Editors Note It’s been reported that those who contracted Covid-19 have a 98% survival rate. However, what is lost in that conversation is the extremely high rate of lingering symptoms weeks if not months after recovery. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control from March thru September of 2020 found 35% had not fully recovered even after 2–3 weeks after positive outpatient test results. Among persons aged 18–34 years with no chronic medical conditions, one in five had not returned to their usual state of health. The following is a story of the experience of a 27-year-old man who had been in otherwise perfect health until taken with a mild case of Covid-19.
Working Delivery During The Pandemic
I was one of the many delivery drivers who was contracted to deliver packages for Amazon. Since the pandemic started in March, I was continuously working and drove all over Southeast Michigan. I did little else. The crisis shut down restaurants, and other than an occasional family visit, I only worked. I was off for a few days because of a twisted ankle and returned to my delivery route. I worked for about two days when my world started to change in a way I never thought would happen. I felt off. More tired than usual. What threw me off was the taste of my water. It tasted salty and almost metallic, like drinking water from aluminum. The Gatorade tasted funny too. I had shortness of breath and was coughing a lot. After telling the dispatch about my symptoms, I was instructed to take back the packages I had yet to deliver and leave. That was it. No interaction with the people and I went home.
The Covid-19 Test
The next day I drove half an hour away to get a rapid results text. It was a hundred dollars for that test. After getting my nose probed, they told me I was positive and to go home and take it easy. A wave of shock and panic hit me hard. I was already feeling sick, and it must have just started. I went home and tried not to have a breakdown.
That day feels so long ago, yet it’s only been six months since I tested positive for Covid-19. The first thing I remember experiencing was shortness of breath. It was as if I had something sitting on my chest, just making it a little harder to breathe. Then it was the body pains. I felt a mixed arrangement of pain, radiating from my back to my neck to my stomach and chest. As time went on, I noticed more chest pain. It felt like my insides were ripping or tearing. Sometimes it pinched; sometimes, it felt like a bruise.
So, After 14 Days I Should Be OK, Right?
I waited for the 14th day to feel better, but I didn’t. The symptoms, in some regards, were getting worse. I notified my boss where I was working that I was still experiencing symptoms. I indicated that I wanted to see my doctor before I would return to work. As a result, they fired me. Only because I haven’t been working long enough to be put on medical leave, and they couldn’t have me on the financial books. They told me I could try to get rehired, but I know that’s just a way to cover their tracks. I was still feeling bad from Covid, which I’m sure resulted from my job, then I’m fired for not getting better within this arbitrary 14-day window. It was a perfect storm of terrible misfortune.
The Real Aftermath of Surviving Covid-19
I was unemployed and still suffering both physically and mentally. Then I started losing my hair. Every day I would find a large clump of hair that would partially block the drain in my shower. I was exhausted. I would sleep multiple times a day. I would take numerous showers and baths to feel a little bit of relief. The amount of stress I was dealing with was crippling. I thought if I didn’t get better now that I wouldn’t be getting better at all. I thought I was over. A gloom descended over me, and I began eating and doing whatever I wanted. I stopped caring and lived for the now.
My chest pain was so concerning that I went to the emergency room thought I would keel over any minute. The ER doctors ordered some tests and X-rays. I was told my lungs were satisfactory and sent back home. But it was not over, and I kept feeling worse. My mental health was at an all-time low. I kept having an inside voice telling me that I was going to die. I had thoughts of dread that I wouldn’t make it to the New Year or see my older brother’s baby. I considered the idea that I wasn’t going to make it to the age of 28. That it was over, and there was nothing I could do about it.
More Doctors, More Tests, No Clues
I had to push aside these thoughts and kept going. I had a lot of downs and another trip to the emergency room. Again only to find out that my heart and lung function was fine. But what I was experiencing was significant chest inflammation.
I had visions of dread and felt tortured by my subconscious. I saw many doctors until one told me that I could check something else out. The doctor ordered an examination esophagus and stomach with a test procedure called a UGI. It turned out the post-Covid pain I was experiencing resulted from inflammation of the lungs, stomach, and esophagus. I was given instructions for a new diet and was told not to consume chocolate, coffee, or drink alcohol. Since that procedure and change of diet, I’ve been doing much better and feeling better. I try to eat right, drink tea and water, try to get outside, and exercise whenever possible. I think I’m starting to get closer to recovery. It’s been six months, and I still have lasting symptoms from Covid. Hopefully, I can start feeling like usual soon and can have a day without pain. I know there are others out there that feel the same.
We are Long-Haul Covid-19 Survivers
If you are reading this and feel the same or know someone who is a long hauler, know this. It can get better, and it’s easier when you have a good positive mental attitude. But it also really helps to have support. To all that didn’t know about long haulers or don’t believe that covid is a severe disease, think again. I survived, but I’m still battling every day. Also, if you had covid and hardly got any symptoms, you should consider yourself lucky.
How To Reach Out For Help
The things I went through I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. It’s that crippling and disheartening. If this article helps someone in any way, then I’ve done my job. Everyone is going through something on their own, but that doesn’t mean they’re doing it alone. There are support groups for Covid-19 survivors. If you have never talked to a therapist or need help with mental health issues, never feel ashamed to ask for help. Never feel helpless and alone. If you do feel like life is over, stop. Call the crisis hotline. It’s never too late. You matter. Life can and will get better.
Survivor Corps: https://www.survivorcorps.com/
Crisis hotline: Call (855) 968-0965
To those who helped me get through the most challenging time of my life, thank you. I don’t know how I could have done it without you! I love my family and friends so much and will never forget the love I’ve been given. Thank you!
More to Come with Surviving Covid-19
Ethan is considered a Long Haul Survivor of Covid-19 Infection. While he beat the virus, the illness has affected him for more than six months later. He will be posting future articles with hints and tips on mitigating the symptoms and retaining a positive mental outlook.