2021-8-20

Why You Don’t Want COVID

South Hill, VA (8/19/21) – With Governor Northam’s latest announcement requiring state employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a lot of people are faced with making a difficult decision. To those state employees who have had COVID, it makes sense to them.

“I have so many continuing issues that I decided in July to retire because I did not feel capable of doing my job any longer.” - Ken Kurz, VCU Health CMH Director of Marketing and Development

I had a severe case of COVID-19 in December of 2020. It was so bad that I thought I was going to die, and there were a few days when I felt like dying would be better than fighting COVID any longer.

I was in bed for 21 days and just getting out of bed to use the restroom required a nap before and after. I had 13 straight days of a fever above 101, while on Tylenol, and nine of those days my fever was above 102. My highest recorded temperature during this time was 103.6 and I was fully dosed on Tylenol. I was never admitted to the hospital, but I did spend an evening in the emergency department, and I believe that saved my life. I was severely dehydrated; my pulse oxygen level was 90 and I told my wife good-bye when she dropped me off because I knew if I didn’t get better, I was going to die. I fully anticipated being admitted to the hospital and if the COVID continued at the rate it was progressing I knew it would kill me.

In other words, I was truly very ill. I had a cough that turned me purple, made me nearly pass out multiple times a day, left me so dizzy I had to lie down and made it difficult to breathe. The cough was worse than any bronchitis I ever had. I lost my sense of taste and smell, lost all desire to eat and was not sure for most of those 21 days if I was going to live through it.

I was not a fan of the vaccine and was pretty sure I was not going to take it when it became available prior to having COVID. But I listened to infectious disease doctors from VCU Health explain the science behind the vaccine’s creation and if there were issues with the vaccine, they would be made apparent quickly. I decided to get the vaccine because I DID NOT WANT COVID AGAIN!

I am now nine months post-COVID and I have significant lingering issues that can only be attributed to COVID.

I had the brain fog people talk about and now, nine months later, I still feel I am significantly impacted mentally from COVID. My memory is really bad – especially my short-term memory. I am still tired EVERY DAY. I get winded walking up a single flight of steps. I have crazy issues with my blood pressure. Pre-COVID my blood pressure was typically 110/70 unless I was doing something that required a lot of exertion.

Now my blood pressure is between 180/110 to 130/99 and I have had crazy spikes as high at 200/150 and drops to as low as 90/60. My heart rate used to be 60-70 and now it is typically 90-100 when at rest. I have had every test known to man, trying to figure out what is wrong with me. In the past six months I’ve had an MRI, MRA, CT Scan, Stress Test, Vascular studies, countless blood tests and every test has come back showing no issues, yet I still have a lot of issues. I wore a heart monitor for 30 days and despite having strange feelings that I was able to record during those 30 days, the monitor showed no issues. My heart would feel like it was racing sometimes and other times I would have pain in my chest. And I haven’t mentioned that in February I went temporarily blind for about 20 minutes that doctors believe was related to a stroke. Again, I attributed that to COVID and doctors did not disagree.

I have so many continuing issues that I decided in July to retire because I did not feel capable of doing my job any longer. I have irrational anger issues; I’ve had mood swings that have taken me to very dark places. I feel poorly most days, and nothing seems to be improving. I have night sweats and chills on a regular basis. All of this is new since COVID.

What I have gone through and continue to go through is not unique to me. In conversations I’ve had with people I know across the country, almost everyone who had a severe case of COVID and lived has similar issues. Even those who did not have serious COVID cases have issues.  My wife had what I would consider a mild case of COVID and she has taste and smell issues nine months post COVID and just doesn’t feel well most of the time.

If you are on the fence about the vaccine, I would ask you to seriously consider getting the vaccine to avoid dealing with issues like I and many others have.

COVID can kill you. And if it doesn’t kill you, it can still change your life dramatically.

“Although I only suffered 2-3 days with concerning COVID issues, I am still dealing with the aftermath 10 months later, and who knows how much longer.” - Brenda Palmore, DHA, VCU Health CMH Vice President of Practice Management and Business Development

In October 2020, I tested positive for COVID.  I was around a close friend, who was exposed from a co-worker and was unaware. The day she told me she tested positive, I felt perfectly fine. I was immediately tested and quarantined while waiting for the results. All I could think about were the people I could have potentially exposed. My husband; our 10-year-old daughter; my father, who suffers from COPD and is on oxygen 24/7; my mother, a cancer survivor who’s missing a portion of her lung from lung cancer; my aunt, age 74, who suffers from dementia; my co-workers at VCU Health CMH; my husband’s co-workers; my daughter’s classmates and teachers. My mind was racing thinking of the trail this could potentially leave and the havoc that it could cause with so many people. What if someone on that trail contracted it because of me and died? I tried to stop stressing and prayed that I was not exposed. The next day I received the dreaded call that I was positive around 8:30 a.m.

I was so emotional. I started calling everyone that I was around to inform them of the results. My daughter was so worried about what would happen to me, as we were constantly watching the news and hearing what this virus could do, so she was hearing the worst. I could hear the fear in my mom’s voice for me and for them as I told her the news.    

The next day, I could barely get off the couch. I did not want anything to eat or drink. I remember going from 10:00 p.m. to 12:00 noon the next day without going to the bathroom because I did not have the energy to get up. 

By 5:00 p.m. I had chills and I could not get warm. By 8:00 p.m. I was on fire and my blood pressure was around 150/90.  All night I went from having chills and shaking all over to burning up and feeling miserable. My blood pressure reached a high of 170/110. I had the worst headache ever and nothing would dull the pain. This continued into the next day. 

By day three, I seemed to level out with blood pressure and body temp, but the headache continued. I had no sense of taste or smell, and the fatigue was horrible. By this point, my husband tested positive, and our 10-year-old daughter had to take care of herself. She was so worried about us and could not come anywhere near us. We shared texts and face timed each other in the same house.   

When I was finally cleared and could return to my normal routine, I was so excited. However, I had no idea of the issues that were waiting just around the corner. I had to push myself to get up and get ready each day. All I wanted to do was crash on the couch. The brain fog was real. Walking from the parking lot to my office became a difficult task. I was short of breath halfway there. I definitely could not talk to anyone while walking. I remember being on a Zoom call one morning and I had to excuse myself to catch my breath. My heart began beating in a weird way and I was lightheaded on several occasions. My PCP referred me to Cardiology for a full work up including a heart echo. My heart function was fine. They explained that some people experienced these issues after COVID and were called “long haulers,” meaning the issues lingered after COVID – but no one knew how long this could continue. Every day after work, I crashed on the couch for about 2 hours. 

In April, I started with several other issues – blurred vision in my left eye, pain in my arms and legs, balance issues/dizziness, continued fatigue, shaking in my hands, extreme sensitivity to heat, sleep issues, and bowel issues. I put it off and tried to ignore it. I returned to my PCP in July convinced that I would be diagnosed with MS. After lab work and an MRI I was informed that everything was normal and they were unsure of the causes of the symptoms. 

My next stop is the Ophthalmologist…

Although I only suffered 2-3 days with concerning COVID issues, I am still dealing with the aftermath 10 months later, and who knows how much longer.

Vaccine Availability

Luckily, vaccines are readily available at retail locations near you. To find available options, visit www.vaccines.gov or call 1-800-232-0233. You can also text your zip code to 438-829 and you’ll immediately get a text message that lists vaccination sites near your home. Vaccination is free!

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