I had covid for over 60 days. I’m 33 years old, was super healthy, pescatarian, 125 pounds, and ran and did yoga every day. With covid, I was so ill that I couldn’t walk for two weeks besides a couple of steps. I had to put rolly chairs in every room in my house and a shower chair. There were entire weeks where I couldn’t shower because I was so sick. Covid was the worst illness of my life.
Covid has been such a rollercoaster, so many ups and downs. You might have 3 days of feeling great, followed by a day or two of feeling awful, where you cry all day and can only breath while lying on your belly.
You may start to think about the possibility that you might die. I made a will and sent my “final thoughts” to my family. I came to peace with the possibility of dying because I was in so much pain. What kept me going was the thought of my students being alone and my family.
My best teacher friend died at the age of 32 and I taught all of his same students. Every single week for a year, they talked about him. I knew I had to fight for my students.
When you are so sick and doctors have no answers, you are so desperate for relief. You’ll do tons of research and join covid supports groups to find answers. I spent thousands on air purifiers, warm humidifiers, vitamins, lymph node brushes, lidocaine patches, $150 oxygen monitor that wakes me up when I sleep, etc. I bought anything and everything to help me breathe.
You may be terrified to sleep because your oxygen drops at night. After hearing my friends find multiple people dead in their homes because they died in their sleep or reading about people with covid who don’t even realize when their oxygen is down to 50, you would be terrified too.
Due to fevers or difficulty breathing, you might start having memory issues or what I call “covid fog brain.” I couldn’t remember anything. I ended up having to ask my roomate to help me put all my meds in a med box separated by days because I kept forgetting it I took my meds.
After months of being sick, you’ll learn who your true friends are. The ones who care about you in sickness and health. You’ll grow closer to acquaintances and even become best friends with strangers with covid. Some people who you thought were your closest friends will not reach out to once. Some won’t believe you are that sick for so long. Some will start to forget about you after being sick so long or will send you texts like, “Wow, how are you still sick?”
You’ll also realize some people only care about your output, your work or your organizing and not about you as a human being. You will never see those friends the same.
You’ll see the best and worst in humanity. Over 80 people dropped me off food or sent me food. Half of these people I’ve never met, besides through social media. There are no words with how thankful I am for these folks.
Due to all this, you might need to see a therapist or increase your therapy. During some stages of therapy, when I could talk, I increased my appointments to 2-3x per week. Explaining your worries with a therapist feels so good, but you will start to feel self conscious about talking about your illness to your friends all the time.
You will also have to ask for help constantly. I am normally a super independent woman. I felt so embarrassed asking for help. The days I felt the worst and had to go back to the ER, are the days I didn’t ask for help. Friends of those with covid, don’t ask people with covid, “Tell me what I can do for you,” instead say, “I’m going to buy you stuff, what can I buy you” or “I’m making you soup, what do you want in it.”
To explain, more of my journey and how I got such bad covid, I need to explain what I was doing right around when I got sick. When I got really sick, it was during a time when I didn’t put on my metaphorical mask first before helping others. I am a special education teacher and work in a school with over 90% students below poverty. I was so worried about my students and their families. I would work 16-20 hours a day to compile lists of financial resources and other support and I would call parents every day. Some would call me crying at midnight and I would always answer.
Also, in two days, two of my students’ parents died. I worked non stop to help them and started getting only 3 hours of sleep. That’s when my covid symptoms became unbearable and my family made me go to the ER.
I live in Chicago, USA and was terrified to go after seeing the pictures of the hospitals in New York looking like morgues. My family made me and my roomate drove me. I was pleasantly surprised that the hospital I went to was very clean and calm.
I didn’t realize I had covid symptoms for weeks. Here were the early signs:
-waking up sweaty (I normally don’t sweat at night)
-slight sporadic chills but no fever (or I thought I had no fever bc I only took my temp during the day)
-I could smell fine but would have weird smells like metallic or gas. Also, tasted metallic in the past 2-3 weeks. Apparently, a metallic taste or smell is related to lung problems
-loose stool but not terrible
Then, I started having:
-severe neck pain and headaches
-difficult breathing (but not congestion in lungs). I just thought it was anxiety
-night terrors and foggy thoughts. I believe due to night fevers
-ear congestion, felt like a cold
-worse anxiety & breathing problems at night because laying on my back made breathing worse
2 weeks later I had:
-Way more difficulty breathing if anything is even touching my back, especially lower back. It’s way easier to breathe while laying on my belly or sitting on a stool (because nothing is touching my back)
-A few nights, I had feelings of intense dread because my fever was so high, I couldn’t even move, was drenched in sweat and almost delirious from the fever. I’ve heard multiple covid patients describe it as “feeling like covid is taking over ur body.”
-Lots of digestion problems but probably from the tons of antibiotics I’m on
-Severe chest pain and some rib pain. It feels like a gorrilla is sitting on my chest and someone is squeezing my lungs so every breathe is work but my oxygen levels are mostly normal.
There are so many common misconceptions about covid. People think you have to be coughing and congested with a fever. I never had lung congestion or a cough. I also only had fevers at night. My doctor said my symptoms are super common in covid. Covid can affect people very differently. Some people’s lungs fill up and some have extreme tightness and pain.
Also, that “hold your breathe for 10 seconds” test is false. People are dying from this “made-up covid test” because then they don’t go to the hospital.
Also, doctors usually put you on antibiotics to make sure you don’t get another infection. I had to take 3 sets of antibiotics.
Breathing exercises help you reach the lower part of your lungs that are near your low back. One reason covid is so dangerous is that it hits the tiny air sacks at the bottom of the lungs which can cause double pneumonia. If you google covid breathing videos, you will find what to do. I highly recommend people buy a spirometer to practice breathing exercises. It’s the #1 thing that helped me.
Also, my doctor said 30-50% of covid tests are false negatives. She said that in the beginning they were tested with a mouth and throat test and they were way more accurate. Now, due to low supplies, hospitals only give patients one test.
My doctor said ibuprofen is totally fine. 1 small study said that people should not take ibuprofen and media went crazy with it. My doctor said that Tylenol is preferred to reduce fevers. Ibuprofen reduces inflammation.
This is what has helped me:
-Drinking lemon water all day, especially in the morning. It cleans your organs and reduces inflammation. It has helped me breathe better
-Eat garlic every day
-Use a lymph node brush on your lymph nodes along your neck, chest, armpits, etc. This cleanses your lymph nodes. My lymph nodes were horribly swollen. After doing this for 2 days, they went down
-Sit outside in your backyard or take vitamin D. Vitamin C and zinc are very helpful too
-Lidocaine patches on my chest every 12 hours has helped a lot
-I’m also drinking some Pedialyte, coconut water and Gatorade to help keep my electrolytes balanced
-Tylenol for chest pain and to reduce fever
-Herbs or tea from an acupuncturist.
-Black seed oil is very good for lungs and immunity has been around for thousands of years. They even found it in king tuts tomb.
– Eat as many fruit and berries as possible
-Drink green tea
-I’ve also been taking my oxygen levels about 10x per day and blood pressure 2x per day
– I bought 2 air purifiers for my living room and bedroom. They have helped immensely
-Also, don’t just lay in bed or sit there. Many people die from blood clots. Even if you are exhausted, try to walk a little or use the vibrating machine on yourself so you don’t have blood clots
After going to a very good hospital, clean and calm, they call me every single day around noon to ask me a set of 10-15 questions and to see if I need anything. They also have a social worker on call that I can call day or night, since covid is so stressful.
I hope people take covid seriously and wear masks and social distance. Covid has been the worst illness of my life. And living in the USA, with for profit healthcare has also been a terrible experience. I think that’s why so many people are dying at home.