Today marks one year after my Coronavirus diagnosis. When my doctor called on April Fools Day to confirm my fears, I was positive for Coronavirus, for a brief moment I thought she was playing a joke on me. Then I realized Doctors don’t joke around with something as serious as Coronavirus though. In that moment, I had no idea how much my life would change.
Let me preface my post with an important note: nothing of what I say is being dramatized or embellished for the sake of the topic as I only speak from my heart.
One year after a positive Coronavirus test – how do you feel today? Do you have lingering symptoms? Are you considered a Covid Long Hauler?
“Do you still have symptoms from Covid?” The easy answer is YES, one year later I am still experiencing a few symptoms. My taste and smell is distorted, never returning to what it used to be. I don’t know if peanut butter will always taste bad and if lemons will forever smell rotten. Covid left me with asthma and even though it goes dormant at times, my allergies and the environment can easily wake it right back up. A few other symptoms that never really left are sporadic physical and mental fatigue. All of these ailments are easily characteristic of a Covid Long Hauler. However, there are some unexplainable changes to my health my doctors only presume to be a lingering result of Covid-19.
My menstrual cycle is different after having Covid last year. My period is more irregular than it’s ever been, lasting 10-12 days, and my PMS symptoms are intense. Most women experience cramps, back pain, and mood swings once a month. For me, I experience all the symptoms of PMS before, during, and after my period. My OB-GYN and Endocrinologist believe my menstrual cycle has been affected by Covid. However, there is no scientific or medical evidence to support their beliefs at this time. Someday we may read about the negative effects of Coronavirus on a woman’s menstrual cycle, but for now we just don’t know if its a fact.
Anxiety One Year After My Coronavirus Diagnosis
I’ve always had health anxiety, but the worry I felt after contracting ‘the virus destroying the world’ was indescribable. One of the least expected parting gifts from Covid-10 was PTSD. Day after day I cried in fear that I would never get better – or worse – I may die. Why wouldn’t I think this way? Every time I turned on the news there was a death counter ticking away in the corner of the screen. My PCP and Pulmonologist warned of the seriousness were I to become Covid positive for a second time. The reminders were everywhere that even though I tested negative, I was not in the clear. Thankfully those fears subsided for the most part.
How is your health anxiety today?
My mental health is definitely under better control, but my fears of catching Covid-19 again are not completely gone. Every time I feel a possible Coronavirus symptom, I have to consciously talk myself out of a panic attack. Were it not for therapy, I imagine I’d be a walking time bomb of emotion whenever I’m under the weather. I’ve learned tools to quiet my anxiety from weekly therapy sessions ( like YOGA!) and have my therapist on speed dial.
How did Covid change you?
Over the last year I have been through a lot, quite often its more than I can wrap my mind around. The most poignant (unfortunate) events are Coronavirus, skin cancer, and the loss of three very important people in my life. I’m sure I’m speak for most of society: I’m still bewildered a virus flipped our world upside down.
Coronavirus opened my eyes to see the world in a different light. If I had not been sick for so long, I don’t know if I’d have had this awakening. I’m more conscious of the uncertainty and fragility of life than ever before. I wake most mornings with a sense of gratitude and go to bed at night thankful for the day. Even through difficult times, I look for light in the darkness … because I am still living.
My sickness brought me to therapy, which has been a life changing experience in itself. Each week I peel back layers of myself, exposing bits and pieces I didn’t know were hidden inside. A lot of what I find is unresolved emotion, things I’ve never processed and need to let go. I can’t fully enjoy the life I’ve been given if I’m hanging on to anything from the past.
In a way, I’m happy I caught Covid so early on in the pandemic. I documented my experience with the hopes of helping others to not only see how serious the virus is, but to also show that I was surviving. I recall one month into having the virus writing these words: “For thirty two days I’ve stood toe to toe with a virus no one knows enough about. There is NO prognosis for how long I will be sick, but I pray every day the end is near… Even though I know I will recover from Covid-19, I can’t construct a timeline as to when that’s going to happen. Every day is different except for one consistency: Coronavirus will not be my ending.”
It’s weird to think Covid was actually the beginning to a new chapter of my life – one where I no longer run from one thing to the next. Instead, I walk slowly, pausing to feel what I need to feel and appreciate everything around me.