For those of you who do not know, my name is Neil Panosian and I was diagnosed with the coronavirus on March 18th. As of right now I am all clear and recovered. Still getting back to tip top physical shape after 3 weeks of inactivity, but that will come. I am no longer contagious and depending on the day, I am considered to have some sort of immunity. Every day I wake up I am so grateful my symptoms were not worse and that I made it through. 10,000 people in the United States so far were not that fortunate and my thoughts and prayers go out to their friends and family.
I want to share with you what I believe was my secrets in making it through. The interesting thing about the 4 words that I am about to share with you is that they not only got me through this virus, but they are the same formula that gets me through many challenges of life. If you are as unfortunate as me and become infected with this virus or know someone who has, please share this information with them. If you are spending time at home as we all should be, you can put these 4 words into practice in your own life to conquer whatever challenges you may be facing.
The first word that I used was preparation. Was I actually preparing to get a virus? Not exactly. I was taking all of the steps you were supposed to. I washed my hands often. Did my best not to touch my face. It is amazing how much you do this without ever noticing. As we did karaoke Margie and I wiped the microphones with disinfectant wipes. (Although someone at our Friday show did use half of our container to clean their hands after eating wings) Still, working with the public and at the Postal Service somehow I managed to get it. What is important to note is how I lived my life prior to coming down with this virus.
My way of living includes going to the gym here in West Allis, where I live, roughly 5 days a week. Some weeks it might be 4 times, sometimes it might be 6 but I go there on a regular basis. When I am there I actually am one of the people working out, not texting while sitting on a machine. I do it for the stress-relieving benefits. After a hard workout the other challenges in my life seem a little easier to deal with. The side effect of all this running, lifting and stretching is that I can enjoy my beautiful lady’s cooking without gaining too much weight. It also means I am doing my best to keep both my heart and lungs strong. Being that I have both asthma and heart issues, this is a big plus. I also do my best to eat right (sans the occasional pizza) and take a few vitamins. Before bed every night I meditate and follow other self-care routines. Couple these with my loving relationship with Margie and you can see I live a fairly healthy lifestyle.
When the virus hit me I was in decent physical shape. My asthma was controlled the best it could be and my heart was as strong as it gets. I liken this to learning to swim. The best time to learn to swim is on the safety of the shore, not when the ship is sinking. If I had waited until I got sick to try and be healthy I believe the virus would have had a far more severe impact on my body. That is why it is so important to use the time we have to prepare ourselves for challenges before they come. The better we are prepared to meet challenges, the more likely we are to overcome them.
The second word that I used to beat the coronavirus may be the most important one. That word is purpose. While waiting for my test results to come back I asked myself 2 very important questions. 1) How can I use this? and 2) What is good about this? I knew if I indeed had the virus I would share my journey here on this website. I would do so with an attempt to calm a lot of the fear that people may have facing this situation. I guess the good would be that having the virus would allow me to speak from experience. I would be going through it. I would struggle with the shortness of breath, the cough, ,the lack of smell and taste and the dizziness. I could tell everyone how tired you would get walking from the kitchen to the living room. If I tried something and it worked to help my symptoms, maybe it might help someone else?
One of the biggest things since I have recovered from the virus is attempting to donate my antibodies to help critical patients. If I can donate plasma and it may help save the lives of two other people, I would be selfish not to do that. I am still waiting to hear back from a few of the places that I called. I guess this process is still a little fluid. Being able to potentially save 2 lives, if not at least help them recover quicker feels like a true blessing. To think of the joy this would give their families and hopefully save them from the sorrow of losing a loved one fills my heart with happiness and gave me a purpose to getting better.
Word number 3 in my healing journey was persistence. When I was not feeling so good, especially the first week, I was tempted not to share my journey. I certainly did not feel like setting up my laptop, or making myself remotely composed enough to go in front of a camera to shoot a YouTube video. When this happened I thought of all the preparation I did that allowed me to be able to keep the symptoms to a level they were at. Most importantly, I thought of my purpose. Why I would use this virus even more than it was using me. I thought of the people who were out there that were scared watching the news and hearing nothing of the people that recovered. I thought about those who would fear what would happen to them if they got the virus. I thought of those, who like me, already had the virus. They may feel alone and scared. Having to be away from family and friends with a sickness that we know so little about. If, by logging on to my website or seeing my posts on Facebook, it helped them to see they are not alone, then I had served a purpose.
With every blog post and every video came not only well-wishes that I was extremely grateful for, but questions. I knew if I was home scared and had a question I would want it answered as quick as possible. This allowed me to persist in logging on every day and answering those questions. I once heard Earl Nightingale say “Persistence is another word for faith. If you didn’t have faith, you wouldn’t persist.” If there was one thing I had through this, it was faith. I am not sure what you believe in, God, the Universe, the divine power, to that end it doesn’t matter to me. What I did know is the creator had me get this for a reason and I believed that reason was to help others. That faith translated into persistence on days when I was tempted not to post or answer questions and just spend the day in bed.
The final word in my healing journey was perspective. Like all of us this virus and the challenges it has brought with us has also brought with it a change in how we see the world. Recently, I went for a walk in the park. This experience was appreciated more than ever. After roughly 3 weeks in the house I cannot explain how good it felt to be in nature. After not being able to do my 5 days a week in the gym, it felt so good to get my heart pounding and my lungs working. Every neighbor, or at least most of them, seemed to say “Hello” or some other greeting as they passed. It is not that I look friendlier than your average person, but I think everyone is just grateful to see new faces. Perhaps they were as grateful as I was to be out in fresh air. I watched the geese, ducks and seagulls on the lagoon and thought how blissfully unaware they were of all the societal drama unfolding around them. I watched the squirrels running around gathering food and attending to their usual spring preparations with a greater regard for something routine.
One of the biggest changes in perspective was how I viewed all of the news. I rarely saw stories of people going through the virus and how they were coping. There were not even that many stories of what to do once you had the virus. I was one of the fortunate ones that made it through, but all I heard were numbers of cases and deaths. Rarely would there be anything about those, like myself, who made it through. I knew it was even more important to share my story and to give people hope to help balance out the fear. As I return to work at the post office and am dealing with the fallout from my illness there, I feel it will be important to share this story too. That way something may be done to protect those workers who face uncertain reactions from both bosses and coworkers once they return.
Preparation, Purpose, Persistence and Perspective. These four word were the key to overcoming the virus for me. They are also my keys to overcoming the daily challenges we all face. I encourage everyone to take a look at there own lives and apply these four words as well. It may very well be the difference to falling victim to a challenge verses having the strength to overcome one. Next post we will look at a secret ingredient that also played a big factor in allowing me to beat the coronavirus. It also allows me to live a life filled with joy each and every day, whether sick or healthy. Be sure to look at that. As always if you have any questions about the virus, my formula for dealing with it or self-improvement in general, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I am here to serve.