From Me to You, a Helping Hand to Navigate Covid

Nancie McDonnell Ruder
6 min readApr 2, 2021


Photo by Dingzeyu Li on Unsplash

At Noetic, we have 6 core values. As CEO, I know I’m probably not supposed to have a favorite, but…I do — it’s Help and Kindness First. I believe that being helpful and kind makes the world better, lifts others, and helps business. I have seen this time and time again over many years.

With that in mind, I’ve recently committed to creating and sharing content on this platform — more openly, vulnerably, and honestly than ever before — in the hopes that my thoughts may be helpful in some way to others.

And why not start with the most major thing that’s happened to me this year — I had Covid in January, and it was not a mild case. While I’m happy to report I am almost back to normal, I certainly learned a lot about it, and myself.

I had Covid in January 2021, and it was not a mild case. While I did not have to go to the hospital and I am now fully recovered (with still dulled smell but otherwise good), it was a harrowing experience that I would like to share in case my reflections may be of help to others. I wrote this in the form of advice, as these are the things I wish I had known as I was going through it. I also wrote this as a way of trying to fully process the experience. So if you do get Covid, I hope these thoughts may help you, and I wish you as much comfort as possible and a full recovery.

If you get Covid, do not spend time chastising yourself.

I do not know if this is something everyone does, but likely it is a common reaction if, like me, you got Covid without knowing exactly how or why, and you were following safety guidelines no less and no more than you were previously. I am not the most strict Covid restriction person, nor am I Covid “loose” as I have heard it called. I had taken a trip (double-masked, distancing) which was certainly a calculated risk. When I started feeling poorly and then got the positive test result, it felt equally shocking and mortifying. Who have I infected? How could I be so stupid…careless…contagious? As I got a couple of days in and my symptoms worsened, my inner voice told me very clearly that I needed to put this negative dialogue to the side, as what was done was done and I needed all my energy to heal. I literally did not have the energy to self-recriminate AND deal with how sick I felt. I suggest you do the same if you end up on this path — it is hard enough to go through it — self-recrimination is a waste of energy.

If you start to feel sick — whether it ends up being Covid or not, HYDRATE.

Water and electrolytes are critical to recovery. While we can know this intellectually, it is really hard to choke down even water, when you cannot taste nor smell, feel nauseous, and your body aches so much that you can barely move. Nonetheless, drink you must, or you will surely find yourself in need of hospitalization for dehydration from fever, and/or from not eating and the general dehydrating effects of Covid. Choke it down. This helped me.

Get an oximeter.

This is a small device, battery-operated, that you put on your finger to measure your pulse and oxygen level. You can buy it on Amazon for $25. You can use it several times a day — or every hour when you are really worried — and it helps you know that your oxygen is at healthy enough levels to continue to stay home (you want to be above 90) or that it is time to go to the ER. This was incredibly helpful, especially when my breathing was labored and my anxiety was getting the best of me.

Do not isolate yourself emotionally.

Even if you are quarantining alone, as I was, don’t isolate yourself from the virtual support available. Call or text a friend or family member when you feel scared. Because if you get Covid, you will feel scared. You may, depending upon the gravity of your symptoms and the longevity of your sickness — feel very scared and it may even feel overwhelming. This is enhanced by the fact that you may have a fever, not eaten in many days, and have aches and pains that make it hard to think straight. Texting or phoning someone you can be really honest with is not only smart because they, as a healthy, rationally thinking person, can understand what you are experiencing and guide you (“call the doctor” “what does the oximeter say” “have you eaten anything today”) and it will give you comfort just to speak your truth and have a loving presence with you.

(Related to above) If someone offers to drop something off for you at your doorstep, say yes.

Even though you are not eating and you cannot interact with the person, just knowing that there were people out there thinking of me and experiencing their acts of kindness was helpful beyond words. I felt the love and support each day, as my fridge got overrun by soup and my kitchen countertop with flowers and plants. This emotional support carried me through the days and nights while I waited to feel better — or worse — whichever was coming.

Meditate, even if you have never done it before.

Use an app (Calm, Headspace are both great), or a podcast (Tara Brach, highly recommend), or just breathe slowly (though you may not be able to breathe deeply) and count your breaths. If you have a dog or cat and they are a deep breather when they sleep, lay where you can listen to their breathing. Use visualization if that is accessible to you. It is critical to find ways to stay calm so you can rest and sleep and heal.

Give in to the process, but do not give in.

As you may already know, Covid severity often happens in “time chapters”: you feel a bit sick, a few days later you feel notably sicker. A week in, you feel worse again. Feeling notably worse after a full week of pretty bad suffering is alarming and disheartening. Recognize where you are, stay in touch with your doctor, monitor your oxygen, hydrate, meditate, rest, repeat. Be at peace with the “work” of suffering, but do not give in to it. Remind yourself how strong you are. Fight like hell. Tell Covid to go to hell.

When you recover, make a gift of the experience.

When I lay wondering if I might be one of the many to die of this dreadful virus, I gained a certain clarity… as in, clarity about my life. What I have done, what I have not done. Who I am, who I want to be. Perhaps most clearly, I thought — I am not done, I have so much more I want to do. And the things I want to do are not “things” — they are gifts I want to give, a mark I want to leave. As my dad used to say, “leave the world a better place.” So now that I have the gift of recovery, I am seeking to give gifts — primarily empathy, compassion, generosity, kindness, and love. While I have always thought about these gifts, I now see each day as a gift-giving opportunity. These are the gifts I commit to and the ones I am committed to bringing forth in myself to share with others. Friends — hold me to it. And thank you for reading.



Nancie McDonnell Ruder

Owner, Noetic Consulting, LLC; Marketing Consultant: Author, Researcher, Strategist, Trainer