I am not sure which is worse, the fatigue or the brain fog or the shortness of breath when I do push myself. What I do know is that I am suffering from “Covid frustration” and well on my way to “Covid Burnout”.
My Long Covid effects are not plainly obvious to those around me. Many see me up and moving around at the store, picking up kids at school or waiting at a hockey practice and believe that Covid is behind me. The unfortunate truth is that inside my body my heart is racing at the faintest of exertion, my breathing is shallow and tense, my head is swimming in confusion and my energy meter is quickly dwindling. My Covid reality is that the virus left a lasting impact on my body that is keeping me from rejoining my “normal” pre Covid life. I call this my Covid frustration.
I will be 52 years old this April, and I am normally known for my high energy levels, my mental sharpness and my commercial ability to get across subjects quickly. I was not a gym rat by any means and I have the requisite dad bod for someone my age. But all in all, I was not in bad shape both mentally and physically. This is until December 2020 when I started showing the symptoms of the virus and more acutely in January and February 2021 when I found myself bed ridden and struggling to breathe, stay awake and complete the most basic of tasks. Showering alone was an extremely taxing event not only because of the fatigue and dizziness of standing in the shower but also because of the pain my skin felt from the water. It was like a million pin pricks. My feet and toes were numb making it more difficult to stand for long periods. I needed to be isolated from my family to make sure that I did not pass the virus onto the members of my family that had not already had Covid 19. The isolation that I spent alone in my basement was just as debilitating as the effects of the virus. As I laid on my bed for almost two months, my family continued with their lives without me. The loneliness of Covid is as memorable to me as the physical effects.
I started back to work at the end of February in a phased approach. With my type A personality that meant that I was full in at 110%. For a day! Then my body put me back into my place when I slept for almost 24 hours to recover from my insurrection the day before. I had to learn to pace myself and build in sleep time into my calendar to allow me to recharge. For me sleeping happens in two ways, option one is that I fall asleep before I hit the sheets and I enter a coma level dark sleep or option two is an interrupted sleep due to vivid dreams that wake me in a sweat or a pounding heart beat. Neither are particularly satisfying to recharge my batteries. But given six or more hours of sleep, I can operate at 75% for three to five hours before needing to recharge again. It seems that once I wake up my body releases energy in the same way that a balloon releases air when the plug is removed. There is no conservation based on the level of effort.
Our family Christmas tree proudly stood until well in February this year as I was not able to muster the strength to take it down, pack it away and transport it to the storage. Simple tasks like this were not only exhausting but they also caused me to be short of breath, cough and for my muscles to cramp. This deadly combination of exertion followed by my bodies reaction would put me back into bed to recover. As you can imagine, this created frustration for myself and other family members when basic tasks were not getting completed because of my lagging Covid effects. These effects have lasted well into March making the Covid frustration even greater.
I have seen several medical professionals to try and get relief from these symptoms. The treatments to date have included an oral steroid, antibiotics, inhalers, hormone injections, thyroid medication, vitamins, supplements, hydration drinks, cold and flu medicine, ibuprofen, aspirin, IV’s, CT scans, X-rays, contract and sleep to name a few. Just a few steps shy of leaches at this point! I greatly respect the medical professionals that have helped me through my Covid infection and thank them for everything that they have done for me. And to me the science of dealing with active Covid 19 infections, although evolving, is much better understood than how to deal with the long Covid after effects. And for this reason I have established this blog. To try and help people like me to understand what is happening to their bodies and if there is anything that can be done to shorten the time of recovery and reduce frustration. You are not alone!
In future posts, I will go into more details about my recovery efforts and what I believe is working for me.
I wish you all a speedy recovery.