By Joyce Vissell
After being so careful for nine months, my husband Barry mysteriously contacted the COVID-19 virus. Within days, he tested positive and within a few days after that, I tested positive as well. We never were in a gathering of people of any size. We always wore our masks, washed our hands, used hand sanitizer, and kept the required distance. And yet the virus found its way into our lives. Barry had a mild case, but I got really sick for more than four weeks. How did I survive this potentially deadly virus?
There is much information on the internet on ways to take care of yourself medically if you test positive with COVID-19. These tips are extremely useful, like never lying on your back, and getting up and walking often. But in this article, I am giving ways to help your spirit, for keeping your spirit vital and alive is an important ingredient for healing.
One important thing I did was to reach out and ask for help. I texted and emailed people I knew who believed in prayer, and I asked them to pray for me. In the beginning of my illness, I was so sick with fevers and a bad cough. I knew this virus can spread to the lungs so severely that within a matter of hours a person can die even before they make it to the hospital for help. It was a scary time for me.
More than ever before in my life I knew that I needed the prayers and love from others. I texted my brother in Minnesota and asked him and his four children to pray for me as I knew that this is a regular part of their lives. I asked everyone I could think of for help. This was both humbling and at the same time very empowering. It was humbling as I felt so vulnerable and weak, and knew I sincerely needed help. It was empowering because I was reaching out and doing something for myself.
We do not have a large following, maybe 150 people, but those people tell us that they look forward to the videos each Sunday. Barry asked me to do a video with him, and asked me to ask for help on the video. At first, I said a definite “No!” It felt too scary to actually make a video with me feeling so sick and with a fever.
Barry has gently pushed me into other things in my life that I had not wanted to do out of fear, and I have felt grateful afterward. So I trusted him and said I would do it. I spoke about feeling sick with the COVID virus and needing prayers and support. But then Barry put his hand on my heart and asked people to pray for me while they were watching the video.
I started to cry and the fullness of my vulnerability was seen right there on the video. When we turned off the camera, I felt embarrassed to have shown so much vulnerability. But we sent it out and there was such a beautiful outpouring of love and prayers, and that energy helped me so much.
Everything people did for me helped enormously. This was a time to not be alone but to receive the love from others. This single step in reaching out and asking for help was so vitally important in my surviving the virus.
Another important thing I did was to focus on what I have and what was working, instead of only dwelling upon the COVID virus that was causing me to feel worse than I ever have before. In ten days, I lost 12 pounds and I felt like my body was starving. I could not eat anything, though I never lost my sense of smell and all foods smelled delicious.
Then I discovered that I could eat a certain kind of white rice called Congee. My blessed neighbor Donna made it for me. I could eat it and it made all of the difference. I could not eat anything else but I could eat this very plain almost tasteless rice. I focused on gratitude for the rice and tried to not focus on the many things I truly enjoy like salads.
Even though my whole body felt horrible, I could still breathe on my own and that one fact caused me to feel gratitude almost every hour. In so many ways all of my body was very sick, but I could breathe and that was the one thing that I focused all of my gratitude on. The times that I gave in to just focusing on how really sick and sad I felt, those were very difficult times in the day. But if I could keep up a steady flow of gratitude, my days and my difficulties with the COVID virus were manageable.
And then also so important was to receive all of the love and support that was given. I kept up a steady flow of gratitude to each person who reached out to me and when I was just too sick, I would lie in bed and think of people who I knew loved me and were sending me their prayers and love. Receiving this love into my heart was such a blessing.
And the most important of all was to focus on God’s love for me and the steady feeling of caring. I thought of other very difficult and challenging times in my life and realized I had received help, and this time I was also. So, to the unseen presence of God and to the many who prayed for me and did small acts of kindness, I give you my deepest gratitude. You made all the difference.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, a prayer said for another, or the smallest act of caring all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” — Leo Buscaglia
Joyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964 and Aptos residents since 1975, are passionate about conscious relationship and personal-spiritual growth. They are the authors of 9 books. Call 831-684-2130 for information on counseling sessions by phone, on-line, or in person, their books, recordings or their schedule of talks and workshops. Visit their website, SharedHeart.org