What, this again? I hate this plot line, it’s so boring. Can’t we move on to something else? New season? At least a new episode?
The thing about COVID-19 is that every day feels like its own month. I often think I’ve taken a wrong turn down some timeline wormhole and I’m just wandering the hallways, trying to find my way back.
This year, when I made my resolutions and did my planning for the next year and the next decade, my theme for the year was to GET MY BODY BACK. *facepalm* I have a knack for being a little too on the nose and creating huge loopholes for the plot devil to drive a big old semi truck through.
All I wanted was to run a half marathon and lose 15 pounds! I didn’t mean to get my body back from my own coffin! Sheesh. Who writes this stuff.
On the other hand, it’s thrilling to feel that I can actually do this... and maybe even do both?
Right now the state of this rusty old carcass is fairly dire. I’m still having lingering after-effects and would by no means pass an audition for gym trainer, or possibly even Walmart greeter.
The worst problem I am having has to do with my heart, and I’ll come back to that in a minute.
I’m still having vertigo when I get in bed at night, and again when I first wake up and get out of bed. It’s getting a little better each day, but still here and still annoying. Got some advice from someone who suffered from vertigo for over a decade and went through every possible test, including the tilt table.
Apparently vertigo can be a symptom of zinc deficiency. This makes a lot of sense. Research backs up that zinc is a key nutrient for immune system function. I tested this back in 2018 when I kept getting every cold and flu for most of a year, and my expensive vitamins clearly helped me bounce back. The vertigo returned when I ran out, and now that my new bottle has arrived it is ebbing again.
I like to think of specific nutrients with various analogies. Those who like the fighting/battle/warfare type of imagery could think of zinc as the bullets used by the immune system, that it uses it up and then needs more. For me it is more helpful to think of it as batteries that need to be recharged, or rare ingredients in a special soup that needs to be boiled up batch by batch. Grated ginger, or more likely saffron threads. You can make gallons of pretty decent soup without saffron, but there really isn’t a convincing replacement for it.
After weeks of a severe infection, my immune system is probably looking a lot like some wicker furniture that’s sat out on the porch for ten years. Total restoration job necessary.
I AM a mixed metaphor these days
About the heart thing. Anyone who thinks that COVID-19 is “just a cold” or “just the flu” should be allowed to peacefully exist inside that gentle fantasy for as long as possible. For me, the real problem was the second week, when most of my other symptoms went away but I had serious lung and heart trouble.
My lungs have blessedly improved. In that second week, I was gulping air and feeling fairly certain I would die within a day or two. Then I started breathing better and feeling like my lungs had recovered... only to be struck by a secondary bacterial infection that felt like it would kill me in a completely different way. That second infection was a constant burning pain, much worse than anything I had felt from COVID. That was when my doctor sent me in for the chest x-ray and diagnosed peribronchial thickening. He prescribed five days of azithromycin, which totally seems to have worked. I haven’t had any lung issues since then.
I’ve had heart palpitations since the fifth day after I was exposed to the coronavirus, long before I knew I had been exposed. Before I got sick, it would only happen after exercise, like riding my bike, walking uphill or up the stairs, or that fateful day I tried to go for a run. This is not a problem I’ve had in the past, so it definitely got my attention!
After I had been sick for a week, it started happening all the time. My heart would race for no reason. My resting heart rate was elevated to 50% higher than normal. It would spike to double my normal rate any time I got up. Much worse when I would go through the air-gulping episodes for hours at a stretch.
It was already in the news that people with COVID-19 were getting blood clots and dying from heart attacks and strokes. I felt in my body that this could happen to me, and soon.
I did start to get better, and the third week I didn’t have the heart palpitations. Not really in the fourth week when I was battling the secondary lung infection, either.
It wasn’t until after I had tested negative and was off the antibiotics, genuinely starting to feel like I had won the game, that my heart started pounding again. I also started getting brief stabbing pains all around my heart.
Um, that’s not good?
I wear an Apple Watch and it didn’t give me any special alerts. I checked my heart rate and looked at my tracking data, and it showed I was spiking back up to 90 bpm, but that is considered within normal range.
After the second day of this happening more often and feeling more painful, I decided that if it happened again the following day, I would get on the phone with an advice nurse. Took some Tylenol and went to bed, hoping this was just some sort of inflammation.
My big concern is blood clots, and general stroke risk rather than heart attack necessarily.
When I got my chest x-ray, my doctor ran a full panel of blood tests to check for nutritional deficiencies. (I had been complaining about tingling in my hands and feet, and he felt that this could not be related to coronavirus). Everything was normal.
Other than this bout with the virus, I’m in great shape for someone who is 44.
Today I had a weird moment when I got up too quickly and sort of didn’t make it across the room. Light-headed. Then we ate lunch and it was fine.
Other than all this, I would say I feel like 80%, which is fantastic!
I decided to walk some laps in the parking garage of our building, the only place where I can get some exercise with no mask on. I did a half hour at an 18-minute mile pace, rolling sweat in shorts and a t-shirt at 70F. When I came back upstairs, I felt great.
This is my plan, so far: Eat clean, get as much sleep as I can, and walk half an hour a day. I can gradually rebuild my stamina, keep my blood moving, and feel once again that my body belongs to me and not some alien trash invader.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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