Some months ago, my friend and fellow Faith and Health Ambassador Stephanie Wilkins, came through a really difficult struggle with COVID 19. In this post, she shares about this personal struggle and how she turned to God and her strong faith and her relationships with her family to make it through this very difficult time.
I hope that what Stephanie shares here will be an encouragement to you. As you read her account, reflect on the spiritual, emotional and physical resources that God makes available to you during your most difficult trials.
Here is Stephanie’s story about her experience with COVID 19:
After a great weekend at a Christian women’s conference, worshiping and spending the weekend with my girlfriends and my daughter, I was back home. Then, the next day, I woke up feeling unwell, but passed it off as something I ate at the conference over the weekend and/or a medication mishap of combining the wrong OTC drugs with a supplement I had taken.
So, the next morning, off we traveled from Georgia, to East Texas, by car, to see my Mother for her 74th birthday and when we arrived, I thought, well, maybe it wasn’t the medication I took after all, maybe, I have a cold. I was smart enough, however, to keep my distance from everyone. I proceeded to take it easy, and although it was hard, I insisted on no hugs or kisses for my Mother or Father and we stayed at least six feet apart. We celebrated the birthday the following day, but the next day, I was exhausted and just laid on the couch, pretty much all day long. Then, I started coughing, and developed a lot of congestion. Bronchitis is what I kept preaching to everyone, but it wasn’t but one more day that my husband started to develop some symptoms as well, and then, in the back of my mind, I knew.
My husband said he was going to an urgent care to get tested for COVID and that I should too. I asked him to please go for both of us because now my body had begun to ache deep into my bones and I had started feeling nauseas as my fever was on the rise. This was definitely not Bronchitis. Sure enough, He tested positive for COVID and I knew we had to make it home, so I could get to the Dr. too. So, we said our goodbyes, thanking God that my parents were vaccinated and that we had not made any physical contact with them the entire short time we were there, but yet, we still worried about them in the back of our minds because the house was quite small.
When I first got sick, I was three days ahead of my husband. During those first few days of his illness, I was at my worst. My fever was so high that I was talking out of my head. He cared for me vigilantly, although he was beginning to feel terrible as well. He got us back home from Texas, got us to the Dr. and got us our medication. He just kept going and I really don’t know how. He just did. I was grateful for his strength and his judgement. He was on the phone making a plan for us. I felt non-existent on that front because I was so ill. He was also able to get the antibody treatment that I was so hopeful for as well, but unfortunately, I did not qualify for it. I was so happy for him though because I didn’t want him to experience the pain and the nausea that was keeping me glued to the bed. At the urgent care, I was so sick that I couldn’t stand up. They told me that there was nothing they could do for me unless I happened to have fluid in my lungs, which I did by the way! I was given an anti-biotic for that, and nausea medication that helped me get through the next week, and kept my lungs clear.
I never want anyone to feel what I felt. Throughout the process, I became extra sensitive to the pain and suffering of people with other illnesses, such as Cancer. 2.5 weeks, is nothing to go though in comparison to months of treatments, and nausea with no end in sight for so many. To all of you who had very minimal symptoms and COVID was short lived, count your blessings, because as you know, each person’s body handles the virus differently.
We were quarantined in our basement apartment and well cared for by my daughter, who happens to be an ICU nurse. I was surprised by her tenacity and her ability to tell me exactly what to do and to enforce it with her stubborn Mom, who kept telling her, at the time, because I was very fearful, because of the breathing difficulties, my oxygen levels, and the amount of mucus that I had, that I needed to go to the hospital. I seriously felt as if I was going to die. She got in my face and said, “No, you are going to drink this water, you are going to take your meds, you’re not going to the hospital and you are going to be okay.” She told me that they could do nothing different for me at the hospital because I was stable, and that it was better for me to stay at home, away from the germs. She made me take my medicines, my supplements, my breathing treatments and she loved me through the nausea, the excruciating pain, and the sleepless nights. She was my rock.
My son jumped in as well and ran many errands for us. He held the fort down here at our home with his sister and they took care of any errands we needed to have run and made sure we were well fed and hydrated. The kids made us proud of who they are by how they cared for us. Their character shined through. I love my kids so much!
My friends showed up in so many ways. My girlfriends prayed with me, they called, they sent food, supplements, and so much love to me. One friend, even sent a supplement and essential oil care package to us that really helped me in my recovery! My cousin was there for me too. She is like the sister I never had so I was so happy to hear from her throughout my recovery. She encouraged me and just loved on me. The church that we had just joined after being at another one for over 15 years, loved on us through texts, emails, phone calls, prayers, and offers to bring us things. It was overwhelming. God worked in amazing ways to show me true love when I needed it.
My Mom and Dad called me every day. Mom has Parkinson’s disease as well as the beginning stages of dementia. Because I know how she suffers physically and mentally on a daily basis, it really touched my heart that she was so concerned about me. She is chronic and is never critical of others and never complains about her situation. I gained a deeper respect for my Mother throughout this ordeal!
I kept thinking about people with no family, no home, or no friends to care for them! What do they do? They have to go to the hospital. There is no alternative for them. Praise the Lord for our hospitals, nurses and doctors. I could not stop thinking about this because some of my nutrition clients have had COVID. One in particular had “long COVID” recovery issues she was dealing with. All my clients that seem to have the most issues with their chronic conditions have one thing in common, NO FAMILY to care for them! I began to think about what I could do to help these people, on a deeper level, in the future. I’m expanding my ministry practice to provide more time and attention for these individuals and the incredible amount of stress they are under without people to reach out to! Connections are paramount in positive self-management of any chronic condition.
While I was away physically and mentally, during that first week at home, I missed my mother desperately, and also my Dad, my son, my pets, and all my friends. While I was away, I missed the sunshine and the simplicity of a great meal with family. I missed good sleep, and I missed my bed, my kitchen, and the rest of my house. During this crazy time, I became less concerned about my appearance, my work, social media, and some superficial goals I had been working on! What a reevaluation of life that transpired in just 17 days!
What’s important to me now is much different than before. Now, I ask God, each morning, what can I do for you today? I realize, at a much deeper level, that it is Him who gives me each breath and knows each hair on my head, not politics, news, mandates, vaccines or no vaccines. My concern has now come back to how I can spread His love to others who need His hope to get through the day. I pray the outlook I have now lasts until I go home to be with Jesus. His grace is sufficient though, if I stray away from what’s important again, which I’m sure that I will, as an imperfect human being, but I’m so grateful for this reminder, although the lesson was an extremely hard one to learn.
My pets, who were just a bother to me so much of the time before, are now my best friends again and all I want for them to do is to lay across my body and comfort me which they do very well. All three of my dogs are more settled now and less of an issue behaviorally because I have slowed down and acknowledge their presence in my life more than I did before. They love me the same, but I love them so much more than before. God is so good to give us sweet creatures for comfort. Animals are amazing.
The entire experience was overwhelming, a blessing, and a curse all at the same time. I’m so thankful and happy to be on the other side of 17 days and now I’m counting each day of renewed energy, pain free living, and new thoughts. I do have some residual effects, but God is good and helping me through. I’m thankful for each step I can take and each breath I can take. I’m thankful for each bite of food that I can eat. God is good and He is still in control. My parents never got sick, thank God. I don’t think I could have forgiven myself, if either of them had gotten it from us. I’m still exhausted, but I’m a survivor.
I have been reading the book of Romans during my recovery and my absolute favorite passage is from Romans 8. I clung to this, when I was feeling really bad. “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death, nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from Good’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I think the most important lesson I learned from encountering this virus is about human frailty, vulnerability and suffering. We are all in this one together, no matter what side of the equation you fall on. We are all at the mercy of God, and if this virus falls on you or a loved one, vaccinated or not, you will experience COVID and COVID tends to leave a lasting imprint.
As a certified Nutrition Consultant, I will say that juicing helped in my recovery, and had I not been healthy before I came down with COVID, I don’t know what the outcome would have been because I had such a bad case, so eating well and taking care of yourself matters, but what mattered the most was my faith and an attitude of hope. My faith gave me a reason to keep on believing that God had a plan through all of this, and that my life was in His hands. That’s the best place to be when you don’t know what the future holds. Apparently, my time here is not done, so with what I have left, I’m ready to continue my role as a Faith and Health Ambassador for Christ and further holistic care for people with chronic conditions.
If you are going through COVID or another illness or chronic condition that you need help with, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I am happy to research things for you, to visit extensively with you, and to provide you with evidence-based health and nutrition information that you may need to make good self-management decisions for yourself! I pray that by sharing my experience here it will help you with your prayer life, deepen your trust in Jesus and encourage you to learn as much as you can from the experiences you go through.
Stephanie Wilkins, CNC, is a Certified Nutrition Consultant and the founder of No More Bandaids which is a ministry of encouragement to caretakers and those suffering with chronic conditions. Stephanie spends her days researching evidence-based nutrition and health information and develops personalized healthy living plans for clients. As well, she teaches, speaks and blogs about health and wellness from a Christian perspective and is equipped as a Faith and Health Ambassador from this ministry.