My experience with COVID-19
By Keischa Pruden | May 5, 2021
Late last summer, my husband, Paul, and I contracted COVID 19. That experience hands down was the most scared I had been in my entire life. According to doctors, by the time Paul agreed to go to the ER for his labored breathing (which turned out to be fluid in his lungs), he was “one day from dying.” Imagine hearing someone tell you that about someone you love, someone you have been with since you were 17 years old. To be honest, I have not fully processed that information yet. Every time I think about it, my stomach starts turning and I start thinking about something else.
The pain was unbearable. Please believe me when I tell you; I had NEVER felt that type of pain in my life. Imagine constant body aches, fever, fatigue, no appetite, weight loss, hot sweats – you name it, Paul and I experienced it. I remember asking God to take me; that’s just how bad I felt. I remember texting my younger brother and asking him to take care of our affairs if we died. COVID- 19 and the associated pain was just that intense.
Thank God, we survived! We know how blessed we are to still be alive. I thank God every day for sparing us. While we have fully recovered physically, there are some lingering psychological issues I still struggle with. “COVID Brain” is one of those issues. I struggle with word recall, remote memory, and “not knowing” things I KNOW I should know.
But there is another issue I have experienced I never thought I would: PTSD. Let me explain. PTSD, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a psychological issue that occurs after a traumatic experience. The symptoms include:
-Reliving – Flashbacks, hallucinations, nightmares of the incident
– Avoiding – Avoiding people, places, things, or memories that remind the trauma
– Excessive arousal – Increased alertness, anger, fits of rage, irritability, or hatred, difficulty sleeping or concentrating
– Negative thoughts or feelings such as guilt
– Flat affect
I find myself being emotionally triggered by conversations about COVID. As I mentioned earlier, my stomach starts aching when I think about how close my husband was to die. A few months ago, my father-in-law went to our local emergency room following a fall. As we were walking through the doors, my mind immediately recalled the day I had to leave Paul in the triage room. At that time, no one could accompany patients further into the hospital. The triage nurse told us I would not be allowed to stay. I just looked at my husband of 25 years, kissed his forehead, told him I loved him, and walked out of the hospital. As I relived that moment in my mind, I had to push the tears away and continue to attend to my father-in-law.
Once vaccines became accessible, the world seemed excited. But I wasn’t and still am ambivalent. When stories started flooding social media and airwaves about people’s experiences with the second shot of the vaccines, I immediately became concerned. Their experiences sounded COVID- like to me. Paul and I discussed the pros and cons of receiving the vaccine on a continual basis. But we have the same viewpoint: We DO NOT want to do anything that will make us feel anything remotely close to how we felt last summer. If travel restrictions demand we become vaccinated, then we may relent. But until then, until I can truly unpack my trauma around having COVID, I am saying NO to the vaccine. I don’t judge anyone who gets the vaccine, but please don’t judge me for my reluctance.
If you or someone you know have experienced symptoms of PTSD surrounding the Pandemic, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist who can talk you through your experiences and come out on the other side.
Peace and blessings.
About Keischa Pruden
For more information about Keischa, please visit her profile at https://www.cliniciansofcolor.org/clinicians/keischa-pruden-lcmhcs-lcas-ccs/.