On Thursday, March 26th, I felt the fever come. I was at the Ministry Office preparing it to house the homeless of our neighborhood. Near the end of the workday I felt it coming. I felt the fever rising within me. There was a heat emanating from within, and my joints were beginning to ache. I came home, laid on the couch, and tried to do what I always do when sickness comes for me. I thought I would get a nap, wake up strong and able, and walk it off.
I got a nap. I woke up two hours later. And for the first time in 10 years, the fever had caught me. I awoke in worse shape than when I had closed my eyes.
I didn’t like being fevered during a global pandemic, but I was sure that this thing was just the flu. I had fever with no cough or breathing problems. This was just what the kids had a few weeks ago. It had to be. On Sunday the 29th I preached the service live from my dining room with Lina on piano. I was a fevered mess, but we made it through.
But Monday the world caved in. What was just a fever wrapped itself around my lungs and began to squeeze. I could barely walk up the stairs to shower. I had to sit down to brush my teeth because I would just gas out from standing too long. Every day I would walk upstairs and use all my strength to shower. I have heard that this was a good thing. I didn’t know it, but this thing knocks you on your butt and makes you want to lay there in pain. But there are voices that say the standing and walking and sitting up is good for knocking it out of you. I didn’t know that then, I just wanted to exert some control in the midst of my powerlessness.
Come Friday April 3rd I finally had to admit I was in trouble. The fever wasn’t breaking, it actually would lie low all day and then spike in the evening. Every night was a war for my sanity. I would have these crazy fevered dreams and would wake up in the dark alone having to convince myself that the dreams weren’t real. So on Friday I went to my family doctor. He made me wait in my truck and came out to test me for Influenza A and B. He came out in a mask and gloves and swabbed me. I waited 15 minutes and then he came out in full PPE gear. I laughed when I saw him in full Biohazard gear. I knew at that moment it was not the flu. He came over, stuck the longest Q-tip I had ever seen into my nose. This may have been one of the most difficult parts of the whole journey. I swear he poked my brain with that Q-Tip. As he withdrew it I fell into a coughing fit that I almost couldn’t recover from.
Saturday the 4th and Sunday the 5th were the two hardest days of the entire sickness. The fever stayed high all day. I had to lie perfectly still and I breathed shallow breaths to keep my body running. When I rose to the go to the bathroom I would immediately go into coughing fits. I would lay down and it would take a good five to ten minutes to calm my lungs down so they could get me enough air. I got bad enough that some friends convinced Angie I needed to go into the hospital. We called the ER and I got put through to a doctor. They asked good questions, and they made us do some tests to see how bad my lungs were. The tests revealed that I was right on the edge of danger. They said they would accept me if I came in, and the choice was mine.
I don’t know why I chose to stay home, but I did. And Angie allowed it. I just wanted to be close to my family. I didn’t want to be in this misery alone in a hospital. Just the sound of the kids playing brought strength to my failing will.
The weekend was hard for Angie. We have talked about it since, and she was really worried. I don’t remember it well, but she tells me I was fading. She could see it robbing my will to fight. She says I was discouraged and had stopped making jokes. Yeah. I think that did happen.
It was Sunday night the 5th where God and I had a long talk about what happened next. I was losing the fight against this thing and wondered for the first time what losing might look like. So God and I talked about everything. About dying, about living, about going home. And though I asked Jesus for more life, I came to a place of peace. Whatever happened, I trusted Him with it.
Monday April 6th I awoke and was surprised to find I had slept through the night without a fevered dream in the night. Angie gave me my morning temp check to find that the fever had broken. Not only that, but the tightness around my lungs had let up a little. Not all the way, but enough for me to talk without fear. I sat up and hope filled my heart. The doctor called at 10a to tell me I had the Coronavirus and that I was to continue isolation. The County Health Department called and they asked me all kinds of questions about the sickness. I was so glad that I had the heart to answer. I was still coughing something nasty, and I couldn’t take full breaths. But the fever was gone. That one thing was such a burden lifted.
Tuesday April 7th I awoke again to find no fever and more lung capacity. And I knew that I was going to be okay. The virus was leaving me. Slowly, but leaving all the same.
I write these words on Monday, April 13th with a heart full of joy. I am still not 100%. This thing just hangs on. I still have a cough. I still don’t have full lungs. I am still weak in my muscles. I can’t even do 150 on the bench right now. But everyday I feel my body and mind standing up. My kids are no longer afraid of me, and they cuddle me after they finish their homeschooling. I have moved back upstairs and am sleeping in my bed again. I have an appetite to eat wonderful food that some families in the church have been bringing over (thank you!). I can talk on the phone without gassing out. And through the power of technology, I was able to preach Easter to our church yesterday.
I have learned much during this time of weakness. I have been truly humbled, which is a lesson that I hope to not need every season of my life.
I want to thank all who prayed for our family during this time of sickness. I want to thank all those who brought groceries and food for us to eat as we have been unable to leave our home for weeks. Thank you for cards and texts and kindness.
And for those who are going to ask, Angie is doing great. We are pretty confident she caught this thing as she cared for me. But her symptoms were very different from my own. They were not serious and were like a strong congestion. But even she is healing. As for the kids, this thing didn’t phase them. They had a cough for a few days, but it took no hold over them. For this and for so much more we are grateful.