by Ashley Miller, Salford congregation
Ashley and Chris Miller (who attend Salford Mennonite Church in Harleyesville, PA) have been going through their own personal experience of COVID-19. Ashley began experiencing symptoms on March 15 and tested positive for the disease. Ashley has courageously and generously written about her experience.
March 29, 2020
I am stepping outside of my comfort zone as I am not one to share on such public platforms. There is fear and mystery that surround COVID-19, and I’d like to share my family’s experience.
Two weeks ago, I started to feel sick with what I thought were flu-like symptoms. I felt tired, achy, low grade fever, chills, and an unrelenting headache. I lost my sense of smell. Within a few days I developed a cough and tightness in my chest which resulted in difficulty breathing. I also experienced a strange sensation that I can only describe as breathing shattered glass in my lungs. It was a very intense pain. I have asthma so some of the symptoms felt familiar to me. As the week went on, I realized my symptoms were getting worse instead of improving. After talking with my doctor, it was agreed that I’d be tested for the Flu, RSV, and COVID-19. I received negative results for the Flu and RSV. After waiting seven days, my test results for COVID-19 were POSITIVE. To my knowledge, I did not encounter anyone who had been exposed or who tested positive, so my case is one that is considered “community spread.”
At the onset of my symptoms, I began my isolation period. Despite our best efforts, both my husband Chris and daughter Ava developed symptoms. Their cases are considered presumed positive. Chris’ symptoms were similar to mine but fortunately milder. Ava began presenting with cold-like symptoms and some mild respiratory symptoms. Both are now doing well!
Throughout this experience, I was reminded to rely on my faith and to trust my intuition. As someone who can be anxious, fighting a sickness like this while isolating yourself from your family, doctors, and the world was/is incredibly hard on one’s mental health. I quickly became aware that I needed to utilize the strategies I often discuss with my clients. I turned off the news, limited my social media, and stopped researching “coronavirus.” I changed my mindset from one of fear to one of strength by focusing on healing. I listened to my body and allowed myself to be still, to rest, to heal.
When I initially received the COVID-19 test results, I was hoping for a sense of peace. I wasn’t prepared for the feelings of shame, guilt, and sadness that flooded me with hearing I tested positive. There is no “right’ way to feel; none of us have dealt with a pandemic before, but just as this pandemic has a beginning, there will be an end.
As we focus on our physical health, may we not lose sight of our mental wellness. My hope is that we allow ourselves to hold space for all of our feelings including those of grief, sadness, and fear that we may experience. Continue to find creative ways to connect with the people in your life. Please don’t be afraid to reach out for help.
I offer our story as a sign of hope. I continue to feel stronger each day and must remind myself to be patient as I move towards total healing. I continue to have symptoms which means that we will continue to follow the quarantine protocol but I look forward to moving out of my isolation room and giving my husband and kids a big hug and kiss.