July 23, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A COVID-19 Recovery and Community Appreciation

I’m a 30-year-old Highland Park resident who works as a clinical social worker. On March 25, I didn’t feel well. I’m a seasoned sufferer of regular sinus infections, colds,and the like, so I didn’t think much of it. The next day, I made it halfway through a workday of seeing clients when I realized I simply could not continue working. I called and emailed my final clients of the day and canceled their sessions, then climbed into bed and collapsed into a nap. By Shabbat I was having trouble breathing, and felt like my chest was tight and heavy, as if something was wrapped tightly around my lungs. I realized then that I likely had COVID. This symptom, trouble breathing, was the predominant symptom I had for the next four weeks, accompanied by fatigue, lethargy, headaches, nausea and decreased appetite. At the beginning of that week, I had gone for a six-mile run; by the end of the week, a walk to the bathroom left me dizzy and exhausted.

The worst part of having COVID was feeling so utterly useless. As a therapist, being unable to offer sessions to my clients for three weeks running—with no ability to guarantee any precise return date—felt like a betrayal of the support I was supposed to be offering them, right when so many of them needed it most. There were two or more weeks where my symptoms did not seem to change, and this gave me the hopeless sense that I would be sick forever, even if logic told me otherwise. The boredom, hopelessness and uselessness felt endless and discouraging.

On the other hand, my friends in the Highland Park/Congregation Ahavas Achim community rallied around me with so much support, goodwill, and innovative ways to help that I knew mine and my husband’s needs would not go unatttended. In the midst of the illness, Pesach came and with it the responsibility of having our first ever Sedarim at home. We received all the food and supplies we needed to get through the holiday. Family supplied us with catered food, friends made multiple trips to Glatt 27 and strangers picked up medications for me. Friends in the neighborhood dropped off books for me to read, knowing they wouldn’t get them back for weeks. I had friends in Israel, Kansas and Ohio checking in on me on a regular basis, making sure that I didn’t utterly lose my sanity.

And standing uncomplaining through it all, I had my husband Jeremy, who while continuing to work from home, was additionally faced with complete responsibility for the house, our dog and me—a whiny and contagious lump, huddled on the couch, needing frequent consolation that I would not, in fact, be broken forever.

I am so grateful to be recovered from COVID. I’ve been back at work for a week and half now, able to see clients again, go for walks outside and enjoy everyday activities like cooking dinner. My advice to others, at this time—please, do not be cavalier about your own health, even if you’re young or hardy. My case was technically mild. Nevertheless, the virus knocked me out for a full month, keeping me from work and from everyday activities. Even if you’re not at risk of serious complications or death, this is not a fun illness. I think we can all agree that masks look ridiculous, and that gloves are a pain, but it’s a small price to pay to avoid possible weeks of debilitating symptoms.

By Simi Lichtman

 

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