I have just finished bathing. Sometimes I don’t know why I bother because the thought of getting from the bathroom to the bedroom fills me with anxiety. My daughter washed my back and helped me dress. I’m heaving and hastily pull out the asthma pump, which is never far from my side. Two pumps and, I can make it halfway. Another two, and with the assistance of one of my children, I can finally get to bed.
Every day I wake up, wondering if today is the day that I will take my last breath. One slow, painful step in front of the other is how I get to bed. What should be a 4 or 5-second trip has become a 10 or 15-minute journey for me. I am disheartened! “Please, God, let me go!” I don’t want to live like this anymore. I cough, and my children come running, anxiety etched upon their beautiful faces. My tears I keep at bay, even though it is always ready to spill over. I reassure them and consciously remember to tell them I love them, in case this is my last day with them. They smile and hug me, careful not to squeeze too hard.
Depression is a constant companion, a reminder of my inability to do one of the most basic things like breathing.
I have the most vivid dreams; dreams in which I’m cycling, walking with my husband, laughing with my children, loving my family. In one dream, in particular, lungs that looked “new” and white floated above my head. I reached out to grab it with both hands, but it remained elusive, floating above me as if to tease me or motivate me to stretch a bit more. In my dreams, I am at peace. I open my eyes and take a deep breath and fail. My breathing remains shallow!
Tears gather and rush down my cheeks as I struggle with yet another disappointing day. I feel my chest tighten because of the thoughts running through my head. I will my mind to stop thinking and remind myself to breathe. My desire to stay alive is fast waning as I struggle to accept that this is my life. That I am no longer who I used to be.
People talk about this pandemic and a “new normal,” as if it’s a jacket you shrug into and all that’s different is the lockdown rules, but this battle for life feels like my new normal, and I hate it. I hate the feeling of permanency that this debilitating illness has brought upon my body.
Double pneumonia, Covid19, chronic asthma is all I am known for now. Oh! God, let me leave this earth, this body and this suffering! It’s been so long now, and I am still not “normal.” Conversations with God have become frequent as I vacillate like a pendulum between dying to live and hoping to die.
I’m not ready to die, though, but at times I wish I could. Death would bring relief from the battle to breathe. Why me? Have I not suffered enough? I’m upset with God for allowing this. My daily prayers consist of promises I make to be a better person and frustration and helplessness that I am not being heard. I’m almost disappointed that I woke up, but my faith, though tenuous, keeps me going.
One day, I cried so much, I didn’t think there were tears left in me. I cried with tissue in one hand and the inhaler in the other. Crying and stopping to inhale, only to cry more, then repeating this pattern. I don’t know how long I did that for, careful not to cry too loudly just in case the children came running in. Let me die! Oh! God let me die and find relief!
The above was my daily routine for more than a year.
The battle to breathe stopped the day I reached out and found people who were willing to help me. My reaching out to them I have to attribute to God’s guidance because ordinarily, I would not have asked for help.
The battle to breathe stopped when I was given my first dose of Ivermectin. I could feel a bit of relief, less tightening around my chest and longer breaths. These “angels” have become my friends as they help others like me or those worse than me.
This isn’t a Hollywood movie where everything is perfect at the end, but the fact that I am walking outside and now cycling on an exercise bike, tells me that I am winning the battle to breathe.