Life-threatening Viral Concerns to Obsess Over

Modern Parent
Masked Mom and Daughter. Robin L. Jessie-GreenRobin L. Jessie-Green

Prior to the pandemic, I was already extremely cautious about my health. I had to be because the common cold could knock me on my backside. I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease and had a double lung transplant at the end of 2019. By February of 2020, just before the pandemic hit hard in the U.S., I was released from a nearly year-long hospital stay and was able to return back home to my family. I was a different woman. A more fragile woman and in full overprotective mommy mode.

You see, my fears had amplified. I was already living my life with pieces of my heart outside my body as they roamed the Philadelphia city streets to school. I was already nervous about my children’s potential dangerous encounters and threatening or uncomfortable daily experiences as they ventured out into the world. Now, I had tangible life-threatening viral concerns to obsess over.

My children suffered in my absence. Sure they had their father to take care of them, but we divorced years ago and they were used to mom being their primary parent. They thought I was going to die, and my heart actually did stop for a bit. They were living unnerved, on edge and insecure.

When I came home, I waddled around like a toddler. I avoided taking the stairs because it left me so out of breath. I was isolated in my lower-level bedroom while family life went on without me upstairs. I couldn’t help but ask myself, “am I doing this right?!” And the answer, of course, was hell no!

First thing on the list was to be more present in the present. I had a near-death experience, but I am still breathing. So, what am I going to do with the life I am actively living? I decided to push myself to climb the stairs and be more involved with my children. Although I was relieved they were safe at home with me, they were stressed over the mandatory online homeschooling.

I monitor their school activities and help with the homework I understand. Sometimes my MBA seems useless up against eighth-grade math! We get to eat lunch together when that would never happen during a school day when they had to go to the physical brick and mortar school buildings. Now, I hear more about what they are learning than I remember discussing with them in the past.

As for being housebound, I listen to their views on limiting visitors to our home. They were more concerned about me being high risk for contracting COVID-19 than I was because of this, I take things even more seriously now. I have to respect their wishes to ease their little hearts. My now fiance visits once a week, masks are worn, hand sanitizer used generously and alcohol is sprayed on every surface of which my visitor comes in contact. The same practices are used when my sister stops by on rare occasions.

Concerned about my kids developing cabin fever, I wondered how they were coping with no longer hanging out with friends. They assured me they are fine with it but that is primarily because they are fearful of bringing Coronvirus back home to me. Ugh! Again, I was asking myself, “am I doing this right?” Then I realized, I am raising compassionate children who care deeply about the safety of someone other than themselves. My kids love their mom and I love them back.

We will remain extra careful. We are not becoming more lax with our family’s safety measures as the world around us slowly returns to business as usual. We will all be vaccinated, even though I was hesitant at first because not enough research has been done on immunosuppressed transplant recipients.

After my transplant nurse coordinator warned me that the effectiveness of COVID treatment for transplant patients is not promising, I got my first dose of the COVID vaccine the same day. I did it so I can be around for my kids, even if there’s only a 17 percent chance of antibody development after the first dose. (Johns Hopkins, 2021)

We still remain diligent with our precautions because I’ll always be immunosuppressed and at high risk for contracting something that can harm my health. Protecting myself in this way protects my family and I know for certain, I am doing this right.

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