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My Experience with SARS-CoV-2

CFC

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I've had a few PMs asking about my experience. So here you go.

DISCLAIMER

Please bear in mind this is only MY experience. People's symptoms seem to vary considerably, though there are obviously common themes like having a high fever, cough and so on. Also, perhaps as many as 30-50% of people develop barely any symptoms at all. So don't assume that just because your experience is or isn't the same, that you do/don't have the virus. Only a test can tell you for certain.

Similarly, and though I feel like common sense should make this blindingly obvious, it still needs to be said: don't do what I did just because I did it. My reasoning for doing things is my own. By all means ask questions, but I'm not pretending to be a doctor and I'm not prescribing any particular course of action. Do your own research and take responsibility for your own choices and decisions. Or leave them to your IRL doctor/nurse/healthcare providers.




Thursday 12th March

I felt kinda weird during the day - hard to explain exactly, but I could tell my body felt off. As I went to sleep, I noticed that my head felt odd, like it was falling off the pillow, even though it wasn't. I also couldn't get comfortable. My super-soft mattress felt like a lump of concrete. No matter how I turned or which side I lay on, I still couldn't get comfortable. And as I lay there, I couldn't sleep; I felt tired, but unable to shut down, which isn't that common for me. My heart rate was also getting quite high (80-90 bpm), and I noticed my nose was kinda blocked. This was memorable because the following morning I had a follow-up appointment in hospital for my septoplasty which I had at the end of January (designed to improve nasal airflow). So I was feeling pretty disappointed that maybe the surgery hadn't done much to help.


Friday 13th March

I must have drifted off for an hour or two, because I woke up abruptly at about 7am and felt like I'd been hit by a bus. My entire body was in some kind of agony. All my joints and muscles hurt. It wasn't mild pain, it was about 6.5/10 pain (and I seem to have a comparatively high pain threshold compared to most, having lived with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome). My skin was also hypersensitive and felt like it was burning when touched. So even moving in bed was making my skin feel on fire. My head and especially neck were also aching badly. It felt like roadworks were going on in there, and when I lifted my head I felt dizzy. My eyes watered it was so painful. My heart rate had shot up to about 100-110.

Immediately I assumed I'd caught the beer virus, as this all felt unusual and intense. I phoned the hospital and cancelled the follow-up septoplasty appointment - which they were thankful for (who knows how many hundreds I could have infected had I got on the packed tube during rush hour and then sat in a hospital waiting room with a bunch of old folks :( ).

I then phoned my GP. My GP practice is amazing and the doctors are exceptionally considerate, helpful and intelligent. Definitely one of the best NHS practices I've ever been registered to. Even though the government had cancelled the community testing programme (where a nurse or doctor comes out to test you for coronavirus) that very day, she arranged for someone to come out and swab me for the test. She acted because I have pre-existing cardiovascular issues, and that's one of the conditions known to aggravate the infection.

Within 1 hour of the call, a guy in full protective gear came around and I was given an NP swab (up the nose, and a bit painful considering I'd only had surgery 6 weeks prior). I was given the positive result a few days later (this kind of test typically takes a few days), but it seemed patently obvious I had it, especially when he explained that he'd been coming out to my large apartment building for 2 weeks by this point and had dozens of positives already.

I got out of bed and tried to eat some food, but didn't feel hungry. I was slightly fatigued, but not the way you might be with the seasonal flu or even with a cold. It actually felt like a ton of adrenaline was shooting around, giving me quite a bit of energy, and my heart was pounding like crazy. The rest of the day I tried to doze/sleep in bed despite the pain, though tbh lying down was more painful than sitting up, and because energy levels were fairly normal I was intensely bored at the same time.


Saturday 14th March

I managed a few hours of poor quality sleep overnight, mostly from about 3am-10am. I felt worn down from the constant, non-stop pain, but not wiped out. Despite that, I was actually able to snooze throughout much of the day, rarely leaving my bed except to try and eat. Fortunately, I'd cooked a week's food in advance on Thursday (I always cook 1-2 weeks food in advance - habits held on to from my more hardcore bodybuilding days), so it was fairly easy to just dish out some food and microwave it for dinner. I live alone and wouldn't realistically have been able to cook a main meal by myself at this point. For breakfast I was having porridge oats (high in anti-viral beta-glucans), fruits, nuts and a hard boiled egg (again, I prepare these a week in advance, so just had to peel the shell).

The physical pain in my joints/muscles/skin had slightly increased, to a peak of about 7/10. Not as painful as the heart attack and myo- & pericarditis I'd had in 2012 (they were 10/10 and 9/10, respectively), but up there with the Hepatitis E pains I'd experienced in 2014. It was difficult to use my hands because they felt kinda locked with the joint pain, but I could still type ok, and I was bored and desperate to put my mind into something. The pain in my head and neck had increased some way, and my neck felt stiff. I was worried for a while that maybe I didn't have coronavirus and instead meningitis, particularly as I was extremely dizzy and finding it difficult to walk without stumbling and my head spinning. I realised I was likely just paranoid though, and was reminded of what the nurse who swabbed me had said about not panicking or overthinking things. His point was that I was young, fit and otherwise healthy, so should be fine to ride this out at home.

He also advised me not to go out except for essential food, and to wear disposable gloves and a mask and keep away from everyone else when I did. There was no way I'd have been physically able to go out and get any food at this point, but I did have IRL friends who offered to drop things at my door if required. Given the fact my building seemed to be a virus hotspot, I wasn't about to ask for their help, and reckoned I had enough supplies to last a few days anyway, apart from milk which I could live without for now.

Another symptom I noticed from today was my guts. They were unhappy. It wasn't really like IBS, but they were gassy, cramping off and on, and making me feel internally 'uncomfortable'. I increased my dose of zinc carnosine (for gut integrity/immune function) to 75mg twice a day at this point.

Towards the evening, I started to get cold and shivery, then blazing hot and sweaty. That was the first sign of fever I'd noticed, though I hadn't been checking my temperature until now, and I often don't notice fever like others seem to. My normal body temperature (armpit) has been a steady consistent 36.5C (97.7F) for as long as I can remember. It was swinging up to about 37.5C (99.5F) by the end of today.

On the other hand, my lungs, throat and nose (aside from the slight inflammation on Thursday night) felt normal at this point. No cough at all, no soreness, no pain in my lungs, and the swelling in my nose and slight drip had gone. I was breathing well through my nose. Considering the main symptoms for most people seemed to be a dry cough (60-80% ), I felt myself lucky, and thought maybe I was going to avoid the worst of the virus, aside from the all-consuming body pains (which apparently only 15-20% get).


Sunday 15th March

I had another poor night's rest, just the odd hour of sleep here and there. It felt as though the virus had shunted my circadian rhythm forwards about 5 hours, but regardless I couldn't sleep after about 11am. I'd been having to move around in bed a lot overnight as I kept soaking the sheets with sweat. I had towels down, and was using hand towels to wipe down my body and hair. By the morning, my fever was sitting at around 39.8C (104F), which is close to the threshold for hyperpyrexia (depending on which source you look at) and potentially life-threatening. However, despite it being uncomfortable, it wasn't bothering me too much, it was just annoying, so I was pretty relaxed about it.

I'd tried taking paracetamol (acetaminophen) to reduce the joint/muscle/skin pains the day before, but it did nothing whatsoever. And I'd already read about not using NSAIDs (ibuprofen etc), since suppressing the natural inflammatory process may hamper the body's immune response. I'm aware that fever is one way the body fights infections, so I decided not to use paracetamol unless my temperature went over 40C. I just put up with the pain and did my best to distract myself online and with the TV. Gently rocking my head and body from side to side while lying down also seemed to help.

Aside from the escalating fever, the various pains, dizziness, lack of appetite, elevated heart rate and gut discomfort remained basically the same. Still no cough, still no mucus, no lung pain and no notable upper respiratory symptoms.


Monday 16th March

I think I slept a bit better overnight, aside from the hot-cold cycles, but it was another rinse-repeat type of day. The fever remained high at between 38.7-39.8C (102-104F), but seemed to be managing itself.

Then at about 5pm (based on my FB updates ;) ) I suddenly started feeling better. It was like a switch had been flipped. The fever broke, and I felt hungry for the first time in days. I also felt like my energy levels were normalising and that I could get up and do stuff. The dizziness/head-spinning dropped away, the joint/muscle pains reduced to about 3/10, and the skin hypersensitivity passed. And so I celebrated what I assumed was my swift victory over this feeble virus.


Tuesday 17th March

Just a few hours later, at about midnight, I got hit with "phase two". It's kinda difficult to describe, but it felt like someone was trying to slowly peel my lungs out of my body from the back down near the kidneys, and from the front under the breastplate/heart. Every breathe I took was painful. As I lay in bed, I noticed that my lungs were all gunked up with a thick mucus, and I couldn't cough it up. I took a single dose of n-acetylcysteine (NAC - an expectorant/mucolytic) to help liquify the mucus.

Within about 2-3 hours, although the pain in the lungs and torso area continued, the mucus in my lungs became more fluid and I was able to cough it up and largely clear the airways. I relaxed and managed to sleep ok.

I continued to dose the NAC once in the morning and once in the evening. During the day, I noticed that pretty much all the muscle/joint pains had passed, the dizziness and head/neck pains had gone, my guts had calmed down, and the fever had dropped to 37.5-38.5C (99.5-101.5F). I was able to eat and move around almost normally. The main issue was the lung pains shooting up and down my back and under my heart. But there wasn't too much gunk and I could breathe fine.


Wednesday 18th March

I managed to sleep better overnight, and felt lethargic in the morning for the first time. As I wrote in my FB update for this day:

"I seem to be recovering now. Still having fever, but the stabbing pains in my lung/heart area have mostly gone, as has the gunk in my lungs, and I got several uninterrupted hours sleep today.

Actually it feels like someone pulled the batteries out as I've become fatigued for the first time. But I guess that's a result of reduced pain allowing my body to relax a bit."


Since my lungs felt like they'd cleared, I stopped using the NAC. Later in the day, I started feeling worse again, and my throat, eyes and nose felt kinda fizzy and inflamed. I'd also developed a dry cough, so guessed the virus was moving up the respiratory tract, but assumed I was still recovering.

Then at about 9.30pm, things got much worse. The lung pain intensified, and as I lay down, I noticed they'd rapidly re-filled with thick mucus. I began coughing like crazy but couldn't get it up. Every breathe I took was punctuated by a whistling/wheezing sound, and my lungs were crackling and popping as they expanded. By 10.30pm I was struggling to breathe, and my breathing rate had increased and was shallow. I tried reading out a few paragraphs of text to test myself. I could only get out about 2 words before needing to take a breath. I tried to stand up but got dizzy.

Half convinced that I was merely panicking, and that the pneumonia couldn't get that bad that quickly, I was reluctant to dial 999 for the paramedics. However, considering the speed with which my breathing was deteriorating, and understanding this is considered the most serious symptom, I couldn't just ignore it. So I gave the NHS 111 hotline a call.

Unfortunately I was informed that call volumes were exceptionally high, and that I was in a 1-2 hour queue. If I waited that long and things got worse, I could pass out before even getting through, so I went to the NHS 111 Online Covid-19 service. It was actually surprisingly good, and had a number of options for various different symptoms and for "I don't know" and so on. I got so far answering questions, but when it got to the breathing issues, a big red message came up telling me to dial 999 immediately. So I relented and called for an ambulance.

The paramedics arrived in about 20 minutes. They were in protective gear, considering they already knew I was infected. They listened to my chest, asked me questions, took BP, sats etc, and told me that yes, I had mild pneumonia. But that all local hospitals were basically full, and that unless things got worse, I should continue to ride it out at home and self-isolate. But if my breathing became any worse, or if my lips started going blue (ie hypoxia), I should call again and they'd take me in.


Thursday 19th March

I immediately resumed my NAC dosing. As before, within 2-3 hours the thick mucus noticeably started to clear, and the other symptoms that had returned (body pains, fizzy/inflamed feeling in my throat, nose and eyes) diminished. The lungs were still painful, and I still had pneumonia, but my breathing didn't get any worse and slowly improved later in the day, and I never needed to call the paramedics again.

Later in the evening, I noticed I could no longer taste or smell. To be precise: my tastebuds were just about functioning - I could sense a bit of bitterness and saltiness, though not sweetness - but my olfactory system (which is what gives food 'flavour' and makes it nice to eat) was dead as a Dodo. Literally nothing. I tried using pure essential oils (tea tree, lavender, eucalyptus) and couldn't scent a thing, despite the fact that my nasal passages and sinuses were clear. I could have had a rotting corpse in here and been none the wiser.

As an aside, obviously I can never know for sure how useful the NAC was in controlling symptoms - maybe it was just coincidence. But every time I missed a dose, within about half a day things would deteriorate, most obviously my lungs (as you'd expect, considering it's an expectorant). But surprisingly also my general lousy feeling, energy levels, and the symptoms in my nose and throat, which reliably seemed to improve a few hours after a dose. Pretty uncanny, but maybe it's just me.​

Another aside: I have two friends in Germany who I keep in regular contact with (a couple). One works in a hospital. He contracted the virus earlier in the week, his partner a day or two later. Because Germany carries out more testing than most other countries, they were tested and confirmed comparatively quickly. Unlike me, they described their early symptoms as typical of a mild flu: fever, headache and "hot eyes," with almost unnoticeable body aches. My friend said that "coronavirus seems to be a joke" if that's all it is, and that the media's over-sensationalising things for no good reason.​


Friday 20th March - Friday 3rd April

I stopped doing my FB updates from the 20th, so can't do a detailed report past this point. But for me that first week was by far the worst and most notable, in terms of the progression of the infection and its various stages.

My lungs are still even now producing a fair amount of thick mucus, but it's just annoying rather than debilitating, and all the pains have gone. Gradually the virus symptoms turned into what you might consider more typical of 'flu', and then more like a bad 'cold'. Albeit without my nose ever really getting too blocked or runny. I also lost my voice on a few occasions when my throat became inflamed and gunked up, and it's still a bit hoarse at the moment. I also had a few days in the second week where I did cough uncontrollably, but that passed by the 27th, so it was a minor symptom for me, despite being more common for others.

Overall, I've gradually been improving throughout, though it clearly hasn't been a rapid recovery considering I'm on day 22.

The worst distinctly new symptom that emerged between about 26-28th March and has continued since is a kind of sleeping sickness/insomnia. I spoke to my GP because I've been unable to achieve more than a few hours of poor quality sleep at most, and she claimed others under their care have been experiencing the same. It's annoying because it leaves me feeling mentally frazzled and my eyes sore, and must surely be impacting my recovery. Sleeping pills have had minimal effect, so I'm just trying to rest and ride it out for now without worrying.

On the plus side, I've been practising something called odour training since I lost my sense of smell. And in the last few days traces of scent and flavour have returned. Probably just normal recovery I'd have experienced anyway, but there's a bit of research to suggest odour training does help.

As for my German friends who were doing so well at the start and thought the virus was exaggerated:

⫸ On the 22nd March they both started struggling to breathe, having finally gone through a similar rollercoaster of ups and down and new symptoms as myself. Both of them also developed quite severe fevers.

⫸ On the 23rd one of them hit 40C (104.5F) for much of the day, but held it down with paracetamol.

⫸ On the 25th, the same guy (now into the 8th day of symptoms) finally hit 41C (106F) and couldn't get it down. He was carted off to hospital for 3 days, and has thankfully since been discharged. Both of them still feel considerably worse than me, but they are about 5-6 days behind on the infection curve.​

All of us were under 40 when we caught it, though I celebrated my 40th mid-way through the infection, lucky me woop woop 💩

 
Last edited:

PrincessDiz

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Omg, I’m currently thinking I have it myself so this will be really interesting to read.
I also have ehlers-danlos syndrome! How weird to find someone else with the same condition!
I have felt off from yesterday but I’ve more gastro issues like sore stomach and nauseous. My head is floaty and dizzy and it’s sore, light sensitivity. My eyes feel hot, I was sweating even though my head felt cold, I just feel like someone has sucked the energy out of me. I definitely feel off.

i hope you’re well into recovery now and hope you didn’t suffer too badly with it!
 
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Mr.Deeds

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Thanks for this post @CFC. This is very similar to what I am experiencing. The skin sensitivity is not as pronounced as your description for me. But the rest is spot on. My wife has had these symptoms too. I am very glad I am being told to stay home right now while my company is paying out of their own pocket for my time off.

I have a bad sense of smell already but I feel like I cant smell as well as usual.

Thanks for the Sick Report. A Sick Report thread should be made for people who have had it so that others may see the symptoms that are common as well as unique to individuals. This might help others who havent gortten tested to make an educated guess on whether they should be tested or quarantine themselves.
 

Genetic Freak

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Interesting and very detailed description of your experience CFC, glad things seem to be returning to normal.. (ish')..
I must admit I've been a sceptic so far, number of cases, and severity of presentation here in NZ so far have been unremarkable..
From your transcript it is obvious there is cause for concern for some people..

Don't want to state the obvious regards sleep deprivation, have you eliminated blue spectrum LED lighting, relying on incandescent bulbs and candles 3 hours prior to sleep.?
Melatonin doesn't generally work for under 50's, except for jet-lag type scenario, maybe its worth trying in your case, plus there is the added benefit of its antioxidant/anti inflammatory properties..
 
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Branggen

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Good to hear you've gotten better. My lungs are already fucked and sometimes painful from bong overuse and my sleeping is messed from opiate withdrawal so this doesn't sound like it'll be too great if I get it though I guess I can just stop tapering for the time being, maybe even take a bit extra if I need it too sleep to get the immune system running
 
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CFC

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Is that stuff you took to thin the mucous like mucinex?
Mucinex is Guaifenesin, which is also an expectorant, but I haven't tried it. NAC works in a few different ways and has a number of ancillary effects like bolstering the body's own anti-oxidant capacity, which may be a good or bad thing. If you want to read in a little more detail, check out this article on Examine.com. To repeat what they say themselves about use of NAC against Coronavirus:

It is invalid to extrapolate from efficacy against the common cold or respiratory tract infections broadly to the novel Coronavirus in particular. For more information, see this page. In any case, we have not reviewed NAC for any viral infection yet, and have no opinion on its efficacy for any of them.
 

CFC

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Interesting and very detailed description of your experience CFC, glad things seem to be returning to normal.. (ish')..
I must admit I've been a sceptic so far, number of cases, and severity of presentation here in NZ so far have been unremarkable..
From your transcript it is obvious there is cause for concern for some people..

Don't want to state the obvious regards sleep deprivation, have you eliminated blue spectrum LED lighting, relying on incandescent bulbs and candles 3 hours prior to sleep.?
Melatonin doesn't generally work for under 50's, except for jet-lag type scenario, maybe its worth trying in your case, plus there is the added benefit of its antioxidant/anti inflammatory properties..
Yeah it's been really unpleasant mate. I do wonder if my ARB had any effect on the progress of this; however my other friends have shared a surprisingly similar experience, and they aren't taking an ARB, so probably not.

As for sleep, I've tried pretty much everything at this stage - even multiple sleeping drugs had limited effect. I'm sure it'll recover in time, but this symptom is really wearing me down now - my brain is so frazzled.



Meanwhile, I'm into day 25 and still with the same mild cold/flu-like symptoms 🤖
 

SAT4N_420

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Damn, and I thought my birthday was a bummer because of having to be in quarantine...it's good to hear you were able to make it through the worst though, hopefully it doesn't take much longer for you to feel normal again.
 
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GrymReefer

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Interesting that a fever that high didn't seem too bothersome to you. Possibly a tolerance from using DNP in the past and becoming acclimated to the sensation of being cooked from the inside?
 

Serotonin101

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Interesting that a fever that high didn't seem too bothersome to you. Possibly a tolerance from using DNP in the past and becoming acclimated to the sensation of being cooked from the inside?
A 103-104 fever isn't too bothersome to me. I don't even start "feeling" my fever til I hit upper 101. For reference I run in the mid to upper 99s for my basal body temp and during exercise I hit mid 100s. This was all before I had ever touched dnp. I guess some people just don't suffer as badly since suffering is very subjective.
 
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CFC

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Interesting that a fever that high didn't seem too bothersome to you. Possibly a tolerance from using DNP in the past and becoming acclimated to the sensation of being cooked from the inside?
Yeah not sure mate, could be. I usually hate being hot and get hot/sweaty fairly easily, but didn't really notice it so much, possibly because I was in a lot of constant pain throughout the fever phase and that distracted me.

***

Into day 27 now, and the virus has had a bit of a resurgence over the last two days: heart rate back up to about 90 with a noticeable increase in arrhythmic events (SVEs) this time, more 'head cold' type symptoms in the upper respiratory tract, a complete loss of smell again (it had probably recovered to about 10% of normal, and I could just about sense some odours and flavour in food, but it's gone again), a return of the GI discomfort, and now a persistent UTI as well (presumably because my immune system is generally busted). Overall, feels like another downward swing 😒

The only positive I've noticed is increased sleep. Not 8 hours, but with a few hours at night and then snoozing several times during the day, I do feel better rested than before.
 

Mr.Deeds

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I had to go to the Drive-Thru testing center today. I had been I'll for a while and had a teleconference with my doc, who sent a request in to the City for me to get tested. It took them a week to respond and a total of 9 or 10 days to get the test. I have been fever free for about 2-3 days but still have some body aches and I have been alternating between absolutely exhausted and passing out to restless and tired with insomnia.

I wonder if I will test positive or negative. And if I WAS positive and it is leaving my system, will I show up as negative and be another person gone under the radar...
 

CFC

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I had to go to the Drive-Thru testing center today. I had been I'll for a while and had a teleconference with my doc, who sent a request in to the City for me to get tested. It took them a week to respond and a total of 9 or 10 days to get the test. I have been fever free for about 2-3 days but still have some body aches and I have been alternating between absolutely exhausted and passing out to restless and tired with insomnia.

I wonder if I will test positive or negative. And if I WAS positive and it is leaving my system, will I show up as negative and be another person gone under the radar...
Fingers crossed you get a positive result! At least then you'll know (well, we hope) you'll be able to get back to a semi-normal existence without the risk of getting sick or infecting people.
 

thujone

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thanks for the detailed writeup @CFC, it's astounding how long the sickness lasts, good to hear you're on the mend though and hope you're back to 100% soon!
 
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CFC

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thanks for the detailed writeup @CFC, it's astounding how long the sickness lasts, good to hear you're on the mend though and hope you're back to 100% soon!
Thanks mate, yeah I'm really surprised how long this has tied my body down for, I think it's the longest I've ever been unwell. I didn't take the virus too seriously when it first took over the media, but I can see now first hand why it's been such a concern to experts.
 

Zoob1234

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Cheers for all that info @CFC , its been really useful to advise reluctant family members to go to the dr when they have some of the symptoms you've written about.
 
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JessFR

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Thanks mate, yeah I'm really surprised how long this has tied my body down for, I think it's the longest I've ever been unwell. I didn't take the virus too seriously when it first took over the media, but I can see now first hand why it's been such a concern to experts.
It's astounding how it can be so debilitating to some people, while others get seemingly no symptoms at all, the lucky bastards.

Its been another week, how are you doing? Feeling any better?
 
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CFC

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It's astounding how it can be so debilitating to some people, while others get seemingly no symptoms at all, the lucky bastards.

Its been another week, how are you doing? Feeling any better?
Yeah it's pretty interesting tbh Jess. Considering I rarely ever get regular colds or flus, this one was quite a surprise.

Generally I'm recovering. I can breathe well now, most of the vestigial head cold symptoms have gone, no cough, no sore throat. But I still can't taste food, still can't get more than about 3-4 hours (low quality) sleep, am still battling an opportunistic bacterial infection of the kidneys, bladder, prostate etc, and now my skin's broken out in rashes all over my face like I have psoriasis lol. I'm sure it'll go in time, but this is almost 6 weeks now 😑
 
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