Forced to Slow Down

Last Tuesday, I started feeling under the weather. I believed it was typical allergy issues, but as the weekend progressed my sniffles grew into a post nasal drip, then I started coughing up stuff, and well you know how that goes.

I don’t get sick very often. Maybe once every two or three years and usually it’s for 24-36 hours. I’m a bit of a germaphobe and so I go out of my way to keep things as sanitized as possible and I believe that is what keeps me on this side of healthy. So, when this illness crept up out of nowhere and for the first time in a very long time I felt quite fatigued, naturally I got a little worried.

I took two rapid COVID tests and ended up at the doctor who diagnosed with me a cold. A cold? Really? That’s all!? I haven’t had a cold since I was a kid. This had to be a sinus infection, respiratory infection, COVID or something didn’t it? Two days later, I still felt terrible and I found myself in line for a PCR COVID test sure that the rapid tests had missed something.

A few minutes ago, I got my results. Not detected. I don’t have COVID, just a cold.

Originally, I had taken off today as a personal day. I needed a mental health day after the non-stop stress that I’ve seemingly been engaged in for the past month. I knew I needed a little “me” time so I took it. Then of course, I got sick and my time wasn’t utilized exactly the way I wanted, but I can’t help but notice that maybe I got this sick, this quickly for a reason. Maybe my body was forcing me to slow down.

I knew I wasn’t taking enough time to relax. I wasn’t disconnecting enough or prioritizing my values. I was just going non-stop while stuck in the midst of a stress cycle. Now, a handful of days into being sick, I had enough time to really think about what was important to me and what wasn’t. And I credit COVID for some of that.

An ongoing pandemic really upped the odds of my cold being more severe than usual. I would have never sweated having a cold in the past. I’m relatively young and healthy, what’s there to fear? But this time, I had to acknowledge that lingering thought in the back of my head that maybe this is severe. Maybe this is life ending. Maybe you need to reevaluate things.

I remember, listening to one of those cheesy, inspirational videos on YouTube once. The motivational speaker was talking about having an asthma attack. He discussed how while in the midst of such an attack, the only thing on your mind is getting your next breath. You don’t care about who won the basketball game or the fight you had with a friend, you just want to breathe. It really puts things into perspective, the same way terminal illnesses do and while I would never want to compare my cold to a terminal illness or asthma attack, I think it affected me in a very similar way. It was a wake up call to help me figure out what is important to me and what is not.

I don’t have everything figured out yet, but I’ve already begun making a few changes in my life. I’m also still recovering from this cold and trying to get as much sleep as possible. But I think this cold might have been the best thing to happen to me in quite some time.