And Then Came COVID

“I remember exactly where I was when I saw that Naomi Binkley (McDonald) had COVID-19.”

Those are words of my primary care physician (who is wonderful, by the way).

In fact, we were a bit ahead in terms of taking action. For the first time that I remember, we made the difficult call to cancel two video shoots. I just thought we couldn’t live with ourselves if we unknowingly exposed someone to COVID.

We went remote – challenging for a video production company that most typically captures interviews and video in-person and oftentimes, at and for events. We encouraged our team to work on professional development and created new ways to sustain our small business through this crisis. It worked. We did not lay off a single person but it was tough. Tom and I went without a salary for some time, but we were convinced it was the right thing to do to take care of our Fireside family.

Inside, I was afraid. I thought, if I catch this virus that’s taking the lives of so many – I don’t know that I’ll make it.

This was March of 2020, so the testing site was in a Denver West building.  You pull up, wait for someone to call you inside and then, inside was a bit like the scene from “We’re The Millers,” where Jason Sudeikis’ character is taken to see his boss and when his face covering is lifted – he’s on a bunch of plastic sheeting and thinks he’s going to get offed.

I’d never seen anything like it. I went into an office and two people examined me. The physician said he’d test for COVID but there was little to no chance I had it. I asked if he’d just run a quick strep test for me since I was there for a sore throat and went along my way.

At about 10 o’clock on March 27th, I had a lab test pop up in my inbox. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. All of these SARS tests were red and marked positive.

I quietly called Tom in and asked what he thought. Well, within minutes my primary care doctor was calling and letting me know that I did in fact have COVID and needed to quarantine in my room – away from the family – for two weeks. We were totally unprepared. Jefferson County Public Health called next to track my case and fortunately, I had not been with anyone but my immediate family because of our preemptive decision to go remote at Fireside (thank GOODNESS!).

Next, we called the girls to the door of our bedroom and delivered the news, “Mom has COVID.” They cried. They were devastated and said how they’d prayed and prayed their mom wouldn’t catch COVID – and yet, here we were. Tom and the girls had to quarantine as well – but separately from me.

I don’t remember much about the following weeks (except this view of a very sad pup, who would whimper at my door – not understanding why she couldn’t come in).

I do remember Tom coming in to feed and hydrate me – to monitor my condition. He would come in in gloves, full mask and glasses. 

We recently captured an interview with someone who survived COVID and found a new lease on life. She went out and bought a car and clothes and was living her dream because life – after all – is fleeting and fragile. My experience was the opposite. I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I cannot explain how terrifying it was to open my email and see that I had a virus that at the time, we were locked down because of its lethality. Tom later told me he’d sneak in to make sure I was breathing and would break down in his moments alone.

I survived COVID-19! For a bit, I did have that rush of gratitude and appreciation. Once I was no longer quarantined (even from my girl, Millie), we started an hour of power each night. Each of us would do something to enrich ourselves. Tom worked on (and ultimately, finished a screen play he’d been writing for years). Devyn drew and painted. Kiran played music and sang. I attended online church services and just tried desperately to reconnect with my soul. We’d howl each night to thank our front-line workers. We also decided to celebrate with our own “spirit week” at home.

In some ways, it was a blessing – just to have time, not to hustle and bustle.

Tom and I started our new favorite tradition: the parlay, we called it after the Netflix series, Peaky Blinders. He would come in and sit in my great grandma Bernie’s chair across from the bed and we would talk… and talk… and talk. We had so much to talk about it – always interesting, intriguing, sometimes emotional – but we parlay nearly every day to this day. My husband is truly my best friend and so interesting!

I survived COVID. My family was not infected (that we know of) and our small business managed to stay afloat. There was much to be grateful for.

Thus, began the next phase of my health crisis as a COVID long-hauler and yes, I can assure you – it is real.

Published by Naomi Binkley

A mama, wife, Coloradan, storyteller, entrepreneur with a once-hidden illness - now a progressive and painful disability - ready to share my story after a career of telling those of others as a video production company owner.

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