“I have watched fear change us. I have watched fear ride roughshod over our families, organizations, and communities.” – Brené Brown, “Braving The Wilderness.”
In the above quote, lecturer Brené Brown was speaking about fear after 9/11. Lately, we are again learning to live in fear. We are inundated with the words “fear” and “panic” in relation to COVID-19. I intended to write about something other than the fear-driven response to this virus. But fear continues to make its way into my life.
I am more vulnerable.
Because of PH and my coexisting illnesses, it is no secret that I am more vulnerable to this pandemic. For this reason, I am self-isolating from my family and the general public.
If you read my column, you’ll know that I recently wrote about how I am losing it with social distancing. I continue to isolate myself, but I would like to go back to enjoying our families and loved ones while taking precautions without fear.
Seeing other humans outdoors was moving.
A few days ago, my husband and I took our usual drive around the lake. We pulled into a small park on the water. People were enjoying the park while adhering to social distancing guidelines. Signs were posted throughout the park in case anyone forgot. My excitement was evident — seeing other humans outdoors was moving.
As my husband grabbed my wheelchair out of the Jeep, I was surprised to sense my heart racing. He noticed that I was becoming nervous. The sun was starting to set, so he pushed me to the pier.
As he did, a man at the pier’s entrance was talking on his phone. I told my husband I hoped the man would move before we got there. He did, and we continued to the end of the pier, where we enjoyed a spectacular view of the setting sun and a slight breeze of cool air.
I relaxed some, but then a couple pushing a stroller with a toddler walked toward the end of the pier. I could sense my heart starting to race again. This was discouraging, and I thought, “Please stay on that side,” while offering them a smile.
This was not the only incident that frightened me. Two weeks ago, I was scheduled to have lab tests. I usually go every two weeks but hadn’t gone in several weeks. My nurse said it was time to be cautious and wear a mask. As I made the appointment, I looked forward to some sort of normalcy. Yet, the night before my appointment, I chickened out.
Fear crept in.
I thought about the germs and then the lab results. “What-ifs” kept popping into my head. For example, what if my labs are off and I need fluid, electrolytes, or something else? I’ve been admitted to the hospital several times because of these types of issues. Y’all, I was afraid of being hospitalized and catching COVID-19.
I have conquered bigger mountains.
Although I needed to give myself pep talks, I made the appointment. Wearing my mask, which makes it more difficult to breathe, I eventually left for my lab appointment. I was nervous, but I have conquered bigger mountains, and I could do this, too.
To my surprise, when I arrived at the lab, the place was empty of patients. My girls were there and doing all that they could to help me feel safe. My medical team will be thrilled. Maintaining a good patient-doctor relationship is critical.
However, frustrations and confusion continue to fog my mind. I am so not this person. I am a people person who loves to interact, hug, and talk with those I meet. Because I have been living in my “bubble” for weeks, I am petrified that this will continue to happen the longer this self-isolation extends.
Brené Brown was right: Fear does change us. Will this fear-driven virus change me? Thinking about it, I remind myself of the struggles and fears that I have overcome. This serves as a reminder of my resiliency. I will continue to suit up and face these fears. I will not allow the current situation to cause fear and stop me from enjoying the people and things that I enjoy.
Have you experienced fear related to social distancing? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.
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