You’ve Tested Positive for Covid!
The news that three members of our family of four had tested positive for Covid-19 was a shock. After all the months of watching bad news and worsening numbers, we were now at the center of it. To say we were all stressed out and afraid was an understatement.
We’re sick, but how sick will we get? Will anyone have to go into emergency or need critical care? Will we all eventually get better? How long will it take? Will someone …?
How Did This Happen?
We don’t know how we got it, to be honest. We’d been careful. I have Crohn’s disease and I’ve lived with that chronic health condition for seventeen years of my life. I’m considered extremely vulnerable for COVID-19 due to the immunosuppressants I have to take at an infusion clinic once every six weeks to help my body stop attacking itself. Because of this, my family doctor and specialist urged us to get vaccinated.
We had also been following the provincial and federal health guidelines as they evolved.
But we still got COVID and it was awful.
Contact Tracing and Isolation
Fraser Health got a hold of us to do contact tracing and advise us on how to weather the disease. They reminded us that the vaccine isn’t a guarantee you won’t get COVID, but it’s quite effective at keeping you out of the hospital, off ventilators, and out of coffins and crematoriums. We took most of their isolation and wellness advice because it seemed reasonable—not leaving our home for two weeks and having no physical contact with other people, for example.
The one piece of advice we didn’t take, however, was their suggestion that my wife and I confine our son Hunter, who was first to be diagnosed, to his room for two weeks and leave meals outside his door.
My wife, who’s one of the kindest, most empathic people I know, told the healthcare worker, “I know you’re doing your job and probably reading from a script, but what you just described is prison. He’s five.”
We are grateful for the daily service provided and the real risks taken by our healthcare workers. But that last suggestion was a definite no go.
Weathering the Disease
I remember thinking on the worst day of my time spent with “the Bat Virus” as I like to call it now (humor helps me to keep moving): If this is what it’s like with the vaccine, what’s it like without it?
Our family agreed that I seemed to be less stressed and afraid than most people tend to be in these kinds of circumstances. It’s because I’m well practiced at being sick. I’ve learned how to stay grounded when the ground of your physical health is dissolving—along with your psychological, emotional, and spiritual health. And when this happens, there are two possible outcomes: either you are defeated by your circumstances, or you learn how to keep moving. By God’s grace, living with, and at times being crushed by Crohn’s disease, has taught me how to keep moving—and how, when the health of other people is compromised, to help them keep moving.
We got through our isolation period and are incrementally getting back to the level of physical health that’s normal for us. Thank God for that.
But it’s still hard.
…and Talking About It
The next part of this journey is to navigate the psychological, emotional, and spiritual hurt caused by this very difficult time for our family.
“Nobody talks about that part.” said someone whose family went through what we did. “And it’s one of the hardest parts.”
Though God is good all the time and all the time God is good, being hit with a novel and unpredictable disease can make His presence and goodness seem distant and intangible. And yet Jesus declares that God cares, and He’s near.
“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)
Speaking of Scripture, when people ask me what it was like having Covid I say it was like Jonah, stuck in the dark, acidic stomach of a big fish for three days and feeling it was more like 300 days. I’m back on my feet but I still feel like I’ve been spat out by a ‘big fish.’
Disoriented and reeling, I’m wondering: “What’s next, God?”
When I said this to my wife, she asked, “If that’s the case, what is it that we’ve been running from?”
I’m not sure I can answer that question. But I know I’ve been reluctant to share this story. I don’t know exactly what to say. I feel some worry and shame for contracting a highly contagious and potentially deadly virus that’s caused so much suffering, stigma, and division. I didn’t want to catch the disease or spread it, and I certainly don’t want to talk about it in ways that spread other kinds of illness.
So, maybe I should just let my five-year-old son preach for me.
Out of the Mouths of Babes
When we told Hunter he’d tested positive for the virus, he looked at us as he was chewing his lettuce and cheese sandwich. Then he said: “Well, I guess we’ll just have to learn how to live with it.”
Later that night, long after five year olds should be fast asleep, a little voice called out to us from the darkness.
“Hey… Don’t worry. God is with us.”
We’re going to have to live with this and God is with us.
Amen, son. Amen.
Michael Morelli, Ph.D., Assistant Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Assistant Professor of Theology, Culture and Ethics