Traveling with Long Covid, Part 2

Sorry it’s taken me so long to write about the second part of my travels, but I feel like I’ve been caught in a flash flood and it just isn’t letting up. It all started the last day or two of our New York trip with many texts from multiple friends asking if we were all right. We literally had flash flooding in our neighborhood back home, cars floating down the street right next to ours. But of course we had no idea if our house was withstanding the floods or not.

The thing about flash floods is that often times you might be playing in a creek or river with the sun shining overhead and no warning that it’s pouring rain a few miles upstream until the water has risen and rushed down to sweep you away. Okay, so maybe you listened to the weather forecast and knew that it was a possibility but you went anyway because surely, you’d be okay.

I’d heard many long haulers talk about pushing through it and paying for it later, but up till this point my symptoms hadn’t been that bad. And New York did seem to be an indicator that I could do all these things if I just paced myself. Well, we got back from NYC on Thursday afternoon, met Grammie and the kids for lunch next to the airport, then drove home. We had the evening and the next day before I had to drive the kids 10 hours to Colorado, leaving Ryan at home so he could work a few days before he joined us in CO.

Everything seemed to be going okay. There was only minimal water damage from the storms while we were gone, and we only had to throw out a few board games that had been left on the floor and our SNES somehow got water in it. . . But that was the worst of it. The kids were great on the car ride out and we even made it to church the next day before driving up the mountain for camp. I didn’t think about their camp being at 10,000 feet elevation until we were there and my shortness of breath hit me. The drive back down the mountain was the first time I became worried about driving. There must have been at least a minute (not really sure how long it was) where I was lightheaded and dizzy. Thankfully, I was the only car on that section of the road and not traveling very fast at the time.

I made it safely to my Airbnb in Manitou Springs and was able to rest. The next day I went to some hot springs with my sister, her husband, and my mom. That was the first time I fully realized my heat intolerance. The moment I stepped in to the hot water my heart started pounding and fatigue washed over me so fast that I had to get out after a minute or two. Even the lukewarm pool raised my heart rates. As great as it was to see my family and hang out with them, my body just couldn’t handle the heat; and I ended up taking one of those uncomfortable naps in a sun-drenched lounge chair by dunking my towel in the snowmelt in the river to help cool me off.

You’ll have to forgive me for the lack of pictures from this trip (at least the first half of the week), but when you’re not feeling well, pictures are the last thing on your mind. Also, I didn’t have Ryan with me to help take pictures. I did manage to get a few a couple days later when we visited the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings, which was surprisingly a lot of fun. I say surprisingly because I live in Northern Arizona and have seen a lot of cliff dwellings and other ruins from various Native American Indian tribes. But these were restored to look like they did when they were first built and that was something new for me.

Another enjoyable but non-photographed part of this trip was the day before when I had an entire day to myself. I bet you can guess what I did. I met up with a writer friend (whom I met online in a writing group) at the local library and wrote. I haven’t had one of these kind of days in a really long time and it was refreshing. The afternoon was pleasant as well, got a nap and wrote some more. Well, maybe not so much writing, I started planning my next book and I’m getting really excited about it. I got the idea for this book a couple years ago and it’s just been sitting in the back of my brain waiting for me to flesh it out. I’ll tell you one more thing about it but then you’re just going to have to wait for more details. It’s a “murder” mystery šŸ˜‰ sort of…

This is the part where you’re enjoying playing in the creek, completely unaware of the storm further up stream. I was able to see another of my writing buddies (from a previous writing retreat) and eat dinner at this really awesome Japanese restaurant with her (again no pictures!). I, also, had the privilege to see some of my cousins who happen to live in the area. The last couple of days in CO we (my siblings and their families and my mom) stayed at Glen Eyrie next to the Garden of the Gods and had our annual get together. You’ll see most of us (minus the kids that were at camp) in one of the following pics from my cousin’s Chili’s restaurant. Later that same night, my husband was driving out to join us and right around midnight less than 3 miles from our lodge, his tire blew.

The next day we picked the kids up from camp and one of them wasn’t feeling well… Poor kid had to hang out in the room all by himself while his cousins played together. Thankfully, we were able to get him tested for Covid the next morning and he was negative.

Here are few more pictures from our time at Glen Eyrie:

It was a ton of fun being together and in this beautiful place. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to go hiking with everyone, I just didn’t have the energy to do it. I did walk down to the castle with everyone after dinner though even though I didn’t feel well; every chair I saw, I wanted to sit in, and I had to sit in many of them. On the walk back to the lodge, I felt lightheaded and dizzy, like I was going to pass out. Checked my pulse ox and O2 was in the 80s! pulse in the 30s! I had to do a double take to make sure I saw it right. A few moments later I was sitting in a chair and my pulse decided it could jump up to 112 and O2 went back above 90. Maybe it was a wonky reading but either way I didn’t fell well. Needless to say, I went to bed early that night.

I did feel a little better the next morning. Here are a few more pics: breakfast at the castle and the flower beds right next to our lodge.

There you have it. That concludes my travels, though not the flash flooding. The day after I got back home I called the doctor to see if I could see someone before my scheduled appointment on August 23rd. They gave me an acute visit that afternoon with another doctor I didn’t know. He was very nice: ordered blood tests (came back normal, except low on vitamin D), did an EKG (was normal), and gave me steroids and supplements to take. The next day I had that long awaited pulmonary function test an hour drive from my home. By the end of the tests I was gasping for air and very lightheaded and fatigued. I couldn’t drive for at least 20 minutes; and then, I only drove to a friend’s nearby where I rested for the next hour before chancing the drive back home. Guess what, that test came back normal too.

My symptoms have only gotten worse since being back and I no longer trust myself driving. I’m dizzy or lightheaded half the time I stand up and fatigued if I do any thing other than sitting on the couch, even taking a nap can make me more tired. I’ve had a few scary moments when shortness of breath coupled with bradycardia and/or tachycardia, and tingly in arms and hands etc. made me wonder if I should go to the ER. All of this was of course after my doctor’s appointment, but my wonderful sister-n-law called around for me and scheduled an appointment with the Cardiologist who was great. He gave me a heart monitor for 7 days and ordered an echocardiogram. Now I’m waiting for results. And not just for myself. My sister is having concerning health issues as well; we’re praying she can get her appointments and tests done sooner rather than later. And to top it all off my brother’s family all have COVID-19 and are quarantining as I write this.

Please pray for my family that we wouldn’t be swept away in the flash flood, for healing, for good doctors and the help we all need during these trying times. And if there’s anything you would like me to pray for you, let me know. I will be praying for all the Flagstaffians who have been impacted by the floods yesterday and are still recovering from the floods earlier this summer both literally and figuratively. There are so many people suffering right now even if you can’t see it; and it’s okay to cry and to cry with others. It’s part of being human and we all need to grieve at one point or another. I don’t know when my next post will be but I hope it isn’t too far away.

“In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;

in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying;

my soul refuses to be comforted.

When I remember God, I moan.” Psalm 77:2-3

(ESV Bible)

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