Life Health

The Long Haul

Insidious. That’s the term I can best describe COVID-19 as, insidious. It manifested that way, upended our life that way and has continued to stay exactly that way, insidiously.

I remember some time back, late April, early May thinking that we had finally kicked ‘Rona, (as we affectionately call her) to the curb. Life resumed, I went back to work, a little tired but no less thankful to have gotten it, survived it (according to the media it was a 50/50 shot) and beat it. Or so I thought…

By the end of May, I knew that something still wasn’t right. Initially, one simply assumes age (I am now 50), a busy lifestyle that includes full-time work, home renovation(s) and whatever else I can fill my time with (to provide that just perfect level of chaos) was to blame. However, there was just a few things that plagued me since COVID that I just could not shake off: reverberations in my body, fatigue that was ever-present and increasing, burning and tingling in my extremities, bone and muscle aches that would wake me after just a few hours of sleep, and generalized weakness. By the beginning of June, I found myself struggling and back on the couch!

My first thought, as I lay on the couch, watching my neighbors jog by my house (I won’t lie, I wanted to trip them) is, “am I losing my mind”. My second thought, why after age 45 does the body just simply fall apart? My third thought, “am I a total wimp”? and then back to my first thought, “am I losing my mind”? and so it went…..

From the get-go, the ‘Rona presented much differently with me (of course). I didn’t really have a fever (maybe once, like 100.3) but otherwise I ran a temp of 99.0 (which medical experts say is not a temp) or normal, so then I guess my temp was pretty much normal. No coughing. No air hunger. My initial symptom and the one that has endured was body aches. Initially, so bad that I felt like someone was putting a Vise Grip on my muscles/bones in two different locations and then twisting it in opposite directions, repeatedly all over my body. Those body aches finally settled out after a few days to tolerable and since then, I definitely still have those aches if I lay, sit or my body is simply in one place for too long, however not as excruciating. Diarrhea. Weakness in my extremities. And then of course the fatigue, and the overwhelming feeling of malaise (just not feeling well). My symptoms were really nothing like that of my family, who had more respiratory and fever symptoms (some fatigue), we had to have been the same strain, so then why such differing presentations?

So that’s where I found myself again: body aches, extreme fatigue, lightheaded, burning/tingling in my extremities and this weird unilateral extremity weakness with my legs and arms. Of course, my resurgence in “symptoms” also brought a new round of COVID brain swabs (to rule out reinfection or new infection), TWO to be exact, so I think that now puts me in the lead in our family for brain swabs…is that something to brag about? BOTH NEGATIVE. Lab tests, ALL NORMAL. Procedures such as an EMG, ECHO and more intricate nerve tests, ALL NORMAL. Huh, so I am the picture of health? yet, I am not….wth?

So,

Of course, Google became my best friend as I started to “research” what my symptoms could mean. My sister Dawn is our professional WebMD Nurse but ME, I am the resident Google Research Expert, I mean if Google doesn’t know or can’t find an answer, then it simply doesn’t exist!

What I soon learned was there was this “thyng” called “post-COVID sequelae or post-COVID syndrome” that so many people were experiencing. The symptoms of this continued insidious “viral sequelae” were, like it’s mother virus ‘Rona, all over the board, everything from unrelenting headaches to episodes of air hunger in some people, and quite literally everything in between. If you are a more scholarly type of individual, I am also linking a document HERE from NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Institute).

Of course, at that point, I was still on the fence thinking that this has to be some sort of “mental thyng”. However, as I started to read some of the stories first from news feeds, Facebook and other media sources, I began to realize that we were venturing into an entirely “new-old” realm of virus presentation and symptom awareness both acute and chronic. But for me, the confirmation came after watching a podcast with Mayo Clinic physicians, Dr Poland (Infectious Disease MD) and Dr Gazelka (Anesthesiologist and moderator) in which they talk about this very same phenomenon of post-COVID sequelae and the people afflicted, affectionately called the COVID Long Haulers (I believe self-dubbed by the chronic post-COVID sufferers). I was exceptionally interested in Dr Polands friend and colleague who had experienced very similar symptoms to mine, the horrible myalgia (muscle aches), arthralgia (joint aches), and his neuralgia (nerve pain) over all.

So now, what to do with that information while moving forward? I guess run with it, right? What else is there? I found that mind over matter WHILE listening to my body is becoming the answer. Staying active YET NOT overdoing it. Realizing that although it’s summer, I cannot withstand heat, even a short time in HOT conditions, depletes me. Eating healthy 80% of the time (allowing the 20% for ice cream, I mean it is summer!) to allow my body to work more efficiently. Staying positive. Yes, mostly staying positive. Our bodies are miraculous vessels of technology and function. They can heal.


So, now what? What does this mean for the future? IF (I hate to give in to conspiracy theories but this virus has me questioning “science vs nature”) this is a natural virus, then these little buggers are getting pretty smart! This may very well alter our lives F-O-R-E-V-E-R. Masks may continue to be a fashion statement indefinitely, while work, school, travel, holidays, shopping, and all other social interaction may become a very different experience as we face a new foe and an uncertain future.


What I do know is this…

I GET the political tensions that are abound.

RIGHT vs LEFT aside, COVID is real. Let’s look at some myth vs facts:

1st the MYTHS

I CAN’T get this disease because I am young: MYTH

ONLY old people get this virus, children don’t: MYTH

I am SUPER HEALTHY, so I won’t get this disease: MYTH

It’s like the FLU, what’s the big deal?: MYTH

  • If you read no other attached post, you must read the one above!
  • The flu lasts for about two weeks and yes, even though some people can die from the flu, they do not end up debilitated in LARGE numbers for long periods of time, and who knows, maybe forever??

Even if I get it, I WON’T die because I am young: MYTH

It’s a POLITICAL strategy: MYTH-ish

  • Caveat: NOT saying some are not using it for political reasons, BUT this virus is real. Responsible, reliable and conservative healthcare institutions are taking it seriously and preparing for all of the alternatives. Media is media, but research and facts dictate HOW healthcare institutions prepare for epidemics and pandemics in it’s relativity and applicability, and believe me, they are preparing!
  • MAYBE, just maybe THE PEOPLE of THIS great nation need to come together and AGREE that as ONE people we need a government that acknowledges BOTH “sides” and operates as ONE. There should be NO left or right side.
  • There should be NO black, brown, vs white sides. There should be NO child or adult that goes hungry. There should be the opportunity for employment and education EQUALLY.
  • How did we get so far off kilter? And no, I will not accept the finger pointing to any ONE president, this is a cumulative effect. The people that lead this nation are supposed to be the best and brightest, with grace in their hearts and possibility in the genre? Are we holding our elected officials to this ideal?
  • THIS list of problems did NOT come with any ONE elected official but instead it is a snowball effect from many….and what as Americans can we do about it? Can WE come together calmly, safely and practically to find an answer?
    • OK well…..where was I again??
ME STEPPING OFF MY SOAP BOX……

Oh YES……NOW the FACTS:

People have had the disease and not even known it: FACT-ish

  • Caveat: read the link above, when further investigating was done people realized that they did actually have symptoms, but so mild that they dismissed them to (allergies, colds and other environmental irritants).

Others have been quite ill but kicked ‘Rona permanently to the curb (I’m so jealous!): FACT

Others of us (the Long-Haulers) are still experiencing the joys of this new found virus and are being tested with enthusiasm by doctors and researchers alike to try and understand it mechanisms of action: FACT

And yet still others, many others are not even that lucky, they have lost their lives: all of them someone’s children, they are spouses/significant others, fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, and friends: FACT

Wearing masks help decrease the spread of COVID-19 as annoying as this is, it is a FACT!

And a good handwashing is always advised, right Dr Poland? Pay attention Jimmy Kimmel!

Bottom Line

Whatever your political affiliation, whatever your beliefs the important thing to remember is that as ethical and compassionate human beings, we need to come together as a nation and as a world to unite against this uncertain foe. Today, you may be blissfully unaware but tomorrow could be very different. I pray for the first for you, and not the latter, having been (and still) blessed by the ‘Rona.

Remember, it is easy to assume and critique that of which we do NOT know, understand or experience.

He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they both not fall into the pit?” Luke 6:39

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