Reno mother of five and life-long educator Margo Buser was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the end of October. Her early stage symptoms were nothing terrible – just exhaustion and a stuffy nose.
“I felt that feeling you have after an ugly cry where you just want to drink some tea and take a nap,” she recalls.
After three or four days of feeling that way, her condition worsened. She had extreme body pain that was like nothing she had experienced before. Her stomach was constantly cramping, her back sore and as if her nerves were on fire throughout her entire body. Buser had zero energy, was only awake for about six hours a day and lost her taste and smell.
“I felt like a zombie – my brain couldn’t process much,” said Buser. “I was sick in bed for over a month. I still have brain fog and fatigue, but nothing like the first six weeks.”
But perhaps the biggest setback she faced was the fear of the virus spreading to her family members. Her partner tested positive, but his symptoms were short-lived as were those of one of her children who tested positive. They waited an excruciating two weeks to know whether or not it had spread to her elderly parents. Fortunately, it did not.
Buser and her family spent much of 2020 adhering to the state guidelines like mask wearing and social distancing, but she also knew that her working with the public increased her risk. On top of that, she faced the challenge that many parents have faced – whether or not to send her kids to school. Ultimately, she knew they needed the in-person experience.
“The most important thing is to have compassion and live your life following the safety guidelines like wearing a mask. As a community, we need to lead by example without judgement,” said Buser. “Someone who has a slightly stuffy nose and nothing beyond mild symptoms could be positive and pass it along to someone who will have a more extreme reaction, and whose life will now be halted, or far worse, ended,” said Buser.
As Buser continues to recover, she wants to pass along her gratitude to everyone in northern Nevada who has had to work throughout the pandemic – from her fellow educators, to nurses, doctors and paramedics, to essential retail employees and delivery drivers. To do this, she started Thankful Thursday.
“When my family got COVID, we saw firsthand how hard the women doing the testing were working, as well as the nurses who were caring for patients.” said Buser. “I wanted to do something to give back to them so I asked friends to have a mask-wearing, socially-distanced meet-up at a park. We said what we were grateful for, how we were grateful for each other and then collected gratitude cash donations.”
Money collected was used to buy coffee and meals for those working throughout the pandemic. Buser plans to continue to grow this tradition until the pandemic is over.
“As an educator, I know how much extra energy it takes to work in the public and be right in the middle of the pandemic every day. I wanted to show my appreciation for the other people out there doing their jobs and show them that they are doing so much more than just their job. Their energy is seen and felt just by showing up to serve and giving us hope that we have a beautiful, bright future ahead.”
Buser hopes that her Thankful Thursday movement encourages others to remind themselves to be extra grateful year-round and that they will do things like leave an extra tip when supporting a local business.
As we continue to navigate COVID-19, it is important that we all do our part by wearing a mask, social distancing and washing our hands. Mask on, so we can move on.
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