It has been 13 long weeks since my journey with COVID-19 began. And, like all of you, this is not what I asked for or what I thought the spring of 2020 would look like. At all. It has been a long, twisting, turning experience with much more unsurety than answers. Much of that is because being a novel virus, we do not have sufficient research yet to have many answers. Sure, the medical community can make educated guesses based on research with other, similar viruses, but this thing is so new, we just don’t know.
One of the things we do not understand is why a percentage of the population, like myself, are having long-term symptoms. I am 47 and otherwise healthy, with no pre-existing conditions. Many other people that are having extended symptoms are in the same boat. And, some of us have had these debilitating symptoms for months.
And, inexplicably, the last few weeks have been some of the worst yet. My head has felt like a swim cap was constantly tightening on my entire head. I was so exhausted that walking across the room felt like too much effort, but yet, I could not sleep. My body ached like I had the flu or had done something way more fun like climbed Mt. Everest, but with no preparation for the climb. My brain was so foggy, I had to re-read simple paragraphs five or six times to even moderately grasp their meaning. The itchy rash on my neck, scalp and arms came back full force. I started having a heart arrhythmia and went to the hospital. All of my tests came back normal, which seems to be in line with what other people are experiencing. Thankfully, I got an ER doc that has been seeing these inexplicable, long term results with other patients and while he had no answers for me, he did not dismiss me or my experience.
On a positive note, I am feeling better this week. I also found out that I have developed short-term (IgM) antibodies, however, I do not seem to be developing long-term (IgG) antibodies after two serology tests. The testing is through UCLA and not an at home test (whose results can be suspect). In reality this means very little other than I have had the virus; even if I do develop long-term antibodies. Since we do not know yet if antibodies confer any kind of immunity, I will continue to act as if I am at risk of giving or contracting the virus. I will limit my activities to essential ones and always wear a mask over both my nose and mouth in public. I do this for other people as much, if not more, than I do it for myself. I do it not out of fear, but out of love. And, even if I knew I had immunity, I would still wear a mask to signal healthy societal behavior and norms.
And, these antibodies do not explain the long-term symptoms many of us are experiencing. The best guess is that our immune systems have gone into overdrive. Still fighting a virus that no longer exists in our bodies, even though our bodies don’t realize it; handing us symptoms that last for months.
And, to any of you that I have not responded to, or if I have dropped the ball on projects or promises. I apologize profusely. It is not my intent to be flaky or unreliable. I truly don’t know when the symptoms will hit, or for how long. I hope beyond all hope that I truly am on the mend. That this is the virus's last big knock-out punch, but sadly, I just don’t know.
And, please share this! The intent is to help people!
In addition to personal experiences and thoughts around coronavirus, I send a once a week musing about leadership, business, finance and life. You can subscribe at www.kimberlihudson.com/blog.