I’ve been sick for over 3 months w/ severe respiratory, cardiovascular & neurological symptoms. I still have a fever. I’ve been incapacitated for nearly a season of my life. It’s not enough to not die. You don’t want to live thru this, either, am not unique.
Support groups have sprung up all over the internet because medical science doesn’t know what to do with the hundreds of thousands of Covid patients who don’t get better in the (utter and complete bullshit, and they know it) CDC guidelines of 2-6 weeks. The CDC is also refusing to add widely-reported, terrifying symptoms to their lists. So here’s a grab bag of what patients like me are experiencing, so you know:
- Extreme tachycardia.
- My heart rate was once 160 while I was sleeping.
- Chest pain, like someone’s sitting on your sternum.
- Back and rib pain like someone’s taken a baseball bat to your torso.
- Fatigue like you’ve never felt before in your life.
- Fatigue like your body is shutting off.
- Fatigue so bad that it would often make me cry because I thought it might mean I was dying.
- GI problems, diarrhea to severe acid reflux.
- I had diarrhoea every day for two+ months.
- Unbearable nausea.
- Also: Inexplicable rashes.
- For me, little broken blood vessels all over my body. For many of us, a constant shortness of breath that doctors can’t find an explanation forn Neurological symptoms. I had delirium & hallucinations.
Many report tingling all over their body, an internal “buzzing” or “vibrating.” Also, insomnia & chronic hypnic bodily jerks. One symptom so weird that I thought it was just me, but it turns out it’s so many of us was waking up in the middle of the night, gasping for breath. I also experienced tremors while trying to sleep, like someone was shaking the bed.
Also: many report a “hot head.” Mine literally radiated heat, despite not hitting a high fever. Then, there’s the confusion The “brain fog.” I couldn’t read or make sense of text at times. I couldn’t remember words. I’d stare at my partner at a loss for what I needed to communicate, or how to do it. Also: thickening of the blood, clotting. Weird, inexplicable changes to the menstrual cycle.
Everyone knows the lung stuff already, so I won’t elaborate. But it doesn’t just go away. I wake up every morning & when I breathe in, it feels like someone is crinkling plastic in my chest. And these are just the symptoms. I’m not even touching the physical damage done to patients’ organs and bodily systems. I’m also not touching the mental component of this, which is compounded by the very virtue of not knowing if it’ll eventually kill you.
But long-term covid sufferers all report the same thing: that the recovery is non-linear. You’ll wake up feeling better and assume, like would be true for the flu or a cold, you’re on the mend. But then you get worse. & then you’re feeling better again! & then you’re bedridden, worse than before. It makes no sense. You start to think you’re losing your grip or maybe it’s all in your head. It isn’t. Thousands & thousands are experiencing these cycles. At some point, I realized that this was causing a trauma response in my body, which only seemed to worsen recovery. And I’m someone who’s learned over the years how to tend to their mental health needs pretty well.
This experience is a whole other ball game. It is terrifying what it did to my mind. There are parts of the experience I am well aware I’ve blocked out in order to function, and times my partner has to remind me of things I’ve shut out. There’s so much we don’t know — including if these physical damages are permanent or, for some, will lead to chronic illness. But one thing we do know is this isn’t the fucking flu.
Those of you taking risks (yes, you in masks, as well), please, please weigh them against experiences like mine. It’s not “well, a tiny fraction of people die, and most people are better in two weeks.” This is simply untrue. So many of us have suffered for months. Ask yourselves: is going to get a coffee, or getting a haircut worth being debilitatingly ill for 4+ months of your life? Or, is it worth condemning someone else to this experience? Tending to your critical needs (grocery, medicine) is a necessary risk. So is fighting for the lives of others (protesting, organizing). But I promise you, the risk is too great for a birthday party. Or a f**king bar night. Or visiting your fav restaurant. Good lord, I cannot stress this enough.
Please. Wear a mask. Stay home as much as you can. And know that the recovery times associated with this illness are wrong. That people are suffering. Please tell others about long-term Covid patients.
Twitter thread by DaniOliver
Writer. Free lecture attendee. Development @nplusonemag