I remember when I realized Covid was going to be one of “those viruses.” I was in Ghana for 10 days with a group of students in March 2020, not knowing that this would be my last trip for a while. When we returned, I vowed to do everything I could to prevent from getting Covid, especially since reports showed that it impacted African Americans the most. I stayed in the house, except for grocery shopping. I wore a mask everywhere and could not understand why this was such a national issue. Throughout 2020 I stayed diligent and felt good throughout most of the year, even as I heard stories from family, friends, and students about their struggles with Covid.
Then, in November 2020, I noticed that my bowel movements had turned black. Not being in the medical field, I did not know that black stools meant blood in stools. Instead, I did the “guy thing,” I ignored it. Looking back, I think I ignored it because each day I woke up feeling great. However, that ended in December when I started to experience shortness of breath whenever I exerted myself, like during running. A trip to the doctor revealed that I was bleeding internally “somewhere” and was anemic. I had an endoscopy scheduled for Dec. 31st, but with each passing day as I continued to bleed out, my condition deteriorated quickly and on Dec. 26th I found myself in the emergency room. I remember the nurse telling me how glad she was to see me because tests showed that I was living on 1/3 of my blood capacity and would not have made it much longer if I did not get immediate assistance. Eventually, the bleeding was discovered and repaired, and my blood levels slowly returned to normal. What I learned from this process is that I need to stop suffering in silence. I saw things going on with my body but never told anyone. When I was in the hospital, I texted family and best friends to let them know what was happening and they all were shocked because I never said anything to them and thus, they did not know. I must do a better job of communicating with family and friends when dealing with personal issues. Even Communication Professors must be reminded of this!
In February, I was driving down the street and a gentleman pulled out in front of me while at a stop sign. He didn’t see me, and I totaled his car with him and his wife in it. He was 90 years old; she was 87 years old. We all walked away, unharmed, and I am blessed and thankful for that. I am also thankful that God gave me the patience and knowledge to communicate with the elderly. My parents are in their 80s, and most of the people at my church are elderly as well. It takes patience, empathy, and a caring spirit to do it. However, my life has been fulfilled by the communication and contact I have with the elderly.
Finally, in March, just when I thought my health was beginning to improve, I got Covid 5 days before I was scheduled to get the first vaccine. One day I started coughing and woke up with my lungs filled with phlegm. That was not the most worrisome symptom I experienced, as I had difficulty staying awake and experienced cold chills. Otherwise, I would have thought my allergies were flaring up as they usually do in March. I struggled with it for 2.5 weeks before I started to feel normal again. Certainly, I am thankful that it was not worse than it was because I was still trying to improve my blood levels from the December incident. I am also thankful for my family and friends, who brought me food on occasion, and my church family, who prayed with me regularly, and my work family who checked in on me and had flowers delivered to my home.
The moral of these stories is that I thought the devil was trying to take me out to begin 2021. However, by leaning on family, friends, and God, I was able to persevere and make it to my 50th birthday in June and, for that, I am grateful!