Today I emerged out of what has been a cascading wave of post-COVID fatigue after my recent experience being sick with COVID-19 for the first time. Although I was mostly recovered and tested negative almost two weeks ago, since then I have experienced a frustrating amount of lethargy. This made me face my worst fear second to experiencing COVID-19 induced psychosis, namely, enduring Long-COVID.
A person is generally considered to be experiencing Long-COVID when the effects of COVID-19 persist for more than four weeks after having been diagnosed with the virus. That puts a lot of people in the “long hauler” category! According to Mayo Clinic, symptoms that may linger over time include:
fatigue / shortness of breath or difficulty breathing / cough / joint pain / chest pain / memory, concentration or sleep problems / muscle pain or headache / fast or pounding heartbeat / loss of smell or taste / depression or anxiety / fever / dizziness when standing up / worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities
So far, I’ve experienced all of the above highlighted in bold since testing negative. Given my fear of fatigue, it’s been a real challenge to rest and not become overly concerned with my inconsistent productivity and lengthy to-do list. I’ve had to pull from my resources for dealing with depression and take things moment by moment, trusting that what I am feeling will not last forever.
Fortunately, I’ve had moments when the fog broke and I got in some writing. I found ways to trick myself into a better mood by trying to be present on a phone call with my mother or engaging in a whimsical activity with my daughter. I even managed to get myself to the gym (which is a 10 minute walk from my house) and I felt energized afterwards instead of depleted!
The fatigue has been really tough on my mood though. I felt really irritable for most of this week. The most banal occurrences annoyed me. Today was the first day in a while when I actually felt happy, energetic, hopeful and at peace. Is this my breakthrough? I truly do not know how long this will last…
One of my looming questions about COVID-19 has been about the extent to which vaccinations provide protection against Long-COVID. Studies are inconclusive. The New York Times reports,
“The jury is still out, but a growing number of studies suggest that getting a Covid vaccine can reduce — though not eliminate — the risk of longer-term symptoms.”Pam Belluck, New York Times
We really are not out of the woods with this pandemic. It freaks me out that airlines have decided to drop mask mandates and that people are eagerly misinterpreting Dr. Fauci’s comment that we are “out of the pandemic phase” so they can throw aside all caution. I hope more long haulers will let their voices be heard and their stories be known. We really need to take seriously how more of us may be contending with disability in our present or near future.
Image Description: A foggy brown landscape of trees reflected in a body of water.