Let me start by warning you that this will be a pretty long blog; we've got three weeks of misery to cover.
First, I want to acknowledge that HIV can be a tricky virus. That's apparently the reason they haven't come up with a vaccine or a cure. BUT Covid, Covid took me on a very wild ride!
Now many of you may recall a previous blog I wrote in honor of my uncle who passed away early on from Covid in April 2020. Well, I made it a point to express that I would continue to live my life, without fear, just as he did his whole life. And I've done just that, all while taking necessary precautions like mask wearing and good hand hygiene, so when I got Covid I was shocked.
It started out as a simple dry cough on Wednesday, July 21st, 2021. I'm asthmatic and sometimes suffer from allergies so I thought nothing of it. I had been working extra hours so that I could enjoy a weekend with my brother, his wife and the kids who were planning to visit from New Jersey, but my nephew came down with a fever and they canceled their trip. He's ok and thankfully it was just a random cold. Crazy how things happen though because I quickly started not to feel so great and Friday came down with a fever that wouldn't go away!
Over the weekend, at one point my temperature was normal and I thought to myself, "yes, I'm outta the woods and will be fine." Well I was wrong. Hours later, my fever of 103 returned and it wouldn't let up. I had lost my appetite and even keeping liquids down was a real task. My best friend also wasn't feeling well and got tested for Covid that Friday and came back negative, so we were sure we both just came down with a cold. Well, by Monday I decided to get myself Covid tested. It was negative, so I called my HIV doctor to be seen because the fever just wasn't going away.
I saw the doctor on Tuesday and she was confident in my negative Covid results, but was not happy that over-the-counter items were not touching the fever, so she recommended I go to the emergency room. I was hesitant but complied. Of course they Covid tested me, and what do you know? POSITIVE. I was in total shock and honestly quite fearful - not only because of what happened with my uncle, but because my immune system is classified as compromised.
They ran some other tests and all was normal, so they sent me home to fight it with OTC items and to let it run its course. Three more days pass and the fever still won't budge, still no appetite and at this point I'm sure I'm dehydrated so back to the hospital I go. I walked in Friday July 30th and didn't leave until August 4th.
You see in those few days I was home, I had developed pneumonia which was brought on by Covid, and since it was caused by a virus and not a bacteria, from what I was told, they couldn't treat it the way they normally would. So with much hesitation but reassurance from my HIV doctor, I started the Covid treatment, Remdesivir, which was administered via IV for five days. In addition to tons of other pills, both day and night, which also included vitamins. Zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D, which are all now part of my daily routine in addition to a multivitamin.
When I returned to the hospital that Friday night I was in pretty bad shape, so much so, I truly wasn't sure I'd survive Covid. It was so bad that I actually messaged my other best friend who lives in NC my final wishes because, well, I couldn't do that to my mother. But I made her promise not to read it unless Covid got the best of me. Thankfully I'm here to tell you about my experience and she didn't have to read that message, but it was truthfully the worst thing I've ever experienced. Nothing compared to what I endured after receiving my HIV diagnosis, which was mostly a mental battle. While breathing didn't become overly difficult, I literally felt like my insides were shutting down. From the dehydration, to the inability to nourish my body, I was severely nauseous and no matter how hard I tried, nothing would come up. As I went through my Covid treatment, I started to feel much better, and on day four was moved off the critical floor and onto a regular floor to finish my treatment.
Once discharged, I was sent home with more meds but confident I'd be fine. My inflammation levels were off the charts so I was sent home to continue anti-inflammatory medicines for five additional days. I wasn't feeling 100%, but I started back at work, working minimal hours on August 9th, which was also the day of my last dose for the anti-inflammatories. I was happy to have finished the meds and was confident I'd start to feel better with each passing day, but boy was I wrong. Tuesday, August 10th, I noticed I started to feel some pain in my ankle but thought nothing of it and just took some OTC stuff to mask the pain. Well Wednesday morning I woke up and literally could not walk. I was in excruciating pain from my knees down.
So continued the game of testing and treatment. I tried every OTC item for pain and muscle relaxers I had and nothing helped. I finally called my HIV doctor and they sent me for an ultrasound to ensure I didn't develop blood clots, something that's common post-Covid. The ultrasound was negative but the doctor wanted to ensure there were no arterial blood clots and recommended I go to the ER. At this point my pain level is a 20, I'm crying like a baby, and I can't even stand. So paramedics get called and I'm taken to the ER where I waited for over four hours and decided to just ride it out at home, hoping the pain would eventually subside. Leaving the hospital against medical advice of course isn't recommended, but with my level of pain I wasn't thinking straight and I just wanted to be in the comfort of my home.
Thankfully the pain and inflammation eventually subsided and slowly I was able to stand, walk and eventually go up and down my stairs without any assistance.
If you've made it this far in the story, you’re probably thinking, "holy crap, this poor girl", and you're right! When I tell you my battle with Covid was unlike anything I've ever experienced, the only way to help you walk in my shoes was by writing out every single detail I could.
Covid took me on not only a physical ride but a mental and emotional ride as well. So please, as best as you can, practice your safety precautions. Wear your mask, keep sanitizer nearby, and wash your hands as often as you can. Just like HIV, Covid can happen to any of us, but the pain and suffering endured I don't wish for anyone, not even my worst of enemies, assuming I have any.
I seriously wish you all safety and health and thanks for reading my experience. Feel free to ask me any question, leave any comments that come to mind, and send all the positive vibes while I'm slowly getting back to me.
Oh, I should also add my taste is still off and I have no sense of smell. 😫 😫 😫
An HIV, Covid, pneumonia survivor 🙏🏽