Back to Work

By mid-January, the pressure in my chest had eased and I ventured back to work. Thankfully, I have a Co-Teacher because it took all my energy just to make it from my car to the door. I used the wagon that we would pack our tent and cooler in for my oldest son’s baseball games to carry my belongings, in an effort of saving as much energy as possible. My Co-Teacher walked our students to Specials, lunch, and took them to recess while I focused on not falling as I hugged the wall on my way to and from the restroom. On day two, she even brought my car to me because she didn’t like to see me struggling to walk to it. She truly was a lifesaver. I have two very active boys, so going home and going to bed after work was not an option. During this time, I picked my boys up from school, and my husband and I usually split evening duties. He was taking our oldest to baseball practice after getting home from coaching track and I was taking our youngest to gymnastics. Thankfully, they would make it home a little before us because by the time we made it in, I would need help getting upstairs to my room.

The Cobb Family after the meet…this is my daily support system. Photo credit: Areia Cobb

My energy level would be pretty good in the mornings but would dwindle as the day progressed. My husband and I pride ourselves on attending as many academic and extra-curricular events as we can to support our sons. So, you can imagine my devastation when deciding to miss the upcoming gymnastics meet for my youngest. I knew that the walk through the venue would be too much on my body and wanted the sole focus to be on him doing his best. Before he left, I squeezed him tight, told him to do his best, and reminded him how much I loved him. On the inside, I was trying not to cry. I know that he knows I wanted to be there, but that didn’t make it hurt any less.  It also made me wonder if this would be the only competition I would miss due to my stalled recovery… Because of COVID, only two guests were allowed per gymnast, so my eldest attended and we face-timed so I could watch in real-time.  It was AMAZING! My little guy, who battled the virus himself just a month prior and had missed two weeks of practice because of it, finished with his best score ever! Gymnastics is a sport of tenths, so for him to improve his overall score by 6 points was phenomenal! Despite fatigue, I was determined to make it to his end-of-January and February meets.

My son, Preston Cobb competing in January 2021. This was my only means of watching due to my COVID journey…via video Photo credit: Areia Cobb

Adding to the Team

After being back at work for about a month, my doctor’s office finally felt my symptoms had subsided enough for me to come in for a physical. Within a day, my bloodwork started coming back and I noticed that some of the tests were abnormal. A couple of days later, I received a call from the nurse saying my doctor had ordered more tests and wanted me to go by the lab at will. I went the next evening after dropping my son off at practice and received notifications for my results the next day. Both my Parathyroid (PTH) and Calcium levels were high. What could this mean? I started researching on Google but stopped when the reading became terminal. My next call from the nurse came with a referral. My doctor wanted me to go see an Endocrinologist about my results. By now, it’s March. During that visit, I learned that at least one of my Parathyroids was allowing too much calcium into my bloodstream. While it did not sound good, it did give another explanation of why my body was so fatigued. The doctor ordered more bloodwork and an ultrasound of my neck to confirm his suspicions. The bloodwork still showed high levels and the ultrasound showed an adenoma on my parathyroid. A video appointment was set up to discuss my results, but it was four weeks away.

In the meantime, I still had to work and be a full-time mom. I kept my walking around the school building to a minimum, but three days out of the week still took my youngest to the gym for practice. My husband coaches track during Spring so on rare occasions, I also had to drop our oldest off at Baseball practice.  While still fatigued, I was slowly feeling better. Until I wasn’t. The Friday before Spring Break, I decided to go outside for recess with my class.  It was a beautiful day and being that most of my time had been spent indoors for the past four months, I was excited about getting a little sunshine. I stood outside for 10-minutes and watched my students play. At the end of recess, we lined up and headed back into the building. It’s a short walk from where we exit and re-enter the building for recess to our classroom, so I hadn’t exerted much energy. At least, I didn’t think so. Upon getting back to our classroom it was all I could do to make it to my chair. The Mack Truck came out of nowhere yet again. My Co-Teacher took our students to Specials shortly after and I sat wondering what in the heck had just happened! I later emailed a co-worker to let her know I wouldn’t make it to duty. At dismissal, I had car duty, which meant I was responsible for walking students to their vehicles in the car line.  Although it had taken a while to get back out there once I returned to work, when I did, I went from walking students to their cars to sitting on a bench and calling out numbers for students who had not come with the first notification. But on this day, even that wasn’t possible.

Time to Come Clean

Of all the weekends to relapse, this couldn’t be a worse time.  I had too much to do!  My 4-year-old great-niece was coming to visit for the weekend, my 11th wedding anniversary was Sunday, and to top it off, we were leaving town in the coming week for my youngest son’s Regional Gymnastics Meet.  We had family coming from three different states to support him, and while they all knew I had COVID, I may have failed to mention that I hadn’t completely recovered… we made it through the weekend, and thanks to my husband, had an Easter Egg Hunt in the backyard for the kids and a nice anniversary dinner. That week, I rested as much as one possibly can between taking kids to practice and preparing for a trip. My energy level in the mornings would be pretty good but seemed to dwindle faster than usual as the day progressed. Nevertheless, I persisted. Of course, the week went by way too fast, because we were off work, and now it was time to leave for the big meet. We arrived in Knoxville late Friday night and the family who had arrived earlier that day were already asleep.  As eager as I was to see my daddy and big brother, this worked in my favor because my body was wiped. The next morning, we were awakened by a call from my brother who was ready to eat. After getting dressed, we met him and my dad downstairs and headed out for pancakes. After breakfast, we decided to drive by the venue where the competition was being held so we knew exactly where to go Sunday. We then did a little site seeing. All of this was done via car, so I was managing well.

Family dinner the night before the BIG meet; Gymnastics Regionals 2021 – Knoxville, TN Photo credit: Areia Cobb

By dinner, there had been some mention about my pace and the response that I was still dealing with some fatigue from COVID allowed us to move on from the conversation. However, as the weekend progressed, my mobility being shaky and my fatigue being extreme was visibly noticeable. I could see the worry in their eyes and hear it in their voices. No matter how grown you are, having your own family, house, bills, makes you feel – to some, you will always be their baby. Nevertheless, I needed the focus of this weekend to remain on my baby. I didn’t want a pity party, nor did I want to sulk in how I was feeling physically or mentally. It was his weekend and I wanted to celebrate him.  He had to qualify for this event by being in the top 15 across all age groups in the state of Georgia, and at the age of 7, he qualified second! That’s a big deal! So, I told my family about my bloodwork being off and having an adenoma on my Parathyroid that’s allowing too much calcium into my bloodstream and likely contributing to my fatigue. I went on to explain that an adenoma is a benign tumor and the Endocrinologist would likely recommend surgical removal. I also told them that from my findings, more than 95% of people who had this surgery were at full strength within two weeks following. I then assured them that I would keep them in the loop moving forward. My confidence helped them feel better and allowed us all to refocus on the purpose of our trip. Competition day came and my guy placed 5th. He also qualified to attend a developmental camp for the elite gymnast in our region in mid-June. This gave me a goal; have the surgery and be better before the camp was in effect.

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Join Areia Cobb every 1st & 3rd Tuesday of the month as she shares her road to recovery from COVID-19 and how being a COVID-19 Long Hauler is affecting every aspect of her life; as a wife, mother of two active boys and a working professional.  It’s our hope that these journal entries provide hope, inspiration and information as you or your loved one travels your COVID-19 long haul.  

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