Tiffany Turner in the hospital ICU Dec. 2014
Four years ago, I had a heart attack. My last memory is feeling sick with what I thought was another bronchial infection while closing my classroom door, and thinking I’d try to kick it over the weekend. My next fleeting memory is sitting at the computer that night checking a writing board. The next memory is waking up in a hospital with a oxygen and feeding tube down my throat, unable to speak, and my mother sitting across in the corner of the room with the most saddest look I’ve ever seen on her face.
This was what happened to me in the first weeks of Dec. 2014. I was a full time public school teacher, looking forward to the soon to happen Holiday break, and was having a hard time with another bronchitis flare up. Like most good teachers, I was trying to teach through the sickness, make it through to Christmas. The next thing I know, I’m waking up in an ICU hospital bed, tube down my throat, with little or no energy to speak of. My first thoughts were, “What happened?” I was finally able to recall having the bronchitis and realized it all had probably gone down hill badly. But I couldn’t remember. I had been induced into a coma after the heart attack, and lost over twelve days of memory.
***For more on that personal experience, here is my post about it back in 2015.
My monitors in the hospital.
What I was told happened is I did tried to fight the bronchitis that didn’t get better. After three days of it getting worse, my husband took me to the emergency room and I was admitted with acute pneumonia. Later, I had a fight or flight response when I pulled out my IV and a nurse tried to keep me in bed. I struggled, and then my eyes rolled in the back of my head, I fell back, and flatlined. I was clinically dead for sixty seconds.
Mrs. Turner at the Sonora Celtic Festival playing the Gaelic Harp in 2015.
Luckily, they were able to save me. I do recommend if you have a heart attack, have it in the hospital where there is the most chance they can save you. But the road from that moment forward was not easy. I spent about two weeks in the hospital gaining strength back, doing physical therapy later at home and as an out patient. It took eight months to rebuild my life back to where I could physically cope on my own. I had to leave my career, give up classroom teaching, and start all over. I learned to walk, shop, participate in Renaissance fairs again. I essentially had to rebuild my life with a new normal with what the heart attack had left of me.
It was a challenge to start over in my mid forties with something I hadn’t planned. But the world still spun on. My friends and family supported me, and I slowly built a new life in which I tutored part time a few hours weekly, built up from once a week to three times a week over a period of a few years. I was teaching in after school programs, working at a tutoring center, participating and selling at Ren fairs, and writing full time children’s books and romances which has always been a life dream. I had rebuilt my life. I was finally feeling like myself again.
In the middle of March 2020, COVID19 shut down my county. I had already started to isolate, seeing that this disease was different from when I taught in schools with the swine flu almost ten years ago. I was being told I was high risk with a heart condition. I went grocery shopping in what I now call the “old normal world” for the last time on March 11. On March 13, the California Governor shut down all the schools in the state. By that Monday, he closed all the businesses. Most of the United States later joined my state a few days or even weeks later.
I started to have a strange deja vu. It seemed like EVERYONE had joined me in a new type normal. Essential workers helped deliver and ship food. Health workers fought the disease in hospitals, and everyone else was to stay isolated to slow the disease. Spring 2020 mirrored my isolation and healing of Spring 2015. Though I had energy and better health this time, I did a lot of the things I did had done then. I wrote a lot. I rested and took care of my health, watching my diet. I had even learned to cook more from delivered box meals back in 2015. I continued with those skills, cooking at home.
There were challenges, like being able to find food and supplies you could get online as opposed as in a store. It reminded me a lot of when people were rationed during WWII. I even read WWII memoir accounts to relate to how the people felt during those historic times.
Though there were some differences between WWII and the Corona Virus Spring Lockdown of 2020, I found myself being rationed on orders and finding other items hard to get. The first thing to run out was toilet paper, along with paper towels, hand sanitizer, and items to make home sanitizer. I adapted to what seemed was going to be a temporary state like working at home and ordering things online and through the mail. I followed what the state and local county health departments ordered us to do. Everyone thought it was a temporary new normal that was going to last three weeks which has instead lasted three months.
It is now the end of June 2020. Things have opened back up, but there looks like more outbreaks and more closures on the horizon. I know that we are going to need to build a new normal. I’m finding that a lot of what I went through, surviving my heart attack and building a new normal, is helping me now. To start thinking about this will put you ahead of what is to come.
Mrs. Turner wearing one of several owned home made masks.
Build a new normal for yourself. Accepting that the world has changed is a good start. I had to accept my body had changed to survive my heart disease. I had to built my new normal with what I could still do. I was told I might need a pace maker or even a heart transplant. They had to be honest with me in where my health could go. It helped me to face that I wanted to take the best care of myself and save my heart. So, I did what I could with what my body could still do.
For example: It helped to write a novel called “Saving My Heart” which I wrote on Wattpad. Writing was something I could do in my weakened health state. It is one of the adaptions I did while trying to find a new normal. I thought of what I could do still, and planned to switch my activities accordingly. I cut away all the old things I couldn’t do anymore. I accepted it was okay, because I had survived, and a new normal was something I could live with because I was still alive.
Through caring for my heart, I saved myself. We can do that now. Care for yourself, your loved ones, your own personal bubble of people right now. Create a new normal with them. We are not going to have the old world back for awhile. When it comes back, it is likely to differ some from what we used to do before. And it’s okay. That’s part of surviving. The human race has adapted through many tragedies and disasters. Just like you can recover from a personal crisis, we too can recover from this horrible world changing event.
Create a new normal for yourself. Create it with friends and family, whether you visit more online now, adapt it around your job if you’re an essential worker, or retreat and stay away from others. It’s all okay. What ever is safe for you to get through this will be the right choice. You can choose how to survive this pandemic. It is the one power you have to control what is happening to you. Choose how to face this virus. You can build a new normal to suit you, keep your friends and family safe, and hopefully, keep your community safe.
Take it from someone who has already built a new normal for themselves. It can be done. It just has to be accepted that we are all living through a time that is unlike any other, and we will build a new life to survive the virus. It’s the one thing that all humans share, and that is the amazing ability to adapt. Let go of those things that are not necessary at this time and do the things you can do. The rest will follow. Before you know it, you’ll have a new normal. And you’ll likely not want to go back. Especially if you survive. Because surviving is the bottom line.
I wish the best new normal for you. Get through it with the ones you love. And I’ll see you on the other side.