We’ve all heard of it, and likely, since the spring of 2020 we have experienced the virus in ourselves or someone we know. The Corona virus has been the punchline of jokes, cause for panic, subject to memes, here-and-gone-without-symptoms for some and a great source of anxiety, grief and even death for others.
Our relationship to COVID-19 can be loaded, and personal. As I share my own experience, it’s with an eye to therapeutic recovery and not to dissect what has become its global impact on politics or health.
In July of 2022 I came home from a kid’s birthday party just feeling tired (who wouldn’t!). After a day and a half of “I can’t get off the couch” fatigue, a home test came up positive. Five days of extreme fatigue and I was back to daily life. I didn’t pass it on to anyone (that I know of), self-isolated and took my time recovering. It was weeks before I felt I wanted to walk, hike or jog again.
Now, in November 2022, as I recount this, my guess is that many, many readers will say, “me too!”. In my area, there was a tremendous wave of COVID and RSV through the month November, that as I write this in the first week of December, is still going strong.
The Monday of Thanksgiving week I just felt off. Not a big surprise, after the start of school, many of us are run off our feet with work and kids and extracurriculars. We go full speed, counting days until the long weekends and holidays breaks begin with the start of fall.
Rest. A little rest and I will be fine.
The sore throat begins. By Tuesday my throat is scratchy, I’m tired of feeling sore but still really feeling like with a good night’s rest I could spend Thanksgiving with my family.
Wednesday night: I reach out to my family to discuss plan B. I will not going be going anywhere for Thanksgiving.
Thursday, the morning of Thanksgiving Day
My throat is so sore I can no longer speak. It is like swallowing knives and I have switched from all the hot tea with honey and ginger and garlic and fire cider and vitamin C I can drink – to iced La Croix in the hopes of soothing the burning in my throat. It feels like I’ve been asleep for days; it’s officially lonely and I am getting resentful of the lost time with my family.. and the pie. Very unhappy to miss out on pie.
Since my family is amazing and loving, they pack Tupperwares with as much Thanksgiving variety as they can and deliver it…. quickly with no contact… after dinner. I don’t have time to say thank you and couldn’t if I wanted to. Every time I cough I burst into tears. Shortly after dinner delivery I start texting my mom:
“Maybe it’s just panic… but I can’t breathe.”
Every swallow is just as painful if not more so than it was in the morning, but now it’s painful enough to make me cry. The combination of coughing and crying makes my chest really tight. It is reminiscent of birth contractions: after each cough it it takes about 2 minutes to catch my breath, stop the tears and catch a break… just in time for the cycle to repeat.
Thanksgiving 2022 will forever be a prayer of gratitude that my mom answered my text with a welfare check and convinced me to go to the emergency room.
Thanksgiving in the emergency room is no one’s idea of a good holiday. Thankfully, there was no wait time, nothing but compassion and quick care. A dose of steroids brought the swelling down in a matter of hours restoring my ability to swallow, if not speak.
There were moments of reliving the early summer of 2020, how so many people were coming together on either side of the words, “I can’t breathe.” It was a moment of embodying the fear and social change that began then and continues to grow, unwind and reveal its nuances in so many ways in so many facets of our culture and experience.
As I write this, it is 12 days since Thanksgiving and my voice is still raspy. The soreness in my chest and shoulders is just beginning to subside. The muscle tension along my back led to a multiple day headache from which my forehead is still tender to the touch. Several times a day I sit down and take deep breaths. Occasionally they are easeful and deep, but mostly my chest burns, like breathing frozen air, and then the dry cough begins.
Knowing what I know about fascia and dura, the connective tissue around the lungs, rib cage, heart, and spinal cord, I can follow how these structures connect and how a rib cage pulled tight by days of coughing can cause a deep headache from the base of the neck to the eyes and forehead. Our breathing pattern effects our heart rate and sets our body’s feedback loop. If we are frozen in a cycle of shallow breathing, it will be reflected in our heart rate, nervous system response and mental state, creating a feedback look of bodily danger over safety.
As a Craniosacral Therapist, I’ve assisted several clients who are navigating long-covid. My hope is that I will make a full recovery, even if it takes a number of weeks. On the other side, I hope to share these experiences therapeutically to help others unwind the deep layers of fascia that are contributing to Covid Headaches, fatigue, decreased lung capacity, sinus pressure and brain fog.
Deep in the connective tissue layers of our bodies, COVID leaves patterns of dysfunction long after symptoms. We’ve adapted to mask wearing and social distancing, navigating isolation vs. connection and communicating when we are feeling unwell or unsafe. Now is our invitation to continue to adapt our definition and approach to recovery.
Craniosacral therapy is being recommended by doctors treating long-covid, several of my clients were referred by a long-covid clinic in a neighboring city. We are on the precipice of Western medicine recognizing the more holistic reality and acknowledging that a variety of complimentary therapies can be tremendously impactful.
As a collective, we are aware we have stepped into a new chapter: there was the before 2020 world, and there is now, the Post COVID World.
If you feel called to share your experience with COVID and how it has given you the opportunity to adapt, please share your story. Has Craniosacral Therapy assisted your recovery the way it has assisted mine?