Surviving Covid-19: When Your Worst-Case Scenario is the Scenario

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.

One week ago, I was hopeful that my family would be turning the corner back toward normal in just a few days—normal being a relative term these days, of course.

To rewind, my husband, a high school football coach, had been quarantined from our family and others for several days following Covid-19 exposure. Sadly, he had to miss coaching a game for the first time in 22 years.

Before that quarantine was up, he had some flu-like symptoms, but after two negative Covid tests and no more fever, we all thought it was safe for him to get back to work. A new week was beginning, and we would hit reset then, right?

Wrong. Our worst-case scenario was only beginning.

After he got cleared to coach a football game last Friday night, he woke up Saturday feeling horrible. That same day, I had him check his oxygen level with a small device that my Dad sent to us over six months ago. Truthfully, I thought it was one of those weird items that your parents buy on QVC. I had stuck it in the back of the bathroom closet and forgot about it.

But then I remembered hearing that low oxygen levels are a telltale warning sign with Covid, so I dug it out of the closet. My husband’s oxygen level that day was 95. It was lower than what you want to see, but still in the safe zone.

Not the Friday Night Lights we hoped for as my husband attempts to assist in coaching while quarantined in his Suburban.

On Sunday, his hacking cough never seemed to end, and he could barely talk. So we checked it again. This time it was 92. I decided to call a physician who recommended he see a doctor in the morning to confirm the reading and seek necessary care. Suddenly we were preparing for bad news—what if he did have Covid-19 after all?

At 8 a.m. the next morning, his oxygen level read 86. It was time to go to the doctor and accept the strong possibility that his Covid test had been wrong. By the time he got to the doctor’s office, his oxygen number had plummeted to 81. He was sent straight to the ER where he was hospitalized and diagnosed with Covid-19. I know now that my Dad’s gift may have saved my husband’s life.

For the next three days, he remained at the hospital in isolation from us and anyone else except an excellent team of healthcare professionals. He received an intensive protocol of oxygen, breathing treatments, Remdesivir, antibiotics, and steroids. He wasn’t put on a respirator because he had no underlying health issues and was breathing well enough on his own. In just a few days, he made huge leaps and was home with us again.

Unfortunately, coming home was hardly the caboose of this crazy train.

For starters, we remain completely separated from him as he continues to heal. I have not slept in our bed for almost a month. To be anywhere near my husband to deliver food or medicine, we both wear masks while he stays far away. He can have no interaction with us except through doors or our cell phones. It also means that we’re back to a quarantine lifestyle outside of the house too. So yes, that means high school homeschool has resumed—groan.

To make things much, much worse, this all happened during football season, meaning that everything has been shut down for two weeks. Two big games are now gone. Memories and opportunities for my son and his teammates are now gone. Many lives have had to change their plans because Covid had plans of its own. I seriously couldn’t have written a more depressing story. For us, it feels like the worst-case scenario came true.

Thankfully, despite all this doom and gloom, I know that our scenario truly wasn’t the absolute worst. My husband survived and everyone is fine, even as our story continues to unfold. We are still living in this story and learning a lot about the disease, our attitudes, our priorities, and our survival skills. We’re also learning more about God’s mercy, our faith, and the value of community.

Regarding our relationship with the disease, my 20-year old son also had Covid two months ago, and he still hasn’t regained 100% of his taste and smell. I sincerely hope that the worst is over for this household. I believe we will overcome it, but what that looks like is out of focus. I wish I could be more optimistic, but we are a long way from the days of toilet paper memes. Weren’t those the best days?

I think it’s now probably safe to say that this virus may be inevitable if you’re going to be out and about among the living. We should continue to exercise common sense and precautions, of course, but I think it’s far more tenacious than I ever imagined. It honestly sucks. 

In full transparency, I’ll share what the sucky side of Covid life looks like at our house right now.

I make everyone sanitize their hands all day long and I bleach clean everything constantly. Our home smells like a hospital. I’m tired of choking down huge vitamins.

I’m a cranky and unimaginative cook. No one wants leftovers, and we fuss a lot about food. I yell things like, “no one cooks full meals during the day unless they’re Amish!

I’ve lost my home office (aka the master bedroom), and have had to call clients from the laundry room this week.

My boys miss watching and talking football with their Dad. We all miss hugs and physical touch.

My husband misses social contact. I honestly don’t know how he’s made it in isolation this long. He mostly spends his days alone despite our best efforts to remind him we’re here.

Even our two cats know that something is up, and they’ve been sleeping in weird places. Yesterday I stepped on a fresh hairball in the living room with bare feet. That was a low point.

We’re all more sensitive and irritable and prone to complain about anything. No one is sleeping on a regular schedule. It just seems impossible given the circumstances.

It’s very easy to slip into pity party thinking when that’s the only party you’re attending at the moment.

On a positive note, and there is one, we have also received incredible support from near and far. We can’t figure out why, but apparently, people love us! In an ironic twist, the most viral thing we have ever done as a family is to come down with a killer virus, no pun intended (okay, actually it’s a perfect pun).

Not that I recommend catching Covid-19 to be reminded of how many friends you have, but it has given us a beautiful picture of the people in our corner. While the last few weeks have been exhausting and disheartening at times, we have also felt such a powerful calm and confidence from the outpouring of support and prayers.

I am 100% convinced that our journey through this weird, dark place was strengthened and accelerated through prayer. Prayers, texts, calls, and gestures of kindness have brought us comfort in the face of uncertainty.

I know our story is just one of millions in this continuing saga. Our experience with Covid-19 has been an unfortunate, annoying setback that was scary for a short time. We do not take this for granted. Many families have not had the same outcome. This disease is random and relentless, but it will not define us as a family, a community, a country, and as people. 

We still get to choose how to respond to whatever it hurls at us. We aren’t perfect and will experience highs and lows as we process our response. But if I’ve learned anything while spending time with the ‘Rona, I’ve discovered that we are stronger than we think we are. God built us with incredible fortitude and He is always near. 

I am forever grateful to those who haven’t let us forget it.

A tale of love and loss and books


Alan Levine/Flickr,

Yesterday was Father’s Day and although I haven’t seen my Dad since February thanks to the threat of COVID-19, I spent some time talking with him. I spent some time thinking about him.

There’s an entire book (or two) in me featuring him as the main character, but that’s writing for another day. Today I’m thinking about my Dad and the gift of reading.

Around 18 years ago when I was in graduate school, I casually mentioned a book to him that was an assigned reading called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. It’s the story of a man and his son who travel across the country on a motorcycle. It’s an examination of life and how we live it, and according to a review on Amazon, it’s “one of the most important and influential books written in the past half-century.”

My Dad is a retired electrical engineer who has always enjoyed tinkering with things. Naturally, I thought he might enjoy a conversation about the book. I even suggested that he read it, even though most of his reading consisted of the newspaper and Reader’s Digest.

Nevertheless, he read it. In fact, he devoured it. Then he couldn’t stop talking about it and he was hungry for more. At that moment, at the age of 63, my Dad became a book lover!

My Mom had instilled this same love in me that she and I shared, but now Dad was part of “the club.” She had to make room on her bookshelves for his growing collection. To date, this admittedly methodical reader has read more than 100 books and counting! He mostly reads non-fiction, and says that the more challenging it is to read, the more he likes it. He even keeps a reading journal.


Dad and one of his many books that explore the big ideas in life – life, death, God and man.

Reflecting on this special awakening in our shared history brought me to reflect on my own relationship with books. Over the last decade or so, I have felt like an imposter. To be clear, I LOVE books! I love to smell books, touch books, and yes, BUY books. I have boxes of them that my groaning husband has moved from dorms, and apartments, and offices, and too many houses to count. Besides the fact that they are ridiculously heavy, his groaning comes from asking me the same, tired question – “Are you really ever going to read all of these?”

Well YES, obviously! As if!

But then I’ve packed and unpacked those same books, over and over, many with bindings still untouched. I’ve had to accept that I may never read them all because I’m hardly reading at all. Somewhere between becoming a mother and becoming an almost empty nester, I’ve lost my devotion to reading that was once an unyielding passion.

Yes, I’ve continued to sprinkle reading throughout the years of ballgames (so many ballgames), deadlines, church commitments, family commitments, career pursuits, and just the everyday demands of adulting. And I’ve enjoyed many memorable books over the years. But if I’m honest with myself, I’ve consumed far more stories on my Netflix watchlist than from my must read list. 

Over the weeks of quarantine, something stirred within me to start intentional reading and writing again. I suppose it’s because life slowed down long enough for me to live in the discomfort of that longing. I could finally define that missing piece of me that has been vying for my attention for years. I rediscovered a connection to story that yes, can be enjoyed on the screen, but is often much more personal and transformative on the page.

And so began the process of dusting off the books.

With bookstores and libraries closed, I used my mailbox as a book trading hub with book loving friends. For months now, I’ve been reading fiction, non-fiction, and personal and spiritual journeys. I’ve found blogs that challenge and engage me. I’ve resurrected this blog and pledged to keep writing. The words don’t always flow easily, but they come easier each time I open the vault. It’s like I’ve reunited with an old friend who was patiently waiting for me to return.

I guess you could say I’ve been reunited with words.

I’m retraining myself to favor paragraphs and punctuation over the glowing, bubbling screen. Occasionally the two intersect, and when they do, it can still be an inspiring and magical place.


A stack of some of my quarantine reads.

Today, I am simply thankful that I found and rescued that weird little reading girl who took up residence in her bedroom closet with her books. I am thankful for those books. I am thankful for writers. And I am thankful for readers – readers like my Dad.

The novice who became the expert.

The inspired who became my muse.

Thanks Dad. I hope the stories never end.

Dad’s Top Ten Reading List (so far…)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig
The Tracker – Tom Brown, Jr.
The Day the Universe Changed – James Burke
Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step – Edward de Bono
Beachheads: Alabama to Anzio, 45th Division – Charles M. Kirkpatrick
Unbroken – Laura Hillenbrand
Four Religions of Asia – Herbert Stroup
God Against the Gods – Jonathon Kirsch
Escape: A Memoir – Carolyn Jessop
Think Like a Fish – Tom Mann & Tom Carter

Blogs that fellow Bibliophiles might enjoy:
Reader Witch

The Bloggess
A Life in Books
Leanne W. Smith – A treasured friend and talented author
Gathering Around BooksAnother talented friend with so much to offer

BUY books and support writers and the wonderful world where new words can take us!

BUY books from your local and independent bookstores!
Find a bookstore near you



Me and my Dad looking for adventure somewhere. 


It’s time we got busy


Over the past few weeks, many of us have re-entered society in some way. Like zombies, we are all dragging our bodies back into places where the people are, and we are hungry for people! At least I know I am.

All gross Walking Dead references aside, it really feels that way. The world has changed into a Bizarro version of the world we once knew. It also feels different because our rhythms aren’t the same, familiar spaces are marred by arrows and instructions, and we’ve all developed new social norms in our efforts to social distance.

In stores, people look weird in their masks and they act even weirder. We’re learning to read “eye language” – how strange is that? I watched a woman gently escorted out of a store while yelling the entire time about her stimulus check. I don’t know the whole story, but I found myself searching for the nearest exit.

I thought, we aren’t ready yet. But ready or not, here we are.

At home, I was suddenly faced with the prospect of wearing real pants and jewelry for the first time in over 30 days. I felt like an alien in my own closet. I couldn’t find my favorite earrings or my go-to belt. It’s impossible to retrace your steps when your last “steps” were almost two months ago.

When I finally put myself together, I went back to my office last week. The first thing I noticed was my plant in the window. Poor guy. He was barely hanging on. I had failed to bring it home pre-quarantine and now it was headed for the trash. Lesson learned.

But then I thought, why not try to save it? So I watered it, tore away the dead parts, and gave it a chance to reach for the sunlight again. In just a few days, tiny new leaves were emerging on its stems. The surviving leaves were full again.


The outcome was very different because I chose to see life instead of death.

I chose to reimagine what the ending could be.

As insignificant as that wimpy plant is, it’s also the perfect representation of our current state of being. To borrow a quote from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption – 

“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.”

Although “busy” may represent something brand new right now, it doesn’t have to be what it used to be. If I learned anything while sheltering at home, I learned that I have used “busy” as an excuse to store my passions away on a shelf for decades. Decades!

Instead, I should use “busy” to focus on my priorities and realize that everything created by God needs nurturing and pruning. That everything includes me – my relationships, my interests, my faith, and my journey. What that looks like is subject to change, but that’s the best part of the process. Something new is always growing! And growth means we’re doing something right.

FUN FACTS: The film “The Shawshank Redemption,” produced by Castle Rock Entertainment, was based on the 1982 Stephen King novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption.” (PHOTO:



Are you over it yet?


Actual photo of me hitting a wall and my hair in its current quarantine natural state. This has to end soon.

This week, we hit a wall. Did you feel it?

I think it’s safe to say that any novelty related to our country’s pandemic lockdown has officially worn off. Toilet paper jokes are no longer funny. Our children are starting to resemble the children from The Lord of the Flies. We’ve made everything we know how to cook, and then we’ve made it again. Our home gyms are not getting the job done. We’re becoming a disconnected society all while scrambling to fight for a Wi-Fi connection in our neighborhoods.

We’ve reached a boiling point, and we’re wearing on the nerves of our household, and let’s be honest, ourselves.

It’s time… or is it? To roll the dice and reopen the world? Just a little?

Protesters who were once fighting for other causes are spilling out into the streets. The team spirit we enjoyed with memes and hashtags just a week ago seems a little less spirited this week. The Disney Family Singalong?? Yeah…even that felt too late and a little out of touch, even for my Disney-loving self. 

The replaying of the same routine, day after day after day, has finally pushed us all to ask ourselves – how much longer can we bear this burden?

I’m not a research scientist or a world leader, so thankfully the tough decisions won’t rest with me, or you. The consequences of these choices will prove to be serious in one way or another, to one group or another. Who plays God and decides who is the least of these? Again, I’m glad it’s not me.

While we all sit idly by, waiting and wondering, let’s cling to the semblance of unity we enjoyed over the last several weeks. And let’s not forget it. Resist the temptation to choose sides and brandish a bullhorn. Opinions are fine. It’s America after all. But regardless of where you stand on these serious issues, be kind, don’t judge, and show some grace. It may seem like we’re all in the same place, experiencing this crisis in the same way, but we’re not.

We can only defeat the virus if we focus on it as one very real, common enemy together. We must give it our best fight as ONE.

Until the day that we celebrate that victory together, stay safe and stay nice America!


Bojangles, my obese cat, who now has his own Instagram page thanks to my boredom during the quarantine. Yes, it’s come to this – Follow him at @mrbojangles21!

How the Coronavirus might cure us all


As the days turn into weeks during this new reality of the COVID-19 outbreak, I’ll admit I’ve participated in my fair share of mindless activities. I’m doing my part to “flatten the curve” while also working from home and trying to homeschool a 16-year old and a college freshman (I’m not qualified!). I’ve sucked down some whipped topping from the can. I’ve become catatonic watching daily news conferences. And while I haven’t watched Tiger King YET on Netflix, it’s next after finishing Love is Blind.

Although I don’t have much to show for this time, I feel like I’ve found some clarity in the midst of the chaos. Now that the daily “to do list” in my busy, American life seems largely irrelevant, I am listening more to my mind, and to my heart, and actually… (wait for it)…THINKING. In fact, the abundant gift of all this extra time alone with my thoughts has forced me to reflect on life in a pretty poignant way. My guess is that I’m not alone.

Over the last few days, I’ve reflected on my disdain for research papers even though I was once really good at them. My son has been working on his first major college research paper and OUCH… revisiting MLA format and navigating those waters with him has been a real downer during this quarantine.

This time has also been incredibly insightful because his paper is titled “The Effects of Technology on Learning and the Brain.” For years, I’ve been suspect that our society has essentially invited the “fox into the hen house” when we welcomed the magic of smart tech with open arms. We hardly paused. It can be so intoxicating! But now that the buzz has worn off, what’s left? Is our current state of dependence irreversible?

Ever since the invasion of the internet and its amazing devices, I’ve been confronted with my own lazy brain and a growing fatigue for reading books or processing complex information. And I don’t think it’s because I’m aging. My 80-year old Dad discovered a pure joy for reading books later in life, and guess what (?) – he doesn’t have OR want a smartphone.

So before I lose your attention (because let’s be honest, I’m competing with cat videos and karaoke in cars), I encourage you to read up and form your own opinions (see links to some of the source material for my son’s paper below). When we no longer have to “shelter in place,” what will we have learned? Despite the very real and tragic losses of this pandemic, maybe we’ll also walk away with something gained – a much needed reality check.

While we can’t go back in time and throw the baby out, I want to believe there’s still time to refresh the bathwater. Maybe we’ll finally turn something off and tune back in.

Is Google Making Us Stupid? by: Nicholas Carr
(And to think this is over 10 years old – telling and a little scary.) 

Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction by: Matt Richtel

How Classroom Technology is Holding Students Back by: Natalie Wexler