The cold surface felt good on my cheek. I turned my head to the other side, looking for fresh coolness for my other cheek. Slowly, I realized the cool feeling wasn’t coming from a soft, fresh pillowcase. I was facedown on the hardwood floor.
“Why am I sleeping on my stomach on the floor?” I thought. I hadn’t slept on my stomach since before my back surgery.
The fog started to lift. I was in my bathroom. But why was my face in the hallway? I brought my hand to my face and felt the dried, flaky remnants of blood around my eye. My forehead pounded. My nose and left eye throbbed. Did I tear the lid? Did I need stitches?
Until that moment, I had been numb from the COVID-19 pandemic. My body had been shifting into the same autopilot mode that had gotten me through other tough times in my life: a two-week spinal migraine with no one to help me, parenting three young sons on my own, losing my high school sweetheart in an automobile accident, and losing my only parent when I was a child.
The stress leading up to finding myself facedown on the floor in the middle of the night three weeks ago had been building. There was the realization that our world is in the midst of a pandemic, which dominates the 24-hour news channels. But that wasn’t all.
My youngest son was supposed to move to Washington, D.C., for a phenomenal opportunity as an assistant canvassing director. He was so proud and excited. Knowing he would be in such a big city with COVID-19 was scary, but all I could do was ask him for any “updates.” I hoped he wouldn’t go, then felt horrible that he might lose a great opportunity. His new position is now on hold, leaving him unemployed and uninsured.
My middle son works in a busy grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. When I heard the anxiety in his voice about the masses of people hoarding food and toilet paper, I knew I couldn’t protect him or ease his fears of contracting COVID-19.
My oldest son, a sales manager in the construction field, was coming face to face with customers every day. He has asthma, making him high risk. How long would he have to be exposed before the storefront closed and my first baby could be protected from this virus?
Disassociation from stress has always been my coping skill. After each conversation with one of my sons, I would feel the numbness overtake me. I would go into autopilot mode. There was nothing I could do to protect my children. As a Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) patient, I have no choice but to do all I can to isolate myself during this pandemic.
I thought I was successfully navigating it until I fainted and landed face-first on the floor, knocking myself out for close to an hour.
As a child, I fainted numerous times when under stress. I never made it out of the hospital after a blood draw without fainting. I passed out other times, but nothing was ever investigated. In those days, it was chalked up to “Dawn being Dawn.”
At the emergency room, extensive tests ruled out a cardiac cause. The doctor told me her findings: “Dawn, my guess is, based on your description, you had a vasovagal syncope episode, which is consistent with the autonomic dysfunction with your disease.”
As much as I tried to power through all that is uncontrollable in my life, my LEMS proved to be more powerful. I left the hospital after being diagnosed with a concussion. I was cautioned against television, computers, tablets, or any screen time. I was told not to read. But I didn’t realize that even holding a conversation would be exhausting. I don’t recall ever sleeping so much — or so hard.
It’s been three weeks since my concussion, and I’m dealing with post-concussion syndrome. It’s been difficult, but is there a better time to have to lie low than when the entire world is quarantined?
During a time when everything seems so out of control, it’s important to remember what we can control. We can choose our mindfulness. We can choose how much news we consume. We can choose how to spend our time in isolation. We can choose to meditate, do breathing exercises, and surround ourselves with things that relax us.
It’s not only important to protect our bodies during this time, it’s equally important to protect our spirit as well.
Note: Lambert-Eaton News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lambert-Eaton News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Lambert-Eaton myasthenia.
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