COVID-19: My story
It was not a battle, but a slow burn.
It was the beginning of march 2020. I had been out and about: visiting malls, libraries, taking public transport, training in the gym of my SO’s workplace that has multiple international companies with 5000 workers. I had also been to a hospital a couple of times, for some health related tests, which luckily were good. It had only been a week or so since the first confirmed case of imported Covid-19 showed up in Denmark. I was caution, but not particularly worried. After all, the health ministry had assured everyone that it is practically impossible to get covid on the danish soil. Not if you havent been to Wuhan or Italy.
I actually learned about this novel virus before most of the world. In beginning of January, my SO’s friend traveled to Wuhan for a business trip. I told him jokingly to watch out, since its known that many novel illnesses come from Asia, and antibiotic resistance there is growing. He sent us pictures of electrical stations, tables full of noodles and bokchoi and then, by the end of his 2 week trip told us that something odd was happening in Wuhan: there was a new mysterious disease and the goverment locked down the city for a quarantine. Apparently some man from a wetmarket got sick and died from it, but not much was known about it otherwise. My SO’s friend managed to leave in time. This was before the media in the West even began reporting on this new disease.
So, first week of march. The way it started for me was a bit weird: earache. The entire first week I had a whoosing sound in my aching, clicking ears. I honestly thought it was some sort of tinnitus, and even prowled seemingly all the self-help forums, fearing that i got some kind of new dangerous health issue. The official name is “Pulsatile Tinnitus”: it sounds like a washing machine inside your head. I read that it can happen if you have a “eustachian tube dysfunction”, which in itself can be caused by many different things, including respiratory infections. Anyway, at this stage I was worried that something was wrong with my arteries, since Pulsatile Tinnitus is a rare condition and often signals a problem with circulatory system.
A week later, the tinnitus stopped, because now I developed a stuffy nose – and sometime later came a sore throat. It wasnt anything out of the ordinary, so I didnt cancel my trp to the shopping mall or the gym. When I arrived at the gym, I felt shivery and achy, and I got a bad stomach. Odd. That simply never happens to me. I managed to push through my work out, and surprisingly felt a lot better. It was as if my work out stopped the fever from developing.
Next day, I was fatigued with a sore throat and swelling lymph nodes under my chin. What the heck? Never have I tried having swallen lymph nodes before. It was hard and painful to swallow – again, odd, because I had a tonsilectomy, which means that I dont have tonsils, hence they cant swell. At night, I had an elevated temperature, maybe 37,5 -37,8, but I overheat easily, and besides fever is defined as a temperature of 38 C, so I didnt think much of this either. At no point was I bedbound or particularly fatigued. I kept doing the usual stuff, training, writing, going out. And of course, as a precaution I loaded up on my usual stuff: curcumin, quercetin, magnolia bark, NAC, EGCG, (which has a possibility of inhibiting the cytocine storms in sepsis) vit D+C supplements, many of these compounds are blood thinners and powerful anti inflammatory. I also meditated and supplemented with homeopathy – mainly Drosera comp., Argentite and Mesenchym – which has been a godgiven when I had delt with recurring UTIs, so I have no doubt in their effectiveness.
A week later came the lockdown. At this stage my throat was still sore, and I had waxing and waning fatigue and elevated temperature. One day I’d feel energetic and great – the next day I couldnt get out of bad, feeling so weak and drained. This was also when my SO’s manager fell ill with corona. (She has since recovered.)
Week 3 and I still had a sore throat and trouble swallowing. Except now, I also had larygitis – the infection had clearly moved downwards into the middle part of my throat, where the vocal cords are. Still, I felt okay. I even went to the hospital to get some blood tests done, which came back with some interesting numbers. I had a very leucocyte count and a high ALT liver number, but not pathologically so. I still trained and ran a marathon every few days. However I began to notice something disconcerning about my breathing: I was panting, and that was not normal for me. I’m a sport fanatic, and Ive been weightlifting /jogging for years, so this was something new.
By week 4, I was beginning to think that I have mononucleosis. How can someone have a sore thorat for 4 weeks straight? Its unheard of! I was going over all the possible things it could be. Could it be strep? But I have no fever, and I have stuffy nose. Could it be kissing disease? But I didnt kiss anyone other than my beau, and besides it doesn’t cause laryngitis.
That week something else happened. The infection now traveled down to the base of my thoat, and I started to feel a tighness there, as though I had a choker sitting there, clasping around my neck. I also got a cough. A completly dry, unproductive cough.
Fast forward a few days, and we’re reaching the end of March. The goverment isn’t prepared, testing hasn’t even been rolled out yet. The guidelines are: if you feel sick, but you’re not dying, stay home.
And this is when the shit really hit the fan for me. Because now, the infection went further down, and I started to feel a chest ache, a tightness, as though a pile of books was resting there. I was coughing, but worst of all, I couldnt take a deep breath. It was as if I was breathing through a straw – it was basically hard to breathe.
Slowly but surely, the infection reached its peak. I was out of breath from the smallest tasks, like getting up from a chair, or talking. If I sat completely still, it made it easier, but not comfortable. I had never ever experienced anything like this – even thought I had been sick with flu and colds at least a dozen of times. I even had a viral pneumonia when I was a teen, but it never felt like this. Still, no fever.
I have to admit this is when I sort of freaked out. I had called my doctor, she assured me that it cant be mono and told me that I have telltale signs of Covid. She sent me to get tested. It was the very first day when the testing became available to the larger public. I also got tested for strep, which came back negative.
I got to say that having a name to your illness that has such a bad rep, only made my breathing worse – from panic. One night I called the hospital because I was sure that I was close to needing supplemental oxygen. I decided to wait a day, and luckily, I began to feel better. It wasnt as difficult to breath, and I was coughing less frequently. And as if all this wasn’t enough I cut a huge chunk of my skin off when shaving my legs AND twisted my ankle – while sitting on the bed!! So now I was both sick and limping. Yay.
By week 5, I still had a sore throat and I was still going through the phases of feeling fresh and invincible one day – and completely drained the other, like a flacid tomato that had been driven over by a tank.
I also noticed that I had billirubin in my urine, which is a sign of liver damage. (TMI: The entire time I had this infection I wondered why my urine was so dark – it resolved itself once the infection was gone. It’s now known that Covid-19 can and does cause hepatitis, amongst other things.)
I recovered by week 6. I still coughed a bit, and my lungs were super sensitive. If there was something in the air, dust, perfume or other irritant, it would trigger a coughing fit – in fact this still happens, 2 months later. I also still had trouble with fast paced walking, but that passed soon enough.
Fast forward a month and I was back to normal. I even managed to catch another virus – this time a normal cold- which knocked me out for 2 weeks and strangely enough felt even worse than Covid.
Recently, the Guardian published an article about cases like mine: there are those whose illness drags on for weeks or even months. When I first caught the virus, I thought that it was impossible for it to last this long, but that is not the case – as it has been shown. It was relieving to see a confirmation that others have also been through something similar.
My partner had zero symptoms the entire time. Based on the recent testing, we know that a very small percentage of Danish population have had Covid so far – between 1 and 2 %. I always wished to be a one percenter (as in MC club) – just not in this way.