For me, it started with sinus congestion that escalated into a low-grade fever, sneezing, fatigue, sore throat, and a cough. My symptoms started on a Friday so I was able to rest through the weekend and then reschedule my patients for Monday and Tuesday. By Tuesday my fever was over and I was feeling a little better. Feeling confident that the worst was behind me, I went back to work on Wednesday. On Thursday I had a very long day of patients and suffered a setback in my recovery. By Thursday evening I lost my voice, my sore throat returned, and by Friday morning I became severely fatigued.
I can’t overstate the need for rest when you are recovering from an illness, especially COVID-19. Doing too much too quickly can really set you back. This is exactly what happened to me.
Personally, I find rest to be incredibly challenging. I am a person who feels the best when I am ticking things off my to-do list. I will do almost anything to avoid rescheduling patients. What I learned from my experience with COVID is that sometimes, I need to take my own advice and in this instance, I needed an entire week to really rest and recover.
This experience has forced me to examine (again!) my deeply held beliefs regarding productivity and self-worth. It seems so simple. Rest when you are sick so you recover faster. In practice? It’s complicated. Resting means letting patients down. Resting means missing deadlines. Resting means really prioritizing what has to get done vs what can wait.
As I write this, I am currently on day 18 and still struggling with fatigue. I made the decision to only see patients one day this week so I can rest. Making this decision is really swimming upstream: in the West, prioritizing health so we can recover more quickly - and completely - is counter-culture. I am often counseling patients about putting their needs first and this experience has really challenged me to ‘practice what I preach’. I have bought into the narrative that it’s virtuous to put other people before yourself. I’m reminded every time I fly and I hear the airline crew reciting the same old statement that we must put on our own oxygen mask first before assisting others. Yet I continue to work long hours, skip workouts, or stay up too late in service of doing a good job. COVID-19 was a wake up call for me.
Please learn from my mistakes and give yourself the time you need to rest and recover!
I will also share some of the therapies I used to help myself recover. I am intentionally omitting supplements I utilized because herbs and nutrients aren’t one-size-fits-all so what I needed may not be what you need.
- A high antioxidant diet.
- Cold socks and a fever bath were both really helpful in the early days of my illness. (If you aren’t familiar with the reasons we want to encourage and even prolong a low-grade fever check out my article here.)
- I stayed very well hydrated by adding electrolyte powder to water and also adding fruits and greens powder to my water several times per day.
- My cough and congestion persisted long after my sore throat and fever resolved so I also used a steam inhalation with eucalyptus essential oil twice daily for a few days to help clear that up. I just boil water in a regular pot then move it to a table, put a few drops in the pot, sit down, place a towel over my head and breathe deeply.
I hope this encourages you to put your needs first and take good care of yourself when you are ill…and when you are well.