Coping with Covid: emotional and physical wellbeing while fighting the virus

LGBTQ+ community member and climber / yoga bunny Kirsti writes about her experience of the corona virus and how she is minding her health while battling the illness.

“All clear! You can go back to sports! Climbing and contact sports too!”

I was ready to kiss my neurologist at those words. A clash of heads during training with Geraldine’s Mothers and Others Ladies GAA team left me concussed and dealing with vertigo, constant nausea and fatigue for five months throughout last winter. They were dark, dizzy days, until my neurologist cured me with simple migraine medication. I got the all clear to go back to sports on Wednesday 11th March after a final CT scan. The next day school closures were announced. My climbing centre, Gravity in Inchicore, announced restrictions, before closing its doors entirely a few days later. Two days after that my Covid19 symptoms showed up.

So at this stage I’m a pro at coping with illness and isolation that comes along with it. It’s day 23 today of my Covid 19 self- isolation and I’m over the worst. Despite not having been outside in 23 days, I feel less isolated now than I did during my post-concussion days. I see a lot more of my friends now, even if it’s through a blurry Zoom connection. Still no sign of official results at the time of writing this, eleven days after my Covid 19 test in Tallaght Stadium. The last time I was at Tallaght stadium I watched the Irish women’s Soccer team beat Greece 1-0 in early March. A few weeks later I was back at the stadium being told to blow my nose before getting a cotton wad stuck up through my nostril down to the back of my throat. It’s eleven days after that test now, 19 days since my symptoms first showed up and I still can’t take a deep full breath when Adriene from Yoga with Adriene tells me to. Sometimes her faster sequences send my heart racing so fast I have to skip the next section and chill in Child’s Pose until I’ve calmed my heart down enough to convince myself I’m not having an actual heart attack.

I was planning on running the Dublin Marathon this year. I don’t think that is on the cards any more. I can’t do a few repeats of Cat Cow without getting out of breath. It’s not all bad though, there are a few positive side effects. I can’t smell the litter tray or my own armpits and I have stopped bothering with deodorant several days ago now. Everything in my world smells nice and fresh, all the time.

My fingers have been on the green button about to dial 911 a couple of times during this illness. A few nights when my lungs were so full with the virus they felt like they couldn’t fit any oxygen in at all. Nights when I paced around my living room in circles to get blood flowing into my toes that had started going numb with what I presumed was lack of oxygen. It’s not a fun illness. Stay at home. However long it takes.

So I’m 40 something and living alone for the first time in my life and am now restricted to inside my four walls for 23 days and counting now. Just me, myself and my Shadow, a cat, for company. It’s lucky really that enjoying my own company is still somewhat of a novelty and that the wallpaper in my new gaff is really quite interesting. This is a list of some things that helped in surviving this illness and keeping it together. If you are unlucky enough to get Covid maybe some of these things will help you too:

1. Fresh air. All the windows open. All the time. Seriously. Oxygen.

2. Yoga with Adriene I’m a long time practitioner of yoga yet her beginner-friendly Home – A 30 Day Yoga Journey, in little twenty minute clips has been great during my illness, and deepening my practice too, a day at time. She focuses on different parts of the body and mind each day. Some days these twenty minutes with Adriene are all the movement I can manage. There was one day, my darkest day, when just breathing was hard work and I didn’t manage the yoga. But otherwise she has been such a constant presence during these 23 days that we are practically married now, as far as I am concerned. Together we pet her dog, Benji, at least once during each session.

3. ALL the windows open. Even when the heating is on. Air is a priority now. Have a glass of water too.

4. My cat Shadow. She has a strict routine and no matter how riddled with illness I might be breakfast is served at 8am and dinner at 8pm and There Are No Exceptions! She takes herself out for walks and keeps me under a strict routine. Get a cat. Cats are the best pets.

5. I’m not kidding about the windows. A hot bath with all the windows open and I can almost breathe normally again. Fresh ginger chopped up fine with some honey and lemon and I almost feel human again. Chew on the bits of ginger for relief from a sore throat. It seems to boost circulation also.

6. Meditation on zoom with Dublin Buddhist Centre and Running Amoch Meetups. The Buddhist Metta Bhavana, (Loving Kindness) meditation has a part where you tell yourself: “May you be well, may you be happy.” These last six months when I have not been so well and not always that happy that part has been hard. Most days there are tears at this bit and that is ok, tears are part of the journey too.

7. More fresh air. Seriously. All the blankets if necessary but leave that fecking window open. Means the cat can get out too if the worst comes to the worst and I’m not around anymore to give her royal highness her breakfast at 8am tomorrow. (I will be, don’t worry. I’m over the worst. You will be too.)

Still, Covid is an illness that makes you face the prospect of your own mortality and make peace with that. One day we all die and on that note: may you be well, may you be happy.




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