Terrified reading the news. Afraid of getting COVID-19

Posted by Elizabeth @enska, Mar 22, 2020

I read 2 articles today about what COVID-19 is like and I’m about at the end of my rope. I can’t stop worrying about dying. I’ve been scrambling to find somewhere to talk about this and just saw a post on Facebook about Connect, which has been helpful for me in the past.

I have type 2 diabetes and I get infections easily because of that. I haven’t kept the best control over it in the past, but right now it’s controlled ok.

This week I went to the grocery store every day, I went to therapy, and I also had to go to the dentist for an emergency tooth issue. I hadn’t fully grasped the situation but I did wash my hands, use hand sanitizer, refrained as much as I could from touching my face, and sanitized stuff in the house. Also continuing to do those actions now and in the future. But right now I’m worried I got it from my trips out in the world. I’m kind of hoping that it was early enough where not many people were carrying it yet.

Now, I can’t tell if this is the beginning of a panic attack or what, but I’m having trouble catching my breath today. I’ve been having that feeling where you need to take a deep breath to fill up your lungs. I also have a very slight stuffy nose. I had one of these panic attacks last year where I thought I was having a heart attack. I went in to St. Mary’s ED. There was absolutely nothing wrong with my body. It was all because my therapist had just talked about how women have different heart attack symptoms than men (not to blame my therapist, it wasn’t her fault). It’s amazing how the body can unconsciously create symptoms like that. So I hope my breathing thing is just that.

I don’t think I want to leave my room ever again. I was thinking about running to the post office tomorrow but I think I need to not do that. I also need to not read any more articles about how people die from COVID-19. 😣 Thank you for allowing me a space to talk about all this. I’m going to try to go to sleep.

Yikes, just want to post an apology for my recent link to the J. Robertson's take on sending hubby to grocery. Had watched this years ago and found it hilarious. I should have replayed it before posting the link because of the seriousness of our current pandemic. This will teach me, I hope! to be more cautious and considerate going forward. Just remembered the humor;not the conclusion.


I just got an app to test my blood oxygen level and it wasn't great! At least I know I'm not making it up. Not much I can do, so I'll just continue monitoring.

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@enska I can see why you might be feeling concerned. Has your provider monitored your oxygen in the past, and if so, do you know what your typical readings are? For those in the group with significant lung issues who regularly have less oxygen, these readings may look OK, but they are below what most people without heart or lung issues experience.
Here are a few things to consider while evaluating the numbers –
Independent testing by several universities/hospitals has shown that Oxygen sats measured by a phone app tend to have an accuracy rate of +/- 2%, but their studies excluded people with high or low blood pressure and some other conditions. Customer experiences and evaluations of the apps vary widely, it looks like not all are particularly accurate. Consumers have reported that on some phones, their oxygen tends to measure lower than on others.
Over what period of time and under what conditions were your O2 sats measured? When my provider measures mine (a regular occurrence since I have several lung challenges) she first has me relax and breathe while sitting for at least a couple minutes before checking. I fear that if I was trying to get a phone app to do this, I would be stressed out and my breathing would reflect it.
In addition to having a virus or other illness, either Covid-19 or something else, generalized anxiety can cause poor respirations and thus make oxygen levels lower – is it possible you were seeing a combination of both? @lioness advice to do some deep breathing or meditation is a good one.
We are all very worried and often anxious these days, but it sounds like, whether you have the virus or not, your condition right now isn't dangerous. In your place, I would continue to monitor and call the doctor if things get worse, stay isolated, and practice good self-care, eating well and resting.


Hi @enska, I've had the home oximeter test done prior to doing an overnight sleep study at Mayo. I think the median for my results was a lot less which is why I had the sleep study which determined I had severe obstructive sleep apnea and now use a CPAP device. Are you able to share a little more about the app and how it monitors your blood oxygen level? I know the home oximeter the send out with patients is calibrated and expensive…they make you return it the next day.

I have an Apple watch 2 and use it with the Kardia app to take daily ECGs. I'm not sure it's reliable due to the neuropathy in my fingers and the fact that it reads through my fingers or thumb with the wrist band. That and taking my blood pressure daily with an Omron BP monitor both sometimes add to my stress if I believe what it's telling me. Everytime I go to the docs office all is well with the BP. Just didn't want you to be over axious about the apps results when they may or may not be accurate. Are you able to contact your doctor by phone or a patient portal to ask what they might think of the numbers?

Hoping your day goes well!


Many grocery stores are offering special early morning hours for seniors and the immune-compromised. I was shocked when you said you shopped every day. Try to buy enough to last 2-3 weeks, if possible. I hope you will be ok. Prayers! I, too, fall into the vulnerable category.


@sueinmn and @johnbishop – thanks for the replies! Good to know the information about O2. I've never measured it before as I've never had any breathing or lung problems. In reference to what is "normal", I went by the green, yellow, and red zones on the graph.

Recently I had a high pulse at the doctor during a checkup so I've been monitoring just pulse with my smart watch. It's interesting how it's detected. From what I understand, a light is shined on the skin and the device looks at the color difference as the blood pumps through. It's an amazing piece of technology. The sensor on my phone can measure things that I have never even heard of. I have no idea how it does O2.

The fingerprint scanner on newer phones is cool too. It actually shoots a sound wave at your finger and creates a map based on how long it takes the sound wave to bounce back. Older phones use a visual method.

My breathing has improved today actually, finally. I took the O2 measurement again twice and it was in the normal range.


Many grocery stores are offering special early morning hours for seniors and the immune-compromised. I was shocked when you said you shopped every day. Try to buy enough to last 2-3 weeks, if possible. I hope you will be ok. Prayers! I, too, fall into the vulnerable category.

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Oh, if you are replying to me, I don't go every day now. That was my routine before all this happened. 😊

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