Vulnerable in the Time of Coronavirus
Orangewood Church

Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Annabeth Berry. I’m 21 years old, and I graduated from Montreat College back in December 2019. While in school, I studied outdoor education and environmental science. I spent my free time doing anything crazy adventurous and spontaneous in the outdoors, writing music, traveling the country, working hard, singing and performing in a couple of rock bands, and spending time with my friends. I moved from the mountains of North Carolina to Florida with three goals: To get some much-needed quality time with my family, to pay off some of my arduous student loans, and to find some things that I like about the state of Florida.

What do you miss being able to do since the pandemic started? How has quarantining affected your life?
I have so badly missed fellowship and community during this whole pandemic. Since I had just moved to Florida, I didn’t have a whole bunch of time to get to know people or make friends. This was before “making friends” looked like awkward conversations before and after group zoom calls for work or random Instagram messages from people who are several degrees removed from knowing me. Besides, no one really knows what else to talk about if not to discuss the recent political events, numbers of COVID cases, or that new meme circulating Facebook…

You currently have COVID-19. Can you tell us about the moment you started noticing symptoms? What symptoms did you have? Were you afraid? 
I was at work when I started to get a tickle in my throat. I drank lots of water and hoped it would be soothed and leave, but instead, it developed into a dry cough. That night I ended up having a fever and feeling very ill. I was incredibly weak and had horrible migraines. Over the next 10 days, my symptoms changed drastically from cough to chest pains, from headaches to nausea, from tight muscle aches to hives covering my arms and legs. As those two weeks went by, I experienced over a dozen different strange bodily symptoms, including the loss of taste and smell, which led to an incredible loss of appetite.

I do not know how to describe the immensely, heavy, mental toll of having an unknown lethal disease that the whole world is talking about that has no remedy. I simply had no idea what to expect. The hardest thing about having COVID is facing the idea of dying alone with no time to accept it and no way of being with your family.

You are considered part of the vulnerable population. Can you tell us a little about that? How is life different for you than it is for others?
I have struggled with being sick for most of my life and was recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s autoimmune disease, Celiac disease, Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase, and thyroid complications. All of this simply means that my bodily systems, including my immune system, do not work without the support of supplements, medicine, lots of doctors poking me with things, and a rigorous anti-inflammatory diet. Reading that immunocompromised individuals were at a higher risk of dying of COVID does not aid in holding one’s nerves at bay. I knew I would have to work extra hard to recover.

One of Orangewood’s pillars is service. Has anyone from Orangewood been the hands and feet of Jesus during your illness? Can you tell us about it?
Orangewood Church has been incredibly helpful in making me comfortable by helping my family. While I was sick, I was worried about exposing myself to my sister, who is with child, and her husband and their one-year-old son. Orangewood Church eased my worries by providing them with a place to stay, away from me, keeping them safe. I was also provided with help in getting groceries to care for myself while living in quarantine at home. Knowing that I have a community of people who are willing to pray and help support myself and my family during this uncertain time is an incredible blessing. I am so grateful for the love of the Orangewood community.

What has your experience with God been like since being sick?
There were moments when I was terrified while I had COVID, moments when I was uncertain of the outcome. However, I knew that I didn’t have anything to lose, and I took comfort in prayer. Of course, I was afraid, but I trust God completely with the outcome and timing of my life and my family’s future. I have no control over when my time comes, so I will rejoice in being able to know God and will look forward to the day I can join Him at His side.

Is there anything we as a congregation can do to help you or others suffering from COVID?
Offer to cook a meal or go to the store for someone you know who has COVID and offer to do something that they are incapable of doing while sick. It made me feel loved, to have people who were willing to help with the groceries or cooked me a hot meal, or even just video-chatted with me to keep me company. A patient with COVID has to deal with a lot more than just the painful and wearisome symptoms, there is a tremendous emotional and mental battle to this disease as well, and they are most likely fighting it alone. We must work together to get through this.

How are you doing now?  
I feel a little better. While I cannot be at work for some time, I hope to spend lots of time writing music or reading and spending time in nature. Mentally, I am encouraged that I have recovered and have some energy and strength back. I greatly look forward to being able to go places and see people again, it has been a lonely three weeks. No matter how many reasons my autoimmune disease has given me to fear, it has given me even more reason to celebrate good health and healing, to celebrate recovery! I am so grateful to be on the healing end of the coronavirus!
If you are a member or regular attendee of Orangewood Church and need help or would like to help, you can reach out to us by filling out any of the forms below!

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