COVID-19, The Virus That Doesn’t Quit
Since COVID-19 first surfaced, a lot of conversations in the news or on social media focused on the “survival rate”. Friends and strangers fight about the severity on Facebook. They throw out percentages and argue as if they’ve become overnight experts on viruses, fatalities and transmission. Inevitably, someone will compare it to the flu or a common cold, while others argue the numbers are inflated.
In reality, epidemiologists and virologists agree there’s still much about the 2019 novel coronavirus that remains unknown. Personally, we’ve had friends that have tested positive and recovered within two weeks. However, we’ve also had friends hospitalized with the virus. Another friend, a healthy 31 year old, is currently on week 12 of COVID-19 symptoms with no end in sight.
So we joined a Facebook group, CORONAVIRUS SURVIVOR CORPS, to learn more about how the virus is affecting people. How long are they sick? What’s helping them with recovery? A COVID survivor, Karyn Bishof, decided to share her personal story and conduct a survey to start compiling data.
Her mission: recognition of long term effects of COVID-19.
- awareness of the wide range of symptoms.
- medical community involvement and progress.
- media help to educate the public and concern.
- validation and support for covid 19 survivors.
- help proving to doctors, employers, family and friends you are not alone and to listen to you/ help.
In order to qualify to participate in the survey, you must have a confirmed case of COVID-19 via swab or antibody test, and experience issues or symptoms for more than four weeks.
Bishof’s Personal Experience With COVID-19
Karyn is a 30 year old, single mom that describes herself as healthy and fit. Her only pre-existing condition is hypertension which is under control. She experienced her first symptoms on 3/15 and tested positive on 3/23.
Currently, its day 102 and week 14 of continued symptoms. She’s still experiencing shortness of breath (with coughing fits and activity), cough, headache and extreme fatigue. These are in addition to other symptoms she experiences in waves, they come and go. During the worst of her COVID-19 battle, she was scared she might fall asleep and not wake up.
And to make things even more frustrating for Karyn and others with similar experiences, the doctors often respond with doubt and no solutions. COVID patients describe encounters with their doctor as if they are speaking to a log. Many doctors have no idea how to treat the continuing symptoms of “long haulers”.
What are “long haulers” experiencing?
Symptoms seem to be all over the map for many COVID-19 patients, but from the data compiled by Karyn Bishof, it suggests the virus is having a neurological impact. Ninety percent of respondents report chronic fatigue, while 87% report experiencing headaches. Brain fog or difficulty concentrating was reported by 85% and 84% are having trouble sleeping.
Then there are the symptoms many have not heard about until they experience them first-hand. Dry mouth (62%), GI issues (39%), chest pain (78%) or acid reflux (58%). Roughly 51% of survey respondents have been dealing with some of these symptoms/issues for over three months.
Does that sound like the flu?
All of us want to return to a world before COVID-19. We want to be able to spend time with family, take vacations, and even grocery shop without worrying about being exposed to this virus. The challenge, is knowing if you do contract COVID-19, will you have the mild version or end up hospitalized and on a vent? Perhaps, you won’t need to be admitted – only 49% of the respondents went to the hospital, with only 13% of those being admitted. However, even if you’re able to recover from home, will you be one of those that experiences symptoms for months on end?
Maybe you don’t want to roll the dice and take a chance with this new illness that affects one person mildly and leaves another with permanent heart damage. Then, we ask that you wear a mask, wash your hands, and tell your friends and family COVID-19 isn’t the flu.
Karyn has started a support group on Facebook and is working on compiling more data.