Hey everyone, I pray all is well with you. There’s been a lot going on over here with me, which seems to be a pattern; but clearly God has a plan for all of the things I’ve been through and am currently going through. To add to the long list of ongoing health issues that I’ve been facing for the last two (2) years, many I’ve shared with you in previous posts, for the past month and a half, I’ve been battling the coronavirus disease and double pneumonia.
When I first started feeling ill around the end of April, beginning of May, I was hoping it wasn’t this deadly disease that’s been plaguing our planet. It started with a sinus infection, with symptoms that included: runny / stuffy nose, massive head pressure and fullness (stronger than a typical headache / migraine), sneezing, and post nasal drip. At the beginning of May, it suddenly turned much worse, and I felt a feeling that I hadn’t felt before. It started with chills, a very high fever, and in what appeared to happen in an instant, over a 24 hour period, I began to have an uncomfortable and uncontrollable cough as I was trying my best to grasp for air to come into my lungs. I’ve had asthma since I was two (2) years old, but I must admit that I’ve never felt anything like this before.
Usually when I have an asthma attack, I’m able to utilize my nebulizer machine and take a few liquid solution treatments of my albuterol and ipratropium prescriptions to get my breathing under control. However, this time around, my treatments weren’t working. Every 2-4 hours, I would need to take a breathing treatment just to get some air into my lungs so that I could take a shallow breath of air. I hoped that my lungs would eventually clear and open up so that I could breathe normally again; but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Things just kept getting worse and worse. I tried contacting my primary care physician with the little bit of breath that I had in me to see if he’d send over some more medication, but I was unsuccessful in reaching him. One day later and after several attempts at calling his office, another doctor finally spoke with me on my doctor’s behalf. He wasn’t convinced that what I had going on was just a sinus infection and asthma, so he scheduled an appointment for me to come into the office to be tested for COVID-19 (aka the coronavirus). I was not happy about that, but against my pride, I humbly agreed to come into the office. Unfortunately, the appointment wasn’t until Monday morning, May 4th, which meant that I’d have to try my best to get through the weekend dealing with the insufferable pain and agony.
The weekend of May 1-4 were hell! I struggled to breathe, I could barely eat, I had difficulty walking due to lack of oxygen, my fever was in the 100’s consistently, I was constantly hot and freezing cold all the time, along with the sinus issues of the runny nose, head pressure, post nasal drip, etc., I was also dealing with this cold, painful congestion in my chest that would get worse every time I breathed in and out. I couldn’t even get a deep breath in. My breathing was very shallow, like someone airing out an inflated balloon very slowly with their fingertips gripping the end to ensure the air doesn’t deflate the blown up balloon, all while an elephant stood on the other end trying to pop the balloon. It felt like I was dying!!! By the time Monday morning came, I could barely walk. I felt like I would pass out at any moment. Somehow, just as I got through the weekend, something kept me going. Through the cloudiness of lack of oxygen flowing to my brain, and by the grace of God, I managed to make it to the hospital where my doctor’s office is located. As soon as the doctors saw me, they were immediately alarmed. They administered the coronavirus test through my nose, and quickly started working on getting me admitted into the hospital’s ER department. They were adamant on me not leaving the hospital because they were scared that I wasn’t even going to make it to my next destination.
As soon as I was wheeled over in a wheelchair to the emergency room, I was placed into a quarantined private room. Once I got settled in and finished answering all of their questions, I was subjected to a round of blood work testing. I’d never seen so many vials and jars required for taking blood in my life; and trust me, within the last two years, I’ve certainly had my share of blood work drawn. Afterwards, I had a X-ray done of my chest and a CT scan. Within a short few hours, they had my results that I was positive for the coronavirus. I was stunned! I couldn’t believe that I had it because I was so careful not to get it. Ever since my surgery debacle in February, I’d already been practicing “lockdown” protocols by not going out and spending the time needed to recover. Plus in early March, I’d received even more stricter guidelines from my doctor to self-isolate, even in my own home, since I lived with other people (my family). So I did. I only came outside when I had to go to the doctors, to the pharmacy to pick up medications, or once a month to the market, and I always wore a face mask and gloves even in the house; so I couldn’t understand how I possibly contracted this deadly disease. As I listened to the nurse explain to me the protocols of the hospital and where I’d be staying, so many more thoughts ran through my mind. Is this it? Am I going to die now? How quickly can I put together a will and testament? Will I even get to say goodbye? Just as I was pondering all the thoughts rapidly swirling through my mind whilst crying my eyes out, another doctor walked in and told me even more shocking news, “You have pneumonia in both of your lungs.” Gloom washed over me like a gusty Spring rain shower. Lying in that hospital bed, I began to feel what true defeat feels like. I was losing hope of ever seeing the outside world again! This was going to be the end for me!
The hospital room and experience was unlike any other I’ve endured in my life. From the minute I shuffled in, I was shocked by what I saw. The hospital staff were in hazmat suits. Upon entry into the doorway of the room I was staying in, I had to go through a biohazard proof, reminiscent of a big ziplock bag, long thick plastic covering guarding the door keeping me from going out into the hallway. Then, there was the fact that my room was a doctor’s office turned into a makeshift hospital room. It had a sink, a bed, a commode, a desk, a brown wooden dresser to add a texture of homeyness, a modernized monitor for vital signs, and a computer which was used by the hospital staff. Each time I used the commode, I would have to go into a red biohazard waste bag that was wrapped around the bucket of the commode, which they would change out each time I went to relieve myself. I’ve never been to prison before, but staying in that makeshift hospital room sure felt like I was in one. The worst part, as if that wasn’t horrible enough, was the feeling of being in a prison and also dying a slow, painful and very uncomfortable death!
As the days and nights in the hospital merged together, I was beginning to lose track of time. Things weren’t looking up for me. I was getting worse. Each time the doctors would come in, it would be to tell me that the pneumonia is getting worse and that the coronavirus disease doesn’t seem to be letting up. My body wasn’t fighting it off and the medications they were giving me weren’t working. Although the doctors were trying to sound optimistic that things would turn around and get better for me because they were doing everything they could to help me; in my eyes, things looked bleak. I started preparing myself for imminent death. I reached out to family and friends via text messaging, I took a look at pictures trying to imprint the images in my mind for the last time. I was losing the last ounce of hope I had left in me and I didn’t even feel like praying and reading my Bible anymore. I was ready to call it in. Just then, like Paul and Silas in the midnight hour when they were in prison (Acts 16:25-26), something major happened!
As I was feeling at the end of my rope, tired of holding on and wondering where was God in all of this, a very dear friend / sister-in-Christ of mine from church text me one early morning with a deeply heartfelt message. It basically said, “As I was praying for you and your strength as you go through this, I heard God say to me that He was the first surgeon and He knows everything about you, Andrea. Peace be still and know that I am God. Just keep on praying.” Upon receiving her text, through the excruciating pain, I cried out to God in a worship. I felt overwhelmed with emotions. On one hand, receiving her message from God gave me hope that He heard my cries. God sees me! Yet on the other hand, I felt so ashamed that with all my biblical studies and teachings that I’ve learned over the years, I had not turned to God to give me life or healing because I was spending so much time looking towards death. My circumstances had caused me to believe, like Martha did in the Bible when it came to her brother Lazarus dying (John 11:21-44) , that this death sentence (aka the coronavirus) for some was going to be the death of me and that there was nothing no one could do to stop it.
I could barely breathe, even though I was on oxygen; but through my tears, I began to attempt to sing a song to The Lord. As I listened on my iPad to acclaimed recording artist Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s song ft. Kierra Sheard “Your Spirit,” I began to lift my head towards heaven. Raising my hands as if I was reaching out to grab the Savior’s hands, I sang my song. The words from the song, “Spirit breathe on me,” echoed through my ears as I tried with all my might to sing them to The Lord. Nothing but a whisper came out, but in my mind and heart, I believed I was singing just as loud as they were. As I sang, changing the words a bit to echo my needs, I begged God to send The Holy Spirit, His Spirit to breathe IN me. I desperately needed the breath of life, and I needed it to come from the ultimate life source: God himself the Creator of all life. All day long, I kept that song on repeat as I sang and cried out to The Lord begging for Him to either take me now or give me a miracle of healing. I was ready to die or live, whichever The Lord chose for me, I was humbly willing to receive.
After that day, things started to drastically turn around for me. I stopped needing oxygen, the excruciating pain from my chest had gone away, my fever was coming down and my inflammatory levels had finally began to decrease. The pneumonia still wouldn’t clear up, but at least the pain was gone and I was able to breathe a lot better than I was before. Within a week, on May 11th, I was released from the hospital with strict instructions to stay in quarantine as my body continued to heal and recover. I couldn’t believe I was finally going back to my earthly home to see my family. Coming home wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be. Even though I was given a nurse and physical therapist to come to my home and treat me, it still was difficult getting around the house, and being around my family. My body was very weak, so walking around and breathing on my own without oxygen was very difficult for me. Then, I had to deal with the emotional and psychological trauma of it all, while feeling depressed that every time I walked into a room, my family had to scatter to grab masks and wipe down everything I touched. To some degree, it felt just as horrible being home as it did in the hospital. Still, at least I was in a more comfortable bed and slightly pleasant environment.
Fast forward to today, June 24th. I’m still recovering, even though this past week I was retested for the coronavirus and received a negative test result supposedly indicating that there are no further signs of coronavirus in my system. Now, is the road to full recovery. I have to do physical therapy to regain my strength, pulmonary therapy to help regain my lung capacity and strengthen my lungs, a CT scan to check the pneumonia, and a whole bunch of other testing and blood work all in hopes to get me back to where I was before this disease took over my body, as well as to see if the damages done by the disease to my lungs can be reversed. It’s a process, but gleefully I can report that my spirits are lifted.
Although it’s been a tough journey, and my faith took a hit, I now feel encouraged to keep going and doing what The Lord has called me to do: teach the Gospel. God saved me!!! He saved me for a reason. So many have died from this disease, and every day I mourn their loss even though I don’t know them. I feel the weight of their deaths upon me. I have to fulfill my purpose in life for so many didn’t get that chance. It’s up to us that survive to thrive and do good in the memory of those lost. If anyone’s ever doubted if God can really work a miracle of raising the dead, or saving a life from dying, look no further than my testimony. I’m sure there are others out there who have a similar experience to report: God is still in the miracle working business! I Praise God for He is good!! He is truly worthy to be praised! If you’re in need of a miracle, all you have to do is call on His name and believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, and that He can save you, too. Then, trust and have faith that The Lord sees you and that He will come through for you just like He did for me.
Sincerely with love,
Travel photography by photographer: @christofs70