Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021 — Meican Unlimited

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Leaving 2020 behind, welcoming 2021 in. (image by Shauna Millar)

As we slowly limp toward the end of 2020, watching the slow drag of the hands on the clock tick away, perhaps it is time to reflect on this past year. Sometimes moving forward means looking back to see where we have come from to help us analyze the things we did right and wrong. In the hope of not making the same mistakes as well as keeping our good memories in tact.

I will go first. In order for me to introduce you to my year in 2020, I have to go back a couple of months to 2019. In November of 2019, I came down sick. I went from one day being healthy and helping a friend who was sick to being ‘can’t get out of bed’ sick. I was sure I had the flu. As with most flu like symptoms, I wasn’t surprised I was still sick in December. The chills, the hot and cold flashes, the lack of energy, the constant coughing; I figured were all part of this terrible flu I had. Since I generally don’t get the flu (and no I don’t get flu shots as the only time I did have one I got the flu. So why have a shot if I am just going to get the flu anyway?)

By mid-December I had lost my appetite. I was running hot and cold. I was throwing up anything I ate (and hiding that fact as I didn’t want to go to the doctor.) I was sure I would get over this, no matter how horrible I felt. I was sweating buckets. I would wake up in the middle of the night drenched in my own sweat. The blankets would be soaked, my clothes would be soaked.

I wasn’t able to hold my water. I was constantly running (stumbling, dragging myself) to the bathroom. Looking back I realize I was losing water in every way imaginable. I was coughing horribly. Yet it wasn’t until, I am pretty sure, I stopped breathing in the middle of the night and my dog jumped up on me to wake me up suddenly, gasping for air, that I thought perhaps it was time to go to the doctor. On top of that, I had developed a ‘stitch’ in my left side. I was pretty sure I had coughed so hard I had either broken a rib or cracked one; based on the pain I was feeling and my self, non-medically trained, opinion. So, I did what any sane woman would do, I wrapped it up and went back to bed.

It wasn’t until the week before Christmas that I went to the clinic. Mostly because I felt THAT bad I admitted defeat. I knew I wouldn’t get better without help and I felt miserable. I had a friend drive me. My throat was so dry and scratchy that I had to constantly keep an ice cube in my mouth in order to have a little bit of relief. Not to mention it was hard to talk with it being so sticky dry. I didn’t have enough moisture to even build up enough to swallow.

I gave the nurse, then the doctor, my symptoms. I was running a fever, sweating, coughing (with a scarf wrapped around my face so I wouldn’t cough on anyone else while I was there) finally curling up on the exam table with my friends sweater beneath my head. Sitting up was making me so dizzy, I was physically unable to stay in the upright position for long. It was pure determination that even allowed me to make it as far as I did in the upright position.

The staff was nice but I felt like I was dying and just wanted some immediate relief. I was given a z-pack to take over the next week. I informed that if it didn’t clear my symptoms up over the next week, I should go to emergency; as they didn’t have the means to help me further. We then proceeded to head over to the pharmacy to pick up the prescription, where I threw up in a plastic bag along the way. As I went to put in the prescription, I was sure I would pass out. Fortunately, I was able to go sit in the car and wait while someone else picked up the meds. (It also helped that I had a friend go with me as I was sure I wouldn’t remember what the doctor would say.)

Fast forward to Christmas, the z-pack is gone, I still feel like crap but I don’t want to go to the hospital and ruin the staff’s Christmas. I figured I could wait. So, I did. I waited and on New Years Eve I determined that I needed to go to the ER. (In the meantime, multiple people kept telling me I should go. But hey, I always know what is best for me. Right?) I waited because I was sure there were more people who needed the hospital during this time than I did.

Celebrating the New Year, 2020, By Being Admitted to the Hospital

So, on January 1st, 2020, in the early morning hours I knew I couldn’t wait any longer. I was certain that this sickness was not going away. I also felt like I was dying. I managed to maintain my semi-positive outlook with everyone even as I threw up in the parking lot of the hospital. (Ewww!)

I would spend the next 8 hours in the waiting to be admitted to the ER. During which time, X-rays would be taken, blood drawn and I would be hooked up to an IV bag full of saline. Which was meant to start to counteract the fact that I was so dehydrated that drinking couldn’t rehydrate me. I would spend the next three days in a bed in the hallway of the ER — as the place was so full they had to create places for people to stay. During this time I would meet both the doctors who would be handling my case. (One of which was an infectious specialist.) Though I was too out of it to really remember their names. The IV was kept full of saline and switched out with meds. I would remain in that temporary bed for the next three days — waiting for a room to become available so they could admit me into the hospital.

Once I was in my room, I found out that had I waited any longer, I would have been in ICU or possibly dead. I was put on two different types of antibiotics, which were alternated with a bag of saline in between each dose. I had a tube put into my left lung to drain and my infectious specialist was unable to figure out the mystery to what had caused it. Even though they biopsied the crap in my lung it failed to grow so there were no results. (My theory was because they had already started me on massive anti-biotics in the ER. Which by the time they got around to getting a sample had already gone to work.) I would spend close to two weeks in the hospital. I was so blessed to have an amazing nursing staff during the entire time I was there. From the ER nurses to the floor nurses. They were simply amazing human beings who were there.

Before I would be allowed to leave, they put a PIC line in my arm. (Again, great staff, friendly and explaining it all as it was done.) The PIC line would be a part of me for the next 30 days, through which I would receive a daily antibiotics administered by my room-mate (whom volunteered). I also had an at home nurse come to take my blood and vitals once a week, until my numbers all lined up again. (I was fortunate to get a grant to pay for all this as the sticker shock value was way beyond my means. I should mention that at the time I was dealing with my health insurance company to get my health insurance reinstated as I was “lost in the system”. Good times were had by all. Although, apparently I still have a chunk they say I owe.)

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Due to the infection, I lost breathing capacity in my lungs. My breaths were shallow and every time I drew a deep breath it would lead to a coughing fit. (Doctors love to say, “take a deep breath.”) So, I was given a gizmo (which I never remember the name of) in order to build that capacity back up. My starting ability was at 250 — my first goal was 1500. I still am working on regaining my pre-illness breathing ability.

By the beginning of March, the Corona Virus was making its way into headlines across the world. New measures were brought into effect, businesses were shut down. As we all know, every facet of our society was and has been affected by this and it has brought strong division and diversity.

In May, our family lost my step-father, the only man I ever knew as a father. He was a beacon of wisdom and light to family and friends. Not everyone agreed with him. Not every one had to. He wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion, to stand strong for his belief in God, Family and Country. He held to these things and was a great example for others. His loss rocked our lives.

Summarizing My Intro into 2020

The first couple of months of 2020 were spent with my being treated so I would heal from my physical malady. I was so blessed to have not just an amazing nursing staff at the hospital, but a good friend/room-mate who came and stayed with me every day. He showed up and hung out with me during my waking/falling asleep/waking hours. Even though I choose to only share what was going on with a few — I was blessed to know I could have called on so many more and they would have been right there to support me through this. I didn’t want people seeing me sick — so the few who did know — I discouraged from coming to see me.

The Positive: During this year, I have healed from my infection. I have semi-learned to play the ukulele. I even started to learn how to play the guitar. I have two beautiful instruments and very few excuses for their neglect (as I constantly have to dust them off from the fine layer that seems to land on them while they silently sit there waiting for me).

I have been trying to keep my spirits up in a depressing, societally glitched year. I have struggled financially. Doing website design for small businesses is already tough. This year saw so many small businesses permanently close their doors. Some of which were my clients, both difficult for them and me in different aspects. I admit that I am fiscally limping toward the 2021 goal line.

My heart breaks when I see the destructive forces that have been at work during this year; breaking family and friends apart because they don’t share the same view points. I remember a time when you could agree to disagree. That these differences made people unique and allowed a broader perspective on life. It was a rich integration and balance of thoughts that when shared and mixed brought new ideas and solutions. Now, if you think differently it seems it is a curse rather than a blessing. I pray that 2021 will be a year where people can learn to appreciate one another again. That it will be a year of life and rejuvenation. That we can learn to find common ground to rebuild a stronger sense of community together.

I hope that I don’t continue to see the destruction of people’s livelihoods; burning and looting of businesses, businesses going under and closing due to not being able to make ends meet. I hope that common sense prevails and people learn to once again respect that my decisions aren’t meant to be based on your thoughts and feelings but my own. That is is OKAY to think for yourself. It is OKAY to question. It is OKAY to disagree with each other and that these disagreements don’t mean that the world has to end. The worlds of long-standing relationship don’t need to be torn apart by the diversity of discussion.

You don’t have to agree with my decision not to wear a mask. (Side note: Which, if you didn’t pick up in the beginning, was because I had no lung capacity and it was difficult to breath regularly add a mask that furthering reducing my oxygen intake — after 10 minutes I was feeling woozy enough to pass out. Yet, even in the doctors office, they understood I was unable to wear one. However judgmental people, individuals who didn’t know me, would try to bully/shame into my wearing a mask.) You don’t need to approve of my reasons.

You need to take care of you. Set an example of how you would like to see things done. Understand that choice exists for a reason. Know that the only person you can change is YOU. That by you changing it can influence others to change as well. Know that destructive behavior doesn’t bring change, instead it brings anarchy and resentment. It brings finger pointing and blame. It brings social destruction. These are things that some people WANT to see happen. I am not one of them.

Wishing Everyone a Wonderful 2021

I look forward to a this coming year — 2021. I am sure many of us do. I am thrilled that 2021 will be starting differently for me. I hope that those of you who have experienced a difficult 2020 will have a brilliant 2021. Even if you had a great 2020 my prayer is that this next year will be just as brilliant for you. Continue to move forward on your path. Don’t let depression and anxiety rule you. Know that the world is what we make of it, so we need to make it better, brighter and more than it was. We can do this with differences of opinions, thoughts, ideas. We can bring these things together and find a path forward that builds us up making a greater world.

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Happiness in 2020 Mug with Color Inside

Originally published at

Student of life; mother, widow, sister, daughter, friend. Writing, photographing and exploring the world around me. Rediscovering life.

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