I had a close call with Coronavirus recently, but don’t worry, I don’t have it!
It was an early afternoon on a Sunday and I felt more tired than usual as I wrapped up work at the hospital. As a physician it’s not unusual to work multiple weeks in a row so I figured it was just the fatigue from going, going, going. I arrived home and fell into bed for a quick nap. Two hours later, I woke up and felt even more awful – general malaise, painful muscles, and a sore throat. I took my temperature and found it to be 102.8⁰F. I felt my heart racing and measured it at 160 beats per minute (for reference, a normal heart rate should be 60-100 beats per minute). I started shaking from feeling so cold.
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Of course, I thought about Coronavirus. How could one not think of Coronavirus? It’s everywhere. Turn on the news, go on social media, or head to any number of online forums and there is chatter about the virus. In the scientific community, over 50 research papers have been published about this novel virus in the past month. It’s ubiquitous.
I had good reason to be suspicious of Coronavirus as well—I had spent the previous week caring for these patients.
I went immediately to the CDC website and executed their recommendations. I placed myself on home quarantine in the bedroom. My wife moved her things into our 6-month-old daughter’s bedroom. We reserved a single bathroom for my use. I wore a surgical mask anytime I was outside of the bedroom and resolved not to go out unless absolutely necessary. Every bit of the house was wiped down and deep cleaned.
I let my boss know about my health status change, and she immediately planned to have me tested the following morning. A diagnosis of COVID-19 would have profound implications on my own health and the health of my friends, family, and colleagues. Even if the disease was mild for me, it would mean being in quarantine for 14 days and could call into question the security of the operations we’ve put in place to protect staff while caring for these patients.
I took one gram of Tylenol and my temperature decreased to 101⁰F. My heart rate slowed to 120 beats per minute, and I felt less cold.
I spent some time in prayer and remembered when the disciples crossed the Sea of Galilee in a fishing boat. There was a fierce storm and crashing waves that threatened to throw everyone overboard. Through the entire event, Jesus was sleeping soundly. When the disciples expressed concern over their own lives, Jesus woke up, calmed the storm, and then asked, “Why are you so afraid?”
It was difficult not to resonate with the disciples in this situation. Isn’t fear a completely rational posture in this situation? Yes—when one can’t see past the storm. And being in the middle of a storm, I was having trouble seeing past it.
We notified our small group and other members of our community. Within minutes, our friends responded with prayers and words of encouragement. Everyone offered to help. One family brought us dedicated supplies for my room: water, medications, and food.
The next 24 hours were spent in uneasy uncertainty. I knew the objective facts about Coronavirus by heart—that 80% of cases are mild with only 20% of cases being severe. Of the severe cases, only a small fraction end up in the ICU, on a ventilator, or pass away. As a young and healthy individual, I knew I would be unlikely to have any major issues with this disease. Further, I knew that the virus had only affected 500 individuals in the US with a death toll of 22, which is miniscule compared to millions of lives at stake from much more prevalent illnesses like heart disease, cancer, or flu. But objective facts seemed to fade into the background.
Statistics and probabilities appeared inapplicable to my own situation. I felt a better understanding of the reality proposed by Ephesians 6:12 (NIV): “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
After 24 hours of self-inflicted quarantine, I started feeling the effects of social isolation. I missed hugging my wife. I missed playing with my 6-month-old. I felt guilty about being away from my team at work who were putting in double effort to fight the infection. I continued to be nauseous, feverish, and generally unwell. And of course, the uncertainty of the diagnosis was hard. I felt like I knew exactly how the disciples must have felt crossing the Sea of Galilee.
Finally, I received the call I was waiting for: Coronavirus negative. It was more likely to be another viral illness or strep throat. Never had I been so relieved to have a different infection.
From this experience, I’ve learned more about trusting God and having empathy for those who are in a place of fear. Being sick, it’s tempting to think of worst-case scenarios or doubting that Jesus is above the storm. When you only see crashing water, it’s easy to forget that there’s a mighty God right next door who can calm the seas and silence the waves. I’ve learned that health is a gift to celebrate and that hope is a valuable treasure in these uncertain times. I’m learning day by day the need to “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7 NIV).
I’m thankful to God for my health and I greatly appreciate our community who responded so quickly and so generously. It’s time to get back to work.
Daniel Fang is married to the wisest and most beautiful woman in the world, Marie. He came to faith in college and has been attending The River Church since 2012. There he volunteers in small groups ministry and the worship team. In his spare time, Daniel eats, runs, reads, and rants about systemic imperfections. He enjoys spending time with his golden retriever, Sobe, who is perfect.