact tracing easy – but now I really have to stay in the house and away from people.  It wasn’t too bad because I didn’t have the energy to do anything, but I do not like to be dependent on other people. 

I let my coworkers know about my positive results so they could monitor themselves for symptoms. I am three weeks out from when my symptoms first appeared and I am still not at 100%. I still have a cough and sore throat. I have been removed from isolation per the public health department since I have not gotten worse. 

Imagine getting different information from everyone you spoke to. Employee health did not know what the criteria was for me to return to work. The nurse practitioner who gave me my results believed I needed to stay on isolation for two weeks following my test date. The health department believed it was two weeks from the onset of symptoms and that I do not have to be asymptomatic to come off isolation, just not getting worse. The pediatrician’s office did not think my children needed to be tested because they do not have any symptoms despite use being in close contact with each other. I have a medical background and was frustrated. I can only imagine someone who has been nervous during this pandemic having to go through this process following a positive result. Who wants to deal with multiple phone calls when you feel like crap?

I was finally able to get my son (who went on the trip with me) tested last week, despite him being asymptomatic. I will be honest, I was surprised his test came back positive. I think more so because he does not have any symptoms, but it further leads me to believe we got it on our trip because once I started feeling sick, I stayed in my room except when I went to work.

I am thankful that I am a fairly healthy person with no other risk factors that could have made my symptoms worse. I am thankful that I did not experience any respiratory issues or the fevers. I had some muscle aches in my legs. I completely lost my appetite, resulting in a 12-pound weight loss, and I slept all the time. I was more concerned with needing to get IV fluids because I became so dehydrated. Thankfully, I have wonderful co-workers who had food and drinks delivered for me and my children, and my two friends, who were aware of what was going on, dropped off a care package that included coloring books (I love to color). 
           

As mild as my symptoms were, I would not wish this on anyone! It is not just a cold or flu. I can see how people can dismiss their symptoms and things escalate to where the need to be hospitalized. I had convinced myself that I would not get it, besides, I had already been sick once this year – I rarely get more than a sore throat and cough once a year. I am thankful that my children have not had any major effects of this virus. Things could have been worse, but I am so glad there were not. 

Everyone be safe and wear your masks! 

2020, where is the reset button?

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It has been way too long since I have sat down to blog. 2020 started off with a kick in the gut and I had been in a downward spiral for most of the first quarter of the year. Then add our current COVID-19 pandemoniac. Where is the reset button?

My year started with a former cherished friendship ending. The need to get back on am antidepressant. My anxiety level was out of control – I literally had to pull over on the side of the road in a sketchy part of town (that I was unfamiliar with) because I had a major panic attack and could not longer drive. Thankfully, I was riding with a friend who was able to get us to our destination. My graduate school practicum was put on hold, which pushed my graduation date back. My oldest son came back home from college for the semester. I was torn with whether or not to continue with my non-profit because things weren’t going as I had planned. In short, my life was a hot mess!

I am happy to say, I am no longer on a downward spiral, however, I still have a lot of work to do. I reached out and contacted a life coach to help me get myself together. It was one of the best investments I have made in myself in a long time. While I am not able to travel like I had planned to do this year due to current state of our country, I am finding other ways to take the time to love on me. I am a giver and love to take care of others, often at the expense of neglecting myself. No more!

I will be celebrating another birthday this week. It always seems that something keeps me from celebrating the way that I want – weather, family, finances, health – this year is coronavirus. However, instead of being down about not being able to celebrate by dressing up and going to a fancy restaurant to eat, I am using this social distance time to do some more work on me.

I had an exercise during my last coaching session that I am still trying to process. Full disclosure: I tend to ignore issues and try to convince myself that I am fine or that the problem no longer bothers me, when all I have really done is suppress the issue. Of course, it will surface unexpectedly and throw me off balance. So now instead of suppressing these things, I am slowing working on addressing them so they no longer have a hold on my life and keep me bound. This exercise had me list the people in my life that I felt had hurt or mistreated me, that I hold resentment to, or that I felt an injustice had occurred. Surprisingly, my initial list only included five people. But was even more surprising was the fact that some of these people had hurt me in my youth and I never dealt with it. The next step of the exercise was to pick the person that I felt had hurt me the least and then explain how I feel about what they did to hurt me. That wasn’t too horrible to do since I knew why I was angry at this person. The next part was for me to verbally say that I forgive them and that I am releasing them and the hurt that I felt because I was worthy of being loved, accepted, happy, and living a life free of this baggage. Now, when I say that was extremely hard to do, it was horrible. I did not expect to have such a emotional response or for it to be this difficult to handle. This was for the person that I feel hurt me the least and I was an emotional wreck. I haven’t even been able to bring myself to deal with the other names on the list. While I know it needs to be done, I may need a Xanax and bottle of wine afterwards!

I think this activity is so hard for me because I have had such an issue with low self-esteem, low self-worth, allowing others to use and abuse me, not feeling worthy of being loved, or feeling that I am not good enough. While some of these things have caused me to be an “accomplisher” and goal-oriented, I have never given myself the space to enjoy my accomplishments before moving on to the next goal. I am slowly learning to celebrate me, invest in myself, and practicing more self-care. I AM enough, I AM worthy, I am lovable, valuable and needed. I am not perfect, but I am a work in progress.

I am hoping everything will fall in place for me to be able to complete my summer and fall practicums. I will complete my Community Health Worker certification in May (thank goodness for online classes). I have added a new program to my nonprofit – men’s health, that people seem to be excited about. I will hopefully get to complete at least one out of state trip – my April and September trips were cancelled and I am uncertain how my May trip will fair. I have started back exercising, which I had missed but could not do due to severe back pain for the last year. I was able to look at myself in the mirror earlier this week and actually smile at my reflection in it’s natural state. I am loving the person I am becoming and enjoying learning more about myself. Pain may have been the catalyst for the change in behavior, but I am not defined or being held hostage by the pain. Love it or hate it, I will not apologize for who I am!

I came across this picture and it so appropriate for where I am in my life currently.

Social Media Angst

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One of my goals for 2019 is to learn more about who I am, what makes me happy (or unhappy), and how to be a better person in general. I am often my own worst critic, and social media has done nothing but increase my level of insecurity.

Towards the end of January, I started to minimize the amount of time that I spent on social media, but Facebook in particular. (While I have Instagram and Twitter accounts, Facebook is the account I’ve had the longest and am most comfortable using.) I was that person who, the first thing I did in the morning, was to grab my phone and open my Facebook app. Anytime I had a free moment, I was on Facebook. It was absolutely ridiculous the amount of time I spent wasted on Facebook.

While I often used the excuse that this was the way to keep my friends and family informed of what is going on in my life, I had to be honest and admit that I spent more time exploring what others were doing in their lives and how my life was seeming inadequate. I love to see others succeed, I honestly do. I will support others as much as I can and be their biggest cheerleaders. However, I often got discouraged because no one “liked” my posts/photos, but someone else could post the same thing, and “everyone” likes/loves their post. I often felt, why am I not good enough to garner more likes or support? It went so far that I began to question whether I truly have friends, or if people really consider me to be their friend. It made me second guess my worth. I know it sounds ridiculous to base my worth on how many likes I get on a photo or a post, but if you have never struggled with self-esteem and self-worth issues, I do not expect that you would understand. As a people-pleaser, I often negate my feelings/desires to keep those around me happy, even if it makes me unhappy. I have always wanted to be accepted – which I think we all desire that on some level – and have often left others to decide what acceptance looked like.

My challenge for the month of February is to detox from social media. While I cannot delete or deactivate my accounts (because they are linked to my non-profit), I have removed the Facebook app from my phone because I am too lazy to take the time to log in via the internet to access my account. Plus, I don’t have to worry about being obsessed each time I see a notification (which unfortunately were usually only to inform me of events my friends were attending). I still jump on Instagram and Twitter occasionally, but thankfully, I am not “addicted” to those platforms. I am hoping that by the end of the month, I will be able to get on Facebook and not feel the need to compare myself to others or base my worth on how many likes I get.

Why does this keep happening?

I usually do not say anything when a black boy or man is killed unnecessarily by a white person.  I have always known our country has always feared black people, but especially black men.  There have been many attempts to destroy the black man by ripping them from their families, stripping them of their dignity and pride, by treating them as less than or inferior to everyone.  Jails are full of black men, some who have been wrongly convicted, given an unfair sentence, or due to a white man’s ego and need to prove a point. 

What is it about the black man that is so fearful?  Why must they be used unwittingly in experiments aimed to decrease the black male population?  Why were drugs purposely introduced into their communities so that they would either die or end up in jail?  Why is it okay to lie on a black man, knowing that there is a good chance that lie will result in his death?  Why can a black man not walk down the street without being feared or fearing for his life?  Why must the black man be followed in the store?  Why can he not run outside without issue?  Why can he not be in an affluent neighborhood or driving a nice car without it being assumed that he is casing the place to rob it or that he stole the car?  Why is the black man guilty until proven innocent – even though we know that innocence doesn’t mean SHIT in our judicial system? Why is a white person’s version of events always taken at face value, but the black man surely is lying?  

Is it because the system is designed to ensure that he is never considered as being a human being with the same rights and liberties as their white counterpart?  Is it because there is the fear that a black man is strong, resilient, and necessary?  No one has a problem with the black man as long as they can make millions of dollars of his talent and stays in his place.  They don’t often get a seat at the corporate table, in leadership roles, or any other capacity where they have some legit power and authority because who wants to “answer to” a black man who has been deemed inferior to them?  After all, white is right, at least that is what we have been taught to believe.  

On Memorial Day, a white woman decided that a black man cannot tell her what to do (put her dog on a leash as the signage in the park states) and calls 9-1-1 and blatantly lies about what is happening.  Let’s just assume that she legitimately feared for her life.  1. Why the hell would you walk towards the person you fear? 2. Why was it necessary to make sure they knew the person she feared was a black/African-American man? The theatrics she put on – while choking her unleashed dog – was unbelievable.  Then her so-called apology after the video came out was a joke at best. She only apologized because she was being villainized (rightly so) on social media and her cushy life was being put in jeopardy (she did eventually get fired from her well-paying job).  She still does not believe her actions were wrong or the danger she put that man in.  She claims she did not realize that a black man does not get afforded the same luxury of being believed and treated with respect and dignity as she does as a white person.  White privilege is a real thing.  She will never convince me that she did not know what the hell she was doing when she first threatened to call the police and stated what she had planned to say.  With all the events that have led to #blacklivesmatter being in the news all too often, there is absolutely no way that she was unaware of the potential effects of her actions. She knew that if she stated a black man was threatening her, he would be arrested at the very least.  The thing is, too often black men are “arrested” but do not live long enough for them to have a trial.  

Do I think all white people are racist?  Absolutely not.  However, there are enough racist white people in the world to make me fear for my two son’s lives.  I am so sick of white people who think that it is okay to blame every crime on a black man.  The police are supposed to protect and serve ALL people, not just the ones they feel are deserving of protection.  You cannot look at someone and immediately decide that they are a good or bad person (short of witnessing them in the act of doing something illegal).  Even if a black man had committed a crime, he still has the right to have a trial or other legal action.  Committing a crime as a black man should not be a death sentence before they can even be charged.  Being a black man should not be a death sentence.   

Another incident happened on the Sunday before Memorial Day in Minnesota – a black man was killed by a police officer who had his knee on his neck. Originally, it appeared that there were only two officers involved in the death, but there were actually four officers  – one stood by doing nothing while the other three had the man pinned down while telling him to get up.  Now, how the hell is someone supposed to get up with three people pinning them down, one of which has their knee blocking the ability to breathe?  How does a forged check warrant this type of force?  Let’s say that he was resisting arrest at some point.  After they had him on the ground, was it really necessary to put the knee on his neck for over 5 minutes?  If you believe it was necessary, then you are part of the problem.  I am just waiting to hear about all his legal issues and how he isn’t a great person, blah, blah, blah – all of which is completely irrelevant to this specific incident.

Expectations

Expectationn. 1: the act or state of expecting: anticipation; 2a: something expected; 2b: basis for expecting: assurance; 2c: prospects of inheritance; 3: the state of being expected; 4a: expectancy; 4b: expected value

Expect: v. 1a: to consider probable or certain; 1b: to consider reasonable, due, or necessary; 1c: to consider bound in duty or obligated; 2: to anticipate or look forward to the coming or occurrence of; 3: suppose, think; 4:await

*Merriam-Webster dictionary

It is nearly impossible to not have some sort of expectation.  Whether it is to get a passing grade, to make a sports team, to land your dream job, or to have healthy children.  Our lives are filled with expectations, sometimes ones that we are not even aware of – making it home safely from work/school, waking up tomorrow, having a job to return to, or being paid on time.  

At times, we have unrealistic expectations – expecting a passing grade when you have not studied or completed the necessary work, being able to lose 20 pounds in one week, or thinking everyone will behave the same way as you.  

I believe that we should have expectations.  We should expect to put in work to achieve goals, to expect that we can achieve our goals when they are realistic.  There is nothing wrong with looking forward to being married and having children.  The caution with expectations is that there is no guarantee that what we desire will happen (or happen when we want it to).  

The question is, how do you respond when your expectations are not met, when your partner breaks up with you unexpectedly, you are not married by your 30th birthday, or you did not get the promotion you felt you deserved?

I have experienced so many disappointments in my life, that I had gotten to the point where I had very few expectations of myself, others, or how my life was.  I set the bar so low, that I would allow others to treat me any kind of way and found myself apologizing or justifying their behavior by belittling myself.  Which led me to believe that I did not deserve any better.  I would often apply for jobs that I was probably overqualified for because I did not want to deal with the rejection of not getting a job that I desired.  I did not apply to certain graduate schools because I did not feel I was good enough to get accepted or do well.  I mean, how embarrassing is it to not get into your dream school or land your dream job?  I always expected the worse to happen.  I would rationalize this behavior by considering myself honest and in tune with reality.  This was all a mind game to minimize the disappointment felt when things did not go the way I secretly desired. I would put a smile on my face and say, “It’s okay, it was not meant to be.”  Then sit in my room crying, hurt, and being angry that things did not go my way and then blaming myself for not being good enough to have what I desire. 

This year, I have been working on setting realistic expectations.  This includes distancing myself from anyone who does not feel they are required to give me the same level of respect that I give them, who feels it is okay to speak to me any kind of way.  While I know there is no such thing as perfect, I have always made that my goal.  I am getting better at being nice to myself, to allow myself to fail, to try new things and get out of my comfort zone, and being okay with the learning process.  I expect to lose weight but I know that it will only happen when I am consistent in exercising and making better food choices.  I do not expect to lose 40 pounds in the next month.  I expect my children to try their best, but I understand that they have their strengths and weaknesses and that I cannot compare one to the other or expect them to behave or respond the same way that I would.  You can be realistic without lowering our standards or expectations of yourself or others.  It is okay for things not to go as planned or expected.  Life happens. It is more important how you respond to the unexpected.

Failure or Regret?

Failure: n. lack of success; the omission of expected or required action

Regret: v. feel sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done)    n. a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Which is better: failure or regret?  Does the fear of failure cause you to not try something new or different and then you later regret not acting?  Can you experience failure without having feelings of regret? Is regret a result of failure?

I came across a video on Instagram that said it was better to fail at a thing than to live with regret for never having tried.   Which got me to thinking about my life.  How many opportunities have I missed because I was too scared to fail?   How, my feelings of regret paralyzed me from being able to move forward.  I have wanted to leave Missouri since 1998, yet, here it is 2020 and I am still living in the same city and state.  Why?  

A large part of it has been due to my fear of moving to a new city/state and not knowing anyone.  I am an introvert and it takes a while for me to warm up to new people.  I was scared that I would not be able to take care of my family due to lack of a support system.  I was afraid I would fail and have to move back “home.”  I only ended up in Columbia because I was following my best friend in high school.  I had never heard of the University of Missouri.  I had planned to attend Kansas State University even though Kansas University had a renown medical program (I have never liked the Jayhawks).  Those plans changed after my father retired from the Air Force during the summer before my senior year and moved back to the Kansas City area to be close to his family.

The other part of my staying so long is due to regret.  Regret is often spoken of in terms of something that one did or experienced.  However, I think some of my regrets stem from things that I wanted to do but never did.  Like the aforementioned move.  Letting someone know that what they said or did hurt me.  Not speaking up for myself more, or compromising so much that I no longer recognized myself.  

I have regretted having not one, not two, but three children out of wedlock (by three different men).  I regret not believing in myself, that I have what it takes to raise my children in a new place.  I regret my poor spending habits and bad credit that limited my options.  I regret listening to all the voices that told me I couldn’t leave, I was a bad mother, I’m not good enough to attend this school or earn that degree, that I was not intelligent enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough to pursue my dreams.  Unfortunately, sometimes, the loudest voice was my own, convincing me to stay in place. 

I had plans to transfer to Xavier University in New Orleans, LA after my sophomore year of school to fulfill my desire to attend an HBCU.  However, that summer I got pregnant and I was terrified to move to a new city with a newborn. I was only 20 years old when I got pregnant.  I have never lived in an apartment (I had lived in the dorms for two years).  I didn’t have a job or car.  How was I going to move to a different state where I didn’t know anyone?  That was the first time I chose to stay.  

Life continued to happen, child number two arrived.  I had decided I no longer wanted to be a doctor, but rather a nurse.  The path to nursing school began.  I ended up needing to drop-out of the program because of the strain of working a full-time job while trying to attend nursing school, and being a mother to two young children.  When I decided I was ready to resume school, I was not allowed to re-enroll, or I was going to have to re-take several pre-requisites.  I began looking at schools out of state – North Carolina, Virginia, and Texas.  Heck, I even considered St. Louis and Kansas City – I just wanted a nursing degree. I eventually was re-admitted to Columbia College’s School of Nursing, earning an ADN, on to MU’s SON for my RN-BSN, and then on to Walden University for an MSN-MPH. 

No one wants to be considered a failure, but the truth of the matter is, we have all failed at one thing or another, and if we are honest, we have failed more than once.  There is nothing wrong with failing.  It is often through failure that we learn and grow.  Some lessons can only be learned through failing.  The bright side is, failure can teach you something that is not easily forgotten or that you possibly might not have learned had you not failed. Failure causes you to get out of your comfort zone, to look at things from a different perspective, and possibly get innovative and not stick with the status quo.  Of course, that only happens if you are first willing to try, fail, and try again.  

Failure is a stepping stone on your path to success.  Use it as a tool and do not let it become a regret.  Do not regret trying and not getting it right the first, second, fifth or tenth time.  Take what you learned from each of those failures and figure out how to apply the new knowledge to move forward.