HOW I BEAT CORONAVIRUS IN 4 WORDS

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.

I’M RECOVERED… WELL ALMOST

Oh happy days! As you can see by this letter, today I am considered recovered from the coronavirus. Sadly for her, Margie still has a bit of time left before she is considered fully recovered, but she is relatively symptom free. I will be allowed to return to work on Thursday. I will keep all of you updated on how that goes. I was told employees might be a bit nervous around me. If you think about it, I am probably the safest employee there right now. Why? This leads to one of my first questions I have for the powers that be.

My first question even before I was fully recovered was, “Am I now immune to this virus?” According to Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (You know the guy on the news that sounds a lot like Mel Brooks to me) “You’re going to have some degree of durable immunity. It may not be 50 years, but it’s certainly going to be a matter of a few years.” He said this on the Doctor Mike YouTube show. Even if it is only 12 to 18 months like I first heard, I will take it. Still, I am going to abide by all of the social distancing and washing hands (which I hope we all did before this) and wiping down things with wipes just to be safe.

My second question revolved around donating blood to help critical patients. I heard if you have antibodies they can do that. I have not found anything definitive, but will continue to investigate. Along with sharing my story to help calm some of the fears, if I could donate antibodies to help critical patients, that would be awesome. If anyone knows of information in this regard, please do not hesitate to share.

Margie and I have also taken additional steps to upgrade our life for the future. We bought the new air purifier we have been searching online for 6 months for. It is running next to me as I write this. We are also invested in a new high-powered vacuum cleaner. I had ordered some cleaning supplies before I got sick and they are waiting at my work to be picked up as well. We also started drinking a lot of our wonderful herbal teas we have and began eating some healthy things. Even the not so healthy dishes are homemade by my lovely lady, the most beautiful chef I know.

As odd as this may sound to many, getting this virus has been a blessing to me in many ways. I was able to share my story and help others be a little less afraid as well as give hope to others who have tested positive. I also discovered, sadly, how little I am valued at my day job. That is a blessing because I am even more motivated to look for jobs as a full-time writer. Again, if you have any information in this category please share with me. I was able to meet (virtually) many new neighbors and received so many well-wishes I get chocked up just thinking about it. Most of all, I was able to spend some quality uninterrupted time with Margie. I have seen funny memes online about people getting ready to strangle their spouse (even saw one of Tommy Lee jumping off the roof) but our love is different in so many ways. We learned so much about each other and grew closer than we have in a long time. It was certainly no fun being sick, but I am grateful I made it through. I am grateful my symptoms were not worse. I am grateful to have such amazing friends and family to help us out and cheer us on. I am grateful I have such an amazing lady to be stuck with.

IS MY CORONAVIRUS JOURNEY OVER?

This is me holding a copy of my book during a video shoot for a position I am applying for. As you can see I am also wearing the amazing smiley face shirt that my lovely Margie bought for me. The attention to happiness is not only for the video I was shooting, but it is also because I believe my journey with coronavirus is almost at an end.

Tragically, I heard the news was not so good for a different local family. A young lady lost her battle with this virus. It really touches home when someone in your community loses their life to the very condition you also have. I am so grateful my symptoms did not develop into something more severe. As I forge ahead with finding out the details on where I go from here I will make sure to keep all of you posted.

The health department told me I would be cleared 3 days after displaying no symptoms. My primary care doctor has cleared me to go back to work on the 31st. It is strange that there is no actual test to clear you. Instead we are to rely on time elapsed since my symptoms were first shown (14 days) and since I last experienced them (3 days). I have also learned that 2 of the countries who displayed some of the lowest mortality rates with the virus (Germany and South Korea) have done so through extensive testing. On a personal level, I find that our country being one of the wealthiest in the world has no excuse for not having more tests available. It is my sincere hope that we have all learned something very valuable with this crisis.

On a professional level, I hope we have learned to take care of health care workers by making sure they have the right protective equipment and medicines they need to diagnose and treat those infected. In the same light, I hope we come to better appreciate the ‘essential’ workers such as grocery store employees, gas station workers, people involved in the shipping industry and others who still had to show up when others were at home. Next time we go out to eat or even just for a drink or cup of coffee I hope we leave a little extra tip for these folks whose income was eliminated when businesses shut down.

On a social level I hope we better appreciate the time we spend with friends. Going out for coffee with those you enjoy will become something you treasure instead of something you take for granted. Seeing the smile on a friend’s face in person and being able to give them a hug will feel more like a gift and less like something that happens every day. May we take the time to gather more often and relish those times more when we do.

On a personal level may we have come to discover, or rediscover the beauty and wonder of those we share our house with. Not only does this strengthen the bonds of our relationships, but it certainly beats being cast for a reboot of The Shining. In my quarantine with my beautiful Margie I have been reminded what an amazing cook she is. I have enjoyed some of the most tasty dishes as she helped me regain my strength. I also found so many different ways in which I find her beautiful to me. Just last night she demonstrated what talent she has at drawing. This is something she rarely has time for. Even the frustration of having to maintain ‘proper social distance’ from each other made us appreciate how much we enjoy each others touch.

I hope when we look back on this period of time years from now we remember the many things we learned. It is my sincere hope we also reflect on the appreciation it gave us for the many things, and people, that we might have taken for granted. It has taught me that even having a potentially deadly virus can be turned into the blessing of helping others if you approach it the right way.

BEST NEWS SO FAR IN MY JOURNEY WITH CORONAVIRUS

That’s me rocking the quarantine look. Today is roughly day 6 since being diagnosed with coronavirus. It is the best I have felt so far. Shortness of breath is hanging on, but getting better. As an example, last Monday I took out the garbage and didn’t even get back to the house before feeling winded. Today, I took out both the garbage and recyclables and was just a little short of breath when I got back inside. This may not seem like a big difference but I sure felt better. The dizziness is also getting better. It seems less intense and certainly less frequent. Also, my sense of smell seems to be returning slowly. This symptom is the worst. It affects your sense of taste as well. I am hoping it continues to get better every day.

People are asking me what Margie and I are doing during this time. We are doing the same as many of you. We take turns watching movies, we play games and are creating and enjoying meals together. We also have read to each other. Margie has a hard time staying awake during reading so I usually read out loud to her. I rather enjoy this as I feel it is an activity that brings us closer together and we both get to learn something in the process.

One of the books I read during this time was How to live to be 100…or more. It was written by the comedy legend George Burns. I was never a big George Burns fan until recently. Not only does his humor amuse me, but in many ways his relationship with his wife Gracie Allen reminds me a fair deal of Margie and I. People ask how we can work together, live together and sleep together without killing each other. This quarantine time was not that big of an adjustment for us because we do spend a lot of time together. (about the only time we are apart is when I am at the post office) Doing so takes a great bit of effort and comprimise. I am sure a lot of you are discovering this as we speak. I think it is a great way to get to know your partner and strengthen your relationship.

Today we also left the house for the first time. We both walked around our neighborhood. It felt good to get some fresh air. My shortness of breath would not have allowed me to go much further. It is funny to think that just 2 weeks ago I was running on a treadmill and now it is tough to walk a few blocks. It makes me grateful for my health. I am also grateful that my symptoms were mild enough I could breath, especially with my asthma. It also made me grateful for the neighborhood I live in. Margie and I live on a busy street, but the streets behind us is a rather closed in little neighborhood. It is a shame we do not take the time to walk there more often. I hope these coming days will get us a chance to see and meet more of our neighbors (from at least 6 feet away) and say hello. I recall a conversation I had with a former alderperson who said the best way to improve your neighborhood is get out in it. I couldn’t agree more.

Speaking of getting out in your neighborhood, I aim to do that as soon as possible and I encourage all of you to do the same. When this world regains a sense of normalcy, I encourage all of us to get out and support the local businesses in our neighborhoods. They are certainly going to need our help. It is not just the business and business owner (who is often a neighbor) that you will be supporting, but you will be supporting all of your neighbors who are employed there. Small businesses are what drive the economy. It is important to take care of them. By doing so we are taking care of our neighbors and our neighborhoods. Mr. Rogers would like that I dare say. If you are reading this and you live in my neighborhood, Margie and I look forward to meeting and getting to know a lot more of you. So if you see us out supporting a local business please come up say hello and introduce yourself. Let us use this challenge we have all faced to build a better world.

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING

ME AND THE VIRUS – DAY 5

Here I am rocking the quarantine look. Usually I am much more clean shaven than this. Today is day 5 of this virus and I being partners. It is frustrating that certain aspects of it seem to cling on. The breathing issues, which tend to be worse at night, are improving slightly. I still have bouts of extreme dizziness. As an added bonus, when I returned home from being tested I noticed something else. My sense of smell was off. Margie was cooking hamburger with garlic and onions. Something normally that makes my mouth water. I could not even smell it. I just read that could also be a symptom of the coronavirus. Gratefully, my sense of smell seems to be returning every so slowly.

Speaking of being grateful, I wanted to take a moment and give some genuine thanks to a few amazing people. Melissa from the West Allis health department has been amazing. She calls to check on both Margie and myself on a regular basis. Today she even dropped off a little care package on our porch. (see photo below) This is much appreciated and she is certainly an asset to our community. That takes us to my next point – my community. I have been sharing my journey in our West Allis community page on Facebook. The response has been overwhelming. I did so to reassure members of my city and take a little of the fear out of this virus. In doing so, I have not only met a great deal of new neighbors (virtually of course) but received such kind words and encouragement from them. Margie and I are so grateful to live in a city filled with such wonderful people. Then there are our friends from our DJ shows. They have checked in and offered to help us. I cannot not begin to convey what a great deal this means to us. Even had a great early morning conversation with our friend Kurt.

In the coming days and weeks I know they are planning on ramping up testing. This makes me happy to hear. I cringe when I think about how I would have been back to work now trying to ‘make it through’ the symptoms. Meanwhile, I would have been spreading it to my coworkers. When these additional tests are given it will obviously increase the number of positive cases as well. This is something that I want us to all keep in mind. When they tell you “cases have doubled overnight!” Before cowering in fear consider the fact they may have doubled the amount of tests they gave and are just getting better at identifying cases that have been out there.

When will this all end? Nobody can say for sure. Are we making a difference with all of the measures we are taking? I believe so. Doing our best to practice physical distancing is the least we can do. Staying in touch with and helping out our friends as we are able also makes a great difference. I look forward to being out in the world again and I know all of you do as well. Let us be patient and remember those like Anne Frank who had to hide in an attic and remain almost silent for two years to avoid persecution of her and her family. We can just relax in our homes, order take-out, surf the web, watch movies and play games. This is certainly not an easy time for any of us, but let us be grateful it is not much worse.

If any of you have any questions in regards to how I am feeling, what I am doing to treat this virus or how the symptoms seem to be progressing, please do not hesitate to ask. I am sharing my story for that purpose. So that all of us can not only have an insight into this virus from a person perspective, but limit our fear while increasing our caution.