A New “Normal” Since COVID-19: Nicole Williams

July 27,2020

This year feels like a new chapter in my life due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As if it wasn’t already bad enough having physical limitations, now I have to be extra cautious leaving the house. If I do absolutely have to leave, I have to protect myself wearing both a mask and gloves. I have had to change my routine as well as learn a new “normal.”

It is now a bigger threat just to go to the supermarket, and when I do go I felt like I am being patrolled and limited on what I want to buy. In the beginning of the pandemic, the grocery store was very empty and there were new rules, like one direction isles, standing six feet away from one another, and being limited on what I could buy. Cleaning supplies were scarce and there was no toilet paper anywhere. I felt monitored in the store and customers were in a frenzy trying to stock up on as much as they could.

I guess that part was to be expected, but the biggest challenge is having to wear a mask when I can’t breathe very well in the first place. At first I would find myself cheating and just exposing my nose because I felt like it was less strenuous on my respiratory system. If I was going to leave I was going to experience my breathing completely restricted. It was more of a hassle to leave the house, so I just decided to order online, and hope the pandemic got under control soon. Today, I do feel like the virus is under control, at least here in Nevada. Now we just have to be more careful with where we go, what we touch, when we come home, and how we wash our hands.

It’s really sad because my boyfriend’s cousin passed away due to the coronavirus. I could not attend the funeral because it’s very hard for me to be on an airplane (even when there isn’t a pandemic). I was also afraid of exposure from the family of the person who passed away. I am even afraid to go to a hospital for fear of exposure. I just kind of feel like I’m sitting here in neutral, idling, waiting to get the green light to go out and be safe again.
Staying at home all the time has made me get creative with what I do during the day. I have started little home improvement projects, work on puzzles, and draw more portraits for friends and family members. I also find myself watching more television and movies, and I sleep more throughout the day.

My doctor appointments are now on video conference and that felt weird at first. I guess I don’t have to worry about how I’m going to get there now or if I’m going to be late to my appointment. All my medications are being delivered now, not just my specialty medication.

The coronavirus cut our support group gatherings and has isolated us from speaking to others one-on-one about our issues. I have had to cut out my advocacy efforts too, temporarily, but I do still volunteer via email to help with peer to peer support through the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. This year I was even looking forward to the conference in Anaheim, California, but it was unfortunately cancelled.

No matter what happens we will get through it together. We need to support each other and try to stay positive. I do still think that I can manage this and live a long happy life. Some days are good, some days are hard, we just deal with it as best as we can.

Nicole received COVID-19 relief funds from the Team PHenomenal Hope Unmet Needs Patient Impact Fund. Learn more about how this fund supports PH patients at teamph.org/unmetneeds.

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