My motivation for sharing my roller coaster journey is twofold.
To create awareness of the many patients who are not hospitalized, fighting to win a long-term battle with a serious virus; to inform you of the importance of REST, even on days you feel well enough to walk around.
This virus does not only affect old people and those with comorbidity. I am part of a long-term recovery COVID-19 support group and for most of the six thousand of us, the recovery has been between 2-4 months.
My first symptoms started on 23 March, a week before stage 5 lockdown in South Africa. I felt like I had a bad sinus infection. This lasted for a week. On 31 March I collapsed on the floor one night with severe chills and disorientation, so debilitating that my husband phoned the ambulance. The chills lasted a week and then I had severe chest pain. I had a telephone consult with my GP who diagnosed pneumonia and I had 10 days of antibiotics. On day 9 of the antibiotics, I had a setback and realized that this is a virus, not bacterial pneumonia.
Then started a roller coaster ride of various symptoms and up and down health issues and relapses. A month into this journey from hell, I woke up one Sunday feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest and I had shortness of breath and chest pain with heart palpitations. We rushed to the ER and I spent the day on fluids and pain meds intravenously.
I am now in my 10th week and I can not walk to our front gate without shortness of breath. Many of my symptoms have disappeared and I have picked up 1 of the 6kg’s I lost due to gastric pain and a loss of taste. I am currently under the care of an Infectious disease specialist who has brought me comfort and structure.
My suggestion for those in long term recovery is:
Rest. Even on good days. Every time I thought I was recovering I went for a walk and relapsed with shortness of breath and many symptoms came back in full force. I relapsed three times. Once I accepted that my recovery was going to be a long road with many ups and downs, I set my intention to commit to looking after my body,
I am so grateful for my caring and kind nurse (hubby). My incredibly knowledgeable and thorough infectious disease specialist brought structure and calm. To my family and friends for their kind telephone calls and messages daily, I love and miss you all!