OPINION

COVID-19: Don’t ignore this wake-up call!

Rev. Kim Hurley Andrews
St. John News
Pastor of three churches in Stafford County, Rev. Kim Hurley Andrews, advises others to listen to health officials and be honest when dealing with possible COVID-19 exposure and testing protocols, or risk death.

I want you to think about soup, for a while. There’s the thin, basic kind, which is good when you’re feeling poorly. The kind most of us grew up on. Then there’s the chunky kind—more expensive, first promoted by an NFL player and his mom.

Soup is the best way I know to explain COVID-19. Obviously if you sit and soak in any soup, you’re gonna get wet. Take a quick dip in and out, and you might dry off quickly. Sit and soak for awhile, like a long hot bath, and you’re gonna need to rinse off the chunks.

Have I got your attention, yet? I’m not a medical expert but I can tell you about my experience. See, the last time I wrote an article for an area newspaper, I was experiencing Covid firsthand. Two weeks. I was going to power through, and be okay. I got hit pretty quickly, pretty hard. I was trying to get used to sleepless nights, and alternating between chills and fever, and waking up in puddles of sweat. I hurt down to my bones. I never lost my sense of taste or smell. 

Ironically, I was nauseated by strong smells. I had a bad headache/shoulders/neck. But still, I thought I could power through.

Until late one night, after I’d had problems with my chest rattling. I do have some asthma. Usually I can cough out that stuff. Clear my throat. But that wasn’t happening anymore. It’s hard to sleep, lying down, when you’re making noise.

I went downstairs to my recliner. And in short order, I was pacing the floor. Rapid heart rate. Pounding. Couldn’t catch my breath. Felt like I was going to explode. I called ER, said I was in trouble. Could a friend come pick me up? they asked. In the middle of the night? In a house filled with Covid? I wondered aloud. “Nope,” I said. “I’ll drive myself in.” So I did. And nearly passed out, waiting on someone to open the back door and let me in. Of course, they didn’t know that part.

They laid me on a gurney, monitored me. Slowly my heart rate, breathing slowed. I couldn’t hardly talk before this, was shaking. They wanted to keep me overnight and monitor me. I was silently relieved. However, I didn’t know it was the beginning of a nine–day hospital stay. I just didn’t know anything, at that point.

All I knew was that I’d been exposed with a large group of people, in the middle of a big pot of chunky soup. One person was quite ill, and didn’t really know it. In fact, he denied it, irritated I was wearing a mask in his house. He ended up in the hospital two days later. They buried him about a week ago. He also had Covid pneumonia, like me. People sitting close to me were also hospitalized, or very ill with COVID-19. The rest of us were blessed to make it through this, alive.

We’d been sitting in the same pot of chunky soup, together, for more than an hour. The only difference was, I was wearing a mask, and they were not. I’m convinced if I hadn’t, I would’ve ended up on a vent, or in the back room of a funeral home.

I don’t know how you can go from thin, basic soup to chunky. To having minimal symptoms, to something as serious as Covid pneumonia, or throwing blood clots or having a heart attack. But I do know things can quickly turn. Covid pneumonia and being on a ventilator is so commonplace at this point, it’s almost contagious. And to be around someone that sick, and to soak in it, in the place where they’ve been sick, is inviting the same upon yourself.

The main problem is, no one knows which soup they’re sitting in. Someone, like this man, could guess he was sitting in a nice, thin chicken noodle you add a cup of water to, when it was actually the creamy kind with those big chunks of white meat and thick noodles like grandma used to make. Only in hindsight will you know.

It helps when people are honest, and diligent. When they tell the truth about being positive, when they stay in quarantine as long as they’re supposed to. When they don’t argue with county health officials, or refuse to cooperate with them. It helps when medical people in families are responsible and don’t encourage risky behavior. And yes, it does help to wear a mask. Even when you’re the only one doing so.

I’m not sure how much this experience will cost me, in terms of my health, long term. In terms of my pocketbook, once the bills come in. I know who’s responsible. I know who was largely irresponsible. I still love them; I’m just greatly disappointed by their behavior. The saddest thing is, I’ve learned with Covid that I can no longer trust people or take them at their word.

We have been fed so much misinformation and confusion regarding Covid in America that we need someone to slap us in the face to come to our senses. We need leaders in our state and local government and churches who will actually act like leaders and stop cowtowing to what their constituents prefer, courting to our petty little needs. Parents shouldn’t do this, with kids. We know that. We need the adults to come back into the room.

We need leaders who will remember they took an oath, once upon a time, to take care of the people entrusted to them. We need leaders, both male and female, with testicles. People who haven’t been emasculated by politics, who will say and do unpopular things to get us all back on the road to health.

What else can I say? It’s pretty obvious to me that we’ve been plenty stupid, although I really hate that word. More and more people will pay the consequences, as a result. Just today I learned another dear person has died, after being on a ventilator. It’s sad to think we can no longer assume the best about people. That we have to assume they’re not telling us the truth, just to keep ourselves and our loved ones alive. But it’s where we find ourselves, currently. Hopefully, it won’t be the last place we’ll ever be.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. —1 Cor. 10:24-25